How black cultures have designed the inspiration behind many fashion trends and owned it in every way.
Who would have known the historical context of fashion could be simple, yet so intricate? It adequately resembles one particular author, Constance C.R. White. In her new coffee table read, “How to Slay,” there is certainly no lack in detail as she takes you through a time machine. She allows readers to explore various fashion periods and countries revealing what most readers may not know about their favorite fashion trends.
While Constance has a journalism degree, she has a rather apparent love for fashion. She’s combined the two and built an extensive and impressive résumé that has in turn been a learning experience. She shares a wealth of her fashion knowledge in her book that serves less as a fashion guide and more of as a in-case-you-didn’t-know-let-me-tell-you-who-really-inspired-your-favorite-look guide. It is filled with timeless, yet somehow vibrant photos, even in black and white. The photos certainly create numerous moments of nostalgia as songs of Luther Vandross, Sade, Pharrell and Jay Z begin in your mind, maybe even escaping your lips every so often. Each chapter is a short read, but my goodness is it colorful, detailed, elaborate, and dead on.
Constance couldn’t have written a timelier piece. With the resurgence of Black Pride, discovering ethnic roots and being “woke,” this book will surely appeal to the masses. Not to mention its release on the cusp of the movie “Black Panther” during Black History Month. It was while covering fashion for publications that Constance realized that a lot of what some designers were creating was inspired by Black people. Although the inspiration was seen, its origins were not acknowledged.
“You may learn in fashion or in school that tartan, you know plaid, comes from Scotland but, you don’t hear necessarily that here’s this beautiful cloth called Kente that originated in countries like Nigeria and Ghana and so forth,” says Constance.
And that’s when she felt it was time to let her audience know where some fashion inspiration comes from.
Seeing as I cannot sum up my thoughts with more concise words as she so elegantly does, I won’t gyp you on the beauty of the book. Constance opens with her definition of Black style, her mother, whom possessed a shoe collection any fashionista would admire. Constance describes how style and finesse came so easily to her mother and it was the way she wore the clothes, not how they wore her, that made her a diva.
She dives into other trends and times which she adorns with savvy and short titles like “Laid,” “Afro-Chic,” and “Sashay, Shanté.” Constance educates readers on the power of melanin, Kente cloth, Holland cloth, turbans, hairstyles such as cornrows and locks, Afro-futurism, swagger and ghetto fabulous, just to name a few. Just when you thought you understood fashion, she lets you know that there is so much more to be explored.
I said I would not skimp on the details, but just like the little black dress you have in your closet, I had a little white lie in my pocket. Constance wants readers to gain a new found understanding and appreciation for the contributions made by Black culture to fashion. She’s hoping readers are also enriched emotionally.
“I am a big believer in beauty and it’s a really beautiful book and I’d love people to look through the photos and look at the cover and to really just feel a very positive emotion within themselves,” says Constance. “Joy or appreciation that really touches them.”
Check out her phenomenal book, “How to Slay,” and envelop yourself in Black Pride. Find out why Constance believes fashion trends will return from the past as well as take off to the future riding on the coattail of music.
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