The fashion designer B Michael has penned his first book and it details his friendship with groundbreaking Hollywood doyenne Cicely Tyson.
“Muse: Cicely Tyson and Me, a Relationship Forged in Fashion” will land in bookstores on Jan. 23 and is being published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. The designer started writing the book in late 2020 with Tyson’s blessings. The pair first met in 2006, after B Michael had unquestionably agreed to dress the actress for Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball. Her reputation certainly preceded her, namely due to full-realized performances such as those in the film “Sounder” and the TV movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” A former secretary for the Red Cross, the New York City-born Tyson gave up the office life after deciding, “God didn’t put me on the face of the earth to type for the rest of my life.” That decision led to modeling for fashion magazines like Vogue and later Actors Studio classes. Her interest in becoming an actress did not go over well with her disciplined single mother, who told Tyson she could no longer live at home. So she moved out.
“As an actor, and a Black woman actor specifically, she was very committed to the kinds of roles that she chose. It was her mission to portray Black Americans and Black American women in terms of strength, family and values. That was always her focus in terms of her roles and activism,” he said.
Writing about Tyson became cathartic for the first-time author in that it “allowed him to walk through many of the experiences that they had shared publicly and privately.” After drawing a pause following Tyson’s death in late January 2021 at the age of 96, B Michael returned to putting pen to paper, which was not just an opportunity to relive their times together, but to feel Tyson’s energy differently. “We call it transitioning. Although she wasn’t with me physically, her energy continued. I loved feeling that. And I loved that part of the process,” he said. “Rather than say someone died, you say they transitioned. Although they are physically gone, the energy of the person continues.”
What started out as “a photo journey” of their friendship evolved into something that was much more text-driven, highlighting some of their experiences at the Academy Awards, the White House and how they redefined how women of a certain age should dress. The book’s cover is an art project in itself — a commissioned painting titled “Muse” by the American contemporary artist and sculptor Chaz Guest. Readers will find some candid photographs from the author’s personal collection as well as paparazzi shots and exclusive photography of the selected couture garments designed by B Michael and worn by Tyson for historic occasions. B Michael and Tyson shared memorable occasions with many celebrities, including Sidney Poitier, Common, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz, Viola Davis, Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Valerie Simpson, Phylicia Rashad, as well as former President Barack Obama and others.