Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Beyond the Runway Presents: "Black Dress"


ME: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another edition of
the MET Fashion Photo Show Blog. This is a special edition of my blog
called; "Beyond the Runway." Instead of writing articles about designers
and the fashion shows that they have participated in, this section of the
blog focuses on areas that are not usually discussed in the fashion arena.
This edition of Beyond the Runway focuses on African Americans and their
place in the fashion industry. African American designers do not have too
many forums to showcase their designs. This all changed with the current
exhibit entitled; "Black Dress." Black Dress was a great start in getting
multiple African American designers together for a fashion show featured
at the same place, and at the same time.
At the Pratt Gallery in Manhattan located at 144 West 14th Street, ten
fashion designers were brought together to show the world what they were
capable of. When Black Dress finally opened, it did not disappoint. The
exhibit received great reviews. Over four hundred people saw their work.
It started on February 5th and concludes on April 26th. There was a
special panel created to discuss the future of African American designers
and where they go from here. One of the panelists, Professor Adrienne
Jones of Pratt Institute to take time out of her busy schedule to talk
to me about the future of African American designers and where they can go from
here.
ME: Good afternoon Prof Jones and welcome to the MET Fashion Photo Show blog.
PROF. JONES: Good afternoon.

ME: Let's get right to it. The exhibit "Black Dress" has done extremely
well. Black Dress will conclude on April 26th with the closing ceremony
taking place on Friday April 25th at 6pm. As an African American woman, a
Professor at a major university and an active member of the fashion
community, in your opinion, where do African Americans fit in in the
fashion industry?
PROF. JONES: There has been no space provided for us.
ME: I looked at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week schedule recently and
learned that for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, there were only two African
American Fashion designers, yet if you look at "Black Dress", there are
ten designers featured in this exhibit, yet none of them were featured at
any of the Mercedes Benz shows. Can more African American designers be
featured during Fashion Week?
PROF. JONES We have to have the money to get into Fashion Week. It takes
about a million dollars to do a fashion show at MB week. It is difficult
to make a profit in the business. We simply do not have the resources, nor
the people to give us the necessary resources.
ME: During Fashion Week in the city, there are several shows featured in
different sections of the city. We see many African American designers at
these shows, but what happens to their clothing lines once the shows are
over?
PROF. JONES: After fashion week comes market week, this is where the
buyers look at designers fashions and purchase what they are interested
in. This is where the sales will be made.
ME: I recently spoke to Paula Coleman (Guest Curator of Black Dress) and
she stated that "fashion shows are nice but a better way to spend the
resources spent on fashion shows is to collaborate with one another and
open a store to sell their designs." What are your thoughts?
PROF. JONES: I agree
ME: I would pose a similar question to you. What would be the best
approach to take for new fashion designers trying to make it in the
fashion industry today?
PROF.JONES: First they have to love what they do. They can't do this to
become famous. You will not get discovered overnight.You will have to work
very hard. I talked about the recent death of L'Ren Scott's suicide. We
forget that this comes from the heart first, we can't worry about the
success. If you come across a difficult point in your life, and you will
come across a difficult time, you won't know what to do. You have to leave
room for failure. You have to be able to pick yourself back up when you
fall down. We will have it harder than L'Ren because she had more
resources than most of us. Unfortunately, it still wasn't enough. The same
thing could be said about Alexander McQueen.
ME: You are the first African American woman in the entire school to get a
full time position, then tenure? What does this mean to you?
PROF. JONES: The Sam Cooke song describes it pretty well as "Change is
going to come" When you are "in it" you don't really see it as a big deal.
It's also hard to hear about someone being "the first" when we are in the 21st century.
I'm not 114 years old (LOL). It was actually my mother
who made me realize that it was a big deal, and an accomplishment that
needed to be celebrated.
ME: Are fashion shows the best/most cost effective ways to advertise a
designers clothing line? No, the best way is for the fashion editors to
put us in the fashion magazines.
Do you believe that social media plays a large part in today's industry?
PROF. JONES: Yes
ME: In your opinion do African American athletes, entertainers and
celebrities have a major say in the fashion industry? And if so, how?
PROF. JONES: Yes because we are geared toward celebrities and everything
that they do.
ME: Artists in the Hip Hop industry, athletes and celebrities are
constantly releasing new clothing lines. Just recently Plaxico Burress
just released his new socks collection. Is this group of new fashion
designers taking opportunities away from other designers and students who
are trying to break into the business?
PROF. JONES: First of all they are not fashion designers they are
athletes, celebrities and people who license their names and likenesses
out to sell the product.
ME: The media plays a large role in the fashion industry. African
Americans spend over 14 billion dollars a year, should there be a voice
representing African American fashion in the media? I am specifically
referring to voices in major periodicals such as W, Elle, Vanity Fair,
Cosmopolitan, or even the New York Times Magazine?
PROF. JONES: Yes, again more Africa Americans should be featured in
fashion periodicals. If you see LaQuan Smith in the fashion magazines,
then you will look for LaQuan Smith fashions. (Another shameless plug
because LaQuan Smith is one of the 10 Black Dress designers)
ME: This is a segment of my blog that looks past the runway. After this
segment is posted, what do you believe is the next step in keeping his
topic at the forefront of the fashion industry?
PROF. JONES: We have to find ways to support the designers that are
already here as well as support and educate the next group of new talent.
ME: When I spoke to Paula Coleman, she mentioned that African American
designers are producing fashion shows and events but members of the
African American community do not hear about them until it is too late.
What do you think can be done about this?
PROF. JONES: We must learn how to support our own communities. We are
going to have to go back to the church fashion shows.
ME: Prof. Jones is there one last point that you would like to leave with
the audience?
PROF. JONES: I want to give kudos to CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of
America) because they are honoring Beth Ann Hardison for her outspokenness
about the lack of African American models on the runway and in fashion publications
and her efforts to get more Black models on the runway.
ME: Thank you Prof. Jones for participating in today's feature and I look
forward to seeing you at the closing ceremony of Black Dress on Friday April 25th at 7pm.
PROF JONES: Your welcome, see you on the 25th.

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