A History Of Style: The Black Fashion Museum
The celebration of Black History Month highlights the life and legacy of African-American leaders, inventors and pioneers; but it also marks a time to remember the creativity of many African American fashion designers. Their expressions have been displayed in The Smithsonian and the Black Fashion Museum, originally founded in 1979 by Lois K. Alexander-Lane.
The Black Fashion Museum housed a number of designs made and worn by African Americans. It also showcased the significant contributions that African American designers had on the fashion industry. Capturing history, the museum displayed a slave dress that blacks were forced to wear and a few others they were not allowed to wear. Also, the dress that Rosa Parks wore when she refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery bus was a popular piece.
Designer Ann Lowe had several pieces on display including the wedding gown she made for Jacqueline Kennedy. It was full of with embellishments and a flattering form fitting bodice. The dress was eventually transferred to The Smithsonian. Other Lowe creations reflect her use of taffeta and sewed-on flowers.
After finding her way out of slavery, designer Elizabeth Keckley became close friends with Mary Todd Lincoln and designed many dresses for her. Keckley’s designs, including a recognizable purplish-blue gown, hung in both the Black Fashion Museum and The Smithsonian. The Black Fashion Museum closed in 2007 and the collection was transferred to the Smithsonian.