The issue of diversity in fashion is one that bubbles to the surface every fashion week. The truth is: in an industry that traditionally caters to the super wealthy elite, people of African descent don’t typically have a seat at the table. A litany of factors have kept many out of that top 1% and thus ‘out of fashion,’–but that doesn’t mean we don’t have style, set trends, or make waves. Harlem’s Fashion Row, created by Brandice Daniel over 10 years ago, addresses the lack of representation during New York Fashion Week by hosting a fashion show featuring black designers. This year, the spotlight was given to Kimberly Goldson, Undra Celeste, and Fe Noel.
Kimberly Goldson‘s collection, entitled, ‘Formation,” featured suits for girls on the go.
She said, “I want everyone to get in line. We’re known for our suits. We want be to suits what Diane von Furstenberg is to the wrap dress.”
“We’re doing casual suits, relaxed, soft crepes, and we also have tuxedo inspired suits for evening. We’re showing you how to dress it up and down.”
Her looks are shoppable now! Purchase at KimberlyGoldson.com.
Fe Noel’s collection, called ‘A Queen’s Tale,’ focused on motherhood and the strength of a woman. She said, “It’s a story of my mom and how she came here from Grenada and created this life for herself, which then empowered me to be able to follow the same path and become an entrepreneur. Her support is what allowed me to do this and live out my dream, so this is my dedication and thank you to her.”
“I worked with artists like Harmonia Rosales’, who is changing the narrative by painting beautiful paintings of black women as the Venus.
“I’m driving home the message and taking a stand and saying we are powerful. We are beautiful. All of us are queens.”
“With my collection, I like to take everyone somewhere. I want to them to a magical land, Queensland, where black women are celebrated, loved, empowered, and lifted up.”
Undra Celeste‘s collection called, “The Bright Side,” was inspired by various members of her family, including her aunt and mom, who were all strong women.
She said, “My family came from Guyana, worked really hard, doing a lot of domestic jobs. On the weekends, I have about 100 cousins. We would go to my grandmother’s house and we would put on music and we would transform into Diana Ross.”
“Coming to this country, dealing with hardship, working in a domestic capacity, clothe were their armor. [They wore lots of bright colors], a lot of gold lamé, and big hair. They’re my inspiration.”
Pre-Order at UndraCelesteNewYork.com.
In addition to the fashion show, Harlem’s Fashion Row also celebrated people making changes in the industry: celebrity stylist Jason Rembert, activist Bethann Hardison, designer Dapper Dan, and Lebron James, who is using his huge platform to speak out about race issues in sports and beyond.
See part of Lebron’s speech below:
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The designers chosen for the show also collaborated to create Lebron James’s 16th Nike shoe–his first shoe created for women by women.
Hot! or Hmm…?
Many came out to celebrate the event, including Justine Skye, Bevy Smith, Michaela Angela Davis, Audrey Smaltz, Harriette Cole, Michelle Ebanks, Tai Beauchamp, Ty Hunter, and yours truly.
As we set out today for the first official day of shows, we must ask: will we see more diversity? Will we ever? In the meantime, we are thankful for organizations like Harlem’s Fashion Row for being a consistent beacon of change.
What do you think?
Images: Getty, Terence Jennings, and Harlem’s Fashion Row