Last night Vashtie DJ’d for Dior’s pop-up shop in the meatpacking district. The Dior brand has been a staple in the fashion industry since 1947 when Harpers Bazaar coined Christian Dior’s first collection as the “New Look”. Dior was known for being the master at creating shapes and silhouettes. He reinvented the way that women clothes were made and created designs suited for the female physique. The designs were less boxy and more voluptuous, going against the fabric-conserving shapes of the World War II styles that were being worn at the time.
Besides being known for innovating the way that women’s clothing was made, Christian Dior was also one of the first designers to work with Hellen Williams, the first an African American fashion model.
Williams was one of the first African American models to go mainstream. She worked with brands like Budweiser, Dior, and Desses. Her journey was not easy and she is often known as one of the many “hidden figures” in African American History.
Williams love for fashion developed at the tender age of 7 and at 17 she landed herself a job as a stylist in a photography studio based in New York. Lena Horne and Sammy Davis Jr. spotted her at the studio on several occasions and encouraged her to pursue a career in fashion modeling.
Breaking into a stereotyped industry like fashion in the 50’s was unheard of. Williams was featured on African American magazines like Jet and Ebony. She said that she was “too dark to be accepted” so she decided to move to Paris. The French had a different view on black beauty during that time, they were obsessed with her look.
Christian Dior took notice of her beauty and allowed her to model for them which was the start of her career as a “fashion” model. Many are unaware of Christian Dior’s impact on diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry. Williams is out woman crush Wednesday because she didn’t allow her color to stop her from her dreams. She returned back to America and modeled for companies like Budweiser, Sears, and Modess.
Her career moves made for a pivotal moment in fashion and African American history. Without her courage, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Duckie Thot, and many other African American supermodels would not exist and we want to recognize her for that.