This is one of those lazy posts that I usually write on a whim but that have been sitting in my drafts for a while. I’ve recently started writing more about myself, so you’ve probably realized I’m a hopeless nostalgic. I’m pretty satisfied with my life right now (it could be better on many different levels, but it could also be worse, so I choose to look at the bright side), but there are so many things that I would like to bring back from the past. This is impossible – of course – so I treasure them and keep them in my memory. This is so much true when it comes to music: I listen mostly to music from the 90s, that is the music I listened to when I was in my 20s, because it brings back good memories and because it really speaks to the bottom of my heart. Sometimes I like listening to contemporary music, too, but it never feels the same, which I think is totally understandable.
It’s so great and heart-warming when a memory from the past triggers something inside of me: it’s recently happened with a song by Mad Season and it’s happened again with a 2001 video by Aaliyah. In the first case, it was simply a music-related memory, while in the second it’s all about fashion. I would like to explain why I’m still mourning the New York-born artist, and why nobody has replaced her in my personal hall of music fame since her death, but I would digress. Let’s focus on her video instead. I’m referring to More than a Woman, directed by Dave Meyers in 2001, one of the videos I watch again and again on YouTube. Everything is special about it – the song, the setting, Aaliyah riding a Triumph Speed Triple, her Chanel catsuit, Mark Ronson’s appearance – but there’s something which has always intrigued me: her lace-up pants.
She wore them with a navel-baring black top and matching trainers in the second part of the video, which included a dance routine. They’re definitely sexy and kind of trashy, but for some secret reason they are part of an endless wish-list of garments/accessories I’ve spotted in music videos/tv shows/films that I would like to own. The waist is decorated by studs (or grommets); the legs are zipped but have front slits decorated by grommets and laced-up.
Aaliyah was the queen of r&b but these trousers had a rock vibe which kind of contrasted with her image. But you know I love contrasts, and here the clashing is just sublime. Moreover, what I like about them is that they’re revealing but not in an outrageous/excessive way. No need to say I’ve always dreamt of wearing them myself.
If you’ve never watched the video, take some time to: it’s so beautiful and so 90s, even if it was shot at the beginning of the 21st century. The last scene, where Aaliyah puts her helmet off and whips her hair, is just epic.
And this is how past and present come together. In moments like this I understand why I’m still writing about fashion, despite having fallen out of love with it. The first time I saw these leather lace-up trousers by Rodarte (from the spring 2013 collection), I KNEW they reminded me of something, but it took me some time to pin the exact memory down. Don’t they look like the evolution of Aaliyah’s pants? They are made of strings of leather decorated by grommets and laced up, so there aren’t two front slits only, but the concept is the same. The final effect is much more aggressive, and the rock vibe is clearly reinforced. I don’t know if Kate and Laura Mulleavy paid homage to the black pants seen in More Than a Woman or if they had a different source of inspiration, but I can see a connection and whenever this happens, my heart fills with joy. I like to think Aaliyah would be the first to wear them, if she were still among us. I’m sure she would love them ♥
Update! After receiving a comment from Sam, who told me the name of Aaliyah’s stylist, I decided to drop him a line. When I woke up this morning, I got a reply from him (which was SO exciting, if you ask me). This is what he said about “those” pants.
Hi Teresa! I read your blog post. Great work! Those leather pants of Aaliyah’s from “More Than A Woman” were custom made. I designed them myself and sewn by a tailor I always used for Aaliyah, Joe LaGrand. Since it was an all dance video, I wanted a vibe similar to what Aaliyah wore in “Try Again”, hence the leather pant. So I went to a leather sex shop in Los Angeles for inspiration & came out with that design in my head. I have those pants, along with most of Aaliyah’s other wardrobe, in storage. Most likely never to be worn again.
Lots of thank-yous to Derek Lee, who took some time to answer my questions and to give us more information about the story behind the lace-up pants Aaliyah wore in the video. It’s so great that they have been kept and are now in storage. It’s like keeping Aaliyah’s memory safe ♥