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 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.
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 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.
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.
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