Most Stylish Black Women in History
by Alexandra Phanor-Faury
We doubt Michelle Obama ever fathomed that her personal style would be of such interest to the American public. But one year into being First Lady, it’s undeniable that her affinity for fashion has not only been a boast for American fashion but it has also reaffirmed both the buying power of African-American women and what we’ve always known-that Black women are stylish. Michelle Obama may be one of the very few Black women celebrated for her impeccable taste by mainstream America, but she certainly isn’t the first stylish sista to make an impressive fashion mark. Black women have long demonstrated their styles and personalities through their inventive fashion transformations over the past decades.
From the 40’s church going women who took pride in their elaborate hats to acclaimed author Zora Neal Hurston’s more minimal lady-like chapeau to Josephine Baker’s sensual style to Grace Jones’ strong edge, fashion has always been part of our lives. In honor of Black History Month, we're taking a look back at the most stylish Black women in history and paying tribute to their timeless style.
Diahann Carroll was the first African-American actress to star in her own TV show. She played a single mother and nurse which made “Julia”, at that time, groundbreaking for featuring a Black woman who was not a maid. She would win a Golden Globe for her role in 1968.
Carroll’s illustrious career is full of moments in which she has broken color barriers. In 1962 Carroll was the first Black woman to win a Tony for best actress for yet another unconventional role for Black women: a chic model in Paris. She was one of the first glamorous Black actresses in Hollywood on and off film. She was a jet-setter who lived lavishly and wore Haute Couture. Carroll represented the Black woman White America had no clue existed.