Black History Month: Top Black African-Americans in Fashion History


Americans have been through so much pain and struggle due to our history in the world. Yes we once were Kings and Queens however, throughout the centuries our value in certain industries are not noted as much as other races.

Due to the fact we are in February, which is Black History Month, where other important events in fashion take place, such as New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week, and Paris Fashion Week;  MaseTV wants to focus on the top African-Americans who made their mark in the fashion industry, an industry where African-Americans do not get praised.


Arthur Mcgee (AKA The GrandFather of Fashion): Mr. Mcgee is considered the grandfather of fashion to the colored men and women. He was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1933. At the age of 18 mr. Mcgee decided to enter a contest at the Traphagen School of Design where the winner would win a scholarship to attend school. Keep in mind the Jim Crow laws was still heavy in effect. Mr. Mcgee won the contest and decided to go to the well know Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Manhattan. Mr. Mcgee was the first African-American to run a design room for the established Seventh Avenue apparel company in 1957. His talent broke racial barriers and because of that his work was sold in top department stores and boutiques such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Henri Bendel, Bonwit Teller, Bergdorf Goodman, and Lord & Taylor. Later on down the line he opened up his own boutique in the 60s in St. Mark place in Manhattan.


Zelda Wynn Valdes:  The great Zelda Wynn Valdes was a fashion and costume designer. Zelda signature in the industry was making clothes that hugs the curves of females. Zelda created beautiful gowns for females of curves such as Joyce Bryant, Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald and Mae West. Her groundbreaking moment in the fashion industry is when Playboy Hugh Hefner asked her to designed the first ever playboy bunny costume. Till this very day the playboy bunny costume is still worn today and still has the same iconic sexy symbol of seduction and allure.


Dapper Dan:Hops Fashion GodFather.” When end brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and MCM denied him from selling their clothes he went a different route by selling custom pieces of clothes with end logo prints. Dapper Dan client list consist of Harlem hustlers to the likes of Run DMC, Mike Tyson, Salt and Pepa, LL Cool J and Bobby Brown. Eventually, the brands that denied him from selling their clothes all sued Dapper Dan for selling clothes with their logo.

Olivier Rousteing: Balmain’s head designer Oliver Rousteing has made his mark incredibly in the fashion industry. Ever since he became the new head designer Balmain has been hot like hot pockets! celebrities can not get enough of the signature biker jeans and in addition the biker jeans have been introduced to the street style culture as well. The African-Frenchmen earned his striped over at Roberto Cavalli.


Shanye Oliver: Thanks to Shanye Oliver for putting street style culture back on the map! Hood By Air popularity has grown successfully. People like Rihanna, Kanye West, ASAP, and Drake has been seen wearing the cool brand of HBA. Shayne Oliver recently landed HBA at Barney’s. Can you believe it all started in 2006 for the young designer. Before his clothes Landed in Barney’s and the runways of Milk Studios during New York Fashion Week, Shanye was screen printing hood on t-shirts. 2014 his brand has developed and grew ten times bigger.


Maxwell Osborne: Maxwell Osbourne is one of the main designers for the New York based brand called Public School. Maxwell Osborne earned his stripes by designing foe Sean Jean. When Osborne left Sean John he met co-designer Dao-Yi Chow and together they created one of New York top high-end brands called Public school.


June Ambrose: You wouldn’t believe it but Ms. Ambrose did not study fashion in college and look where she’s at now. She is ranked 23 out 25 of the top stylist in the industry in an industry that is ruled by caucasian men and women. However, Ms. Ambrose ambition took her to places and the result of that was some of her icons looks such as Missy Elliott music video “I Can’t Stand the Rain”, and putting Puff Daddy in the iconic red shiny suit. Her client list is very impressive from Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Will Smith, and even styled X-Factor! Ms. Ambrose is a hustler is about her business.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Top African-Americans in Fashion History