New York based designer Samantha Black takes us to church to with her spring 2014 collection Double Sided
New York based designer Samantha Black takes us to church to with her spring 2014 collection Double Sided. Photos by Bernard Smalls

African-American designers throughout the city are showcasing their spring collections during this New York Fashion Week. Even though the role of black models in fashion is being highly scrutinized this year, this season black designers are back with a vengeance.

Kibwe Chase Marshall, in his excellent piece for Fashionista.com, has outlined some of these black creators making a splash this week.

New York Fashion Week is also a time for highlighting neophyte designers, and quite a few have made an impressive showing. One such designer is Samantha Black or Sammy B., a Project Runway alum, who released her collection Double Sided on Saturday at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea.

Two parallel rows of benches framed the make shift runway at the show. Peering down the aisle, one caught glimpses of Basketball Wives cast members Tami Roman and Meeka Claxton, actress Elise Neal, and Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta‘s Ariane Davis in the crowd.

The show started promptly at 9 pm with a performance from songstress, Elle Varner. Varner — draped in a floral print tunic and black thigh high boots — belted her signature hit Refill.  The Perfectly Imperfect singer pointed to her peers in R&B as she sang: Ro James, Wynter Gordon, Luke James, and Bridget Kelly were all in the audience.

A few gyrations later the soul starlet departed from the runway to make room for Black’s collection. Double Sided differs from Black’s previous collection Soho Brunch in its tone and shapes. Sammy traded in her patterns and elaborate embellishments for a sleek and sexier look.

This collection still has hints of Sammy’s love for strips and neons, however the new, refined shapes focus on the female figure.

Three designs that stood out included a sheer floral print kimono with matching pant, a mesh, graphic top that said “black” coupled with a black pencil skirt, and little black cut out dress with a gold trim.

Some may view this line as understated; however, fashion insiders thought it was a hit.

Longtime fan, blogger Erica Vain, told theGrio, “Sammy read herself and it was chic,” regarding her streamlining her vision.

Vain’s tablemate, Dallas-based fashion journalist Iman Cole, chimed in, “I love that it was held in a church. It made it feel authentic,” adding, “the jumpsuit overall was amazing,” about one of the pieces.

Although she did not win Project Runway, Sammy B certainly gained a wide variety of influential fans who made her New York Fashion Week show a well-received, main attraction.

Her Double Sided collection ushers in a new era for the developing designer.

Reginald Larkin is a New York based journalist whose focus is fashion and lifestyle. Follow his adventures on Twitter and Instagram at Reggrants.