Once upon a time, being a socialite meant something. It wasn’t a term casually thrown around. The socialite of yesteryear was born into wealth. Sure she dabbled in charity work from here to there, but to be ambitious and hold a career? Simply unthinkable. Although many aspired to the illustrious title, only a chosen few were ever able to claim the coveted title.
Flash-forward to present day, and not only can almost anyone become a “socialite”, but the term has lost its prestige. We’ve become accustomed to the socialite of today- young, ditzy twenty somethings that believe that money equals class. These so called “socialites” are able to engage in raunchy faux pas without losing their title. What’s a blue blood socialite to do? Enter the black socialite. Those considered to be black socialites have attempted to raise the bar by relying on more than good looks and a family name. Our image in the media has always been haunted by stereotypes, creating a standard for what is considered “black” and in what context we are to be viewed.
Although part of me is thrilled to see African-American’s placed in a light of self-made wealth, I sometimes cringe at the idea of what a socialite represents. For African-American woman, that choose this jet setting lifestyle, is it a sell out? In many ways African-American women have come so far on our own terms, that to label powerful and successful black women as socialites, well isn’t that just alluding to the importance of superficial titles?
With an onslaught of modern day black socials, a new definition of what it means to be a socialite has been created. Modern day black socials are no strangers to adversity, but they serve as a model for how varied African Americans truly are. Hate it or love it, this list of black socialites have had a heavy hand to play in shaping the way that African-Americans are viewed in the upper echelon of modern media. These modern socials not only grace the pages of Vogue on a regular or attend the most talked about galas, but they are business owners, fashion pioneers, and public service mavens. Regardless of ones acceptance of the term, these women are all socials to watch and embrace, for a changing time.
The Ingénue : Shala Monroque
At the age of 31 years old, Shala Monroque has arrived. Considered a regular fixture on the New York social scene, Monroque recently resigned from editor-at-large for Pop magazine. Monroque divides her time between her residences in Paris and New York, traveling the world for fabulous events. Monroque has already graced the pages of major fashion publications like Harper’s Bazaar, but the stylish socials heart doesn’t simply lie in fashion. Up next for this social butterfly is to see if she can turn her love for art, into a career that’s as fabulous as her wardrobe.
A Family Affair : Valerie
To those who hold fast to the notion that socialites shouldn’t work, Valerie Jarrett challenges that notion. Currently a White House Senior Advisor, Valerie holds degrees from both Stanford and The University of Michigan. Valerie was born in Iran and grew up speaking Persian. The Jarrett’s come from a distinguished line of academics. Valerie’s mother was a noted child advocate while her father was a distinguished professor at the University of Chicago and a great grand father that was the first African American to graduate from M.I.T. Although Valerie started her legal career in private practice, she soon made a transition to public interest when her daughter Laura was born.
A former student at Harvard Law School (’10), Laura Jarrett has made a name for herself, for being not only smart but stylish as well. As if having President Obama attend her graduation party wasn’t enough, while still in law school Laura began making regular appearances in Vogue for her designer ensembles. Only time will tell what the young Jarrett will eventually do, but surely her reputation for balancing looks and brains makes her a social on the rise.
The Fighter : Bonnie Morrison
The world of fashion PR is extremely cut throat. So many starry-eyed girls coasting on daddy’s money, but so few companies actually looking to hire. So when Bonnie Morrison moved up in the fashion food chain, it was a refreshing change to an otherwise cookie-cutter industry. Although Morrison has had the privilege of working at KCD, running some of the top fashion shows, and serving as an editor at Men’s Vogue, she sometimes has self doubts and has fallen victim to industry demons, “I’ve internalized race to a degree that I sort of believe that the ideal beauty, when we’re casting for things is—I’ve let myself believe that it’s a white person, ” Morrison said. (Newsweek) After receiving a major social boost from her latest title as a global fashion fixture, perhaps her confidence will also get a much-needed boost as well.
An Intriguing Beauty : Genevieve Jones
Compared to a modern day Holly Golightly, when Genevieve made her debut onto the New York social scene, a trail of mystery and controversy followed. Genevieve first landed on the public’s radar when she consistently graced the pages of fashion magazine’s social sections. In 2006 rumors began swirling around the New York social scene that Genevieve’s sudden rise was do to funding she received from a married man. Since that tumultuous time, Genevieve has regained the spotlight by focusing on her career. Genevieve Jones’ eponymous jewelry line made its debut in 2008, and has been receiving rave reviews ever since. The rumors about her past have all seemed to have sizzled, but one thing still going strong is Genevieve’s fresh sense of style and focus on the future.
– Abiola Fasehun