On Monday night (Sept. 17), VH1 kicked off their annual Hip-Hop Honors ceremony and paid homage to the innovative works and influence prominent figures like Mariah Carey, Martin Lawrence and Hype Williams had on hip-hop culture in the ’90s.
The channel tapped one of the most influential figures of era, Missy Elliott, as the event’s opening performer. The singular MC performed her 1999 cut “She’s A Bitch,” channeling the same aesthetic used in the Williams-directed visual.
Elliott recreated her classic “She’s a Bitch” video look for the performance, as she and her backup dancers were coated in black paint and all-black outfits, courtesy of Elliott’s longtime stylist June Ambrose. Missy ripped through a rousing rendition of her classic cut, adding another iconic performance to her already lengthy resume.
Beyond her enduring hits and iconic visuals, Missy’s sartorial style has solidified her spot as one of the most influential figures to emerge from the ’90s — and now, over 20 years since her debut, Missy’s influence is indisputable.
Here, Billboard revisits Missy Elliott’s most iconic looks over the years, from the epic garbage bag suit from 1997 breakout hit “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” to her becoming a tracksuit connoisseur.
The Garbage Bag Suit
One of Missy’s most iconic looks comes from the visual for “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” where the rapper is dressed in an inflated black garbage bag with a gold headpiece that connects to her sunglasses. For the 2017 Met Gala ceremony, Solange paid homage to Missy’s iconic look by wearing a long puffer coat and later thanked the rapper in a now-deleted Instagram post.
“She’s a Bitch” Extraterrstrial All-Black Ensemble
For the “She’s A Bitch” visual, Elliott upped the ante by transforming into an alien-like figure by sporting a bald head and completely covering herself and her dancers in black paint. Elliott rocked a long, shiny black coat, and her head was embellished with rhinestones as she wore sunglasses that resembled alien eyes.
Metallic Gold Coat from “Beep Me 911”
On “Beep Me 911,” Elliott sings about being played for a fool by her man and in the visual, Elliott’s backup dancers pretend to be dolls in a dollhouse. Elliott is the head of the dollhouse and is dressed in a metallic gold, snakeskin dress with a dramatic high collar. To compliment her dramatic ensemble, Elliot’s sports a hairstyle reminiscent of Cleopatra’s classic bob cut.
Later on in the video, Elliot changes into shiny, orange overalls and a matching orange coat with fur cuffs and a fur hood.
If Missy Elliott was to ever receive her own video game, it would probably resemble the visual for “Sock It To Me” featuring Da Brat, where the two rappers traveled to outer space and spent the majority of the video trying to escape from the robots chasing them. The “Work It” rapper wore a large, red and white robot suit with the letter “M” emblazoned on the front and a short, fire red pixie cut.
Missy celebrated the underground dance battle culture in the visual for “I’m Really Hot” where her dancers battled a group of tuxedo-clad dancers. Missy and her backup dancers were decked out in all-white tracksuits with fur hoods with the Portsmouth, VA native adding a little extra flair to her outfit. Missy added a few pieces of fur to the eyelashes to complete the fuzzy look.
Sparkling Tracksuit and Silver Glitter Lips
When Missy returned to airwaves back in 2015, she made sure to remind people why her forward-thinking style is a staple in hip-hop culture. In the video for her comeback single “WTF (Where They From),” Elliott transformed herself into a human disco ball as pieces of mosaic tiles made up the dazzling tracksuit. Elliott paired her tracksuit with silver glitter lips and a sunglasses.
Elliott later pays homage to herself by sporting a clear, plastic bag tracksuit, less inflated than the garbage bag outfit from “The Rain.”