This New Book Celebrates Black Style Icons

Photo: Photofest

Josephine Baker’s banana skirt, Halle Berry’s belted Bond-girl bikini, and Beyoncé’s beaded top — these are only a few of the trends set by black style icons. Next week, former Essence editor Constance C.R. White will turn the spotlight on these icons and more in her new book, How to Slay: Inspiration From the Queens and Kings of Black Style. Out from Rizzoli on February 6, White’s work traces the history and evolution of contemporary black style.

Photo: Columbia Records/Photofest

White, a long-time writer and editor, is a champion of women and documenting fashion as it changes over time. How to Slay is her second book about black style, coming about 20 years after the publication of her first, Stylenoir. She was the first black executive editor at Elle, has worked as a style reporter for the New York Times, and edited and wrote the introduction to ESSENCE: A Salute to Michelle Obama, a book produced by Essence’s editors.

Inside How to Slay, photographs featuring prominent black figures — from Maya Angelou, to Michelle Obama, to Beyoncé, to Pharrell Williams — are accompanied by White’s writing and a foreword by Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The 220-page tome is separated into several sections, each one dedicated to an element or influencing factor of black style. Click through to preview some of the book’s images.

Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection/Photofest
Photo: Photofest
Photo: Photofest
Photo: Photofest

How to Slay: Inspiration From the Queens and Kings of Black Style is available on Amazon.

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Constance White Highlights Black Style Icons in New Book