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Black Fashion Museum facts for kids

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The Black Fashion Museum is a former museum housing clothing that traces the historical contributions of black designers and clothing makers to fashion. Originally established in Harlem, New York in 1979, and relocated to Washington, D.C. in 1994, the museum operated until 2007, when the Black Fashion Museum Collection was accepted into the collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The collection comprises more than 700 garments, 300 accessories, and 60 boxes of archival material collected by Lois K. Alexander-Lane throughout her life. The collection was acquired by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2007.

About

"The Black Fashion Museum the celebrates traditional role of dressmakers in American life. It is a repository for period and recent garments designed and made by people of the African Diaspora. Its collections include replicas of ballgowns created by Elizabeth Keckley, the once-enslaved dressmaker who became confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln. Keckley wrote Behind the Scenes (1868) and was a leader in freedmen's relief efforts during and after the Civil War. The work of Ann Lowe, who designed Jacqueline Bouvier's wedding dress for her marriage to John F. Kennedy, is also featured."

"Previously housed in a two-story row house on Vermont Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Black Fashion Museum Collection comprises more than 700 garments, 300 accessories, and 60 boxes of archival material collected by Alexander-Lane throughout her life. In 2007, Alexander-Lane's daughter, Joyce Bailey, donated the Black Fashion Museum's entire holdings to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The research collection—one of the largest and rarest of its kind—includes a dress sewn by Rosa Parks shortly before her famous arrest in Montgomery, Ala.; a beige-patterned skirt worn by an enslaved child in Leesburg, Va.; the original Tin Man costume designed by Geoffrey Holder for the 1975 Broadway musical, The Wiz."

Highlights

Clothing and bonnets worn by slaves in the mid-1800s appear alongside an elaborately constructed opera cape made by a former slave. Other items include gowns by Ann Lowe, a pioneering African American designer whose patrons included the Rockefellers, the Du Ponts, the Vanderbilts, and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

Display

See also: Lois K. Alexander Lane

The Black Fashion Museum collection was donated in 2007 to the National Museum of African American History and Culture by Joyce Bailey.

"The collection runs the gamut of clothing and accessories from the 19th century to the 1980s, and includes everyday wear to haute couture, as well as theater and performance costumes," says Michèle Gates Moresi, curator of collections at the NMAAHC. "What they all share is an excellence in workmanship and design."

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