First African American : Zelda Wynn Valdes

Zelda Wynn Valdes was a very successful fashion designer and costumer with a knack  for designing outfits that masterfully highlighted women's curves. Her style caught the eye of Hugh Hefner who commissioned her to create the famous and iconic Playboy Bunny outfit. She also created outfits  for many of the celebrities of the 40s and 50s, including Joyce BryantDorothy DandridgeJosephine BakerElla Fitzgerald, and Mae West. She was the first African American to own a shop, Chez Zelda, on Broadway in New York city. Later, at the age of 65, she became the head costume designer for the Dance Theatre of Harlem and kept that role until she retired at 83.