On November 1, 2017, “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” opened to the public at the MoMA. The three-month-long exhibition featured 111 items of clothing and accessories with strong cultural and societal impact, like Adidas sneakers, the sari, and even the Black Panther’s Party uniform: the beret and turtleneck.
Men and women of the liberation movement adopted turtlenecks, berets, and dark sunglasses as their uniform to express both unity and Black Pride. Members of the Black Panther Party actively resisted European beauty standards by encouraging supporters to rock natural hair, and love their skin. They turned everyday items into a radical uniform that made clothing a form of activism.
In a 2016 interview with HelloBeautiful Dr. Tanisha C. Ford explained, “At the time, many of the men and women in the Black Panther Party were just teenagers who probably had no idea that their adolescent rejection of mainstream paradigms would alter the American conscious forever. By replacing straight haired wigs for natural Afros, they were visually altering viewpoints with the direct message that said, ‘I love myself the way I was born.’”
Fast forward to the 2010s. Artists like Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar have released music videos and performances riddled with political under (and over) tones, and in 2019 Rihanna’s FENTY label even referenced the “Black Is Beautiful” movement by Kwame Brathwaite.
According to the BPP, dressing with pride is necessary for progress, and we see the influence of that thought remains bright in the Black American consciousness today.
Read full article at HelloBeautiful.com