ESSENCE goes tribal on its July cover with dazzling black celebs rocking African looks

Etsey Atisu June 24, 2019

Three dynamically different beauties are making a stunning African-heritage-inspired statement on the July edition of the ESSENCE magazine, as the African-American magazine celebrates 25 years of earmarking the Essence Festival.

Known as “the party with a purpose”, the 63-year-old Somali supermodel, Iman, who is also featured on the cover, is turning heads with her ageless look. Iman, who turns 64 next month, is joined by R&B songstress, Ciara and American singer and model, Teyana Taylor.

The Essence Festival is an annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the then 25th anniversary of Essence (since 1970), a magazine aimed primarily towards African-American women.  

Inside the issue, the three women talk about love, resilience, and finding their own tribe of supporters along the way. Iman also talks about late husband David Bowie, who encouraged her to launch her eponymous and pioneering cosmetics line.

“He literally did not understand fear,” she tells Essence. “He was in my corner cheering me on every step of the way. If it wasn’t for him, I would never have done it…”

“I miss his sense of humor. He made me laugh every day,” Iman (born Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid) told the mag.

In a shot styled by Marielle Bobo, hairstylist Vernon Francois coiffed Iman’s different black and gold wigs (which is head to thigh long) for the shoot while make-up artist Renee Garnes made sure her complexion looked flawless.

Flaunting substantial cleavage, the multi-lingual stunner who is a mother of two silenced critics on age being a barrier for modelling.

“I want to remain classic in a world of trends,” she said in a BTS video.

Also featured on ESSENCE’s summer issue was R&B songstress Ciara flaunting her 5ft7in figure in a b&w-striped monokini.

Hairstylist César DeLeön Ramirêz coiffed the Texan-born beauty’s dreadlock wig and make-up artist Yolonda Frederick-Thompson made sure she was ready for her close-up. 

“It’s always a special thing when you get that phone call to be on an ESSENCE cover,” the 33-year-old Grammy winner said in the BTS video.

“And I love the theme. I love how we’re celebrating the African mood and fashion – knowing that a lot of these African designers hopped on planes just to deliver the fashion here. That’s true passion.”

Ciara and husband, Wilson – who is stepfather to the IMG Model’s five-year-old son Future Zahir Wilburn, with estranged ex-fiancé Future, whom she split from in 2014 amid allegations he cheated with his stylist Tyrina Lee, will celebrate their third wedding anniversary on July 6.

‘My faith has carried me through every challenge and triumph,’ Ciara (born Ciara Princess Harris) told the mag.  

And then there is R&B belter Teyana Taylor, who showcased her bare back and the ‘coin slot‘ of her pert derrière.

Hairstylist Vernon Francois coiffed the Kanye West muse’s various voluminous wigs and make-up artist, Christiana Cassell, applied little white tribal dots around her eyes.

“I’m honored, you know, I could not wait to get on the ESSENCE cover!” the Harlem-born 28-year-old said in the BTS video.

Joining Teyana on the set was her glammed up three-year-old daughter Iman Tayla Shumpert Jr. nicknamed ‘Junie.’

‘I’m just teaching her early: “You are beautiful, you are smart, you are magic,”‘ Taylor told the mag.

“Being a mom makes you move differently, think differently and speak differently. Once I had Junie, I realized I was living for so much more.”  

But the WTP singer doesn’t want fans to think her life at home with husband, Houston Rockets shooting guard Iman Shumpert, is perfect.

‘I don’t want y’all to think we’re Perfect Pattys, because that’s just not real. I think sometimes it takes other couples to see like, “Damn, they were able to talk and get through it. That’s inspirational.”‘

Teyana is next scheduled to perform at the 25th Annual Essence Festival on July 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.


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