Harlem’s Fashion Row (www.harlemsfashionrow.com) is an organization dedicated to changing the face of fashion by shining a spotlight on designers of color oft overlooked in the industry. HFR holds annual fashion presentations (we covered last season’s event here), and has now inaugurated a ‘conversations’ series where founder Brandice Henderson interviews industry veterans in front of an audience. Designers, journalists, and stylists come, speak, and offer advice to young hopefuls.
Last night’s conversation was with iconic designer Stephen Burrows:
Burrows is easily one of the most celebrated fashion designers of color. He was the first African-American designer to be recognized on a global stage thanks to his participation in the historic Grand Divertissement à Versailles. He has dressed Naomi Campbell, Iman, and Cher; won several Coty and CFDA awards; he is a legend. We’ve written about him several times, most notably in our 2007 interview with him here.
Stephen offered lots of insight and words of wisdom. Yes, he told young hopefuls to focus on their dreams and to not give up, but to also get the proper education and bone up on the business of fashion. I asked him how he felt more designers of color could be represented in the industry, and he said, “Funding. It comes down to having the resources to let your brand succeed.” Vogue established the CFDA/Fashion Fund to help younger designers find their footing; France has the ANDAM award (Association National pour la Développement des Arts de la Mode) award. What do we have in place to help young African-American designers thrive?
It’s a problem that can’t be solved in one session, so I look forward to the next one.
For more information, stay tuned to Harlem’s Fashion Row’s website at www.harlemsfashionrow.com.