The Funk Boutique: Celebrating Successful Black Women, Sustainability, and Sneakers

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Bella Morais
·9 min read
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Everything’s coming up American fashion! The first Monday in May has always been known as “Met Gala Day,” when the most elite of the elite come out dressed to impress and preview the exquisite annual costume exhibit hosted by Anna Wintour and Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute of Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This year, the duo has announced that contrary to popular belief, American fashion is not dead, and have revealed that there are plans for not one, but two large interconnected Costume Institute shows—one opening in September to close out NYFW and the second in May 2022, according to The New York Times.

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2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the Met’s Costume Institute, and Bolton wanted to curate a collection that would honor the surrounding community that has long supported it. According to Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times, “the museum equivalent of working from home is working from your own collections. Approximately 80 percent of the clothes in the show will come from the Met’s holdings.”

Rather than trying to change the stereotypes that exist around American fashion, Bolton is trying the shift the narrative and widen the perceptions. In doing so, he hopes to quell the growing conversation about fashion, particularly American fashion, and its demise. The first show, “In America, A Lexicon of Fashion,” will draw from contemporary designers on a much larger scale than it has in the past. Like other years, the exhibition will be held in the Anna Wintour Costume Center which will be set up like a “house” with each room depicting a different emotion.

The exhibit will connect designers such as Claire McCardell and Collina Strada and their interpretations of “well-being,” and Patrick Kelly and Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss and the meaning of “devotion,” reports the Times.

The second show (May 2022), “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” will be spread out across 21 of the museum’s American period rooms and focus on fashion spanning 300 years of personal and political narratives. Names like Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass are some of the more well-known names on the list, but others are a bit more abstract, like Fannie Criss, a turn-of-the-20th-century dressmaker and child of former slaves.

In an effort to shift away from the overwhelmingly white planning committee—and general whiteness of fashion—Franklin Leonard, the founder of The Black List, has been named one of the collaborators alongside Bradford Young (Selma, When They See Us) for the second show. And while the list of celebrity hosts has not yet been announced, there are a few rumors circulating that Amanda Gorman will play a role in the first Met Ball, but nothing has been confirmed.

As exciting as it is to have the Met Ball back in arms reach, there are still many steps—and months—to get through before the first show opens in September.

“We very consciously wanted this to be a celebration of the American fashion community, which suffered so much during the pandemic,” said Mr. Bolton, “...I think American fashion is undergoing a renaissance, with young American designers at the vanguard of discussions around diversity, inclusion, sustainability and conscious creativity. I find it incredibly exciting.”

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“I’ve learned that it’s okay to be afraid. And what’s more, it’s okay to seek greatness. That does not make me a black hole seeking attention. It makes me a supernova,” Amanda Gorman told Doreen St. Félix for Vogue. Gorman, the Youth Poet Laureate of the United States poses for the May cover and speaks on her rapidly expanding influence in not just this country, but the world.

When Gorman stepped out and stood behind the podium and read “The Hill We Climb,” her passion and raw talent eclipsed the rest of the ceremony and shook the world to its core, cementing the poet as a star as Gorman subsequently conquered the talk show circuit

What sets her apart from other young “celebrities” around her age is her humility and reserved nature. “I don’t want it to be something that becomes a cage,” she tells St. Felix, “where to be a successful Black girl, you have to be Amanda Gorman and go to Harvard. I want someone to eventually disrupt the model I have established.” In fact, Gorman spent her time at Harvard designing programs that would take writers anywhere from “the White House to Slovenia.”

Other than her reading, infectious energy and poise, when one thinks of Amanda Gorman, they think of her iconic yellow Prada jacket at the inaugural and the yellow dress she wore when she posed for the cover of Time magazine. Yellow is just her color, and people around the world know it. Her Time cover was influenced by Maya Angelou, someone Gorman refers to as a “spiritual grandmother.” Holding a bird in a cage, photographer Awol Erizku says he was looking to tie in the “resurgence of Black renaissance.”

For the Vogue cover, Gorman was dressed in Louis Vuitton by Virgil Abloh. Abloh, who paid tribute to his Ghanian heritage when creating Gorman’s cover look, which was inspired by a photograph of his grandmother in traditional Ghanaian Kente. The rich jewel tones and complex patterns gave the look a very regal and elegant feel, much like Gorman herself.

All of the looks were photographed by Annie Leibovitz, and Gorman’s photo titled, “She’ll Rise,” shows the poet with her arms back, heart open to the world and face lifted to the sun. A marigold and light yellow-patterned Studio 189 dress flows behind her—and well, she looks like she’s flying.

Jade and Jordans

Sneakerhead icon Aleali May has teamed up with the Jordan Brand and Nike once again for two curated drops—this time creating a line of apparel and of course, two new pairs of sneakers. Each collection is centered around May’s heritage and upbringing, paying homage to her grandmothers in Los Angeles and Manila.

The first drop draws from specific places and people who inspired her to pursue her passions, including two key colors—the pine green of the Inglewood High School drill team and the royal blue of her elementary school, Hillcrest Elementary. Released on April 22, the capsule features two t-shirts, a varsity jacket, tear-away pants, pleated shorts and a pair of Jordans. The second drop, which has yet to announce a launch date, focuses on a new pair of Air Jordan XIVs and May’s first-ever piece of jewelry—a jade necklace.

“For me, it’s the progress that we’ve made especially on the women’s side. I’m not the only woman with a Jordan sneaker. The space signifies there’s this renaissance for women in sneakers, sportswear and streetwear and it’s mirroring what’s going on in society as well,” says May.

Cultivated Black Haircare

Sally Beauty is one of the largest beauty companies in the country and has been instrumental in supporting women-owned haircare brands. Its influence on the beauty world helped propel brands to success, becoming a launchpad for “Cultivate - For Women by Women” in 2018, a program that supports female entrepreneurs. The 2020 cohort was recently announced, featuring three Black women-owned—or co-owned—haircare businesses out of four businesses chosen. UniQurl, founded by Alexis Stanley, has products targeted specifically for kinky curls and designed to draw out unique curl patterns. Carl and Tara Darnley founded Peculiar Roots, which focuses on products that don’t leave buildup. Celebrity stylist Pekela Riley created her brand True + Pure Texture for women of color with all hair types who are searching for natural-looking extensions. These products can now be found in select Sally Beauty stores and online at Sally Beauty.

On Target to Invest More than Two Billion Dollars in Black-Owned Businesses

As one of the largest and most well-known retail distributors in the world, Target is a marketplace where every niche has a place to shine. But, what’s missing throughout the massive store is a wide variety of Black-owned businesses whose products would just fly off the shelves. However, that’s all about to change. Target has pledged to spend over two billion dollars on Black-owned businesses and add products from “more than 500 Black-owned-businesses across its multi-category assortment” while also increasing its spending budget with more Black-owned marketing and construction companies, according to a press release provided to The Root.

We’re excited to see how the product selection will expand as this new initiative rolls out. As we all know, Target is a place where you walk in looking to grab some toilet paper and leave with armfuls of new home goods, a sweater, a cup of iced coffee from Starbucks, and completely forget what you went in for. Now that there will be an influx of Black-owned products gracing the shelves, it’s going to be even harder to not shop until we drop.

Celebrating Number 42 on the 15th

Former professional baseball player Brent Wheatly founded Leovici in 2019 to design sportswear pieces that matched function, form and fit with minimalistic and flattering silhouettes. Leovici and JP Crawford collaborated to create a “42” pullover hoodie in honor of Jackie Robinson day on April 15. The hoodie features a black-and-white photo of Robinson on an off-white fabric and all proceeds will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The hoodie will be available on the Leovici website on April 15th.

Cardi B’s Reebok Collab

Cardi B is not only getting us ready for spring with the recent announcement of a new haircare line, but she is expanding her ongoing collaboration with Reebok with the launch of the “Summertime Fine Collection.” The capsule features apparel and matching sneakers and having tried on each piece herself, the material has the Cardi B stamp of approval. Of course, the collection is inspired by the ‘90s and vintage Reebok apparel, while its bold patterns and colors reflect the singer’s bold personality. In the spirit of inclusion, all of the clothing will be available in sizes from 2XS to 4X.

“This collection gives every woman the product they need to feel sexy and confident; the waist-snatching tights and curve hugging silhouettes make every body look amazing,” said Cardi B in a press release sent to The Root. The “Summertime Fine Collection” will be available to shop online at Reebok on April 23.