Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Luncheon Honoring Arthur McGee

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating the legacy of fashion designer Arthur McGee with a luncheon on Monday January 26 from 12Noon-2:30PM with remarks by Cicely Tyson.

Born in 1933 in Detroit Michigan, Arthur McGee began his fashion career at the age of 18 when he entered a scholarship contest sponsored by the Traphegen School of Design in New York, advertised in a local Detroit newspaper. Inspired by his mother who often created her own fashions, Arthur submitted the winning design and set his course for Manhattan.

Mr. McGee went on to study a the Fashion Insititute of Technology (FIT) where he honed his skills for millinery and apparel design. He began working for the American Couturier Charles James while a student at FIT and later produced his own designs while pursuing employment in New York's apparel industry.

In 1957, Mr. McGee became the first African-American to run the design room of an established Seventh Avenue apparel company, Bobby Brooks. His remarkable talent and the broad appeal of his work transcended racial barriers, selling to such stores as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, Henri Bendel, Bonwit Teller, Bergdorf Goodman, and Lord & Taylor. He opened his first store in the early 1960's on St. Mark's Place in New York City where his clients included Cybil and Richard Burton and Arthur Mitchell of the Dance Theater of Harlem. He became the designer of choice for many celebrities, including Lena Horne, Cicely Tyson, and Stevie Wonder.

Known as the dean of African-American designers, Mr. McGee mentored many young talents, including Aziza Braithwaite Bey (Elena Braith) and the late Willie Smith, paving the way for designers of colors. For more about the designer visit his website at www.arthurmcgee.com.

For inquiries about the event email Donna Williams: audience.development@metmuseum.org

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Stars in the Front Row

(All photos: Isabelle Erb )

The Thurgood Marshall College fund celebrated African-American Leadership in the Fashion Industry with the 3rd Annual Front Row Awards and fashion show on Saturday night. The capacity crowd, that filled the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, included students who had participated in the programs of the scholarship organization, which was established in 1987.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Tamara Tunie

The Mistress of Ceremonies for the event was actress Tamara Tunie, a television veteran who currently appears on the series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She kicked off the evening by taking a turn on the catwalk in a slinky, brown dress by designer B. Michael. Tunie kept the crowd entertained until the night’s first presenter, actress Janine Green-Doh, whose arrival had been delayed by traffic, made her way to the stage. Green-Doh presented the Fashion Icon Award to makeup artist, Ross Burton, who is best known as the National Artistic Director for Lancome. As he held his trophy, a bronze bust of Thurgood Marshall, Burton described his work as “creating transformation and change with a makeup brush.”

Supermodel and “Modelpreneur”, Beverly Johnson, accepted her award from Deborah Gregory, author of the Cheetah Girls novel series. Johnson recalled the day that Wilhelmina herself, of Wilhelmina models, called to tell her that she had gotten the famous Vogue Magazine cover.

Tyson Beckford and Bethann Hardison

Bethann Hardison, who has represented Tyson Beckford since 1992, said that she had no clue that he would become the star that he is today. She remembered the early days of his career, when he would arrive for “go sees” and occasionally be told not to take the elevator because he had been mistaken for a messenger. After Hardison presented his reward, Beckford told the audience not to “let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve what you want.”

Design by Tracy Reese

Celebrity hairstylist, Oscar James, received his Fashion Icon Award form Vanessa Williams, of the hit television series, Ugly Betty. Williams joked that James has “weaved his way into notoriety” and that she was the only one of his clients in attendance because he loved her the most. James has also styled the tresses of Tyra Banks, Iman, Beyonce, and Halle Berry, to name a few.

Other Fashion Icon Award recipients included noted photographer Keith Major and full figured specialty retailer Ashley Stewart Stores. The 'Breaking Barriers Award' went to fashion entrepreneur Audrey Smaltz.

Johnny Vincent, Welcome To My Paradise

The second half of the evening was comprised of the much anticipated fashion show. The collections of no less than 13 designers were presented, including Trophy Husband by Linwood, Johnny Vincent, Lafayette 148 New York, Sean John, Tracy Reese, Stephen Burrows, Douglas Says…, Kevan Hall, Sixxfoota, Miguel Antoinne, Thurgood 1954, Steven Cutting, and Xiomara. Standout looks from the runway show featured the sexy swimwear of Johnny Vincent, Tracy Reese’s floral day dresses, and the “Trophy Husbands” in Linwood’s tribal dress.

-Rhonda Erb

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