If you’re a fan of both fashion and biographies, we have a treat for you today. In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing 5 memoirs from Black figures in fashion who’ve truly left their mark.
Not only did they rise to the top of an industry famously difficult to break into, but they faced the added political and cultural challenges of being Black in a historically-homogenous fashion world.
Keep reading to find your next great read. Then, pick up a copy from your favorite retailer, or support small bookstores by purchasing at Indie Bound.
Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir, by Daniel R. Day
Known for his legendary NYC boutique, Harlem Haberdashery, Dapper Dan was a visionary behind the 1980s emergence of high-end streetwear. But his personal journey to that moment is a much deeper story, from a boy with holes in his shoes to a teen street gambler to a young man reading in his prison cell. A must-read.
A.L.T.: A Memoir, by Andre Leon Talley
Especially poignant after his recent passing, read the memoir of Vogue’s former editor-at-large, Andre Leon Talley. First inspired by his fashionable grandmother, Bennie Davis, he was formally trained by fashion icon, Diana Vreeland. As a Southern-born African American born in 1949, Talley vividly shares the details of his Durham, N.C., childhood in a segregated South, and his adult years immersed in his beloved world of fashion. Talley will forever remain one of the most influential Black fashion figures of our time.
Walking with the Muses: A Memoir, by Pat Cleveland
Pat Cleveland was one of the first Black supermodels, and her glamourous memoir takes you through her personal adventures. She started her life making her own clothes in a Harlem tenement, only to later live a bohemian jet-setting life in 1970’s New York City, alongside celebrities and artists.
I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, by Grace Jones
Singer, model, and actress, Grace Jones, initially emerged onto the scene as a fashion model in the 1970’s, but grew to become a fashion icon through her free-spirited style and creative musical experiments. Read about her personal journey, which started as a rejection of her strict upbringing in Jamaica and led her to the international stage. She’s truly incomparable.
Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion, by Tanisha C. Ford
Tanisha C. Ford is a renowned fashionista and pop culture expert who beautifully weaves her personal story as a Black girl coming of age in the Midwest with the story of an African American fashion culture that innovatively creates the likes of knockoff culture and “ghetto fabulous,” only to see them appropriated by the mainstream.
Enjoy these wonderful reads!