Black In Fashion: Day 3 Arthur McGee

Pictured: Arthur McGee

     I hope you’re ready to go to school! Black Fashion Week implores you to take a second of your time to learn about the man who was known as “the dean of black fashion.”  Arthur McGee was born in The Motor City, Detroit in 1933 at the heat of the Great Depression. At 18 years old, McGee saw a ticket to a better life and rode it to Brooklyn NY,  where he studied at The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). At FIT, he worked with the renowned designer Charles James. In the 1950s when the world still couldn’t acknowledge black people as equals, Arthur could not use his name to achieve the success he acquired. Under the alias Bobby Brooks, he opened an apparel company on Seventh Avenue, becoming the first black person to do so. Despite the obstacles that racism presented Arthur McGee established himself as a leader in black fashion, boasting business with Stevie Wonder, Cicely Tyson, Cybil Burton and Arthur Mitchell (of The Dance Theater of Harlem), and Lena Horne.

     Mr. McGee is most known for dressing Dexter Gordon at the 1987 Academy Award for which he won an Oscar for the film Round Midnight. Aziza Brathwaithe Bey and Willi Smith are amongst those fortunate to have been taught by The Dean of Black American Designers. The Dean died July 1, 2019, at the age of 86 in a nursing home in New York City after a long battle with illness. 

Pictured: Arthur L. McGee
January 2009
Pictured: By McGee featured in the
“Black Fashion Designers” exhibit at F.I.T-

Pictured: Arthur McGee designs

Photo Credits

First image (top)
Pictured: Arthur McGee

Second image (left)
Pictured: Arthur L. McGee January 2009
Photographer: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan
Via: Smithsonian per Getty Images.

Third image (middle)
Pictured: By McGee featured in the “Black Fashion Designers” exhibit at F.I.T-

Fourth image (right)
Pictured: Arthur McGee designs
Via: Essence per Hindman Archive