An Atlanta fashion designer’s creation now has a powerful connection to history. Jasmine Elder was selected by the artist Amy Sherald to design the dress for Sherald’s portrait of Breonna Taylor. The portrait appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in September 2020. Later this year, the painting will hang in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and talks are underway for the work to be a joint acquisition with Louisville Speed Art Museum. Elder joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about her clothing design Jibri and her partnership with Sherald.
On creating the plus-size clothing brand Jibri:
“I’ve always been a crafty person. I’ve been making my own clothes since I was 12 or 13-years-old. When I got to high school, I met a friend who introduced me to an established designer by the name of Jibri Mann. He had a boutique in Little Five Points called Funkytown. He transformed my thought process on how to create garments and he taught me the fundamentals on it. He got me to New York for college,” said Elder.
She continued, “I moved to New York, he passed away and I didn’t even think I would have a line, but I knew it would be named after him. Many years later, I had been making my own clothes throughout college and early adulthood. Someone asked ‘Hey, where did you get that?’ People just started to ask me that all the time. So I decided to sell them on Etsy. I sold one or two pieces over Etsy, then it grew into a line for plus-size women.”
How her partnership with Sherald came about:
“When Amy got the commission from Vanity Fair, she made a decision on wanting to work a Black designer and a designer that would have created something that Breonna could have worn in life. When she started looking around for designers, in a plus-size Google search, I was one of the two or three that she found in her search. She sent an email, and just said ‘Hey, would you be interested in a Vanity Fair cover?’ I’m like ‘Uhh, Yeah!’ I didn’t know what it was for. [laughs] It was really easy to work with her and an honor to work with her.”
What she wanted to convey in the creation of Taylor’s dress:
“I definitely wanted it to be something that a younger woman would be more comfortable in. And I wanted it to be something that her mom would love and her fiancé would love because I knew for this painting, it would be like her forever dress.”