The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Alvin Bell

Share on Social Media

Information about Alvin Bell

Profile image of Alvin Bell

Profession

Category:
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Fashion Designer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Seafood, Pasta, Salad
Favorite Time of Year:
September
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Milan, Austria, London, Paris, New York City
Favorite Quote:
Get the job done.

Birthplace

Born:
12/27/1958
Birth Location:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Profession

Category:
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Fashion Designer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Seafood, Pasta, Salad
Favorite Time of Year:
September
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Milan, Austria, London, Paris, New York City
Favorite Quote:
Get the job done.

Birthplace

Born:
12/27/1958
Birth Location:
Philadelphia
See how Alvin Bell is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Award-winning fashion designer Alvin Bernard Bell was born on December 27, 1958, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Catherine and James Bell. Bell grew up in South Philadelphia, where he had a fondness for drawing and fashion, bought fashion magazines like Harper’s Bizarre and Vogue, and realized that he wanted to be a fashion designer at an early age. Bell won a Philadelphia citywide drawing contest at age eight and studied illustration at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, where he was mentored by Margaret Caravera. Taking an advanced course at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, Bell met future fashion phenom, Willi Smith who would become his closest friend. When Bell graduated from Edward Bok Vocational High School in 1964, Bell had a portfolio of ad illustrations, but had done no fashion work.

Before becoming a fashion designer, Bell worked as an illustrator and photojournalist. In 1964, Bell was referred by a bridal shop to Alfred Angelo Bridal, where he was hired as an illustrator. As a photojournalist, he went to fashion shows and took photos of the designs and made his own sketches; he sold these sketches of designs to other fashion designers. Bell created suits for the P.S.I. fashion label and later went on to work for Roy Halston and Anne Klein. After twenty years of experience, Bell began publishing his own fashion industry trade newsletter called Designer Report.

In February of 1997, Sears Roebuck & Company, with a base of twenty percent African American customers, hired Bell to design and launch a casual and career wear clothing line for women called Mosaic. Mosaic featured loose fitting, affordable rayon clothing in abstract African pinstripe and jazz prints.

See how Alvin Bell is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alvin Bell's interview, session 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alvin Bell lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alvin Bell describes his mother, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alvin Bell describes his maternal grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alvin Bell describes his mother's fashion style during his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alvin Bell describes his mother's personality and occupation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alvin Bell describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alvin Bell speculates about his paternal grandfather's heritage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alvin Bell talks about his mother's religious beliefs
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Alvin Bell describes his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Alvin Bell recounts how his parents met in Trenton, New Jersey
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Alvin Bell describes his earliest childhood memory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Alvin Bell recalls his mother's advice about buying quality clothing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alvin Bell describes his close-knit family and his parents' marriage
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alvin Bell describes his childhood neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alvin Bell describes his father's disappointment in his poor reading skills
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alvin Bell talks about his mother and high school teacher's influence on his sense of fashion
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alvin Bell talks about attending Philadelphia College of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alvin Bell remembers reading fashion magazines despite his father's objections
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alvin Bell recalls advice from his high school mentor
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alvin Bell describes his high school mentor
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alvin Bell remembers showing his commercial illustrator's portfolio to prospective employers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Alvin Bell remembers meeting Edythe Vincent Piccione of Alfred Angelo Bridal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Alvin Bell recalls landing his first job at Alfred Angelo Bridal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alvin Bell remembers working for Alfred Angelo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alvin Bell recalls meeting fellow fashion designer Willi Smith
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alvin Bell describes fashion designer Willi Smith
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alvin Bell talks about moving to New York City to pursue a career in fashion design
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alvin Bell remembers meeting fashion designer Halston
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alvin Bell talks about working for fashion designer Anne Klein
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alvin Bell recalls his confrontation with Anne Klein, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alvin Bell recalls his confrontation with Anne Klein, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alvin Bell describes what he learned working for Anne Klein
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alvin Bell reflects upon attitudes towards race in the fashion industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alvin Bell describes his intense focus on fashion design and his work ethic
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alvin Bell talks about African American pioneers in the fashion industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alvin Bell recalls career advice from fashion designer Jonny Herbert
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alvin Bell recalls seeing his first Christian Dior collection in Paris, France
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alvin Bell remembers returning to work at Jonny Herbert inspired by a Christian Dior fashion show
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alvin Bell talks about fashion designer Christian Dior
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alvin Bell talks about creating his fashion trade newsletter, Designer Report
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of Alvin Bell's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alvin Bell describes the founding of his fashion newsletter, Designer Report
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alvin Bell explains the process of fashion forecasting
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alvin Bell remembers fashion designer Patrick Kelly
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alvin Bell talks about his return to fashion design with P.S.I.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alvin Bell talks about learning fashion design in Paris, France
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alvin Bell talks about working as a fashion consultant for P.S.I.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Alvin Bell talks about working with Michael Jackson and the success of his fashion label Alvin Bell for P.S.I.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Alvin Bell describes his fellow fashion designer friends
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alvin Bell reflects upon the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the fashion industry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alvin Bell talks about losing his best friend, fashion designer Willi Smith, to AIDS
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alvin Bell describes fashion designer Willi Smith's personality
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alvin Bell talks about fashion designer Willi Smith's impact
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alvin Bell relates his advice for young people
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alvin Bell talks about his inspiration for designing women's suits
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alvin Bell describes HistoryMaker Audrey Lavinia Smaltz
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alvin Bell talks about his lavish lifestyle in the 1990s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Alvin Bell describes the changing fashion trends of the new millennium
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Alvin Bell talks about changes in the fashion business due to offshore factories
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Alvin Bell talks about African American fashion trends
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Alvin Bell talks about African American hip hop fashion designers
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Alvin Bell talks about the prevalence of casual clothing styles
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Alvin Bell talks about popular fashion styles
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Alvin Bell talks about his impact on the fashion industry
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Alvin Bell explains why he retired from fashion design and decided to write an autobiography
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Alvin Bell talks about becoming a science fiction novelist
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Alvin Bell explains why he left the fashion industry
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Alvin Bell talks about his opportunity to work with Michael Jackson
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Alvin Bell describes highlights from his career
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Alvin Bell reflects upon why he never married or had children
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Alvin Bell reflects upon his racial identity and responses to racism
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Alvin Bell reflects upon how his parents raised him
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Alvin Bell shares his advice for young aspiring designers
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Alvin Bell talks about the future of the fashion industry
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Alvin Bell talks about recovering from a car accident
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Alvin Bell describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Alvin Bell reflects upon his life