"Mob wife" is the dominant fashion look of early 2024: knowingly over-the-top, even trashy -- the tough woman who has fought her way to money and power and isn't afraid to show it off.

Millions of TikTok users have suddenly become obsessed with the look of women on "Goodfellas", "Scarface" and "The Sopranos" -- or even the cold, hard style of Melania Trump.

The look leans hard on the 1980s -- faux fur over lots of black including tight stockings, leather, Lurex and sky-high heels.

It is about being "bold, tough, fearless, and unapologetic -- all traits I think are admirable, aspirational," one of the influencers behind the trend, Sarah Jordan Arcuri, told AFP.

The 29-year-old Italian-American from New Jersey -- home of "The Sopranos" of course -- has been pushing this aesthetic to her 120,000 Instagram followers for a couple of years.

It is the accessories that really make it: lots of heavy gold bracelets, chain belts and rings stacked on each other.


Kylie Jenner's sunglasses were very Mob Wife at the Jacquemus show in January / © AFP

"All the gold gifted by your husband. You never take it off," laughs Arcuri.

TikTok star Mikayla Nogueira (15.3 million followers) posted a wildly popular tutorial on how to do 'mob wife' makeup: heavy kohl around the eyes, fake eyelashes and a "dark red lipstick".

The hair needs some serious volume, ideally an 80s-style perm.

- Reaction to 'quiet luxury' -

It is a style that has been embraced by social media favourites like Dua Lipa, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber.

Naturally, theirs is a somewhat more sophisticated version and they present themselves not as trophy wives but as hard-nosed business magnates in their own right.

In the pendulum swings of fashion, "mob wife" is the natural reaction to last year's "quiet luxury", in which the ultra-wealthy sought to play down their vast riches with discreet and sober outfits.

Google searches for "mobwife" have increased more than 2,000 percent in the last three months, while its hashtag has gained 161 million views on TikTok, said trend consultancy Journo Research.


Fendi offered a catwalk version of the over-the-top fur coat / © AFP

Much of this may be fuelled by Gen Z's rediscovery of Michelle Pfeiffer's style in "Scarface", recently playing on Netflix, and amusement over Edie Falco's looks in "The Sopranos", which has been celebrating its 25th anniversary.

"Griselda", a new show about a Colombian cocaine baroness in the 1970s and 1980s in Miami, has added to the hype.

Inevitably, it didn't take long for a corner of the internet to find something offensive in all this, with claims that fashionistas are guilty of "cultural appropriation" for borrowing from Italian-American mobsters and Latin American narcos.

Arcuri dismisses the criticism.

"It's just a way of having fun and feeling empowered... It's not just for Italian-American girls. Anyone has to feel free to join in."