About This Video
Soul Club Oral History Project: Adrienne Jones
The Soul Club of FIT was organized in 1968 by community member Clara Branch after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Clara Branch was a staff and faculty member of the Fashion Design Department who served as the club’s advisor until her retirement in 1991. The purpose of the club was to share and celebrate Black heritage and culture, and to assist students with books, materials, and mentorship. The Soul Club of FIT is best remembered for its annual standing-room only event, The Soul Fashion Show, which was held at FIT from 1971 through the early 1990s. Clara Branch directed these shows which featured the work of young Black designers and models, and were supported by the larger community of the New York City fashion industry. In 1992, Rhonda Burrell-Stubbs took over as director upon Clara Branch’s retirement.
The Soul Club Oral History Project is an initiative of the FIT Library, inspired by the Soul Club fashion shows’ exuberance, positivity, dynamism, and joy. For this oral history project, FIT alumni and faculty members are interviewed about their participation and experience in the Soul Club. The goal of this project is to explore FIT’s rich and diverse history and uplift, amplify, and publicly share the stories of Black fashion students and faculty members as told by the community members themselves.
Professor Adrienne Jones is the Founder/Chief Creative Officer of Black Dress. Professor Jones holds the honor of being the first Black woman to achieve tenured professor status at Pratt Institute. For more than 20 years, she has served as faculty adviser for Pratt’s Fashion Society and has twice received the Outstanding Organization Adviser award for her work with and dedication to the club. Jones has taught in the Department of Fashion at Pratt for more than 25 years and developed both the adult education and pre-college programs in fashion for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
In 2014, Jones conceived and co-curated the landmark exhibition Black Dress, which honors Black designers and addresses the lack of diversity in the fashion industry. The exhibition was an unprecedented endeavor to coalesce a diverse array of contemporary design styles that inform and educate the New York fashion community, as well as new audiences, on the commemorative work of Black designers. The Black Dress project includes a website that serves as a source of information and reference, a digital exhibition, and “Black Dress TV,” where video interviews of prominent Black/African American figures of the fashion industry can be found. Jones is currently writing the companion book to the exhibition and working on expanding and touring the exhibition.
Jones is a painter, photographer, and fashion designer who specializes in leather and suede for her private clients. She has worked as a fashion show producer, creative director, and stylist for special events. Jones holds degrees in Art Therapy (M.S.), Art Education (B.S.), Fashion Design (A.A.S.), and has won many awards and honors in her field, including being named Innovative Visionary Icon of the Decade in 2015 and Distinguished Teacher Award in 2017-18.
Taur Orange, interviewer, is the head of Educational Opportunity Programs at FIT.
FIT Special Collections and College Archives
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