2016 was disappointing, to say the least. When we look back on this year as we grow older we may see it as a sad time, but there were also some great moments this year. Black women prospered in sports, entertainment and politics. Most of all, Black women made great strides in the fashion industry. This year at New York Fashion Week 13.29 percent of the models were Black, which is a sizeable improvement from the 9.22 percent at last year’s NYFW. In addition, there were also a few women who blazed paths individually.
This May, Elaine Welteroth was promoted from Teen Vogue’s Beauty and Health Director to editor-in-chief. This promotion was a historical one because at 29 she is now the youngest EIC in Conde Nast history. She is also only the second Black woman to hold such a position (Keija Minor became the first in 2012 when she was named EIC of Brides). While under Welteroth’s control, Teen Vogue has received praise for both its coverage of the fashion industry and sociopolitical issues. I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for Teen Vogue in years to come.
Model, fashion blogger and medical student, Deddeh Howard, teamed up with photographer, Raffael Dickreuter, this year to create a controversial photo series entitled Black Mirror. The series featured images of Howard recreating popular fashion ads which had previously been made with White models. Howard and Dickreuter’s project was a response to the lack of diversity in the modeling industry and turned out to be very popular on social media. Following the release of Black Mirror, Howard has been invited to do multiple interviews on the subject. Hopefully the conversation brought to the light by Black Mirror will lead to runways and ads that reflect all consumers of high fashion.
Eleven year old Marley Dias started the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign in order to share the stories of Black women and girls. Due to the success of her campaign, Dias was interviewed by ELLE; during the interview she mentioned that she would like to one day edit a magazine, so Elle made her dream come true. Marley Dias is now the editor-in-residence of Marley Mag, a segment of ELLE.com dedicated to young women of color. Marley Dias has already had great accomplishments in her life and she’s only 11, so I’m sure we’ll see a lot more from her in years to come.
Singer and pop culture icon, Rihanna, has served as brand ambassador and creative director for PUMA since 2014, but 2016 has truly been a great year for the partnership. Rihanna’s Creeper sneakers and FENTY slides were constantly sold out this year. Her success with PUMA and the fact that basically everyone looks to Rihanna for fashion inspiration proves her to be a major player in the fashion industry in addition to her thriving music career.
Elaine Welteroth, Deddeh Howard, Marley Dias and Rihanna made the most of a not so great year and came out on top. Their history making, conversation starting and eye catching endeavors are perfect examples of what happens when black girl magic and fashion come together. With Black women continuing to push for diversity and becoming bosses, the years to come are sure to be filled with a lot more triumph and a lot less disappointment.
Be the zeitgeist.