Each week, FADER Media Style Director Chioma Nnadi will comment on the throwback style and fashion of a Suite903 artist. Today’s Re-Issue: Aaliyah.
Yesterday I spent the entire morning revisiting old Aaliyah records. I have The-Dream to thank for that, after hearing his cover of "One in a Million," it just put me in the mood for more. I still remember the exact moment I found out that she'd died. It was a typical drizzly Sunday morning in London, and I didn't have the energy or the inclination to drag my ass out of bed. Of course it poured for the rest of the weekend, a fitting pathetic fallacy. My best friend Beverly called me and broke the news, and weirdly it felt like I'd lost a chunk of my adolescence in one fell swoop.
I don't think I've felt that sad about someone I didn't know passing since. A couple of years ago, we dedicated an entire FADER icon issue to Aaliyah, and I spoke to Liza Montoya, a stylist who'd worked with her for many years. Montoya had so many amazing stories about Aaliyah, and said that as well as being incredibly sweet and gracious, she was also really funny, and liked to goof around more than anything. In my opinion, Aaliyah was the most badass tomboy to ever walk the Earth, and although a lot of starlets have attempted to copy her look, no girl has really come close. She wore size 36 waist jeans like they were cigarette pants, and had an easy elegance about her that was literally mind-blowing. It's always hard to put your finger on exactly what makes a person stylish—how many of us could wear head-to-toe faux snakeskin, or rock a pair of pants a trillion times to big for us without looking like complete frumps! She just had it.
In the video for "Back in One Piece" Aaliyah is really hitting her stride, and plays the perfect foil to DMX's rough and tumble swag. As new-agey as it sounds, I think it had something to do with her aura. She had what a Yoruba priestess might call "Oshun."