Black History Fashion Moment - First Black Designer 

Who is this phenomenal woman? What makes her so historical? She dressed some of the most famous people in history like Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Dorothy Dandridge, Ruby Dee, and Mae West. When she opened up her fashion shop it became the first black-owned business on Broadway in New York City. The person behind these achievements is Zelda Wynn Valdes and she is the first black fashion designer.

 Photo taken from fashionstyeldetroit.com

Photo taken from fashionstyeldetroit.com

Valdes started showing an interest in fashion when she was just a child. She would create clothing for her dolls by cutting out patterns using newspapers. She studied her grandmother’s work as a seamstress and worked in her uncle’s tailoring shop. She got a lot of negative looks from the customers at the shop who were surprised to see a young black girl working behind the counter and doubted her sewing abilities. In a NY Times interview, Valdes talked about those days in her Uncle's shop. 

"It wasn't a pleasant time," stated Valdes. "But the idea was to see what I could do."

Valdes was known for creating body-hugging clothes that showed off the female body. Her work caught the eye of the world's biggest playboy, Hugh Hefner. He hired Valdes to design the first-ever Playboy Bunny costumes. 

 Photo taken from fashionstyeldetroit.com

Photo taken from fashionstyeldetroit.com

Valdes will always be remembered for creating clothes that accentuate women’s curves. As Valdes would say, 

“I just had a God-given talent for making people beautiful.”