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With New York Fashion Week now long gone by industry standards, we want to revisit one of the most unique and diverse showings this season—Harlem's Fashion Row. This year, Espion, Sandro Romans, Modahnik, and Kimberly Goldson presented. According to Harlem Fashion Row founder Brandice Henderson's show notes, only two black designers showed at NYFW, and less than one percent of designers featured in department stores are black.
That's where HFR comes into the picture. Quite simply, they represent what could be: diverse models, diverse designers, and an audience for both. After the jump, reporter Cambrey Thomas sums up five of the best things the show had to offer.
Image via Style Blazer.
Project Runway: Presence
HFR's shows are always rounded out with a few former Project Runway contestants, and their work is so crisp, so distilled, that they barely need to do that courteous introduction explaining their vision before their models go on. This year, Modahnik took us to the Namib coastal desert. We don't want to misuse the word literally here, so we won't—but rather we'll say the air changed and the models floated by in a hazy mirage against a darkening sky. Where is her Payless collection?
Image via Twitter.
Brooklyn: We Go Hard
OK, so BK is a thing. But these designers aren't just biting on a trend here, they are actually from the borough—like when it was all a dream and we used to read Word-Up magazine, like pre-Williamsburg as we know it, and pre-GIRLS. Project Runway finalist Kimberly Goldson sent her models down the catwalk in blinged-out black caps tilted to the side and gold bike chain stripes. And boldly dropping all subtlety, folded the Brooklyn Bridge into a linking pattern. The new pinstripes, if you will.
Photo via Paula Rosado PR.
Bushwick: Chronically Cool
Did we mention BK is a thing now? Jokes aside, designer Sandro Romans took the "sights and sounds" of his Bushwick 'hood and turned the hipster on his head with his imaginative menswear collection. Toying with fantasy, Romans outfitted his models in fuzzy pants, six-pack friendly crop tops, marijuana-print onesies with matching hats, and color-blocked tees. All finished off with black high-tops, of course.
Photo via Paula Rosado PR.
South African Desert: Flower Bomb
Circling back to Kahindo Mateene, her Modahnik collection was otherworldly girly. In our notes, we wrote "skin tight whites and tribal neons," but everything about the designs were beautiful, soft, sweet, and floral. The whites were bright, and somehow, the neon gentle and warm. It also helped that the entire walk was accompanied by the ethereally bubbly singing and acoustic guitar strumming of Andy Allo and her gorgeous 'fro. If this is the Namib desert, then consider it officially on our "to-go" list.
Image via FIT.
The entire time, we couldn't help but think of the The Battle of Versailles, the legendary catwalk-off between French and American designers. The show unleashed a gaggle of ethnic models on their stiff French counterparts and simultaneously put young American designers on the map. In all, careers were made and stereotypes smashed. Something about it just seemed oddly familiar.
· Meet the Woman Behind Harlem's Fashion Renaissance [Racked NY]
· Neighborhood Guides: Eight of the Best Places to Shop in Harlem [Racked NY]
· Harlem's Fashion Row [Official Site]