Music News

Missy Elliott – the Vanguard, the Icon, the Pioneer.

Over the past weekend, I popped by the Museum of Missy Elliott in Soho to talk to June Ambrose, Missy’s long-time costume designer and stylist, who’s known her for 22 years. She walked me through some of the installations at the museum that touched on key moments in Missy’s music video life.

It’s been three decades since Missy Elliott first entered the music world with her all-female group Sista, recruiting neighborhood friend Timothy Mosley (a.k.a. Timbaland) as producer. Stepping out on her own with the release of her debut album “Supa Dupa Fly” in 1997, Elliott discovered her unique voice and style, transforming her into one of rap’s most prominent artists of all time. Four Grammy awards and over 30 million record sales later, Elliott has added the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award to her mantel after Monday’s MTV Video Music Awards.

To celebrate, MTV (in partnership with Pepsi) gave Elliott’s superfans the chance to “throw it back” and reflect on some of the 48-year-old star’s career highlights at a pop-up Museum of Missy Elliott, which opened on Saturday Aug. 23 and Sunday Aug. 24 in New York City. Tickets reportedly sold out in 60 seconds flat, with Elliott telling fans on Instagram to show up anyway, saying “You never know!”

Known for being hands-on involved in her costumes and outfits, Elliott has worked with costume designer June Ambrose, directors Hype Williams and Dave Myers, choreographer Hi-Hat, and make-up artists Billy B and Gloria Elias-Foeillet — all of whom created installations in the pop-up. Ambrose spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Elliott’s style on a guided sneak-peek tour on Friday.

“Prior to 1997, I don’t believe there was any artist quite like Missy Elliott, both sonically and visually,” said Ambrose, who has worked with Elliott, from her debut solo single “The Rain” to 2015’s colorful, futuristic look for “WTF (Where They From)” to her “Throw It Back” video, out this week. “Missy’s audacity to be bold and different (and her sporty provocativeness) changed the narrative and redefined how women were viewed. Missy inspired a whole generation of women to find the confidence within themselves to go out and conquer the world unapologetically. Missy proved that one doesn’t need to fit into a box that society oftentimes attempts to put us in. That one can be both confident and unique and be able to achieve major success in the entertainment industry and beyond.”

Ambrose has witnessed Elliott’s approach to style and fashion firsthand. “Missy is a true visionary,” she says. “One thing that sticks out to me, whenever I’ve collaborated with Missy, is her ability to invent, receive and process creative inspiration from myself and others. Ultimately, her confidence, swag and conviction, her commitment to taking risks and pushing the boundaries, is what I believe makes her a true style icon.”

“Missy is so personable and warm and fuzzy and confident and shy, if that makes sense?” said Ambrose. “There’s a coyness to her. When you think about the word coy, Missy is the epitome. Clever but she still knows how to work it. Since I’ve known her, for over 22 years, she’s always been that way.”

Ambrose points to the “Lose It” music video, as an indicator of how ahead of her time Elliott has been. “We had a lot of girls dressed like boys, which is such a relevant moment as we talk about gender-bending and being gender neutral today. She was really on the pulse of that early, showing that girls can be in tank tops.”

Ambrose believes that’s part of why Elliott’s style changed hip-hop. “We were all about body image,” she says. “No matter what size you are, you can say confidently, ‘This is who I am.’ No matter what shape or size, color or gender, it doesn’t matter.”

At the pop-up, ticket holders can try on Elliott’s iconic garbage bag suit from her 1997 music video for “The Rain”; snap photos within installations from “Gossip Folks,” “Lose Control” and “Sock It 2 Me”; and hang out in the Supa Dupa Fly Lounge. There is even a manicure bar, so “If you a fly gal, get your nails done, get a pedicure, get your hair did,” as Elliott sings in “Work It.” Nail artists will help guests select customized nail art and sit at one of the “Missy” branded director’s chairs to receive the star treatment, while taking glam mirror selfies. Courtesy of mixed-reality company, VNTANA, the museum will also use immersive technology to create hologram-like images of stand-out moments from some of Elliott’s most popular music videos.

In the run-up to the VMAs, Elliott just dropped a new set of songs, the first since 2005’s “The Cookbook” and the new video for the single, “Throw It Back.” In the video, dancers jump rope with her braids and she gives new meaning to the term “snatching wigs.” Living up to her style icon title, Elliott rocks a monochromatic pink power suit, a chrome space suit, and a head-to-toe custom logo MCM x Misa Hylton look, created by her longtime stylist and MCM Global Creative Partner.

“This was so fun,” said Ambrose. “It was filled with a lot of collaborative moments, old school moments. The pom-poms that are actually red wigs was Missy’s idea. She loved the whole idea of girl’s snatching their wigs off. There’s a lot of shiny in there. I love shiny.  I did the shiny suits for Puffy, so I do love shine!  The moon suits were fun to design.”  

Hylton told THR that styling Elliott is always a shared effort. “Every moment working with Missy is amazing,” she says. “Her creativity is out of this world. She lives outside the box in everything she does and it’s never a dull moment with her.”

As for a favorite styling moment with Elliott, Hylton points to an Elle magazine cover in 2017. “There is a mistaken perception in the music industry that Missy is shy, but her reserve is more about valuing her personal space. If you saw the images, that shoot was an opportunity to showcase different facets of Missy’s personality — playful, sophisticated, yet still edgy.”

Elliott’s MTV honor comes in a year filled with recognition for her ground-breaking contributions to music. In May, the four-time Grammy Award winner was awarded with an honorary doctorate degree in music from the Berklee College of Music. In June, she became the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.

58 comments

  1. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging
    on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always exciting to read
    through content from other authors and practice a little something from their web sites.

  2. Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your weblog.
    You have some really great articles and I believe I would be
    a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like
    to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please send me an e-mail if interested. Kudos!

  3. I have learn some excellent stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking for revisiting.
    I wonder how much attempt you put to make this
    type of wonderful informative web site.

  4. Great post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I am inspired!
    Extremely helpful info specially the closing part :) I deal
    with such info a lot. I used to be looking for this certain info for a long time.

    Thank you and good luck.

  5. I’ve been surfing on-line greater than 3 hours today, yet I never
    found any fascinating article like yours. It is beautiful
    price sufficient for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you
    did, the net will likely be a lot more useful than ever
    before.

  6. Hey There. I found your blog the use of msn. This is an extremely neatly written article.

    I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to learn more of your helpful information.
    Thank you for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  7. Good day! I know this is somewhat off topic but
    I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?
    Thanks a lot! games ps4 allenferguson games ps4

  8. Hello, after reading this awesome paragraph i am also delighted to share my know-how
    here with friends. ps4 games allenferguson ps4 games

  9. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled
    upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently quickly.

  10. Hi, this weekend is fastidious in favor of me, for the reason that this occasion i am reading this fantastic educational paragraph here at my home.

  11. Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What web
    host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to
    your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  12. You have made some good points there. I looked on the internet for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web
    site.

  13. Great beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog
    web site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit
    acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea

  14. This paragraph is really a pleasant one it helps new internet
    users, who are wishing in favor of blogging. 0mniartist asmr

  15. I’m curious to find out what blog platform you happen to be
    working with? I’m experiencing some minor security issues with my latest website and I would
    like to find something more safeguarded. Do you have
    any solutions? asmr 0mniartist

  16. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this brilliant blog!
    I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to
    my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will
    talk about this website with my Facebook group. Chat soon! 0mniartist asmr

  17. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely magnificent.
    I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you are stating and the way in which you say it.
    You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it sensible.
    I can’t wait to read far more from you. This is really a
    terrific website.

  18. Asking questions are genuinely pleasant thing if you are not understanding
    anything entirely, however this paragraph gives nice understanding
    yet.

  19. Hi there, I believe your blog might be having web browser compatibility problems.
    Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it
    has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up!
    Aside from that, wonderful blog!

  20. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really
    well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
    I’ll certainly return.

  21. Hey! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

  22. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any
    better! Going through this article reminds me
    of my previous roommate! He continually kept
    preaching about this. I most certainly will send this article to him.
    Fairly certain he’ll have a great read. Many thanks for
    sharing!

  23. We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site provided us with valuable information to work on. You have done
    a formidable job and our entire community will be
    thankful to you.

  24. Valuable info. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally,
    and I am shocked why this accident did not took place earlier!
    I bookmarked it.

  25. Excellent items from you, man. I have be mindful
    your stuff prior to and you are just too excellent.
    I really like what you’ve acquired right here, really
    like what you’re saying and the way in which during which you are saying it.

    You are making it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep
    it wise. I cant wait to learn much more from you. This is actually a terrific site.

  26. If you would like to increase your familiarity just keep visiting this site
    and be updated with the latest information posted here.

  27. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find
    the majority of your post’s to be what precisely I’m looking
    for. Do you offer guest writers to write content in your case?
    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on some of the subjects you
    write with regards to here. Again, awesome site!

  28. It’s fantastic that you are getting ideas from this piece of writing as well as from
    our argument made at this time.

  29. I’ve been browsing online more than 3 hours lately, but I never discovered any interesting article like yours.
    It’s beautiful price sufficient for me. In my view, if all website owners
    and bloggers made good content as you did, the net might be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  30. No matter if some one searches for his essential thing, thus
    he/she desires to be available that in detail, thus
    that thing is maintained over here.

  31. Hi to every single one, it’s actually a pleasant for me to pay a visit this site,
    it contains important Information.

  32. Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
    I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark
    this blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.