The illustrious essence of Zerina Akers

Zerina Akers would not comply with traits however is a savant at beginning them. As a fancy dress designer and stylist who has been working within the vogue business for over a decade, the sartorial mastermind has created among the buzziest, most memorable celeb type moments.

When Megan Thee Stallion channeled outdated Hollywood glamour on the 2021 Met Gala in a customized Coach robe that garnered consideration from Vogue, it was due to Akers. When Karol G despatched her followers right into a tizzy with all of the eye-catching ensembles within the “Bichota” music video, Akers was the one who orchestrated the type. 

And when Beyoncé broke the web together with her being pregnant announcement in February 2017 — carrying solely a burgundy bra and child blue underwear — the Beyhive owed reward to Akers. In the event you scroll by Beyoncé’s Instagram, a lot of the rigorously curated and splendid vogue displayed is styled by Akers, who’s at present the famous person’s private stylist and wardrobe curator.

Akers’ magic contact could be seen throughout vogue, from editorial shoots with Normani to red-carpet moments with Niecy Nash. She even received an Emmy Award in 2021 for the costume design in Beyoncé’s 2020 movie “Black Is King,” which confirmed off the fantastic thing about the Black diaspora by beautiful materials and hanging ensembles. 

Zerina Akers wears a matching white vest and trousers suit with black snakeskin chunky heel shoes while posing against a hot pink backdrop.

Mamadi Doumbouya for Insider



However Akers is greater than a stylist. She’s a power working to alter the style business from the within out.

In June 2020, she launched Black Owned Every little thing, a market that showcases Black designers and companies. It has helped launch vogue manufacturers like Okay.NGSLEY, and it is solely the start.

In a dialog with Insider for our collection Black Ensemble: Vogue for the Tradition, Akers mirrored on the style business’s relationship with Black creatives and why forging house is so necessary.

This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.


Zerina Akers wears a matching white vest and trousers suit with black snakeskin chunky heel shoes.

Mamadi Doumbouya for Insider



You’ve got achieved a lot throughout your profession, from changing into Beyoncé’s private stylist to profitable an Emmy Award. Are you able to share the place your love of vogue started?

I went to a aggressive all-Black highschool in Maryland, so there was all the time competitors over greatest dressed or what you are carrying. My grandmother taught me the right way to use the stitching machine, in order that was positively a pivotal second. 

I began to design and reconstruct clothes earlier than organizing a giant vogue present on the finish of my senior yr. Individuals purchased my stuff, and it was like, “Oh, perhaps this might really be a factor.” 

I initially studied design and later converted to advertising and merchandising in faculty, however that took me in the correct path. I landed my first internship at W Journal, which put me on that path to determine all of it out.

Had been there any Black vogue icons that impressed you alongside the way in which? 

I’ve all the time been a fan of Queen Latifah’s fluid type. Watching “Residing Single” again within the day and seeing this highly effective girl actually personal a brand new house, she rode the road of being a tomboy however nonetheless being actually female.

After which, I bear in mind, within the early days, actually loving June Ambrose’s work. Seeing her as this brown-skin stylist, I needed to be identical to her. 

Zerina Akers wears a matching white vest and trousers suit with black snakeskin chunky heel shoes while posing against a hot pink backdrop.

Mamadi Doumbouya for Insider



Outdoors of Beyoncé, you garnered reward for styling celebrities like Megan Thee Stallion and Latto. What’s your recommendation for dressing ladies in garments that intensify — not diminish — their curves?

Exploring a structured shoulder that extends previous a sure level could make your arms look slimmer and your waist look smaller. It offers an inverted triangle form that makes certain you’ve gotten the correct match. 

Open necklines on bustier ladies are sometimes flattering. To not say that it’s essential present a ton of cleavage, however having pores and skin on the prime can add steadiness. When you have a double-D breast dimension and a turtleneck, it may make you are feeling a bit choked up. Whereas if you happen to open that neckline, it balances the place the eye goes. 

Three side-by-side images of Latto, Beyoncé, and Megan Thee Stallion wearing dresses and gowns, styled by Zerina Akers, at red carpet events.

Akers styled Latto for the MTV Video Music Awards in 2022 (left); Beyoncé for the Hollywood premiere of Disney’s “The Lion King” in 2019 (heart); and Megan Thee Stallion for the Sports activities Illustrated swimsuit cowl launch celebration in 2021 (proper).

Bryan Bedder/Contributor through Getty Photographs; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Photographs; Rodrigo Varela/Getty Photographs for Sports activities Illustrated Swimsuit



You obtained crucial approval for initiatives like “Black Is King,” which highlighted the huge range and sweetness within the Black diaspora. Are there any elements of Black tradition that proceed to encourage your work? 

For me, it is the hood. I really feel like quite a lot of our traits have been born out of necessity, like Billie Vacation carrying flowers in her hair as a result of she pinched off the facet of her hair with an iron, or Salt-N-Pepa carrying asymmetrical hair as a result of it was burned. 

Bringing that essence of “What would the Black woman do?” into each challenge makes it that rather more particular, particularly when you concentrate on the way in which our tradition’s been tapped into.

Billie Holiday and Salt n Pepa

Billie Vacation (left) and Salt-N-Pepa (proper).

Michael Ochs Archives/ Tim Roney/Getty Photographs



Talking of Black tradition being tapped into, how do you are feeling in regards to the luxurious vogue business’s relationship with Black designers? 

I feel there have been actually massive strides made with the unrest of 2020. 

We see much more Black designers, whether or not they’re collaborating with these bigger entities or not, being positioned subsequent to quite a lot of the heavy hitters. You are actually seeing folks like Sergio Hudson develop right into a family identify. 

Once we’re given the house to be ourselves and produce to fruition a few of these concepts which have been sitting in our head or sitting in our notebooks for God is aware of how lengthy, they develop into mind-blowing.

Sadly, there’s nonetheless way more work to do. I feel there have been quite a lot of concessions made in 2020 that individuals do not actually notice have been rapidly taken away, like retailers shopping for a group outright, then returning it if it wasn’t bought. That makes it difficult for unbiased designers to develop a enterprise. 

Even so, in what methods have you ever seen Black vogue leaders and innovators advancing the business? 

Brandon Blackwood has taken the recognition of his “Finish Systematic Racism” bag and made it into this multi-million greenback purse enterprise. Lots of people assume that these companies simply began in 2020, however I bought my first Brandon Blackwood bag 5 years earlier than that. He is been actually good in regards to the strikes he is made. 

Or Okay.NGSLEY, which sells genderless gadgets. That was simply Kingsley Gbadegesin being his genuine self, eager to serve his neighborhood and have his folks actually be seen.

Once we’re given the house to be ourselves and produce to fruition a few of these concepts which have been sitting in our head or sitting in our notebooks for God is aware of how lengthy, they develop into mind-blowing.

All we’d like is that house and alternative. 

Zerina Akers wears a matching white vest and trousers suit with black snakeskin chunky heel shoes while posing against a hot pink backdrop.

Mamadi Doumbouya for Insider



You’ve got uplifted lesser-known designers throughout your profession, even going as far as to create Black Owned Every little thing, an internet Black-centered market that helped launch Okay.NGSLEY. What’s it like being part of the change you need to see? 

For us to assist launch Okay.NGSLEY with simply unisex tank tops and to see his product simply broaden his enterprise, it is lovely to observe. Now he is working a brand new studio. 

We have develop into a little bit of a launching pad for a lot of companies. It was necessary for me that these creators and designers have an area even when among the larger retailers weren’t paying them any thoughts. 

What’s the way forward for Black Owned Every little thing? 

I need to develop extra of a voice on the positioning. I am working to collaborate with extra writers so folks can go to the positioning and eat extra than simply merchandise. Like, the place can we push the dialog?

And actually having Black-owned every part. Sooner or later, you’ll purchase your laundry detergent and child diapers like a one-stop store.

Zerina Akers wears a matching white vest and trousers suit with black snakeskin chunky heel shoes while posing against a hot pink backdrop.

Mamadi Doumbouya for Insider



Contemplating the historical past of the style business and up to date strides, what do you assume the way forward for vogue will appear like? 

I hope we discover a place the place we’re not overconsuming as a result of I feel quite a lot of the business has been pushed into doing all these ornate vogue reveals. These vogue reveals price some huge cash when, actually, they might do an exquisite lookbook to painting how they need the gathering to be offered.

Season after season, you do not even have time to put on your garments earlier than being pushed to purchase new garments. Whenever you see the variety of collections that go down the runway versus the variety of clothes you see within the retailer, it is an enormous disconnect as a result of I feel many retailers are underestimating their shoppers.

It is like, until you are capable of place that particular order straight with the model, what is that this all actually for? 

Zerina Akers wears a matching white vest and trousers suit with black snakeskin chunky heel shoes while posing against a hot pink backdrop.

Mamadi Doumbouya for Insider



Do you’ve gotten any recommendation for the upcoming technology of designers? 

Oh my goodness, research the enterprise. I feel there are too many youngsters out right here making a product and leaping in head first, which is able to do way more of a disservice, particularly in the case of capturing and sustaining a buyer. 

It isn’t simply creating one thing and promoting it. Do you’ve gotten your packaging prepared? Have you ever taken that point to arrange?

I feel that there is this sort of system of schooling that is been misplaced. They should educate themselves on the enterprise and attempt to be taught all it entails as a result of they danger shedding a buyer eternally. 

This function is a part of Black Ensemble, a collection celebrating Black leaders, innovators, and trendsetters within the vogue business.


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