"Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection" Explores the History and Fashion of The Supremes

Jackson Cruit, for GPA -- “Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection" is going on now though August 18th at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Designed by Mary Wilson, an original member of the Supremes, the exhibit will showcase the group’s stunning gowns which draw inspiration from all over the world, including pieces channeling Parisian, Japanese, and Caribbean influences.

In addition to these diverse costumes, the exhibit will feature rare video footage, historic photographs, and an array of magazine and news articles covering the group’s rise to fame. The Supremes’ major influence on shaping American pop culture and engendering social change will also be highlighted.

Originally founded as the “Primettes” by Florence Ballad in the Brewster-Douglass housing projects of Detorit in 1959, she quickly recruited her junior-high classmates Mary Wilson, Betty McGlown and Diane Ross. The Primettes began their musical career performing hit songs by artists such as Ray Charles and the Drifters at social clubs and sock-hops throughout the Detroit area. After winning a prestigious local talent contest, and with the help of neighborhood friend and accomplished singer Smokey Robinson, the act eventually impressed Motown executive Berry Gordy enough to land a spot on his label.

Gordy’s one requirement to sign the young group was that they change their name from a list of his choosing. During this time period McGlown was replaced by Barbara Martin who subsequently dropped out to raise a family. Eventually Ballard decided on “The Supremes” and thus the trio of young starlets began to form their legacy. Over the next decade the Supremes went on to produce 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including hits such as “ Come See About Me’ and “Stop in the Name of Love”. To date, they are credited as the most successful vocal group in American history.





During the mid 1960s the Supremes rivaled even the Beatles in worldwide popularity and traveled around the globe performing for their international fan base. Battling against the injustices of a segregated nation, their accomplishments made it possible for future African American R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success on both a national and global level.

In addition, the Supremes were the first female African American performers to embrace a more feminine image. Their elegance and glamor helped to celebrate the beauty of black women in mainstream American culture during a time when negative stereotypes were still prevalent. 

The trio’s blending of smooth vocals combined with glamorous costume pieces made them truly one of a kind during their era and helped to create the dazzling “Diva” image that is widely replicated today. Bold, beautiful, and extremely talented, the Supremes were highly influential in breaking through the constraints of segregation, achieving popularity amongst blacks, whites and countless others.

Today, the Supremes still reign as true legends of the American music industry and icons of African American culture, having indefinitely changed the American music industry forever. “Come See About Me” serves as a dazzling tribute to these marvelous ladies and their legacy.