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It's All in the Bag

August 24, 1995|BETTY GOODWIN

The Movie: "The Show"

The Setup: Concert film footage and off-stage interviews with rap's hottest stars.

The Look: Their lyrics may be shocking, but the rappers look almost squeaky clean. Except for the fit--incredibly baggy--their clothes are inspired by classic American sportswear and sports team garb. Russell Simmons, who is considered the godfather of rap and participated in making the film, says the fashion statements are "aspirational" in a good way. "Black kids take pride in their clothes. They buy into the American dream when they buy Tommy Hilfiger and Polo. They don't want to look like the blond boy on the boat [in fashion ads]. They want the boat."

Key Elements: Sport shoes, particularly Adidas. No wonder Run-DMC, whose members wear shell-toe Adidas in black with white stripes or white with black stripes, earned hip-hop's first sneaker contract. (Their song "My Adidas" came first.) Baggy khakis and jeans--but never faded or holey ones. Rugby shirts, polo shirts and "hoodies," or hooded sweat shirts, often by Hilfiger, Polo or Simmons' own Phat Farm line. Plaid button-down shirts and sports team jerseys, especially pro hockey and football. Buzz cuts are usually covered with some kind of hat, be it a baseball cap (worn forward, backward or sideways), knit ski cap, fedora or cab driver cap.

You Should Know: The artists wear little if no jewelry--big gold chains appear on the way out--but some of rap's rainmakers can't seem to resist. Manager Suge Knight sports a diamond Rolex and a huge diamond earring, while record label executive Andre Harrell favors a diamond stud with his business suit.

Scene Stealer: Treach, lead rapper of Naughty by Nature, does wonders with bandannas both around his neck and in his hair.

Quoted: "I go to a Chanel show and Karl Lagerfeld has big gold chains around a [model's] neck--how fake is that?" Simmons comments on film while seated ringside at a fashion show.

Debatable: Other than the Notorious B.I.G. and Sean (Puffy) Combs, who appear onstage once in the film's only true costumes--gangster-like pin-striped suits and homburgs--rappers let street clothes suffice onstage. But director Brian Robbins believes rapper gear will get increasingly theatrical. Simmons thinks not. The suits are nothing special, he says.

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