Updated: Oct 18, 2019

The Civil Rights Movement spearheaded the rise of models of color. African Americans reasserted their diasporic status through fashion and beauty. During 1967, the Algerian designer Yves Saint Laurent officially put Africa on the international fashion map with his “Africa collection,” which ultimately led to the reinterpretation of safari suits, tunics, kaftans, djellabahs, and turbans influencing each successive generation of designers. Laurent was also instrumental in introducing African and black models to the international catwalks in the 1960–70s, like Iman.

Queen Iman was originally presented as an illiterate tribeswoman who had been discovered herding cattle in the Sahara. Since the 1960s Western designers have continued to cherry-pick from Africa’s aesthetics.