Urban chic resurfaces -- Stars like Puffy, Mary J. Blige, and Lil' Kim sport street-inspired fashion

By Nicholas Fonseca
Updated July 14, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

From Puffy’s mink-inflected runway fashions to Sam Jackson’s sartorially splendid Shaft, the star-fashion axis is forsaking the baggy white-bread offerings of Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren in favor of urban chic.

But it’s not just the likes of Lil’ Kim and Mary J. Blige — two M.A.C.-shilling songstresses who’d never leave the house in anything but Dior, Vuitton, or Gucci — sporting flashy duds. Madonna calls the look of the upcoming video for her single ”Music,” in which the singer kicks off her own Harlem renaissance in a lavish fur coat, ”’70s ghetto-fabulous.”

What gives? Besides a booming economy and retro madness, Lloyd Boston, NBC style expert and author of Men of Color, believes, ”It’s about wearing affluence on your sleeve.” In the case of Blige, this translated into having Dolce & Gabbana outfit her in crystal-studded white leather, among other ensembles, on her current tour. ”Mary wanted to give her fans a new source of inspiration,” say Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, through a spokesperson. ”This look is modern, comfortable, and has street edge.”

Though some argue that the ghetto-fab look perpetuates negative racial stereotypes, there’s no denying it is a mark of urban culture’s enormous fashion influence. ”Look at the things that come out of Paris and Milan,” says Boston. ”Hip-hop style and ghetto-fabulosity are uniquely urban expressions. We can’t deny those things because they turn into moneymaking inspirations for mainstream designers.”