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Hip-Hop and Over the Top

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Lil’ Kim has a skeleton in her closet. The provocative rapper known I for her renegade, logo-laden fashion sense admits that two years ago she picked up a pair of jeans at Kmart. “They were really cute,” she says. “My style hasn’t changed. My taste just gets more and more expensive.”

Her shopping sprees are positively P-Diddian, in fact. “Shopping really is her luxury,” says designer Kimora Lee Simmons, a pal. Kim’s closet has expanded to fit over 100 furs, including her prized full-length, hooded chinchilla coat. (She wore it with a matching bikini in her “Came Back for You” video because, she says, “I wanted to look like a poodle.”) Then there’s the bling bling, including a $60,000 diamond-encrusted bee pendant and chain. Says Kim, 28, who is creating her own clothing line when she’s not promoting her new hit album La Bella Mafia: “If I feel sexy in it, I wear it.”

Of course “it” is often not much—like her revealing pantsuit (designed by stylist Misa Hylton-Brim) at the ’99 MTV Video Music Awards, which inspired Diana Ross to touch Kim’s pasty-covered breast. “She told me she loved it,” says Kim, who comes up with ideas for her custom-made outfits by watching fashion shows and looking through magazines. “It was just funny.” As for her critics, she says, “I don’t talk to those people. I laugh.”

Growing up in Brooklyn, the 4’11” Kim was retail-trained by her mother, Ruby Mae Jones, 56, a former department-store clerk who is divorced from Kim’s father, Linwood, 62, a bus driver. “My mom was very into fashion,” says Kim. Though nowadays, “sometimes my mom will be like, ‘Girl, what the hell do you have on?’ ” Mom, at least, can rest assured about Kim’s undergarments. “I like to buy lingerie because it makes you feel sexy,” she says, laughing. “Unless I am sick or my doctor comes to visit—then I have on those big, huge bloomer panties.”