There may not be a lot of women in fashion photography who look like Adrienne Raquel, but she’s a glass-half-full kind of person. She looks at her work as a chance to represent the Black female perspective and, most importantly, strive for inclusivity — because as she puts it, we’ve always been dope.
As the woman who captured Nylon magazine’s recent Black History Month cover, the photographer behind Nike Sportswear’s FashionAIR campaign, and the art director of NARS’ global social media holiday campaign, Raquel is one of the few in her field who’s ensuring stunning images of Black women are a mainstay in fashion visuals.
“It may not have been publicly acknowledged before now, but our talent, our beauty, and our grace has always been secretly desired and praised for many years behind-the-scenes,” says Raquel, who first picked up a camera in high school and started with self-portraits. “Black women possess inevitable power and influence. There is no one like us.”
She’s one of fashion’s most in-demand photographers and art directors — she recently served as art director for BCBGMAXAZRIA’s fall/winter show at New York Fashion Week. But she says her “Mama, I made it!” moment happened last year when she shot her first international campaign for Secret’s Invisible For All, which featured women of various skin tones using the product against coordinating blue backgrounds.
“It was such a phenomenal experience, especially considering the fact that I was working alongside a badass female team, and we got to represent four women of all different ethnicities,” Raquel says. “I literally felt like I was in a dream. Seeing that printed on billboards across the country was damn near unimaginable!”
Black Is The New Black is Refinery29’s celebration of 20 Black women who kicked down doors in their fields this past year. Black women who are reminding the world that we are not a trend or “a moment.” We’re here — and we’ve been here. Check out the full list.