Monday, December 5, 2016

BLACK FASHION DESIGNERS at Museum at FIT: Review By Polly Guerin

The often unrecognized impact that designers of African descent have had on fashion garners significant homage to the contribution of black designers at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. 
        Always at the forefront of fashion FIT takes a lead position presenting the exhibit, BLACK FASHION DESIGNERS, from December 6, 2016 to May 16, 2017.
      Although there have been exhibitions on individual black designers, Duro Olowu, Zule Bet and Patrick Kelly to name a few, this is the first major exhibition in many years that highlights the global history of black fashion designers from the 1950s to the present. To their credit, all the objects on display are part of The Museum at FIT.
Duro Clowu, ensemble, Fall 2012
Nigerian designer, Duro Olowu's enthusiasm for fashion was inspired by the unexpected mix of fabrics, texture and draping techniques of the clothing worn by the women that surrounded him. Following in the footsteps of his father, after a stint as a lawyer in Nigeria,  he returned to London to pursue his true vocation, starting his eponymous label at the end of 2004. His first collection was an instant success with fashion editors and buyers worldwide. Pictured Left: Duro Olowu, ensemble, Fall 2012, Gift of Duo Olowu.
     The signature hallmark of his designs includes, alluring silhouettes, sharp tailoring, original prints juxtaposed with luxurious vintage fabrics in "off beat: yet harmonious combinations.  His first collection was an international sell out including Barney's in New York, Harrods in London and Maria Luisa in Paris.  He won the "New Designer of the Year Award' at the British Fashion Awards, the only designer to have ever done so without a catwalk show.
Patrick Kelly dress, Fall/Winter 1986, France
This ground breaking exhibition features approximately 75 fashion by more than 60 designers. Not to be missed, among them I remember Patrick Kelly, who I met in Paris when I was covering the Pret a Portez (ready-to-wear) collections  Sadly Kelly died of AIDS after a short, brilliant career. But his legacy of button accents, zebra prints, clingy knits and safety-pin-trims lives on. Henri Bendel, Bloomgdale's and Bergdorf Goodman were just a few of the high-end stores that sold his designs. And he did it in his signature blue denim overalls. Imagine that, a uniform reminiscent of his humble beginnings in Vicksburg, Mississippi. When you look at his shapes, silhouettes, color, and his playful use of trimmings and whimsical treatments you realize that his take on fashion was very modern and is relevant even today.
       Ta Ta Darlings!!!  The exhibit opens tomorrow, FREE admission always. Where: The Museum at FIT, Shirley Goodman Research Center, Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, southwest corner Fan Mail welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the link that interest you in the left hand column on visionary men, women determined to succeed, the fashion historian and poetry from the heart.

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