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)

At Davis’ event — and participating in the conversation — was a broad spectrum of thinkers and tastemakers, including activist-writer Joan Morgan, writer-TV commentator Keli Goff, Hair Rules creator Anthony Dickey and Afropop founder Jocelyn Cooper.

Fashion absolutely reflects what’s going on in the world. It takes the world’s temperature, so to speak. As it relates to black women, the discussion got most heated over the topic of our relationship to our hair. “I want the conversation to be about texture,” Davis said. “Today all over the country, there are black women rocking every kind of look, including half relaxed, half natural.”

She contended that young black women in particular are feeling free to express themselves in ways that are unique to our times. Perhaps. I argued that with the conservative wave that is sweeping over our country, sisters in middle America may not be feeling as free.

International activist Esther Armah added, “We need to stop reacting to the way that other people see us. By thinking as an international community, we can be freed up to see the world differently.” What we will get to see through Fashion Week is how many of these dynamic minds mine the fashion that is presented, through the many blogs that they post.

Wednesday ended for some at a Dinner With Bevy. The tastemaker and hostess extraordinaire Bevy Smith paid homage to the Philadelphia art scene. As always, she gathered a perfectly matched group, including artist and art adviser Cheryl R. Riley; Richard J. Watson — artist, musician, poet and curator of exhibitions at the African American Museum in Philadelphia; artist Renee Cox; and President and COO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Gail Harrity.

Fashion and art did meet and mingle. Smith specializes in putting the right people in the room and strategically using those beloved place cards to ensure that the right people connect.

Another great connection occurred at the annual fashion spectacular The Heart Truth, a fashion show featuring “the Red Dress” as worn by a bevy of celebrity women. Created to bring awareness to the fight against heart disease, this event has always drawn huge crowds and top designers who dress the fabulous and famous. This year’s show was absolutely stolen by Chaka Khan. She’s still an “it” girl.

Harriette Cole is the president of Harriette Cole Media and a contributing editor to The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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