It’s no surprise that African American culture has paved the way for many trends still present in today’s society. One of those being the fashion industry. Various African American fashion icons deserve all the praise, especially women. This article is going to help bring light to some of the most influential fashion icons to date and their contributions to the fashion industry.
Famous Icons from the 1900s
Starting with the infamous Diana Ross. When you think of fashion, you think of Diana Ross. Considered to be a diva and a force to be reckoned with, she was an icon in the 60s and has influenced the way celebrities dress on the red carpet today. She represents femininity and elegance with a big and bold style. Ross would wear jumpsuits, bold makeup, dazzling, embellished, and sequined pieces along with statement headpieces. You can see her influence most at an award show such as The Met Gala.
Josephine Baker was known for her lavish yet risque approach in style. Her style derives from the Art Deco period, which consisted of lines and geometric patterns. She would wear an immense amount of accessories: tassels, fringe, silk, sequin, headpieces, you name it, chances are she wore it. What made her style one of a kind is the fact she was willing to experiment. One of her most iconic pieces to date is her banana skirt that had many renditions. Even by Beyonce!
A 70s icon. Grier is best known for her appearance in platform shoes, high-waisted pants, and crop tops. Familiar right? The sultry style was something that dominated the seventies in which Grier was able to take advantage of. She loved all things glamour and always knew how to accessorize properly. Her influence is seen in streetwear, alternative style, and even a bit of the Y2K aesthetic.
Current Fashion Icons
Rihanna is truly a modern-day fashion icon. Singer, songwriter, and now fashion designer Rihanna is living proof that you can do it all. The media often pokes fun at her, begging and tagging her in the hope of announcing an album release. Unfortunately, no news has come, but this isn’t to say she hasn’t been working behind the scenes. With the creation of her Company Fenty Beauty in September 2017, she has strived to be inclusive of all genders and races. In her 2019 hybrid fashion show, Rihanna was able to prove that a lingerie fashion show can be fun, empowering, and entertaining. Rihanna’s style is also considered fearless, edgy, and very much herself. You can catch her rocking brands such as Tom Ford and Versace to more avant-garde pieces.
Badu is known for being a risk-taker when it comes to fashion. For her, inspiration is everywhere. In an interview with InStyle, Badu says “I have a good understanding of my style,” [I know] what looks good on my body, what colors look good on my skin. I’m not afraid to take risks. I mean, it’s all creativity. Whether it’s writing a song or doing a dance or making a film. I feel like I’m witnessing myself. I’m my audience.”
Precious Lee can be considered one of the first Black plus-size models to appear in Vogue and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Her style consists of luxury, bright colors, and bold prints. Besides Vogue, Lee has modeled for other major brands such as Versace and Savage X Fenty; She continues to set trends and let it be known there is a space for plus-sized models in the fashion and modeling industry.
You may know her from a television series aired on MTV called My Super Sweet 16, Kanye West’s infamous Fade music video, or simply as wife to professional basketball player Iman Shumpert. Others might recognize her for her trendy and versatile style. Teyana Taylor has always been recognized for showing up and showing out her tomboy Esque street style. In an interview with Refinery 29 back in 2018, Teyanna Taylor speaks out about her particular style and what it means to her. “I can’t walk in high heels, and I love sneakers. It’s so dope that you can be ‘hood chic.’ No one is looking down on you.” followed by Everything is coming full-circle. Everyone is getting their just due. Where streetwear is right now is where I always wanted it to be.”
The former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, is known for her jaw-dropping, stellar fashion choices. From Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein to Jason Wu, Givenchy, and Alexander Wang, she has worn it all. With a wide variety to choose from, her style can be viewed a versatile. Michelle Obama was, by far, one of the most influential when it came to how she presented herself. She is a major factor in how clothing plays the role that it currently does in today’s political climate.
Whether you’re a veteran or just beginning to dive into the world of fashion, these are some of the most prominent women. Be on the lookout for what’s to come and how their influence will impact upcoming trends.
Source(s): Hobdy, D. (2019, June 29). 10 Black Fashion Icons Who Paved the Way in Style. Essence. https://www.essence.com/fashion/10-black-fashion-icons-who-paved-way-style/
Mayhew, S. (2020, July 24). Shop Black Fashion Icon Style by the Decade. Harper’s BAZAAR. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/trends/g33325702/black-fashion-icons-by-the-decade/
Reese, A. (2019, February 2). The 25 Most Stylish Black Women to Celebrate Black History Month. Redbook. https://www.redbookmag.com/fashion/g26070546/most-stylish-black-women/
We tv. (2016, January 1). 5 Ways Diana Ross Influenced Fashion Today. https://www.wetv.com/black-history-then-and-now-5-ways-diana-ross-influenced-fashion-today