“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Aaliyah!” says Elle Azhdari. The London-based designer is the woman behind The Fan, whose high-end sportswear-inspired pieces have found admirers in Adwoa Aboah, Elsa Hosk, and Theophilus London since launching one year ago. Today, she will unveil her third collection, which happens to be an homage to the princess of R&B, as part of Selfridges’s Music Matters campaign.
After being approached by the British department store, Azhdari went straight with her gut. “Immediately I was like, ‘Let’s do Aaliyah,’” she says. Though this year marks the 16th anniversary of her tragic death, Aaliyah and her enduring style remain timeless. Azhdari has fond memories of watching her on MTV and replicating her outfits as a kid. “She was just wicked. There was nobody like her around—especially for me,” she says. “I’m dark and I was raised in Sweden, where everyone’s pretty much blonde and has blue eyes, so it was quite nice to have that . . . flavor.”
Keeping in line with The Fan’s streetwear aesthetic (and its propensity for limited production—only 50 to 150 pieces were made of each style), the 11-piece collection includes a baseball hat, short- and long-sleeved tees, sweatshirts, hoodies, and a bomber jacket. Each item comes printed with lyrics and airbrushed portraits of Aaliyah. Two new design additions to The Fan’s lineup are an oversize boilersuit, cinched with a “One in a Million” lined belt, and secondhand stonewashed Levi’s jean jackets that Azhdari sandpapered, distressed, and customized herself.
Azhdari may have tapped London DJ Siobhan Bell for the lookbook (“She’s just so badass”), but she insists the clothes are actually unisex—a fact that Aaliyah would have enjoyed. “I’ve always admired that Aaliyah embraced menswear and womenswear,” Azhdari says, citing the ability to seamlessly pair baggy pants and oversize sweatshirts with crop tops and low-slung jeans. “It’s about how you style it with your own personality and make it your own. That’s what she really celebrated and did well.”
The Fan launches October 4 at Selfridges and thefanof.com; prices range from $66 to $1,054.