What celebrities wear to court has been the subject of much media scrutiny, with writers (such as this one) choosing to read Felicity Huffman or Lori Loughlin’s drab pantsuits as silent, coded statements. But sometimes a tailored pant is just a tailored pant. There’s not much to say about it, other than you’d probably wear something similar if you got called for jury duty.
Not so with Cardi B. She has been turning up to court as if it is her own personal performance of Hello, Dolly!
Cardi most likely knew there would be cameras outside of Queens Criminal Court on Monday, as there have been for her other appearances striding up the stairs that lead into the building. The rapper and Bronx native—real name, Becalis Marlenis Almanzar—has been charged with two misdemeanors, assault and reckless endangerment, after allegedly ordering an attack on two New York bartenders.
Cardi B faces the system with the help of her longtime stylist, Kollin Carter, who dutifully chronicles her court outfits on his Instagram with the same enthusiasm he musters when she’s posing in custom Thom Brown at the Met Gala.
The coat, with its feather-trimmed hood, was designed by Saulo Villela for Adrienne Landau’s spring 2020 collection. “I wanted to make a lighter line, something a little bit more ethereal, more whimsical,” Villela told The Daily Beast. Villela and Carter have worked together for years, and the stylist asked the designer to pull what he calls The Queen coat for Cardi’s court appearance.
“I thought, oh great. That sounds like a freaking fierce moment,” Villela said.
He waited eagerly for the date, making sure to watch as Cardi emerged from her car. “I saw how the coat just never seems to end,” Villela said. “I didn’t realize how long it was until I saw a video of someone wearing it. She just looked so good, and Kollin does such a great job at styling her. He knows how to put an outfit together.”
Villela sees no difference between dressing a celebrity for the red carpet or Queens Criminal Court. “Fashion is about making the best out of every moment, you know,” he said. “When you get dressed, it’s to make yourself feel better, I believe. Whether or not she was having a bad day, this outfit definitely made her feel like the star that she is. That’s a good thing.”
Cardi B has pleaded not guilty for her alleged role in orchestrating a strip club brawl. She has skipped court appearances, declined a plea deal, and requested that proceedings be held later than scheduled, so she’d have time to hop a plane from LA in the morning, after staying up to attend—and pick up four trophies at—the BET Awards. (Naturally, the judge allowed it. Justice may be blind, but she must not be deaf and knows that “I Like It” is a banger.)
The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly attended court that afternoon, and noted that “the evenness of that rap star voice indicated that she was not in the least bit nervous.” The drama and style is very Joan Collins, in her début episode as Alexis in Dynasty, in veiled hat, perfect make-up, and everyone hanging on her every word.
Both women’s confidence is reflected in their wardrobe. Past dates in front of the bench found her wearing a color-blocked navy and pink pantsuit that was half Hillary, half Vegas, and pure don’t mess with me. She also wore a Barbie pink suit, sans top underneath, her chest partly covered by thigh-grazing hair extensions. Another ensemble—an ivory mock-neck tunic with wide-leg trousers peeking from the bottom—projected innocence, but not submission.
As Villela said, “She’s a fierce, bad bitch. She’s such a fashion icon at this point. I really think it’s because she’s kind of living the fantasy that we all have. We all want to be superstars, we all want to be fierce, we all want to be fashion icons. Everyone’s dream is to be that, and I think that she’s definitely living that and embracing it.”
It’s a far cry from another famous, but much less celebrated, face seen in court this week, that of disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, who toddled into a Manhattan court almost horizontally, relying on the assistance of a walker.
His attorney, Donna Rotunno, blamed back pain and an impending surgery on his limp. That may be true, but optics-wise, the alleged sexual predator is doing his best to appear weak and defenseless for the cameras.
Not Cardi. Her Queens appearance was a bright spot on an otherwise dreary December afternoon. No objections here.