On Dec. 8, Cardi B will be honored as the Style Influencer of the Year at the first virtual FN Achievement Awards. Below is an article from the magazine’s Dec. 7 print issue about her boundary-breaking fashion.
“I’ve always liked people building their own identity from scratch, creating their own character without seeking any kind of approval,” designer Christian Louboutin told FN. “Cardi B is one of them — a free spirit making things in her own way.”
Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B set the tone for her path in fashion when she mentioned Louboutin’s signature red bottoms in her 2017 breakout hit “Bodak Yellow.” Since then, she has pushed the limits when it comes to everything — especially her style.
Think of that head-to-toe Richard Quin floral look that completely encapsulated her body outside the Eiffel Tower in Paris last year. In 2019, she wowed at the Met Gala in a quilted-and-feathered gown by Thom Browne that needed 10 people to carry the dress’s train alone. And during a year where red carpets were nonexistent, Cardi still found a way to express herself through wild sartorial choices, including Dolce & Gabbana’s 5.7-inch wicker wedge sandals.
However, for the star, Christian Louboutin will always remain a favorite. “Every time I go to a retail store, my first session is Louboutin. I just love it. I feel so sexy. I made a song about it. It made me rich. Like, it’s the Louboutin — that’s the one I’m always going to go to,” she said, adding that she’s making up for lost time. “I’ve always been into fashion. Back then, I couldn’t afford what I wanted and now I can.”
In August, her “WAP” music video, featuring Megan Thee Stallion, debuted with icon-worthy visuals that will go down in music history. In just one of the many scenes, Cardi can be seen in an entirely leopard-print room flanked by prowling leopards, while wearing a custom Mugler thong bodysuit, also in leopard print. The long-sleeved
look was designed with cut-outs, which gave way for Cardi’s matching nipple covers. She paired the ensemble with — what else — leopard-print Casadei pumps. It’s times like these that set Cardi apart from the pack.
Louboutin, who will present Cardi with her FN award, links her with the style greats. “When thinking of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust or Marilyn [Monroe], you didn’t know — and didn’t care — who dressed them. What you were fascinated by was their body language, their aura, their charisma. They had this power to project people into their own world, their universe and into their dreams,” he explained. “Cardi plays with her style; she dares everything. She is well above a fashion statement.”
Last month, Cardi made her first debut into the footwear industry with her sneaker collaboration with Reebok. She redesigned the label’s Club C silhouette, creating the new Club C Cardi, which took cues from her own fashion moments. The style, seen in three colorways, sold out in under 30 minutes.
“To me the perfect shoe is style and fashion, you know what I’m saying. I love comfortability, but to me fashion is not always comfortable,” said the superstar.
When creating this world of fashion fantasy, Cardi, who works with stylist Kollin Carter, often taps into her own imagination.
“It’s just my mind,” the rapper said of her source of inspiration. “I’ll see something on the runway, want it, flip it around. It depends on my mood. I’ll tell my stylist, ‘I want to be more thotty’ and we get them thotty looks. If I want to be chic, we get the chic looks. If I want to wear a thong with a skinny-ass tube top, then we do that. It’s what we feeling.”
For 34 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The first virtual FNAAs will air online on Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. ET and are presented in partnership with The Style Room Powered by Zappos, and sponsors FDRA, Deckers Brands, Soles4Souls and Foot Locker.