The Funk Boutique: NYFW Runs Across the Concrete Jungle—and Atop the Empire State Building

The Funk Boutique: NYFW Runs Across the Concrete Jungle—and Atop the Empire State Building

The look trending for Spring-Summer 2022 is clearly 'Black excellence'.

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Header: LaQuan Smith walks the runway for the LaQuan Smith fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery II at Spring Studios on February 08, 2020 in New York City.
Header: LaQuan Smith walks the runway for the LaQuan Smith fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery II at Spring Studios on February 08, 2020 in New York City.
Photo: Jason Mendez (Getty Images)

New York is known as the Empire State, and its city of the same name is home to one of the most—if not the most—famous building in the country, the Empire State Building. But surprisingly, independent designer LaQuan Smith is the first designer ever to host a fashion show at the historic landmark.

Though New York Fashion Week has understandably been scaling back and down since the onset of the pandemic, Smith said, “not me, honey,” and booked the Empire State’s iconic rooftop for the venue of his Spring/Summer 2022 runway presentation. The show will debut tonight and will reportedly reflect the incredible growth of both Smith and his eponymous, always sexy label. Having been in the industry for almost a decade, this show is “celebrating the revival of fashion, celebrating live runway shows again and celebrating the vibrancy of New York City as we know it,” Smith tells Vogue Business.

Smith was one of the 10 finalists of this year’s CFDA Fashion Fund and one of 12 members added to the CFDA’s roster alongside Christopher John Rogers on September 8. He got his start designing evening wear and soon moved towards expanding to other categories such as a plus-size collection with 11 Honoré, swimwear, an affordable line at ASOS and Revolve, as well as day-to-night collections. He even added 15 stockers including Browns, Saks and Nordstrom.

Born and raised in New York, Smith has the “most vivid memories of being in grade school and going on field trips with my classmates to the Empire State Building. I remember being in awe of its magnitude, so it’s really amazing all these years later to be showing my collection there.”

A spokesperson for the Empire State Building stated she is “excited that the first time we have ever closed our world-famous observatory for such an event will be with another native New Yorker.”

Hopefully, the rainy New York weather will have subsided by the time Smith’s show hits the runway at 9:00 p.m. ET. The collection is a celebration of ‘20s glamour, intended to prove to the world that New York is back.

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Harlem’s Fashion Row Takes Its Runway Show to the Street

Harlem’s Fashion Row Takes Its Runway Show to the Street

Image for article titled The Funk Boutique: NYFW Runs Across the Concrete Jungle—and Atop the Empire State Building
Photo: Johnny Nunez for HFR

Harlem has always been a nexus of style, and Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) has been instrumental in ensuring emerging designers of color get the platform, and support they deserve. HFR’s 14th Annual Style & Awards Show Opens New York Fashion Week was no different, bringing the hybrid virtual and in-person event back home to Harlem to kick off NYFW on Tuesday night with a “Renaissance Forever” theme.

Anna Wintour, Gossip Girl star Jordan Alexander, former Vibe editor-in-chief Emil Wilbekin, Bevy Smith and more were in a front row lining 137th Street in New York City, where designers who took the runway included Charles Harbison, Shawn Pean of June79, Johnathan Hayden, and TIER. Title sponsors for the in-person and virtual events were Banana Republic and Stitch Fix, respectively.

The event also celebrated HFR’s 2021 Style Award recipients, including veteran stylist and creative director Freddie Leiba (Lifetime Achievement Award); supermodel turned fashion entrepreneur-philanthropist Liya Kebede (Fashion Icon Award); Global Fashion Director of i-D Magazine Carlos Nazario (Editor of the Year); CFDA award-winning designer and TGU 50 honoree Christopher John Rodgers (Designer of the Year); and Emmy-winning stylist and TGU 50 honoree Zerina Akers (Stylist of the year).

The stoop of HFR founder Brandice Daniel’s former Harlem brownstone served as a backdrop for the presentation, an idea she says originated from Elaine Welteroth’s wedding in Brooklyn, as it was such a testament to their roots and where they came from.

“During the Great Migration from the South, Harlem became a destination for African Americans of all backgrounds,” Daniel further explained, “and with the rise of social injustice in the world today, it just felt right to pay homage to the city’s roots and focus the attention of the fashion show to celebrate the designers that are continuing the legacy and creating a new generation of Black creatives in the fashion world.”

Also founder of the ICON360 initiative, Daniel concluded the Style Awards by awarding $10,000 grants to each of the four presenting designers, courtesy of HFR partner Crown Royal, which also hosted the afterparty. Following the presentation, guests boarded double-decker buses to see an installation of HFR windows on 125th St., created by Bergdorf Goodman (h/t Fashionista). Additional windows featured Stitch Fix’s Elevate collection featuring independent designers Kahmune, Chloe Kristyn, Diarrablu, Busayo, Sarep + Rose and Marcus Alexander, and launching Sept. 27 on stitchfix.com. The much-anticipated Harbison x Banana Republic capsule collection, “a limited-edition sustainable collection brokered by HFR,” was also on display; the capsule launches in October online and in select Banana Republic stores.

“It was so exciting to see our stunning collection with Charles Harbison come to life last night on the runway at Harlem’s Fashion Row annual awards show,” said Ra’mon Lawrence, Senior Director of Women’s Design at Banana Republic. “We hope that this partnership with Banana Republic, HFR and Harbison will influence others in the retail industry to follow suit and collaborate with designers of color who typically have not had as much opportunity to break into the fashion industry.” 

“You know with Harlem and with Black people, there’s a forever renaissance,” said Daniel. “We’re continuing to evolve. We’re continuing to create. We’re continuing to innovate.”

Image for article titled The Funk Boutique: NYFW Runs Across the Concrete Jungle—and Atop the Empire State Building
Photo: Shawn Brackbill for Crown Royal
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Fashion Fair Cosmetics x Sephora

Fashion Fair Cosmetics x Sephora

The pioneering makeup line Fashion Fair Cosmetics underwent a brand transformation following a change of ownership in 2019. Now, the cult classic brand is set for a major revival, hitting the shelves of Sephora this fall. Black female entrepreneurs Desirée Rogers, former CEO of Johnson Publishing and her former colleague turned business partner Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, who also acquired drugstore favorite Black Opal, say Fashion Fair is “set for a major comeback,” according to Fashionista. The brand’s mission is and has always been to cater to Black women whose cosmetic needs weren’t being met in the makeup industry.

According to Fashionista: “The 2021 version of Fashion Fair is sleek and modern, with the same focus on luxury as its predecessor. Clad in simple gold-and-white packaging, the range includes 14 lipsticks (including beloved shades from the original line), a primer with hyperpigmentation-fighting properties and powders in loose and pressed varieties.”

Currently, If Beale Street Could Talk star KiKi Layne is serving as the brand ambassador for the newly reimagined company.

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Harlem Is Buzzing…

Harlem Is Buzzing…

After opening his 2000-square-ft Atelier in Harlem on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, Edwing D’Angelo decided to take it a step further (h/t PR Newswire). For this year’s NYFW, D’Angelo is following in HFR’s well-heeled footsteps, shutting down the block for his NYFW Fall 20211 Block Soiree & Fashion Show which will take place near his new Atelier on Saturday, September 11 at 6:00 p.m. ET, when he will stage a celebration of Black excellence and Black fashion. Harlem is clearly where it’s at this Fashion Week; you can RSVP for the show here (however, it is outdoors and open to the public).

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What Are Hue Up To Next Weekend?

What Are Hue Up To Next Weekend?

Image for article titled The Funk Boutique: NYFW Runs Across the Concrete Jungle—and Atop the Empire State Building
Image: Courtesy of HUE Beauty & Natural Hair Affair

The long-awaited return of New York’s biggest natural hair and beauty expo is back. On September 18, the HUE Beauty & Natural Hair Affair (HUE) will be hosting its beauty exposition in partnership with Palmers. HUE is dedicated to embracing and “uniting women, men and children through hair and supporting independently owned businesses,” a press release sent to The Root. The expo will take place at City Point Mall in Brooklyn, N.Y., where over 50 diverse brands will be showcased. There will also be a pop-up for the critically acclaimed Black Hair Experience which contains the “best nostalgic memories around hair and community.” The first 200 attendees will receive a gift bag with full-size products from some fan favorites such as AfroSheen, Aunt Jackie’s, Creme of Nature, Mielle Organics and more.

According to HUE, the expo is following a strict set of COVID guidelines: “As the only natural hair expo returning since the inception of COVD-19, HUE is abiding by strict protocols and guidelines to ensure the safety of all attendees. Decreasing the venue’s maximum space capacity by 50%, HUE has limited the number of booth staff, mandated masks for all inhabitants of the space, and has designed special signage directing traffic and COVID protocols for placement throughout the venue.”

Tickets for the event on September 18 can be purchased through Eventbrite.

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Afrofuturism for Spring? Iconic.

Afrofuturism for Spring? Iconic.

Designer Marrisa Wilson is bringing yet another aspect to the ever evolving spectrum of Afrofuturism. For her Spring 2022 collection, she has drawn parallels from the 1960s Space Age and juxtaposed them with the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement—then tied all of the above back to today. The intriguing silhouettes have been handpainted, drawn and printed by Marrisa with bursts of red and peaks of blue that “work together to show the fraught balance we face in an ever-changing society,” per a press release sent to The Root.

The Spring 2022 collection also introduces Moon Platforms by Marrisa Wilson NY, Wilson’s first-ever step (no pun intended) into the shoe game. The two sandals were designed for style, utility and comfort and feature bold, color-blocked patterns with a highlighted yellow platform sole.

Additionally, the Marrisa Wilson NY x Gigi Burris collab features a softer color palette and silhouette. They include a custom colorway scheme designed exclusively for this capsule with gunmetal grey, coral, off-white, and neon yellow. Each piece also incorporates a custom Racello braid made in Switzerland by “one of the only remaining luxury braid manufacturers.”

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In The Know: Brandon Blackwood

In The Know: Brandon Blackwood

Image for article titled The Funk Boutique: NYFW Runs Across the Concrete Jungle—and Atop the Empire State Building
Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis for In The Know

Yahoo’s In The Know spotlighted industry wunderkind and activist Brandon Blackwood—designer of the coveted “End Systemic Racism” handbag—as its digital cover star for this September. This shoot, photographed by TGU 50 2021 honoree Shaniqwa Jarvis is Blackwood’s first-ever cover feature. Consulting Editor-at-Large Elaine Welteroth partnered with In The Know to curate a series of shoppable digital covers that highlight “culture-defining talent who contribute to the conversations and trends shaping society today,” per a press release provided to The Root. Other talents include Storm Reid, Luka Sabbat and Mj Rodriguez.

This month’s luxury issue of In The Know features a conversation between Blackwood and Welteroth about the importance of normalizing Black luxury, claiming space as a Black designer and the importance of personality and authenticity in any successful brand.

You can read Blackwood’s interview with Elaine Welteroth and In The Know here.

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Azéde Powered by Gucci

Azéde Powered by Gucci

NYFW has returned, and so have Gucci’s continued efforts to support a diverse group of up-and-coming designers. This year, Gucci has backed New York-based Haitian-American designer Azéde Jean-Pierre with a collection titled Azéde Powered by Gucci. The knitwear collection is gender-neutral and bicoastal, featuring blues, greys and off-white knits. Azéde is known for using impeccable craftsmanship to create innovative pieces that also have a sense of comfort. This collection includes reimagined classics such as the “cotigan” (coat/cardigan), bodysuit, skits and the gender-neutral shirtdress. All pieces have been produced in Italy by the House and will be shown in September at Gucci Wooster and Dover Street Market Los Angeles. To honor this collaboration, Gucci will be making a donation to CORE, a nonprofit crisis response and prevention organization that brings aid to Haiti and other places around the world.

“My perspective has been seamlessly met with a translation of what Gucci has re-emerged to symbolize for both a people and a generation that come together at such an intimate time—and at boldly reflective stages—of social identity and self-discovery…for all of us. AJP, as my cult support, has always known it, but made by Gucci. This one, is for all of us,” says Adéze Jean-Pierre via press release.

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Shop—and Pin—‘Til You Drop

Shop—and Pin—‘Til You Drop

Image for article titled The Funk Boutique: NYFW Runs Across the Concrete Jungle—and Atop the Empire State Building
Photo: Courtesy of Pinterest

At this point in the social media age, everyone should know about Pinterest. (If you don’t, ask Managing Editor of The Glow Up Maiysha Kai—she has nearly 4 million followers!) For instance, recently, the platform added a feature where users can pick their hair type when looking at different photos—which potentially changes the hair game both on and offline. Now, Pinterest has partnered with Designer and Pinterest Creator Sergio Hudson, who will be bringing users on an interactive runway experience for his Womenswear Fall/Winter 2021 collection on Thursday, September 9. Hudson has shared his inspiration board and will be posting behind-the-scenes looks at the show and sneak peeks including the casting, hair and make-up. Per a press release provided to The Root, after the show wraps at 7 p.m. EST, users will be able to shop the collection right from Pinterest by navigating to Hudson’s account and clicking on the shop tab.

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Rebuild Foundation x Prada

Rebuild Foundation x Prada

Theaster Gates on stage at PRADA MODE LONDON on October 02, 2019 in London, England.
Theaster Gates on stage at PRADA MODE LONDON on October 02, 2019 in London, England.
Photo: Tim P. Whitby (Getty Images)

“If [I’m] a director of an Italian design firm in Italy, how am I going to know what’s happening in Senegal, Detroit or Chicago?” That’s the question acclaimed artist Theaster Gates asked when coming up with the idea for the Rebuild Foundation x Prada experimental design lab. The lab consists of a three-year program serving Black and brown designers who are already in the fashion world but don’t have a platform to get their voice out there or collaborate with other designers. The physical space for the lab is on Chicago’s South Side and will be “international in reach and relevance, will act as a space of exchange, training and critical feedback and exposure for creative talents,” according to WWD.

The first group of attendees will be announced in October and Gates estimates that the number could range anywhere from 8 to 15 designers. These creatives will primarily be from Chicago, Los Angeles and New York to start but Gates plans to branch out in the future. The Experimental Design Lab will operate on a three-year rotation, with Prada awarding a grant to an artist or designer to “encourage their development and allow them to launch a capsule of their choosing in the space.”

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Sperry x John Legend

Sperry x John Legend

John Legend is following in his father’s designing footsteps—literally. The EGOT has just partnered with footwear brand Sperry to create a capsule collection that launched on September 8 to kick off NYFW; the first collaboration between the “All of Me” singer and the brand. David Thomas, Legend’s personal stylist, oversaw the design process of the shows and presented the collection at New York Men’s Day. The collection includes an “evolution of a classic Sperry silhouette” with luxe suedes and leather and lambskin linings, featuring a boat shoe, a boot (pictured above) and a Chukka style.

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You Can Now Add Uoma Beauty to Your Morphe Haul

You Can Now Add Uoma Beauty to Your Morphe Haul

Image for article titled The Funk Boutique: NYFW Runs Across the Concrete Jungle—and Atop the Empire State Building
Photo: Uoma Beauty

UOMA Beauty made another “BadAss” move Thursday; the brand founded by beauty industry exec-activist (and 2020/2021 TGU 50 honoree) just joined the Morphe family! The line’s BadAss Icon Concentrated Matte Lipstick, DRAMABOMB Mascara, Say What?! Foundation, and Stay Woke Concealer launched in Morphe stores today and will land on Morphe.com starting Tuesday, September 14.

Per a press release to The Root:

With this launch, Morphe continues to diversify its 3rd party brand offerings and expand on its relationship with UOMA Beauty Founder Sharon Chuter, named by Women’s Wear Daily as one of the “50 most forward-thinking executives shaping the future of the beauty industry,” after previously partnering on the ‘Make it Black’ campaign earlier this year. UOMA Beauty is the most inclusive black-owned beauty brand. This launch is part of Morphe’s effort toward continuing to build out a diverse brand portfolio and complements the brand’s growing complexion category by offering a 51-shade range of thoughtfully formulated foundations.

That’s BadAss!

   

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