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August 27 2014

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14 posts tagged "Nicki Minaj"

Started From the Bottom: Experts Weigh in on the Cultural Obsession With Butts

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butt-1Nicki Minaj, clad in a green sequined two-piece, gyrated her hips and thrust her backside in the air onstage at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards as she belted out the lyrics to her song “Anaconda.”

“Oh, my gosh, look at her butt/Look at her butt/Look at her butt,” she sang.

Minutes later, pop singer Jessie J (who opened the show alongside Minaj and Ariana Grande) took the stage to perform her hit “Bang Bang.”

The opening lines of the song? “She got a body like an hourglass/But I can give it to you all the time/She got a booty like a Cadillac/But I can send you into overdrive.” Later that night, during her introduction for Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s “Black Widow” performance, Jennifer Lopez teased her new “Booty” remix with Azalea, which dropped yesterday. (The original version of the track was released on Lopez’s A.K.A. album, featuring Mr. Worldwide.)

The original chorus (“Big, big booty/What you got a big booty”) remains unchanged. But in the remix, Azalea raps, “The last time the world seen a booty this good it was on Jenny from the block.”

The 42nd Annual GRAMMY AwardsIt was, after all, Lopez who originally kicked off the butt fad back in 2000 with her plunging, derriere-hugging Versace ensemble. “It started when J.Lo showed up in that green see-through dress at the Grammys,” says Dr. Constantino G. Mendieta, a Miami-based plastic surgeon who is the author of The Art of Gluteal Sculpting and a globally recognized expert on the subject of butt augmentation. “After they saw her, people started asking us, ‘Hey, how can I get a backside like that?’”

Ten years ago, women were enhancing their backside shape through silicone implants. Today, however, a quickly growing percentage of women (and even men) are increasing the size and changing the shape of their butts through fat injections, a process better known as the Brazilian Butt Lift. The cost of such a procedure, which can increase your butt size roughly one to two full sizes, can be upwards of a cool $10,000.

“It’s revolutionary what is happening to the backside,” Mendieta tells us. “If you look at the statistics, the number of people getting this procedure went up 53 percent from last year. Nothing else increased in our statistics like butt injections did in the past year, so you are certainly on to something.”

No doubt, butts have never been bigger, both in physical size and as a cultural phenomenon (umm…#belfies, translation: butt selfies). Sunday night’s VMA show only further cemented it. Not only were the performers riffing on booties, they were flaunting their own hourglass shapes, too. Minaj’s and Azalea’s rear ends received more attention—and resulting social media commentary—than most of the show. (There’s now even an app called Tap That, where you can digitally enhance the size of some of the most famous butts out there, including Minaj’s, Azalea’s, Beyoncé’s, and, of course, Kim Kardashian West’s. )

It’s the shapely derrieres of celebs like Beyoncé and Kardashian West (who was fittingly sitting front-row at Sunday night’s show) that’s inspiring women and men to go under the needle. And for those going after something slightly more conservative in scale, the Pippa Middleton treatment is being heavily requested these days.

“Many patients will refer to celebrities when trying to convey the look they desire,” says Dr. Adam Schaffner, a New York-based, board-certified plastic surgeon. “Celebrities with buttocks which are admired by many patients include Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, and Kim Kardashian,” he confirms.

Officially, the jury is still out as to whether or not those bold-face names woke up like that, or if they got a little help from their white-coated friends. Nicole Winhoffer, trainer to Madonna, helps ladies get kick-ass booties the old-fashioned way: a hard-core sweat. (This reporter can testify—I took several of her classes and could not walk for days after.)

Winhoffer, who didn’t want to comment on anyone’s plastic surgery, says, “It’s possible to completely change the shape and size of your butt—it’s just about sculpting your butt using different angles, changing the muscle memory, and working with the right trainer.”

Several of the doctors we consulted, however, said that while you can get a great shape from loads of squats and working out, the effects are different than when you add fat volume through injections.

“You can tell a butt when it’s been made. There is more volume in the upper part, it’s more round, and the volumes are not where they are naturally,” says Mendieta. “A butt that is built looks beautiful, but it’s like when you walk into a room and something has been misplaced. You know something has been changed.”

No matter how they got their booties, these ladies are helping to lead a body-positive message. “You have Kim K. and different models really using their butts to promote themselves,” says Winhoffer. “But I love that they are curvy and they love themselves. If you have the power to change the world and you have people paying attention to you—either through social or whatever—and you use it the right way for the right message, I am all for that.”

One thing is clear: The message in pop culture right now is that your backside can be your greatest asset. Beyoncé, for her part, came on top of Forbes‘ 100 Most Powerful Celebrities list this year, raking in $115 million in earnings. Kardashian West brought in an estimated $28 million and also made the Forbes Top 100 list. Azalea is currently the only artist since The Beatles to have the number one and number two record in the country at the same time.
2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Fixed Show
And as for the original face of the booty campaign, Jennifer Lopez? At the end of the day, she’s still Jenny from the Block, but the 45-year-old force to be reckoned with raked in $37 million in the past year and came in 33rd on the 2014 Forbes Top Celebrity 100 list. Used to be a little, now she’s got a lot.

Photos: Jeff Kravitz/MTV1415; Mark Davis/Getty Images; S.Granitz/WireImage; @kimkardashian; @jenselter; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Dressing for Fame: Johnny Wujek Talks Katy Perry’s LED Met Gown and That Time Nicki Minaj’s Costume Nearly Made Him Break Down

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Johnny Wujek

If celebrity status is conferred in red-carpet appearances, then no actress today can compete without the help of just the right stylist. As Kerry Washington once told Glamour after she noticeably upped the sartorial ante, “There were a couple of actresses whom I felt were having the upper hand careerwise—because they knew how to work that red carpet.” A carefully crafted collaboration between stylist and client, the perfect look can create an indelible impact on agents, casting directors, and those of us watching from the sidelines. Straight from the epicenter of all things celebrity, we’ve asked some of the industry’s top stylists to share their experiences and impressions from their perch above Tinseltown. With our Dressing for Fame series, we bring you an exclusive, insider look at everything it takes to create those iconic moments captured by a million photo flashes.

Johnny Wujek

When you count Katy Perry as a client, it’s safe to say that you’re used to pushing the proverbial envelope. For stylist Johnny Wujek, Perry’s just one of his best-dressed leading ladies (Kate Mara and Ariana Grande also top his list) whose jaw-dropping looks shine on concert stages, red carpets, and at press junkets alike. Here, Wujek talks to Style.com about how he lit up the Met ball, why fashion can be like a high school lunchroom, and what he gets from his mama.

How did you get your start styling?
I started styling with movies. One of my best friend’s cousins was a movie director, and I worked as an intern in the costume department—for free. The woman who was the main costume designer was a big-time stylist, who hired me after the movie to be her assistant. I worked for her for a little under a year, learning the business, traveling, and being on sets, then producers started calling me directly to style jobs on my own. Low budget, but I was in charge! Right away I got an agent and started booking gigs, networking at parties, and collecting clients. It all happened very fast. Before I knew it, I was working every day—sometimes for free, just to build a portfolio. The rest is history.

What’s your favorite part about your day to day?
There are so many highlights. I love my job because of all the people I get to interact with. From the showrooms to the costume builders and sewers to the lighting technicians, producers, directors, and, of course, my clients. Every day is always a different experience, prepping and confirming or finding that perfect dress, or seeing the final outcome of a costume I’ve been working on, or seeing the actual performance live. Seeing people’s reactions when Katy walks out in a costume. It’s all part of the amazing process. It’s crazy to even call it a job because I have too much fun.

What’s been your most challenging experience thus far?
Nicki Minaj’s American Music Awards opening performance. It was a test of time, patience, and my ability to not have a full breakdown. She was opening the AMAs with David Guetta. I had worked with her a few times before and everything went so easily. For this project she was to be a fembot. The costume design was incredible. All the sketches were approved and we were moving forward, until there was a request to modify the sketch, so we did, and then we continued to move forward. Until there was another request to modify the costume. Time was getting closer to the show, and this costume was complex with lights, wiring, building—it was not something you make overnight. Long story short, it was down to the wire getting this costume put together—like, honestly, five minutes before she had to be onstage, we were throwing this costume on her. Running down halls, crying sewers. It was intense. And of course, just as she steps onstage after being wired and all plugged in, her assistant helps her up to the platform, but in doing so switches off the whole LED wire system. So she never lit up. Needless to say, it was the most stressful job I’ve ever worked on.

How do you think styling musicians differs from styling actresses?
Music you can do more and push the envelope more. You have performance costumes, things that light up and spin. An actress wants designer looks for best-dressed red carpet. They are two different worlds really.

What do you do when you disagree with a client?

Arm wrestle or paper-rock-scissors. Just kidding. I never, ever force anyone to wear something they do not feel comfortable in. If I need to push a little, I do, but never to where things get heated. It’s all about the client being happy and comfortable in their clothes. But there for sure have been times when a client won’t even try something on, then when I get them to, they end up loving it. Those are always the funniest moments.

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Have you ever had a “made it” moment?

I feel like I’m always trying to top myself—trying to do more, do better, push, push, push. But there have definitely been some major moments where I felt very rewarded, like the Katy Perry cover of WWD after the Met in the light-up gown. That was fun. I mean, everyone was there that year, and she took the cover alone. My first Grammy performance for “Kissed a Girl” was major. Honestly, every day I wake up feeling blessed that I get paid to do something so enjoyable and creative. I will be making it till the day I die.

How do nurture your clients’ relationships with designers and brands? Do you find those relationships limiting at all?

Over the years, I have built relationships with many designers and brands through placements, dinners, parties, attending shows, etc. No relationship is limiting unless you make it that way. Like in high school in the lunchroom, I jumped from table to table, I was friends with everyone. That’s just me. I get it from my mama.

You’re working on America’s Next Top Model. How do you think that job informs your work as a stylist?
Well, it airs in 186 countries, so it was amazing for my brand and getting my name further out into the world. Being on Top Model was a great experience of a different angle of the work I’d like to be doing: on-camera hosting and teaching and sharing.

Are there any up-and-coming designers who have you excited?
Loving Baja East. Their loose luxury brand is so something I would spend every day in. Love Timo Weiland and love love love Wes Gordon.

What advice would you give to stylists on the rise and people looking to get into the profession?
Go for it! Any opportunity you get to be on set, to assist, even if it’s free work, do it. You will gain experience, and it will lead to many other things. And be ready to hustle. Getting started is the hardest part.

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

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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

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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

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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, moniquelhuillier.com