May 7, 2015


Each time the public challenges a celebrity's status as a "role model", I think of my own.  When I look at people that had a fashion sense I admired as a child and teen, they seemed a bit closer to home.

Lady M: My Grandmother captured by me.
My Grandmother was my biggest fashion influence.  She was my shopping partner and I learned that there could be a simple elegance to dressing.  Looking back, I saw the difference between shopping and building a wardrobe.  She always went for classic.  It lasts.  I will also include my Mother, Auntie Diane and cousin Teri Lynn with her.  I think they all got the same lesson.

If I had to choose a celebrity, it would most certainly be Diahann Carroll.  Above all the singers and actresses I loved, she was the most memorable. I vividly remember her as Dominique Deveraux on Dynasty.  She. Was. Everything. And the she decided to be all that and more as Marion Gilbert on everybody's favorite, A Different World. It was both her style AND her presence that set her a part on both.

Always Elegant: Diahann Carroll
When I think of their hair, most often it was straight.  While I do remember them wearing braided styles and saw many women with natural hair, one who stood out to me would be Tempestt Bledsoe. We all adored "Denise" on The Cosby Show, but "Vanessa" held her own as she grew older.  I believe my closeness in age with the character caused her transition and style to have an impression on me.

Classic, Cool Vanessa: I'll take that hair length and tee.
The influence they did have on me was more inspiration than imitation.  Their confidence in their style choices gave me room to make my own.  When we offer our sisters, daughters and nieces the same space, we realize one thing: sometimes we hit the mark, sometimes we miss. But we find our own style.  And a bit of confidence along the way.  Perhaps reminding our young ones that it is the celebrity's confidence to make their own choices, not the choices they make, that is most important. The goodness of who they are will be reflected in the way they carry themselves when we position ourselves as role models, too.  Just like my Grandmother was for me.

Who were your fashion and hair influences growing up? I would love to know!

For fun, here's a perfect example of Diahann Carroll's style and presence. See the moment "shade" was invented here.

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