Hipper Than Hip-Hop

Rapping may be the only thing puffy can't do. Rumor has it that after the dismal sales of his last album, Sean (Puffy) Combs might quit performing altogether. Although he isn't commenting, others are. "Something always suffers when you try to do too many things, and I think he realized that it's time just to focus on producing," says competitor Dr. Dre. Or on one of the other slashes in his job description. Last week the rapper/producer/restaurateur/designer was nominated for fashion's equivalent of the Oscar. His eponymous Sean John line presented its first collection of actual menswear--dripping with '80s-style excess--only two months ago. Irrational exuberance rules: his cashmere pants and floor-length furs have made him a favorite to win at the American Fashion Awards on June 15, which would put him on an elite list that includes Isaac Mizrahi, Anna Sui and Todd Oldham. At least he's in good with the style police.

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