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(From Left-to-Right): Macy’s Caprice Willard, journalist and style expert, Constance White and supermodel icon, Beverly Johnson at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza’s Eras of Black Style event for Black History Month. Photo by Brian W. Carter

In August 1974, Beverly Johnson became the first Black model to grace the cover of the iconic fashion magazine, Vogue.

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Eras of Black Style is nationwide Black History event presented by Macy’s honoring and acknowledging the Black Diaspora in fashion.

On Thursday, February 6, Macy’s Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza celebrated Black History Month exploring how African American culture has influenced the fashion industry. Macy’s Caprice Willard, journalist and style expert, Constance White and supermodel icon, Beverly Johnson held an open conversation on the 1st Floor of Macy’s with the community.

From February 1-28, Macy’s will be celebrating Black History Month across the U.S. with their Eras of Black Style events.  Macy’s events also coincide with the 40th Anniversary of Johnson’s historic VOGUE cover. Johnson was the first Black woman to be featured on the cover of the iconic magazine. This would open the doors for African Americans across the fashion industry.

“As a retailer with more than 150-years of fashion history, Macy’s has seen the evolution of Black style firsthand and we are thrilled to examine and celebrate the style icons and trends that have defined generations, in honor of Black History Month,” said Martine Reardon, Chief Marketing Officer for Macy’s.

“As part of our annual celebration of the cultural and historical contributions made by African Americans, these series of events will take a meaningful fashion journey through time, highlighting Black style influences past, present and future.”

 Willard is vice president and regional planning manager for Macy’s and was a featured fashion buyer on NBC’s reality show “Fashion Star.” Macy’s is very aware of African American contributions to the fashion industry as stylists, models, trendsetters and most importantly consumers. Willard wanted to take full advantage of Black History Month by helping put this event together and making the Black community aware of its importance and support.

“We wanted to take the opportunity with it being Black History Month to celebrate Black style and the influence that African Americans have had over the last ten years on fashion,” said Willard. “It’s a very, very rich influence, not just in America but across the globe.”

Willard continued, “I’m just so passionate about this store here in Baldwin Hills and I just really want this community to know that this is their Macy’s—we’re going to have fashion and events that matter to them and this is just another opportunity for us to say thank you.”

Over a decade and a half, White has carved a blazing path as a fashion reporter and style guru for African American women. She has served as fashion editor for the New York Times and editor-in-chief of Essence. White was also the first and only Black woman to be executive fashion editor at Elle magazine. She currently works as Consulting Editor for Silicon Valley start-up Ozy.com but took time to be a part of the panel at Macy’s.

“What we wanted to do is shed light on the incredible impact…the contribution of African Americans and the Black Diaspora over the years,” said White. “It has been so rich.”

White continued, “It continues today with the hip-hop… hair trends that we’ve seen and we just wanted to… shed a spotlight on that today.”

Johnson spoke to the audience about how fashion began by watching her mother get dressed. She also spoke about her journey and how despite initial rejection, she continued to follow her goals and dreams. Johnson spoke about Macy’s Era of Black Style events taking place across the country for Black History Month.

“This was a fashion, Black lovefest,” said Johnson. “We start the conversation on where we came from, where we are now and where we’re going.

“This was a real lovefest.”

The audience and panel were surprised to know that there was yet another fashion icon among the crowd at the event. Margaret Pazant was the first Black woman to be fashion editor at Vogue magazine from 1979 until 1985. Now CEO of Margaret Pazant Coaching, she thanked the panel for their contributions to not only Black fashion but to Black history. Pazant also shared a few words of wisdom.

“This is Black History Month and this is Beverly Johnson and Constance White, these are two incredibly powerful, influential Black women,” said Pazant “who have moved mountains and barriers within the fashion industry.

“For me, it’s an opportunity for [youth] to really realize that if that is what [they] want, if that is what [they] truly desire, [Johnson] did it in 1974 and now it’s 2014, if [they] really want it—the younger generation can make it happen.

“They’re looking outside in the world, ‘How do I get it?’

“The real and only way to get what you truly want and desire is you got to go within and you’ve got to honor your spirit within.”

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Category: Crenshaw & Around


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