Pratt Manhattan Gallery
144 West 14th Street, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10011
11 AM–6 PM
Thursdays until 8 PM
Closed on federal holidays and between exhibitions
Admission is free
Pratt Manhattan Gallery is a public art gallery affiliated with Pratt Institute. The gallery aims to present significant, innovative, and intellectually challenging work in the fields of art, architecture, fashion, and design from an international perspective as well as to provide a range of educational initiatives to help viewers relate contemporary art to their lives in a meaningful way.
BLACK DRESS: TEN CONTEMPORARY FASHION DESIGNERS
February 7 – April 26, 2014
Opening reception: Thursday, February 6, 6-8 PM
Panel discussion: Wednesday, March 5, 6 PM
Black Dress: Ten Contemporary Fashion Designers celebrates the groundbreaking work of ten up-and-coming and established New York-based black fashion designers. Organized by Pratt Institute Fashion Design Professor Adrienne Jones and art dealer and exhibition developer Paula Coleman and timed to coincide with Black History Month and New York Fashion Week, the exhibition will include designs by international fashion superstars Tracy Reese, Stephen Burrows, Pratt Institute alumnus Jeffrey Banks, Byron Lars, and Omar Salam. Renowned artist and 2013 MacArthur Fellow Carrie Mae Weems created a video specifically for the exhibition. Designers Samantha Black, Donna Dove, Epperson, Michael Jerome Francis, and LaQuan Smith will also be included.
Black Dress opens at a time when black designers—despite their growing influence and success—remain underrepresented in the fashion industry. The exhibition is intended to help redress this situation, creating broader awareness of the contributions and accomplishments of contemporary black designers. The Pratt Manhattan Gallery will be transformed into a series of Madison-Avenue-style store windows, giving each designer a distinct spotlight for his or her work.
The designers featured in the exhibition draw upon a long history of black fashion design in America. According to Jones, today’s black designers are steeped in the cultural legacies passed down by predecessors such as Elizabeth Keckley, sole dressmaker for Mary Todd Lincoln, and Ann Lowe, who designed Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding dress. Jones says the American fashion industry’s primary narrative has not included many black names, despite their significant contributions both behind-the-scenes and on the runways.
Black Dress will also seek to highlight the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that has been integral to the success of the featured designers: “Black Dress will highlight the correlation between entrepreneurship, creativity, and locality. These factors work together to create opportunities for designers and their communities,” said Jones.
A panel discussion will be organized in conjunction with the exhibition and will take place on March 5 from 6-8 PM in Room 213 (adjacent to the gallery). Panelists include Michaela Angela Davis, a former executive fashion, beauty and culture editor at Essence, founding fashion director at Vibe, and advocate for women's and human rights causes; Constance White, author of Style Noir and former Essence editor in chief, Elle fashion editor, and eBay style director; Harriette Cole, author and former editor of Ebony, Essence, and Uptown magazines; Elaine Welteroth, beauty and health director at Teen Vogue; and Pratt Institute professor Adrienne Jones. Fashion guru Walter Greene, fashion editorial director of Profiles98 and consultant on Black Dress, will moderate.
Mannequins for Black Dress were generously donated by PATINA-V and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Exhibition Design by Blumlein Associates, Inc.
Photo: Carrie Mae Weems; Designer: Tracy Reese; Model: Nykhor Paul, Red Model Management; Styling: Ty-Ron Mayes.