This year is the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. It got me thinking about the impact that black fashion designers and moguls (hello Russell Simmons!) have had on our culture and our clothes. My thought was that it would be fun to share a top 10 list of influential designers with you, Dear Reader. But, who can narrow it down to 10? I cannot.
As an alternative, I'd encourage you to check out this list of the Top 25 Greatest Black Fashion Designers. It's addictive. Anyway, in an effort to avoid writing a PhD thesis on this subject, I've decided to focus on one that is very popular with a number of my clients:
Lafayette 148 New York.
I love this brand for the sophisticated, tailored professional woman who prefers to invest in fewer pieces. (They have a men's shop, too!) It's high quality with a nice balance of current and timeless fashion. On a recent shopping excursion with a client we paired this blue top with blue cigarette pants in a similar hue. She looked stunning. In her case, the blue brought out the color of her eyes, which made a huge impact. Because of the jersey blend of the top, it was comfortable and the sleeves ensured she wouldn't need a cardigan to stay warm.
She is busty and has an hourglass figure, so she really appreciated finding something that she could wear comfortably without tailoring. (Lafayette 148 is great for the curvy woman.) The top and pant could easily pair with an array of items in her wardrobe.
As for the designer, Edward Wilkerson, he joined the label in 1998 after working with Donna Karan and Louis D' del O'lio at the house of Anne Klein, then at Calvin Klein. There's a great interview with him here.
Have a favorite African American fashion designer past or present? Perhaps Tracy Reese, Willi Smith or Patrick Kelly? Do tell.