New Exhibit Celebrates Black Fashion Designers

The fashion world has had a tricky relationship with diversity, that much we know. From race to size, the fashion industry has struggled to embrace the full range of body shapes and shades that make us unique, and opted instead for a sea of sameness. Thank goodness then for the upcoming exhibition at the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). The exhibition called  “Black Fashion Designers” will thoroughly explore the often overshadowed impact designers of African descent have had on the fashion industry. It is set to cover the 1950s era until present day, and will feature approximately 75 looks from 60 designers. The ultimate goal of this exhibit is to showcase the complexities and struggles that black designers have experienced as part of their efforts to showcase their talent, and explore what can be done to further diversity within the industry.

The exhibit is set to include beautifully lined gowns worn by the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama to stunning wedding dresses crafted for Jacqueline Kennedy. Throwback Sean John runway collection pieces from 2008 will also be on display (P-Diddy’s fashion label was originally dubbed ‘too urban’ by many at the time, but acts as the inspiration for the current activewear trend on the runway).

All items showcased are part of the permanent collection at The Museum at FIT.


In addition to the physical clothing pieces available for viewing, attendees can expect an exclusive short film lead by former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley. The fashion legend joins the likes of designers Tracy Reese and Mimi Plange to discuss their personal experiences in the fashion industry as professionals and what role diversity plays in fashion.
“Black Fashion Designers” is segmented into eight different themes, which range from the disco and dance club era of “The Rise of the Black Designer” to “Black Models” which examines the pivotal role black models have played within the fashion industry, and “The African Influence” which beautifully explores the belief that African cultures weave their own personal experiences into their clothing styles.

The Museum at FIT will also host a symposium on February 6, 2017, fittingly during Black History Month, which will feature designers, journalists and scholars discussing African culture and fashion. This long-awaited exhibit will be available to the public from December 6, 2016 until May 16, 2017, and more information can be found on the FIT museum website.

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