Thursday, April 22, 2010

☞ WALK: Harlem's Forgotten Fashion Institute

Upon passing by the brownstones at 155 and 157 West 126th Street, we noticed a couple of vintage plaques that intimated on the old building's fashion past. The side-by-side townhouses between Lenox and ACP/7th Avenue have signs that indicated they they were once the Harlem Institute of Fashion and the Black Fashion Museum. After doing some research we found a Washington Post article from 2007 on the passing of Mrs. Lois K. Alexander Lane who founded these institutions. Mrs. Alexander Lane opened the Harlem Fashion Institute in 1966 and the Black Fashion Museum in 1979 after seeing the lack of cultural establishments that addressed the contributions of African Americans in the history of fashion. The former provided courses in dressmaking and tailoring while the museum exhibited fashions worn or sewn by African-Americans starting from the 19th century. Even though Mrs. Alexander Lane won many accolades for her community work in over 30 years, the businesses would close their doors by 1994. As far as the collections are concerned, it is unclear as to what happened to all the historic museum pieces. Read more in the Washington Post obituary: LINK. Photos by Ulysses


  1. You know, the Ann Lowe Wedding Dress worn by Jacqueline Kennedy was once housed in this museum.

    What a sad loss for Harlem. I passed that former museum often and wonder.

  2. Thankfully, the collections are now in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.