This wedding season, a top designer and one of the most famous faces in fashion are joining together to bring opportunities for young designers of color.

What You Need To Know

  • Designer Yemi Osunkoya is one of the only Black bridal designers in America doing couture or custom gowns 

  • Osunkoya is working with Model Beverly Johnson and others to mentor fashion students at Clark Atlanta University to help them break barriers in fashion

  • Johnson, famous for being the first Black model on the cover of American Vogue, says in all her years modeling for Bridal magazines she was never the bride, only the bridesmaid  

  • World Bride Magazine founder Myrdith Leon-McCormack says Black brides are often given less time and not shown the best dresses at bridal shops, and having more diversity in bridal could help change that  

Designer Yemi Osunkoya is creating one-of-a-kind dresses for his KOSIBAH line.

Osunkoya is one of the only Black bridal designers in America doing couture — or custom dresses.

“I specialize in corsetry,” he told one customer who was looking for the perfect fit.

The Nigerian-born designer made a name for himself in London, before coming to New York in 2016.  With worldwide success, Osunkoya has just teamed up with Beverly Johnson and others to mentor fashion students at Historically Black Colleges.  Johnson was the first African-American model to grace the cover of American Vogue.

Bridal seems to be the least diverse part of fashion and she’s experienced that first hand.

“I remember working for the bridal magazines, and I was never a bride. I was never a bride, I've been the bridesmaids, but sadly, to say, in not only America, but the world, we are being held from those positions,” said Johnson.

So she's helping students jumpstart their careers.

“It makes me so happy to know that I'm being mentored with someone of their stature who looks just like me,” says recent graduate of Clark Atlanta University Aaliyah Dasque, who’s continuing with the mentorship.

“It really means a lot to have iconic people like them guiding us,” added Sydnee Gordon who is also in the mentorship program.

World Bride Magazine founder Myrdith Leon-McCormack is also on board. She said lack of diversity impacts brides of color.

“I know for a fact that brides have gone to stores and either they can't get the appointment or they are directed to go to the lesser dresses. They get less time with the salespeople because they assume that they don't have the money or the budget,” says Leon-McCormack.

But those kinds of assumptions are slowly changing.  With his global draw, Osunkoya has just partnered with Intercontinental Barclay on the East Side so his customers can stay at the hotel and have their appointments with him at his atelier here.

As for trends, coming out of the pandemic, Osunkoya said simple elegance is on point.

“This is my first pantsuit,” he said showing a brand-new design.

And to complete those minimalistic looks, headpieces are very popular as an alternative to longer veils.

As the wedding business slowly bounces back, these creatives are working hard to change perceptions, create more opportunities and make sure all brides feel special finding their perfect dress.