In the summer of 2003, two years after R&B singer Aaliyah died, her friend Jay Z rapped, “Too good for earth, you are,” on the remix to Aaliyah’s song “Miss You.” Today marks 15 years since the plane carrying Aaliyah crashed in the Bahamas as the singer and her team were on their way home from her “Rock the Boat” video shoot.
To this day, her music remains timeless. You can’t put on “One In A Million” without everyone in the room over the age of 26 stealing a glance at their closest friend there. Aaliyah, along with her frequent collaborators Timbaland and Missy Elliott, had an impossible-to-recreate sound that’s inspired Ciara, Drake, Rihanna, and Alicia Keys, among many others. In addition to pop superstardom, Aaliyah was well on her way to becoming an established actress. She starred in Romeo Must Die and Queen of the Damned, and was considered for Jessica Alba’s role in Honey, the part of Alex in Charlie’s Angels, and a bit in The Matrix Reloaded.
She embodied a strong, talented woman—known for her shyness juxtaposed with her effortless swag. Before it was cool to do everything in #MyCalvins, Aaliyah’s signature style included men’s denim or baggy pants with an exposed underwear waistband. You can’t even talk about Tommy Hilfiger in the ‘90s without praising Baby Girl, better known as Aaliyah. Body chains and side-swept bangs, oversized coats and diamond-encrusted bras; no one could pull off men’s clothes while maintaining her femininity like Aaliyah did. We still see countless looks that mimic those she wore 20 years ago.
On the anniversary of her passing, we spoke to a few R&B-loving, hustling, stylish women about how Aaliyah still inspires them and their style today.