July 11 2014

styledotcom Modesty was the dominant theme during the second day of Berlin fashion week:

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12 posts tagged "Nicki Minaj"

Nicki Minaj’s Styling Team on the Star’s New Toned-Down, Fashion-Heavy Look



Since exploding onto the rap scene with a huge verse on Kanye West’s 2010 hit “Monster,” Nicki Minaj has continuously upped the sartorial ante, one neon wig and salacious outfit at a time. While settling into her latest character, however, as Lydia in The Other Woman—a next-generation First Wives Club costarring Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton, and Leslie Mann—she switched stylistic gears and debuted what might be her most surprising look yet: a toned-down Nicki. “You can either continue doing costumes or you can just say, ‘Hey, guess what? This will shock them even more. Doing nothing will shock them even more,” she said in a recent interview with MTV News.

So Minaj has returned to her natural roots—literally—and abandoned her Technicolor wardrobe in favor of muted dresses by Alexander McQueen, with help from her stylists, Jerod McClairn and Nonja McKenzie, known as McClairn & McKenzie. We caught up with the pair over the phone to talk about Minaj’s recent evolution; the Moschino looks in her latest video for her collaborative track with Tyga, “Senile”; and the strong women who inspire her style.

How long have you been working with Nicki?
Jerod McClairn: A year and a half. We were part of her style transition from the colorful wigs and the costumes to a more streamlined, high-fashion look. I started working with her three weeks after she started doing American Idol. She was between stylists.

2014 MTV Movie Awards - ArrivalsWhat kind of direction did Nicki give you?

JM: Her team really didn’t give me direction. They sent me her itinerary for a radio promo in New York City. One of my concerns was I wasn’t confident that I could do the costumes she was accustomed to doing, but they assured my agent that I should do what comes naturally [when] looking at her schedule, so that’s what I did. I basically tapped into my vision of her, and it worked. At that particular time I thought she should have a much more modern silhouette—luxurious, someone who is embracing high fashion.

The project after that was for a Christmas party in NYC and a New Year’s Eve party in Las Vegas. So I pulled her dress options and great knit leggings, a Balmain jacket, just a high-fashion version of herself—a lot of color, everything was pretty close to the body. The creative direction at that time was high-fashion streetwear. From there, her style had an organic evolution.

She’s had so many different phases. What do you think is the core of her personal style?

JM: A lot of people ask what the inspiration is, and she’s the inspiration. The inspiration comes from how she feels as a woman and an artist, her third album, her first movie. It’s a reflection of where Nicki is on her journey as an artist. She has so many different facets to her career. She’s a businesswoman. She has a fragrance. She has the number one Moscato in the country. She’s a music artist. She’s an actress. She has so many different dimensions to her career, and her evolving style is a reflection of all those things. Nicki is sexy. She is bold. She is courageous. She has a certain strength in whatever it is that she does.

Nonja McKenzie: But she also has a softness and femininity that I think is coming out.

JM: Yes, and I also think that she’s at a point where she’s tapping into her strength as a woman because she’s strong enough and secure enough with who she is to reveal her more vulnerable, softer side.

What was the impetus behind her most recent style transformation into this very toned-down, natural look?JM: That is just a reflection of who she is as an actress, which is more stripped-down, more toned-down, more natural.

So her style changes based on the different types of events she has in her life?
JM & NM: Absolutely.

NM: Each project is different, and before we get engaged in the project, we always have to gauge from her on how she feels. She gives us direction on how she feels, and then we respond.

JM: She either approves it or says, “I feel better like this. More of that. Too much of this,” so on, so forth. She gives us her critique and that gives us the direction we need. It’s a collaboration, but the inspiration comes from Nicki.

One of the greatest things about her style is that she does have a very present sexuality, but it’s not intimidating. In a way, it’s tempered because she is one of the few girls in a boy’s world, in rap.

JM: Exactly. Her sexuality is tempered with a certain amount of sophistication and elegance.

NM: It’s a little sexy macho. It still has a degree of strength.

JM: Nicki is a rapper, so there is a certain amount of pomp and braggadociousness.

What was the concept behind her look for the “Senile” video?
JM: We kind of came up with a sexy chola girl who could fit in with the boys but was still very classy and high fashion. It’s an extreme version of Nicki. She is the woman, so she’s always the crown jewel—especially of the Young Money crew. Jeremy [Scott] was very instrumental in helping us create both of those looks. We reached out to him, and he came up with pieces specifically for the video, like the black-and-gold corset and panty and the Moschino bra and custom underwear.

Did you consider if there’d be any backlash from her chola look?
JM: It’s paying homage to the chola style. Nicki embodied it amazingly. It was a glamorizing and acknowledgement of that culture, which in my opinion is a compliment.

What is her relationship like with other designers?
JM: We have a great relationship with Hervé Léger. Nicki loves Roberto Cavalli. We’re in the process of cultivating relationships with them and a number of other brands as well. She also loves Balmain and Versace. One of her favorites right now is Alexander McQueen. She recognizes that it really works for her body, and one of the things she likes about it is how their cuts elongate her body. She finds that very flattering and appealing. That’s one of the things she’s noted about his designs.

What’s your favorite look you’ve put together for her?
JM & NM: The “Lookin Ass” video.

JM: My favorite is the first outfit, where she’s wearing the archive Moschino chain jacket with all of the layered jewelry and her hair pulled up in a chignon. I love the look. I love the fact that it was shot in black and white, which makes it iconic.

NM: I love both of the looks for that video. She had her Naomi Campbell moment.

Photo: Getty Images

Runway To Red Carpet: Show Some Skin


Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna, and Emma Roberts

This abbreviated week, stars turned out in snap-worthy wares that highlighted the age-old red-carpet friend—skin—in inventive ways. For example, in Mexico City on Monday, Rinko Kikuchi arrived at the premiere of Pacific Rim wearing a shoulder-baring Marios Schwab Fall ’13 gown. The night prior in Los Angeles, Nicki Minaj walked the BET Awards step-and-repeat in a Roberto Cavalli dress that resembled the designer’s Spring ’13 show closers. The sexed-up black number left little to the imagination, but it was still relatively tame for the oft outré Trinidadian.

Thanks to the star-studded Couture shows, the runway itself served as a red carpet this week. And there, too, we saw clever spins on skin. At Atelier Versace‘s Couture presentation in Paris on Sunday night, Emma Roberts wore an asymmetric white minidress from the house’s Fall ’13 ready-to-wear range. The clavicle-highlighting wedge at her right shoulder felt fresh. The next day, Dior darling Jennifer Lawrence appeared at the house’s Couture show donning a funky guipure-lace midriff top and wide-legged pants from Dior’s Resort ’14 offering.

And finally, pop goddess Rihanna hit Chanel’s Couture outing on Tuesday in a full-length cardigan from the brand’s Resort ’14 collection. Riri buttoned the sweater only at the midriff, consequently creating a thigh-high slit and navel-skimming plunge. She covered up partially here, though, with a few strands of Chanel pearls.

Photos: Getty Images

Frill-Seeker’s Paradise


Monique Lhuillier’s opulent gowns are enough to make a girl feel like a fairy princess. And now, after 16 years in business, fairyland has an East Coast address. Last month, Lhuillier finally opened her dream New York flagship on the Upper East Side, a milestone she officially celebrated yesterday evening with an appropriately luxe soirée. She and husband Tom Bugbee (the company’s CEO) discovered the 1890s townhouse two years ago and have been renovating it ever since. “We combined what was an existing retail store on the street level with a gallery that was available upstairs, then bought a one-bedroom apartment in the back, and somehow put it all together,” Lhuillier said of the 3,000-square-foot space. “All of the nooks and crannies make the experience private, like you’re discovering something, which is different from my very open store in Los Angeles.” (Not to mention from her unexpected third store in Edina, Minnesota.) Appointed with gray suede walls, jewel-box vitrines, and Lhuillier’s own Waterford crystal chandeliers (comparable models from the Monique Lhuillier Waterford lighting collection for sale, for the curious), the New York location greets guests with accessories and ready-to-wear on the ground floor, while the bridal collection, which makes up about 60 percent of the label’s sales, is stationed upstairs.

“Upon opening the store, we instantly saw just how ready people here were for us, and that’s a great feeling,” explained the designer. Despite setting up shop in the Big Apple, Lhuillier will keep most of her operations based on the West Coast, where the Hollywood set can’t seem to get enough of her red-carpet-ready frocks—or frock. Recently, Nicki Minaj attracted tabloid attention when she arrived at the American Music Awards in a chartreuse gown that Julie Bowen had already worn to collect her Emmy. “I had no idea Nicki Minaj was going to turn up in that Resort look, and I loved how over-the-top she made it—completely different from when Julie Bowen wore the same one at the Emmys.” One had to wonder if somewhere, a publicist’s head had rolled for the double loan. “Nicki and her stylist actually went into the store and bought it,” Lhuillier said. “So, no, everything you see on those girls isn’t always borrowed.”

Monique Lhuillier is now open at 19 E. 71st St., NYC, (212) 683-3332,

The All-Original Minaj


Since becoming a fashion show front-row regular and style star, Nicki Minaj has had everyone from Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci to Donatella Versace to Oscar de la Renta clamoring to dress her. Despite her designer duds, the Trinidad-born rapper from Queens still has a penchant for a good old pair of kicks. “I remember my first pair of Adidas shoes was pretty basic—they were black and white,” Minaj, a longtime fan of the Adidas brand, tells “More recently, I wore the Adidas wedges on the set of Madonna’s video; I could walk in them for hours. After that, I contacted Adidas about it and now they are my favorite thing to wear on tour. You get the height, but the comfort of a sneaker,” she adds. And so began her partnership with the iconic sportswear label.

Today, the pop star makes her debut in the newest chapter of the Adidas Originals “Adidas Is All In” Fall ’12 ad campaign, along with fellow brand ambassadors, her friend and designer Jeremy Scott, singer Sky Ferreira, hip-hop artist Big Sean, Korean pop phenomenon 2NE1, and NBA MVP Derrick Rose. “Adidas asked if I had anything that would work for a commercial and I said let me create something. I was already working on a particular song and I just went in and carved it out for them, and I make references to the Adidas Originals’ shell-toe sneakers,” the pop star says of her song “Masquerade” (off her new album), which she wrote specifically for the brand’s film by Melina Matsoukas, debuting here on “As a brand, they represent fun—they are inspirational and they feel like you are running a race, kind of like the Olympics. It’s about the fight to go hard and to win and to be victorious in whatever you do. When I let them hear it, they fell in love with it.” Speaking of the Olympics, Minaj admits to being a gymnastics fan. “Yeah, actually I went home after my show last night and watched the women’s gymnastics. I just like observing like every regular human. It always amazes me what those girls can do. Hats off to them!” Minaj, who is currently on tour, says over the phone from Dallas before heading into the studio.

Of filming the video (below), which was shot in front of New York’s La Esquina restaurant, she explains, “We got to the set late at night and I didn’t really know much about what we were about to do, and they started filming a street shot, kind of like a nightlife scene of me and Jeremy Scott leaving this club and the street becomes like a runway for style. I love Jeremy and his clothes and I just walked in the trailer and put on the first thing I loved—the coat and sneakers—and said, ‘I’m ready to go.’ “

But her Adidas gig is just one of the star’s many projects—”busy” would be a massively understated way to describe Minaj these days. She’s announcing new music in a few weeks (“I know my fans will spazz over that”), shooting videos for her new album, has a fragrance due out in September and her Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded tour, and she’s currently hard at work on her own clothing line. “We already have the designs—the quality is top-notch and I won’t let anything go out that I wouldn’t wear,” she says. “The hurdle is deciding the stores to place the line in—we have gotten interest from huge giants in the industry.” Is she consulting her designer friends for a little advice? “Good question. I haven’t sat with any designers to talk about it just yet, but I am pretty sure I will chat with Jeremy and Donatella [Versace] to get their words of wisdom. I know what my fans love when it comes to dressing. I can gauge what they love based on their tweets from my videos and pictures. I am pretty sure we will do really well with it and go from there. I’m just following my heart, really.”

Photos: Courtesy of Adidas

When Saving The Earth, Every Last Dollar Counts


“I have never bought anything at an auction before,” Glenn Close admitted to last night at Christie’s third annual Green Auction: BID to Save the Earth. She had, however, been auctioned off. “I was a part of one once. I’m supposed to go with Bobby Kennedy and a bunch of people to Mongolia and hunt with eagles, on horseback, but we haven’t done it yet. Hunting with eagles, on horseback, in Mongolia. I would say that’s pretty exotic.”

Though the actress was not on offer as part of last night’s auction (co-hosted by Susan and David Rockefeller, Salma Hayek and François-Henri Pinault, Anna and Graydon Carter, and James R. Hedges IV), there were several exotic experiences and celebrity names on the bill. “All of the trips are amazing, but I’m honestly a scuba diver, so that trip sounds the coolest to me,” said Christie’s master auctioneer Lydia Fenet (pictured, right). “Although, I don’t think I’m nearly as adventurous as the ladies leading the trip who dive with kidney warmers.” When Fenet finally took her place at the podium, she was quick to announce to the crowd, “Last year, I was standing up here with Seth Meyers from SNL, who made all these promises to save the world, and he didn’t, so we didn’t invite him back. Tonight, I’m going to take every last dollar you have.”

And she did a pretty good job at that—during the live auction of a seven-day chartered voyage on the largest catamaran in the world (which went for $150,000) and various other once-in-a-lifetime experiences, she helped rake in $600,000 for various charities, including Oceana, Conservation International, the National Defense Council, and the Central Park Conservancy. After that, Grace Potter (pictured, left) of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals closed out the night with a very different performance from last year’s surprise guest, Nicki Minaj. “Creatively, I think the difference in performers shows the diversity of what this auction is all about,” Potter said before the show. “But no, I’m not going to be rapping tonight.” On that note, she stayed true to her word.

Photo: Jonathon Ziegler /