Reviving the Legacy of an American Couturier

Born Eugene Jackson, the designer took the name Jay Jaxon under the advice of famed fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert—according to Fenderson’s research.

According to the research of fashion scholar and curator Rachel Fenderson, Jay Jaxon, Apparel Design ’66, was the first American to helm a Paris-based haute couture house, Jean-Louis Scherrer. He was a contemporary of black fashion design legends (and fellow FIT alumni) Stephen Burrows ’66 and Arthur McGee. Since Jaxon’s death in 2006, though, his contribution has been largely ignored. Fenderson’s new exhibition seeks to canonize him as a great American fashion designer.

Jay Jaxon: Fashion Designer, Le Couturier, Costumer | 40 Years of Fashion Design Brilliance, on view at the Queens Public Library August 1 to 31, tells the story of the designer’s aesthetic and influence through artifacts and objects from his archive and other primary sources from Fenderson’s research.

“Jaxon’s contribution to the industry as a creator is significant to Black History, Fashion History, American History, and French History,” Fenderson writes in the exhibition brochure.

“From his American fashion industry experience to his Parisian apprenticeships, Jaxon’s creative process reflected the two worlds he attempted to merge: fashion as an aesthetic pleasure and fashion as functional,” says Jaxon scholar Darnell-Jamal Lisby, Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory, Museum Practice ’18, Art History and Museum Professions ’16, Fashion Merchandising Management ’14, curatorial assistant at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. “Jaxon has a legacy that needs more exploration and celebration, and he deserves to be canonized in the history of fashion.”


All images courtesy of the Rachel Fenderson Collection.

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