Black designers kick off fall/winter ’18 Fashion Week

Renee Minus White | 2/15/2018, 1 p.m.
At these seasonal fashion shows, the show always begins long before the models hit the runway.
Fall/winter designs by Yvonne Jewnell for Malcolm X Legacy Contributed

At these seasonal fashion shows, the show always begins long before the models hit the runway. This one was on a rainy February Sunday with a deluge that wouldn’t let up. However, the weather didn’t stop the well-dressed audience from attending Harlem’s Fashion Row’s annual Fashion Week presentations at the Museum of the City of New York. Every now and again you passed folks posing in the hall and taking photos. The models were absolutely beautiful, and hair and makeup were outstanding. It was often hard to tell the models from the audience, especially before the show.

The Malcolm X Legacy collection stole the show. Designer Yvonne Jewnell created some spectacular pieces, including a black leather outfit that flowed down the runway. For a leggier look, an off-the-shoulder dress received applause. The letter X was prominent throughout the collection. Prints were eye-catching wherever and whenever they appeared in the line. For men, Jewnell’s T-shirts stepped up in style. The audience welcomed the collection and loved the fuller-figure fashions. The line was introduced by the six daughters of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz.

Backstage, before the show, several other designers were very excited to talk about showing their lines. Designer Alexis Londyn’s line focuses on prints. This 27-year-old from Barbados works miracles with textiles, feathers and glittery pieces. How did she get started? “My mom made all of my clothes, and I had a new dress every week,” said Londyn. She never wore the same dress twice.

Martina Nevado, a designer from Peru, started sewing clothes when she was 11 years old. Inspired by her culture, she designs for women who like to express themselves. Most of her pieces were crested in blue and white. For knitwear, Michele M. Walden’s collection for Michi Knitwear, LLC was newsworthy. Her knits were stunning, colorful and elegantly shaped in long and short styles. Hailing from Queens, N.Y., she creates custom-made skirts, sweaters, gowns, shawls and scarves. In her collection, the message was clear. “You are not going into a store to fit into a knit, the knit is made to fit you,” stated Walden.

Amatula Designs by Amatula Jacobs is a line of accessories consisting mostly of Afrocentric jewelry and bags with beaded straps. Several of her bags feature a different bead from every African country. “My husband makes the bags,” said Jacobs. He designs under the name Bogolani Designs. They also create the Shamne necklaces, earrings, bracelets and goatskin hunter bags. As for pieces, the best fashion designs in their collection are the cloaks, the vests and the 10-way cover-ups that you can actually wear 10 ways.

Jacobs works with recycled leather, furs and suede skins. One of her jackets featured leather sleeves, sheepskin backs and suede front. Every part of the jacket was created in a different texture. All of her cloaks have huge collars. For these fabulous coats and vests, prices start at $175. Amatula Designs are amazing, high-fashioned garments. Good shows!