How Black Designers Defined Fashion for Generations

Talent that shaped history and opened doors for other creatives
image of anne lowe standing next to a mannequin. She has on a black skirt and jacket. The mannequin is dressed in a white gown.

Ann Lowe: Fashion Icon

During her illustrious 50-year career, her extraordinary garments earned her prominent clientele, including Jacqueline Kennedy, Marjorie Merriweather Post, and the Rockefellers. But her journey to success was fraught with challenges—it reflected decades of resilience and perseverance.
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Back of a pink satin and organza dress

Pretty in Pink

If you want an example of the perfect party dress of the 1950s, this could be it. An extremely flattering cut, sparkly beadwork, unique pops of unexpected color and texture - this dress surely looked absolutely amazing on the lady whether she was seated, standing or dancing the night away.
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Hats Off to Mae Reeves!

It’s plain to see why famed milliner Mae Reeves called her creations “showstoppers.” Whether they were covered in vibrant flowers, adorned with delicate beading, or emblazoned with a brooch, the hats created in Reeves’s shop were nothing short of wearable art.
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Arthur L. McGee (1933-2019)

Arthur McGee: Dean of African American Designers

His clientele included numerous celebrities such as Cicely Tyson, Stevie Wonder, Arthur Mitchell, Sybil Burton, Lena Horne and Dexter and Maxine Gordon. He was also a generous supporter of many young, emerging designers, like, the late Willi Smith and Elena Braith/Dr. Aziza Braithwaite Bey.
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Outfit worn by Carlotta Walls

Dress for the Occasion

In her book, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School (2009), Mrs. Carlotta Walls LaNier writes that her "great-uncle Emerald Holloway stopped by the house with a surprise gift for me: cash to buy a brand-new dress for my first day at Central.
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Rainbow feather boa and shoulder pads cape worn by André 3000

Five Things to See: The Fashion of Hip-Hop

From the leather and feather of early MCs, to the classic New York City streetwear of 90s, to the revival of Afrocentric garb, to the big brand clothing line of moguls, fashion has been central to hip-hop identity.
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Hip-Hop Fashions

What we wear often expresses culture and can influence others. The style choices of black Americans have made them global trendsetters.
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Power of Place

Power of Place

Re-claiming and Re-valuing History

To mark the centennial anniversary of the Tulsa massacre, NMAAHC has created the Tulsa Collections Portal offering greater access to the museum’s objects, documents, period film and dozens of hours of survivor’s memories.
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Power of Place

Testimony as Literature

Born in 1879, the civil rights lawyer Buck Colbert (B.C.) Franklin moved from the all-Black Oklahoma town of Rentiesville to Tulsa in 1921. He set up his law practice in Greenwood. His wife and children (including 6-year-old John Hope Franklin, the preeminent historian and founding chair of NMAAHC’s Scholarly Advisory Committee) planned to join him at the end of May.
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Power of Place

Reconstructing the Dreamland

Anita Williams Christopher laid out some of her father William D. Williams’ collection of materials related to the massacre on the top of an old desk that had belonged to her grandparents, John Wesley and Loula Mae Williams, proprietors of the Dreamland Theatre, one of Greenwood’s most iconic and prosperous institutions.
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Power of Place

Coins as Metaphor

George Monroe was almost five years old on May 31, 1921, when his world was set on fire.
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