Having skin in the game during Fashion Week as a designer can be a daunting act. Ask anyone who has made an attempt. First you have to be creative enough to design a collection worth considering. Then you need the financing to produce at least a line of samples for retailers and editors to see. You need a venue to show your work. Models. Media. Buyers. And the list goes on. Those needs make for heavy doors to open in order to get a chance. For many designers of color, the doors are just too heavy.
The good news is that a healthy handful of black designers made it that far, and then some, this season. Some are brand new; others veterans. Two showed formally in the tents at Lincoln Center: Tracy Reese and b. Michael. Others found venues dotting all over the city.
It was refreshing to see that some of the key trends were represented by this group: bold colors, dusty pastels, short and sweet silhouettes, sheer and sassy with occasional touches of leather, black and white, crazy color mixes and techno-engineered prints with a touch of cultural cloth to boot. Here is a roundup of many of the black designers who showed for New York Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2014.
Longtime fashion stylist Jones took his love for resort life to heart and designed a small collection of sexy, floaty silk chiffon beach cover-ups and evening wear. With his first season, he already has customer No. 1, the gift shop at Atlantis in the Bahamas. What a way to start!
Hailing from Project Runway's Season 11, Sammy B. has designed a collection, Double Sided, of fun, sexy, colorful and black-and-white color-block silhouettes.
The stylist to stars such as Beyoncé and Tyra launched an eponymous fashion line last season. He's back with a fresh line of sexy, elegant womenswear for the spring.
Project Runway has been somewhat of a fairy godmother to a number of designers, giving them exposure at the perfect time. This was true for Season 5's Momolu, who has been able to grow her business ever since. This collection featured vivid yellow sheaths, simple black dresses and a strong black-and-white pant look.
Omar Salam has shown for four seasons now. His elegant, couture-inspired ready-to-wear is sexy and fitted, youthful yet sophisticated.
For the past three years Dionne Williams has been producing a fashion event to give a leg up to aspiring new talent. She also honors a fashion legend each year. This time it was legendary model Pat Cleveland. Emerge! featured six designers. Top among them was menswear designer PRSVR, who used sumptuous leathers in wearable urban looks for men and women.
The iconic designer who surely transcends race took on a political cause front and center with her bold, colorful, feminine and edgy collection. With a "boy/girl" contrast in styling, she featured several girl-girl couples sauntering lovingly down the runway, a nod to the recent acceleration in the legalization of same-sex marriage.
This 6-year-old organization, devoted to supporting designers of color, presented four designers at their show. The standout was Kimberly Goldson Collection, a well-tailored, focused collection of sportswear using a repeat pattern of the Brooklyn Bridge strategically applied to key pieces. Also featured were Deidre Jefferies of Espion, Kahindo Mateen of Modahnik and Sandro Romans of Sandro Romans Collection.
Five years in and this 25-year-old future-thinking designer has clearly grown up. His female and male silhouettes for Spring-Summer 2014 included day-to-evening looks (if you wear a jacket to cover up the uber-scoop at the hip, that is). Innovative fabrics ranged from PVC over lace to cotton fleece.