story by Faith Bowman
photos by Charles Beckwith
Shortly after New York Fashion Week, Harlem’s Fashion Row geared up to present collections by emerging designers at a fine arts venue in Harlem called The Gatehouse. Operated by a collective dedicated to promoting Harlem’s enduring influence and contribution to the fashion world, Fashion Row featured four lines, including one by recent Project Runway alum Epperson.
Along with Epperson, the designers of labels Dinna Soliman, Joe Duran, and LiaLia showed collections on an oddly-lit runway in The Gatehouse’s black box theater space.
At the end of the show, fashion legend Stephen Burrows was given a moment in the spotlight, as well. Mr. Burrows, one of the first internationally recognized African-Americans, has been a force in the fashion industry since graduating from the state’s Fashion Institute of Technology in 1969. The organizers screened a short but moving video about his career, and he was given a standing ovation.
Each designer brought their own take on where fashion is going for the coming season, and all had a distinctly defiant Harlem vibe. Starting off the show, duo LiaLia (Julia and Natalia Alarcon) presented a line that went from playful rompers to serious slick black evening pieces.
Dinna Soliman’s line was mostly separates that could be mixed, matched, and layered to suit a variety of tastes and silhouettes.
Jose Duran did menswear with a post-apocalyptic meets pre-industrial twist. Dust and braids adorned the models heads, and combat boots covered their feet. The clothing in between was draped, swirled, and slouchy.
Epperson was the show closer, and he didn’t disappoint. Deconstructed edges in heavenly white garments, mixed with earthier designs featuring African kente cloth. Statement leggings in op-art patterns were paired with hip-length rough-textured jackets and blazers. The menswear was rugged-casual with a bit of Caribbean flair.