The Blackest Moments from the Met Gala 2019 Red Carpet

Let’s be real; The first Monday in May might be the biggest day of the year for fashion, but it’s never been the most diverse. This year that all changed with the amount of sheer blackness that was present on the Met Gala red carpet, topping anything we’ve seen in the event’s 71-year history. 

This year’s theme, “Camp: Notes on Fashion”, refers to the freedom that stems from fashion that is highly exaggerated, theatrical and ostentatious. Needless to say that when it comes to unapologetic forms of expression as a means for liberation, black people can clearly relate. Making room for more black designers than the Met Gala has ever seen and sending subtle nods to some of the most influential black artists of our generation, the biggest black celebs in fashion and entertainment showed up and showed OUT to interpret Camp Culture from the black perspective. With all this blackness present, we’re hopeful that it signals a new era for diversity at the Met Gala for years to come. Here’s our roundup of the best & blackest moments from the 2019 Met Gala red carpet:

Big Freedia & Ciara Twerk to Bounce Music on the Met Museum Steps

If you thought that twerking couldn’t make history, you better ask Big Freedia and Ciara. The Queen of bounce music and the Princess of Crunk kicked off the evening’s festivities with a gold ‘ole NOLA-style twerk session to Big Freedia’s single ‘Play.’  This was a huge moment for the culture in more ways than one, especially considering that camp culture is hugely inspired by Queer P.O.C. who are often excluded from the mainstream narrative. Add in Ciara’s epic afro puffs and you’ve got the blackest Met Gala entrance of all time.

Everything’s Gucci: Dapper Dan Dresses Regina Hall, Ashley Graham & Bevy Smith

IT’S ABOUT TIME! Pioneer of streetwear fashion Dapper Dan finally made his debut on the Met Gala red carpet, swagging out five celebrities in his pieces including Regina Hall, Ashley Graham, Bevy Smith, 21 Savage and Omari Hardwick.

Bevy Smith went ALL black for the occasion, wearing a cape by Dapper Dan, a gown by Kimberly Goldson, shoes by Tiannia Barnes, and a crown by Anthony Maxwell.

Lena Waithe Rolls Up in a ‘Zoot Suit’ by Pyer Moss

Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean Raymond is never one to be subtle in sending a pro-black message through his designs. This year’s Met Gala was no different, as he showed up with his date Lena Waithe in matching zoot suits. Not only were their zoot suits a nod to a treasured camp staple in African American communities, but their pinstripes were made up of lyrics from their favorite black musical artists including Tupac, Nipsey Hussle, Thelma Houston and Diana Ross. Black jewelry designer Johnny Nelson designed the custom gold sculpture portrait buttons and black power fist cuff links for both suits.

To top it all off, the back of Lena Waithe’s blazer read ‘Black Drag Queens Inventend Camp’ while Kerby Jean-Raymond’s read ‘Fix Your Credit, Pool Money, Buy Back the Block.’ Message, received.

Pyer Moss also dressed Lala Anthony in a money-themed dress that had her in her bag, plus Colin Kaepernick whose look was inspired by Ghanaian, Egyptian and Nigerian traditional garb.

Tracee Ellis Ross Brings it Back to Harlem with her Lorraine O’ Grady Inspired Look

Tracee took the quote "One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art” literally in the inspiration for this year’s Met Gala. Her look was inspired by black artist Lorraine O’ Grady’s performance piece, ‘Art is,’ where she positioned blackness as art by holding up gold frames to onlookers who attended the 1983 African American Day parade in Harlem.

Lupita Nyongo Lets Her Flow Glow with Gold Afro Picks

There were so many natural hair moments on the Met Gala red carpet, but Lupita’s might have been the most special. Her elaborate fro, decked out with gold ‘black power’ picks, was inspired by a self-portrait created by Lauren Kelley entitled “Pickin.’” The hairstyle, which was executed by Vernon François and hairstylist Sharif Poston, was designed as the ultimate celebration of black beauty.

Aurora James Wants You to Rethink How You View Camp

While everybody else tried to dazzle on the red carpet with gowns made of man made materials, Brother Vellies designer Aurora James came through with an entirely nuanced perspective. In Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay, “Camp: Notes on Fashion,’ she states that nothing in nature can be campy. Aurora James challenged this notion by donning a Swahili-inspired look made entirely of all-natural materials, asserting that Sontag’s notion eliminated black culture -- and specifically groups with limited access to man made synthetic materials--from this important narrative.

Tiffany Haddish & Kelela Walker Play Homage to Black Music & Film

You can’t have a ‘Camp’ themed Met Gala without a Pimp Named Slickback making an appearance. Tiffany Haddish came through and made it happen by donning a self-proclaimed ‘Pimperalla’ sequined  suit and matching hat to the Met Gala red carpet. She fully committed to her character by carrying fried chicken in her bag, trolling us all by playing into this popular (and triggering) black stereotype.

(Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

(Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

Meanwhile, actress KiKi Layne channeled the Notorious B.I.G. by sporting Gucci leggings that read “Gucci Down to the Socks” under her Gucci gown. And if you’re wondering, yes, she was wearing Gucci socks.

If there’s anything we can learn from this year’s Met Gala red carpet, it’s how integral black people have been to Camp culture. It’s about time we get that credit, and thanks to all of the black creatives who showed out this year, we did.

4 ‘Homecoming' Moments When Beyonce Made Her BLACK GIRL MAGIC Known

In true royal fashion, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter made the world stop on April 17th when she released her Netflix documentary, “Homecoming.” The two-hour long concert film gave us a rare behind-the-scenes look into Beyonce’s history-making Coachella 2018 performance as the first black woman to ever headline the festival which is a #blackgirlmagic worthy moment in itself.

Queen Bey managed to outdo herself yet again with this critically-acclaimed performance as she took us along for a triumphant look back at the highlights of her 22-year career, pieced together with high energy percussions, and unapologetic expressions of black pride. We also got a  look behind the curtains to see not only how relatable she is, but how deeply connected she is to her black identity, and she wants all of us to be, too.

Bey’s performance  put our culture front and center stage while igniting conversations evoking how important it is for us  to celebrate the magic in who we are. Here are our four favorite ways that ‘Homecoming’ made us all rejoice in our Black Girl Magic.

BEYONCE IS UNAPOLOGETICALLY PROUD OF HER BLACKNESS

As the documentary jumps from clips of Queen Bey slaying the stage to the nitty gritty of her behind-the scenes rehearsals, we learn more about the true motivations and intentions behind her performance. One of the first things she makes clear is that the number of performers on stage wasn’t solely intended to create grandeur; rather, her goal was to showcase how dynamic, multifaceted, and beautiful black culture actually is.

The amount of swag is just limitless. The things that these young people can do with their bodies and the music they can play, the drum rolls and the haircuts and the bodies...it’s just not right, it’s just so much damn swag. It’s just gorgeous and it makes me proud.

BEYONCE WANTS BLACK EXCELLENCE CENTER STAGE

When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture.

During ‘Homecoming,’ Beyonce reveals that she always wanted to attend an  HBCU, and how big of an impact Battle of the Bands made on her childhood. She recreated this safe haven, comradery, and fraternal spirit of HBCUs by creating her own sorority, Beta Delta Kappa, on the Coachella stage.

I wanted all of these different characters and I wanted it to feel the way I felt when I went to Battle of the Bands because I grew up seeing those shows and them being the highlight of my year.

And she was sure to include so many other forms of black excellence into her performance -- from classic black line dancing songs like ‘Before I Let Go,’ to popular black dances like her sturdy milly rock, and quotes from some of the most prominent black thinkers, leaders and activists in history including Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde  and Maya Angelou.

BEYONCE FEELS THE PRESSURE OF BEING A STRONG BLACK WOMAN TOO

Beyonce gets candid about her unexpected pregnancy with her twins Rumi and Sir, her c-section, and her struggles to once again feel comfortable in her own body after giving birth. She also gets real about struggling with work life balance and fighting to give her all to every part of her life, leaving her with little left for herself.

There were days that I thought I’d never be the same, I’d never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same.

All the while, we witness Beyonce endure over 8 months of rehearsals to produce a performance that doesn’t just speak to black excellence, but to the strength of the undervalued and underrepresented black woman in America.

As a black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box...I wanted us to be proud of not only the show, but the process. Proud of the struggle. Thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history and rejoice in the pain, rejoice in the imperfection and the wrongs that are so damn right.

BEYONCE WANTS BLACK PEOPLE TO GET IN FORMATION

Using marching bands and sorority & fraternity life as the heartbeat of her performance, it’s evidently clear that unity is the takeaway message that Beyonce wants to tell us. Not only do these groups showcase unity in the synergy of their movements and musical instrumentation, but they show it in the hard work and dedication behind-the-scenes that makes the magic of their performance possible.

I know the importance of us feeling like we’re apart of something, and like we’re being spoken to; like it’s it worth it. We all performed with all of our hearts and we performed with love and connection; and we did it together.

Queen Bey has returned to her throne and is proving why she’s so deserving of it by spreading positive affirmations of blackness through what might be one of her biggest performances to date. It’s clear that her ‘Homecoming’ performance was a direct address to black women and the black community as a whole, and we heard her message loud and clear.















Find Your Inner Cowgirl with the Yeehaw Agenda Trend

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Black people have always had the horses in the back; Lil Nas X just made sure that the rest of the world knew that. While history books may tell us differently, black people are deeply rooted and essential to the history of cowboy culture. As the infamous @theyeehawagenda Instagram page will show you, our black superstars have used fashion as a way to reclaim our space in cowboy history since as early as the 1990s.

Lately the yeehaw agenda has experienced a huge resurgence in black culture. Regarded by art critic and writer Antwaun Sargent as “chic and thriving,” the trend has exploded online in large part to black designers like Pyer Moss and Telfar,  Solange’s latest project When I Get Home, and even Lil Nas X’s controversial country hit single Old Town Road. From fashion editorials to the Indio dessert and even major red carpets, black fashionistas are making a cultural statement and channeling their Southern roots by incorporating cowboy aesthetic into their style.

Take some notes from these style mavens on how to put your own flare to the trending yeehaw agenda movement.

THE SOUTHERN BELLES

Solange Knowles

Kelly Rowland

THE FESTIVAL BABES

Megan the Stallion

La La Milan

THE FASHION KILLAS

Make Up Shayla

Aaliyah Jay

Kahlani Barfield

Cardi B & Hennessy

Celebrity Hair Hacks- Broke Girl Edition

Celebrities have a way of setting the trends we fawn over and styles that we have sacrificed our financial futures for.  

Let me just ask: how many of you have skipped a monthly student loan payment and got $300 curly hair bundles instead? Or have overdrawn their checking account to shop all the new 5 to 10 SheaMoisture products at Duane Reade?

Celebrities may have it all but everything they wear is open to be copied by girls like us who admire them. The following hairstyles were originally worn by celebrity black girl magic but we’ve hijacked it for ourselves. So as you scroll through the list, take note… and take as many screenshots as you can to save for later.

Cost to Copy: $120-$230

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Faux Locs like these take 2 to 5 hours to complete, depending on the length. They are however amazing alternatives to crochet braids, individual braids or Senegalese twists, especially if you want the loc’d look without the commitment or maintenance. Scalp care is just as important though, so don’t wear these past 3-4 weeks.

Cost to Copy: $50-$70

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This is the most affordable yet low maintenance hairstyle that ultra busy gals like me could consider looking into: the ultra short hair with a fade.  Picture having not to twist your hair every night, sift through tangles or worry about styling every morning! This style may as well be called “Time Saver” because of all the time you will save looking cute and sophisticated without even being bothered to even think about it.

Cost to Copy: $140-$275

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Installing a dual-toned short bob wig or weave such as the one Tyra is rocking has got to be a splurge so make sure you shop around for more affordable options. This hairstyle’s length provides a mature, professional appearance that any power woman could make a bold statement with, no matter what room she’s in.

Cost to Copy: Free!

This is a fabulous Updo that is easy to copy, gorgeous and stress-free. It looks amazing on any hair type and is highly customizable. On top of that it’s a nice protective style that is as easy to take down as it is to go up! This is a lazy girl’s prayer completely answered.

Cost to Copy: $50 to $100

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This Updo requires additional hair to achieve the robust bun at the top and a pro may be needed for optimal results. However, it can’t be all that difficult for you or a friend to install it if you have the right amount of bobby pins keeping it all together. This style can be an everyday go-to or a last minute up-do to a fancy dinner or event. Pull it all together with bold jewelry and watch the world collectively turn their heads when you enter a room.

Cost to Copy: $85-$125 (haircut + color)

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Now, very few women can pull of any Rihanna look, much less a hairstyle, but if you’re brave and looking for a drastic change don’t be limited to a mohawk with red hair (just sayin’). The sky's the limit as far as how bold or muted you’d like it.

Cost to Copy: Free - $50

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The space buns Janelle Monae is wearing are messy enough to do them yourself and get away with! Make sure you leave some stray side hairs to frame around your face for an ethereal look and 25 to 30 light-colored pins to decorate each bun with.

These hairstyles were not only once worn by celebrities but they are also easy enough to recreate and make your own. Whether or not you use a stylist is up to you; most of these looks can be done with the right tools, additional hair and arm strength. *wink*  Enlisting the help of some friends could actually be helpful, plus you could use the time spent to catch up with gossip or watch the latest episode of Grown-ish.  Once you’re done, act like a celebrity and post those selfies girl!

Happy hair- hacking!

K,

Elsa A.