This from today’s Times, on African diasporan designers such as Archel Bernard  and Kyemah McEntyre are embracing and celebrating their culture through prom dresses that highlight African patterns and color sensibilities.

Julie Cheeks, a 17-year-old high school senior from Providence, R.I., chose a stylized West African pattern on a crimson ground to wear to her prom last week. “I wanted to show my culture,” said Ms. Cheeks, who is Liberian. “I wanted my classmates to get a taste of what African style looks like.”

They are two in a new breed of style stars killing it on prom night, as their peers might say, by showing off dresses that are as brash and sexy as they are original.

More often than not, their red carpet is Instagram, where, grouped under hashtags like #blackgirlmagic and #blackgirlsrock, they celebrate their fashion sense, and their heritage, in kaleidoscopically colorful African prints.

Until recently, “African style, it wasn’t cool,” said Ms. Bernard, the designer. It’s cool now, she maintained, expressive of a sociocultural shift that’s been years in the making.

“The trend stems today from the larger culture of black women embracing themselves and their beauty,” said Veronica Wells, an associate editor of MadameNoire, a web-based style guide for young black women. Once on that path, Ms. Wells said, “you start wanting to investigate your roots and your background, and start distancing yourself from a strictly European standard of beauty.”

Read the full article here.

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