All Articles Tagged "african american designers"
Quick. Which of these looks is “high-fashion”? Which is “urban”?
The answer to the second question is none of them, according to Mychael Knight, the designer who created all of them.
“I will correct someone very quickly when they say I am an ‘urban designer’ or a ‘hip-hop designer,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with [designing hip-hop-inspired sportswear], but it’s just not what I do.”
As for the answer to the first question, Knight, who is black, cites an “invisible barrier” that reserves “high-fashion” anointing for a privileged circle of designers—very few of which are black. “Tracy Reese and Rachel Roy - they’ve penetrated that, but I don’t ever really see any placement of them in fashion magazines”—an indication that Reese and Roy are not readily on the mind of prominent editors and stylists.
Perhaps observant of this trend, some black designers early in their careers choose to use white models, particularly for lookbooks, which are prepared for press and buyers, and on their websites where customers seeking high-fashion looks (assumed to be white) can immediately imagine themselves in their pieces. Though Knight regularly casts models of color for both his runway shows and his lookbooks, he can guess why some African-American designers skip over black models altogether.
“When you open up a fashion magazine—a Vogue or an Elle,” Knight points out, “you never see black models. You think, as a black designer, ‘well, if I need my brand [or] my product to get noticed I need to use the white models.’” It’s like high school, Knight explains. “People feel like they to need fit in.”
Model booker Carole White gave New York Magazine the racial breakdown as it applies to models. “Asian girls do really well. You can’t have too many, but they do really well, and it’s quite easy to book them. For Black girls, it is more difficult.” White is further quoted as saying, “[Black models] have to be utterly amazing. There will be less work. It takes much longer to establish them… because clients don’t take the risk on black girls so much.” For this reason, White admits agencies are “very, very picky” when it comes to signing black models. “Maybe you’re not as picky with the white girls, because there’s more work for them.”
With African-American models facing a shrunken market, getting passed over by black designers only further threatens their livelihood. It also perpetuates old school notions of what, and who, represents luxury versus the aesthetic of the street.
Tags:african american designers, African American models, black designers, elle, Fashion, fashion industry, fashion magazines, gelila bekele, high fashion, magazines, Mychael Knight, mychael knight spring 2012, nana ekua brew-hammond, powder necklace, Project Runway, rachel roy, street wear, tracy reese, urban fashion, Vogue, white models
(The Grio) — As his first New York Fashion Week show slides into the past, Mychael Knight, 33, is already contemplating how he can outdo himself in his next collection. ”I always like to pick up where I left off,” he said, on the rare occasion of a day off following New York’s week-long fashion frenzy and a well-received collection inspired by dinosaurs. Knight says his fall/winter 2012 collection slated for February will be “super Hot and super feminine. ”Bigger, badder, better. Hell yes.”
Propelled to national fame after winning Project Runway’s Fan Favorite award in season three, Atlanta-based Knight boasts a lingerie label and a unisex fragrance along with his flagship fashion label. He is part of a small but enterprising group of African-American independent designers who have understood that a brand cannot be built on creativity alone.
Building a brand is like raising a child, Knight said. “I’m raising it and I want to make sure its integrity is maintained.”
(Black Enterprise) — Identical twins Corianna and Brianna Dotson left their hometown of Minnesota at 19 to make their dream move to New York City. Starting with little-to-nothing, these two go-getters tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit and established Coco and Breezy, a futuristic-inspired accessories and eyewear line. Fast-forward, two years later and the 21-year-olds have gone from designing each piece by hand to producing their products on a larger scale. Celebrities from Nikki Minaj to Serena Williams have been spotted wearing their shades, and most recently Beyoncé donned their “Uni” bracelet in her “Let’s Move!” video.
(Uptown) — When husband-and-wife design duo Brian Merritt, 30, and Autumn Dennard-Merritt, 28, decided to open their first boutique, Solemates…Chicago, in 2007, they were determined to etch their mark on the city’s fashion scene with vintage sneakers and indie clothing brands. Two years later, the couple launched their own private label, Sir & Madame, and in 2010, they moved to Ukrainian Village and rebranded their boutique under the same moniker. The smart line of 1930s- to 1950s-inspired separates, accessories, and home goods is a refreshingly classic yet contemporary approach to street fashion. We caught up with the hip parents of two—Ari, an ever bouncing toddler, and Milo, born last May—to find out the secret of successful spousal entrepreneurship.
(The Root) — Somalian-American twin designers Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, of the line Mataano, presented their Spring 2012 collection Sunday night at the Time Warner Center, offering a mix of tropical prints, vintage silhouettes and vibrant colors. Inspired by the 1960s and ’70s, the call was for pleated, silk-chiffon multilayered skirts, washed silk, crepe de chine floral, dotted bandeau tops and print stretched-cotton rompers.
(The Root) — Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week begins today, kicking off more than 200 fashion shows and events that will happen at Lincoln Center and other locations through Sept. 15. Shows will preview what’s coming for the Spring/Summer 2012 season and showcase special events, like the taping of the finale for the popular fashion reality show Project Runway. Among the cadre of black designers showing is B. Michael, a favorite of actresses such as Cicely Tyson and Phylicia Rashad, who shows his collection at Fashion Week. Michael talked to The Root about the changing fashion world and black designers’ presence at Fashion Week.
(Uptown) — Tamara Bowens is easily one of Atlanta’s most fashionable women. Last year, the former SVP/CMO for The Dawson Co., a multigenerational, black-owned real estate firm, made her greatest style statement to date. She launched BowensBergeron, a design house featuring handcrafted wooden handbags, with custom furniture master Ray Bergeron. Described as “carved couture at its best,” BowensBergeron creations, consisting of such exotic woods as English sycamore and African zebrawood, attracted attention quickly with its inaugural line, the Lifestyle Collection. Bowens is scheduled to host a trunk show on September 8 at Saks Fifth Avenue at Phipps Plaza in conjunction with Fashion’s Night Out, and earlier this year, Randolph Duke (whose gowns Angelina Jolie and Hilary Swank donned during their Oscar winning moments), incorporated her stylish clutches into one of his own trunk shows in L.A. BowensBergeron’s sophomore collection, Chroma, is even more chic.
(Uptown) — When Janet Hill Talbert began her first career as an editor at Doubleday, an air of glamour swirled in her workplace, thanks in part to her colleague at the publishing house, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Talbert’s career skyrocketed, eventually landing her in the position of executive editor and vice president at both Doubleday and Harlem Moon, an African-American book imprint she launched in 2002. But she always held fast to a passion she and Jackie O shared: jewelry. Today, with On This Rock, her line of sterling silver and gold-plated jewelry, Talbert continues her love affair with words.
(Philadelphia Inquirer) — Jeanine Hays and her husband, Bryan Mason, are plotting the transformation of the deck off their Old City apartment for a photo shoot for Matchbook magazine. Devotees of, say, the now defunct Metropolitan Home (may it rest in peace) may not have heard of the Web-only shelter magazine, but Hays, founder of blog and virtual shop AphroChic, makes it her business to be in the forefront of the online design world. Online is where she began her journey from attorney to designer. Hays was working full time as a policy associate for the San Francisco-based Family Violence Prevention Fund when she started AphroChic in 2007 to connect with like-minded design-magazine junkies. Her mission crystallized when she noticed the dearth of African American women blogging about modern design. “I wanted to provide that perspective,” she says.
(The Root) — Top models see more clothes up close than anybody else. They’re constantly slipping in and out of dresses, visiting showrooms and witnessing the best designers at work. Lois (pronounced “Loy”) Samuels has been modeling for 16 years, working with everyone in the fashion world from Yves Saint Laurent to Calvin Klein to Ralph Lauren, Thierry Mugler and Banana Republic.
Just this past Christmas, she appeared in a series of national advertisements for Macy’s. She was among the first models of her era to sport a shaved head on the runway, paving the way for the many beautiful buzzed coifs that have graced the catwalk recently. Samuels has written two well-received books: A Glow in the Dark, about her career in modeling, and Jamaica Through My Eyes, a collection of her photography. She started modeling at 21 after she was discovered in Jamaica, where she was born, and lived in London for several years before moving to New York six years ago with her son.