Dandy Wellington Black Apparel Arts Challenge: Black Trans Lives Matter!

Dandy Wellington Black Apparel Arts challenge by Suzanne Forbes June 8 2020I first saw the work of Dandy Wellington, a vintage apparel icon and bandleader, through the Amplify Melanated Voices Challenge.

The challenge was created by Jessica Wilson MS. RD and Alishia McCullough aka BlackandEmbodied to encourage white voices to shut up about themselves and reflect on ideas like The Seven Circles of Whiteness, while working to amplify Black voices.

White costume and reenactment women I follow posted about the Black members of their community, and I saw the Insta feed of Mr. Wellington, among many others! I have been stanning #CosplayingwhileBlack for a long time, but there are lot of Black Cosplayers I didn’t know about. I am now a Patron of Cheyenne Jaz Wise who is so great and a huge Starfire fan! This is actually my favorite casual Starfire cosplay EVER.

And I am a total fan of vintage powerhouse Dandy Wellington!

Mr. Wellington’s challenge to artists is to create art that resembles vintage fashion illustrations and ads, but with #VintageStyleNOTVintageValues!! He wrote,

When I first started getting into vintage and classic menswear, I looked to two major resources for inspiration: photographs and apparel arts illustrations. Both mediums were rewarding but apparel arts was shockingly lacking in diversity. Sure there was a porter or maid but they weren’t the subject of the piece. So I’m challenging all the artist out there to create #BlackApparelArts illustrations. Representation matters and your work could inspire some budding historical fashion lover or cosplayer to see their style potential.

Dandy Wellington InstagramI was instantly so excited and fired up!

He included Leyendecker in the examples, which just made me wild. I commented and asked if I could draw him with a Black trans woman in vintage attire, and he said “Sure!”. So I made this drawing. The gentleman on the right is inspired by the picture above of Mr. Wellington, taken by Anne Hugus Photography.

Dandy Wellington challenge by Suzanne Forbes June 8 2020 detailBefore I posted the drawing I contacted one of my muses who is Black and nonbinary and asked them if they would do a sensitivity check.

To make sure I hadn’t done anything stupid or created harmful iconography despite my good intentions. I offered to pay them for the check, since doing a sensitivity check exposes the viewer to potential harm. We agreed on a trade for a drawing of them I did two years ago. And the picture went up! I am so grateful for this wonderful challenge. I release all copyright to the drawing, and it may be used and shared freely.

You can find all of Mr. Wellington’s links here.

He has a band he is the bandleader of, a Youtube channel, a Patreon, a shop with CHARMING merch, classes, events and more!

I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to stay home and work safely.


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