Of Another Fashion

An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color

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This is my mother, Barbara Taylor Jewell, who passed away on November 2, 2011. The photo was taken at a dance held by Delta Sigma Theta (my mother’s sorority) and their “brother” fraternity Omega Psi Phi at Clark College in Atlanta. My mother, who made the dress herself, was voted Miss Omega of 1951. We found the corsage among her things after she died.
Submitted by Joseph O. Jewell (College Station, TX)

This is my mother, Barbara Taylor Jewell, who passed away on November 2, 2011. The photo was taken at a dance held by Delta Sigma Theta (my mother’s sorority) and their “brother” fraternity Omega Psi Phi at Clark College in Atlanta. My mother, who made the dress herself, was voted Miss Omega of 1951. We found the corsage among her things after she died.

Submitted by Joseph O. Jewell (College Station, TX)

This is Miss University of Chicago 1954, Janice Porter. Longtime Of Another Fashion followers might recall that I posted another photo of the beauty queen a few months ago. You can see that one here.

Submitted by Lynn Mally (Irvine, CA).

Contestants in the American Legion Pageant at Lincoln Colonnade (ca. 1947).

Credit:Addison N. Scurlock. Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

This is Dolores Tejeda (20 years old) of Oxnard, California - the winner of the Southland’s Latin-American colony beauty contest. Her title is La Reina de Churubusco IX. She was chosen from 12 finalists in a contest held in conjunction with the ninth annual Black and White Ball.

The photograph was originally published in The Los Angeles Times on 7 September 1948.

This photograph of the newly crowned Mrs. Bronze California Toy Edwards was originally published in Jet magazine (23 December 1954). The date is a little confusing because according to Maxine Craig the inaugural year of the Miss Bronze California pageant was in 1961. Maybe the “Mrs.” pageant preceded the “Miss” pageant?

Nisei Week Princess Betty Taira in a white sleeveless, drop waist dress with a pleated skirt and sailor neckline. She’s receiving a donation from Mr. Omatsu of Downtown Japanese American Citizens’ League (JACL) at Toyo Miyatake Studio in Los Angeles, California in August 1963.

Photograph by Toyo Miyatake, from the Rafu Shimpo collection at the Japanese American National Museum.

This is Janice Porter, a candidate for “Miss University of Chicago”. She eventually won the title and was crowned at the annual prom in 1954, thus earning her the distinction of being the first African American Miss University of Chicago. (Recall that no Black woman would win the Miss America pageant until Vanessa Williams did in 1984.)

Credit: Archival Photographic Files, [apf4-01282], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Submitted by Monica Mercado (Chicago, IL).

Nisei Week Queen candidate, June Tsukida, in Los Angeles, California, June 1959.

Photograph by Toyo Miyatake, from the Rafu Shimpo collection at the Japanese American National Museum.

From LIFE magazine (17 October 1969), Gloria Smith, winner of the 1969 Miss Black America contest in Madison Square Garden, is donning the most fabulous tiara I’ve ever seen. This photo actually requires me to rethink my stance on tiaras.

Beauty contestants of a local pageant in 1949 show off their local business sponsors.

Howard University beauty queens pose on a couch, 1947. Photographed by Addison Schurlock.

From the Black History Album

Meet Joanne Ono, the newly crowned Miss Suburban Optimist 1976, Suburban Optimist! She’s flanked by Miss Suburban Optimist 1974 Patti Hirahara (L) and Miss Suburban Optimist 1975 Susan High. Found at Anaheim Public Library, 1976

The contestants of the Miss Black America Beauty Pageant (1972) in evening gowns. (From the Black Studies Center Database)

It’s significant that many of the contestants have Afros here. Just as the Afro is a politicized aesthetic that gave visual expression to the principle that “Black is Beautiful,” the Miss Black America pageant like so many “ethnic pageants” was itself a political event that drew critical attention to the absence of Black women in the Miss America pageants. Ethnic and racial pageants make clear, first, that Miss America pageants (like other national pageants) are staging areas for the interarticulation of gender and citizenship and second, that this relationship is always expressed in racial terms.

For a great article on the role of Black beauty pageants and struggles for social justice, see "Fighting Racism, One Swimsuit at a Time" by Belva Davis, founder of the Miss Bronze California pageants.

The first Miss Chinatown beauty contestants, San Francisco 1948. The eventual winner, Penny Wong, stands at the far left.

A photograph for an article about racial discrimination at integrated schools in Ebony magazine (March 1966). Pictured above are all of the campus queens at West Virginia State College. From left to right, they are Miss Freshman Judith Huston, Miss Sophomore Marsha Cole, Miss Junior Norma VanRiel, Miss ROTC Sandra Lilly, and Miss West Virginia State College Shirley Williams. Huston remarks in the article:

"The Negroes think Whites feel they are better than them, have more money and don’t want to mix. But it’s not true of us all."