During the early 1980s, artist Lorraine O’Grady debuted her performance piece, “Mlle Bourgeoise Noire,” which remains her greatest-known work today. A critique on the racial apartheid and the utter lack of integration in the art world, “Mlle Bourgeoise Noire” (or Miss Black Middle Class) invaded art gallery openings around New York City, giving both white institutions like the New Museum and emerging black artists at smaller galleries a piece of her mind. “Mlle Bourgeoise Noire” always arrived unannounced, dressed in a white gown adorned with white vintage gloves—almost identical to the glove-layered tops Martin Margiela would send down the runway a mere 20 years later.

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