“This collection expresses the spirited history, deep sense of community and legacy of timeless dressing at historically Black colleges and universities,” says Ralph Lauren, executive chairman and chief creative officer, Ralph Lauren Corporation. “It’s so much more than a portrayal of a collegiate design sensibility. It’s about sharing a more complete and authentic portrait of American style and of the American dream – ensuring stories of Black life and experiences are embedded in the inspiration and aspiration of our brand.”
Conceptualized and designed by Morehouse and Spelman alumni at Ralph Lauren, the collection also marks the first time the brand has produced a campaign with an all-Blackcast including its photographer, creative directors, cinematographer and talent – predominantly comprising students, faculty and alumni at both institutions.
White patchwork eyelet and silk wrap dresses, which anchor the Spelman collection, symbolize the white attire ceremony, marking students’ induction into the college. Similarly, a wool flannel blazer serves as an homage to the Morehouse blazer, a garment traditionally bestowed to students during their first days on campus.
The full collection – including outerwear, knits, tailored suits, dresses, footwear, accessories and more – references styles worn by Morehouse and Spelman students from the 1920s to 1950s.
“Historically Black colleges and universities have uniquely been centers of both intellectual discourse and cultural influence for more than 150 years,” says David A. Thomas, Ph.D. and president, Morehouse College. “The Morehouse partnership with Ralph Lauren intelligently, creatively and boldly puts this intersection on full display, reflecting the breadth of impact we have had in driving societal transformation throughout our history.”
“Spelman College’s culture is a powerful combination of both community engagement and confident self-invention,” says Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president, Spelman College. “This collection celebrates the inventiveness of individual style, when it intersects boldly with institutional tradition, such as the choices on display in the wearing of white attire. By sharing the early history of Spelman, as reflected in archival research, through clothing, the collection encourages conversations about the creative power of the Black experience and the ways in which a personal fashion aesthetic intersects with institutional values of solidarity and connection.”
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