This Week in Black Art and Culture: Air Jordan’s Dedicated to Black Women, Pharrell is LV Men’s Creative Director, Andre Leon Talley Collection Raises Over $3 Million Dollars for his Beloved Church

2/17/2023 – A Ma Maniére releases the Air Jordan 12 line, dedicated to Black Women. Pharrell returns to Louie Vuitton as the men’s creative director, following his friend Virgil Abloh’s passing. Maryland Governor Wes Moore announces the discovery of an enslaved people’s home at the Harriet Tubman birthplace. The collection of André Leon Talley at a Christie’s auction hits the $3.6 million mark. This week encompasses major fashion moves; read more in This Week in Black Art and Culture.

A Ma Maniére Releases Air Jordan Line Dedicated to Black Women

A Ma Maniére (AMM) on Feb. 14 announced a new Air Jordan 12 line in collaboration with the Jordan brand. This effort is a sincere ode to the beauty and strength of Black women.

To continue its shoe launch tradition, The Whitaker Group, a retailer, released “She’s the Blueprint,” a short film that describes the project’s motivation. In the video, the retailer’s founder and owner, James Whitner and his crew express their appreciation for Black women and their efforts to advance fashion and social consciousness.

Lined up on the product’s side are two colorways of the A Ma Maniére x Air Jordan 12: one that is fitted in with a “Black/Burgundy” palette while the other is designed in “White/Burgundy.” Both are improved with quilted lining, AMM branding on the tongues, heels, eyelets, and quality suede or leather uppers. In addition to the sneakers, a co-branded MJ-print jacquard down-filled puffer, nylon shirt and pant set, suede knit tracksuit set, monogram jacquard hoodies and tees will be released.

To favor the ladies, AMM granted women early access to the raffle from Feb. 14-15, while the general public can enter from Feb. 16-19. The adult sneakers will retail for $225, the PS (preschool) pairs will cost $85 and the TD (toddler) pairs will cost $65. The A Ma Maniére x Air Jordan 12 in black and white, as well as the apparel collection, will launch on on Feb. 24 at 11:00 a.m. EST.

Pharrell Returns to Louis Vuitton as Men’s Creative Director
American recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams has been named the new creative director for men’s clothing at Louis Vuitton.

Roughly 16 months after the tragic death of its previous men’s wear designer, Virgil Abloh, in 2021, the French luxury brand said on Instagram that it has hired Mr. Williams. Louis Vuitton Chairman and CEO Pietro Beccari, who joined Louis Vuitton from Dior last month, made his first significant move with this hiring. Since 2004, Williams, who also was the first male ambassador for Chanel, has worked intermittently for Louis Vuitton. 

“I am glad to welcome Pharrell back home, after our collaborations in 2004 and 2008 for Louis Vuitton, as our new men’s creative director” Beccari said. “His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton towards a new and very exciting chapter,” .

More recently, Williams embarked on a partnership with the jeweler Tiffany & Company, which, like Louis Vuitton, is part of the luxury goods behemoth LVMH. He excelled as a fashion designer and entrepreneur with his Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream clothing, among other projects. Williams and David Grutman opened Swan and Bar Bevy in Miami’s Design District in the fall of 2019 and The Goodtime Hotel in 2021. 

In 2020, Williams was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for his work as part of The Neptunes. In 2019, Pharrell founded YELLOW, a nonprofit working to even the odds for all youth through education, helping them realize their potential. In 2020, Williams launched Black Ambition, a nonprofit initiative that provides a bridge to success for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are launching tech, healthcare, Web 3.0 and consumer products/services startups. 

A longtime advocate against racial injustice, Pharrell played an integral role in talks with now-former Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to designate Juneteenth as a permanent paid state holiday. In April 2019, Williams launched his first SOMETHING IN THE WATER, a multi-day music festival and experience on the beach in his hometown of Virginia Beach. Last summer, Williams brought his SOMETHING IN THE WATER Music festival to Washington, D.C. on Juneteenth Weekend (June 17-19). 

This April, SOMETHING IN THE WATER returns to Virginia Beach, Virginia and will continue its mission spotlighting the community. Pharrell established HumanraceTM in 2020, a product firm with a vision to inspire all individuals in their quest for health across products and people. His debut collection for Louis Vuitton will debut during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris in June.

Maryland Governor Announces Discovery of Home at Harriet Tubman Birthplace
Today, Governor Wes Moore of Maryland joined local, state, and federal partners at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Dorchester County to reveal the discovery of a slave dwelling on the Thompson Farm, the birthplace of Harriet Tubman. 

“Harriet Tubman’s birthplace is sacred ground, and this discovery is part of our ongoing commitment to preserve the legacy of those who lived here,” said Governor Moore. “The find reveals untold stories of the past that help us both understand the history we share and inspire us to make a better future.”

The discovery of the home—believed to be that of an enslaved overseer, possibly Jerry Manokey—follows the April 2021 news of the discovery of the home of Ben Ross, Harriet Tubman’s father. Maryland Department of Transportation Chief Archaeologist Dr. Julie Schablitsky and her colleagues have been searching for the dwellings of individuals enslaved on the Thompson Farm for more than two years. At one time, more than 40 enslaved people lived there. The home is on private property, although Mr. Ross’s residence’s archaeological remains are found on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Under layers of earth, archaeologists uncovered a huge brick structure foundation of the home. The dig also uncovered other artifacts, including a store of West African spirits. The cache, unearthed during digs last year, contained a glass heart-shaped perfume bottle stopper, a white ceramic dish and a copper alloy button. It is claimed that enslaved people placed the cache in front of the home’s fireplace to protect its inhabitants from evil spirits. 

The results are planned to be displayed at the visitor center. In spring and summer, archaeologists from the Maryland Department of Transportation will research the Eastern shore, Mr. Ross’s homesite and the overseer’s quarters. 

“Such painstaking work excavating and reassembling the shattered remnants of such a nuanced and, for far too many, nightmarish past, act as a bridge to both self-empowerment and transcendence for an oppressed people, and of much-needed heightened awareness, empathy, understanding, and personal growth by the community—and indeed, the nation at large,” said Douglas Mitchell, Ben Ross’s great-great-great-grandson. “To underestimate the value and the importance of Dr. Schablitsky’s work here is to underestimate the capacity and the will of the human spirit for redemption, renewal and self-empowerment.”

André Leon Talley Collection Auctioned at Christie’s Hits $3.6 Million Mark

Andre Leon Talley By David Shankbone – Own work, CC BY 3.0

The sale of the collection of the late fashion icon and novelist André Leon Talley has garnered almost $3.6 million at Christie’s Auction House, according to data revealed Wednesday, which included custom-made Louis Vuitton trunks and art by Andy Warhol.

The live auction of 66 pieces, which concluded on Tuesday, included items from the Vogue editor’s closet, art collection, and furniture from his home. It grossed approximately $1.4 million. Another 350 items were available in a second online auction that concluded on Thursday and raised around $2.16 million. 

A lot of 10 pairs of gloves, which sold for $756, was the least costly item. The three most expensive objects sold for $94,500 each: Talley’s trio of monogrammed luggage and Warhol’s valentine on canvas, Candy Box (True Love), personalized to Talley in 1984. The top lot was Warhol’s image of Diana Vreeland—the famed Vogue editor and Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute special consultant—astride a stallion. This painting, Diana Vreeland Rampant (after Jacques Louis David, Napoleon at St. Bernard), was anticipated to sell for between $30,000 and $50,000 but ultimately sold for $94,500. A pair of non-functional Stephen Sprouse “graffiti” luggage, created just for the runway, sold for $69,300, significantly above the estimate of $4,000–$5,000.

Talley began his fashion career as Diana Vreeland’s unpaid apprentice at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After graduating from the Met, Talley worked for Andy Warhol’s Interview, as Paris bureau chief at Women’s Wear Daily, and at The New York Times before gaining the post of fashion news director at Vogue in 1983. In 1988, Anna Wintour appointed him creative director of Vogue, where he remained until 2013, with the exception of a three-year spell during which he contributed from Paris to W magazine. 

He was the first Black man to hold the position of editor-at-large at Vogue, and he was often the only Black person in the front row at fashion shows. Less than two years after the publication of his controversial autobiography, In the Chiffon Trenches, he passed away in January 2022 at the age of 73.

Profits from the auctions will benefit the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York and Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina, where Talley grew up, “both of which were important to Mr. Talley’s heart,” the auction house stated. In her Super Bowl halftime performance, Rihanna paid homage to Talley by wearing a huge red puffer from Alaa that mimicked Talley’s iconic brilliant crimson sleeping back coat by Norma Kamali. The coat, which was a well-known fashion staple for Talley, sold for nearly $25,000 at the live auction, much above the estimate of between $500 and $800.

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