History Of Style: Designer Lois K. Alexander-Lane
Lois K. Alexander-Lane was a well respected business woman who made significant contributions to the fashion industry. While many believed that African American designers were insignificant and not fashion forward, Alexander-Lane pushed forward to make sure that these designers were a force to be reckoned with.
Her eye for fashion blossomed from sketching dresses she saw as a young woman in department store windows in her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. She would later open custom-wear boutiques in Harlem and Washington.
After graduating from Hampton University in Virginia, she later pursued a master’s degree in retailing, fashion and merchandising at New York University. After writing her thesis exploring the history of blacks in retailing, she started the Harlem Institute of Fashion in 1966 and the Black Fashion Museum in 1979.
The institute offered free courses in dressmaking, millinery and tailoring, and the museum displayed the works of African American fashion designers. She also founded the National Association of Milliners, Dressmakers and Tailors and was a former president of the National Association of Fashion and Accessory Designers. She also was a charter member of the National Council of Negro Women.
Lois K. Alexander-Lane was listed as one of the top 100 business and professional women in the United States in 1985 according to the Dollars and Sense Magazine. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 91.