Black Fashion Designers examined the impact made by designers of African descent on the world of fashion. Drawing exclusively from The Museum at FIT’s permanent collection, the exhibition featured approximately 75 fashion objects that illustrated the individual styles of more than 60 designers, placing them within a wider fashion context. Objects dated from the 1950s to the present, included mid-century evening gowns by Anne Lowe and the jovial, yet controversial, work of Patrick Kelly from the 1980s. Contemporary pieces included Lagos-based designer Maki Oh’s spring 2013 dress, which reconceptualizes Nigerian traditions, and pieces from the latest runways of established designers, such as Tracy Reese, and emerging talents, such as Charles Harbison.
The exhibition addressed the influence of black fashion models as well, by highlighting milestone events, such as “The Ebony Fashion Fair.” Black Fashion Designers was meant to enliven the conversation about historic and ongoing issues of diversity within the fashion industry. It honored the creative talents of designers who are often overlooked and provided a fresh, holistic view of the fashion industry, emphasizing the significant roles in culture and society played by black designers.