News / Arts & Entertainment

Pratt Exhibit Spotlights Elite Black Fashion Designers

Black Designers Take Spotlighti
X
February 23, 2014 1:50 AM
Only two Black fashion designers had runway shows during New York’s fashion week this month, but ten others were featured off-runway in a special exhibit at New York’s Pratt Institute Museum. VOA correspondent Bernard Shusman reports.
VIDEO: Aiming to upend the fashion world status quo, “Black Dress" recently opened at New York’s Pratt Manhattan Gallery.
Bernard Shusman
Only two black fashion designers had runway shows during New York Fashion Week, but ten other African-American designers — both established and up-and-coming — are being featured in a special off-runway exhibit.

Aiming to upend the fashion world status quo, “Black Dress," which recently opened at New York’s Pratt Manhattan Gallery, was conceived to coincide with Black History Month and New York Fashion Week.

“As black designers we are here, we are a force to be reckoned with," said Pratt Institute fashion professor Adrienne Jones, who co-curated the show.

“The talent is just as strong as an Oscar de la Renta or an Alexander McQueen, but due to a lack of funding, they’re not out there,” she said, explaining that black designers remain underrepresented in the industry despite growing influence, and that the time for real recognition has come.

Starting with an international roster of 100 design portfolios, Jones and co-curator Paula Coleman reduced the slate of candidates to 50, then 25, and then, finally, the featured ten. With some big names among the exhibitors — Jeffrey Banks and LaQuan Smith already enjoy broad name recognition — "Black Dress" also features works of those just coming to the attention of runway aficionados and industry tastemakers.

Exhibitor Tracy Reese, a board member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, runs two established lines, for example, while Omar Salam is a designer and entrepreneur who founded the Sukeina Fashion House. Works by former “Project Runway” contestants Samantha Black and Epperson are also on display, along with works by Harlem-based designer Donna Dove, environmentally-conscious designer Michael Jerome Francis, and celebrated fashion innovator Stephen Burrows.

With unique and breathtaking pieces on display, each exhibit explores the designer's background and how the process of coming from one corner of the United States — or coming from one far-flung corner of the globe — has influenced their work.

According to Jones, despite the diverse backgrounds, one common thread runs through all of the featured fashions: the history of black design in America, a cultural legacy documented since at least the works of Elizabeth Keckley, dressmaker and purported confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln.

In a historically apropos twist, exhibitor Byron Lars already has already had pieces acquired for the White House wardrobe. First Lady Michelle Obama, it turns out, is a big Byron Lars fan.

"I just never imagined that anything I would create would end up in the White House or on Air Force One heading for an event," said Lars, who was recently named “Rookie of the Year” by Women’s Wear Daily. "I just really love our first family so much and love the First Lady’s style so much, it really meant that much more to me."

By participating in "Black Dress," he says, he hopes to counter the lack of attention paid his African American contemporaries.

"That there is a glaring omission of black talent is irrefutable," he said, expressing frustration that more black designers aren't receiving Fashion Week exposure. "Honestly, it’s pretty disappointing that American Vogue has never gone there. It’s not for lack of talent, that’s for sure."

The free exhibit, which runs through April 26 at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, 144 West 14th Street, marks a new chapter in fashion history, characterized by a greater spectrum of creative influences and professional opportunities for contemporary black designers.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."