Lil Kim

Hey Guys! We hope that finals week goes well for everyone. It was mentioned in class on Wednesday that Marc Jacobs once gave Lil Kim a makeover. In fact, he dressed her for court in 2005 case. Apparently, Lil Kim and Marc Jacobs have a friendship that continued throughout her time spend behind bars. It is interesting to see that changes in the pictures that we found when we googled “Lil Kim” and when we googled “Lil Kim Marc Jacobs”. More interesting is the change of her dress. In all of Lil Kim’s pictures with Marc Jacobs, she is stylishly dressed. She still stays true to her brand of sex and sex appeal, but in what some would argue is a more tasteful manner. Moving away from the labels of “slutty” or “whorish”. She seems to show less skin but still manages to sell sex. One columnist for Elle magazine, used this sentence to notate Lil Kim’s transformation:”when she’s wearing her ladylike Marc Jacobs outfits.” When researching this matter, we found that there is no in between opinion for Lil Kim’s fashion, either you love it, hate it, or respect it! We found a blog in which the writer was no only disgusted by Lil Kim’s style but also overtaken by her relationship with Marc Jacobs. ( What we found more interesting than the blogger’s opinion was the opinion of one of her commenters: “I believe the reason marc jacobs has lil’ kim as his muse is because not the slutty thing she wears but her fearlessness to style and the risk she takes. Also he likes her music.” The commenter’s post raised a question among us: Could Lil Kim’s true brand be “risk-taker”? Sure she overuses sex, but even overall, her lyrics, her persona, does it all equal up to risk-taker? We are very interested on your thoughts on the matter. We would go as far as saying that Lil Kim’s change of her traditional dress when interacting with her friend, Marc Jacobs is another risk that she has taken. No one expects Lil Kim to every be fully clothed, especially not in a classy and chic dress, like the one pictured above. She does a wonderful job of encompassing the fashion, that is Marc Jacobs, and her personality, personal style, and brand (rather it is Sex or Risk-taking).


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15 thoughts on “Lil Kim

  1. Can I just say simply that this post shocked me because I had no idea Kim even knew HOW to dress without exposing all of her skin. Even though it strikes me as a tad bit odd, who says Lil’ Kim & Marc Jacobs can’t be friends? To answer the question though, I see her as more of an artist that simply sells sex over her being a “risk-taker.” In my opinion, selling sex as a female artist is the easy way out. Everybody knows sex sells and the fact that Lil’ Kim didn’t take a different approach proves to me that she is not a risk-taker.

    • Aryn,

      I see what you mean by her not being a risk taker because selling sex is the easy way out. But I challenge you with a statement that someone made during our presentation: Do you not believe that her way of selling sex by making women the sexually dominant is a risk?

  2. I agree with the statement that you made regarding Lil Kim being a risk-taker for being fully clothed, because she has normalized being bare in her career. To be able to do the opposite of one is used to, takes a lot of will power and drive. I look at Lil Kim as a chameleon who doesn’t ask the public for their opinions on how she dresses, rather, I look at her as a person who only looks to herself when it comes to transforming her being. It is known that sex sells, but why does it become an “easy way out” when female artists do it? Lil Kim is notorious for being hyper-sexualized, but I do not think that she is doing it for the money. Deep down, I think, and would like to believe, that Lil Kim is a super sexual and kinky person and made her career out of who she truly was, not what the music industry wanted her to be. I think an easy way out for her would be to be the ‘pretty/beautiful’ socio-normative image of a woman in a music career because there is less negative stigma placed on wholesomeness than sexy-ness. I think as a society we expect a lot from people in the limelight, they have to be skinny but not too skinny or they have an eating disorder, they have to be pretty…but not on a basic level otherwise they are boring, they shouldn’t go out clubbing all the time but they should make appearances to that they do not seem anti-social, etc. I feel that this idea applies to the sex appeal ordeal, people want the stars to show skin but not too much, otherwise she/he is a “whore”. Being able to move forward from these silent, and sometimes…not-so-silent, rules is a risk-taker. I genuinely feel that Lil Kim does not care, for one second, about how people view her as long as she’s loving herself and letting people know who she truly is.

  3. When I think of risk-taking in the context of fashion, I don’t really consider dressing in very little clothes as risk-taking per say. To me, it’s just borderline nudity. But in regards to Lil Kim’s transformation, I honestly can’t say I see that she’s taking any risks fashion wise just because she’s wearing more clothing and dressing more conservative (and I use that term very loosely), which goes against her original brand of oversexed, provocative and super explicitness in her attire and musical lyrics. I think her transition to less revealing clothing and her teaming up with Marc Jacobs to help her change up her image was appropriate and necessary because she’s older and as sexual as Lil Kim is I think she understands when to hang up the pasties and cover it up a bit.

    What I find most interesting about Lil Kim is not the way she’s chosen to dress herself throughout her career, but more so her physical transformation. Who she is today versus who she was when she first came on the scene mid-90s is night and day. The colored contacts, nose surgery, cheek implants…I just wonder what made her do this. And what does that say about how she views herself? I used to think she was so confident, because you’d have to be confident to wear literally nothing and let it all hang out for the world to see. But after her cosmetic alterations I am not so much sold on her being confident. What really constitutes as secure and confident in the way one presents themselves? If you wear hardly any clothes, are you more confident than someone who is extremely conservative?

  4. I agree that Lil Kim has stayed pretty true to her style since becoming famous. While we are seeing her reveal less skin than she did in her younger years, her clothing choices are generally still sexy and memorable. However, as she’s matured and gotten older I think she’s decided to dress a bit more mature to flatter her best features and maybe cover those she may not be as confident about anymore. And with regard to her relationship with Marc Jacobs, I find it very interesting as well. I agree with the comment stating that Marc Jacobs may enjoy dressing Lil Kim because she’s a risk taker. I think a lot of fashion has to do with taking risks, starting the next trend, and giving people something to talk about. Additionally, Lil Kim has such a confidence about her, I think she’d proudly wear anything a designer creates for her. Making her the ideal celebrity to dress.

  5. I also agree with your appraisal. I think that Lil Kim can be seen as a risk taker due to more than just her affinity for revealing clothing. Even in the pictures that you included in your post, she is covered up but her outfits are really bright colors that would be difficult to pull off or maybe even thought of as unfashionable at certain times/ by some people. Also, even the outfits that she wears that cover a little more of her body seem to often be composed of fabrics/materials that are “flashier” or more interesting and attention-getting.
    However, looking at the pictures in your post, I found myself thinking that the outfit I thought she looked best in was the first outfit. Interestingly, this is also the outfit that seems to be the most conservative (because, I think, it was the one she wore for a court case?). Anyway, I thought it was interesting that this was my initial reaction to the various outfits, and now I’m feeling really reflective as to why this is. I mean, its not like her body doesn’t look good in the other outfits or something – she does a really good job pulling both types of dress off, surprisingly. This has me wondering how we are socialized to think about these different types of clothing (more revealing/less revealing) in our culture.

  6. I think a lot of my feelings and opinions have been already said about Little Kim. Just like others, I took a long look at the transformation of Little Kim before and after Marc Jacobs. Some argue her style is no longer true to herself but I believe she has only furthered her sex appeal. It has transformed and changed without steering away from what she’s known for. For example Lady Gaga seems to just always be wacky, some may say she’s similar however I’d argue her changes range so much from sex appeal to artistic to being conservatie I’m unsure of what she truly embodies. One thing we know is just like Missy Elliott and the others we saw in class, Little Kim remains herself even by adding clothing. One does not imagine Marc Jacobs as anything but tasteful. Even as a designer he creates a style for Little Kim that evolves his own. It’s an interesting look however I really enjoy the change that she has made in her style.

  7. My honest opinion on Lil Kim’s fashion transformation is that it is a bit problematic. The reason I feel so many people praise her sudden change in clothing style is because I feel like she now represents a version of herself that is “safe” and more conformed to accepted norms. More specifically, the fact that she began to deviate from her sexualized fashion style once she began this close relationship with Marc Jacobs is a sign of her conformity to what “white” society deems appropriate. No one really paid much attention to her beforehand, except within the hip-hop community. I’m not sure that either fashion choice, the hyper-sexualized or the more ladylike one, is necessarily “correct,” but again I think that it’s a matter of what her intentions are with these fashion choices. Her previous, more sexualized fashion choices seemed to demonstrate more of a risk because she challenged the dominant notion that women are not supposed to own their sexuality, whereas her new look was something someone else (Marc Jacobs) created for her and represents a more accepted way to dress in society, and therefore, does not seem like such a risk.

  8. I don’t think that Lil Kim is being a risk taker at all, in the arena of hip hop women are often portrayed very sexually. I also do not think that the relationship between Marc Jacobs and Lil’ Kim is weird or unexpected, Marc Jacobs also pushes the sexual envelope in his advertising, so I can understand how she could serve the purpose of being his muse. If you google Marc Jacobs advertisements and you look at all the pictures, most of them have a hint of sexual context, and are usually under scrutiny for doing such. For example Dakota Fanning was in an advertisement with perfume in her lap, and it became banned. I do agree that Lil’ Kims style has matured a little bit, but I think that is to save her public profile and also the fact that she is getting older.

  9. Lil Kim is a very complex individual in the hip hop music industry. Her music is very influential, but her choice in fashion is as well. I feel her clothing provides a visual of the words she speaks in her music. Often times individuals do not remember there is a disconnect that exists for a performer and their personal life. We see the performance they put on for entertainment and an image they portray for their brand. The image they portray does not have to represent who they are as a persona in their personal life. Although Lil Kim displays excessive sexual images, this does not mean she is a extreme sexual being. An individual’s personal preference in fashion does not define their sexuality.

  10. I am not sure if I can say that Lil Kim fits into a category. It is interesting to see the question of whether or not she is a symbol of sex appeal or a symbol of a risk-taker as if one out weights the other. Should there really be such a strong dichotomy between these two ideas? The negative connotations we have about women blatantly expressing their sexuality makes many of us lean toward categorizing her as someone who is a risk taker, just to make her choices and our perception of her look and feel better. I think she stays true to her sex appeal and her risk taker mentality because both are what she is. I disagree on what you guys said: There is an “in-between” for me in thinking about her fashion. I love it because she is bold beyond what others have done, i hate it because she shows a side of sexuality that makes me uncomfortable at times, and I respect it because above all she has no shame in breaking the boundaries of what stereotypical women should be like.

  11. This post was highly though provoking. Often times when one thinks of a muse for a fashion designers, we are socially tuned to idealize waifish , statuesque, poised figures who seem to elude a un-pronounced je na sais quo. I believe, it is for that reason that when those who are in tune with the fashion world are caught of guard by the pairing of an eclectic , vastly successful and highly idiolize fashion figure with a female rap artist who exudes promiscuous and is hypersexual.It seems incomprehensible to some individuals, like the blogger posted above, but it makes sense that a muse, an inspiration can be anyone or anything with a strong presence. True fashion producers seek inspiration in every facet and Lil Kim is undoubtedly a strong presence in her industry and posses that je ne sais quo that makes her stand out from other music industry figures. Whenever i previously thought of Lil Kim, I summarize her to be both ratchet and a figure that can roll with the boy and obliterate anyone or anything that comes in her path. I believe her imagery and branding personifies this description and i believe it is important to get beyond the sex sell message to see the artistic and emotional level beneath. xx

  12. I’m not sure “risk taker” is the way I would describe her, as oversexualizing oneself is nothing new, and as Pink Kente said, women in hip hop are very sexualized as it is. However, I feel like she is unique in that she does not use her sexuality to compensate for a lack of talent. I looked up a bunch of reviews of her past albums, and they all praise her boldness, consistency, and, yes, sexuality.To some extent, she may have paved the way for future female rappers in part by being so in your face about her femininity, as opposed to dressing and acting like one of the boys. I seriously doubt Nicki Minaj would be so phenomenally successful without her presence.

    That said, I agree with ctmarie in questioning the motivations behind her physical transformation, and her desire to dress so revealingly all the time. Is it an expression of insecurity, or is it a conscious statement about who she is and her place in the industry? I guess only she (and maybe Marc Jacobs) actually know.

  13. I agree with all the statements that have been made regardig Lil Kim and her style. One comment that I especially agree with is that many women in the entertainment are overly sexualized in general. However, one thing we looked for when doing our research was someone who stayed true to their brand by not only fashion statements, but the lyrics to their songs and how they looked when performing and released music videos. While some women may dress sexual in the media to get attetnion of their target audience, not all of their songs have to do with sex, as does Lil Kim’s. I do believe that she takes risks, and would be her in the category as a “risk taker” She pushes the sexual envelope just a bit more than other artists not only in the risks that she takes in her fashion choices, but as well as the songs that she produces. Lil Kim has made a name for herself, one that still shines throughout her even when she is fully clothed (notice the facial expressions she has even when she is fully dressed. She still makes sure she can be seen as a sex symbol.) or seen with Marc Jacobs. It is her brand and once a brand is set, it is hard for it to be broken.

  14. I agree that Lil Kim is a very complex figure to “read”; there is a lot going on in her fashion choices and, although I’m not that invested in policing her fashions, I think there is value in thinking about how they function in our culture at large.
    Yes, women are definitely over-sexualized within certain realms of hip-hop, but that leads me to think that, earlier in her career, Lil Kim was presenting a very aggressive sexuality in response. It seems that transforming the objectification of your peers into your own subjectification might grant some power within that context? If anything, I feel critical about her performance of sexuality because it SO at the center of her public identity. I agree that in our male-dominated culture wearing less clothing or always dressing sexily plays into the male gaze, but I also think there is value in women choosing to wear what they want (or, haha, what they don’t want!)— I think intention has a lot to do with it.
    Also, I think that the ever-present argument about Lil Kim vs. Niki Minaj is an interesting representation of how much room there is for creative, fashionable, feminine MC’s. I understand that both have fueled the fight, and that it is centerd around originality and respect, but is there really only room for one hip-hop “barbie”?

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