From 2006 to 2012, the Honourable Dr Mayann Francis was Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. In Canada, Lieutenant Governor is a ceremonial role, as the the Queen’s representative for a provincial government. Dr Francis was the first black person and only second woman to hold the role in Nova Scotia.
When she too kind on the role Dr Francis put a lot of thought into what she wore, given that he role was ceremonial.
“The clothing I put together was a transformation of sorts,” she says. “When I was asked to be the Queen’s representative, for me, this was not only about making sure the dress is appropriate and the dress that would do honour for the role, but also honour to black women and the black community.”
During her time as LG, much of her clothing was made by a local Halifax designer and they worked hard to get the tone right. For example, when Dr Francis attended a ceremony where Viola Desmond was given a posthumous pardon (In the 1940's Viola Desmond was jailed for sitting in a “whites only” section of a movie theatre) she had a special outfit designed specifically to honour Viola Desmond.
She spoke about the ideas that went into designing that garment in an interview with Tom Power on CBC radio program “q” here:
The first black female Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia on how and why she dressed the partMayann Francis on the pressures of dressing for the public eye as a woman of colour. Read on cbc.ca
Fashion really isn’t my thing, but I found this kind of interesting. Yes, women in public life get a lot of scrutiny for what they wear, and Dr Francis acknowledges in the interview that a man in her position probably wouldn’t have an exhibit like this (though Jagmeet Singh totally should), but there’s something to be said for creating beautiful things when you can.
Alas, I can’t find very many pictures from the exhibit, which is happening at the Dalhousie Museum in Halifax, but here’s some pictures I did find: