EYE CANDY

Inside the Legendary Wardrobe of Harlem Style Icon Lana Turner

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

No one dresses up for church on Sundays quite like Lana Turner, Harlem‘s local style icon. The 68-year-old New Yorker’s extensive wardrobe is practically an archive of 20th-century fashion, as well as a showcase of the tradition of dressing for church and the Sunday trappings’ historical significance in African-American communities. (When writing about Turner, André Leon Talley described her as someone who encapsulated the way many black women are “reborn every single Sunday, through the rituals and universal codes of deportment, carriage, and dress.”) All of those ensembles have, of course, long made Turner a local favorite, but her reach has hardly been limited to upper Manhattan. Just as the late Bill Cunningham was before him, the photographer Dario Calmese became one of those to be immediately captivated by Turner after first meeting her at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, when he was in search of a hat. (If you ever find yourself on the same quest, it’s no doubt best to track down Turner via her landline, too—she has no less than 500 vintage hats in her collection.) Naturally, after seeing the rest of her wardrobe and how it was so lovingly organized, with notes detailing where and who she was with when she acquired each item, Calmese asked Turner to pose for a portrait series in her ensembles, resulting in a collaboration between the pair that illustrates the tradition of how black women churchgoers use their wardrobes to express their faith. Take a look at their resulting work together, which is now on view in the exhibition “Amongst Friends” through the end of the month at Projects + Gallery in St. Louis, here.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2012.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2012.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2016.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2014.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2014.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2012.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2012.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2015.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2012.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2014.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2012.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2012.

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Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2014.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2015.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2014.

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Photo courtesy of artist and projects+gallery

Lana Turner in “Amongst Friends,” photographed by Dario Calmese, 2015.