When Susan Moses stepped onto the stage in the sun drenched United Nation’s Delegates Dining Room in New York City this spring, you could hear a pin drop. The crowd of three hundred guests, there for Empowering Women NYC’s Body Inclusivity and Diversity Summit, was partly amazed by the venue, and partly in awe of the woman who had gathered them there. At five foot ten, with big hair, a bigger smile, and her signature pink lipstick, Moses is awe-inspiring. When Maya Angelou penned “Phenomenal Woman” she could have easily been talking about Moses, a substantial woman making waves in the world of fashion, the bastion of skinny. And if she has her way, a tsunami of change is about follow in her wake.
As a fashion stylist for more than two decades, Moses has dressed celebrated women of all sizes, but she claimed her niche when she became the stylist for Oscar nominated actress, singer and rapper Queen Latifah, whom she worked with for many years on every project from film to advertising and award shows to television appearances. Since staking her claim as the go-to stylist for the curvy set Moses has dressed a host of women who wear a size larger than ten. Among them are actresses Kathy Bates and Gabourey Sidibe, vocalists Jill Scott and Wynona Judd, and comedian/actress Sherri Shepherd. With all of these women Moses has pushed the fashion envelope all the way to the edge and changed the conversation on red carpets worldwide. Now she is taking her message of inclusivity and diversity global via her recently released book, The Art of Dressing Curves (HarperCollins), and her new initiative, Empowering Women NYC.
At the United Nations Moses—with the help of Lane Bryant CEO, Linda Heasley, Senior Partner, Decade Citizen and former Special Advisor, UN Women, Annette Richardson, Author and Essence magazine Editor-at-Large, Mikki Taylor, Glamour magazine Editor-in Chief, Carol Leive, and vocalist and actress Jill Scott—championed women’s empowerment and the inclusion of all women, regardless of size, age and ethnicity, in the fashion and beauty conversation. As a forward thinking leader in fashion Moses chose the United Nations as the foundation on which to launch her mission, because body inclusivity and diversity are global issues. Strengthening her message, Moses added sustainability to the discussion with a panel of international experts. “Fashion and beauty manufacturing take much from the earth, and it is imperative that we consider how to do so in a sustainable way,” she stated. We want to be glamorous in a healthy environment,” she often quips.
In addition to her vision for inclusivity and sustainability, Moses also looks forward to a time when the terms high-fashion, glamorous and beautiful are used regularly when speaking of women of color, women who wear a size larger than ten and women who are older than forty. She is clear that more than her battle cry of “Beauty and Style Beyond,” is required for an undertaking of this depth; so she plans to make inroads by engaging every aspect of the fashion and beauty industry, from educators to retailers, and modeling agencies to casting directors, in meaningful conversations to encourage them all to become agents of change.
This shouldn’t be difficult given Moses’ friendly disposition, professionalism and sense of humor, all qualities that have endeared her to people at every level of the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries and her clients. Through Empowering Women NYC Moses plans to also engage girls and all women, using fashion, beauty, art, entertainment and other cultural events as tools to bring them together for meaningful dialogue about shared challenges and ways to be victorious.
With full recognition of the mammoth scope of this self-assigned charge, Moses is forging ahead, delivering her message of high style for curvy women and a more democratized industry with wit and a plethora of information. Women who have attended her in-store events and recent book signings enjoy her show-stopping presentations, share their personal stories and leave feeling empowered and included in an industry that has long left them wanting.
For more information about Susan Moses, Empowering Women NYC and The Art of Dressing Curves, visit www.susanmoses.com.
Written by Jelani Bandele
Jelani Bandele is a writer, author and business strategist who resides in Brooklyn, New York.