This Saturday September 27, 2014 at 12:00 o’clock noon, Councilwoman President Mildred Crump will dedicate a street sign to the Late J Wesley Tann II. at the corner of Osborne Terrace and Clinton Avenue in Newark, NJ, J.
The first African-American fashion designer to open a salon on Seventh Avenue in New York City, J. Wesley Tann II. rose from humble beginnings to become a well-known name in the apparel industry. According to a Jan. 18, 2009, article in The Star-Ledger by Lisa Irizarry, Tann, born in Rich Square, N.C., in 1928, was taught to sew by his mother. A student of the Hartford Art School of Fashion, his career took off in the 1950s when his designs caught the eye of New York society women.
Pictured above working with a model in 1965, Tann designed maternity clothes for Jacqueline Kennedy. He also dressed soprano Leontyne Price and Jennie Grossinger of Grossinger’s Resort.
Tann, whose talents extended to the field of interior design, worked on projects ranging from private homes to offices at the Pentagon. Also known as an etiquette expert, he got his start in etiquette at the age of 13. He attended a dinner at the Congressional dining room with his guardian, then U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and made the mistake of eating a piece of bacon with his hands. The dining faux pas led Powell to enroll Tann in etiquette classes immediately.
“People do not know how to be warm and gracious and civilized,” Tann said, looking pristine in his navy blazer and khaki slacks. “It would be a much better world if we lived by the laws of etiquette.”
“Most people know how to eat,” Tann said, “but they don’t know how to dine.” Newark Mayor Cory Booker called Mr. Tann “The eternal first gentleman of the city”.
Tann, an impeccably dressed octogenarian, he continued to re-invent and expand his career over the years as an interior designer, event planner, teacher of etiquette and social protocol, neighborhood activist, fundraiser, volunteer and avid gardener.
Up until his passing in November 23, 2012, Mr Tann taught groups of Newark residences how to decorate and dine under a budget. This was I met Mr. Tann.
Refreshments will be served immediately following the ceremony on the Mr. Tann’s front porch.