Fashion Icons

I have developed a love affair with all things vintage fashion. My inspiration came from old photos of my grandmothers. My mother's unique style and flair for Victorian decor played a huge part in my fashion aesthetic. So many fashionistas declare Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn fashion royalty, but I find exceptional style and grace in starlets such as Dorothy Dandridge, Ruby Dee, Ethel Waters, and Diahann Carroll. Old movies with African American casts like Carmen Jones and A Raisin in the Sun are missed opportunities for cult followings like Breakfast at Tiffany's, which I've still never seen. African American actresses and songstresses not only had to be physically beautiful but also had to maintain grace and composure under racial fire...

I used to have mixed feelings about vintage fashion, especially that of the 1950s because of the racial climate. A woman like me probably wouldn't have been able to shop in the fashionable boutiques. If so, I would have had to enter from the back door. Women like my maternal grandmother often made their own wardrobes, while blazing trails for future generations.I have an awesome fashion legacy to set in motion in the days to come and some fabulous shoes to fill.

Photographs: Ruby Dee,

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
Carl Van Vechten Collection
Ethel Waters,
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
Carl Van Vechten Collection.

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