Vogue's 'Forces of Fashion' Gives Cardi B a Grammy-Worthy Birthday Cake—and Reveals the Black History Behind Beyoncé's History-Making Cover

Cardi B attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Rich Fury (Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

When Cardi B showed up at the 2019 Grammys wearing a vintage Thierry Mugler gown inspired by Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” (colloquially known as “Venus on the Half Shell”), she knew she’d make headlines. But what the rapper, reality star and newly minted film actress didn’t know was that she’d be made into a cake.

As an early celebration of the star’s 27th birthday, which is today, on Thursday, Vogue capped off Cardi’s appearance at their annual “Forces of Fashion” conference with a cake replicating her surrealist Grammy look, created by cake designer (and former fashion designer) Charlotte Neuville.

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Like Cardi, the cake was draped in pearls—hundreds of them; this time, of the sugar variety—and Neuville’s team studied at least 25 photos and took 35 hours to recreate the entirely edible vision, according to Vogue.

“We had to conjure up this incredible, intimate knowledge,” Neuville said. “The idea was for her to look like she is blossoming out of the cake like a flower.”

At the conference, Cardi went in another direction, wearing a comic hero-worthy, two-toned lambskin suit straight off of Sally LaPointe’s Spring-Summer 2020 runway.

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Discussing her attention-getting style onstage with Vogue’s Creative Digital Director Sally Singer, Cardi said: “It’s fun, clean, and classy, and sometimes I got to be a little slutty, because I still got to show my body a little bit. To me, every outfit is such a risk.”

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Cardi credits her front-row seat in the fashion world to her legendary grind and innate love of fashion—and, of course, her longtime stylist, Kollin Carter.

“I’ve worked so hard to be able to get to these shows. When it comes to the fashion industry, they don’t care if you’ve got number one hits, all the awards, if you just ain’t stylin’ right, they just ain’t gonna invite you to their shows, they just don’t care,” she said. “It’s something that you’ve got to prove. It’s taken me years for me to prove it and I’m finally where I want to be.”

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Obviously, she’s not the only fashion plate in the family; husband Offset also loves to play dress-up, causing a little friendly competition in the multi-million dollar household.

“We be going at each other because sometimes it’s like, who dressed better?” Cardi revealed, also dishing on the experience of collaborating on her first (and immediately sold out) line for Fashion Nova while seven months pregnant with daughter Kulture—and the sacrifices of working within the constraints of fast fashion. Given her love of luxury—and the fact that Rihanna has now broken new ground as the first black woman to helm a luxury label—would Cardi ever consider designing a luxury line?

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“If I ever do that, it will have to be at a certain point in my music career where I don’t have to prove myself,” she conceded. “Rihanna is at the point of her career that she doesn’t have to release music. She already proved herself and put her time in, as well as Kanye. When it comes to designing, it’s not a three day, four day thing. You really have to be there every single day, making sure that everything is going fine. Nobody does the work better than you, so you have to be there.”

And what of Cardi’s enduring allegiance to Bernie Sanders (whose recent heart issues she downplayed, saying he’s “pretty strong and very tall”)?

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“There’s certain things that are just common sense. Those are the things that I see in my neighborhood, how minorities get treated and the things that we see in the news. I’m sick of it. When are things going to change?...That’s what I want to look up to as a President...I want to feel secure. I want to know that you care about my people and that we get equal rights.”

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Another interesting conversation at Forces of Fashion took place between Studio Museum of Harlem Director Thelma Golden and Tyler Mitchell, the 24-year-old who made history last year when he became the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover—of Beyoncé, no less. Mitchell, whose work covers Aperture’s upcoming art book The New Black Vanguard by Antwuan Sargent, explained the impetus behind the earthy glamour of that shoot, confirming that it was commissioned by Vogue Creative Director Raul Martinez, and revealed that he drew on a specific black historical reference:

“I was looking at a lot at images of working black women. I was looking on Tumblr, going deep into kind of the proverbial space of the laundry line, [exploring] the idea of what the laundry line stands for in the history of black women,” he told Golden. “Who is that woman who is hanging up that laundry outside in her backyard? So a lot of those symbols [were] worked into the shoot, and you saw it there within the cover of her in the McQueen dress with the pan-African flag colors and the laundry line [in the background].”

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Also on hand at Forces of Fashion, which runs through Friday? Brother Vellies designer Aurora James, Pyer Moss and Reebok Creative Director Kerby Jean-Raymond and Tracee Ellis-Ross. You can follow the action on Vogue’s site.

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.