Design Spotlight

African American Fashion Designers Making Their Mark

They had dreams for the runway and worked to make it become reality.  Carly Cushnie, Tracy Reese, Olivier Rousteing, Duro Olowu, Dexter & Byron Peart and Mark Hare are designers are making their mark in fashion with every cut, drape and stitch.  Each African American fashion designers create fashionable statement pieces the world wants to wear.

African American Fashion Designers

You’ve probably enjoyed seeing their designs on the red carpet, in the movies and in magazines but didn’t know the face behind the brand was beautifully brown.  African American culture and style has influenced pop culture and fashion for decades.  So it’s important to know we are also influencing the business of fashion by leading some of the most coveted fashion houses and labels.

Here’s a look at some of the African Americans and people of African origin to know, who are making a global impact in the fashion industry.

Cushnie Et Ochs

Cushnie Et Ochos - Alicia Keys cirle dressAlicia Keys in Cushnie Et Ochs circle dress

Carly Cushnie & Michelle Ochs cofounders of Cushnie Et OchsCarly Cushnie & Michelle OchsCarly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs partners of Cushnie Et Ochs

Carly Cushnie and her design partner Michelle Ochs establish Cushnie Et Ochs in 2008.  Since opening, Cushnie Et Ochs has become a favorite of Hollywood stylemakers from Mary J. Blige to Kim Kardasian.  Their boldy sensual body-contouring silhouettes celebrate a woman’s every curve and her individuality.  makes frequent appearances on Hollywood’s red carpets.

Red dress Cushnie Et OchsRed wool dress from Cushnie Et Ochs Fall collection

Cushnie Et Ochs - grey pantsuitGrey Pants Ensemble – Cushnie Et Ochs

Tracy Reese

Tracy-Reese fashion designerTracy Reese was an established designer but the world took note when Michelle Obama wore Tracey Reese at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.  Since then, Tracy Reese has become a coveted international brand.  She’s known for bright patterned feminine flattering dresses that are made for graceful mature women.

Michelle Obama in Tracey Reese dressMichelle Obama in a Tracy Reese bold floral dress

Tracy_Reese_Spring_2014Tracy Reese Spring Collection

Tracy Reese spring pants b&wTracy Reese Collection

Olivier Rousteing

Olivier Rousteing fashion designer

Olivier Rousteing is the man behind the famed haute couture fashion house Pierre Balmain since 2009. He’s made Balmain a favorite place to acquire glitzy, scene stealing style for the likes of Rihanna and many top entertainers.

Olivier was born in France and cut his design teeth at the fashion house of Roberto Cavalli before becoming head designer at Balmain at age 25.  It’s been amazing to see Olivier transform this historic french fashion house into a super hip brand.  It’s easy to believe Olivier will be setting trends for years to come.

Olivier Rousteing w Rihanna in yellow Balmain Rihanna in yellow Balmain dress with Olivier Rousteing

olivier_rousteing fashion designer at BalmainHaute couture the hip-hop generation loves by Olivier Rousteing for Balmain

 Balmain wht set shortsBalmain white short set by Olivier Rousteing

Duro Olowu

Duro Olowu fashion designerDuro Olowu draped in his bold patterned fabric

Michelle Obama in Duro-OlowuMichelle Obama in a Duro Olowu colorful blouse.

Duro Olowu is a master at blending brilliant prints and embellishments inspired from Africa to create his breathtaking, colorful collections.  He has gained a fan following across the world that includes first lady, Michelle Obama, Uma Thurman and Solange Knowles.

This lawyer turned fashion designer embraces every part of his cultural experience in his unique designs, Nigeria, Jamaica, London and New York.  Duro opened his namesake fashion label in 2004 and quickly drew praise; in 2005 he was named Designer of the year by the British Fashion Awards.

Duro Olowu’s designs are for the woman who’s confident and wants to stand out from the crowd.

Duro Olewu dress - Black fashion designersDuro Olowu playful patterns make flirty and fun styles.

duro-olowu flirt dressBrilliant eclectic pattern mixed dress made to flatter a woman by Duro Olowu.

Duro-olowu long dressDuro Olowu long dress in a soft red print.

Duro Oluwu feathered coat ensembleDuro Oluwu feathered coat ensemble

Dexter & Byron Peart – WANT Les Essentiels De La Vie

Dexter & Byron founders of Want Les Essentials“Our goal has been to look at all the needs of people in motion and figure out how we could better their experiences.”

Dexter and Byron Peart of the Canadian design house WANT Les Essentiels De La Vie are brothers in design that equip you to travel fabulously well.  The luxurious well crafted totes, backpacks, leather accessories and travel bags they create for men and women could make your journey to your destination memorable in a beautifully memorable way.  Take a look at their signature style.

crossbody-women Want LesWomen’s soft blue cross-body leather handbag – WANT Les Essentiels

Silver gold zipper Want Les EssentielsThe silver & gold zipper is a WANT Les Essentiels De La Vie signature.

Want Les Essentiels backpackThe backpack in leather and canvas by WANT Les Essentiels

Mark Hare – Mr. Hare

Mark Hare blk sneaks editorialMagazine ad for Mr. Hare shoes

Mark Hare designs men’s shoes and accessories under the Mr. Hare brand.  Born in London, Engalnd of Jamaican heritage Mark Hare is a man of the world.  The idea for Mr. Hare began in 2008 when he fell in love with woven leather shoes.

Mr. Hare shoes are gloriously handcrafted in Italy with a focus on style, quality and comfort.  The brand sell from his boutique in London named Something. In 2014, the Mr. Hare brand launched an exclusive sneaker line.

Mr. Hare Jack Johnson high topsThe Mr. Hare “Jack Johnson” high tops

Mr. Harre shoes - LondonSelection of Mr. Hare shoes

Mark Hare Penet python loaferMr. Hare woven leather loafers.

I hope you have enjoyed an introduction to these design talents.

I plan to watch these design stars as they continue to raise the fashion flagpole with designs we’ll love.

This February in honor of Black History Month I will showcase African American style tastemakers and influences from across the globe.  I hope you will visit again, follow me, and share my posts as we celebrate the rich ingenuity and beauty created by people of African origin.

Until next time …

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