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  • Writer's pictureShari Henry

Celebrating Black Excellence: Trailblazing Black Fashion Designers



Designer, Ruth E.Carter, and scene from Black Panther displaying Carter's designs

Fashion is a universal language, and within its realm, Black designers have been eloquent storytellers, visionaries, and catalysts for change. They have woven their heritage, experiences, and creativity into garments that transcend time, proving that fashion is more than just fabric; it's a reflection of culture, identity, and innovation. In this blog, we embark on a journey to celebrate the trailblazing Black fashion designers who have made indelible marks on the industry, inspiring generations and leaving a legacy of excellence.


The Pioneers

Ann Lowe: The Unsung Couturier

Ann Lowe was a groundbreaking Black designer whose talent was often overshadowed by her clients' fame. Despite the challenges she faced, she is credited with creating Jacqueline Kennedy's iconic wedding dress. Her intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail set the standard for couture craftsmanship.

Willi Smith: Streetwear Visionary

Willi Smith was a pioneer in streetwear fashion, co-founding the iconic brand WilliWear. His designs were characterized by their inclusivity, making high fashion accessible to all. His impact on the fashion world is immeasurable, and his legacy lives on in the democratization of fashion.

Patrick Kelly: The King of Wit and Whimsy

Patrick Kelly's designs were a burst of color and humor. He broke down racial and social barriers in the fashion world with his playful yet profound creations. His runway shows were legendary, promoting diversity and self-expression.

Zelda Wynn Valdes: Dressing the Divas

Zelda Wynn Valdes was a trailblazing designer who dressed legendary divas like Josephine Baker and Ella Fitzgerald. She was also the visionary behind the iconic Playboy Bunny costume. Her innovative designs continue to influence fashion today.


The Revolutionaries

Dapper Dan: The Harlem Couturier

Dapper Dan revolutionized streetwear by blending luxury logos with street style. His boutique in Harlem became a cultural epicenter, attracting clients like Mike Tyson and LL Cool J. His resilience and creativity paved the way for urban fashion as we know it today.

Tracy Reese: Femininity and Empowerment

Tracy Reese's designs celebrate femininity and empower women. Her commitment to diversity in fashion has been unwavering, promoting inclusivity on the runways. Her timeless creations have graced red carpets and everyday wardrobes alike.

Kerby Jean-Raymond: Making a Statement

Kerby Jean-Raymond, the creative force behind Pyer Moss, is a visionary designer with a social conscience. He uses fashion as a platform to address pressing issues, from racial inequality to mental health. His powerful collections challenge the status quo and inspire change.

Aurora James: 15% Pledge Advocate

Aurora James, the founder of Brother Vellies, is on a mission to make fashion more equitable. She launched the 15% Pledge, urging retailers to commit 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. Her dedication to inclusivity and representation is reshaping the industry.


The Innovators

Virgil Abloh: Crossing Boundaries

Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's men's wear, is a boundary-pushing designer known for his streetwear-meets-luxury aesthetic. He's not only redefining fashion but also breaking down racial barriers in a historically exclusive industry.

Ruth E. Carter: Costume Marvels

Ruth E. Carter is the brilliant costume designer behind iconic films like "Black Panther" and "Malcolm X." Her meticulous research and attention to cultural authenticity have earned her critical acclaim and Academy Awards.



Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter photographed with Fashion Designer Shari Henry

The legacy of Black fashion designers is woven into the fabric of fashion history. Their resilience, creativity, and dedication have shattered barriers and redefined the industry. They've celebrated Black culture, promoted inclusivity, and ignited important conversations through their designs. As we celebrate Black excellence, let us also honor the visionaries who continue to shape the fashion world, reminding us that fashion is a powerful platform for change and self-expression. The Shari Henry brand, a significant part of fashion history, stands alongside the legacy of Black fashion designers, weaving its story into the fabric of the industry. Just like these trailblazers, Shari Henry embodies resilience, creativity, and unwavering dedication, contributing to the redefinition of the fashion landscape.

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