#NYFWNOIR: Harlem’s Fashion Row Opens Fashion Week With Diversity And Paying Homage To ‘Next Of Kin’
Harlem’s Fashion Row has historically hosted their event the evening before New York Fashion Week. While never confirmed, this time slot allots fashion editors, industry insiders, press and more attend the event before the craziness of the week begins. Last season, Harlem’s Fashion Row hosted a star-studded event, honoring LeBron James, where he released his latest shoe (that sold out within an hour). With what seemed to be an evening that couldn’t be outdone, Brandice Daniels, founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, and her team continue to break glass ceilings and push diversity in the fashion space.
At Spring Studios, immediately following the 11 Honoreé show (yes, a PLUS SIZE show), Harlem’s Fashion Row brought together an amalgamation of celebrities, fashion elites, editors, buyers, designers, influencers, and more to celebrate esteemed costume designer Ruth E. Carter. While you may know her most recent work, Black Panther, Carter’s work spans decades, working on films like Do The Right Thing, What’s Love Got To Do With It, Malcolm X, Selma, and more. Carter has over 40 films under her belt. She also was the costume designer for BET’s show, Being Mary Jane.
The event was in partnership with IMG, one of the most prestigious agencies in the world. The president of IMG fashion, Ivan Bart explained that on Election Day, after he voted and discovered Carter was from Brooklyn (his hometown), he went directly to “Ms. Carter” and asked if he could honor her. “I immediately called Brandice and said, ‘Let’s partner together. Let’s celebrate the history of film and fashion and let’s find the future. The next of kin.”
Daniels opened up to the crowd and said she had one of the “most authentic and real conversations about diversity in this industry” that she had ever had. Daniels was spotted throughout the night chatting and taking pictures with longtime supporters, friends and the who’s who of the industry. Nevertheless, you could see she was consistently watching the crowd, the event, and even though her operation has grown exponentially over the past twelve years, she still had a direct pulse on what was going on.
The crowd was star-studded, everyone from football players like Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Cam Newton in attendance to models including Chanel Iman and Ajak Deng. Bozoma Saint John opened the evening recognizing we were all gathered to “celebrate the contribution, the history and the legacy that is Ruth E. Carter.” . I saw her the following day and when we spoke of the magic that was in the air, she noticeably got goosebumps! It was a moment, y’all…a historical, Black, fashion moment. There seemed to be more IMG staff in the room, but not even for necessity, but more so because everyone just wanted to be there that evening. Carter told the crowd that her dream was “to bring her exhibition to New York,” and we were in the room watching the dream come true.
It wasn’t a typical fashion show. It was a fashion installation celebrating Carter’s work throughout the years by utilizing Ibrahim Kamara, a Sierra Leonean British stylist, to reimagine the work.
There were parts of the installation that looked like Brooklyn and you saw the dapper suits, a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and a guy in a Patagonia blue vest with a sharp afro haircut, taking a knee (paying tribute to Deray McKesson and Colin Kaepernick simultaneously). It was a blend of the past and the present, bringing full circle, the next of kin. To the right, there was an installation supporting the upliftment of women with signs in the back having #MeToo, Times Up!, and Liberty or Death!
This undoubtedly was an event that will go down in fashion history and marked a cultural shift of visible inclusion of diversity in the fashion industry.