The contributions that African Americans have made to the fashion community have gone somewhat unnoticed.Not on purpose but something surely can explain this lack of knowledge can't it ?
The Early Days
The history of blacks involved in American fashion goes all the way back to slavery. Elizabeth Keckley was the true definition of a pioneer.Being born into slavery did not stop Keckley, after mastering her craft of dress making she was able to take a loan of $1,200 from her wealthy clients and purchase her freedom.She was then able to move to Washington D.C and start her own dress making business.Keckley quickly gained clientele and not just any kind of clientele,Marry Todd Lincoln the First Lady of the United States.
Zelda Wynn may not be a household name, but I guarantee you know of her work.Wynn opened her boutique on broadway(the first African American to do so) she helped designed dresses for the stars of her time. With so much accomplished already this was not yet where she made he stamp on pop culture. Hugh Hefner caught wind of her designs he requested that she do some work for him . That work would go on to become the iconic play boy bunny costume.
It's not how you start but how you finish
Jay Jaxson was not your typical fashion designer by any means.He wasn't even supposed to be in the industry, he was first introduced by his seamstress girlfriend.Jaxson trained under designers such as Christian Dior & Yves Saint Laurent. At the young age of 24 he was asked to lead the charge for failing couturier Jean-Louis Scherrer. Although the line would eventually fail Jaxson broke barriers not only for African Americans but Americans as a whole. The first American couturier in Paris.Jaxson would go on to sell in high end retailers. Before his death he was able to work as a costume designer in movies and television shows.
Appreciation for the culture as a whole is important. But we cannot forget those whose works have gone unappreciated. These are only a few names that were ahead of their time but there are many more. Let's appreciate them all.