Zelda Wynn Valdes
Wanting to bring a little light on the queens who helped the fashion industry while we are still celebrating women of history month.
I believe every woman has at least one freak’em dress! Let’s just say Zelda Wynn Valdes had an eye for fashion and admiration for the feminine silhouette . In 1948, Valdes became the first black woman to own a storefront on New York’s most iconic street, named Chez Zelda. Her clientele insist of stars like Joyce Bryant, Dorothy Dandridge, Ella Fitzgerald and Mae West. Highlighting the curves of the female body, she quickly drew the attention of the world famous playboy Hugh Hefner and designed the now popular playboy bunny costume. Zelda Wynn Valdes retired in 1988 and died 2001 at the age of 96.
“Once a Supermodel, always a supermodel.” – Beverly Johnson
Queen B may have graced the cover of Vogue magazines September 2018 issue but let us not forget to honor one of the first black woman that led the way for so many women of today. Beverly Johnson was the first African American supermodel to appear on the cover of US Vogue and the French Elle magazines. Not limited to print, she also walked the runway for designers such as Halston, appeared in tv commercials, shows and movies. Breaking many barriers she indulged in a cosmetic line, her very own doll and also wigs and extensions. Beverly Johnson was a game changer that opened many doors for women of color.
Anne Lowe was the earliest African American high fashion designer to become apart of the New York fashion establishment. She was best known for designing Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress. 50 yards of silk taffeta made up Jacqueline’s dress and was the most photographed dress in history. Every dress was an original and never repeated piece of art. In 1946, Lowe designed the dress Olivia de Havilland wore to accept the Academy Award for best actress although her name was not on the label. Her customers included but not limited to the DePonts, Roosevelt’s, Biddles, Rockefeller’s and more. Her gowns were featured on Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Town & Country magazines in the 50s and 60s of her career. Anne was known as the socialists “best kept secret” because she was a black woman.
Most people will not recognize the face nor the name of Ola Hudson, a very known costume designer in the 1970s. Her clientele insisted of Stevie Wonder, Janet Jackson, Pointer Sisters, Diana Ross and John Lennon. She is the mother of Slash, best known as the lead guitarist in the rock band Gun N’ Roses. One of Hudson’s famous looks were the tailored outfits she made for David Bowe’s Film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” Designing costumes for some of the most famous musicians she made her mark in the fashion industry.