10 Black Fashion Icons Who Paved the Way in Style

Black women have always set the pace in fashion. Whether lending their beauty to the most renowned photographers in the world, lighting up stages and the big screen in covetable style, the world was watching and taking notes. These are the women whose fashionable influence can still be seen today.

Dominique Hobdy Feb, 01, 2016

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Dorothy's classic style was the epitome of ladylike. Always well-tailored, classy, and timeless, most of this leading ladies' looks would be fierce today.

2 of 10 Victor Skrebneski/Michael Ochs Archives/ Getty

Since the start of the 60's and her days with the Supremes, Diana Ross was a fashion maven. Her influence can still be felt in fashion today, especially because she's gifted us with yet another fashion icon, the always fabulous Tracee Ellis Ross.

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Eartha Kitt was once called the most interesting woman in the world and she had the wardrobe to match. Her petite frame was always clad in glamorous gowns and ultra feminine silhouettes. She was also known for her signature animal print, perfect for that famous purr.

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Style icon Josephine Baker was known for her lavish stage costumes. In fact, in the 1930 musical Paris Qui Remue, she had an outstanding 50 costume changes. Baker loved playing dress-up and French audiences applauded her sense of theatrical style of feathers, silk, sequins and headpieces. Her iconic banana skirt is etched in the minds of fans everywhere and is still relevant today.

5 of 10 @The_Real_Iman

One of the first Black supermodels, Iman is an icon in the fashion industry. Discovered while she was a student at Nairobi University, Iman went on to strut down the most high-profile runways, pose for the most well-known photographers, and ultimately become a staple of style. 

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Grace Jones is the original carefree Black girl. With her striking features and uninhibited persona, Jones has made her mark on the fashion industry as the ultimate muse. Here, she's photographed in London in 1998 wearing one of Phillip Treacy's bold designs.

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Supermodel Donayale Luna was one of the world's most beautiful women in the 1960s. Luna began modeling in 1965 and within months, an article in Time magazine declared 1966 to be The Luna Year. She was the first Black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue, was a muse to legendary photographers like Richard Avedon and David Bailey, and vamped through several Warhol and Fellini films.

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Pat Cleveland is of the pioneering black models to break through fashion's exclusionary policies 
of the 1960s and 1970s, paving the way for today's major league black supermodels. She started out designing her own looks and went on to become known for her stunning beauty and theatrical runway style. 


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Pam Grier's sultry style was the epitome of the seventies. Crowned with a luxurious afro, Grier was known for strutting her stuff in crop tops, high-waisted pants and platform shoes. 

10 of 10 Michael Putland/Getty Images

The late, great Donna Summer was a disco diva. The songstress was always clad in the best of sexy seventies fashion. From shimmering jumpsuits to sultry leotards and lavish beads and sequins, the disco darling always looked the part.


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