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Gone Platinum

I imagine if I had the resources needed to put this editorial together in, let's say 2010, I would've. And being that the late 90's and early 2000's were a key reference point in my own creative development, I already understood a lot of the styling cues to a degree. I stayed up late to tape Planet Groove, my AOL connection buffered to watch videos pre HD on bet.com, and had a pretty vast collection of Bop! and Right On magazines. I have an affinity with this time period and I was conscious of that even then. It was really a matter of bringing a powerful cast together to pull this editorial off. Check. This project is long overdue; and I say that in hopes that I don't come across as some backpacker who's holding onto (what some would label) a dated aesthetic. But! If we look at the amount of influence this era has on current culture, the timing and timelessness of this might be perfect.

Above: Asheley Turner styled as Aaliyah for 'Gone Platinum'. Photo c/o Paolo Azarraga, styling by Bobby Bowen, Sarah Vee and myself. Hair & Makeup by Mila Victoria and Indie Halstead. Even down to the accessories, we turned out thrift stores and costume houses in search of pieces that were historically accurate. In the beginning I was hesitant to even include Aaliyah into the editorial if we couldn't get her look spot on.

The transition into the millennium was rooted in confident artistry and unique personalities, subsequently launching a multi-billion dollar industry. As the era of shiny suits and big budget fish-eyed videos flourished, hip hop culture quickly became a global phenomenon, translating its once-coded sounds and expressions into pop culture.

While we still vividly recall the term “bling” entering our lexicon following the premiere of The Hot Boyz “Bling, Bling” as Rap City’s ‘New Joint of the Day,’ today, all you have to do is look it up in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. While these are massive steps for rap music, the culture’s growth is still, unfortunately, stunted by those unwilling to grow with it—however, hip hop culture lives in the essence of paying homage to the past and preparing for the future. Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill and OutKast hadn’t just gone platinum, they transcended the boundaries of popular music, broke down corporate barriers, and still continue to influence an entire generation today.

View the full editorial, here.

Photography: Paolo Azarraga
Creative Direction: Sean Brown
Styling: Bobby Bowen, Sarah Vee, Sean Brown
Hair & Makeup: Mila Victoria, Indie Halstead
Project Year: 2016