“Who is the cute girl with the platinum blonde hair?” I thought as the visuals for the late Notorious B.I.G.’s music video Juicy played before my eyes. I admired Misa Hylton before I knew who she was. It was her swagger that immediately caught my eye. She was so fly as she casually bounced one hand up and down to the beat, flashing gold jewelry while cradling a cute baby in her other arm. I eventually discovered she was the then-girlfriend of Uptown Records A&R Rep, Sean Combs or Puff Daddy (now known as Diddy). More importantly, I learned she was the stylist/designer for the music artists under the Bad Boy Record label. Years, dedication, resilience, and loads of hard work later, she’s now revered as the image architect who is responsible for cultivating the perfect fashion story to the 1990’s hip-hop and R&B soundtrack.
Misa has always had a knack for creating looks since childhood. She spoke gleefully about the inception of her love affair with style during a candid chat. “It’s so funny because I’ve been creating fashion looks for myself since I was about five years-old. I used to change my clothes and hairstyles several times a day. I went from playing around with my image and creating looks for myself to developing a unique style that other people loved. I used myself and others as a canvas, and that’s always been my gift,” she cheerfully explained.
At the youthful age of 17, Misa embarked on a fashion journey that influenced the fashion choices of an entire generation. The trends she created in the 90’s played a pivotal role in laying the foundation for what fashion is today. She altered the perspective on what female rappers and R&B singers should look like. Her fashion reel includes iconic styles like Lil’ Kim’s monochromatic looks in the Crush On You music video and her acclaimed 1999 MTV Video Music Awards purple pasty, one-sleeve jumpsuit.
Overwhelmed by her impressive style resume, I solicited Misa’s help with pinpointing the “pinch me” moment in her career. She spoke prudently. “Hmmmm, I would have to say me becoming the Global Creative Partner at MCM and my Beyoncé MCM moment. I say that because growing up in this business, I would have never thought that it was possible for someone like me to work with a luxury fashion house. To see how the world has evolved and to have that moment with Beyoncé made it magical.” For those of you who have been under a rock when it comes to fashion, Misa is referring to the fierce MCM logo bustier-jacket-hat-and-earring combination she designed exclusively for Queen Bey which was artfully displayed in her and Jay Z’s Apesh*t music video.
The fashion industry has not always been a walk in the park for Misa. The lack of diversity and inclusion in the past has made her fashion expedition difficult to navigate at times. Nonetheless, Misa is still thankful for the incredible opportunities that were and still are bestowed upon her. So thankful that she birthed the Misa Hylton Fashion Academy to pay it forward. “I reached a point in my career where I had experienced so much success, and I found myself at so many tables and rooms that I could have never dreamed of. So, it just made sense for me to give back to people who looked like me through education and mentorship. It was imperative to create a program and space for all creatives to have the same opportunities. I created a place that I wish was available when I was growing up.”
Misa’s career is on a roll. The Mount Vernon, NY native has gone from striving to carve out her place in the industry to landing major collaborations with prominent corporations like Macy’s Inc. Misa (among a few other talented, Black fashion creatives) was hand-picked by the Vice President of Macy’s fashion office, Durand Guion, to design an exclusive, seasonal collection that will drop this year. The purpose of this opportunity is to showcase black brands and introduce more diversity into Macy’s. “Durand offered me this opportunity after seeing The Remix collection I did with MCM. The first drop for my collection is in March, and I have three drops total for spring, summer, and fall. This is an amazing opportunity to give a different perspective of my style. It’s the feminine side of me. I look forward to seeing women wear my collection.”
Misa’s hard work has paid off, and she is grateful for the trajectory of her career. When asked what gems she could share that has helped her succeed she replied, “I live by believing in yourself and trusting the process. Everyone has a special gift. You have to nurture that gift and be self-aware. When you’re self-aware, no one can tell you who you are, and no one can take you off your path. Believe in what you want to achieve.”
Words to fashionably live by.
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