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Rihanna & Beyonce's Potential Impact On Black Designers (Opinion)

Can Rihanna and/or Beyonce positively impact the dismal future of black designers?

Chances are, if you flip through a magazine—any glossy magazine, there are styles somewhere in between the pages highly influenced, if not explicitly, by Black culture in America and abroad. And you’ve probably seen an article or five about the billion dollar figure (inching towards the trillion mark by 2015) that Blacks contribute as far as their buying power, yet little to show for such an astronomical dollar amount, well, besides stuff. Stuff that will be deemed ill-suited by the year a trillion is spent on more stuff.

If you’re an unfailing contributor to that billion dollar price point, more than likely you are plugged into what’s taking place in the big apple:   New York Fashion Week, where top echelon designers with an inclined knack for panache gather to flounce next season’s must-haves. Guess who is not in the building? Black designers. While we make up for the numbers in the audience we’re barely backstage as designers getting well-deserved props for those influenced designs.

Black culture being a huge influence within the fashion industry is nothing new. But being hugely underrepresented where it truly matters is getting old.

“This year, only two African American designers, b. michael and Tracy Reese, are showcasing their looks on the runway, which have led many to wonder—where are the black designers?” according to CLUTCH magazine.

Keep in mind there are 127 designers showing Fall 2012 looks as part of the official presentation of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. That discrepancy is easy math.

What’s the deal with only two Black designers showing?

“Well, fashion week is a multimillion dollar proposition,” Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told the Grio. “Even for a designer to put on a small show, it can cost a hundred thousand dollars. So you have an enormous investment on the part of designers.”

So, what’s a plausible, prompt response to change the direction of the ever slumping Black showings? Well, maybe not what, but who—Beyonce and Rihanna.

”If our community could just rally behind this, I believe it could change overnight. Who doesn’t want to wear what Rihanna is wearing?” asked Dr. Steele.

Aside from personal feelings one may have for the starlets’ style or the starlets themselves, the two are invariably in magazines and are on an instant runway every time they hit the streets. Their crossover appeal could potentially change the face of the fashion world.

Beyonce once said, “I had just turned 21, and this was my first solo video (Crazy in Love). I wanted to be a female version of James Dean and wear an iconic white T-shirt and jean shorts. I always think about wearing something a fan could buy and make her own.” Fast forward several years later and   it’s obvious the hugely famous pop star has moved away from this sentiment. Beyonce used over 5 high end designers in her video for ‘Run the World, (Girls)’ which has been viewed an astounding 122 million times on Youtube – and counting! Imagine the impact of replacing two or three with black designers?!

Rihanna’s style when she first stepped on the scene was new for someone of her age, well after the first album and before they turned her all the way bad. Many of her styles fall flat with me now, but it’s more than just me interested in fashion. Besides this is about an inclusive effort. The “Man Down” singer has the “it” factor that can drudge numbers above two designers at the next big apple’s fashion show. Rihanna has a clothing line with Armani and is teaming up with Nicola Roberts for a British television fashion show. She’s crossing the pond with her style—no-brainer.

Their influence is undeniable. Both known by one name (certified appeal). Both world renowned. Both can rock many looks. Both are media darlings.

So, what are they waiting for?

By Deidre White

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