Style

Spotlight On Black Fashion Icons

Black American history is sometimes separated from "American" history, despite the fact that every facet of our culture has been influenced heavily by the talents, hard work, and vision of Black Americans. History books have historically been written, published and taught by predominantly white contributors, and Black voices have too often been left out. The world of fashion is no exception. In celebration of Black History Month, we want to spotlight a few designers, models, and fashion icons who have left their mark on the industry throughout history.
By Printfresh Staff
February 2022
Spotlight On Black Fashion Icons
Spotlight On Black Fashion Icons

Ann Lowe
In 1914 at the age of 16, she took over the job of creating four ball gowns for the first lady of Alabama. In 1950 Lowe opened her gown shop in Harlem where she became the go-to designer for much of the upper class at the time. She made Jackie O’s wedding gown (and dresses for much of the wedding party).

Miriam Makeba
Miriam Makeba was well known for rejecting white european beauty standards and embracing natural beauty and hairstyles.  African headdresses, caftans with shoulder pads, and even a dashiki minidress paired with go-go boots, singer Miriam Makeba always looked fashionable. Best known for her protest songs, Makeba’s style is still inspiring us years after her passing.

Iman
Celebrated as one of the first Black runway models, Iman has cultivated a sense of fashion from high end to the perfectly styled pair of jeans and a t-shirt that has inspired generations of women. Not just known for her beauty and elegance on the runway, Iman has become an entrepreneur launching a cosmetics line and signature fragrance.

Tracee Ellis Ross
Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross is always impeccably dressed in the boldest hues. If a successful acting career wasn’t enough, in 2020 she launched a hair care line called Pattern Beauty.

Tracy Reese
Tracy Reese graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1984 and went on to build an incredible career working for designers like Perry Ellis where she grew into the role of design director of the Women’s Portfolio. In 1997 she launched her own collection best known for bright colors and her use of bold patterns, and recently has evolved it into Hope For Flowers which focuses on sustainability and a slow fashion model. 

Andre Leon Talley
Working his way up to the role of Creative Director and editor-at-large at Vogue (where he served in various roles for almost 40 years) there are few people who have had as large an impact on the entire fashion industry as Andre Leon Talley, with his signature Kaftan look. His death in January of 2022 was mourned by the entire industry and countless celebrities who counted on him to influence their personal style.

Virgil Abloh
Best known for serving as the Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, Virgil Abloh was a multi-talented designer. Prior to working in fashion, he attended graduate school to become an architect. The trajectory of his career changed in 2009 when he had the opportunity to intern at Fendi. He passed away in November of 2021 at the age of 41. He was best known for his inventive collaborations with brands ranging from Nike to Evian, and his impactful scholarship program Post-Modern


If you want to learn more about Black designers and leaders in the fashion industry here are a few resources to help you get started. 

Black Design Collective
Organization of Black Designers
Black Fashion World


Want to Read More Like This? We Think You’ll Enjoy These Articles on PF Mag:

1. Learn About: The Loveland Foundation 
2. Observing Juneteenth and Supporting Black-Owned Businesses 
3. Reading Beyond Black History Month 
4. Just Do It: Seeking Out & Supporting BIPOC-Owned Beauty Brands
5. Inspired By: Julia Turner Lowe 
6. Inspired By: Mare Leon

Image Credits:Anne Lowe, Miriam Makeba, Iman, Tracee ross, Tracy Reese, Andre Leon Talley, Virgil Abloh

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PF MAG is dedicated to thoughtful, not-so-simple living. Founded by Amy Voloshin as a stationery and sleepwear brand, Printfresh has grown into far more than that. Our articles provide discerning perspectives on all things lifestyle, including fashion, wellness, design, travel and home decor, as well as interviews with some of the people who inspire us most.

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