Black Fashion in 1969: A Tribute to Mad Men

I’ve written about my genuine love and raw disappointment with Mad Men, time, time, and time again. I’ve sung its praises and hollered my disappointment in its whitening of the 60s, in addition to its tasteless underrepresentations of people of color. I’ve learned to expect a lack of genuine representation of people who look like me on Mad Men, just as a fatherless child learns to expect Daddy to never call. But instead of pouting about it, I’ve been preparing for tonight’s premier by doing what Matthew Weiner and Co. should have done.  I’ve been celebrating the history and visual righteousness of Black people in 1969 (the year that season 7 left us in last Spring), and I invite you to join me.

In 1969, Supermodel Naomi Sims demonstrated that Black is both beautiful and fierce by serving as Life Magazine's covergirl.
In 1969, Supermodel Naomi Sims demonstrated that Black is both beautiful and fierce by serving as Life Magazine’s covergirl.
In this same issue of Life Magazine, Black models of all hues were featured, demonstrating Black beauty and style.
In this same issue of Life Magazine, Black models  were featured, demonstrating Black beauty and style.
Miriam Makeba was effortlessly chic ’til the day she died.

Check out Aretha Franklin looking glamorous and chic as she prepares to go onstage in 1969.

Jimi Hendrix did what he wanted, how he wanted, when he wanted, and his approach to fashion was no different. Fashion was an extension of his music– colorful, layered, and eccentric.
Kathleen Cleaver was and continues to be intelligent, political, and fashionable.
#ThatHairTho I think this ad is supposed to be for Noxema, but all I see is the beautiful diversity of Black hairstyles. Black women’s hair has always been a part of our “outfit”/ our style. Our hair doesn’t make us, but even if we’re bald, it ads to our flyness.

As Mad Men ends an era,  I daydream of a rich story involving a P.O.C. , but, again, I’m going to be realistic by accepting the white limitations of Mad Men. For 45 minutes, I’ll allow myself to get swept away into their White fairyland where P.O.C’s stand in the backdrop of the privileged worlds of Madison Avenue, where Joan and Pete are trying to make a cool million, where Betty’s trying her hand at conservative feminism, where Roger’s trying to never grow up, and where Don’s searching for sanity in the midst of his own chaos. But when I step out of the Mad world of make believe, thanks to the likes of Nina Simone, I’ll remember what was really going on in 1969: Revolution.

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