Black Influential Designers
by Alexandra Phanor-Faury
In celebration of both Black History Month and New York Fashion Week, Essence.com is paying homage to the great designers of the past, present and future whose unique perspective has helped shaped the fashion landscape.
Tracy Reese is one of the few Black designers with a successful business venture that extends beyond the runway. Along with two lines, Tracy Reese and lower-priced Plenty, Reese runs a home design line. A young Reese would go through many hurdles early on in her career before establishing her profitable brand. In 1986, Reese launched a line that was loved by women and critics, but her inexperience when it came to the business end forced her to close her doors only three years later. Marc Jacobs, Reese’s friend and Parson’s School of Design classmate, hired Reese when he was overseeing designs at Perry Ellis Portfolio. Her experience at Perry Ellis, coupled with the guidance of mentor Gordon Henderson, taught her what it takes to launch a successful line. Reese would try her luck again in 1996, and this time around Reese’s venture would flourish.
Reese is known for her signature brand of feminine, pretty dresses with intricate detailing and touch of vintage flair.