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Willi Smith

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Design +1 Age Levels High School (16 to 18 years old), Post-Secondary, Adults

Willi Smith (1958-1987)

Willi Smith was an African American fashion designer whose street wear line known as WilliWear was and experiment of democracy in fashion. WilliWear designs were known to be bold, blurring the lines between high and low culture, and often involved collaborations with other artists and designers. The openly gay designer's career was cut short when he died in 1987 from complications to AIDS.

This collection is a representation of the March 2020 exhibition Willi Smith: Street Couture at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum that features over 200 pieces from Smith’s work and career, including video, sketches, patterns, photographs, and garments.

Willi Smith

National Museum of African American History and Culture

WilliWear Shop

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

WilliWear Willi Smith

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

WilliWear Willi Smith

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum