15 black women who have redefined fashion
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Michelle Obama2 of 16
In addition to fighting childhood obesity and helping military families, the first lady has started a style revolution in the White House by mixing high and low fashion—not to mention wearing outfits more than once (gasp!).
Josephine Baker3 of 16
After performing in Paris in the 1920s, Baker became the first African-American woman to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou in 1934 (she became a citizen of France in 1937). Known for her daring costumes, Baker was a risk-taker in every way.
Naomi Sims4 of 16
Credited as the first African-American supermodel, Sims made fashion history when she became the first black woman to land the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal in 1968. She later launched The Naomi Sims Collection, which started as a hugely popular line of affordable wigs for black women, and grew to include fragrance, cosmetics and multiple books on beauty and modeling.
Pam Grier5 of 16
Known for playing bold, assertive characters—and the first African-American female to headline an action film—actress Pam Grier became a strong voice not only in the black community, but also for women in general. She epitomized '70s mod style, donning trend-setting mini-dresses with go-go boots and sexy midriff-bearing tops.
Halle Berry6 of 16
Halle Berry was the first African-American woman to win a Best Actress Academy Award for her memorable role in Monster's Ball. But it's her jaw-dropping gowns that always seem custom-made for her curves that make her truly unforgettable.
Billie Holiday7 of 16
One of the most influential voices in jazz music, Billie Holiday embodied the soulful and sophisticated style of her music. Often wearing her trademark white gardenia tucked behind her ear, classic pearls and luxe fur, she had a look that was legendary.
Beyonce Knowles8 of 16
Knowles has conquered the music charts and the fashion world, earning 16 Grammy Awards and raising the bar for all pop stars with her show-stopping costumes in her stage persona, Sasha Fierce. The chic songstress even started her own ready-to-wear fashion line with her mother called House of Dereon.
Tina Turner9 of 16
After a successful career in the '60s, Turner came back better than ever in the '80s. With a new look that included rocker hair and leg-baring minis, the "What's Love Got to Do With It" singer proved she's got staying power—and star style.
Iman10 of 16
The Somali-born model made her fashion-world debut in 1976 in Vogue. Almost two decades later in 1994, she started her own cosmetics company, creating hard-to-find shades for women of color. With a style that's elegant, sexy and feminine, Iman was honored with a Fashion Icon Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2010.
Diana Ross11 of 16
The onetime leader of The Supremes personified the disco movement through her fashion choices, which often included sequins, jumpsuits, capes and elaborate feathered headdress. Even in her later years, her flashy gowns and signature voluminous curls turn heads on the red carpet.
Liya Kebede12 of 16
This Ethiopian model rose to fame when Tom Ford gave her an exclusive contract for Gucci's fall/winter 2000 line. Now she has a fashion brand of her own: In 2008, Kebede launched LemLem, which features clothing handspun with traditional Ethiopian weaving by local artisans.
Dorothy Dandridge13 of 16
The first African-American to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award, Dandridge starred in movies alongside Hollywood leading men like John Wayne and Harry Belefonte. Over the years, her fashion choices evolved from off-the-shoulder tops and strapless dresses to cropped pants and blouses, worn with the collar up for a dashing, confident effect.
Diahann Carroll14 of 16
After making history starring in the 1968 TV series Julie (marking the first time an African-American actress started in a show without playing a domestic worker), Carroll went on to star in Dynasty. Her look on the '80s soap was all sequins and fur, a style that suited the regal star.
Serena and Venus Williams15 of 16
Along with winning Olympic gold medals and 20 Grand Slam titles, these tennis-playing sisters have forever changed the face of tennis fashion, thanks to their fun, flirty—and sometimes outrageous—court attire. It's only fitting that Venus has started her own line of tennis clothing EleVen.
Naomi Campbell16 of 16
As one of the six women given the "super" title in the '90s, this model helped set fashion trends, walking the runway for major names like Gianni Versace, Yves St. Laurent and Vivienne Westwood. In 1989, she became the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue's September issue, known in the industry as the biggest and most important of the year.
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