The Industry: Threads of Time, A History of African-American Designers

25 May

Did you know that Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding gown and bridal party dresses for her marriage to John F. Kennedy were designed by an African-American designer (Anne Cole Lowe)? Or that the first Playboy Bunny costume was conceived by yet another African-American designer (Zelda Wynn)? Stop any ten people at Lincoln Center at any given Fashion Week, and they will most likely have no idea that one of the most photographed gowns in history was designed by a black designer. As you know, we are on the hunt for amazing fashion and style books and were hoping to find an comprehensive coffetable monograph on African-American designers.  No such luck on that front, but we were pleased to see that there is a second edition of Threads of Time, The Fabric of History: Profiles of African-American Dressmakers and Designers, 1850 to the Present by Rosemary E. Reed Miller. Reed Miller owns the Toast and Strawberries boutique in Washington, D.C. and published this book herself.

The book, the first edition of which was published in 2002,  features brief bios on known and relatively unknown designers and dressmakers, including Rosa Parks and Sara Penn, whose profile is complimented by photographs of supermodels Beverly Johnson and Lauren Hutton wearing her pieces. The final chapter of the book explores the The Black Fashion Museum, based in Washington, D.C. and founded by Lois Alexander Lane.  We definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in fashion history and plan to pick up the second edition.

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