Happy Black History Month!! I was meant to start to this whole series LAST MONDAY, however, I had food poisoning for a week and then I needed an entire week to recover. I was so pissed because it just set me back completely when I tell you I planned to be so productive this month then that happened! Long story short if you’re ever in Nottingham DO NOT order from an Asain takeaway in this place because I am really not being dramatic when I say that I honestly thought that I was on my death bed. It’s one of those situations where you think that it’ll never happen to you and then it happens and you’re like WTAF 🙁
Anyways …. moving on, to celebrate black history month I am dedicating my whole entire blog to all things black about fashion for the month. 3 posts a week dedicating to everything black (this week it’s 6 since we skipped last week). I just thought it’d be cute to do a little tribute to the true pioneers of fashion and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do! To kick start my series I thought that I would tell you guys about my most iconic black figures within the fashion industry. I do one of these every year, the only difference with this one is the fact that all the people are black, obviously and have done something significant to help black fashion. Of course, this is all solely my opinion hence why I said MY most iconic.
Since I began my blog in 2016 I feel as though people of colour have come a long way but sadly we still have a long way to go in terms of the industry being completely inclusive. I mean, think about it, the first black creative director of a major fashion house – Virgil Abloh was only appointed his role in 2018, just basically over a year ago. Most models cast on the runway are still predominantly caucasian. Most campaign models are still again predominantly white as in they don’t advertise to WOC. Cultural appropriation is still a HUGE problem in the fashion industry. How many black designers do you know? How many black-owned makeup labels do you know? Are our hair products in high street stores? See my point? We still have a hell of a long way to go until there is full inclusivity!
Here are My Most Iconic blacks within the industry;
I mean who doesn’t know Naomi Campbell? In her career, she has achieved so much; she was the first black model to appear on the cover of Time magazine, French Vogue, as well as the first black model to cover American Vogue’s most prestigious issue of the year – the September issue in 1989 and she, was also the first black model to star on the cover of British Vogue. As unbelievable as it sounds, she has had a hell of a lot of firsts in her career. In addition to that, being the true supermodel she is, she has forever been an advocate for blacks within the industry. And to no one’s surprise, last year she was even the first woman of colour to receive the fashion icon prize, this award recognizes people who have used their position and voice within the fashion industry to effect positive change – so I’m not the only one who believes she’s an icon in this industry. Campbell does so much more than you think, her efforts for a more diverse and equal future within the industry, especially when it comes to African Fashion are so inspiring because not many Alist celebrities celebrate African fashion!
Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross is one hell of an amazing woman and one that never ceases to amaze me! In October 2018 Ms Ross hosted the AMAs and she used the opportunity to bring attention to 11 amazing Black Designers by wearing mostly black designers for all her looks stating “I wore a Black designer in every look and Pat McGrath on my face,” She says it was a story she wanted to tell through her clothing, and her stylist, Karla Welch, made it happen. “I was inspired by Issa Rae and Jason Rembert, who did it first at the CFDA Awards in June. I strongly believe in using my platform to shine light in directions I believe in, love, and celebrate my people.” That is the type of energy we need from all celebrities and people that have a platform, to me, this is the main reason that this woman is so iconic, she has always voiced her opinion on the lack of diversity within the industry and she actively did something about it by giving these designers a platform!
Considering the number of times I have written about Mr Abloh on my blog, it would be a crime not to pay tribute to him in my black history month series! I mean how can I forget about the first African American that became the artistic director of one of the worlds biggest luxury fashion brands? It’s just impossible! That is a moment in fashion history that I will truly never forget because it was in itself so ICONIC. People like Virgil give the next generation of creatives and black fashion enthusiasts hope that they too can make it big in this industry and be a household name. “Virgil is one of the few designers who truly marries street culture with high fashion – and the first black designer to be given such a position in the gilded halls of LVMH. His appointment is a step in the right direction for diversity.” Edward Enninful, the editor-in-chief at British Vogue, said on the magazine’s website. Virgil is a pioneer in streetwear fashion and one of the most influential people in fashion right now!!!!!!!! He doesn’t follow trends but he creates them through the stories he tells through his designs and for me he is hands down my favourite designer at this moment in time!
So I discovered Jason Bolden late last year when I stumbled upon his Netflix series, Styling Hollywood this was an entire show dedicated to his brand JSN Studio, a multi-disciplined creative studio made up of a growing team of individuals who support Jason and his partner in realising the breadth of their creative output. With projects spanning the country, JSN Studio focuses primarily on residential + commercial interior design, luxury staging and product design. I was at that moment I literally became obsessed with him! Mr Bolden is one of the biggest and busiest celebrity stylists of the moment, his client list includes some of the most inspiring and influential artists and entertainers in American culture; “Selma” and “Wrinkle in Time” director Ava Duvernay; “Empire” matriarch Cookie Lyon, Taraji P. Henson; “Grown-ish” star and activist Yara Shahidi; and, most recently, Amy Sherald, Michelle Obama’s official portrait artist. This incredible man is also apart of the BoF 500 which is the definitive professional index of the people shaping the $2.4 trillion fashion industry, hand-selected by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on hundreds of nominations received from current BoF 500 members, extensive data analysis and research.
If you do not know who Edward Enniful is then I am sorry but we cannot be friends. One of my aspirations in life is to meet this man! In the short space of time that he has been at British Vigue he has done so much for the publication and changed it for the better, he has shown us just how easy it is to showcase diversity in politics, arts and culture! As British Vogues first black male editor he has had more influence in the space of 2/3 years than Alexandra Shulman had in 25 years – he has helped shape a new vision for fashion media — not just in the UK, but globally — where he has placed a “diversity of perspective” at its core. But are we really surprised when his resume includes a stint at Italian Vogue, where he led the magazine’s first “Black Issue“ which featured only black models? It sold so successfully that the magazine had to print 60,000 additional copies. Enninful has described his vision for British Vogue as “about being inclusive. It’s not just the colour of your skin but the diversity of perspective.” His digital prowess and drive to break the storied title into previously unreported coverage areas has seen the publication reach new, younger audiences across social media, video and online. Digital traffic at the title grew by 7.8% in 2018 to 14.8 million monthly unique users, while print circulation has increased 1.1 % since 2017.
I first discovered Law on ANTM in 2016 I think, he is also a celebrity fashion stylist he is frequently credited with Celine Dion ’s triumphant fashion transformation and has worked with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including Ariana Grande, Zendaya, Monica Brown, Brandy and Jessie J. In 2016 he became the first African American stylist to cover the annual The Hollywood Reporter’s Stylist & Stars issue and was made number 12 in their most powerful stylists list, an accolade that made him the biggest African American stylist in the industry. As well as being apart of the BoF he is also the co-creative director of Zendaya’s clothing line Daya and her collab with Tommy. Roach prefers to think of himself as an “image architect”. It’s a term that reflects the shifting role of celebrity dressers in 2018, where one killer look going viral on social media can lead to overnight fame (with the lucrative contracts to match), and campaigns such as Time’s Up have turned the red carpet into a political platform. “What I do is similar to what an architect does,” Roach explains. “The surveying, building a blueprint, sourcing materials, all that. But I’m doing it with clothes, jewellery, hair and makeup.”
Zendaya first hit our screens in 2010 on one of my all-time favourite childhood shows – shake it up and I have to say every single year without fail I have grown to admire her more and more as time goes on, she has grown and evolved into such a beautifully incredible woman. She is someone I have looked up to for so many years, she is a role model to me and so many more. Zendaya to me is Iconic because last year for her collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger she featured 59 black models, yes 59 BLACK MODELS, one more time in case you didn’t get it, a whole 59 BLACK MODELS aged 18 to 70—including some of the women of colour Zendaya wanted to thank for their influence in fashion, Hollywood, and beyond. She had the legends Pat Cleveland (who, according to a statement from Tommy Hilfiger, was the first black supermodel), Veronica Webb (the first African American to sign a major cosmetics contract with Revlon), Beverly Johnson, Veronica Webb, and Beverly Peele walking the show, along with Pat Cleveland. Zendaya made history!!!!! She was able to show the entire industry how to put together an inclusive fashion show by featuring a size-diverse cast composed solely of black models. There was even full body and age diversity with the hair and makeup by the one and only iconic black pioneers – Pat McGrath and Kim Kimble.
Carly Cushnie is the Creative Director and CEO of CUSHNIE a brand known for its impeccable fit designed for the modern woman, the collection is worn by inﬂuential women including Michelle Obama, Gal Gadot, Lupita Nyong’o, Ava Duvernay, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lopez, Ashley Graham, Padma Lakshmi, among many others. Last year when Tom Ford took over as chairman of the CDFA ( Council of Fashion Designers of America) she became the first woman of colour to be nominated to sit on the board. Do you know how much of a big deal this is? It’s a pretty big one and a dream of every designer!
I was so proud of Thebe Magugu when he became the first AFRICAN to win the LVMH prize last year, you would think that I actually knew the man – he was the first AFRICAN winner of the LVMH prize, do you know how much od an accomplishment this is. This man is now apart of history! This was such a huge step in the right direction for African fashion because so many of the continent’s designers struggle to create a lucrative retail business beyond African fashion weeks so it was just amazing to think that he won this! Thebe is about to change people’s misconceptions that African Fashion is just Ankara prints, he is about to open the door for so many more African designers and I cannot wait to see where his career takes him!
I saved my most iconic for last! Beverly Johnson made history in 1974 when she became the first African American woman to grace the cover of Vogue AKA the fashion bible! This was a time when women of colour were largely underrepresented not only in the pages of fashion magazines and ad campaigns but in the industry overall but she did THAT! This woman changed history, a year after her issue was released, every huge publication began to feature black models. This woman basically paved the way for the likes of Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Chanel Iman, Adut Akech etc. She is the ultimate bad B