11 Black Designers Who Influenced Fashion and Culture … Then and Now

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Duro-Olowu1Duro Olowu

Since 2004, Olowu has used vibrant color palettes and pattern on pattern pairings to attract some of the most identifiable people in the world. No less than Michelle Obama has worn items from his high-spirited collections. The first lady wearing your creations is the ultimate stamp of success and influence.

dapper-dan-life-times-video-600x337-e1350530461181Dapper Dan

Working from Harlem, Dapper Dan was a force in hip-hop fashion just around the time it started to go mainstream in the early 1980s. At first he took the fabric from MCM, Louis Vuitton and others and repurposed them into custom pieces. That idea took him to the forefront of hip-hop culture, from creating for neighborhood people to rap icons Eric B. and Rakim, Funkmaster Flex, Salt-N-Pepa and boxer Mike Tyson.

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Arthur McGee

McGee flourished through the intense years of segregation, graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in the 1950s and pressing forward despite vast racial discrimination. He was the first Black to have his line in high-end stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s. He was known for bringing an “African and Asian aesthetic to his relaxed silhouettes.” Better than that was his commitment to serving as a mentor to young designers, which earned him the nickname “The Dean of African-American designers.”

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