Fashion Watch on Black Dress Exhibit

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Contrary to what its name might suggest, Black Dress: Ten Contemporary Fashion Designers has nothing to do with a “little black dress.” Instead, the new show at New York’s Pratt Manhattan Gallery, co-curated by art dealer Paula Coleman and fashion professor Adrienne Jones, highlights the work of Back designers.

Jones found inspiration in scrapbooks of Black fashion assembled by her godmother and determination from conversations with her students about fashion history.

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Debbie Norrell

The students can name Coco Chanel and Giorgio Armani,” she says, but when it comes to designers of color, she laments, “they just don’t know.”

In an effort to remedy that situation, Jones and Coleman rounded up the work of industry veterans like Tracy Reese, Byron Lars, and Stephen Burrows as well as that of newcomers like LaQuan Smith, best known for dressing Rihanna and Tyra Banks.

Also on view is an original video piece by artist Carrie Mae Weems, whose major retrospective is currently up at The Guggenheim.

“I think this gives young Black designer hopefuls something aspirational,” Lars says of the show. “They see us out here doing it and they realize they can do it, too.”

Black Dress: Ten Contemporary Fashion Designers runs through April 26, 2014 at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, 144 West 14th Street, 2nd Floor. If you are in New York see it.

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