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Mary J. Blige, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Examines Her Life in Looks

Mary J. Blige, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, has always lived up to her title with her fashion choices. As explored in her new Amazon Prime documentary, My Life, the singer pioneered a distinctive look she likes to call “ghetto fabulous,” and propelled it into the mainstream, along with her new musical sound. “Mary was the first to bring her own R&B, hip-hop swag to the boy-based rap scene,” Danyel Smith, the former editor of Vibe, says in the documentary. And now, Blige is exploring some of her very best fashion moments in a brand new Vogue video.

Blige starts with her 1994 “I’m Goin’ Down” music video, in which she wears a sleek Armani suit. “The song is very sad and tense, so the video was very, ‘Look at me now, so what—forget you,’” she says. She also reflects on her 1995 Billboard Music Awards, where she wore a “sexy Catwoman” Gucci look in head-to-toe leather. At the time, the singer says her ghetto fabulous aesthetic was just beginning to catch on—a look she cultivated totally by herself (she styled herself and did her own glam back then). “We didn’t have a lot of money, so it was about finding the best cheap things and making them look fly,” says Blige of her early career. “Then, when I got money, we were able to go crazy.”

Later in the 2000s, Blige hit a career highlight when she wore an all-white look to perform at the 2009 Inauguration for then-President Barack Obama. “It was zero degrees,” she says, adding that her chic white blazer barely kept her warm during the performance. “It was freezing, but singing warms your heart.” At the recent 2019 BET Awards, meanwhile, she also wore another all-white look including a fur coat, leather romper, and over-the-knee boots (a Blige signature!) while accepting her lifetime achievement award. “This is another level of ghetto fabulous,” says Blige of the statement look. “This is queen MJB in her element.” 

Above, watch Blige’s full life in looks video. 

Director: Rom Bokobza

DP: Alex Levin

Editor: Tajah Smith

Producer, LA: Naomi Nishi

Producer, NY: Jordin Rocchi

Associate Producer, NY: Alejandra Parisi

AC: John Arturo

Gaffer: Evan Wood

Sound: Gabe Quiroga

Set Design: Alice Martinelli 

Senior Talent Manager: Meredith Judkins

Filmed on Location: Lotte New York Palace, The Library-Villard Mansion

Mary J. Blige's My Life is now available on Amazon Prime Video. 

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