Black History Month is Over, But The Celebration of Black Women’s Iconicness Is Here to Stay, Thanks To Zendaya
“I want to make a show inspired by the women who made it possible for me to be in the position where I am now. Honestly, I just wanted to say “thank you” to them through this show. I said to Tommy, ‘If we do a show, this is what it needs to be about.’ And Tommy said, ‘Great. Go for it.’ And he actually meant it.” ~Zendaya (Elle Magazine)
You haven’t seen ‘Black Girl Magic,’ ‘Black Woman Fierceness’ and walking ‘Black Women’s Excellence’ until you see 59 black women models of all shades, shapes and sizes hit the catwalk during Paris Fashion Week for the Tommy Hilfiger and Zendaya show, simply Tommy x Zendaya. On March 2nd Zendaya’s one request became a reality at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées on Avenue Montaigne. The Spring 2019 capsule collection was released with melanin and blackness dripping with purpose and a message of inclusivity. Paris Fashion Week will never be the same.
She presented Tommy x Zendaya, a ‘70s inspired collection catering to sizes 2 to 22. Zendaya Curve is an extension of the collection for plus size women and is a first for designer Hilfiger. “If women in my family can’t all wear it, I don’t want to make it,” Zendaya told Vulture Magazine.
At just 22 years of age, Zendaya is a fashionista in her own right. She is absolutely breathtaking on every red carpet, making the best dressed lists for spectators. She’s moved beyond acting and singing and has made some influential business moves. She nailed her CoverGirl campaign, is now a Lancôme spokesmodel and also the global women’s brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger. As a designer, she made history on Saturday, presenting her capsule collection with powerful black women by her side in Paris.
The designs include colorful printed pieces: jackets, trench coats, and blouses. Ranging from work attire to a night out on the town, there is something for every woman’s style and occasion. Staple must haves include dark leather boots, platform heels, oversized handbags and clutches.
The mood was Studio 54 with Donna Summer’s disco feels and Diana Ross’ Mahogany vibes. Watching the show, you couldn’t help but take in the excitement and empowerment. The runway is usually a place where faces painted with non-existent expression thrives. This show was different.
Each model smiled, giving way to their own personality; one patted her afro with pride. The fashion world and modeling industry is still a place where not enough black women get equal opportunity. Historically they have been told that their beauty wasn’t the standard. Sadly, society still perpetuates that myth with inconsistencies. One moment the message is that they aren’t beautiful or needed; the next, their full lips, black hair texture and style are all emulated from advertising to runways-cues cultural appropriation.
Hair encompassed every end of the spectrum for black women during this show. Bald heads, low cuts, pixie cuts, afros, TWAs (teeny weeny afros), big bold curls with volume, natural manes, a Hijab, locs, wigs, weaves and everything in between were present. Celebrity hair stylist Kim Kimble was behind the scenes as well as makeup goddess Pat McGrath.
Pat Cleveland twirled down the runway like a butterfly, in a flowy dress stripped metallic dress with the same fabric seen in other pieces in the collection, but the cut of the dress fit Cleveland’s delivery. She was nothing short of whimsical. It spoke fun, elegance and “I’m a work of art.” The model who was discovered at age 14 has lived through five decades of fashion, according to W Magazine.
Beverly Johnson was the perfect piece for this show, cheering on Zendaya, the models and many people behind the scenes. She is a forerunner who paved the way as a black supermodel. In 1974 she became the first black model to grace the cover of Vogue, followed by the French edition of Elle a year later. A true industry vet, she has seen it all. Wearing the Halter Neck Dress in Aquamarine ($275), she walked the runway with a smile and tousled her hair at the end, serving grown woman chicness.
Veronica Webb was as fly as Pam Grier in the 1974 film Foxy Brown. She walked the runway in the Cross Front Dress in Cabernet Stripe ($245) with flipped hair, vamp lips and the confidence of Chaka Khan’s hit “I’m Every Woman.” With two models beside her in bathing suits, Webb was still the epitome of sexy and cool.
And then there’s the icon, Grace Jones who closed the show. Singer, actor and model, she was one of the pioneers in each of these respective fields always pushing the envelope. Her flawless dark skin was as smooth as silk with not one visible wrinkle, screaming ‘Black Don’t Crack.’ With a shaven head on the sides and locks atop, Jones served in the High Neck Lurex Bodysuit ($129.50), over-the-knee heeled boots ($300) and a shimmery colorful metallic blazer in true rock star fashion.
At 70, her body will give some half her age a run for their money. The fact that she danced down the runway, to her 1981 hit “Pull up to the Bumper” stopping to tap herself on her own ‘bumper’ is the only receipt needed to prove that she built this house and many others.
Beverly Peele, Debra Shaw, Chrystele Saint Louis Augustin, Halima Aden, Jourdan Dun, Grace Bol, Tami Williams, Marquita Pring, Dilone and Winnie Harlow were also a part of this all black historic cast.
Attendees included Tyra Banks, Gigi Hadid, Yara Shahidi, Luka Sabbat, Lewis Hamilton, Janelle Monae’ and tons of screaming French teenagers.
You can shop and watch the show here https://usa.tommy.com/en/tommy-x-zendaya