Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Music issue 09/04/2008

The diminutive rapper is big on style.

Given what we know about big things and small packages, it should come as no surprise that one of music’s brightest stars is also one of its most petite. Yes, Lil Wayne, aka Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., might be all of 5 feet, 6 inches and 150 pounds, but there’s nothing trifl ing about the 25-year-old rap phenom, whose sixth  solo album, “Tha Carter III” (Cash Money/Universal Motown), sold one million copies in its first week on shelves, and more than two million copies (and counting) since its May debut.

This story first appeared in the September 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

And while the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive” has a unique musical style — raspy voice and smart, often searing lyrics — the same wasn’t always true of his fashion sense. “There was a time when I only wore white Ts,” says Wayne, who got his start as a member of the hip-hop clique Hot Boys. “But I stepped it up a notch.”

Groovey Lew Jones, Wayne’s stylist and friend, agreed, adding, “His style definitely got more fitted. He started wearing clothes that aren’t too baggy.” Nowadays, the star is just as likely to perform in a trim A.P.C. peacoat as he is one of his trademark oversize leather bombers. Or, as Jones puts it, “anything from  an antique to the latest Gucci, from Salvation Army vintage to the hottest high-fashion piece.” Says Wayne, “Now you never know what I may have on. You just know I’m gonna look good.”

Despite a six-year history, client and stylist don’t always see eye-to-eye. “He just likes to be more street, more hood, more thuggin’,” says Jones, who’s worked with Sean “Diddy” Combs, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo. “I’ve just been trying to dress him  up lately, like with button-downs and cuff links.”

Not that Wayne is 100 percent receptive. “I wear what I want to wear,” the New Orleans-bred rapper says, “and what I feel is hot. And not [Groovey Lew] or nobody else tells me that.”

So which designers make the cut? “I like several people,” Wayne says, “but Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Marc Jacobs sure have got a whole lot of my money.”

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