Throughout Black History Month this February, Pratt Institute’s news page and social media are highlighting the important initiatives and accomplishments of some of the Institute’s alumni, faculty, and students in working to preserve and share Black history. From the fashion industry to national cultural institutions and monuments, discover just a few of Pratt’s amazing community members and their achievements.

This story highlights the Black Dress series and contributions made by Black men and women in the fashion industry. Check the news page for additional stories that will be posted through the end of Black History Month, or follow on social media by searching the hashtag #BAPBlackHistory.

Black Dress, a platform of achievement of Black fashion industry professionals, launched in 2014 with a trailblazing exhibition of 10 contemporary Black fashion designers at Pratt Manhattan Gallery. Curated by Adrienne Jones, a Pratt Institute fashion professor and the Black Dress concept developer, with co-curator  Paula Coleman, it included designs by international fashion stars such as Stephen Burrows, Tracy Reese, Byron Lars, Omar Salam, and Pratt alumnus Jeffrey Banks. By recognizing influential names and emerging talent, Black Dress responded to a lack of visibility and support for Black designers in the fashion industry with a vibrant showcase of work recognizing entrepreneurship and creativity in the field. It was covered by HuffPost, W magazine, Elle, and WNYC.

This year, Jones, together with Pratt alumna Rachelle Etienne-Robinson, continues the series with Black Dress: Salon, an evening highlighting contributions made by Black men and women in the fashion industry. Timed with Black History Month and New York Fashion Week, the February 15 event will feature a conversation with designer and 2014 Pratt Fashion Visionary Award recipient Byron Lars, who will discuss his foray into the fashion industry publicly for the first time, as well as the lack of diversity in fashion. Jones will moderate the discussion.

Black Dress: Salon will spotlight creativity as well as the challenges and opportunities for the exposure and preservation of Black fashion. Held at the Caroline Ladd Pratt House near Pratt’s Brooklyn campus, the event will also feature live models, mannequins, live jazz by Clarissa Sinceno and Aah Fro Blu, and a video by artist and 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellow Carrie Mae Weems.

The event is supported by the Pratt Fashion Department, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Black Alumni of Pratt, and Pratt Black Lives Matter.

There are a number of events taking place across campus in celebration of Black History Month, including a panel discussion on Design as Social PracticeGraduate Center for Planning and the Environment lecture series events, 400 Years of Inequality and Forging a New Social Contract; and the first film screening of the Diverse Voices Film Series, The Hate U Give, curated by the Film/Video Department and sponsored by the Center for Equity & Inclusion. 

Read additional Black History Is Pratt History articles: National Museum of African American History and Culture and The Studio Museum in Harlem.