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Published: Thursday, 3/22/2001

Book celebrates black women's role in the industry

In the mood for something stunning after the winter's dreariness? Try Black and Beautiful: How Women of Color Changed the Fashion Industry, a coffee-table book filled with almost nothing but stunning images.

Released last month, the book celebrates the rainbow of color and curves that black women have brought to the 20th century fashion and beauty industries.

The volume is filled with beautiful photos. The volume is filled with beautiful photos.
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The book appeared in hardcover in 1998 with the title Skin Deep: Inside the World of Black Fashion Models. Published by Amistad Press, it retails for $35.

Written by Barbara Summers, herself a model for 17 years, the book starts with the stories of groundbreakers such as actress/dancer Josephine Baker, entrepreneur C.J. Walker, and singer/actress Lena Horne. Minibiographies of the century's standouts appear throughout the volume.

In addition to these personal stories, Ms. Summers outlines the history of black women in modeling and acting and the ways they broke the barriers in those fields. She also includes a few inspiring quotes, including:

  • “I carry myself the way I do because I am royalty within myself.” - Iman.

  • “God created black people and black people created style.” - George Wolfe.

    But while the prose informs you, the photos grab you. The S-curve of Donyale Luna's pose on Page 47 demands a second look, while the bald, exquisite head of Pat Evans on Page 19 forces you to reconsider traditional ideas of beauty.

  • We've heard of clothes so ugly they bark, but here is a new idea. Old Navy, the low-priced sportswear retailer, is apparently convinced that shopping for clothes is a total family experience.

    So in addition to cargo pants and baby rompers, you can buy Old Navy Dog Supply's line of rope and rubber toys, bowls, tennis balls, and coordinated leashes, collars, and bandanas. In stores and online (www.oldnavy.com), the prices start at about $3.50 for plaid bandanas and go up to $19.50 for a large daybed.

  • Underwear is not usually discussed on the Oscars' Red Carpet fashion show (and please don't suggest it to Joan Rivers).

    But Victoria's Secret hopes someone will ask the actress nominees for best and supporting roles about their, uh, bras. The company has sent them all $1,500 “Diamond V Bras,” set with a twinkling “V” clasp made of nine diamonds.

    The idea is that the women will wear them Oscar night and generate an avalanche of publicity for VS. But won't they be disappointed if all the women choose trendy strapless gowns or pull an old Jennifer Lopez/Grammys trick and skip the basics?


    The Blade's wire services contributed to this report.

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