The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion Netflix Documentary Interview

If you are interested in listening to the audio interview, click here

The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion Documentary recently had its debut on Netflix on July 22nd. This documentary profiles Black visionaries in fashion who rewrote narratives on the runway and turned hip-hop style into a global phenomenon. The documentary features interviews with hip-hop fashion pioneers Misa Hylton, April Walker, Kerby Jean-Raymond and Dapper Dan. We had the exceptional opportunity to sit down with both directors (Lisa Cortés & Farah Z. Khalid) and talk about the film, social justice, and the social, positive impact of the genre of hip-hop.

PositiveVibesMag: How did you both end up directing this film? How did you end up getting involved in this project?

Lisa Cortés: This project came to us through Tribeca Studios and MCM. They were looking for storytellers to submit ideas about fashion and women. We pitched them this story on how these women who have had such a tremendous impact who were very well known in some circles, but really did not have the complete recognition based on the significance of their contributions. 

Farah Z. Khalid: How I got involved is our amazing co-producer Hilary Cutter and Lisa were working together. Lisa was looking for an editor-director, so Hillary brought me on and introduced me to Lisa. She told me about the story, and I was hooked. It sounded like an amazing opportunity to tell a story of unsung heroes. 

PositiveVibesMag: What was your experience like directing the movie? What was your favorite part? What was, maybe, the most challenging? 

Farah Z. Khalid: In documentaries, what is always challenging is when you come into it with a story that you want to tell that is based on real life. The story that you can tell is not always the same and it is about changing and opening your mind to see that this is what we have. We went into it with an idea on how we wanted to tell this story about Misa Hylton. As we were going along interviewing other people, we learned about impacting individuals like April Walker and Dapper Dan. We learned about all these other stories that kept coming up, allowing us to expand the one narrative we had into a whole experience. It was an entire generation that had these amazing stories that people today do not know.

Lisa Cortés: You know, without giving a spoiler alert, there are some things that happened that were not scripted but allowed us to have a beautiful summation of one of our character’s journey. I think for that to unfold for us in real time was a really great experience. Being able to shoot internationally like in Korea and the United Kingdom showed us how long the reach is of the culture of music and fashion; of the intersection by people whose first language is not English. But they have found a voice and representation through the creativity and legacy of the people that are featured in the film. 

Dapper Dan, a very influential designer in the hip-hop community.

PositiveVibesMag: When you were first brought on the project, did you know you were going to travel to these places or was that a surprise?

Lisa Cortés: I think there was a desire to travel because it’s important in telling the history not only to frame what’s happening now, but to show that these seeds that have been planted always have a long reach. They are not just three blocks that had an impact. The impact goes from 125th Street to Tokyo, Seoul, Brixton, and Moscow – if we wanted to go there. I think it is also a story that is very universal for creative people, and represents what it means to have a dream and be committed to it. That story is something that is not limited to just the United States. To truly think literally and figuratively on showing the universal reach and component of creativity was important.  

PositiveVibesMag: What do you think you learned through the whole experience directing the film? 

Farah Z. Khalid: Oh, so much! Me, personally, I was not too aware of any of these stories. I do not come from a hip-hop background. As we were going through the process of filming and interviewing, I kind of watched it as an outsider as the process was unfolding. I was learning so much about people like Misa Hylton, who are so relevant to everything we see today which is mainstream culture. Hip-hop culture is mainstream culture, and for me who did not know someone like Misa Hylton existed, it just made me want to explore more. Everyone we interviewed was just another retelling of all these stories that have not been told. They are so relevant to everything we see outside on the streets today. Besides that, I think a documentary is just such an amazing art form because you are learning as you go along. Like I said earlier how the story evolves, you are constantly learning new things, and thinking of where you could take it to the next level. 

Lisa Cortés: I would just add to Farah’s comment on how one of the joys of this project was what I knew about some of these characters. I knew the exterior, but I was delighted that they allowed us access to the richness of their interior lives; candid, vulnerable moments that just increased our respect and empathy for them. 

PositiveVibesMag: Awesome, that’s great! So, what were your feelings when Netflix decided to feature the film? How did that feel?

 Both: Great. It was wonderful!

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