Art of the Month

In 1786 the Governor of the French Colonies in North America signed a law that created a slave class of people. It determined how they could dress and wear their hair. They always had to dress in lower class, less beautiful clothes.

In the British Colonies there were slave codes that required slaves clothing be made from a cheap rough cloth.  This cloth was usually blue which made it more of a slave uniform.

Slaves were forbidden from wearing hand me downs from their masters. If local law enforcement caught them in hand me downs, they could take the clothes for themselves.

The irony is that many of the slaves made their masters clothes which they could not wear.

Zelda Wynn Valdes, born in 1905, decided to be a fashion designer but discovered she could work in some great fashion houses, but they only allowed her to be a seamstress.   They would steal her designs and put their names on the label.

Valdes opened her own fashion house on Broadway in New York City. She created designs for Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker and Mae West. She designed for many people.

As a child I often wondered why my people made such a show out of their Sunday best.  Because when it comes to clothes there is no wrong color or cut. As I have learned, deciding how you cloth yourself is a big deal.

They worked very hard in those old boots just so they could purchase that big hat for Sunday service.

Yet whether they were in the boots or the hat, they came to a point where they could decide how they were clothed.