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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

Avery Sunshine is known for her irresistible combination of soul, jazz and gospel influences. She’s traveled the world entertaining audiences with her powerful voice, inspiring lyrics and infectious spirit. She joins host Shawna Renee on "The Soul Lounge" to perform and share the stories behind her new album, "The Sun Room."