Over the course of the past month, I had the absolute pleasure of covering two events, both of which were put together by Black brands and names. Mr Jay Ancrum, Pastor of Church Traditional located in Charlotte, NC teamed up with Michelle’ Washington, model, owner and CEO of YBNVS Boutique LLC. These two creative minds joined together and created not just one day, but a full week of fashion, vendors, and entertainment which they appropriately titled “Fashion in the Lake”, hosted at Lake Norman. The initial impression of the event was how organized everything was. Lanyards were provided for media, entertainers, models, and so on. Vendors knew where they would be set up and models appropriately had space for wardrobe change. Entertainment aspects of the event were in line and media time was designated prior to the event beginning. The week was planned out per day and kept to schedule. The conductors of the event made sure each vendor, model, entertainer, and other participants were able receive exclusive interviews with media. During a background interview, one of the first things Ms Washington stated was that she had been a part of a plethora of fashion weeks of which she had walked for, and many of them were disorganized. Being said, she wanted to put together her own fashion week and ensure it was not the same experience she has had multiple times. The event was very much organized and everyone had an appropriate place. She intentionally had a plan and was sure it was executed in a way that was different from what she had seen prior. Upon speaking with Mr. Ancrum, he informed me that the most exciting thing for him was to have “us” come out and do something classy, nothing “ratchet” or “ghetto”, but instead an event where “we” could come together and have fun. I was witness to just that! An event full of individuals coming together, and enjoying themselves in addition to enjoying a show with a different theme each day of the week. Overall, a very well done and put together event.
Moving forward and being invited to The CharLIT Fashion Show and Expo, I was already taken in awe of the beautiful set up. White drapes hung from the ceiling, reaching beautifully towards the crowds and the runway was studded in diamonds and light that illuminated across the room, immediately capturing your attention. Ms. Nadia McQueen, celebrity stylist and brand manager of “JustTrap” Brand, collaborated with Mr. SlimHood, award winning producer, and together put on a grand fashion show full of local black designers, vendors, and entertainers. Hosted at the “Extravaganza” in Charlotte, NC, McQueen and Hood definitely utilized the space well and it was just THAT, EXTRAVAGANT. During an interview, Hood stated, they wanted to give the fashion community a platform to stand on and showcase their work. He stated that the most exciting aspect of the event was “all of the beautiful black faces”. I can attest that this event for sure was a platform for designers of color to showcase their work. Ms. McQueen said on stage that in the industry, there are not many black designers and stylists representing star studded red carpets and runway stages, so to be able to showcase an event highlighting designers of color was part of the ultimate muse in creating this event. This event for sure was a platform for designers of color to showcase their work.
In regards to both events, they each deserve honorable mention for not only creating a space for stylists of color to feature their talents (the typical reasonings of a fashion show as we know it), but also providing opportunities for local and upcoming businesses to display, promote, and sell their products/services by having the rooms outlined beautifully with vendor tables, all of which being businesses of color as well. This opened up doors for businesses to introduce who they were, display their work,and be given an occasion to network with other businesses. Media and podcasts also covered both events, which even further expanded the chances of businesses promoting and advertising their brands. Both of these fashion shows not only created an event for black fashion to be spotlighted, but extended the opportunity for businesses to thrive in the industry as well.
Just when you thought these events could not be anymore centered around the spotlighting of local and black talent, both parties were lit up with crowd pleasing performances by talented upcoming artists. I mean, what’s a fashion show without a show?! I can attest that artist performances kept the energy high and exciting in the room and you could easily look around and see nodded heads, phones recording, and guests truly vibing and having a great time. These events really provided the ultimate space for talents of all areas to come together and not only be professional in representing who they were, but also have a great time while doing it and connecting with one another.
Though the overall intent for each event was well recognized and ultimately translated to audiences, a few technicalities could be taken into consideration for both of these parties moving forward. The lack of punctuality already plagues the african american culture, and “CP time” is just unappealing in the professional world. Guests could agree that the anticipation waiting for both events to begin was heavy. However, it is understood that things do happen in event planning, whether it be sound checks, traffic, or other unforeseen issues. In addition, creating a space that really “felt” like a fashion show was also another noticed detail. Guest experience takes your event and creates a lasting impression that the streets will be sure to talk about moving forward; that’s what we call free promo! A job that does itself really!
Post Covid, guests truly appreciate a great time, and businesses appreciate a chance to showcase what they have been working on in the midst of a pandemic. Networking was one key aspect of these affairs and the excitement of businesses cards floating hand to hand around the rooms, hashtags and online social media “@”’s being excited typed into phones, and contact information eagerly being exchanged, both “Fashion on the Lake” and “The CharLIT Fashion Show and Expo” left a lasting impression and impact on the local community in attendance. Kudos to you both. Until we meet again.
You can catch exclusively backstage interviews of both events just below at the links below! MilliUp had the pleasure of connecting with the organizers of the events, models, designers, vendors, as well as entertainers. And although you may have missed the show, the excitement of each is embedded within the interviews which you can easily hear as you listen!