Black women. 

That’s it. That’s the sentence. 

When we talk about how many things in the world Black women should get the credit for, the list feels endless. For us millennials, seeing a lot of trends that we remember seeing the first time they made their rounds on across social media can be a fun trip down memory lane. But it can also remind us of just how many Black women did not get their flowers for styles and aesthetics they created. From making iconic haircuts to oversized clothes and cutout dresses, if there’s anything you think is fly right now, chances are a Black woman did it first. 

From names like Misa Hylton to cultural crossover queens like Vashtie and Fefe Dobson, the list of women who have influenced the style of today is one that holds a lot of style, grace, endless flair and, of course, beauty. 

Misa Hylton 

90s fashion seems to always be in, in one way or another, but right now so many of the styles are making a comeback—namely colored wigs, oversized clothes, leather and furs. But when we talk about the moments that influenced the era, Misa Hylton is a person we can thank for much of it. From her work with icons like Lil' Kim, Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, Missy Elliot, Foxy Brown and others, Misa created an aesthetic that was so effortlessly fly, we’re still trying to recreate it decades later. Her own style can be named as a muse for the undisputed legend, as she is still seen rocking things that are timeless nods to the era in fashion history that she helped to usher in.

Fefe Dobson

Grunge has definitely found its way back to the closets of many an angsty teen and fashion forward twenty something year-olds but it was Fefe Dobson who dared to be different at a time when most Black women were being relegated to pop, soul or r&b. Dobson was a pioneer in creating music that spoke to who she was and dared to rebel against what the industry expected from Black women in music. As the TRL generation will remember, FeFe Dobson was a cultural juggernaut and her style was one that gave Black girls who needed someone to see themselves in a place to call home. She is credited by many, as the woman who helped to usher in a more edgy pop image that would be duplicated by stars like Rihanna and Keri Hilson. 

Vashtie Kola

Whether you know Vashtie from her Djing days or from the hold she had on Tumblr, you know why no list about pioneers of the style trends of today is complete without her on it. Widely known as “downtown’s sweetheart”, there was a time where if you wanted to know what or who was fly, all you had to do was keep an eye on Vashtie. The filmmaker, DJ and creative director has always been a step ahead of everyone else. Her signature play with androgynous looks and a sneaker collection to envy can be seen in every streetwear inspired collection. When the girlies were opting for the sexy and low-rise fashions of the early 00s, Vashtie was rocking dunks and skateboard tees—and was the dream girl of all the boys in the game. She became the first woman to design her own Air Jordan back in 2015. And she continues to set trends as the legendary it girl tied the knot in a floor-length, lace-embellished durag. 

Mel B aka Scary Spice

Let’s get into it. Holding it down as the only person of color in the mega famous group Spice Girls, Mel B remains one of the pioneers of style. From her louder than life animal print fashions to her sexy, belly-baring crop tops, our girl from across the pond did not miss. Catch her influences in Gen Z’s love for flair pants, platform sneakers and bikini tops under deep plunge bodysuits. And for the millennial style girls, mid-length leather jackets set off with curly fro styles are all the rage. 

Rihanna

Though much will be discussed about where the Bad Gal’s influences stem from, it cannot be denied how influential she has been in fashion. Now with her maternity looks, Rihanna has once again found a way to broaden her style reach. Expectant moms are pulling out the stops to bare their growing bellies and feeling ok with adorning them in sexy and stylish looks. Rihanna’s looks run the gamut from streetwear to red carpet assassin but you can clearly see her influence across social media. 

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