Sensitivity has always been the driving force that has fueled the promotion of BLACK culture in our open, but closed world. Yet, people of color have continued to pay a high price for being formed and fashioned with melanin. Brandice Daniel, the CEO and founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, is a forceful advocate for BLACK designers with a heightened sensitivity to what makes them so fly!
In October 2017, I was informed that the 10 year anniversary of Harlem’s Fashion Row would be celebrated by hosting New York Fashion Week in Tennessee, the home state of its founder. Realizing that this would be a kairos moment for me because NYFW is traditionally by invitation only, my sister and I departed on November 3rd for a long 10 hour drive from Columbia, SC to Memphis, TN, a southern terrain that we’d never seen before.
Upon my arrival, I was mesmerized by the regal interiors of the historic Clayborn Temple, the official location of the celebration. Brandice, with a powerfully, calm presence started off the day by interviewing Mikki Taylor, Editor-at-Large of Essence Magazine, about the source of BLACK femininity and the intentionality of self care. Ms. Taylor affirmed that my personal value is more than what I wear and that how I allow others to treat me is a direct reflection of how I care for myself. Subsequently, Brandice hosted an empowering panel discussion with her peers, Julee Wilson, Fashion and Beauty Director of Essence Magazine, Wouri Vice, fashion stylist to Andra Day and the iconic, fashion stylist, Misa Hylton. I was overwhelmed by their individual transparency and collective insistence that BLACK culture is the pulse of the fashion industry, globally.
Finally, my evening with Brandice ended with an intimate fashion show showcasing the sophisticated collections of BLACK fashion designers from both Memphis and New York City. For instance, Korto Momolu’s unique perspective was magnified as each model walked the runway with a mystique that only comes from royalty. Her collection had a delicate and graceful vibe, yet commanded the respect of the audience with African patterns, gold sequin dresses, as well as, skirts and jackets.
No matter what, BLACK style has always been powerful and highly coveted, yet underrepresented. This problem has fueled Brandice’s desire to be the liaison between BLACK designers and the world! I left NYFW with new aspirations for my career in fashion, but what I appreciated the most about Brandice Daniel was her love for Memphis!
Annick Tyler resides in South Carolina