5 African American Fashion IconsNov 24, 2022 02:00PM ● By Anand Subramanian
In terms of style, Black women have always been trendsetters. The world was watching and taking notes as these women lent their beauty to the most known fashion designers shone on stages and in movies. Famous 20th-century beauties like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe are often mentioned while discussing the century's most iconic styles. Although their contributions to fashion history have been largely overlooked, Black tastemakers were really the ones influencing trends and motivating audiences at every step. Time has come to honor genuine Black greatness in the fashion industry; therefore, we're highlighting five African American fashion titans that made significant contributions to the industry and the globe.
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You may remember Billie Holiday as one of the greatest jazz singers of all time or as an activist for social justice, but you may need to realize that her distinctive stage appearance became just as well-known. Her signature look—a clump of gardenia flowers in her hair—was always complemented by her flowy, feminine outfits. When did she start signing her name differently? Having a thing for off-the-shoulder dresses made of luxurious silk or satin, adorned with eye-catching accessories and decorated with fresh flowers. Holiday was arrested in 1949 while wearing a perfect turban, black sunglasses, and a fur coat.
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Obama has done more than any other first lady in history when it comes to elevating American fashion on the global stage. Michelle Obama empowered many Black women and girls throughout the globe when she became the first Black First Lady. She also established a standard for fashion. Michelle Obama's impact on the fashion industry is unprecedented, even though she is widely admired for her humor, intellect, and positive attitude. Michelle Obama's attire is a point of fascination for onlookers because it provides insights into the character of a famous lady, a historical woman, who stays steadfastly private. She has ascended to the top of the fashion world by taking calculated risks with her clothes. Michelle Obama's vibrant cardigans and tastefully chosen color palette have helped her become one of the most recognizable Black ladies in fashion history. In an age of broadcast confessionals, she has never stripped herself naked. Thankfully, her eccentrically embellished outfits do not follow the dowdy conventions and unspoken procedures that have reduced many first women to beige caricatures.
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Naomi Campbell's alluring good looks, catlike features, voluminous hair, slim frame, and sassy demeanor ignited a whole generation. The Londoner, when just sixteen, moved to Paris to walk the catwalk for Azzedine Alaia. This was the beginning of a successful career. Naomi Campbell, perhaps the most famous model of the '90s, was a member of the group of supermodels collectively dubbed the Supers. She ruled the fashion world in the 1990s and beyond with her gorgeous stare, energetic presence, and caustic comebacks. We list 11 milestones in her rise to industry icon status. Watts has always been a classic inspiration for the world's most renowned fashion houses, whether she was wearing a slinky minidress to a club with Kate Moss or a Dolce & Gabbana dress to do community service. At 51 years old, Campbell is as busy as ever on the runway, adding to her already-impressive legacy in the fashion industry.
As one of the first Black supermodels, Iman has become a cultural symbol. Iman is not just one of the most stunningly gorgeous models of all time; she is also a true high-fashion icon. After being seen while a student at Nairobi University, Iman went on to walk for top designers, be photographed by illustrious photographers, and become an industry mainstay. Even if you know Iman as the cover girl for a dozen publications, you should know she is also a style icon. The C.F.D.A. awarded her The Fashion Icon Award in 2010, a testament to her classic style. Iman was pivotal in pushing the industry to compensate for models of color the same as white models.
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Somali-born supermodel, Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, mononymously known as Iman, blazed her way to the top in the 1970s and 1980s to become a cosmetic entrepreneur and humanitarian. Read More »
Cicely Tyson, the first Black woman to earn an honorary Academy Award, got her start as a model in the 1950s after being recruited by an Ebony magazine fashion editor. Throughout the 1960s, Tyson was featured on several magazine covers as the face of the Black is Beautiful movement. Soon later, in 1963, she created history as the first Black woman to portray the central part in a television drama when she acted in East Side/West Side. She was an innovator who wore her hair in its natural afro and braids when it was not the norm and was well-praised for doing so. Tyson's impeccable taste was evident wherever she went, from the red carpets of the Oscars and Emmys to her daily walks across the city.
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