The Story of Newark Fashion: Atelier to Runway Oral Histories (Newark Museum of Art)

Spanning 75 years of fashion history, this must-see exhibition at the Newark Museum of Art presents Newark as a center for the fashion industry from the 1950s to today. Beginning in the ateliers and classrooms of Wesley Tann and Emily Miles, groundbreaking Black designers and mentors for the next generation, this survey features nine contemporary designers with Newark connections. With its rich history as an epicenter for the production and trade of garments, jewelry, and accessories, Newark has long been a site of creativity and innovation. A generation of inspiration has come out of the Brick City, influencing fashion designers globally. The Story of Newark Fashion: Atelier to Runway brings attention to the contributions of this thriving community. The exhibit also features eight oral history interviews with Newark fashion pioneers, featured here. For more information and tickets, visit the Newark Museum of Art website.

Douglas Says

Black and white photo of Douglas Says.Born in 1961, Says is a multi-faceted designer, make-up artist, and stylist who has worked in around Newark for nearly four decades. His collaborators include fashion  model Iman, Cuban singer Celia Cruz, and runway coach Miss J Alexander.  In the 1980s and 90s Says founded CMS Studio in Newark to help mentor young fashion models and designers.

Listen to Says's oral history here. | Transcription coming soon.


Justis Pitt-Goodson (BrownMill Atelier)

Image of three men on a front stoop.BrownMill is a New Jersey-based clothing brand founded in 2009, influenced by the work ethic of Founder and CEO Justis Pitt-Goodson’s grandparents. At the crosscurrent of bespoke tailoring and streetwear, BrownMill handcrafts garments including collared shirts, embroidered jackets, graphic t-shirts, and single-cut pants customized for every individual.

Listen to Pitt-Goodson's oral history here. | Transcription coming soon.


Mikki Taylor and Marco Hall

Image of Mikki Taylor.Mikki Taylor is the leading authority on inner and outer beauty for women of color. A compelling empowerment speaker, Taylor emboldens women to own their lives, celebrate their beauty and master their purpose with distinction. She has authored several books including the critically acclaimed “Self-Seduction: Your Ultimate Path to Inner and Outer Beauty,” “Commander-in-Chic: Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Her Style Like a First Lady,” and “Editor in Chic: How to Style and Be Your Most Empowered Self.” As the former beauty and cover director at ESSENCE magazine, Taylor produced over 500 covers as well as its signature beauty pages to affirm and inspire the culture’s definition of beauty. Today she serves as the publication’s editor-at-large, hosting its live events such as the ESSENCE Festival’s Power Stage and Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey. Taylor has worked with some of the world’s most fascinating and influential people including Rosa Parks, Sidney Poitier, Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey and more. Taylor’s most treasured experiences include the joy of serving as an instructor at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa at the special invitation of Oprah Winfrey, receiving the 2016 Black Women in Film Network Creative Award, speaking at the 2018 De Beers Global Women’s Summit in Botswana on consumer engagement, and receiving the National Urban League Trailblazer Award in July 2019.

Image of Marco Hall.A self-taught fashion designer and Newark native, Hall runs his storefront boutique, MH302, on Halsey Street—in the heart of the city’s Downtown arts district, around the corner from the Museum. Born in 1970, Hall has designed signature fashions for acclaimed musicians, actors, and playwrights such as Rihanna, Vivica Fox, and Ntozake Shange.

Listen to Taylor and Hall's joint oral history here. | Transcription coming soon.


Melody Asherman

Image of Melody Asherman.Born in 1988 and raised in Newark, Asherman studied at Fashion Design Training Studios in Newark and at Parsons School of Design. Asherman’s designs incorporating West African textiles are inspired by her Liberian heritage and center inclusive sizing for full figured bodies.

Listen to Asherman's oral history here. | Transcription coming soon.


Narciso Rodriguez

Image of Narciso Rodriguez.Rodriguez is a Cuban American designer born in 1961 and raised in Newark. After training at Parson’s School of Design in the 1990s, he freelanced in New York’s garment industry for designers Anne Klein, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein. Rodriguez opened his atelier in NYC in 2001. His designs have been worn by Carolyn Bessette and Michelle Obama.

Listen to Rodriguez's oral history here. | Transcription coming soon.


Shavi Lewis

Image of Shavi Lewis.Born in 1985, Lewis garnered national acclaim during Season 18 of the Emmy award-winning TV series Project Runway. A mentee of Marco Hall, Lewis has long worked in and around Newark, presenting his designs at local fashion shows and underground ballroom pageants. He has dressed clients for the Daytime Emmys, The Mrs Earth Competitions, and The Cannes Film Festival.

Listen to Lewis's oral history here. | Transcription coming soon.


Stephen Burrows and Pat Cleveland

Image of Stephen Burrows.Born in Newark in 1943, Burrows is recognized as one of the defining designers of disco era fashion. An alumnus of Newark Arts High School, he was one of five American designers—and the only African American—selected to present at the epic Battle of Versailles (1973), a fashion show at the Palace of Versaille in Paris,  in which American and French designers faced off.

Pat Cleveland is an American fashion model who initially attained success in the 1960s and 1970s and was one of the first African-American models within the fashion industry to achieve prominence as a runway model and print model.

Listen to Burrows and Cleveland's joint oral history here. | Transcription coming soon.


Tyrone Chablis

Image of Tyrone Chablis.Born in 1962, designer, modeling coach, and fashion show commentator Chablis attended Newark Arts High School and was a mentee of the Newark-based designer Wesley Tann. A frequent collaborator and documentarian of Newark’s fashion scene, Chablis is a mentor to many emerging designers and models.

Listen to Chablis's oral history here. | Transcription coming soon.