The Architect of Hip-Hop Style: How Misa Hylton Shaped an Era

From the Bronx to the runways of Paris, Misa Hylton is a renowned fashion designer who was one of the first stylists to meld streetwear with high fashion.

Her trendsetting work has appeared on the pages of Vogue, walked red carpets, and defined an era of music videos. More recently, her custom MCM look for Beyonce’s “APESH*T” video garnered attention and reminded the industry that Misa Hylton isn’t done yet.

Rewind the tape on any iconic hip-hop fashion moment of the 90s, and you’ll find Misa Hylton’s name woven into the fabric.

A visionary stylist turned “fashion architect,” Hylton wasn’t just dressing celebrities; she was crafting the image of hip-hop itself.

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Misa with her kids Niko Brim, Justin Combs and Madison Brim wearing The Remix Shop by Misa Hylton assortment

Long before the term “stylist” graced business cards, Hylton, a New York native, was already shaping narratives through fashion.

In high school, she was the go-to for prom dress alterations and the envy of classmates for her expert makeup skills.

Her passion, however, found a professional outlet when she met Sean “Diddy” Combs, then a young A&R at Uptown Records.

As Combs began working with the R&B group Jodeci, a 17-year-old Hylton became his right-hand woman, stepping in as his assistant stylist.

Their first challenge? Convincing the label to embrace Hylton’s bold vision for Jodeci’s “Gotta Love” music video.

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Jodeci performing “Gotta Love.” Styled by Misa Hylton

Hylton proposed a revolutionary mix of combat boots, baggy jeans, and hoodies. It was a gamble, but their unwavering belief in the look paid off.

The music video’s success became Hylton’s launching pad, propelling her towards styling superstar Mary J. Blige.

Hylton’s touch elevated Blige’s style, guiding her into a more glamorous and feminine space.

Music videos like “You Remind Me” and “Everything” showcased Hylton’s ability to translate an artist’s essence into captivating visuals.

Her talent soon became an industry secret, attracting artists drawn to her unique blend of risk-taking and playful energy.

Then came Lil’ Kim.

The late 90s saw the birth of a legendary fashion partnership. From red carpets that set the world ablaze to innovative performance outfits that solidified Kim’s status as a superstar, Hylton and Kim pushed boundaries together.

“With Mary J. Blige, I had made it,” Hylton reflects. “But when Kim came along, that took me to the next level of my career.”

Hylton’s legacy extends far beyond iconic looks. She has mentored top stylists like Wouri Vice and Marni Senofonte, collaborated with MCM, and even established the Misa Hylton Fashion Academy, a non-profit dedicated to making the fashion industry more accessible.

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Outfit from The Remix Shop by Misa Hylton a collaboration with MCM

In 2020, Hylton was honored with a feature film documentary, The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion, that chronicles her fearless contributions in a male-dominated industry.

As a woman navigating a male-dominated industry, Hylton shattered glass ceilings and redefined what it meant to be a stylist.

Her unwavering vision and dedication shaped the visual language of hip-hop while paving the way for countless stylists, particularly women of color, to claim their rightful space in the fashion world.

Today, Hylton’s name remains synonymous with innovation and audacity, a testament to the power of one woman’s unwavering belief in the transformative potential of style.

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