Fashion Week’s Message-Driven Kickoff

The biannual New York event started with a fashion-art expo and a talk about black women's images.

Doru Olowu (Harriette Cole); Michaela Angela Davis (Getty Images)
Doru Olowu (Harriette Cole); Michaela Angela Davis (Getty Images)

The ribbon cutting that signaled the official start of New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Wednesday was exciting for those who are still basking in the glow of the Giants’ big Super Bowl win. Giants receiver Victor Cruz (the now-infamous salsa dancer) did the honors. By nightfall, the fashion world was treated to even more flavor. A healthy dose of social consciousness infused the first day of the event.

London-based fashion designer Duro Olowu, a favorite of Michelle Obama, hosted a pop-up shop in lower Manhattan at Salon 94’s Freeman Alley Gallery that proved to be a feast for the senses, mixing the designer’s clothing with art. Olowu’s impeccable aesthetic, no doubt supported by his powerhouse wife Thelma Golden’s curatorial eye, brought together his own fantastic printed dresses and handmade necklaces, along with other fine artists and photographers.

Architect David Adjaye, who is designing the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, created two contemporary mirrors, one that looked like a modern sculpture but doubles as a reflector of image. There are paintings by Philip Kwame Apagya, Katherine Bernhardt and Glenn Ligon; photographs by Juergen Teller, Hamidou Maiga and Carlo Mollino; and sculptures by Francis Upritchard and Ghanaian artist Paa Joe. The pop-up shop is a must visit. The good news is that the items are available to view and purchase through March 4.

Around the corner at Cooper Union, Michaela Angela Davis hosted her second annual “MAD Free: State of Our Style Address.” Davis, a self-described “image activist” who has cultivated a strong relationship with young black women, has kept the conversation going about the images of black women in the media, including magazines, and how we can control them.

At this gathering of about 100 or so fashion-forward, primarily 30-somethings, Davis and’s editor, Kierna Mayo, read and discussed their thoughts about black women, power and image and “our” magazines. A key point that Davis made was that with the evolution of social media, the fashion scene has changed dramatically. Fashion bloggers of color are now legitimate purveyors of style and are being taken seriously.