In the October issue of ELLE, on newsstands September 24, Nicki Minaj gets candid about her new capsule collection, FENDI Prints On, sharing the inspiration behind it and why it’s a dream come true. Nicki also opens up about working with the late Karl Lagerfeld, her new album and if she’d ever launch her own line.
On how the FENDI Prints On collection was born: She started freestyling over a beat that became the basis for her song “Chun-Li.” “I ended up saying, ‘Fendi prints on,’ just freestyling. I didn’t write that lyric down; I was just having fun.” The refrain made its way onto the track. On the cover of the “Chun-Li” single, Minaj wore a Fendi logo fur bomber jacket with a matching vintage Fendi bikini bottom. “I can’t believe that when I was doing that little picture that day, with the Fendi jacket and Fendi panties on…” she marvels, “I didn’t think that the actual company would think that that was dope. To know that they liked it that much, and now it’s on a T-shirt, is so iconic to me.”
On why wearing head-to-toe double Fs is kind of a dream come true for Minaj: “Certain brands have always been sought after, because we’d hear rappers rap about them all our lives, and we think that these brands signify some sort of success in life. And then, when you’re able to actually afford them, it feels like, ‘Wow, I’ve accomplished one of my goals, at least in the fashion world.’ Now, looking back, I don’t think brands make me successful, but I do think that there are certain ones out there, like Fendi, that make women feel glamorous.” She’s drawn to the logo because “it’s super confident. It’s like, ‘I don’t give a f*** what you feel about it, this is what I’m rocking.’ Hip-hop embodies that cockiness.”
Fendi’s creative director, Silvia Venturini Fendi on working with Nicki on the collection: “What we liked about Nicki is that she plays with feminine codes, but from her point of view, which is that of a very strong, independent, successful woman. She talks about being strong and getting what you want, and I think that it’s kind of liberating for women.”
On the inspiration and design of the collection: There had to be hot pink, the specific shade that’s become associated with her—and the color of her piled-high hairdo in her viral “pickle juice” video clip. She knew, she says, that “everybody’s going to be like, ‘Where’s the pink, b****?’ ” She also wanted to make body-conscious pieces that showcase curves. “I want to make clothes that make girls with my body look sexy,” she says. “We’re in a new time, where you don’t have to feel bad if you’re not the tiniest you’ve ever been. Women, we struggle with that so much, because we’ll go back to old pictures of ourselves, and we’ll be like, ‘I used to be so skinny!,’ and we start making ourselves feel bad. What I want [to tell] girls is not necessarily, ‘Go and gain weight and have a big booty,’ but ‘If you do have curves, be proud of it, flaunt it—love the skin you’re in.’ As clichéd as that sounds, I’ve been really trying to teach myself that. ‘This is who I am; take me or leave me, bye!’ ” The collection, she says, is “for everyone who wants to show skin. We all go to the beach, we all get sexy, we all have sex, we all bust it open!”
On feeling strongly about including pieces that would be accessible to her fans: “If I’m going to do Fendi, I want to feel like I’m back in Southside Jamaica, Queens, New York, wearing Fendi. I don’t only want to be front row rocking my Fendi; I want to be in the hood rocking my Fendi, too.” Her fans, she says, “are going to be really surprised when they see that I did think of things for them. I totally know that there are a lot of people who think that they can’t afford Fendi, and those are going to be some of our new customers, because they’re going to go and get the sneaker, or the hat, or the T-shirt. If you love your fashion, then sometimes you save up for certain things that you really love.”
On working with the late Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi’s former creative director: While Lagerfeld, who passed away in February, didn’t live to see the collaboration come to fruition, he championed the project. Minaj recalls a meeting where “we all were super emotional, because we were talking about Karl. I just wish he’d gotten a chance to see this come full circle, because I remember how supportive he was of me on the [ELLE] shoot (for the July 2018 issue) , and it made me feel really good.” The designer was on her mind throughout this shoot as well. “While I was on set, while I was taking the pictures, I definitely was thinking to myself, ‘Would he be proud of this look? Would he be proud of this pose?’ ” she says.
On her upcoming album: When we speak, Minaj is working on her upcoming album, which she calls “fierce, fun, and unapologetic.” She adds, “It’s probably the most excited I’ve been about an album release in a really long time. I’m happy that we’re not making my fans wait for another album, like I’ve done in the past. This one incorporates all the things people love about Nicki, but it also just has a way bigger sound, so it goes perfectly with the collection.”
Nicki on if she’d ever launch her own line: “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!” she says, giggling. “Yeses across the board, okay? I’ve been really strategic and picky on purpose, turning some things down and waiting for the right opportunities. Once people see that you have selling power and you are able to impact a brand in such a positive way, then I think it’s only a matter of time. The Fendi collection alone made me feel like I would love to continue doing this—getting to that boss status. That’s where I would like to take fashion, for sure.”
[Photo Credit: Steven Klein/ELLE Magazine]