In honor of Black History Month, I’d like to celebrate the lives of African American women who changed the face of music, film, and runway and reset the tone of fashion, paving the way for our generation and those to follow.
Legendary actress Dorothy Dandridge became one of the iconic black women of Old Hollywood. She was the first African American actress to be nominated for a leading role award at the Academy Awards for her role in “Carmen Jones”. Not only did her charm and talent win over the hearts of many, so did her glamorous style, which included her elegant gowns, off-the-shoulder tops and the popular Italian Cut hairstyle.
Singer, model, and actress Grace Jones, is arguably the most iconic black fashion icon to ever exist. While becoming the queen of the disco scene, she paved the way for the leading pop stars of our generation. By dawning a square cut and unapologetically rocking both feminine and masculine styles, including hoods, body paint and padded shoulder tuxedos, she became the first to make androgynous style a staple in pop culture.
As the leader of the famous all-girl group, The Supremes, Diana Ross became the queen of Motown during the 1960s. Both a lover and student of fashion, Diana took her profound knowledge in the elements of fashion design to the stage. Her voluminous bob and lavish costumes, accessorized with bold feathers, sequins and lavish crystals, cemented her position as a classic fashion leader.
With a powerful voice and an unmatched stage presence, Tina Turner became the Queen of Rock and Roll music during the 1970s. Tina mastered the ability to create sultry love ballads and upbeat rock anthems, leading her to win a total of over 7 Grammy awards and numerous magazine covers, including Vogue, Jet and Rolling Stone. Her unorthodox and sassy costumes, which included miniskirts, red leather dresses, bodysuits adorned with wings and her signature spiky blond wigs, also catapulted her into an edgy fashion icon.
With a fierce walk and looks to kill, Naomi Campbell redefined fashion in the 1990s. Naomi first broke down fashion barriers by becoming one of the five top supermodels in the world. She became the first black model to appear on some of the most prestigious international covers, including Time Magazine and Vogue Russia, France and Britain. She graced the stages of several fashion houses, including Chanel and Victoria’s Secret, creating an iconic walk that continues to make her the reigning supermodel of fashion.