Constance White‘s new book, “How to Slay: Inspiration from the Queens and Kings of Black Style,” will be released next month by Rizzoli. The coffee-table book offers a well illustrated look at how black style has influenced the current cultural and political moment.

“The best part of doing the book was getting lost in some of the luscious photos and seeing connections, for instance between Seventies Diana Ross and today’s Queen Beyoncé,” White, a veteran editor and journalist, brand consultant and former editor in chief of Essence magazine, told WWD. 

The 220-page book, with a foreword by Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, is organized by subject with chapters such as “original divas,” “ebonics,” “afro-chic” and “natural hair and other crowns.” Images of influential figures — from Michelle Obama, Angela Davis, Aretha Franklin, Coretta Scott King and Maya Angelou to Rihanna, Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell, Mary J. Blige and Kerry Washington — are interspersed with White’s writing to give an overview of the past century of black fashion history’s impact on wider stylistic and cultural trends. 

And after a three-year-long publication process, the timing worked out better than the author and publisher had anticipated.

“What I had no way of knowing is that the book would be so incredibly timely. It is so cool to have it be both a contemporary marker and a historic marker,” White said. 

“It’s quite a political book. It’s quite provocative, and it’s quite polemical, in its own way,” Rizzoli publisher Charles Miers said, noting that “the visuals are to die for.” 

“She’s such a straight shooter in her writing and really taps into the movement,” Miers added. 

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