Western look moseys down the urban trail

June 02, 1993|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Staff Writer

The good guys of "Posse" wear some bad threads -- and Mario Van Peebles wears the baddest. The star-director of the new black Western, which has filmgoers lined up at the box office, may be the cowboy with just the right attitude to turn a different generation of dudes on to Western-wear.

Julia Chance, fashion editor of The Source, the magazine of hip-hop music, culture and politics, sees it happening with a distinctive city-slicker twist. "We of the African-American community have a way of embellishing fashion and making it our own. We'll see Western, but not as a complete look."

At YSB, the magazine for young sisters and brothers, fashion editor Derek Lee doubts that a total black cowboy turnout will click. "Blacks have never really been included in Western lore, and I doubt that some movie will change our minds. Frankly, if I wore it I'd feel pretty corny."

Corny? Mr. Van Peebles wears chaps-front jeans and a rough vest over nothing but hard-body chest in the hot and current macho fashion.

That's the point. Ron Whitaker, a real cowboy on weekends and construction manager for Comcast Cable, says the macho factor is an integral part of the persona. "I stand out because black cowboys are still a surprise. My look is true Western -- hat, jeans, boots. Bull riding is the most dangerous event, and I like to go out there looking cocky."

At Carol's Western Apparel in Laurel, Cindy Chance is seeing more African-Americans on the trail. "There has been no cataclysmic event to make people of dark skin shop for Western. But I'm seeing it, and a film such as 'Posse' reinforces the universal appeal of the cowboy."

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