Tracee Ellis Ross Puts Racial Inclusivity Front and Center With AMAs Fashion Choices
All of the looks by black designers she wore throughout the awards show.
AMAs host and producer Tracee Ellis Ross is putting inclusiveness front and center with her fashion choices for tonight’s American Music Awards.
The Blackish actress announced on social media that she will be wearing looks by all-black designers tonight “for the culture,” she captioned on Instagram. She started on the red carpet with a pink suit by Pyer Moss, the activist fashion label founded five years ago by New York-based African-American designer Kerby Jean-Raymond.
After taking on themes of police brutality and racism in previous collections, Jean-Raymond made headlines in June when he dressed Issa Rae for the CFDA Awards in a sparkling blue jumpsuit with a belt reading "Every N— Is a Star." He also dressed NFL player turned racial equality activist Colin Kaepernick for the cover of GQ in a custom shirt listing the names of unarmed victims killed by the police.
The belt, the designer told me at the time, was inspired by the cultural phenomenon he's observed of black people often being depicted as tragic figures. "We never talk about who they love, people with their children and their love for their families. It's always a tragic figure or as firsts — first black man to do this, first black person to do this — but what about just a bus driver?" he says. "We don't have to be Jay-Z, we don't have to be Kerby Jean-Raymond, we don't have to be Issa Rae, we can just be who we are and just exist and we're still superstars in our own rights, no matter what we do."
That spirit carried over into the spectacular spring 2019 collection he showed during New York Fashion Week in September at the historic neighborhood of Weeksville, home of one of the first free black communities in the U.S. The inspiration was finding beauty in the every day lives of African Americans. "What does a mundane Saturday look like when we're just left alone? What is black leisure wear?" the designer explained backstage.
Diversity and inclusiveness are shaping up to trends on the Hollywood red carpet this season, with Britain-born Chinese actress Gemma Chan, who stars as fashionista Astrid in Jon M. Chu's Crazy Rich Asians, choosing clothing and accessories by designers of Asian heritage for every stop of the film's press tour, including French/Chinese/American Joseph Altuzarra; Taiwanese-American Jason Wu; Oscar de la Renta's Laura Kim, who is Korean American; and Jimmy Choo, the British shoe brand whose namesake co-founder is Malaysian.
At the Emmys, Tiffany Haddish wore a Prabal Gurung multicolored striped gown designed to resemble the Eritrean flag (in honor of her late father's heritage).
When Ross took the stage Monday night, she started out by sending another political message, wearing a red Shanel Campbell skirt with a "I Am a Voter" T-shirt designed by the Hollywood-backed nonpartisan Civic Culture Coalition and stylist Karla Welch to encourage viewers to vote in the midterm elections.
See all of her VMAs looks below.