We all know her name, that smile, those curls and her signature refined beauty. Though what we didn’t know was that Tracee Ellis Ross (a.k.a. our BFF in our head) was going to completely shut down the American Music Awards this year. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised? After doing an amazing job as the host of the AMAs last year, Ross returned to the stage last night and brought all the heat with her timely jokes and killer sense of style.
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And the best part? She opted to wear Black fashion designer creations throughout the entire evening — from the red carpet to the stage, and beyond. Fashion designer Sergio Hudson recalled the moment he received news to create something for Ross for this year’s show, “I thought, OMG! I get to dress Joan from Girlfriends, lol. Her outfit was inspired by a look that started off as a dress from my Fall 2018 collection, we made it a bodysuit and pants… then added the beret and gloves to take it over the top,” said Hudson. ESSENCE got the exclusive from Ross about each and every one of her wardrobe changes and we’ve broken down each ensemble. Check it out below! Red Carpet

Black designer: Pyer Moss by Kerby Jean-Raymond (suit). Also wearing Christian Louboutin pumps, Jacob & Co. necklace, Djula Jewelry earring & Mattia Cielo earring. Look #1

Black designer: Dapper Dan for Gucci (overcoat). Also wearing: Nicolas Jebran sequin catsuit, Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, Jacob & Co. necklace, Lillian Shalom custom grill. Look #2

Black designer: CD Greene (mirror sequin dress). Also wearing: Christian Louboutin pumps. Look #3

Black designers: Shanel Campbell (skirt) + Aminah Abdul Jillil (shoes). Also wearing: x Karla x When We All Vote “VOTE” tee. Look #4

Black designer: Off White c/o Virgil Abloh (tulle dress). Also wearing: Christian Louboutin pumps. Look #5

Black designer: Sergio Hudson (bodysuit, belt, gloves, and beret). Also wearing: Casadei pumps and Gucci shades. Look #6

Black designer: LAVIE by CK (dress). Also wearing: Stuart Weitzman earrings and pumps. Look #7

Black designer: Balmain by Olivier Rousteing (dress). Also wearing: Christian Louboutin pumps & Amwaj earrings. Look #8

Black designer: Dèshon (suit, earring & brooch). Also wearing: Tamara Mellon pumps. Look #9

Black designer: Cushnie by Carly Cushnie (jumpsuit). Also wearing Jimmy Choo pumps. Whew, chile… that was a slay! We stan a beautiful, Black queen who supports Black designers and inspires the culture. Ross also shared some advice for young Black girls hoping to fill her shoes one day… read more below! ESSENCE: How important was it for you to shine a light on wearing Black designers for your hosting duties? ROSS: When you have a platform, especially in the times that we’re in, it’s important to use it to shine light on the directions you believe in. And I believe in Black people. I love Black people. Based on your former experience working in magazine editorial, can you briefly walk us through your editing process for selecting your final looks for the show? It was a collaboration between [my stylist] Karla [Welch] and I. My final edit is always about choosing the things that make me feel the most powerful. I felt SICK in every one of the looks I wore. What is your response to people who may say that you wearing Black designers is too political?  There’s no such thing as too political. The political is personal. And our equity, safety, and freedom is worth speaking up for. Plus, the reality of the power of blackness is always worth celebrating. For the millions of little Black girls in the world who might need a ‘pick me up’ or word of encouragement— what would you tell them?  I love you. I see you. May you know your power. May you discover the story that you have to tell. May you trust in the truth of your experience as a building block for the medicine that you have to give. And remember, some of the designers I wore tonight were also little Black girls that may have needed a pick me up or a word of encouragement. So never stop thinking that anything is possible. Because it’s all possible. With work and faith.


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