It’s the fleeting ritualistic moments that start our day on a high note, a period of reflection and foresight that serves as a grounding precursor to the day ahead. For Aurora James, now, and especially in 2020—when the world was confined to their own living quarters—it’s the first sip of a perfect cup of coffee. Each morning, in a short video, nestled in her Brooklyn, New York apartment, set to the background music of her choice, James would assemble her tantalizing iced coffee in a clay artisan mug from Oaxaca. It was noon for NYC folks, but for James, the designer of luxury accessories brand Brother Vellies, it was 9 AM and sunny in Los Angeles, California. When the founder of the non-profit advocacy organization, Fifteen Percent Pledge signs on Zoom, she’s shortly greeted by her friend and mentor, Bethann Hardison.

The Toronto-bred entrepreneur made waves as the designer of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 2021 Met Gala gown that read “Tax the Rich,” which shook coattails on the carpet and in Congress. James is the first Black female designer to win a CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund award, and as of January 2023, also serves as Vice Chair of their American division. Now adding an accomplished author to her repertoire, the multi-hyphenate gears up to release her memoir, Wildflower.

“People see what you’ve achieved, but they never see what you’ve given up to get there,” reads James’ Instagram post highlighting a snippet from her upcoming memoir. Wildflower was created to unearth her truth. James’ story is similar for many Black and brown women, consisting of a default bitter base of economic disparity, and seemingly frozen solid racial injustices in the form of glass ceilings. However, like a wildflower—spontaneously flipping vellies for fun at the Hester Street Fair in the Lower East Side, or challenging some of the largest retailers to dedicate shelf space to Black businesses—she unknowingly blossoms a chain of events that would eradicate the former fiscal landscape of Black and BIPOC brands and businesses forever. And just as people have watched James’ instinctive creations with the same visual splendor that guided her morning routine, the greater meaning behind them has simultaneously woken up the world. DANIA CURVY


It may be impossible to define a 65-year career of sartorial artistry in one summer’s exhibition, but Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty isn’t just a 150-garment demonstration of the designer’s tailored prowess debuting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art this May—it’s also a written history.

Accompanied by never-before-seen photographs and illustrations, this all-new ode to an innovative master reminisces on Lagerfeld’s creative visions as he imagined them through decades, from the 1950s spent at Balmain to his own direction of Chanel and Fendi through the ’80s and beyond. Authored by museum curator Andrew Bolton, the book expertly narrates the journey that earned Lagerfeld his seat at the hallowed throne of modern high fashion. AVA MANSON


Art is much more than just the paintings and photographs that hang ceremoniously on the walls–just ask Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter. As the only Black woman to win an Oscar for Best Costume Design, it’s clear Carter has made a career out of crafting stunning, wearable art.

The Art of Ruth E. Carter, a behind-the-scenes collection of unseen sketches, film stills, and mood boards, reflects on her illustrious decade-spanning career as an industry pioneer. Spanning her early days working alongside Spike Lee in the ’90s to her strikingly emblematic costumes for Marvel, the book leaves no stone unturned. OLIVIA NOVATO


When Ms. Lauryn Hill was just 22 years old, she recorded one of the most timeless albums the music industry had ever seen. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, released in 1998, was received by a whole generation of young Black women who felt every single word Hill sang.

And while the artist never released another studio album, leaving fame behind altogether after garnering five Grammy Awards–she returns to the limelight yet again. This summer, as we come to the album’s 25th anniversary, Hill headlines The Roots Picnic festival alongside Diddy. And with the anniversary and celebratory performance, we are reminded of the album’s ruminations that have remained with us for over two decades. KERANE MARCELLUS


Few artists capture the relationship between activism and art with as sharp a focus as Carrie Mae Weems. Her ample repertoire is renowned for its revolutionary exploration of race, gender, and class. The artist’s first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, Carrie Mae Weems, celebrates her career through a dazzling array of artistic expressions.

From the ’90s probe into gender politics, From My Kitchen Table to the 2021 film The Shape of Things, examining American violence, the exhibit delves into Weems’ roles as artistic changemaker and conversation-starter. Here, viewers become active participants, challenging potential prejudices and, thus, claiming Weems’ multidisciplinary work as their own. OLIVIA NOVATO


Existing between the space of installation work and filmmaking, Isaac Julien has built a career examining the sociocultural sphere of Black life, translated through art. Born in the East End of London in 1960, Julien’s curiosity led him to create outstanding works that blend mediums, exploring sexuality, history, and identity–now an educator at the University of California Santa Cruz.

This far-reaching exhibition marks Julien’s largest solo exhibition to date, a celebration of his 40-year career. And with it, viewers will have the opportunity to experience Julien’s early work, reveling in his distinct style and rich narratives.


In 2017, Adrienne Raquel visited Club Onyx with her family for her aunt’s 50th birthday. She found herself equally surprised by the strip club’s welcoming atmosphere—there’s a no nudity policy—as well as mesmerized by the dynamics at play.

“At that moment, I knew I wanted to create something where people wouldn’t have their same preconceived notions about what exotic dancing, stripping, and sex work is,” Raquel tells V. Her history as a perfectionist photographer, as well as a fan of ’90s and early 2000s hip-hop visuals, came sharply into high- gloss view in the 168-page photo book, Onyx. MIKELLE STREET


You might say that theater breathes life into marvels and wonders, bringing our most cherished dreams on stage. But often, the real miracle of the performing arts hides in finding magic in the trivial–in reframing our experience of every day into a purposeful narrative.

That’s just what playwright Eboni Booth achieves in her latest play, Primary Trust, which tells the story of Kenneth (played by William Jackson Harper). Kenneth is a bookstore worker who is forced to consider new beginnings after he’s suddenly laid off. And with this accompany- ing work, perhaps it showcases theater’s greatest gift; its ability to contemplate prospects of change we had yet to explore. ANNA MONTAGNER


Currently on view, Carl Craig’s latest project, Party/After-Party moves bodies in tandem with the music’s rhythm and magnetic lights, accompanied by a string of guest performances from the likes of Moodymann to Kenny Larkin.

As individuals slowly maneuver the WAREHOUSE, the “Party” segment of the show seeps into the “After-Party,” a personal approach that reconfigures the perception of the afters. Craig explains, “I hope people will pay attention to the anxiety and angst that can come from my after-party because that’s how my life is when I have to wait in the hotel and try to sleep for five hours, and then get up and leave.” MICHAEL ANTHONY HALL


Between opacity and clarity exists a seductive middle ground: transparency. Channeled through sheer fabrics and artful cutouts, transparency can transform a regular garment into a surprising, sensual masterpiece. No one knew this better than Yves Saint Laurent, whose revolutionary designs are the star of the Museum of Lace and Fashion’s new exhibition, Yves Saint Laurent: Transparencies.

At once shocking and enchanting, Laurent’s daring work helped reframe the female body as a site of power and sensuality during the sexual revolution. The exhibition features standout designs like the See-Through Blouse and Nude Dress, alongside rare photos, drawings, and videos that highlight Laurent’s mastery of diaphanous glamour. BAILEY BUJNOSEK

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