Tracee Ellis Ross returned to the stage of the American Music Awards as the host of the show for the second year in a row. This time, she was ready to make a statement with the 10 outfit changes she had lined up and the designers behind them.
In the beginning of the show, Ross announced that she would be seen wearing clothes by only black designers throughout the evening and crediting them for the looks on her Twitter account. The star of Black-ish put the spotlight on a group of talented creators, from high-fashion names like Virgil Abloh and Olivier Rousteing to the lesser-known designer Dèshon.
Ross’s red carpet look was a pink power suit designed by Pyer Moss founder Kerby Jean-Raymond. The menswear and womenswear label is known for embracing the designer’s heritage and displaying activism on its runways. Most recently, models were seen wearing T-shirts with political statements on the spring-summer ’19 catwalk, such as “Stop calling 911 on the culture.” Fans of Ross responded to the look, saying that it was a powerful way to start the night.
Dapper Dan x Gucci
For her show-stopping performance and monologue, the actress changed into a tight-fitting sequined jumpsuit accessorized with a cape created by Dapper Dan and Gucci. The collaboration between the Harlem-based designer and the Italian luxury brand launched in 2017, propelling Daniel Day into the mainstream. Still, Dapper Dan’s Boutique and atelier remain in the designer’s original neighborhood of Harlem.
Deeming herself a “Golden Girl,” Ross appeared on the stage in a reflective gold dress featuring sheer panels along her legs. Designer CD Greene is known for incorporating his passion for sculpture into each of his pieces. His designing process starts by sitting with his customer one-on-one with a pad and a pencil.
By wearing an “I am a voter” shirt — a collaboration between When We All Vote and Ross’s stylist Karla Welch — the actress was already making a statement. However, it was also paired perfectly with her standout red skirt by Bronx-native Shanel Campbell. The Parsons graduate recently told WWD that she had “a vision of how I want to see black women in more artistic roles.” Campbell says she is working toward that goal with the design of her pieces.
Ross’s biggest outfit of the night was a one-shoulder tulle gown designed by Virgil Abloh, who came onto the scene when he founded Milan-based fashion house Off-White in 2013. However, he made history when he became the first black artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection in 2018. Now, the native Chicago designer is world-renowned.
The show’s host turned heads when she stepped out in an all-cheetah number, rocking the print from head to toe, courtesy of Sergio Hudson. Complete with gloves and a beret, the ensemble provided the power, sexiness, elegance, and class that the black designer aims to exude through each of his pieces — although Ross herself joked that she was “totally blending in.”
Ross’s printed mermaid gown was made by native Cameroon designer Claude Kameni, who found a passion for art and fashion while living in Central Africa before fine-tuning her skills when she relocated to America. Most of her designs for her line, LavieByCK, are inspired by the bold patterns on the fabric she uses.
Slipping into something fit for a black-tie occasion, Ross appeared onstage in a sequined Balmain dress by Olivier Rousteing. Alongside Virgil Abloh, Rousteing became one of a handful of black designers to lead a major storied fashion house when he became the creative director of Balmain in 2011 at the age of 25.
Lending her platform to lesser-known designers as well, Ross stunned in a cobalt trench dress by recent Parsons graduate Dèshon. After Ross wore one of the young designer’s pieces during her recent appearance on The Talk, Dèshon still has fewer than 1,000 followers on Instagram — although that’s likely to change with her upcoming collection called No Graceland, especially if Ross is wearing it. Twitter followers have already responded to the look, saying, “I want one!”
Ross closed out the show in a red off-the-shoulder jumpsuit by Cushnie designer Carly Cushnie. The brand, founded in 2008, has become widely recognized for creating feminine and modern silhouettes. In addition to Ross, Cushnie also dresses influential women such as Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Gal Gadot, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jennifer Lopez.
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