Designer Robyn Bandele with model Credit: Renee Minus White/A Time To Style photo

The new Renaissance New York Harlem Hotel, at 233 W. 125th St. was the perfect venue for the 12th season of Harlem Fashion Week, whose theme this time was “Hip Hop on the Runway.” It was the hotel’s first public event, and the establishment didn’t disappoint. The Renaissance’s incredibly luxurious design pays tribute to Harlem’s stars, many of whom appeared at The Apollo Theatre right next door.  

The mother-daughter team of Tandra Birkett and Yvonne Jewnell, owners of the fashion company Yvonne Jewnell New York, LLC, and co-founders of Harlem Fashion Week, established Harlem Fashion Week in 2016. It’s a much-needed platform for rising Harlem fashion designers. Proceeds from this major event will benefit the continued development of HFW Learning Center, the nonprofit arm of Harlem Fashion Week that’s dedicated to the development of HFW Kids—the next generation of fashion creators. 

HFW’s Hip Hop Fashion on the Runway was comprised of a three-day series of interesting events including a Beauty Crawl sponsored by Uptown General; a fashion industry mixer; and a Business of Fashion seminar at Chase Bank at 55 W. 125th Street, where a special panel offered advice for prospective designers stylists, models, photographers, and other folks interested in working in the fashion industry.

This year’s HFW awards went to rapper/actor Ice T, legendary DJ Hollywood, Melle Mel, Roxanne Shanté, DJ Ralph McDaniels, Harlem hip hop trailblazer Jim Jones, Beyoncé’s celebrity stylist Zerina Akers, and hip hop educator Christopher Emdin. While we were speaking to Ice T in the HFW VIP suite, he changed into a blue/black patterned leather jacket designed by Foreign Labur that was passed to him. We asked him about his rise to fame. “You know, I started out with nothing,” said Ice T. “I just jumped on every opportunity to make something of myself.” We also met with DJ Hollywood, who got his first job in 1971 and received his license to spin in 1974.

Born 50 years ago, hip hop music introduced a new genre in fashion. Some called it street fashion. The music and fashion styles stay alive through today’s emerging designers, five of whom were introduced at this year’s Harlem Fashion Week. 

Robyn Bandele was the first designer in the show. Last Sunday morning, Bandele was interviewed on Channel 4-TV’s “Positively Black,” where she announced her runway debut that was scheduled at the Renaissance New York Harlem Hotel for Harlem Fashion Week that same evening.

Bandele is 6 feet 2 inches tall and she specially designs her clothing line to focus on tall women. On HFW’s runway last Sunday, her clothes were refreshing and stunning. The collection consisted of two-toned patterned pieces, glittery gowns, dresses with splits, and separates in modern styles with contrast trims. Her clothes were wearable and elegant. See more of her sophisticated and tall collection at Menswear designer Frederick Pore also showed a nice line.  

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