This February, I've experienced my umpteenth fashion week, and I have to say, this season has been my best yet.
New York Fashion Week is like no other in the world. Bishop Carrie Bradshaw once said it's the time of year where we forget about the past and look forward to the future. Well, she's partly correct. In reality, the past helps us make better choices and take more risks in fashion. When I think back to 2018, I was struggling with how I was being seen and it made me doubt myself. The moment I made self-confidence my No. 1 one accessory, I no longer needed validation from anyone else. And just like that, the photographers were swarming me and I got more front row seats.
With my newfound self-confidence in tow, I had to come hard this time because I had a slew of shows, presentations, parties, and meet-ups to attend. Last season was also one for the books, so it was time to level up once again.
The hardest thing about slaying NYFW when you don't live in the city is preparing looks that will stun the onlookers while not paying an arm and a leg for baggage. I think I did just that this go-round. The whole lot of it is all here in my New York Fashion Week Fall 2020 Style Diary:
I started my New York Fashion Week off with Harlem Fashion Row's Prelude event celebrating fashion legends Misa Hylton, Dapper Dan, and April Walker. Sony Hall couldn't have been filled with more love than on this night celebrating the impact these three icons have made in fashion and music. Brandice Daniel, founder of Harlem's Fashion Row, has always been intentional about the events she curates during fashion week as it is one of the few places we can celebrate black culture.
I also wanted to be intentional when choosing my look for the night. That's why I chose to wear a jumpsuit and kimono designed by black designer Rachel Marie Hurst. If I'm going to make a statement, I want to do it by representing people who look like me. I felt so empowered and free as I danced the night away wearing a black designer while vibin' to old-school jams and surrounded by my people. It was a beautiful night.
I rolled up to Spring Studios hella comfy for day one. New York City's weather gods were hating so the first day was all about comfort and warmth especially because my day was packed with festivities. I opted for a simple two-piece knit set paired with RAID snakeskin boots and a teddy jacket. I made sure to pack more comfy shoes in my purse so that I could easily chase after a train if need be. You gotta stay ready so you don't have to get ready–that's a fashion week commandment.
Despite the weather, the first day was picture-perfect and filled with eccentric designers like Mukzin x Harbin, the Fashion Hong Kong collective, and Oqliq.
I ended up in a room that changed my life by mistake. NYFW decided to do something different this season by hosting intimate talks in between shows. On day one, the talk was "The Evolving Standard of Beauty" presented by the Miss Universe organization. Here I was in a room with three black beauty queens soaking up all of their magic, and there are no words to explain how blessed I felt.
One of the highlights of NYFW was the Fashion Hong Kong after-party because I met some fellow fashion lovers and lest not forget the endless dranks. As Ice Cube would say, "Today was a good day."
Image Courtesy of The Riviere Agency
I knew I would be hopping all over the city running from shows to meet-ups so I just had to wear a showstopper that would turn heads. I'm such a lucky girl to have designer friends on speed dial because they let me wear some of their best pieces whenever I want. This lilac neoprene vest designed by DarkM0th Industry was just what day two needed. When I added the leopard print turtleneck and skinny jeans, I knew it would be fire. Of course, I needed sensible shoes as well so I went with black Chelsea boots with a gold accented heel.
I started my day at the Concept Korea show, then went backstage to interview one of my favorite designers Son Jung Wan. Next, I swung by Vivienne Hu's runway show and hustled my way to the next gallery for Son Jung Wan's show.
The next agenda item was one of the events that leaves my heart so full, The Glow Up link up. Picture a room full of black girl magic toasting to new connections, great vibes, and genuine sisterhood.
Image by Marta Skovro McAdams
I ended the night at Pier59 at the Oxford Fashion Studio where I was blown away by Rene' Tyler's plus-size collection. Sis showed up for the curvy girls, and I lived.
What's fashion week without a monochrome moment? I chose a warm but stylish Simply Be cord boiler suit in rust from ASOS, a UO Wide Brim Patent Bucket Hat and rust-colored booties. First up was Hakan Akkaya's edgy collection followed by Rebecca Minkoff's colorful and playful presentation.
By day three, I needed a reboot so I headed to the NYFW Happy Hour at Showfields hosted by The Riviere Agency. The happy hour had dope goodie bags, hair and makeup stylists to glam you up, along with plenty of Instagrammable spaces.
Happy hour led me to the Concept Korea 10th anniversary after-party in collaboration with V Magazine where they had a 20-foot-long table full of delectable bites and a generous open bar. To say I was in heaven would be an understatement.
Day four was more chill so I decided to match that same energy with my outfit. Wearing sequin pants, a neon hoodie and custom kimono by C.R.Lee, my goal four days in was to show up in colorful pieces, and this custom kimono was so ideal as it read, "Support Black Designers." It was a great choice for my day as my first show was Romeo Hunte, a black designer enthusiastic about creating space for our culture in fashion.
After Romeo Hunte, I trekked back to the piers for the Global Fashion Collective show, then made my last stop at Dorothee Schumacher x Interview Magazine's party. If you ever need to know how to throw an after-party, give these folks a holler. The DJ played back-to-back hits as the bartenders kept the champagne flowing and the waitresses scoured the room with cheesecake and donuts.
The fifth day almost felt like I had been at it for a month but nevertheless I served up an animal print moment featuring a lightweight set by COLLUSION. ASOS may want to sponsor me after this fashion week because many of my lewks were bangers from their site.
Since I had been running around for days, my feet were not so happy with me. During NYFW, a fashion friend told me that rubbing VapoRub on your feet after a shower brings some relief. It actually helped and prepared me for the five shows I was set to attend.
Every season I get to fall in love with emerging designers, and this season one of them was The Arlo Studio. Their pieces were ready-to-wear and had a specific panache that made me a huge fan.
Image Courtesy of Global Fashion Collective
With only two shows on the docket, I was grateful I got to sleep in, but I was also super-geeked to show off this fly-ass coat by DarkM0th Industry after another outfit didn't work out. Over the years, I have learned to always pack three additional looks in case of emergency. In this case, my order was delayed.
My first show was Cynthia Rowley but that didn't go as planned due to some personnel issues *coughs.* I took that opportunity to meet up with some friends for dinner and drinks before the Turkish Designers show later that night.
Seeing rapper and snack Dave East strut down the runway in Hakan Akkaya like the original gangster he is made me want to take him home that night.
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The finale was simply a dream. I was most looking forward to a particular event. From the moment I received the invitation to Serena Williams' S by Serena show, I realized how blessed I was to be able to be me in these spaces. The invitation said that Serena would be interviewed by Vogue's editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, before the collection presentation, and I damn near pulled my wig off because it just seemed like a dream.
Planning this outfit was not that hard because I had a vision of what I wanted to wear—a cow-printed dress with animal print, knee-high boots. When the day arrived, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Walking into Spring Place felt like a life-changing moment. I couldn't believe I was sitting among icons like Lindsay Peoples Wagner, André Leon Talley, Julee Wilson, Elaine Welteroth and so many other fashion giants. When Serena and Anna walked onstage, my heart skipped a beat. They spent a couple of minutes talking about Serena's most memorable outfits, her heroes, and her background in fashion, which blew me away.
The rest of the day was just as magnificent, with more black designers like Aliette and Fe Noel's NYFW debut. The last day of fashion week just felt like a large celebration, and it left me invigorated.
And at the end of my night, I got to snap up another black-history-in-the-making moment with some more fashion lovers including Amanda Finesse, Ashley Weddington, Ella Adenaike, Adewunmi Erhabor, and the adorable Aria De Chicchis.
When I say, New York Fashion Week Fall 2020 owes me nothing, I mean it.
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Featured image by Instagram/@joce_blake
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Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
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7 Black Women Bookstagrammers To Follow And The Reads By Black Authors That Empower Us
I've always been a stan for reading, and I've been a so-called book geek since kindergarten. My mom would always reward good grades and behavior with a trip to the local library, something my siblings loved more than any new toys or free time to play outside. We would spend hours at the tall stone building in the downtown area of the small town I spent my childhood in, first in the downstairs "Children's Room" (which only had books for readers 5-13). I later graduated to going (i.e., snuck) upstairs to find all the juicy celebrity autobiographies, travel books, and classics like Sula, Moby Dick, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
So today, when I see so many Black women part of #bookstagram, I feel seen because many of us love not only to read but to drown in books by Black authors, poets, historians, and researchers who continue to add to the narrative and reflection of what it truly means to be a Black person---a Black woman---in America.
Check out (and follow) a few of my favorite Black women bookstagrammers and the books that empower us:
Zora Neale Hurston is clearly an icon, and she's one of my favorite authors, thought leaders, and scholars, so this is an obvious choice for me. What I love, specifically, about this bookstagrammer's page is that it lacks pretension, is super-relatable, and includes a nice mix of nonfiction books, something I'm trying to boost in my collection.
2.Kayla Starr @blackgirlbookadventures
Another classic, Beloved was a book I unsuccessfully tried to read as a 12-year-old, tried again in my 20s (and failed), saw the film, and then fell back in love with again reading in my 30s. Black Girl Book Adventures is a page that just screams brightness, positivity, and a love for books that draws you near.
3.Black Girl With Books @blackgirlwithbooks
This book had a profound effect on me, as it connected the dots between Ghana (a place that has held a special place in my heart since my 2016 visit) and Black America in a way that blew my mind. It also helps that the storytelling and timelines are captivating and thoughtful in a way that any editor who just loves good writing--in an online content environment that seems to reward robotic, vapid, Grammarly-informed, copycat writing---would appreciate.) The founder of this page also offers info on bookstores and other interesting updates for bibliophile baes.
4.Shani Akilah @_shaniakilah
A love of travel and books? Yes, please! Shani's page is refreshing and welcoming, inviting you in on her global adventures along with her journeys through her latest reads. I'm a huge fan of books that feature Black women protagonists in Caribbean or African settings who are able to come into a higher sense of themselves through challenge or hardship. For some reason, I'm always drawn to those books, which is why this one is a top pick for me.
5.Boipelo Lecha @boipelo.reads.books
I'm not big on romance novels (after having grown out of an early obsession with Danielle Steele). At one point, I'd been yearning for a book that offered an elevated sense of the Black love experience (beyond the esteemed OGs like Terry McMillan, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Zane) and stumbled upon Love In Color. It was just what I needed because it's a collection of classic love stories retold through the lens of the author, and the tales centrally feature women.
Biopelo is an up-and-comer in the #bookstagrammer space.
I've been consumed by Black historical fiction, and this is a good one for the collection. It tells the story of a Black southern family through generations in a way that doesn't feel like a book you were forced to read for a college project. It screams, "Turn me into a six-part Netflix saga," and was a surprise hit for me because I made some very ignorant assumptions about a poet being able to write such a story. (Ah, like Maya Angelou isn't literally a queen in my head.)
Virginia-based Semiyah is literally like my reading tastes twin, down to the mix of types of books she showcases on her page, from romance fiction to new YA titles.
Lex serves up book events and information about new releases to boot, and her page doesn't scream, "Hey, I'm going to just promo books sent to me for free by publishers." On top of that, I support any and everything with the name Tiffany D. Jackson stamped on it. She's a graduate of the other HU (heeeey all my Hampton *cough*, I mean, Howard folk), and the way she puts her special stank on YA will have you wanting to actually relive your own teenage years.
Dare I say, reading her work is like the first time I read Judy Blume, Sister Souljah, and Candy Dawson Boyd---all pioneers in what is now known as young adult fiction. It's authentic, truthful, kind, real, and has a living soul, all elements I yearned for back in the late '80s and '90s as a confused, geeky, Black girl at the library and that I still yearn for as an award-winning editor, editorial manager, and self-employed woman at my big age.
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