I must say, one of the perks of now attending college in New York City, is the plethora of events and opportunities that occur right under your nose, like there really is always something going on. On Thursday February 6th, I braved this bone chilling cold weather and headed out to the opening reception, for Black Dress, an exhibition that pays homage to the pioneers and innovators of fashion world by allowing ten black designers to exhibit their own works. Pratt Manhattan Gallery was buzzing Thursday evening with excited conversation surrounding the exhibit and vision behind it.
By Aliyah Blackmore, AFROPUNK Contributor
The exhibition celebrates ten designers who “each possess a singular visions and the perseverance to success in the fashion world.”—as Black people and as artists. The fashion designers featured: Jeffrey Banks, Samantha Black, Stephen Burrows, Donna Dove, Epperson, Michael Jerome Francis, Byron Lars, Tracy Reese, Omar Salam and LaQuan Smith. The fashion world, historically, has often downplayed the success of Black designers and it is now that Black fashion/Black models seem to be such a phenomenon to the “white world”—there is a certain exoticism and “other” that society seems to associate with Black culture (pardon my little side note—college courses have got me thinking lately...). The exhibition explores the background of each designer, juxtaposed with working in America or abroad and the affects environment may have on his or her own work. The exhibit is a celebration as it “marks a new chapter in fashion history” defined by a “greater spectrum of creative influences and professional opportunities.” Attending the opening, the room was filled with such creative spirit, and graced by the beautiful model Nykhor Paul (photographed on the flyer) and even Miss J. Alexander.
The exhibition is a display of the true talent within the Diaspora. We, as black people, have such a unique and vibrant aesthetic. Fashion, displayed as art, brings greater appreciation to the work and artistry behind each design. Definitely enjoyed myself and will be visiting the gallery a second time!
I am interested to see conversation on social media regarding black dress/fashion—how can we as black people further support black designers? I was raised witnessing my mother buying from Moshood, Hats by Bunn, Carol's Daughter and other entrepreneurs of the black community, but I almost fear that this current generation may be more inclined to buy a Louis Vuitton belt or Tiffany bracelet because of what’s portrayed in media and held on a pedestal. Is there representation in media to buy from black designers? Because the present culture is so intertwined with social media and internet is truly at our disposal, doing research to find black designers that you can support is key as well. Just some food for thought.
Be sure to stop by the Pratt Manhattan Gallery and soak in all of the fabulous designs!
Pratt Manhattan Gallery- 144 West 14th Street, Second Floor, New York, NY 10011
February 7-April 26th, 2014.
Hours: Monday- Saturday 11AM to 6PM
Thursdays until 8PM.
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