A true trendsetter can help spread style faster than a deadly virus and nobody did that better than Belize born, Brooklyn, New York raised Nelda G. Her name might not sound familiar if you are not from New York where she hailed from, but you definitely know, love and celebrate her style. Let me tell ya'll about the huge impact of underground street fashion legend Enelda "Nelly G" Gillett-Soberanis, the real Queen B- who inspired rap fashion darling Lil' Kim in the 90's and a million other fly girls from around the the way.
Nelda lived in Clinton Hills and was a fashion student, a late 80's street hustler (3 card monte/molly was her game) and a top booster back in the day, known for having the latest designer gear and putting it together better than anybody on her block, or any block for that matter. This was during the time when girls dressed in a "fly girl" street style that consisted of carefully styling athletic gear, sportswear and accessories in a way that made them stand out. They were so inspirational that rappers were writing songs for them and about them like the 1985 classic "A Fly Girl" by the Boogie Boys and of course LL Cool J's 1990 hit, "Around the Way Girl".
Nelda even had a cameo in the video for Run-DMC's "Run's House" (skip to 1:19 to see Nelda in a red Fendi jacket, double doorknocker earrings and an abbreviated black and blond ponytail that was way ahead of its time!) and was known for rocking her gold grill, Gucci bags and boots, Fendi leathers, colorful outfits and was fly as shit in a time when everybody dressed for themselves and trends were created on a humble. I have read multiple accounts that claimed she was actually the first woman to wear the colored hair and furs multi platinum rapper Lil Kim could be seen wearing in her earlier videos. In fact, Kim's costumes from the iconic "Crush On You" video where Kim is seen rocking wildly colorful wigs and matching furs was inspired by Nelda.
Besides Lil' Kim, many others were influenced by Nelda's designer heavy style including Bad Boy stylist Misa Hylton and furrier Nija Battle. Walker Wear designer April Walker stated that she and Kim grew up in the same Brooklyn neighborhood and were both enthralled by whatever style Nelda was serving that day- she kept everybody guessing by switching hairstyles and looks as often as she could.
Trendsetter, iconic hood fashion legend, the originator of ghetto fabulous and the one whose style is felt generations later. You can't scroll too far down Instagram without seeing Black girls of all skin tones rocking rainbow colored hair with matching furs galore and not give Nelda her props for doing it all first. She created the blueprint for allowing personal style to shine no matter your financial status or place of residence. There are countless celebrities and fans ages 30 and under who try to emulate what they grew up seeing Lil' Kim do that either weren't born yet or were not old enough to dress themselves around the time that Nelda was poppin'. But Kim payed homage to Nelda while putting her own spin on the high/low style of fashions that she made so popular in the hood and eventually brought to mainstream. Some people influence the masses and some influence the people that influence the masses!
And shout out to fellow writer and "hood archivist" Chris Live (@livestyle1hunnid) for all the extra insight, photos and facts! I randomly found his page and he answered all of my questions, corrected info and pointed me in the direction of more people to follow. All of the photos of Nelda G came from his page and if you want to see more authentic 80's and 90's style and get the story behind some of flyest trendsetters and street hustlers of that era, you should definitely follow his page...
Have you ever heard of Nelda G? Can you tell how many female rappers/entertainers have been influenced by her style? Let's talk about it in the comments!
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