Several student organizations gathered on Friday evening to host the fashion show The Art of Being in celebration of Black History Month.
The show features BIPOC designers from all over the country and performances by British students.
The Fashion Crew’s new student organization spearheaded the event, but organizations such as MLK Center, Black Student Union, Collegiate Curls, UK branch of the National Association of Black Journalists, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and the NAACP were all involved in the show.
Fashion Crew was founded this year by sophomore students Brandy Jackson and Yasmin Ogundepo, who both organized the event. This group focuses on bringing any student in fashion together to explore that interest.
“We started it so that it could become an outlet for people who are interested in what we have in common, which is fashion, and we are trying to become a foundation for students who are interested in any field of fashion,” said Jackson.
Fashion Crew held their first successful fashion show last fall and were approached by the MLK center to organize this event for the Black History Month lineup. Jackson and Ogundepo have big plans for the organization’s future with networking events and a possible red carpet event later once the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.
For now, Jackson and Ogundepo are planning and organizing a Friday fashion show, which has been in the works for two months.
Ogundepo even designed his own product for the show based on his love of simple and expensive fashion. The Ogundepo design consists of a simple silhouette, almost like street or loungewear but with a detailed Chanel strap and a cut that brings together Ogundepo’s two loves.
“I wanted to do something really creative, but at the same time I know that people our age are very simple, so you can dress up or dress them up. I just wanted something simple but as expensive as possible, ”said Ogundepo.
The event also featured five other vendors: Pinksky Boutique, Afro Delight, Zoe Pizarro, Bag Behavior and Demestik.
Pinksky Boutique is an Atlanta-based boutique that focuses on timeless, trendy and affordable fashion and accessories. Afro Delight is a company that focuses on fashion t-shirts, founded in 2017 by Pam Clark, a mother of seven who returned to fashion after putting off her dream of 20 years of raising her children. Zoe Pizarro decided to create his own clothing line last November after graduating from college with a degree in medical sonography but a passion for helping others through fashion. Bag Behavior is a bag company that focuses on providing fashionable yet affordable bags and clothes. Demestik (pronounced domestic) is a bright, colorful, sustainable lifestyle brand directed by Reuben Reuel.
With a crowd of more than 100 students, the show was performed as if COVID-19 had never dampened a face-to-face event, other than the occasional mask.
Despite the social seating distance, the barrier clears during the break.
Spectators line-dance, take pictures at the photo booth and mingle while the models change for the second half of the show and students warm up for their act.
The show featured performances from “Never Enough”, a song from The Greatest Showman by British student Cymone Webb and a dance choreography by British student Arianna White.
Students attend the event for many reasons, but many say they are there to support their friends and their reasons.
Sofia Bonilla, a freshman pre-nursing student, said she came to support her roommate who was modeling for the show. Bonilla jumps and claps in support of the model every time she appears on stage.
Keyarius Kibler, a junior dual psychology and sociology student, said he also came to support his friend Arianna White, the show’s lead dancer.
Kibler also said that as a member of Phi Beta Sigma, which has historically been a Black fraternity, he and the other members wanted to show support for the event and the Black business they featured.
“We love supporting Black’s business, and of course, this is a fashion show featuring Black’s company. So, I really just wanted to patronize and show my support, “said Kibler.
Social justice, Black history and celebrating Black joy were some of the main topics of conversation at the event.
The show opens with a moment of silence for those who went missing due to last year’s police brutality and statements about the hardships black people have faced throughout history and even today.
“In the last year we’ve had, the fact that we’re even here today means we’re truly winners,” said Chandler Frierson, MLK Center intern, at the start of the event.
Host, Junior Paul, mentioned the importance of celebrating Black history and achievements several times, starting with the idea that every BIPOC member in the audience should be proud of themselves for being where they are today.
Paul goes on to explain the meaning of the show’s title “The Art of Being” midway through the show.
“Art becomes much deeper than [a fashion show]. This is the art of being Black in America. This is the art of taking charge of your black male counterpart. It’s the art of feeling good about yourself, ”says Paul.
Jackson and Ogundepo say that fashion and art have a way of sparking these kinds of conversations and allowing others to express themselves in ways that can help bridge the differences we see in society today.
“I think fashion for the African American Community is very important because a lot of people use fashion to express themselves and to show what you support and what you don’t support,” said Jackson.
Jackson said that this often brings out a wide variety of styles, and he hopes their shows succeed in bringing out a variety of styles and expressions in everything from t-shirts to bags to high-fashion dresses.
Ogundepo said he believes fashion has the power to open people’s eyes to new experiences and that it is just one of the many things he is passionate about.
“I am Nigerian so my style was growing up and our way of fashion is completely different from now and here. I just feel it is important that when people know the difference, and they learn what they are not used to and they see what they are not used to, maybe they will even accept it, “said Ogundepo.
Jackson and Ogundepo said they hope this connection between fashion and audiences can create a sense of community that goes beyond fashion shows.
“I think fashion, art and music are really influential parts of society, so they can really make a difference and make a difference so people can bond… When the world is so divided, it’s very important to have things like it’s to bring people together, “said Jackson.
Jackson, Ogundepo, and all the students and organizations involved in the show have chosen to use their art and passion for this purpose and keep bonds and conversations about black history and joy beyond late February with the hope that their art can change the world and make it a place. which is better for all of us.
“Although [the world’s] divided, I know we don’t want to stay that way; we don’t want to be like that. We want to be together. We want to be cohesive. We want to like each other, and these are just different ways to bond. “It’s like meeting someone for the first time, and you want to know what you have in common with them,” said Jackson.