By Black Design

The fashion world has long been short on Black influence. Aside from the King of fashion Andre Leon Talley and its resident Queen, Naomi Campbell, the global fashion world has taken from urban and street style, made popular by young Black kids in Brooklyn, Harlem, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and other chocolate cities, but it’s designers, models, and influencers were really very… vanilla.

When Dapper Dan started remixing the the iconic prints made famous by Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, MCM, and other high fashion brands into sportswear that was featured on the backs of rap stars in the 80s, he started something major, that wouldn’t be realized until years later. “Back then they didn’t want me…”

Remember… there is a thin line between genius and insanity…

In 2016 Kanye went H.A.M. on the Ellen Show about influence, mentoring, and fashion. He spoke about how in music all great artists had great mentors which helped grow the art. In fashion, he proclaimed, even low end brands didn’t seem open to doing features with people of color, thus shutting us out. But when you alienate a group from any art form, you rob that art form of the unique perspective, innovation, talent, and vision of an entire group of people. So Ye was right to find flaw with this premise… but his delivery…

Its always his delivery…

Anyway, at that time the sole head Black designer of any MAJOR fashion house was Oliver Rousteig for Balmain. At Kanye’s urge, the Kardashians started to wear his designs…EVERYWHERE, ALL of them. And while Rousteig had previously designed for Roberto Cavalli and been at Balmain for a few years, in 2016 he reached his highest heights. From the whole family showing up everywhere from Fashion Week to the Met Gala in Rousteig designs head to toe, Balmain went from bringing in $30 million in 2012 to over $150 million.

Kanye had a point to prove…

ENTER Virgil Abloh!

Kanye and Virgil are friends, since they were teens. In 2009 they both interned at Fendi. Virgil started what has become one of the biggest sports brands, Off-White, in 2013. His remakes of ten of Nike’s most famous shoes launched him into space, and in March of 2018 he was named creative director of menswear at Louis Vuitton. STRATOSPHERE!!!

LV should just stand for Love Virgil because Virgil Abloh has done some iconic things with the label that has basically gone unchanged from the iconic canvas bag that has stood front and center at its brand… for years. In June of 2018 he showed his first runway show at Fashion Week in New York, and it was unlike ANYthing you have ever seen from the typical polished luxe Louis Vuitton is known for. His men’s collection was a collection of fabrics, colors, and sportswear meets professional style showcasing his very urban yet modern eye!

And at the end of the show, Virgil’s friend, the nigga we love to hate, Yeezy himself, embraced and cried with his friend. Cuz that’s what friends do and that’s how big King Kong sized their dream was…

And yesterday, after she has been the victim of such vitriol about her hair, clothes, body, strength, and motherhood, our newest icon outfitted our modern day legend, the Queen of the court, Serena Williams in a TUTU my G… after she was banned from wearing a compression one piece. (Cue … “dat ass, dat ass, dat ass, she bad!”)

Not only making clothes but making statements!!! We LV (Love Virgil)! And I still love Kanye. Why? Cuz Sometimes… to get shit done, your karate doesn’t work, but your crazy gets noticed, and heard! Sometimes, you gotta be okay with making noise, because that noise might turn into a difference. Sometimes your genius comes out as insanity… other times you just insane. And sometimes when you are passionate, you just go too fucking far! Ask my last boyfriend, I think I ended our last argument with … “I’m sorry for the realness!”

Oh and Dapper Dan has a full atelier in Harlem showcasing his custom Gucci designs… back in the day folks thought he was bold as hell, a thief and Gucci sued him. “Now [we] hot, they all on me…”

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