On Thursday evening, Harlem's Fashion Row hosted its annual fashion show and awards dinner at One World Observatory. Stunning views of New York City — amplified by a beautiful late summer sunset — served as the backdrop for a lively celebration of Black fashion designers and creatives, along with the reveal of the organization's new retail platform: In the Black.
For the past 12 years, founder Brandice Daniel has championed Black fashion designers through Harlem's Fashion Row. This creative platform has worked to support multicultural fashion designers by connecting them with leaders in the industry and giving them access they might not otherwise have, so an online retail component is the next logical step in that journey.
"I've always known that I needed to convert what we do in terms of helping the designers get press, and actually convert that into dollars for them. So this is a really specially curated site for designers of color," says Daniel, who will hand-select eight designers every eight weeks to be featured on In The Black. "It will really be about what story we're telling at that moment, and what looks cohesive together. Giving people a mix of handbags, jewelry and clothes."
As for the awards portion of the evening, HFR's 2019 honorees included Mikki Taylor, the editor-at-large of Essence, who received the Lifetime Editor Award as the longstanding authority on beauty and style for Black women. Maverick of the Year Award went to GQ and GQ Style Fashion Director Mobolaji Dawodu, while Law Roach received the Stylist of the Year Award.
"It feels so good to be celebrated by your own," said the celebrity stylist. "I am reminded of a story when a young guy came up to me and said, 'I know I can because you did.'"
Attendees were also surprised with a special appearance by Ciara, who received the Icon 360 Award, an accolade that recognizes individuals who inspire and dedicate their work to the advancement of minorities across fashion, beauty, business, philanthropy and entertainment. "All the scars you get from the obstacles you face in life are actually your beauty marks," said Ciara upon accepting her award. "Adversity ends up giving you wisdom and character, and persevering through all those challenges makes you so much stronger. Gosh, I'm grateful for the challenges."
The evening concluded with a runway presentation featuring art-inspired women's wear by Bishme Cromartie, who was a contestant on Season 17 of Project Runway, as well as luxury sportswear brand Prep Curry, Zambian-based Afro-eclectic women's wear from Mangishi Doll by Kapasa Musonda and a sustainable denim brand from Harlem called Oak and Acorn by Miko Underwood.
Oak and Acorn, along with Mangishi Doll, are among the inaugural eight collections available for purchase at In The Black right now.