The streets of NYC are buzzing this week as designers, models, stylists and editors descend on Lincoln Center and the surrounding neighborhoods for New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015. And, this year, I got to do more than sit on the sidelines thanks to the good people at Prudential. As a lead sponsor of Harlem Fashion Row’s activities, they invited me to take part in some of the VIP fun.
With a mission to showcase talent of color in the fashion industry, Harlem Fashion Row is the premiere platform for designers of color during fashion week and year-round. And while the name boasts one of the most iconic neighborhoods in African American culture, HFR’s reach extends well beyond the borders of my Harlem neighborhood.
Saturday night’s highly-anticipated fashion show took place in Chelsea and honored some of the most influential players in the fashion world who also happen to be people of color. Beverly Johnson was presented the Icon Awards and she was so kind to stop to greet me after the show and pose for a picture.
I tried to act normal, but when you’re standing next to a supermodel who made history as the first black woman to ever grace the cover of Vogue, it’s hard not to feel a little weak in the knees. I held it together though.
The fashion show itself highlighted designers like Byron Lars, the former Project Runway contestant who also took home an award that evening, as well as collections like K. Milele.
The day prior, I got to attended the HFR Fashion & Finance luncheon that aimed to shed some light on the business behind the fashion industry. Moderated by Harriette Cole of The Root, the luncheon featured a panel discussion with top black designers, including former Project Runway contestants Byron Lars and Kimberly Goldson, columnist and author Teri Agins, and Shirley-Ann Roberston of Prudential.
It was interesting to hear about some of the realities around creating a successful fashion brand. It takes a lot more than just being a talented designer and getting your pieces in the hands of celebrities. If you want to get into this industry and really excel, Byron told guests not to rush it. All too often people with talent want to jump right into starting their own lines, he said, but the value of working at an established brand or company in the fashion industry first and learning on someone else’s dime is invaluable. It can really open doors and lend itself to relationships and connections that will prove useful once designers launch out on their own.
Shirley-Ann also stressed the value of having a team of people to bring the vision to reality, and that for budding and established designer alike, one of the most important team members to shore up early is a financial professional.
Thanks again to the team at Prudential for inviting me to be a part of the events this week!