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A look into Constance White’s new book How to Slay


“While I’ve always loved fashion, I learned fashion, whereas my mother… was born into it,” said Constance C. R. White, the author of How to Slay during a conversation with our Chief Impressionist Kenneth Richard at Rizzoli Bookstore in New York City. This quote is the best place to start when digging into the award-winning journalist’s new book.

How to Slay is a deep dive into African-American style from the late twentieth century to the present day. The new book, which hit stores on February 6, 2018 towards the beginning of Black History Month, chronicles decades of black fashion style, taste, beauty, and modeling, and features photos of Josephine Baker, Maya Angelou, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Isaac Hayes, Naomi Campbell, Kanye West, Rihanna, and Pharrell Williams among others.

To see How to Slay as simply a beautiful photography book would overlook its significance to fashion, entertainment and pop culture, as well as its value as an educational resource. Surprisingly, the idea behind How to Slay was very simple.

“I’ve always had this idea in my mind that black style and the canon that is the contributions of African-Americans and people of African descent throughout the Diaspora could make a beautiful coffee table book,” Constance explained at Rizzoli.

This simple idea birthed a valuable commodity for those that ask the same question as the title. Searching How to Slay on Google or YouTube will uncover hair and beauty tutorials such as “how to slay your edges” and life advice like “how to slay life like the beautiful warrior queen you are” and “how to slay all day every day and be happy in the skin you are in.”

For those that beg to learn how to properly slay, Constance C. R. White’s new book is a great place to start, but don’t expect to learn everything by the book’s end. Constance’s quote about learning fashion compared to her mother who she said was born into it parallels learning how to ‘slay,’ how the process takes time and how the process is more than just emulating what you see in front of you. For some, it is innate, and for others it’s hard work.

How to Slay serves many purposes as an inspiration board for fierceness and a source for Black style, but is ultimately a work that will be appreciated by connoisseurs of art, beauty, fashion, entertainment, pop culture and history.

Photos | James Hercule