15 Black Trendsetters Throughout The Years

Often times when we think of trendsetters we think about the ones in our generation, but what about the ones before our generation? There are women in film, modeling, music, etc. that have made a big influence in fashion up to this day. In honor of Black History Month, and in awareness of the black woman, let's celebrate the black women who made a mark in the fashion world.

  1. Josephine Baker: A gorgeous French entertainer and (you won’t believe this) World War II spy. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri and passed in Paris, France. Josephine also fought for racial equality in the 1920s-30s and aided the French military by telling officials what she had overheard while performing in front of the enemy. Another way she used her information was by writing with invisible ink to transport information incognito. After the war ended, she returned to the U.S. and had to relive the racial disconnect. She was also the first African American to star in a major motion picture. Josephine adopted 13 children and called them “the rainbow tribe” and took them on the road to show that cultural and racial harmony is possible.

  1. Eartha Kitt: The late actress/singer was a beautiful South-Carolina-born woman with an extravagant style. Her choice of glitzy gowns and animal print sets were impeccable and still make a statement to this day. Her career blossomed when she was cast as Cat Woman in the Batman television series in 1966. She can also be seen in movies like Holes, The Emperor’s New Groove, and My Life as a Teenage Robot.

  1. Diahann Carroll: Born in the Bronx, NYC, NY, the award-winning actress was the main character in the sitcom “Julia” where, you guessed it, she played the part of Julia. This sitcom made her the first African-American woman to have a lead in a hit TV show.  She became known for her figure-hugging dresses and her sleek pantsuits.

  1. Beverly Johnson: The Buffalo, NY born supermodel is the first African American model to ever appear on the cover of American Vogue and the French edition of Elle. Johnson is multi-talented in modeling, acting, singing, and being a businesswoman. She also starred in the reality TV show “Beverly’s Full House” on OWN.

  1. Erykah Badu: An immaculate eccentric queen of R&B who was born in Dallas, Texas. Erykah’s music is a mixture of many genres and her style is unmatched, she has also been called “the first lady of neo-soul”. She is a practicing vegan who has no problem expressing herself through her hair or her attire from wearing turbans, dreadlocks, baggy fashionable clothes, and eclectic jewelry. 

  1. Lupita Nyong’o: This multi-talented beauty is an actress, film director, and model who can speak (wait for it…) English, Spanish, and Swahili. She was born in Mexico City, Mexico and attended Yale University. The 35-year-old has citizenship in Mexico and Kenya and she has starred in “Black Panther”,” 12 Years a Slave”, and will star in the movie “Us” in March 2019.


  1. Rihanna: The 30-year-old is a singer, songwriter, fashion designer, actress and more. Starting her singing career at just 15, Rihanna has thrived in everything she put her mind to. She has had a shoe line with Puma (Fenty x Puma) and her own makeup and clothing line (Fenty Beauty and Savage x Fenty). What some don’t know is that she has been a Barbadian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary since September 21, 2018!

  1. Michelle Obama: The 55-year-old former First Lady of the United States has advocated to end childhood obesity and change how public schools deal with the children’s school lunches. Since then, she has wrote very successful books one being “Becoming” and she has shared her views with the people of the world that are willing to listen.

  1. Rico Nasty: Rico is a 21-year-old former SoundCloud rapper who is now mainstream. Her style is completely her own and she embraces that completely. From her platform shoes to her multitude of hair colors, no one can tell her how she should dress. Some of her songs are “Poppin”, “Smack a B****”, “Key Lime OG”, and most recently “Roof”.

  1. Tyra Banks: 45-year-old California native, Tyra is a former model, an actress, an author, and businesswoman all in one. Banks is very known for creating, producing, and judging her show “America’s Next Top Model” where many contestants compete but only one is chosen. She is beautiful, talented, and a trailblazing fashion icon.


  1. Yara Shahidi –  Yara Shahidi is an Actress, Model, and Activist. She is 18-years-old and is currently enrolled in Harvard University. She is very well known for her role as Zoey in the show, "Black-ish" and in her spin-off “Grown-ish” where her character is in college. Shahidi has been acting since she was little. You may remember her from “Imagine That” with Eddie Murphy. Yara is a very vocal activist and she even got a letter of recommendation for school from Michelle Obama so that she may attend Harvard.

  1. Issa Rae: The 34-year-old Stanford Graduate is also an actress, writer, director, Producer. Issa Rae first had her own web series on YouTube called “Awkward Black Girl” that became very popular very quick. Soon after she created, co-wrote, and stars in the HBO series “Insecure”. She has won two Golden Globes awards for her work on Insecure and has been in the movie “The Hate U Give”. Her style is simple and classy in her own spin.


  1. Taraji P. Henson: 48-year-old Actress and Singer, Taraji is a Howard grad born in Washington D.C. She has been in many films and shows. It all skyrocketed after the film “Hustle & Flow” where she showcased her singing and acting skills. This film is the base of the very known show Empire. She has collaborated with MAC Cosmetics and has been in many more very successful films and shows, such as “Hidden Figures”, “The Karate Kid”, and “The Good Doctor”.

  1. Cardi B: The successful 26-year-old rapper, singer, and songwriter Cardi B has been in pretty much everyone’s lives at some point. Whether it be her music, social media, or in media news outlets everyone knows who she is. The Bronx native has come a long way from being a stripper to being one of the hottest rap names out. She was first known from “Love & Hip Hop: New York” in season six,  to social media on Vine. She has broken multiple records, some being the first solo female rapper to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in almost 20 years, and the first woman in hip hop to have 3 number one songs on the Billboard charts.


  1. Halle Berry: The ageless 52-year-old Halle Berry is both talented and beautiful woman. In 2002, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in “Monster’s Ball” and to this day, she is the only African-American woman to have won the award. She can also be seen in “Catwoman” and “The Call”.