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Harlem Fashion Row's Fashion Show And Style Awards Was A Love Letter To The Culture
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Harlem Fashion Row's Fashion Show And Style Awards Was A Love Letter To The Culture

For over a decade, Harlem’s Fashion Row has served as a safe space for creatives of color to shine bright without fear of being dimmed. This week, HFR celebrated its 16th year of providing business solutions to retailers committed to equity for Black and Latin-X design talent. This beacon has served as a bridge between retailers and designers of color through collaborations, experiential marketing, pipeline programs, and brand strategy.

Set against the backdrop of the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, the night was nothing short of amazing as a Black hip-hop orchestra serenaded the crowd with legendary tunes from “Big Poppa” to “Moment 4 Life.” It was pure magic as the scene was set to begin the Style Awards.

Tim Weatherspoon surprised his wife, Kelly Rowland, with a heartfelt speech as he presented her with the Fashion Icon of the Year Award. “I couldn’t pass up this moment to tell you that you’ve always been my icon,” the talent manager said. He went on to share that he scoured social media to pull some compliments from the toughest of critics. Weatherspoon said, “My assumption is that these are good ‘Kelly eats the girls every time. Fire emoji, fire emoji, fire emoji.’’’

As the Destiny’s Child alum accepted her award, she proclaimed her love for “that Black man.” Rowland was full of joy and adoration as she accepted the award, reminiscing on the days when she was a little girl from Texas in a group of country girls where stylists were not jumping at the opportunity to dress them. “Tina took matters into her own hands, and she dressed us. We learned what it felt like to start a trend. I remember what it felt like — the pride in it. I also know that ‘we’ start the trends and ‘we’ make what’s cool, cool. Fashion should be grateful for us.”

L-R: Tamron Hall, Stella Jean, and Brandice Daniel

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Then, the incomparable styling duo, Wayman and Micah, took to the stage to receive the Stylist of The Year Award. These two best friends were honored for their creative styling on the likes of Regina King, Tessa Thompson, Taraji P. Henson, Jodie Turner, and so many more. The partners in style applauded HFR’s founder, Brandice Daniel, for creating a table for us. “The table is marble and custom,” Micah exclaimed.

The fashion heavy hitters were absolutely in the building. Gabriela Karefa-Johnson, a New York-based stylist and VOGUE Global Contributing Fashion Editor-at-Large renowned for her eye for emerging designers and her narrative-driven approach to diversifying representation in fashion, accepted the Editor of the Year Award.

Tamron Hall sang the praises of the Designer of the Year recipient, Stella Jean, for being a visionary who not only creates whimsical pieces but takes a stand for what she believes in. “During this pivotal moment, one designer made a courageous and impactful decision. Stella Jean, an Italian-Haitian fashion visionary, took a stand in a bold and powerful move. Stella Jean pledged to return to the runway only when she would no longer be the sole Black designer on the Milan schedule.”

Johnny Nunez, the culture’s #1 photographer, reminded us of the importance of perseverance in the face of rejection while accepting the Photographer of the Year award. Just before his speech, Valeisha Butterfield, Google's Vice President of Partnerships & Engagement, gave Nunez his flowers for always making her feel seen and appreciated, which gave her the determination to be herself and take up space.

A$AP Rocky

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A$AP Rocky lit up the historic Apollo stage with his undeniable charm and intrinsic style. Dressed in a cardigan, Louis Vuitton tie, and a voluminous kilt while his head was adorned with embellished hair clips, he was walking proof that he’s a fashion, music, and culture innovator just like the name of the award he was receiving, the Virgil Abloh Award. For this Harlem native, it was a full circle moment as Abloh helped the rapper with his start in the industry years ago when he helped design his first album cover.

Designers Megan Renee, Nicole Benefiled Portfolio, and A. Potts showcased their transformational designs, which varied in style, texture, and color. Megan Renee's designs were inspired by unapologetic femininity. Nicole Benefiled Portfolio's designs were more geometric and modern, with a focus on clean lines and bright colors. A. Potts' designs were eclectic and playful, with a focus on mixed patterns and bold colors. All three designers created unique and eye-catching pieces that turned heads.

The show concluded with a beautiful tribute to hip-hop by the legendary Doug E. Fresh. The entire show was a celebration of all that is good about fashion, and it was a reminder of why the culture continues to inspire and influence people all over the world. HFR’s New York Fashion Week kickoff was a love letter to the culture, and it was delivered with nothing but style, care, and love.

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Feature image by Shutterstock

 

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