The weekend was filled with fashion and fun. This weekend of fashion revealed the continuation of a long-time love affair that many designers have with the spring season. (The drab colors that began the collections were eclipsed by a bouquet of spring flowers and colorful silhouettes) It also was a time for more designers of color to share their offerings for the season. Duro Olowu, the British Nigerian designer who is a favorite of Michelle Obama’s, delighted his audience with his signature graphic prints and easeful shapes. Like many designers this season he chose to have a presentation rather than a runway show, with models swaying to great music.
American sensation Tracy Reese — arguably the most successful African American designer with an eponymous collection — reminded women that they can embrace their pretty side while remaining strong and bold. She is a master at combining florals with lace and other delicate handwork, and she did this masterfully this season. Clearly a designer who appreciates the female form, Tracy designed bras into a range of sheer dresses ensuring that the wearer is properly supported while still showcasing the fashion beautifully. The last garment, a sheer, lace-detailed maxi dress illustrates the design details flawlessly.
Two designers new on the scene presented together at the Samsung space in Columbus Circle. Maatano, Somali-American twin sisters, had quietly presented last season at The Bible Society, a location just north of the main tents at Lincoln Center.
They wowed editors with their chiseled cuts. This season they adopted a Caribbean theme, using brightly colored tropical prints. A bright orangey red matte jersey maxi-dress with a delicate scoop neck was the knock-out. Project Runway’s Korto Momolu, a designer from Liberia, showed a bold and sassy collection of sportswear on a parade of primarily black models.
The piece de resistance was a fitted black tee shirt with billowing dramatically printed silk charmeuse palazzo pants that appear at first to be an evening skirt. Pop critic Lola Ogunnaike wanted them in wool. Others on the front row suggested out loud that she make them in different colorways so that we wouldn’t all be lookalikes. They were hot!
Another hot moment during the weekend occurred at Shun Lee, a popular Asian restaurant in the Lincoln Center area. Essence magazine and BET feted Tracie Ellis Ross for her September Essence cover and her new BET TV show that debuts on October 10th, “Reed between the Lines.” Rarely during Fashion Week do you see a gathering of so many beautifully clad black folk. This event was an exception.
The stars were out: Tracee Ellis Ross, of course and her sister Rhonda Ross and her dad Bob Ellis, Malcolm Jamal Warner who plays her husband on the show, Anna Marie Horsford and Melissa deSouza, castmates. Constance White, the new editor in chief of Essence and a fierce fixture in the fashion industry, co-hosted the gathering with BET’s CEO Debra Lee.
Others in attendance were self-titled fashion revolutionist Bethann Hardison (mother of Kadeem Hardison and career engineer for Tyson Beckford), culture critic Michaela angela Davis, Essence.com’s Emil Wilbekin, Inside Edition’s Kevin Harry and plenty more. The highlight was DJ Beverly Bond who kept participants on the dance floor until the doors closed.