While author and critic Kimberly Drew is frequently associated with the art world, her influence extends to fashion. Based in Brooklyn, New York, she started a Tumblr titled Black Contemporary Art while studying at Smith College, and increasingly established her presence and voice as both the social media manager for the Metropolitan Museum until 2018, and through her social media handle, @museummammy.
In the first year of the pandemic, she published two books: This Is What I Know About Art, aimed at young adults, and Black Futures, co-authored with New York Times journalist, J Wortham, comprised of more than 100 essays, interviews and contributions from a global selection of Black creatives about what it means to be Black alive. Occasionally, she has worked as a model and muse, doing campaigns with Gap, walking the Collina Strada runway show during NYFW, and appearing in a Galeries Lafayette project about fashion and sustainability. Drew’s intersectional insight and engagement across culture makes her a persuasive figure for gaining perspective not only on where we are now, but where we might be heading.
In what ways do you see exploration as a natural part of the design/creative process?
Exploration and play are an essential aspect of any creative process. You need to feed your mind, your heart, and your inner self to keep creativity from becoming a chore.
What are some of the themes and ideas that you would like to see designers exploring through the next few seasons?
Laia Garcia recently wrote a brilliant article called “The Secret Language of NYFW Casting” and in the piece, she spoke about how New York’s calendar is redefining the term muse. “A model is a muse. And a muse is a perfect being, almost fantastical. It’s possible that the word alone evokes visions of the unattainable — but for a modern generation of designers, there is no bigger inspiration than their friends and chosen family. Why not put them in your show?” And, in the art world, the theme for this year’s documenta is “lumbung,” the Indonesian word for a communal rice-barn, where the surplus harvest is stored for the benefit of the community. I’m hoping to see designers working collaboratively to build harvests to benefit the industry. Sustainability isn’t founded in a vacuum. Fashion has some big problems to solve and I’m hopeful that we can find these solutions together.
How have these past years shaped the way you explore fashion through social media and the virtual world?
While I can credit television shows like The Parkers and Sex and The City, my fashion education has come through social media. I’m so thankful for the generations of bloggers and social media mavens who have taken their love of fashion and made visible an otherwise opaque industry. My life has been made better by these folks.
How do you, personally, explore what’s new and compelling in fashion?
I think we’re all seeing a shift in how we consume fashion. The Tik Tok generation is really forcing so many out of their comfort zones. I don’t know that I have a unique strategy, but for now, I’m trying to give myself permission to be a witness and not a critic.
This photo was taken in Arles on my way to celebrate Dior Beauty’s “The Art of Color” exhibition at the Luma Foundation. Nothing makes me happier than the intersection between art and fashion — some of the most exquisite storytelling happens here.