Culture Influencing Fashion

Runway references inspired by Black culture and beyond.

Celia L. Smith Oct, 13, 2014

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DKNY Spring 2015

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The Chola lifestyle (depicted in the 1994 film Mi Vida Loca) –– a subculture predominant in Los Angeles, emerged in the 1960s to empower the Mexican-American community. Their distinct style (sometimes gang-associated) includes signature penciled eye brows, defined lip-liner, and baby hair which has appeared on the DKNY runway this season and Celine last season.

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Giorgio Armani Spring 2015

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As a star on “East Side/West Side” in the mid-60’s, Oscar-nominated actress Cicely Tyson was the first Black woman to wear cornrows on TV!

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Balmain Fall 2014

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Salt-N-Peppa’s style personified 80’s hip-hop culture. Biking shorts and acid washed denim looks just weren’t complete without the key accessories — gold chains, and bamboo earrings.

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Marc Jacobs Fall 2007 

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Diana Ross’ legendary film Mahogany portrayed her character Tracy as a design student with iconic 70’s style. The film’s wide-brimmed hats, billowy blouses, and structured menswear-inspired silhouettes still show up in runway collections today.

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Balmain Spring 2012 runway.

The legend’s passing gave way to a resurgence of Jackson-inspired style on the runways. Design houses including D&G, Balmain and Haider Ackerman, to name a few, brought the icon’s exaggerated shoulder, metal detailing, and marching band style to the forefront of fashion.

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The King of Pop’s distinct style is one that has been admired for decades. His unique crystal encrusted details, marching band-style jackets, and 80’s bold shoulder padding are just a few fan favorites that have been emulated.

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Valentino Fall 2006

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Brooklyn born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Neo-Expressionist artwork has inspired artists of all genres from the late 70’s until now. The rich colors and imperfect lines are exactly what made his creations perfect.

Basquiat’s quirky art has gone from the street walls to the runway. Collections including Valentino and D&G have directly beaded or printed his work on cocktail dresses and tops, while Reebok launched various sneaker styles covered in his doodled designs.

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Louis Vuitton Spring 2001

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In 2008, when Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with the late artist Stephen Sprouse hit the streets, it was clear where the inspiration started. Graffiti street art which was prevalent throughout the 80s hip-hop and B-Boy movement made its way into mainstream fashion and onto the Parisian label’s monogrammed bags, leggings and shoes.


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