Black History Month on the Fashion Bomb: Lena Horne’s Influence on Fashion

When it comes to natural beauty, Lena Horne will undoubtedly go down as one of the most stunning women of all time, though her flawless façade was just one of her many outstanding facets.


Born Lena Mary Calhoun Horne in 1917 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Lena got her start by joining the chorus line of the Cotton Club in New York City at the young age of 16. She became the first black performer to sign a long-term contract with a major studio in Hollywood by choosing Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and toured venues all around the states, Canada, and Europe. Lena became a household name on a number of variety shows, was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in musical, Jamaica, and went on to to co-host specials in the ’70s with the great Harry Belafonte and Tony Bennett.


Lena oozed glamour with every look, never seen without perfect hair and makeup, as well as opting for luxurious textures from brocade to silk chiffon.

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See her belt out “Stormy Weather” here:

Lena has had a definite influence on the fashion industry. The Gap called on the beauty for one of its classic commercials in 1997.

She was classy and sexy simultaneously, doing it ever so naturally. Check out this vintage photo of Lena: do you recognize her look anywhere today?


Stars like Solange Knowles, Alesha Dixon, and Teyana Taylor have been spotted in the double slit trend and it was photographed on Melodie Monrose and Anais Mali for Interview’s December 2010 issue.

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Jurnee Smollett re-imagined Lena’s famous Ebony cover for the glossy’s 65th anniversary.

ebony-jurnee Smollett as Lena Horne

Lena Horne was the epitome of the phrase “class act”. She not only dominated the film and television industries, but was also an avid activist for Civil Rights, working with central figures like Paul Robeson, Medgar Evers, JFK, and participating on the March on Washington. Her beauty and effortless glamour put her on the map, but her talent, courage, and charm are what have made her impossible to forget.


Lena Horne Smiling


Faith Cummings is a senior editor and staff writer for Fashion Bomb Daily.