Kunle Ade’s Mighty and the Sunrise Band opened up this year’s Moshood Creations Fashion Show, founded by legendary designer Moshood Afariogun, with live entertainment and Nigerian music at Restoration Plaza in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on Sunday, July 31.
The guitarists rocked instruments of solid wood as the drummers switched between a djembe drum set and traditional dundun drums. The entire band sported bright gold, red, and black tunics as they set the thrilling rhythm for the event to follow.
This was an annual fashion show and outdoor concert that showcased the lush extravagance of Black fashion in Brooklyn. It was hosted by the fast-talking, wise-cracking State Senator Kevin Parker and was in partnership with the Bed-Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District (BID) and Restoration Plaza in honor of Black Business Month.
Parker said that the drums the band used were ‘talking drums.’ “You can hear it, the conversation that’s happening in between the music and it’s an amazing situation,” said Parker.
Parker wore a Moshood black and white combination tunic and slacks special for the show, as did many of the other attendees.
As the show continued, one could feel the vibration of the band’s drums deep into the chest. It was faster and more nimble than any heartbeat ought to be, but, fleet-footed, it leapt off the stage and moved the audience.
As the band’s set wound down, a performer danced off stage as a few members of the crowd enthusiastically joined him and began to throw stacks of single dollar bills at his and the band’s feet in celebration. The money dance tradition––dashing money, often seen at African weddings or other joyous events, caught fire.
Dollar bills were thrown several times as the band riotously beat their drums, some taking off into the air like drifting musical notes or sneaking beneath onlookers’ chairs.
After the brief concert wrapped, Parker introduced the string of local Black designers’ ensembles, alongside Afariogun, for excited Brooklynites in the audience and those standing in the square.
Black models of all ages and body types walked the runway in everything from stilettos to Jordans to bare feet on the plaza’s elevated concrete stage.
Each clothing line had its own distinctive African patterns and fabrics featured and flared for the audience. Some models were cocky and brazen in their garbs. Some were shy, choosing to step out in their stunning outfits and then almost immediately retreat backstage, which drew a laugh from the crowds.
Elected officials like Assemblymember Latrice Walker and Councilmember-elect Rita Joseph, were also in attendance. Former Assemblymember Tremaine S. Wright even modeled a few outfits for one or two designers. Wright said that she was not a model but was happy to be one for the day.
“I love the show, I come to it every year and it’s an honor to be here, the culture’s always represented,” said Joseph. “I like the fact that he always includes new designers, it’s not always about him, and that’s important that he’s forming the next generation of designers as he leaves his legacy.”
The name MOSHOOD/Afrikan Spirit has become synonymous with a style that personifies the “spirit” of Afrikan pride since Afariogun is originally from Lagos in Nigeria.
Afariogun emigrated to New York in the early 1980s, and opened his boutique in Brooklyn years later. He worked to marry the traditional beauty of Afrikan tailoring with western Black culture, making him world-renowned for his designs.
In homage to his humble beginnings, Afariogun usually features local designers in his show.
The designers were Mo Glover, the founder of Zyem NYC Kids clothing line; Donell White, creator of Make Yourself Hot men and women’s clothing; Evelyn J. Drake, creator of Edgewear; Empress Wendy with her Rasta Royal Elegance line, King Wallace, and Xolani Creations.
Glover’s children’s clothing line was inspired from her childhood, her son, and his friends, she said. She said for spring she customized outfits for the kids to roller skates and the current concept was a transition from Summer into Fall. She said she was honored that Afariogun thought of her for the show.
“I think the younger you are the more you just don’t care. There’s nothing that’s hindering you,” said Glover about her young models.
“I feel good, but I also feel like I could’ve done better,” said Emperor Kaioyus, 9, who modeled for Glover. He said that he’s been acting and modeling since he was 3 years old. He joked that his outfit was nice, but he couldn’t find the pockets.
Glover, 43, attended Pratt Institute and has been designing for 20 years. “My mom and my dad were from the hip hop generation in Queens. They went to the park and hung out with RUN DMC before they were RUN DMC,” said Glover.
She said that the pandemic was tragic, but it definitely leveled the playing field for small businesses by forcing them to adapt to online commerce. During the pandemic, she said, she was called to stitch masks and other PPE.
“It’s very important to have incubators for small businesses. I feel like there are so many storefronts that are empty that could be filled with people like me and utilize the space and keep the dollars in the community,” said Glover.
“BIDs are a really important dynamic,” said Parker about how business owners in the collective improve a neighborhood’s quality of life.
He advocated for circulating money within the Black community as a way to strengthen communities, BIDs and business owners being a large part of that.
Parker said that despite the pandemic and incredible losses over the last year, now was a time for gratitude and remembrance.
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