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Diversity: A Movement, Not a Moment

  • September 16, 2020

Subtle references to duality and racial dynamics were threaded through a largely monochrome collection of voluminous shapes; of ruffled floor-length skirts for people of either (or any) gender; of beautiful bell-sleeve khaki overshirts; of supersize denim coveralls with deep cuffs turned up and the hems left frayed; of a cloaklike leopard-print poncho worn atop a matching suit that looked as though designed for the Nigerian superstar Femi Kuti.

It was less our oppositions that Mr. Potts, who is Black, found compelling than our likenesses. “Whatever our race, size, gender, class, age, in the end we are all intimately connected,” he said. Like the topsy-turvy doll, we are conjoined.

Mr. Potts was far from the only designer questioning the social costs of implicit bias. Carter Altman, the 22-year-old Carter Young designer, took the heroic masculinity of white style “icons” like Steve McQueen and Peter Fonda and transposed it in his presentation onto models of color (and varied genders).

In the process he made a credible statement of his evolving design chops (think “Easy Rider” meets normcore) while quietly underscoring the unconscious ways race is coded into even our clothing.

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