“Styling” also honors the oft-unheralded contributions of Black women in Phenomenal Black Womanists (2020), a video by Dianne Smith. Smith, a Bronx native of Belizean descent, pays homage to both famous and everyday Black women, including her mother Merva Goldson, who donned an afro when she worked as a showroom model in the 1970s. The video, which features personal photographs, video clips, and archival materials dating back to the Harlem Renaissance, includes images from the Black Fashion Museum in Harlem and Ebony Magazine Fashion Fair, both of which elevated the work of Black designers and images of Black women at a time when mainstream representation was virtually nonexistent.
Taken as a whole, “Styling” is an extraordinary foray into the spirit of Black style, revealing the integral interplay between art, fashion, culture, and identity. Here, self-expression becomes a political act that demands to be seen, heard, and recognized as one of the greatest creative forces on earth.