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This African American designer transformed fashion for curvy black women in the 1900s


This African American designer transformed fashion for curvy black women in the 1900s


When you look up the names of the top 50 designers in the world, you will see the likes of Coco Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Donatella Versace, Christian Dior; not a single black face, and definitely not that of Zelda Christian Valdes, the African-American designer and seamstress who gave birth to fitting clothes for curvy women. Yet, Valdes ideas are seen in the works of many designers after her time, even permeating to some of today’s classics wears, such as the beloved bodycon or ‘freakum’ dress.

Although many people do not know her, Valdes was both a fashion and costume designer, making clothes for many female icons of the 1900s and designing the infamous playboy bunny costume at the request of the owner, Hugh Hefner. Her ability to do both was indeed a rarity of her time, making her the go-to designer for any woman who wanted to turn heads in “one-of-a-kind freakum dress”.

Valdes was born, Zelda Christian Barbour, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. She learned how to sew from …



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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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