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A Stitch in Time: 4 Black Designers Who Made Fashion History

Ann Lowe, the woman who designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress
Ann Lowe designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress in 1953
Fashion designing is an art form that requires both passion and dedication. In order for the field to continue evolving, we need innovative minds. Some of fashion’s most revolutionary movements have been spearheaded by Black designers. We have found four of these designers stand out in their trade.
1. Ann Lowe
A simple search of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding brings up a photograph of the first lady wearing one of the most beautifully designed wedding dresses in modern history. What few are aware of is that this showstopper was created by Black designer Ann Lowe. Lowe came from a line of seamstresses and used to design clothes with her mother’s scraps. When Lowe was one 16 her mother died, and the teen dutifully finished her mother’s commissions. Lowe’s skill for designing gowns made her invaluable to New York Society, and in 1968 she become the first Black woman to own a shop on a luxury retail strip.

2. David Tlale
David Tlale is well known for his bold, eclectic designs. He thrives because of his belief that a designer’s brand must continuously reinvent itself. Tlale’s love for designing began when he became friends with a group of fashion students and became enamored with their work. He left his study of internal auditing to enroll in a fashion design course instead. In 2003 Tlale was given the Elle New Talent Award, and in 2012 he presented a collection at New York Fashion Week. Tlale’s ability to push boundaries and bring new concepts to life is what continues to make his brand grow.

3. Cushnie
In 2008, Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs began their fashion label. Their sexy, yet simplistic take on womenswear served as a breath of fresh air in the world of fashion. Their clothes felt modern, which appealed to consumers. Though Ochs left the label in 2018, Cushnie rebranded and continues to design today. She wants women to feel confident when wearing her clothes, and the results speak for themselves. Cushnie has caught the attention of celebrities such as Rihanna, Selena Gomez, and Kerry Washington.

4. Tracy Reese
Tracy Reese has fond memories of sewing clothes with her mother when she was only a girl. In 1984, she graduated from Parsons School of Design and soon thereafter worked under a number of influential designers. Reese launched her own line in 1996 and made an instant impression. Her clothes, known for their bright colors and femininity, made Reese the favorite of many well-known figures – including Michelle Obama.