‘Icons of Style’ Exhibit in Houston Shows the WOC Who Greatly Influenced Fashion

Houston, TX is known for its melting pot of ethnicities as it trail blazes ahead offering travelers a mecca of entertainment options to choose from. Most recently, the Bayou City debuted its newest exhibit to hit the town —“Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography,” at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFAH). With over 200 photographs on display now through September 22nd, the exhibit showcases an impactful timeline of fashion photography as it unfolds over the century. “Icons of Style” not only chronicles the trends in fashion over the past century, it also reflects broader cultural shifts. From aristocratic aspirations to the rough and tumble of street style, from Hollywood stars to supermodels, from the Black Is Beautiful movement to the globalism of today — fashion photography has often defined the ways we see ourselves.” said Gary Tinterow, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Below are 15 photographs of women of color that stand out at this exhibit for their impact on the fashion world.


Selena was definitely a trendsetter back in the day with her fashionista sense of style that captivated audiences around the world. Her beaded bustiers along with her own collection of one-of-kind outfits definitely earned her a coveted spot among the “Icons of Style” in this exhibit. In this particular photo, you see her wearing her trademark bustier along with her beaded hat she often wore at concerts. It’s no wonder the “Queen of Tejano” would be among the historic photos highlighting her style that took the fashion world by storm. Towards the end of the exhibit, you even get your chance to strike a pose like Selena in front of the same background the Museum has set up.

Las Hermanas Padilla

Among the early 20th Century were some iconic Latinas that made their mark on the world with not only their beautiful music but they also captivated the fashion world with their style and grace. One of these favorite photos to come across was that of Las Hermanas Padilla. “Las Hermanas Padilla, sometimes billed as the Andrew Sisters of Mexican music due to their pitch-perfect harmonies, was one of the most popular and prolific Mexican vocal duets of the 1930s and ’40s,” shared Frontera Library UCLA. In this photo, you find them in beautiful, flowing dresses with an intricate pattern that just catches your eye as you pass by.


Our beloved “Queen B” Beyoncé made the wall of fashion icons among the exhibit with her historic Vogue cover. This photo is stunning to see in person and really takes your breath away with the depth of its colors. Besides the eye-catching attire, what she shared in her Vogue interview is also impactful. “I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies. That is why I stripped away the wigs, hair extensions, and used little makeup for this shoot.” Could not tell either way if she had makeup as she radiates beauty from this photo.

Cardi B

Of course, Cardi B and all her glory would be among the fashion icons in this exhibit. The title of this photograph is Cardi B Unity as you can see it running down her arm in the photo. Those shoes, that dress, that perfect hair makes that green crate look stylish. According to her Instagram, this photo is by a photographer known as the “Warhol of Marrakech” and the photo is part of a group show called “African Spirits” at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City. It definitely stops you in your tracks among the other photos in the exhibit as it stands out among the crowd just like  Cardi B does in real life.


What a refreshing photo to come across from the talented and rising star we all love Awkwafina. A showstopper among the photos in the exhibit as they highlight an issue of Vanity Fair she posed for. Just a simple yellow raincoat that exuberates with her personality and makes you want to start singing her praises in rain. This talented young actress is turning heads everywhere she goes. Who could forget her in Crazy Rich Asians as that crazy friend we all wish we had. Most recently, you can catch her in the heartwarming movie The Farewell.

China Machado

Talk about striking a pose with flair! This photo is titled China Machado, Evening Pajamas by Galitzine, London, October. Born in Shanghai, China, Machado was the first Asian model who captivated photographers. She became one of the most requested runway models in the 50’s, according to an article by fashionsizzle.com. A stunning photo full of elegance and style to come across. She definitely made her mark among the fashion world and broke barriers for women of color but there were limits in that day and age because according to the article she was considered “special” which translated to being “Asian.” She definitely earns a spot among these fashion icons.

Diana Ross

It was so exciting coming across such a legendary artist of our time such as Diana Ross among the photographs in the exhibit. I could hear her songs playing in my head as I gazed at the beauty of this photo. A true Motown legend of our time. Not only will her music live on forever in our hearts but the style with which she graced the stage can be clearly seen here in this photo. Not shown here but her Iconic hairstyle is just as impactful as her fashion sense. A timeless beauty that still commands the stage today at 75.

Dolores Del Rio

The grandmother of all photos and another favorite to come across among the early 20th Century fashion icons. A Latina trailblazer with a career in film, television, and theater that spanned over 50 years. Known as the first Latin American crossover star in Hollywood according to Wikipedia. “The heiress and First Lady of the High Mexican Society.” The original triple threat sensation as she was a singer, dancer, and actor. She radiates with grace and style and captures your attention with not only her fashionista style here but her captivating beauty she was known for and clearly shines through in this photo. 

Riviera Bad Girls, L.A.

Perhaps the most impactful photo to come across was that of the Riviera Bad Girls circa 1983. An iconic photo of three members of the El Hoyo Maravilla gang of East Los Angeles. Impactful not because they were famous or well-known but because of their everyday presence and style that was center stage during that time period. Their pressed jeans, hoop earrings, signature eyebrows and feathered bangs all symbolic of the street-style of that generation. A fashion trend that influenced Latinas across the world who still wear their hoop earrings proudly, including this HipLatina writer. A refreshing photo-documenting such an important part of the Latino culture many grew up with.

Eku Edewor

Ever heard of Nollywood? This beautiful portrait of Eku Edewor a British actress, television presenter, and model takes your breath away with its impeccable fashion flare. She is well-known among the Nigerian Film Industry known as Nollywood. “Eku Edewor styles are some of the most gorgeous styles in the history of modern fashion. These styles are absolutely amazing on her.” shared an article by FabWoman. It’s clear by this photo in the exhibit that Eku is the epitome of a fashionista with a style we can all admire and would love to replicate. Definitely, one of the most gorgeous photos to see.

Josephine Baker

This photo of Josephine Baker inspires a whimsical and fun fashion style among those in the exhibit that shows through her playful expression in this picture. “She was the first African-American to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics,” according to Wikipedia. “Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.” She was beloved in France and known for a voluptuous banana dance she did in a performance called La Folie du Jour, which has been slated as the stuff legends are made of.

Women of Color Modeling Group

Among the over 200 photos, this group shot of women of color circa 1966 showcases one of the many modeling groups that had started to embrace natural hairstyles in the 1960s as shared by MFAH. A perfect example of the “Black is Beautiful” movement that is seen through an entire section dedicated to this slogan among the exhibit. This is just one photo highlighting the impact of the fashion style that began rising and making a name for itself among the ranks of the fashion photography world during that time. The photo captures the essence of the various styles each model is wearing making a strong statement about the movement.

Solange Knowles

Also among the icons of style photos is a portrait of Solange Knowles, sister to Beyoncé. A beautiful image that speaks for itself. Strong, bold, eye-catching, and fits right in with the impressive lineup of artists showcased throughout the exhibit. The singer, songwriter, producer, and actress has an eccentric and an eye-catching fashion sense as can be seen throughout her Instagram account. This particular photo in the exhibit is just one shining example of that exquisite fashionista in her that makes a statement among the fashion world. There’s definitely a lot to admire from the headpiece to the boots that all comes together in one beautiful photo.

Salt N’ Pepa

Salt N’ Pepa’s here and there in the house tonight! There’s not one photo that emulates a generation more than this iconic photo of the beloved hip-hop girl group from 1985. A photo for the century that takes you back to a very distinct and historic moment in time. Not only did their music resonate with an entire generation of 80’s kids, but their style as seen in this photo definitely made a statement in the fashion world and the signs of the time. A larger than life photo that stands apart from the rest making its mark in the world of fashion highlighted in this exhibit.

W Magazine Defy Photo

This photo titled “W Magazine Defy” is a melting pot of style. The models in their bold and daring looks highlight a change among the fashion scene. The crop tops, the big belt, the hairstyles just blends nicely for an intriguing photo to gaze upon at the exhibit. A stand-out among the iconic photos seen throughout. “Towards the end of the 20th century, fashion photography shifted its attention to the streets. Responding to the economic downturn and Seattle-based grunge movement, haute couture, and fashion houses incorporated the popular trends of street fashion into their designs.” shares MFAH. This particular photo is a great example of that trend.

The “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography,” is at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts through September 22nd so you still have time to come see for yourself some of the breathtaking photos that have captured the attention of the fashion world one iconic photo at a time.

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