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Nancy B. Deihl
New York University, Steinhardt School

Expanding the Narrative: Researching Black Fashion Designers

The prevailing narrative of American fashion prioritizes sportswear and casual clothing, access and affordability—glorifying brands rather than creative individuals. While some major names in the industry are well known, many designers worked on Seventh Avenue, but ‘behind the label,’ or pioneered their own enterprises. Recent scholarship is starting to bring their work and careers to light. This presentation focuses on the research methods and materials—and the ultimate discoveries—behind two book chapters on two unsung Black fashion designers: Zelda Wynn Valdes and Wesley Tann. Wynn Valdes is profiled in The Hidden History of American Fashion: Rediscovering 20th-Century Women Designers (Bloomsbury 2018) and a chapter on Tann is included in Black Designers in American Fashion (Bloomsbury 2021).

Wednesday, October 6, 12:15–1:15 pm

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Nancy B. Deihl is chair of the Department of Art and Art Professions in the Steinhardt School of NYU and faculty in the costume studies graduate program. Her research interests focus on twentieth-century fashion, in particular on the American fashion industry. She lectures and publishes on fashion history topics and is the editor of The Hidden History of American Fashion: Rediscovering 20th-Century Women Designers (2018) and co-author of The History of Modern Fashion (2015).

This event will be held via Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 10 am on the day of the event. This event will be live with automatic captions.