• Lena Media

Black History Month: The Black British Beauty Pioneers

Black icons have been style connoisseurs for decades, in a world dominated by the Western ideal of beauty and fashion, where one ideal of beauty was perpetuated as the norm. Otherness was not always celebrated and recognized in its entirety. Some of us grew up believing the false ideology of beauty only comes in one way. So why, are Black icons so significant today? In a world where racial equality and injustices still exists, a lack of change and racial tension still prevalent it is important to celebrate the Icons that have opened doors for us. These pioneers challenged what was perceived as ‘the norm’ and broke cultural barriers, this goes beyond the glitz and the glam but how they paved a way for all Black women showing representation.

So, what exactly is Black History Month and is it still relevant in today’s contemporary society. ‘This national celebration aims to promote and celebrate Black contributions to British society, and to foster an understanding of Black History in general’. We pay homage to some of our favourite Black British Beauty pioneers who have made significant influencers on the beauty and fashion industry.

Pat McGrath

Pat McGrath is one of the world’s renowned makeup artists of our time, the Northampton born is often described as the ‘Mother of Makeup’. She was the first ever MUA to be made a British dame and has worked with the likes of Naomi Campbell, Alexander McQueen, and many others. Starting her career back in the early 90’s she has gone onto achieve amazing things such as being hired by Procter & Gamble as Global Cosmetics Creative Design Director in a multi-year partnership, that was rumoured to be paid at $1 million. Back in 2015, she launched her popular makeup line ‘Pat McGrath Labs’ which became the biggest selling beauty line in Selfridges.

Naomi Campbell

The London born supermodel paved a way for many, still often referenced in today’s culture. The beauty icon has contributed to the fashion industry in numerous ways and was the first black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue, gracing a plethora of magazine covers, she featured in Michael Jackson’s video ‘In the closet’. With many other Black supermodels following suit after Naomi, she has made a positive impact on the industry and has even started to focus on African fashion. ‘’African fashion is on the rise and it’s about


Patricia Bright

Edward Enniful

The editor in Chief of British Vogue who was appointed in 2017 has changed the face of British Vogue by reintroducing diversity and inclusivity, reflecting today’s British contemporary society. Enninful has helped print circulation increase by 1.1 % and signed 140 new advertisers. He has been vocal about the lack of diversity in Vogue before he became the editor in chief, we have seen supermodel Adwoa Aboah, and many female black models and personalities grace the front cover. Edward Enninful was born in Ghana but moved to London at a young age, he first became a model and modelled for a plethora of fashion publications. At the tender age of 18 he became fashion director of i-D magazine. Since then, he has worked at Italian and American Vogue and many other popular publications. He is often known as ‘celebrating diversity and promoting optimism’.

Adwoa Aboah

The British Fashion model known for her striking and ambiguous looks has previously graced British Vogue, grew up in London to a Ghanaian father and British mother. The supermodel has modelled for the likes of Fenty Beauty, Versace, Calvin Klein, and Alexander Wang. She was also named as British GQ’s ‘woman of the year’ back in 2017. A British Vogue contributor, last year she was listed on the Powerlist of the most influential Black British people in her industry. Alongside her fashion accolades, she started her own community led non-profit organization ‘which is dedicated to promoting the mental health and wellbeing of adolescent girls and young women’.