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
StyleMakers include HistoryMakers who have promoted, designed, or otherwise contributed innovations to the fields of fashion, beauty, and personal care. Fashion show managers, tailors, hairstylists, salon owners, and personal care entrepreneurs are all examples of StyleMakers.

Kevan Hall

Fashion designer Kevan Hall was born on October 11, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan to
Angeline and Curtis Hall. He graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan in 1975 and earned his A.A. degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California. He also completed coursework at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Otis Art Institute of the Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles, California.

In 1977, Hall began his fashion career as an assistant to sportswear designer Harriet Selwyn at her company, Harriet Selwyn Fragments, Co. He subsequently worked as an independent freelance designer and as senior designer for the girls’ junior sportswear brand, On Top of California, from 1980 to 1982. In 1983, he founded Kevan Hall Couture, selling his designs to luxury retailers including Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman. In 1997, Hall joined Halston NYC as the design and creative director, where he worked until the spring of 2000. A year later, he founded Kevan Hall Company and launched his own signature ready to wear line, the Kevan Hall Collection. In January of 2014, Hall launched Kevan Hall SPORT, a lifestyle brand of active wear for women. Hall and his designs have been featured at Vogue’s Met Gala in New York, and in the television shows Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane and America’s Next Top Model, which featured his spring 2009 collection as a runway challenge while he served as a guest judge. Adrienne Maloof from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills featured Hall's collection in a fashion show to introduce her new shoe line. Hall has also made guest appearances on national television shows such as Inside Edition, Extreme Makeover, The Better Half, and E!'s Fashion Police.

After graduating from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Hall received the Peacock Award for Outstanding Fashion Design. In 1989, the NAACP named him the Great American Designer; and, in 2005, Life & Style magazine named him Stylemaker of the Year.

Hall and his wife, Deborah Lee, have two adult children, Asia and Evan, and reside in California.

Kevan Hall was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 14, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.230

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/14/2018

Last Name

Hall

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
First Name

Kevan

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

HAL18

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sequoia National Park

Favorite Quote

Philippians: I Can Do All Things Through Christ

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

10/11/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Pasta/Seafood/Salmon

Short Description

Fashion designer Kevan Hall (1957- ) founded the Kevan Hall Company and was best known for his couture red carpet designs and his role as the design and creative director of Halston.

Favorite Color

Gray

Reggie Wells

Makeup artist Reggie Wells was born on December 2, 1947 in Baltimore, Maryland to John and Ada Wells. Wells graduated from City College High School in 1965, and went on to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he received his B.F.A. degree in 1971 and his M.A. degree in art education in 1975.

Wells began teaching art in the Baltimore Public School system in 1968. In 1976, he moved to New York City, where he worked at department store makeup counters for several years. Wells entered the entertainment industry as a makeup artist for a Jordache jeans advertising campaign. Over the course of his career, Wells worked with Essence magazine and O Magazine as well as Glamour Magazine, Time, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, and Mademoiselle. He also worked with a number of celebrities, including Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Halle Berry, Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Leontyne Price, Joan Rivers, and former first lady Michelle Obama. He often created his own makeup to accommodate the darker skin tones of his clients. In 1990, Wells became Oprah Winfrey’s full-time personal makeup artist after working together during an Essence photo shoot. He traveled internationally with Winfrey to events in South Africa, Australia, and the Middle East, and hosted a segment on The Oprah Winfrey Show called “Make-Up 101.” Wells also collaborated with lighting technicians on The Oprah Winfrey Show to develop techniques for highlighting darker skin on camera. In 2000, Wells published Face Painting: African American Beauty Techniques from an Emmy Award Winning Makeup Artist. In 2011, he became the international creative director for Hissyfit, an Australian cosmetics company. Wells volunteered in senior citizen communities in Baltimore, giving residents makeovers and organizing photo shoots. He also traveled to makeup shows across the country, teaching master classes and day of beauty Seminars.

Wells won a day time Emmy award for outstanding makeup for his work on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1995, and was nominated in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Wells was a board member and trustee for the Maryland Institute College of Art from 2010 to 2016.

Reggie Wells was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 30, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.052

Sex

Male

Interview Date

03/20/2018

Last Name

Wells

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Baltimore City College

Maryland Institute College of Art

First Name

Reggie

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

WEL06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Any Island

Favorite Quote

Unbelievable.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

12/2/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Favorite Food

Coconut Cake

Short Description

Makeup artist Reggie Wells (1947 - ) worked as Oprah Winfrey’s personal makeup artist for over twenty years.

Employment

Baltimore City Public Schools

Favorite Color

Blue

LaVetta Forbes

Fashion designer LaVetta Forbes was born on November 9, 1940 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Benjamin and Lillian Forbes. She began sewing at the age of six and in her teens worked for her aunt who was a dressmaker. In 1955, at the age of fifteen, Forbes moved to Los Angeles on her own and attended night school and found day work as a dress designer. Forbes then relocated to San Francisco and designed dresses for evening events. By the 1960s, Forbes was designing dresses for performers like Leslie Uggams, Lainie Kazan and the Supremes. Forbes entertained and hosted guests at the landmark Ambassador Hotel Coconut Grove and hosted luncheons to introduce and market her designs.

During the late 1970s, inspired by the use of scarf fabric, she created the LaVetta scarf dress. The collection of designs, made mostly from Oriental silk squares in flowered, geometric and paisley patterns, were 98% handmade with hems that were hand rolled, buttonholes hand bound and seams hand stitched. The scarves were used as dresses as well as tunics that were worn over pants. Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Wilson, Alexis Smith and Helen Gurley Brown were among the La Vetta scarf dress collectors. With her business revitalized, the La Vetta clothing line became available at exclusive retailers including Giorgio’s and Neiman-Marcus in Beverly Hills, Saks Fifth Avenue and Martha’s in New York, Palm Beach and Bar Harbor. Her personal client list included; Lena Horne, Diana Ross, Nancy Walker, Beverly Sassoon, Alexis Smith, Jayne Meadows, Marge Champion, Mrs. Clark Gable, Mrs. Robert Stack, Mrs. George Woods, and Eleanor Howard.

In 1990, Forbes began publishing Beverly Hills 90212 a glossy bi-monthly magazine. Targeted to Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, and adjacent upscale neighborhoods with a readership of 60,000, the publication was delivered free to homes around Beverly Hills and sold at newsstands.

Forbes has been a member of the Los Angeles Museum Costume Council and the Blue Ribbon 400. She also served as a board member for The Southeast Symphony Association.

Forbes lives in Los Angeles and has one adult child, Tony.

LaVetta Forbes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers,/em> on February 27, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.025

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/27/2018

Last Name

Forbes

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
First Name

LaVetta

Birth City, State, Country

New Orleans

HM ID

FOR17

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hong Kong, South America, South Africa

Favorite Quote

Don't Get Mad, Get Even.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

11/9/1940

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Favorite Food

Shrimp and Lemon Pie

Short Description

Fashion designer LaVetta Forbes (1940- ) was a celebrity dressmaker and designer is the creator of LaVetta scarf dress and the publisher of BeverlyHills90212, an upscale magazine.

Employment

Beverly Hills 90210

Favorite Color

Blue

Andre Walker

Hairstylist Andre Walker was born on October 19, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois to Woodrow Walker and Fanny Walker. He attended Kohn Elementary School and Lindbloom Math and Science Academy in Chicago, Illinois and graduated from there in 1974. Walker earned his certificate in cosmetology from the Pivot Point Academy in Bloomingdale, Illinois in 1977.

After graduating from cosmetology school, Walker was mentored by Chicago-stylist Leigh Jones and began working as a hair stylist for the beauty salon at the I. Magnin & Company department store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, under the leadership of stylist Rudi Hooker. In 1980, he established his own studio, the Andre Walker Salon, which he operated until 1987. Walker then joined Harpo Productions as a hair stylist in 1985, and worked as Oprah Winfrey’s personal hair stylist for her many television appearances and for every cover of O, The Oprah Magazine until 2015. Walker also styled the hair of former First Lady Michelle Obama, former First Lady Barbara Bush, and was credited with creating Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry’s signature short pixie haircut. In 2013, Walker and Dianne Hudson, Oprah Winfrey’s executive producer, founded Andre Walker Hair LLC. Two years later, the company launched a new hair care system for naturally textured hair, called The Gold System, as well as The Andre Walker Hair Typing System. Walker also served as an industry advisor to select fashion and trade media outlets, promoting hair care science and education.

In addition to his career in the hair care industry, Walker also published Andre Talks Hair! in 1997. Walker has been the recipient of several awards, including seven Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for his work on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and was nominated fourteen times for the award. In 2008, Pivot Point Academy awarded him the L.E.O. Award, which honored the achievements of beauty professionals influenced by school founder Leo Passage. The following year, Walker received the Thurgood Marshall Fashion Icon Award. In 2016, he was presented the Bronner Bros Industry Icon Award as well.

Andre Walker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 6, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.036

Sex

Male

Interview Date

03/06/2017

Last Name

Walker

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Kohn Elementary School

Lindbloom Technical High School

Pivot Point Beauty School

First Name

Andre

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

WAL23

Favorite Season

Early Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Napa Valley

Favorite Quote

Treat People The Way You Like To Be Treated. -Maya Angelou

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Wisconsin

Birth Date

10/19/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Milwaukee

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Short Description

Hairstylist Andre Walker (1956 - ) was the personal hairstylist for Oprah Winfrey, founder of Andrew Walker Hair, LLC and developed The Andre Walker Hair Typing System.

Employment

Andre Walker Hair

Harpo Productions

Andre Walker Salon

I. Magnin Department Store

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:616,15:4136,71:4752,79:7832,163:14790,223:15385,231:16915,275:17765,289:18190,295:19380,317:21505,351:21845,356:28472,440:32688,541:32960,546:47798,765:50636,797:54614,866:55076,874:55604,884:57056,914:66055,1041:66505,1049:71605,1153:72130,1161:75510,1171:77148,1214:82920,1273:84900,1294:88705,1314:91918,1391:95887,1493:96328,1502:98533,1564:99478,1642:116363,1915:116728,1921:118261,1952:118553,1957:120670,2001:126320,2019:127698,2034:129924,2071:130454,2077:136178,2161:136920,2169:142782,2289:162587,2496:163979,2508:164414,2514:165458,2528:165893,2534:167546,2564:177326,2699:177794,2706:181928,2817:182318,2823:183410,2843:185126,2886:205802,3119:206426,3129:208220,3154:208610,3160:209858,3176:210326,3183:211184,3195:212978,3224:229300,3311$0,0:9312,109:12500,137:13592,154:14294,165:16010,192:17648,225:18116,232:18740,245:19052,250:20456,285:22640,334:34920,419:35620,427:39720,517:46001,599:48397,621:49013,630:51708,685:52016,690:54326,846:59947,992:62488,1053:75936,1278:77054,1309:78774,1337:79204,1343:79720,1350:88603,1504:89516,1516:95529,1632:96951,1656:97820,1672:98136,1677:99242,1688:99716,1695:105096,1725:110230,1791
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Andre Walker's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Andre Walker describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Andre Walker lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Andre Walker talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Andre Walker describes his father's upbringing and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Andre Walker talks about his parents' move to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Andre Walker remembers visiting his paternal grandparents in Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Andre Walker remembers his father's stories of lynching

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Andre Walker talks about his father's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Andre Walker describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Andre Walker describes his neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Andre Walker describes his experiences of bullying at Alfred D. Kohn Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Andre Walker remembers his academic difficulties

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Andre Walker recalls his early interest in hairstyling

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Andre Walker remembers Robert Lindblom Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Andre Walker recalls winning a beauty school scholarship from Pivot Point International

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Andre Walker describes his first hairstyling business

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Andre Walker remembers the curriculum at Pivot Point International, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Andre Walker remembers the curriculum at Pivot Point International, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Andre Walker describes his relationship with Leigh Jones

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Andre Walker remembers working at the I. Magnin Salon in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Andre Walker describes his clientele at the I. Magnin Salon

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Andre Walker remembers styling Oprah Winfrey's hair

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Andre Walker recalls establishing his hair salons

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Andre Walker remembers balancing his salon and personal hairstyling work

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Andre Walker describes his approach to styling Oprah Winfrey's hair

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Andre Walker talks about Oprah Winfrey's wigs and weaves

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Andre Walker recalls traveling with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Andre Walker remembers styling Oprah Winfrey's hair for exercise

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Andre Walker talks about Oprah Winfrey's natural hairstyles

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Andre Walker describes his appearances on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Andre Walker talks about hairstyling based on body size

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Andre Walker talks about the changes in Oprah Winfrey's hair style

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Andre Walker remembers styling Halle Berry's hair

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Andre Walker talks about his Emmy Awards for hairstyling

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Andre Walker talks about the lighting design on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Andre Walker talks about his compensation as a celebrity stylist

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Andre Walker remembers writing 'Andre Talks Hair!'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Andre Walker describes the Andre Walker Hair Typing System

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Andre Walker talks about Walker Simmons Designs, LLC

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Andre Walker remembers his parents' reactions to his sexuality

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Andre Walker remembers the AIDS crisis

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Andre Walker remembers meeting his partner

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Andre Walker remembers retiring as Oprah Winfrey's hair stylist, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Andre Walker remembers retiring as Oprah Winfrey's hair stylist, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Andre Walker describes his relationship with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Andre Walker recalls creating The Gold System hair care line

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Andre Walker remembers launching The Gold System hair care line

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Andre Walker describes his hopes for The Gold System

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Andre Walker reflects upon his life and legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Andre Walker shares his advice to aspiring hair stylists

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$2

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Andre Walker remembers retiring as Oprah Winfrey's hair stylist, pt. 2
Andre Walker recalls his early interest in hairstyling
Transcript
Okay, I was in Seattle [Washington] and I had this moment where it was just so real, it was like God was speaking to me. So, it's like it's time to do this, it's time to move on. And it's so interesting 'cause I was there working with Oprah [Oprah Winfrey], and we had done something. I think this was when she was working, getting her tea together with Starbucks [Starbucks Corporation], that's why we were in Seattle and then we had to work in Santa Barbara [California]. So, we left there and went to Santa Barbara the next day and we were doing some stuff that she--for her and out nowhere she turns to me, but prior to that I had decided okay, when we get back to Chicago [Illinois] on Monday, I'm gonna sit down and talk to her and tell her that I'm gonna start helping you find somebody else and I'm gonna move on. So, we're at her house in Santa Barbara getting ready for whatever it is we're you know doing that day. Out of nowhere she just goes, "Are you ever planning to retire?" (Laughter) And it was just I'm like oh, god this is making it easier for me now, 'cause I can just tell her right now. I said, "As a matter of fact I just decided yesterday that I wanted to talk to you about this on Monday and yes, I am retiring." And Gayle was in the room also, Gayle King her friend, and Gayle's like, "Oh, you're just joking, you're not gonna do that, you're just talking right now." And Oprah said, "I know he's telling you the truth right now. He's real and if I had to tell you this Gayle, you wouldn't believe me. I'm so glad you're here right now to see it." And she said, "I get it, I understand it. You've done this, you've done it the best you can do it, and you just can't do it anymore. So, I get it, I understand." And that's how it happened, it was, it--so, I was--up to that point I was thinking okay, now how am I gonna bring it up? How am I gonna say I need to talk to you about something? Can we sit down in your office and have this conversation. It just organically, just happened. So, that I know was meant to be. It was truly meant to be.$$And from that point how much longer did you work for her?$$It took me another year, I think to find somebody, 'cause I wasn't gonna leave (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was about to say, so you found her replacement, right?$$Yeah, I wasn't gonna leave until I helped find somebody to replace me. So, I went through quite a few people and Johnny Wright, the first lady's [Michelle Obama] hairstylist, after about eight months of not being successful finding anybody, I called him. I said, "Do you know anybody that can, you know I'm gonna retire soon," and he's like, "I wish you could hold out another twenty months, 'cause I would love to do it," (laughter) 'cause he knew the, you know, the Obamas would be out of the White House by then and I said but, "No, I can't hold on for another twenty months." So, he recommended me his friends, Nicole Mangrum, who I interviewed, and she lived in Chicago. She still lives in Chicago so was convenient, and so I would have her just kind of follow me when we'd go on you know, trips and work. So, we got to the point where Oprah was pretty comfortable with her and I felt like she could do the job, and, and I transitioned, transitioned out on May 30, or 31st of 2015.$When did you develop an interest in hair?$$Oh, god I always had it.$$Yeah?$$Yeah.$$What, what are your early memories of your interest?$$Just remembering looking at different hair textures on people and especially being in a school where it was this diversity. You know there was all kinds of hair and it was just kind of, it was so interesting to me. And I remember the first time I decided to do hair was, you know, messing with my mother's [Fannie Benson Walker] wigs 'cause she used to wear these wiglets, and I think I was probably in seventh or eighth grade at that, at that point when I did that, and so when she realized that I had this talent to do hair, you know throughout high school [Robert Lindblom Technical High School; Robert Lindblom Math and Science Academy High School, Chicago, Illinois], I was doing her wiglets for Sunday church (laughter).$$(Laughter) And what is a wiglet, what's that?$$That's what they called them back then, but it was just a hairpiece and it was probably shaped either in a circle, the base was shaped in a circle or an oblong and you would put it on top of your head, you know. It was like you pull all your hair back and you attach this hairpiece you know this bun and it would give you a lot of height and sometimes I would you know, I would have fun with my mother and just put two and three pieces together. You know, so she might have one in the front, on the top and one in the back (laughter), so.$$She was styling (laughter).$$Yeah, but so it was interesting because she didn't want me to become a hairstylist either, you know.$$Why?$$'Cause she didn't think that it was the sort of profession that black men could make money or a really good living doing. And--but I just persisted that that's what I wanted to do so I kept doing it.

Tracy Reese

Fashion designer Tracy Reese was born on February 12, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan. As a child, Reese’s mother, a modern dance teacher, taught her how to sew and make clothes. Reese graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit in 1980, and moved to New York City to enroll in an accelerated program at the Parsons School of Design, which she completed in 1984.

After graduating from the Parsons School, Reese worked for French fashion designer Martine Sitbon at the firm of Arlequin. Reese went on to work at a number of top fashion houses, eventually becoming head of the women’s portfolio for 1980s fashion icon Perry Ellis. In 1996, Reese launched her own ready-to-wear label, Tracy Reese, which was noted for its femininity and retro-influenced styles. Reese opened a storefront in New York City to exclusively sell her product line. In 2000, Reese expanded her brand with the creation of her mass market line, Tracy Reese Plenty, and her home furnishings line, Plenty, which was followed in 2006 by the dress-focused line Frock! That same year, Reese opened the flagship Tracy Reese store in New York City. In 2009, Reese launched her luxury line Tracy Reese Black Label, and, two years later, opened the second Tracy Reese store in Tokyo, Japan. In 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama, a longtime fan of Tracy Reese designs, wore a dress custom-made by Reese during her speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Reese also designed clothing for singer Beyonce Knowles and actress Sarah Jessica Parker. For Fall 2016, Reese created a short film called ‘A Detroit Love Song,’ which she presented at Fashion Week off-runway. Also that year, Reese announced that her designs would be available in an expanded range of sizes, making them more inclusive of all American women.

Reese was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1990, and joined its committee in 2007, becoming its sole African American member. In 2007, she was appointed to the board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Reese also served as the Turnaround Artist for the Barnum School in Bridgeport, Connecticut through the President’s Committee of the Humanities and Arts.

Tracy Reese was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 2, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.093

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/2/2016

Last Name

Reese

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Cass Technical High School

Parsons School of Design

First Name

Tracy

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

REE11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

I Have All The Time I Need To Do All I Need To Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

2/12/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Nuts, Popcorn, Kale

Short Description

Fashion designer Tracy Reese (1964 - ) launched her namesake line in 1996, and went on to create Tracy Reese Plenty, Frock! and Tracy Reese Black Label. Her clients include First Lady Michelle Obama, Beyonce and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Employment

Arlequin

Perry Ellis Portfolio

Tracy Reese

Tracy Reese Plenty

Tracy Reese Black Label

Magaschoni

Favorite Color

Deep Pink

Timing Pairs
0,0:4956,138:6940,173:12543,255:20926,459:21424,466:29160,569:29650,577:38688,746:43388,819:44004,828:44796,838:54682,977:55438,991:55774,996:56278,1003:56782,1010:57370,1018:63260,1072:67890,1102:69776,1130:71006,1144:74368,1210:78210,1231:78625,1237:80202,1272:83160,1315:84395,1353:84850,1362:93755,1579:94210,1587:94535,1593:100570,1650:100910,1655:101335,1661:101760,1674:105415,1755:106180,1770:107115,1784:107795,1793:108135,1798:115300,1858:116934,1888:117278,1893:119256,1921:119686,1927:120116,1936:122008,1964:122524,1971:129534,2018:141760,2220:143200,2245:147880,2361:149500,2403:154130,2440:158750,2542:171140,2703:175100,2788:180240,2863:182083,2946:184630,2990$0,0:711,10:1027,15:1659,25:2054,31:4029,71:4345,76:10376,162:11146,176:13841,234:17888,266:18525,280:23166,361:25077,377:34725,462:35635,481:37273,505:38729,531:67290,675:67665,684:68115,734:70515,793:72690,831:73590,857:86250,977:86950,990:87720,1004:88000,1009:88910,1026:91376,1031:94964,1102:98669,1137:99413,1146:101738,1184:102482,1193:102947,1198:103877,1212:104621,1222:105272,1230:106016,1239:107690,1270:110945,1334:118540,1464:118920,1469:119490,1476:120060,1488:120630,1495:123760,1508:132826,1610:133406,1616:133870,1621:135726,1640:139865,1706:140460,1715:141140,1725:145300,1792:145900,1799:147100,1814:148700,1839:152300,1902:156578,1918:158198,1952:159170,1963:159926,1972:160466,1978:177664,2149:178032,2154:187813,2226:188228,2232:189058,2243:192966,2292:193632,2309:194668,2331:195038,2337:195408,2343:196814,2363:198072,2395:200970,2402:203553,2453:204477,2473:211176,2614:211546,2620:214780,2648:216820,2668:217585,2679:218605,2696:218945,2701:223705,2790:224385,2799:225745,2838:239110,2961:239525,2967:243592,3052:248074,3115:249319,3154:249734,3160:256344,3232:258187,3264:261291,3306:262164,3318:262552,3323:262940,3328:263328,3333:266760,3338:276455,3513:288082,3702:288390,3707:292640,3719:294299,3745:298644,3841:303310,3874:304030,3883:304930,3913:307720,3962:308980,3979:309430,3985:310150,4004:310960,4015:311500,4023:312310,4036:313390,4049:314020,4059:317960,4065:318548,4073:318940,4078:319528,4086:320312,4098:321586,4117:323154,4136:326640,4166
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tracy Reese's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese talks about her mother's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese talks about her father's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese remembers her community in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tracy Reese describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Tracy Reese recalls her childhood hobbies

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese recalls her education at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese recalls her interests during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese recalls her early interest in the arts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese describes the racial demographics of Cass Technical High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese recalls her admission into the Parsons School of Design in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese recalls her experiences at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese describes her living situation while studying at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese remembers her classes at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese recalls her classmates at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Tracy Reese remembers working at Charivari in New York City

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese remembers the fashion trends of the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese talks about her experiences of gender discrimination at the Parsons School of Design

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese recalls obtaining a position at Arlequin

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese talks about Marc Jacobs' early career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese describes her position at Arlequin

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese talks about the emergence of contemporary fashion in the 1980s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese describes the merchandising at Arlequin

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese remembers starting her fashion label

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese remembers factoring her early collections

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese recalls stopping production of her first fashion line

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese remembers helping Marc Jacobs with his line, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese remembers helping Marc Jacobs create the 1988 Miami show

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese remembers joining Perry Ellis Portfolio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese recalls designing for Perry Ellis Portfolio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese remembers Marc Jacobs' impact at Perry Ellis

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese recalls working at Magaschoni

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese remembers showing in New York Fashion Week

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese talks about the Council of Fashion Designers of America

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Tracy Reese recalls her decision to start her own fashion line

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Tracy Reese recalls launching the Tracy Reese collection

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese talks about the production of the Tracy Reese label

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese recalls founding T.R. Designs, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese recalls producing the Tracy Reese Plenty line in India

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese describes her Frock! line

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese recalls launching her flagship store

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tracy Reese remembers closing her retail stores

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tracy Reese talks about dressing Michelle Obama

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tracy Reese recalls the celebrities who wore her designs

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Tracy Reese reflects upon the changes in fashion shows

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Tracy Reese describes her short film, 'A Detroit Love Song'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Tracy Reese talks about her model casting decisions

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Tracy Reese talks about diversity in the fashion industry

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Tracy Reese reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Tracy Reese reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Tracy Reese shares her advice for young fashion designers

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$7

DATitle
Tracy Reese remembers helping Marc Jacobs create the 1988 Miami show
Tracy Reese talks about dressing Michelle Obama
Transcript
Okay, so 1988. So you're helping--$$Um-hm.$$--and when you're helping (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And it was--$$--does this include getting any kind of compensation?$$Well, my compensation was we would literally (laughter) and this--we would--every night we would leave the office at ten [o'clock], and we would go to Cafe Luxembourg [New York, New York] for dinner, and Marc [Marc Jacobs] would charge it. Now, he didn't know how he was gonna pay the credit card bill. He was just hoping that things were gonna work out, and it was like a super miserable time because Robert Boykin, his boyfriend, had AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome], and he was the first person I knew to get AIDS, or that I knew of who had AIDS, I'll put it that way, and he had gone home because it had really advanced and he was with his family in Mobile [Alabama], and then Marc's grandmother had just--had Mrs. Leigh Rhodes [ph.] passed? I think she had just passed away, and she was like his, the only family member that he really had a very strong connection to, and so he was really in, you know, a tender emotional place and we were just, we were like, sometimes we would just sit there and like cry, and so, you know, I remember the night before, well, Cafe Luxembourg, but that was the compensation for both of us.$$That was the compensation.$$He didn't have any money. He would just charge it anyway and, and we would get there and we would sit and Patience--there is a waitress named Patience Simon [ph.]--and she was an island girl and she was so nice and we would sit in her section every night and she knew exactly what we wanted. We'd get the same thing every single night and sit there and laugh and talk and cry, and then go home and like hit it again the next morning and I remember that show the night before, we slept on the pattern table, and I remember we got up and it was just like that raw like I've had three hours of sleep and my body hurts and what's going on, and I remember I think Robert called from Mobile, and he wanted to wish Marc good luck, and I got to talk to him on the phone and we're all crying and it's like we got, you know, this show has to really be good and it was the (air quotes) Miami show and it was so charming and all the big girls--I remember Naomi [Naomi Campbell] like, "Oh please, don't make me wear sandals. My feet are so ugly." (Laughter) It's like, girl. You're gorgeous. Don't worry about a pair of sandals, you know, and Cindy Crawford and Christy [Christy Turlington] and all of the girls were in that show, and it was right there in the showroom because that's how it was done--$$Right.$$--in the '80s [1980s], and it was a smash.$$I mean, so this was before the CFDA [Council of Fashion Designers of America] and (unclear) put together (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Before, before, yeah.$$--Fashion Week [New York Fashion Week] as something organized--$$This is when there would be twenty shows a week.$$Right, yep.$$You know?$So, let's talk about the first lady.$$Um-hm.$$You know, obviously, for many reasons, there was a lot of excitement with the Obamas coming into office. There was also a lot of scrutiny in the beginning in particular--$$Yeah.$$--as to what and who Michelle Obama was wearing. And every constituency had its arguments about what she should be wearing and is she wearing African American designers and how much and you remember all of that.$$Um-hm.$$And when, the first dress that I remember her wearing of yours was on the cover of People magazine.$$Um-hm.$$(OFF CAMERA DISCUSSION)$$So, Michelle Obama, the first dress that I remember seeing of yours that she wore was on the cover of People magazine, which is huge. It's the biggest magazine covering people, celebrities--$$Right. (Laughter) Right.$$And what year was that?$$Ooh, that must have been 2000, what, '9 [2009]?$$It was, yeah--$$It was like the summer of 2009, I think, in April or May.$$Which is--they had been in office for a while but not that long.$$Exactly.$$What reaction did you get to Michelle Obama wearing your dress?$$Well, just first, personally thrilled. Great reaction from the press and you know, a lot of requests from customers. I think the biggest customer reaction we got was definitely from the dress she wore to the DNC, you know, when she made her speech at the 2012 election [2012 Democratic National Convention, Charlotte, North Carolina].$$Right.$$Because, that was like the most public moment when people like saw her moving, you know, speaking and you know, 100 percent front and center, because I think, it's funny, I think that there's definitely more interest in her, the stuff she's wearing live than the stuff that she wears for photographs; at least, for us that's always been the case, but the People thing was, was huge. That was like the beginning, you know, and she started wearing things relatively regularly after that.$$Yes. And, you know, when a celebrity, when the first lady wears a designer's clothes, and in your clothes, do you find direct relationship to sales?$$To some extent, yeah. It really, and you know, certain styles just catch fire once she has worn them. I mean, the DNC dress was custom and we had to begin production post. We literally had to weave fabric and, you know, we weren't able to ship that for about three months, but we sold over two thousand units of it. People were willing to wait and we had, you know, tons of preorders. All the stores wanted it.$$And so you were able to sell it at regular price, even though it was delayed--$$Oh definitely, definitely, because it had never been at retail at any other points.$$Right. And typically, what is the, how many units of the dress do you normally sell?$$Oh, god. Usually, like. It depends. It goes anywhere from like 100 to a thousand, or twelve hundred. Two thousand--$$Right, so two thousand is a huge difference.$$Yes, definitely.$$And you know, pre-Michelle Obama, first ladies did wear American designers, like Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta.$$Yeah, definitely, and much more mature look.$$Yeah.$$I mean, I think that Mrs. Obama has been such a modern first lady and, you know, she's always appropriate but there's like a, like a youthful feminine energy to the things that she selects and wears. And I think she's just been much more herself, I guess, and she hasn't stepped into that typical first lady mold. I don't think we've seen her in one red suit (laughter).$$(Laughter) (Unclear).$$Or blue suit for that matter.$$Don't remember that. Actually she wears a lot of prints and patterns and flowers and mixed prints.$$Yup. Abstracts, you name it.$$Yeah. Which, and feminine, so in terms of your collection, which, I mean feminine is part of your signature.$$Exactly, and, you know what I love about how she wears clothes is, you know, she is still, she still is powerful even though she is, you know, dressing as a woman and not afraid to assert her femininity and I think it's speaks to the times too, where I think we, as professional women, we don't feel so much that we have to you know, be working a power suit or some uniform to be taken seriously.

Byron Lars

Fashion designer Byron Lars was born on January 19, 1965 in Oakland, California to Gloria Gardner Bonds and Earnest Lars. Lars grew up in nearby El Cerrito, California, where his mother encouraged his creativity, and his father, who worked in construction, nurtured his interest in craftsmanship. Lars attended El Cerrito High School, taking advanced math classes in preparation for a career in architecture. In the tenth grade, a friend taught Lars to use a sewing machine; and Lars taught himself to make patterns. He designed his classmates’ prom dresses in order to fund a school trip to Europe, and created a gown for his own senior prom date. Upon graduation from high school, Lars completed a two-year fashion program at Brooks Fashion Institute of Technology in Long Beach, California, where he earned first place at the student design fashion show. In 1986, Lars enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, although he left before graduating.

Between 1987 and 1991, Lars used his patternmaking skills to obtain freelance work for Kevan Hall, Gary Gatyas, and Nancy Crystal Blouse Co., among others. He developed his first sample set of seven garments, which he marketed to high end retail buyers. In 1990, Lars received an order for forty pieces of his designs from Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The following year, Lars received orders from Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and other high end retailers. His collection won widespread acclaim, and Lars was named Women’s Wear Daily’s Rookie of the Year. Faced with a rapidly growing business, Lars signed a licensing contract for his Shirt Tales line in 1995. Lars then entered into a contract with Mattel to design collectible Barbie dolls, and began designing Green T, an affordable clothing line he founded in 1999.

Lars was well-known for his menswear designs, especially men’s dress shirting and pattern mixing, as well as his sensitivity to fit and cut, and his use of draping and sarong-inspired tying. His line, Byron Lars Beauty Mark, which launched in 2001, expanded to include plus sizing. Lar’s Byron Lars Beauty Mark pieces were worn by celebrities such as Angela Bassett and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Byron Lars was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 6, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.094

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/8/2016

Last Name

Lars

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Fashion Institute of Technology

El Cerrito High School

Brooks Institute

First Name

Byron

Birth City, State, Country

Oakland

HM ID

LAR02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mexico

Favorite Quote

Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

1/19/1965

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Foods

Short Description

Fashion designer Byron Lars (1965 - ) won widespread acclaim for his 1991 collection, first ordered by retailer Henri Bendel. Known for his menswear designs and pattern mixing, Lars also launched a women’s line called Byron Lars Beauty Mark in 2001.

Employment

Kevan Hall, Gary Gatyas, Ronaldus Shamask, and Nancy Crystal Blouse Co

Byron Lars

Byron Lars Beauty Mark

Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs
0,0:546,23:2808,54:5850,122:7176,152:8268,169:9126,180:9672,188:10686,205:18156,261:21064,314:21631,325:21883,330:22765,400:24025,431:25033,459:26671,518:27049,526:27301,531:27679,538:29065,564:29506,577:30451,595:30766,601:34960,621:46821,830:47769,862:49428,895:50218,919:59250,1012:59530,1017:60160,1032:63100,1102:63520,1109:64290,1125:65200,1149:69894,1187:80203,1415:85064,1496:85550,1506:90497,1554:91541,1582:94540,1588:95889,1619:96244,1625:98942,1688:99226,1693:99794,1708:100717,1732:110100,1872:110420,1877:110740,1882:112260,1916:112580,1921:112900,1926:113380,1933:114500,1946:115060,1954:122352,2045:129640,2129$0,0:1586,34:4362,122:12700,172:13105,178:15859,378:17479,401:26374,518:35691,646:36160,655:37350,660:38718,687:39060,694:39288,699:41055,748:45093,819:45409,825:45725,830:47068,862:47700,872:48174,881:51334,931:51650,936:52519,952:57422,986:58182,1012:58714,1023:59094,1029:61222,1063:62438,1100:62970,1109:63882,1124:68716,1150:69710,1165:71343,1201:72621,1231:73970,1255:77720,1290:78020,1295:79595,1315:79970,1321:85812,1416:86124,1421:88932,1517:102820,1672:106280,1887:115212,1970:115751,2040:127925,2104:130492,2129:132900,2151:134655,2192:137350,2226
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Byron Lars' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Byron Lars lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Byron Lars describes his mother's career

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Byron Lars talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Byron Lars remembers his maternal uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Byron Lars describes his father's creativity

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Byron Lars talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Byron Lars describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Byron Lars describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Byron Lars describes his brother's musical talent

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Byron Lars remembers his early interest in art and fashion

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Byron Lars describes his neighborhood in Richmond, California

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Byron Lars talks about his grandparents' experiences of racial violence in the South

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Byron Lars remembers the honors program at El Cerrito High School in El Cerrito, California

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Byron Lars remembers learning to sew

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Byron Lars recalls designing prom dresses for his high school classmates

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Byron Lars remembers his first mentor in the fashion industry

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Byron Lars describes the fashion of the 1980s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Byron Lars talks about his early career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Byron Lars remembers moving to New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Byron Lars talks about his early fashion ideas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Byron Lars describes his experiences at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Byron Lars describes his experiences at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Byron Lars talks about the changes in the fashion industry

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Byron Lars remembers his search for employment in Paris, France

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

14$3

DATitle
Byron Lars remembers the honors program at El Cerrito High School in El Cerrito, California
Byron Lars remembers his first mentor in the fashion industry
Transcript
(Simultaneous) But you personally, did you experience racism growing up?$$Not--no, at least not that I was aware of. The first time that I pretty much suspected it was when I and another classmate, black classmate, Tim Kuzmicki [ph.], were ushered into honors English because, you know, we had--we were in honors classes in high school [El Cerrito High School, El Cerrito, California]. You had the same classes with all the same people 'cause that's how it worked or whatever. But I remember when it was determined that we were honors students and we were like taken out of like this English class that was gonna be a cakewalk. I was like, nice (laughter). And they were like, no, no, you two don't belong here, and they took us to honors English. And I remember Mrs. Protter [Ruth Rotman Protter] who was a white lady from Boston [Massachusetts] was just like, "No, no, they don't belong here." And we were the only two black people.$$In the honors class?$$Yes. And she was just so adamant that we--she kept looking at the documentation and I was just like, really? 'Cause at first, I didn't really want that extra challenge, but then I'm like, oh, watch me do so well in here just to spite you (laughter) because I was so put off that she was so (laughter)--$$So, she wasn't gonna--$$--incredulous.$$--get away with it. You did take the class.$$Yeah, I did. And, you know what--and she didn't treat us unfairly once we were in there. But, there was definitely some funkiness in the beginning that I was just like--I knew what that was, you know. That was probably my first time being aware of it. Maybe other things had happened, but I was so not in that headspace that I just would not have even recognized it, but that one, I was like--both Tim and myself, we were like, um-hm (laughter).$$And you both stayed in the class?$$Oh, yeah. And were tortured with Jane Austen. I'm like, if we read one more Jane Austen novel--. No Richard Wright.$$Oh, no.$$No. In honors English--I--like, if I stuck out in my old class, in that class they took us out of, I might've had some black authors, but no, not in honors.$Across the way from Neiman Marcus from this--was I. Magnin [I. Magnin and Company] and there was--in their couture salon, there was this black sales lady, Binky [ph.], who would take me in and she's like, "Listen, we got some new Valentino in. I want you to see this shoulder pad, come see this new Saint Laurent [Yves Saint Laurent]. I like want you to see how they finished this hem." And it was like amazing. She was like--she was--'cause first, she was like, what's your deal? Why are you here? Why is a boy here in the salon, couture salon?$$So you would go--$$I told her I wanted to be a designer and she was like, "Oh, really?" And then she just started showing me all the things that they had. Like, she didn't just like, you know, really? Well, I'm trying to make sales. Get lost. Beat it. She was very, very nurturing. And, you know, they close and before I even started--I, I wished I could've found her at some point. She was older then, so I'm--would find it very difficult to believe that she's still with us. But I never was able to thank her, you know what I mean, and find her because it was like, she really--she was such a special part of my development, an integral part of it, you know, like to really start developing taste. I mean, like what--this is what something like nice looks like. You know, even like the idea of brown for evening. I just--it was unheard of for me in high school [El Cerrito High School, El Cerrito, California]. I'm like brown, nobody wears brown at night (laughter). You know, I'm like, oh, brown with gold and coppers and--(laughter). I'm like, oh (laughter), you know? She was really, you know, she really mentored me (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) And she showed you the clothes inside out so you could see--$$Yes.$$--how they were made.$$Yeah. Because, honestly, that's what--I was probably more interested in that than fashion. I was interested in making stuff, even to this day. I--I like fashion (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Well, this is a construction that you do.$$--but I love, you know, building clothes. But, I like fashion, but I love that. I love--I love making clothes. I love figuring out the problems. I love that part of it.

Rashid Silvera

Model and educator Rashid Keith Dilworth Silvera was born on December 8, 1947 in Boston, Massachusetts to Don Hector and Phyllis Matilda Silvera. Silvera is the nephew of film actor, director and producer, Frank Silvera and second cousin of Albert Silvera, international car collector and Renaissance man. Silvera was raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts and graduated from Williston Academy in Easthampton, Massachusetts in 1967. He then enrolled at Colgate University, but, in 1969, transferred to Bennington College, where he received his B.A. degree in political science and anthropology in 1972. Silvera went on to obtain his M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1974 and his Ed. M. degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1976.

In 1975, Silvera was hired as a teacher in the history department of the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He taught at Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, New Jersey from 1976 to 1977, and then at San Francisco University High School in San Francisco, California from 1977 to 1979. Silvera returned to the East Coast in 1979, when he was hired as a social studies teacher at Rye Country Day School in Rye, New York. In 1981, he began teaching at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York.

Aside from teaching, Silvera worked as a fashion model for a number of years. While staying at the house of a friend in the early 1980's, Silvera was noticed by owners of a modeling agency, who then launched his career as a model. He first modeled for fashion photographer Rico Puhlmann. In April of 1983, Silvera became the fourth black male model to appear on the cover of GQ magazine. His appearance would mark the last time an African American male model would appear on a GQ cover. Silvera also appeared on the covers of Essence magazine and CODE magazine, and was the first African American male to model for a Polo Ralph Lauren advertisement campaign.

Silvera was profiled in Marci Alboher’s 2007 book, One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success, as well as by Black Enterprise in 2011.

Rashid Silvera was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 13, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.247

Sex

Male

Interview Date

08/13/2014

Last Name

Silvera

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Keith Dilworth

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

The Williston Northampton School

Colgate University

Bennington College

Harvard Divinity School

Harvard Graduate School of Education

First Name

Rashid

Birth City, State, Country

Boston

HM ID

SIL01

State

Massachusetts

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/8/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Short Description

Model and educator Rashid Silvera (1947 - ) was the last African American male model on the cover of GQ magazine, as well as the first African American to model for a Polo Ralph Lauren advertisement campaign. He also taught history at Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, New York, starting in 1981.

Employment

Scarsdale High School

Rye Country Day School

University High School

Gill St. Bernard's School

Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

Pat Cleveland

Model Pat Cleveland was born in New York City on June 23, 1950. Her father, Johnny Johnston, was a saxophonist; her mother, Lady Bird Cleveland, a painter. After her parents separated, Cleveland was raised by her mother in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. She graduated from New York’s High School of Art and Design in 1969.

Cleveland’s career as a fashion model began in 1966 when she was spotted on a New York subway by Carrie Donovan, an assistant editor at Vogue magazine. She first modeled as a live mannequin in Ebony’s Fashion Fair, and then for Vogue magazine. In 1970, Cleveland relocated to Paris, France, where she worked with illustrator Antonio Lopez and became a house model for Karl Lagerfeld’s Chloé. She modeled for designers such as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler and Christian Dior. In 1973, Cleveland was part of the benefit fashion show at the Palace of Versailles in France.

Cleveland returned to the United States in 1974, and continued modeling into the 1980s. She also established a modeling agency in Milan, Italy, and published a volume of poetry in 2001 entitled In The Spirit Of Grace. In 2003, Cleveland returned to the fashion runway, walking for designers Bill Blass and Stephen Burrows, and at Chanel, with her daughter, Anna van Ravenstein. Cleveland also modeled with her daughter for designer Zac Posen in 2013.

Cleveland has appeared in countless fashion spreads and on the covers of such magazines as Vanity Fair, Essence, Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, L’Officiel, and GQ. In addition, she appeared in advertisement campaigns for Vidal Sasoon and Karl Lagerfeld, and has been photographed by Steven Meisel and Andy Warhol. In 2010, Cleveland appeared as a guest judge in season fourteen of America’s Next Top Model. That same year, she appeared in the documentary Ultrasuede, In Search of Halston. In 2012, Cleveland was featured in two more fashion documentaries, Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution and About Face: Supermodels Then and Now.

Cleveland and her husband, Paul van Ravenstein, live in Willingboro, New Jersey. They have two children: Noel and Anna.

Pat Cleveland was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 14, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.245

Sex

Female

Interview Date

08/14/2014 |and| 07/12/2016

Last Name

Cleveland

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Ann

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

High School of Art and Design

First Name

Patricia

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

CLE06

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mediterranean

Favorite Quote

Thank god for fashion.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/23/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Watermelon and Cherries

Short Description

Model Pat Cleveland (1950 - ) worked as a high-fashion and runway model for over forty-five years. She modeled for designers such as Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Stephen Burrows and Christian Dior, and was part of the 1973 benefit fashion show at the Palace of Versailles in France.

Favorite Color

Chartreuse

Stephen Burrows

Fashion designer Stephen Burrows was born on September 15, 1943 in Newark, New Jersey to Gerald Burrows and Octavia Pennington. At a very young age, Burrows started sewing and making clothes under the guidance of his grandmother, Beatrice Simmons. He went on to attend elementary school in Newark, New Jersey, and graduated from Arts High School in 1960. Burrows then attended the Philadelphia Museum College of Art from 1961 to 1962, and later graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in 1966.

Upon graduation, Burrows was hired as a fashion designer for Weber Originals, but decided to work freelance in 1967. In 1968, he co-founded O Boutique in New York City. The following year, Burrows launched a ready-to-wear collection for the upscale department store Bonwit Teller with his friend Roz Rubenstein. In 1969, Burrows was introduced to Geraldine Stutz, president of the Henri Bendel department store, and was hired and offered his own boutique called Stephen Burrows World. The success of Stephen Burrows World was immediate, and allowed Burrows to cater to celebrity clientele such as Diana Ross, Cher and Barbra Streisand. In 1973, he left Bendel’s, founded Burrows, Inc., and began working on New York’s Seventh Avenue. That same year, Burrows was one of five American designers invited to show his clothes on the runway of Versailles, France, where he received rave reviews. He became the first African American designer to gain international fame.

In 1977, Burrows returned to Henri Bendel and joined Pat Tennant, Inc., but left again in 1982. In 1993, he became affiliated once more with Bendel’s, and in 2002, reopened Stephen Burrows World. In 2010, Burrows designed a collection for Target retail stores and opened a showroom and design studio in New York City’s garment center. In 2013, he became designer and president of Stephen Burrows, LTD.

Burrows has been honored with three Coty American Fashion Critics’ Awards, the highest praise that can be awarded in fashion. In 1975, he received the Council of American Fashion Critics Award and the Knitted Association Crystal Ball Award. He was named to the Fashion Walk of Fame in 2003 and received the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Board of Directors Special Tribute Award in 2006. In 2014, Burrows was honored with lifetime achievement awards from the Savannah College of Art and Design and the Pratt Institute of Design.

Stephen Burrows was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 14, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.200

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/14/2014 |and| 08/13/2014

Last Name

Burrows

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Gerald

Occupation
Schools

South 8th Street

Arts High School

Philadelphia Museum College of Art

Fashion Institute of Technology

First Name

Stephen

Birth City, State, Country

Newark

HM ID

BUR26

State

New Jersey

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/15/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Short Description

Fashion designer Stephen Burrows (1943 - ) founded Stephen Burrows World at the Henri Bendel department store in New York City, and was one of five American designers showcased at the infamous 1973 benefit fashion show in Versailles, France.

Employment

Stephen Burrows / LTD

SBX Holdings LLC

Stephen Burrows, Inc.

Pat Tennant, Inc.

Amsale Aberra

Fashion designer Amsale Aberra was born on March 1, 1954 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her father, Aberra Moltot, was an Ethiopian diplomat and government minister; her mother, Tsadale Assamnew, a homemaker. In 1973, Aberra moved to Poultney, Vermont to study commercial art at Green Mountain College. She then moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she attended Boston State College (now known as the University of Massachusetts Boston) and received her B.A. degree in political science in 1981. She went on to earn her A.A. degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in 1982.

Upon graduation, Aberra was hired as a design assistant for Harve Benard, Ltd. Then, in 1985, when she was unable to find an elegant and understated gown for her own wedding, she founded the bridal gown company Amsale Aberra, Inc. As her business grew, and Amsale gowns began to sell in boutiques and upscale department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, she purchased two other wedding design lines, Christos and Kenneth Pool. In 1996, Aberra opened the Amsale flagship salon on New York’s Madison Avenue, and a year later, she launched the Amsale Evening Couture Collection. Aberra serves as co-founder, co-chief executive officer, and creative director of The Amsale Group, which includes the Amsale, Christos and Kenneth Pool labels.

Aberra’s wedding gowns have appeared in many films including Runaway Bride, Analyze This, American Wedding, 27 Dresses, When in Rome, and The Hangover, and on television shows such as Grey's Anatomy, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The View. She has also dressed numerous celebrities, including Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, Selma Blair, Salma Hayek, Katherine Heigl, Kristen Bell, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande and Hilaria Thomas.

Aberra is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and a trustee of the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has also served on the international advisory board of the Ethiopian Children's Fund, and was twice included on Ebony magazine's "Power 150" list of the 150 most influential African Americans.

Aberra and her husband, Neil Brown, live in Manhattan, New York City. They have one daughter, singer-songwriter Rachel Brown.

Amsale Aberra was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 17, 2014.

Aberra passed away on April 1, 2018.

Accession Number

A2014.162

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/17/2014

Last Name

Aberra

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Green Mountain College

University of Massachusetts Boston

Fashion Institute of Technology

First Name

Amsale

Birth City, State, Country

Addis Ababa

HM ID

ABE01

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

3/1/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

Ethiopia

Favorite Food

Hamburger

Death Date

4/1/2018

Short Description

Fashion designer Amsale Aberra (1954 - 2018 ) was the cofounder, co-CEO, and creative director of the Amsale Design Group, which included the Amsale, Christos and Kenneth Pool wedding gown labels.

Employment

Amsale Aberra LLC

Harve Benard

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2552,80:3016,85:4060,96:4524,101:15544,336:21460,414:21924,419:42560,616:50660,761:52100,787:52460,792:55880,842:60020,907:65240,1028:82612,1223:83308,1243:89920,1353:92269,1405:92878,1413:93400,1420:98359,1530:98968,1547:99577,1564:113786,1687:151547,2071:152321,2106:158771,2210:168645,2273:177091,2422:179872,2463:207366,2826:207802,2831:218300,2969:218986,2977:227610,3062:229374,3093:233914,3143:235240,3168:236800,3197:238126,3231:239610,3236$0,0:406,3:12418,256:21658,387:34498,478:34988,484:37046,509:37830,518:57750,770:58284,778:62734,859:71456,1013:76440,1087:90832,1233:94927,1303:95746,1313:98658,1343:99386,1351:123827,1771:124475,1779:133990,1872:138280,1927:182568,2382:188046,2550:200790,2692
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Amsale Aberra's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Amsale Aberra lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Amsale Aberra describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Amsale Aberra talks about her relationship with her father

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Amsale Aberra describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Amsale Aberra remembers her community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Amsale Aberra remembers the Menelik II School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Amsale Aberra talks about her early aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Amsale Aberra remembers immigrating to the United States

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Amsale Aberra describes her experiences at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Amsale Aberra recalls the start of the Ethiopian Civil War

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Amsale Aberra talks about her mother's efforts to reunite her family

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Amsale Aberra describes the Ethiopian refugee community in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Amsale Aberra remembers returning to Ethiopia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Amsale Aberra recalls her mother visiting for the first time in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Amsale Aberra remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Amsale Aberra describes her decision to attend Boston State College in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Amsale Aberra talks about her early relationship with her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Amsale Aberra recalls her early interest in clothing design

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Amsale Aberra remembers studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Amsale Aberra recalls her training at Harve Benard, Ltd.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Amsale Aberra describes the process of creating a sample garment

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Amsale Aberra recalls her promotion to design assistant at Harve Benard, Ltd.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Amsale Aberra recalls her husband's marriage proposal

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Amsale Aberra describes her wedding ceremony

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Amsale Aberra recalls her start as a bridal gown designer, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Amsale Aberra recalls her start as a bridal gown designer, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Amsale Aberra talks about her first bridal clients

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Amsale Aberra recalls receiving bridal gown orders from fashion editors

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Amsale Aberra recalls meeting Katharine Hepburn

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Amsale Aberra remembers the birth of her daughter

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Amsale Aberra talks about the operations of Amsale Aberra, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Amsale Aberra talks about her relationship with her clients

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Amsale Aberra remembers her exclusive contract with Kleinfeld Bridal

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Amsale Aberra recalls hiring Peter Schiffman

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Amsale Aberra describes her early fashion shows

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Amsale Aberra talks about the cost of custom fashion design

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Amsale Aberra describes Peter Schiffman's role at Amsale Aberra, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Amsale Aberra describes her bridal collections

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Amsale Aberra describes the growth of Amsale Aberra, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Amsale Aberra talks about her husband's decision to join Amsale Aberra, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Amsale Aberra describes her husband's role at Amsale Aberra, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Amsale Aberra remembers the design of the first Amsale Salon

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Amsale Aberra remembers designing a collection of eveningwear

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Amsale Aberra remembers designing dresses for film and television

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Amsale Aberra talks about designing her iconic wedding dress with a blue sash

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Amsale Aberra recalls the inspiration for the Kenneth Pool collection

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Amsale Aberra talks about the changes in the bridal industry

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Amsale Aberra describes the corporate structure of Amsale Aberra, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Amsale Aberra describes the office culture at Amsale Aberra, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Amsale Aberra talks about the acquisition of Christos

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Amsale Aberra recalls the sales growth of Amsale, Inc. in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Amsale Aberra recalls her appearance as a judge on 'Project Runway'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Amsale Aberra remembers appearing on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Amsale Aberra talks about her daughter

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Amsale Aberra recalls the impact of appearing on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Amsale Aberra remembers designing for the Lincoln Motor Company and 'Grey's Anatomy'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Amsale Aberra talks about her celebrity clientele

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Amsale Aberra recalls becoming a trustee of the Fashion Institute of Technology

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Amsale Aberra remembers her mother's death

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Amsale Aberra describes her preparations for a ready to wear collection

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Amsale Aberra talks about the 'Amsale Girls' reality show

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Amsale Aberra remembers designing a wedding dress for Hilaria Thomas Baldwin

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Amsale Aberra reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Amsale Aberra talks about her support from the Ethiopian and African American communities

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Amsale Aberra shares her advice to aspiring designers

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Amsale Aberra describes her design process

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Amsale Aberra talks about her signature design elements

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Amsale Aberra reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Amsale Aberra shares a message to Ethiopian immigrants

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

11$5

DATitle
Amsale Aberra recalls the start of the Ethiopian Civil War
Amsale Aberra recalls her start as a bridal gown designer, pt. 1
Transcript
So you're there a year [at Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont]; and then what happens at that point?$$Four months after I got here, revolution broke out in Ethiopia (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) That's right.$$And my dad [Aberra's stepfather, Aberra Moltot] became a political prisoner. So I, you know, can't pay my tuition. Went back to Boston [Massachusetts] when there were Ethiopian students and at that time, we all kids. There were just nobody older than us or younger than--now it's a whole, it's a very big community. So we were for all the students who were just pretty much stranded. We were just together and helping out and figuring it out and helping out, you know, to get job, so I went back and stayed. And it's probably one of my favorite time when at the same time as sad as my situation was but being with my friends in one room, it was still also very good, you know, good time of my life.$$All right. So talk about Amsale [HistoryMaker Amsale Aberra], that whole, how that had even happened. Your father had--was--had risen up in the government of Haile Selassie, right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm.$$And can you talk about the circumstances and you know what--why because the, because I have a, I have another friend, her name is Yemi. She goes by Yemi--but Priscilla Brown [Priscilla Sims Brown], but her mother, Mar- Marta [Marta Gabre-Tsadick], who has a project called Project Mercy [Project Mercy, Inc.] also--well, she had to leave the country in a hurry, you know, because of that but she had also been in the government of Haile Selassie.$$Yeah.$$So can you talk about, you know, what happened?$$I don't know what happened. I know that they were, you know, definitely they--high official, sixty people--they just massacred them almost, you know, just in a way. And my dad, I think the tie with Haile Selassie not very clear about it and they really didn't tell me exactly. They took him one day and for seven years he was, and he was one of the lucky one to get out. And what was so interesting, my father--it's become more religious in a way and more spiritual than--when I ask him and, you know, "How, you know, how did you deal with it?" How, you know, with, you know, unfairly just being in--with no, nothing that he had done. And he just--his simple answer was it was a change and it's inevitable, you know. People when there's a change there's, this is, this is what happens. So he's unique in many ways, you know. He just never, you know, he never just been a--bitter about it and moved--he got out and he moves on. He's eighty-three years old and a very amazing guy.$$That's amazing.$$Yeah.$$He sounds like Mandela [Nelson Mandela] (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) He's--I mean I hate to say, I mean I didn't wanna compare him with Man- he is that kind of person, just very, he gets it, you know, they did, they--that's what happen in--with the revolution and he moves on.$$All right. Because this is--what we're talking about is 1974 I think you--$$Yes, yes.$$--and there were riots and political unrest and people go and they're--$$Yeah.$$--you know, going after Haile Selassie and people, you know, a bunch of people are killed--$$Yeah.$$--you know.$So what about the dress then, so you're, you were looking around for your dress?$$So I was getting, you know, I always knew that I was gonna make my dress, no question. But for ideas, you know, you look at magazines and just for inspiration. And at that time everything seems to be really elaborate. You know, lots of beading, lots of ruffles, puffs. And what I wanted was something simple, so I ended up, I ended up just like you know what I made, I made my own dress, but right after my wedding, I keep thinking about it was just like can't be me the only one. I mean really if you really could go back on those dates if you look at those magazines, they just no simple thing that you can find at all. And, so I made my, so I call Neil [HistoryMaker Neil Brown] from my office and I have an idea. I have no business idea, I'm terrible in it. Never, never in my life thought I want to own anything. But I felt like this, like there's a need for it. And he asked me, "What should I do?" And he, and he said, "Well, first you need to know where, you know, how to talk to peop- people find you. So call the magazine." He did, usually he is very supportive of that because he'll take care of it and this time he just like, this is your fantasy, go ahead kind of thing and I, and I call, and I connected with this--Lillian. She's an African American woman which is a beautiful, you know. She also passed away. And she was the one who really just took me under her wing. And--$$So wait, you called the magazine?$$Yes. For how do, how do I advertise to say.$$So you called Modern--was--$$Modern Bride (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Bride--$$Modern Bride.$$--magazine and you--$$Mo- and the person who is a salesperson was Lillian Caldwell [ph.], which is an African American woman--$$Oh, my god.$$--and amazing. I mean she don't know how many times, so many times how she really guide me. And, so she found me a photographer and then to have an, to have my own ad. So I--we--photographer, find me a model. So we have this photo shoot, just me and this guy. So we took the picture and we went--I went to Ethiopia to for the second wedding. So the photograph came. I was so excited and did not even notice it and I call Lillian, "What do you think of the ad campaign, you know?" And when I call the company and I say, "What do you think of the picture?" And she said, "Well, good, but the model had a mustache," she say to me (laughter). It was like I say I mean in those days you have to do airbrush it, you know. And was just like my first, you know (laughter), ad and the girl had a mustache. So anyway, so she did, she did help me a lot to really set me up in that.