Black designers have long played a part in determining our national sense of fashion: Slave-turned-entrepreneur Elizabeth Keckley was dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln, and eventually Mrs. Lincoln would insist on wearing her designs exclusively; the fabulous Ann Lowe made Jacqueline Bouvier’s iconic ruffled wedding dress, immortalized on the day she became Mrs. Kennedy. Today you can often spot Michelle Obama in one of Tracy Reese’s flowery concoctions, like the crowd-pleasing pink number she wore to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. So why, then, are black designers so notoriously underrepresented at the tents? As we barrel through Fall Fashion Week, as well as Black History Month, Reese, along with Byron Lars, Omar Salam, and others, are working to remedy that with “Black Dress: Ten Contemporary Fashion Designers” at the Pratt Institute. The exhibition, curated by fashion professor Adrienne Jones, transforms the gallery space into Madison Avenue-style window displays in order to make visible the work of 10 established and emerging black artists. Don’t miss the video supplement created by MacArthur Fellow Carrie Mae Weems.
Mondays-Sundays, 11 a.m. Starts: Feb. 19. Continues through April 26, 2014