Cover art for podcast The Institute of Black Imagination.

The Institute of Black Imagination.

34 EpisodesProduced by darioWebsite

Welcome to The Institute of Black Imagination hosted by artist, writer, and brand consultant Dario Calmese. Each week we bring you conversations from The Pool of Black Genius: a collection of iconoclasts at the leading edge of cultural thought and innovation. More than anything, we are here to inspi… read more


E13. The Art of Living w. Lana Turner (part two).

Today’s episode is with Harlem socialite and style icon, Lana Turner. Born at the Women’s Hospital on West and 110th st. and still residing in the neighborhood 70 years later, Ms.Turner is quintessential Harlem, a landmark unto herself. A mathematician of dressing, Ms. Turner does not just put clothes on, but uses her body as a medium in which she expresses her appreciation and preservation of life, style, and beauty, or as she likes to refer to it: “Painting the body canvas.”

A doyenne of mid-20th century fashion, and muse of New York Times Street style photographer Bill Cunningham, Lana Turner and I were introduced almost a decade ago at the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem when I was looking for a few hats for a fashion story while in grad school. Upon meeting and chatting with her, I realized quite quickly that it was SHE who needed to be photographed, in her wardrobe, and in her hats… of which there are upwards of, wait for it… 500. Actually I believe the exact number is 638.

Here are some highlights:

On New York’s own black migration: "The reason for the Harlem Renaissance, or for it to have that label, was a few things. This was part of the great migration, so once we have gotten the black community moving out of San Juan Hill and moving here. When other people are enticed to come North as part of that wave, Harlem is the place their pouring into -And this is how it happens, setting the stage for that, for people who are leaving cotton fields and coming to work in the industry also brings a tide of musicians, and writers, for the first time in our history."(22:53

On the birth of the Harlem Renaissance: "But here we are with joy, with love, with humor, and, yes, sadness, you know sometimes blues, but it's all in that music and I cannot help but relate to. Harlem was one of those bright lights at a time of the Harlem Renaissance and I dare say a bit before that." (8:30

On Marcus Garvey’s downfall: "Marcus Garvey’s fall, however, was the fact that he only kept his counsel to himself, and when he thought about things that’s the way they should be. Now, you know, when it worked, it worked but when it didn’t it really crashed. And you know Marcus Garvey was not someone who readily took advice from people that he probably employed to give him advice, he lived by his own sensibility." (46:02

On advice to her twenty-year-old self: "I would say do not wait for someone to give you an invitation to get dressed and go out and have yourself a ball. I say because you have meditated, because you can stand tall, because you can take the high road, you have no problems pulling together the most fanciful outfit, making a reservation at the most amazing restaurant, for 1, making your life singular so that when you are endowed with someone who is either your soulmate or your love it adds to the cake, it should never be the cake. You are the cake!"(50:01)

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Editorial content provided by Kalimah Small.

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