Fashion, Culture, Futures

Celebrating Black Bodies in Contemporary Fashion
June 17, 2021, 12:30-1:25 p.m. ET

Featuring photographer Kennedi Carter, model Aaron Rose Philip, and Co Founder of WangaWoman | CEO of ESSENCE  Caroline Wanga, this program will explore how African Americans are represented across the fashion industry. Moderated by Jenkins, panelists will address how their work highlights a spectrum of Blackness within fashion, media, and popular culture.

This program is being held as part of the symposium, Fashion, Culture, Futures: African American Ingenuity, Activism, and Storytelling. Learn more and sign up to attend.


About the Speakers

A Durham, North Carolina native by way of Dallas, Texas, Kennedi Carter is a fine art and editorial photographer with a primary focus on Black subjects. Her work highlights the aesthetics and sociopolitical aspects of Blackness as well as the overlooked beauties of the Black experience: skin, texture, trauma, peace, love, and community. Her work aims to reinvent notions of creativity and confidence in the realm of Blackness.
Kimberly Jenkins is assistant professor of Fashion Studies at Ryerson University. Kim is best known for designing a course and exhibition called Fashion and Race and has shared her insights globally in industry forums and institutions. Her expertise in fashion history and infusing race into fashion theory education has led to consulting work for Gucci, the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Netherlands, and other corporate brands and organizations. Kim is the founder of the Fashion and Race Database, an online platform that expands the narrative of fashion history and challenges misrepresentation within the fashion system.

Aaron Rose Philip refuses to be defined. Hailing from the Bronx by way of the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, Aaron gained fame on social media by noting the lack of representation of both trans women of color and persons with disabilities within the fashion industry. Represented by Community New York, she has emerged as a trailblazer, determined to reflect her communities as a model.

Aaron (pronounced A-ron) has been a catalyst of change by openly speaking about her experience with bigotry. She has actively worked toward an inclusive industry via her editorial features in i-D,Dazed, Elle, Teen Vogue, and Allure magazines, as well as Refinery29 and NowThis. Aaron was the subject of a profile in The New York Times, and was interviewed by the iconic Naomi Campbell for Paper Magazine. Her modeling campaigns include Sephora, Dove’s United We Stand, and Moschino’s FW 2020, among others.

Caroline A. Wanga is the chief executive officer of ESSENCE, the number one media,
technology, and commerce company dedicated to a global and multigenerational audience of more than 30 million Black women and communities. She also holds the position of chief growth officer for ESSENCE Ventures where she leads the company’s commitment to serving its community deeply via critical multiplatform content, digital and virtual offerings, and cultural events.Wanga has a passion for constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing organizational culture, and she champions authenticity and thrives while she inspires. With a background in corporate and community leadership, her career has included youth development, grant-writing, community organizing, supply chain logistics, human resources, culture, and media. She is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, equity strategist, and thought leader, and has been named Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise and recognized by Savoy as one of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate America.

Special Thanks

Fashion, Culture, Futures: African American Ingenuity, Activism, and Storytelling is co-organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Principal support is provided by  Graphic of a red concentric circles resembling a target

Major support is provided by  Black text against white background spells out [Gucci] in all capital letters

Funding is also provided by The Keith Haring Foundation and One Smithsonian.