Continuing on our conversation about how vintage looks of the 40’s and 50’s help reshape stereotypes about black femininity, I’ve brought in a special guest to drive the point home. Meet Candace Michelle, a fashion design graduate-turned magazine editor who is working to resurrect the interest in classic black female glamor. She created the first magazine celebrating today’s black pinups after reconsidering her mother’s fashion choices. “My mom dresses like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. She doesn’t own any jeans,” says Candace.
While working at Anne Taylor and studying design, she noticed that those vintage styles were becoming resurrected, with a twist. “Pearls with polka dots were suddenly hot!”
Today’s looks are merged with traditional and pop culture.
On a personal level, Candace noticed how adopting these looks transformed the way people interacted with her. Living in Oklahoma she has no complaints about the attention she gets when she’s in full vintage mode.
“The paparazzi follows me,” she jokes. “People want to take my picture. I’m amazed by it. I get hit on all the time…especially in a wiggle dress.” She notes that she especially gets attention of white men, who seem a lot of white guys are more accepting and appreciative of her fashion expression. She also finds that it fights against certain negative stereotypes against black women. “People are so used to seeing the “ghetto hoochie” black women [on reality television] that when you come up and are different they are taken aback…you’re not like that.”
Perhaps the positive response recalls a certain nostalgia of bygone days. “That was such a pleasant time when women were ladies, and men were gentlemen, despite the racism. Black women were dignified.”
Candace noted when she started Black Pinups in 2012 that most of the black models in this genre were married interracially.
Coincidence, or nah?
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