Film Review by Kam Williams
Fashion Documentary Revisits the Rise of Hip-Hop Designers
When rap arrived back in the late Seventies, more than the music burst on the scene. The performers’ outlandish costumes also had a profound effect on American culture which proceeded to mimic everything from MC Hammer’s balloon pants to Run DMC’s fedoras and Adidas outfits.
As the genre matured, the more business-savvy artists opted to capitalize on their influence by launching their own clothing lines. They figured, why send the stock of fashionistas like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger through the roof when they could wear their own labels onstage? Subsequently, industry newcomers such as Daymond John’s FUBU and Puff Daddy’s Sean John kick-started brands which became multi-million dollar household names available in fine stores everywhere.
That surprising development is the subject of Fresh Dressed, a visually-captivating celebration of the sartorial splendor which blossomed during the Golden Age of Rap. The fascinating documentary takes a delightful stroll down Memory Lane courtesy of reams of archival footage featuring folks in garish, spray-paint-colored outfits. It also has plenty of present-day reflections on the phenomenon by plenty of Hip-Hop icons: Nas, Pharrell, Kid, Play and Damon Dash, to name a few.
The movie marks the impressive writing and directorial debut of Sacha Jenkins, who has deftly interwoven all of the above elements into an informative history lesson that’s worth the investment even if you’re not a fan of rap. For instance, you’ll learn how to avoid getting “vicked” (Ebonics for “victimized”) which is a distinct possibility if you’re dumb enough to walk through the ‘hood wearing a pair of the latest Air Jordans.
Believe it or not, gangstas build their wardrobe around their sneakers, since looking “fresh” (aka “stylish”) starts with the feet. As Kid reminisces, “People were killed for their shoes,” so “the one thing you never wanted to hear was someone asking you your shoe size.”
Back in the day, if you decided to walk a mile in a man’s moccasins, you meant that literally, not figuratively. Hey, that way, you’d not only have his shoes, but you’d have a decent head start on the barefoot sucka.
A nostalgic tribute to a materialistic generation weaned on conspicuous consumption where capped gold teeth and gaudy clock necklaces were trendy fashion statements.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 90 minutes
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn