Harlem exhibition inspired by African-American fashion designer's archive

Have you ever thought of fashion archives as a source of creative inspiration? Derrick Adams did just that when he carried out extensive research into the archive of the influential African-American fashion designer Patrick Kelly (1954-1990), which is housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York.

Derrick Adams, The Journey, mixed media collage on paper, 2017 (photo by Adam Reich)

Derrick Adams, The Journey, mixed media collage on paper, 2017 (photo by Adam Reich)

This research has informed his current show at the Studio Museum in Harlem. At the center of Patrick Kelly,:The Journey is Adams’s “Mood Board” series, a new body of work in which he responds to Kelly’s legacy as a formalist who imbued his creations with social context and humour. These abstract collages incorporate Kelly’s vintage clothing patterns and iconic fabrics, colours and shapes: bold and colourful geometric forms, contours of the female body, buttons and other embellishments. However, they are far from being simply derivative: they also demonstrate Adams’s ongoing interest in deconstructing, fragmenting and manipulating structure and surface.

Is there a fashion designer who inspires you? What might your unique take on their work be?