The Urban Entrepreneurs Series
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Elaine Baskin-Bey: Fashion's Best Kept Secret
By Gary G. Toms
If you were asked to name some designers at the forefront of the fashion industry, the name Elaine Baskin-Bey would probably not be among those you would list. However, the fact that she is not a household name has not affected this shining star's phenomenal success and sense of style.
With more than two decades of professional experience, and a client list that reads like a who's who, Bey has made an indelible impression on popular American culture.
Bey's foray into fashion began when she was growing up in Rockaway Beach. While residing at the Hammels Houses in Rockaway Beach, she attended P.S. 114 and Junior High School 180. She went on to attend the High School of Fashion Industries, the Trapaghen School of Fashion, and York College (to study Business). The final phase of her education led her to the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
It was not long before her enormous talent landed her positions in television, where Bey had her designs featured on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" and "The Phil Donahue Show." She also designed wardrobes for the legendary television shows "The Jeffersons," "The Cosby Show," "B. Smith with Style," "The McCreary Report," "Midday Live" (WNYW) and "Easy Rider" for PBS Television.
She later took the publishing world by storm, as many of her fashions were featured in (or graced the covers of) Essence, Glamour, Cashbox, and McCalls, just to name a few.
Bey's media popularity eventually caught the attention of the corporate world. Working with the McDonald's franchise, she is responsible for their Afro-centric uniform design that is worn by many employees across the nation.
Her love of Gospel music led her to create designs for singers and choirs like Bette Forbes, the Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble, New York's Morningside Church, and WWRL's Gospel Choral Singers.
Some of Bey's other clients include: Revlon (Crème of Nature Tour), Essence by Mail, Avon (African-American Catalog), Pavion Cosmetics, Le Mac Cosmetics, the Museum of African Art, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Her celebrity clients have included Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, the late Marvin Gaye, Eartha Kitt, Stephanie Mills, X-Clan, the late Miles Davis, and the "Mary Jane Girls."
"I grew up in Rockaway, and my parents are still there. They live in Dayton Towers," said Bey.
"It has always been my goal to do the best that I possibly could to show others, particularly where I grew up, that you can make it in life if you apply yourself and follow your dreams. I want the people in Hammels, and other areas of Rockaway, to look at my accomplishments and say to themselves, if she made it...I can too."
To find out more about Bey, her many accomplishments, and her future projects, you can direct letters to Elaine Baskin-Bey - P.O. Box 92, Rockaway Beach, New York, 11693.