By Jessica McGuinn
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the leading ladies of Motown, Miss Mary Wilson of The Supremes. Wilson was in Philadelphia to announce her upcoming exhibit at the African American Museum of Philadelphia (AAMP), appropriately titled “Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection.” If you are a vintage fashion vixen, this is an opportunity you won’t want to miss.
The exhibit features a collection of over 30 of the group’s one-of-a-kind gowns as well as rarely seen video footage, gold records, album covers and historic photographs. Many of the gowns on display were collected (and some even hunted down) by Wilson herself. After the relocation of Motown Records to New York, she said, many of the group’s gowns simply “went missing.” However, she had maintained a personal collection and was able to get many of the others “back in her arms again” by tracking them down on eBay and paying for them herself. As curator of the collection, Wilson required members who were leaving the group to also leave their dresses behind. The extensive collection now includes the famous designs by Bob Mackie as well as many others by costume designer Michael Travis.
When & Where:
The collection is on display through June 30 at the African American Museum in Philadelphia in cooperation with Blair-Murrah Exhibitions.
Talent, beauty and style - the Supremes had it all. “Glamour was our signature,” said Wilson. “Even when we were 15 years old and auditioning for Motown Records, we were wearing pearls we bought from Woolworth. We were totally into dressing up.” However, the story behind this collection lies in much more than just sequins and beads. It is a story of how three young African American women used their talent and determination to garner well-deserved international success. The Supremes were style icons just as much as they were musical icons, and these gowns represent their monumental rise to the top.