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In This Corner, Haute Hip-Hop

At the Source awards, artists get in a few creative jabs before a melee ends the show.

August 25, 2000|VALLI HERMAN-COHEN | TIMES SENIOR FASHION WRITER

It's getting hard to distinguish hip-hop artists from the World Wrestling Federation. They share the gaudy get-ups, the larger-than-life personas, the rivalries and the huge paychecks. And now, after a melee canceled the taping of the Source magazine Hip-Hop Music Awards on Tuesday, they also share a history of brawls.

In the battle for the title of Most Fashionable, we'd have to give the golden belt to the wrestlers. Aside from a handful of female stars such as Lil' Kim and Mary J. Blige, hip-hop's fashion isn't packing its usual punch.

The once-fresh and innovative combination of baggy, dark denim, huge diamonds and sports team jerseys is looking a bit tired on the men. Sure, it's a look that these artists invented. Take away the jewels, and they don't look much different from many teen boys.

But don't count hip-hop out of the fashion fight just yet. In a clinch, the musicians have the most creative hair, whether it's Eve's cherry-red eyebrows or Busta Rhymes' tower of braids, which is even taller than boxing promoter Don King's electrified 'fro.

For a new twist on jewelry, Lord Infamous sported a thin, silver nose spear, although he said he's aching for custom tusks.

Method Man was among several other stars in leather basketball warmups, that despite being stamped all over with the famous Gucci double-G logo, looked unlike anything Gucci designer Tom Ford ever devised.

"He don't even know about it," confessed Method Man, "and I'd appreciate if you don't tell him.

Women, with their predictable emphasis on skin and silicone, stole the style show. TV's "VIP"

star Natalie Raitano shimmered and shimmied in a revealing gold-leather jumpsuit. The members of Destiny's Child twinkled in rhinestoned bra tops and white leather. With her name tattooed on her biceps and a diamond-studded razor blade pendant, newcomer Sonja Blade looked dangerous, but mostly to the snake she dismantled to craft her halter top.

"It still had the head on it when I bought it," the singer said.

A few turned to tailors for customized looks, such as actress LisaRaye's bustier and skirt assembled from rows of Levi's bluejean waistbands.

Stars proudly sported logos from Phat Farm, Fubu and Karl Kani. Conspicuously missing? Clothes from Tommy Hilfiger and Sean "Puffy" Combs. Combs recently launched a critically praised luxury menswear collection, yet his fellow musicians seemed reluctant to trade their rigid denim and flashy diamonds for Puffy's vision: cashmere and mink.

The next round of hip-hop fashion promises to pursue the "ghetto fabulous" luxury that Blige, Kim and Combs promote. Said Kani, "We need new fashion for the new millennium."

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