Posted on February 08 2022
In honor of Black History Month, our team at Zeena is highlighting Fashionable Black Women changemakers and rule breakers who are influencing American culture in positive ways. While there are more inspiring women than we could name in a single post, from artists to activists, the notable fashion icons featured in today's special Arts & Culture edition have walked the red carpets with style and grace, broken down barriers and are paving the way for future generations to come.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama needs no introduction. Her intrepid style and fascinating life continue to empower women long after her days in the White House were over. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Michelle is the author of Becoming, a memoir, and an advocate for education, nutrition & healthy eating, poverty awareness and literacy. As a fashion icon and attorney, she serves as a role model for women across the globe.
Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson
Born in Washington D.C., Taraji P. Henson is an actress and singer who graduated from Howard University and made her acting debut in 2001 with an appearance on Smart Guy. Over the course of her career, Taraji has won several NAACP Awards, Critic's Choice Movie Awards and BET Awards for her roles in Hidden Figures, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hustle & Flow and holds a Golden Globe for her role in Empire. In 2019, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her outstanding performances and contributions to the film industry. We are looking forward to her upcoming role in a musical revival of The Color Purple, alongside the breakthrough R&B artist H.E.R.
Ruth E. Carter
Ruth E. Carter
As the first Black woman to win an Oscar for costume design for the afro-futuristic Marvel film Black Panther, Ruth E. Carter is making history as a trailblazer in her own right. Her long and colorful journey as a fashion and accessory designer, has led her to working with a glowing list of Hollywood legends such as Spike Lee, Eddie Murphy, John Singleton, Chadwick Boseman and Djimon Hounsou. Since 1988, her most famous designs can be seen in the films Malcom X, Amistad, Selma and Coming 2 America. Ruth E. Carter received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for costume design in 2021.
Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige
Singer, songwriter and actress, Mary J. Blige is the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul". In 1992, her first album, What's the 411? launched her career, bringing together the best of both worlds: R&B and smooth, Hip-Hop beats. Mary's powerful storytelling and one of a kind voice have earned her countless Billboard Music Awards, BET Awards and multiple Grammy's. Her 90's-inspired jewelry line Sister Love was born in collaboration with designer Simone I. Smith. We look forward to her upcoming album Good Morning Gorgeous which will be released in February 2022.
London Fashion Week designer, artist, activist and author, Elle Mambetov intertwines culture, faith and hand-drawn graphics into her elaborate work. As a Texas native and world traveler, Elle has lived between London, China, and finally L.A. where she opened her first boutique Elle B. Zhou in 2020. Elle's story is something of a fairytale, as she wrongfully imprisoned for two years for a crime she didn't commit. Her book, A6437DW: American Captive, chronicles the painful soul-searching she lived through during that time, her journey into Islam, and how upon release, creating beautiful clothing ushered her successful comeback. In early 2022, Elle will be releasing a swimsuit line in collaboration with the online mega retailer Farfetch.com.
Sewn into the seams of American culture, Tracy Reese is a fashion designer on a mission to make every woman look and feel beautiful. The bold, daring, feminine designs from her brand Hope for Flowers have garnered a loyal following of Hollywood celebs and Reese fans around the world, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, Tracee Ellis Ross, Oprah Winfrey and Sarah Jessica Parker. Tracy is an influential member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC), promoting diversity and inclusion for the next generation of creatives. Tracy is a graduate of the Parson's School of Design and is currently developing an artisan community for underserved women in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
A spirited New Yorker, costume designer, video stylist, and entrepreneur, June Ambrose is a fashion legend who has spent the majority of her glittering career building bridges between the music industry and the fashion world. As the former stylist for Uptown/MCA Records, June's iconic luxury-meets-street-style aesthetic helped write the visual language for artists like Missy Elliot, Jay-Z and P. Diddy. Her VH1 reality show Styled by June aired in 2012 and featured her at her best, solving fashion faux pas and transforming celebrities and their brands. June is currently the creative director for Puma.
Thank you for reading this special edition of Zeena Uncovered! As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, join us on Instagram @simplyzeena_. Follow us on Pinterest for more inspirational posts. See you next time!
Jamillah K. Abdullah is a contributing blogger to Zeena Uncovered