Black History Month on the Fashion Bomb: Harry Belafonte’s Influence on Fashion

Harry Belafonte is one of the last who is still alive from his era: a time in which artists were not only talented at their crafts, but were setting style trends, while simultaneously speaking out against injustice.


Born Harold George Bellanfanti, Jr. in Harlem, New York in 1927, Harry served during World War II before getting his start in theater, alongside friend and legend Sidney Poitier. Dubbed “The King of Calypso”, he brought calypso music stateside with his album of the same name and his famous tune, “The Banana Boat Song”, which you might recognize for its unforgettable “Day-O” chorus, as well as “Jump in the Line” which reached American households in the popular Beetlejuice film. He has won six Grammy Awards for his music, a Tony Award for his role in the the Broadway revue John Murray Anderson’s Almanac, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989, the National Medal of Arts in 1994, and was the first African American to win an Emmy. A pretty accomplished life, I’d say.

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Harry was always well-dressed, with style that just came naturally. In the ’50s and ’60s, he and friends including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Miles Davis were the leaders of the fashionable pack, in tailored suits and separates.

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Modern-day stylish gents including Mos Def and Theophilus London are putting a fresh spin on Harry’s ensembles.

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Trussardi and Billy Reid have channeled Harry’s heyday in their collections of the past two years.

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Mr. Belafonte has graced the cover of numerous magazines throughout the years including TIME, Life, Jet, and Ebony.

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Harry Belafonte has been pushing the envelope ever since he came on the scene and is still doing so, truly defining what it means to be “cool”.


See him perform here:


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

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