The Designers.  The evening began with Haus of Falenci’ago, which featured super short dresses with long sleeves and lots of sequins. A major look was a black short sleeved dress , with fuchsia and silver details. Khala Jones was up second, and her lines consisted of mostly pale, white and nude items. Multiple models were two piece outfits that were long sleeves and long pants but showed midriff. A favorite was a long white, knit see-through dress worn by Soukeyna Diouf.

AGANA.LTD was next, and prominently displayed cleavage with a neutral color scheme. There were a number of mid-thigh men’s jackets that were windbreaker-esque. The major look from this line was a white two-piece set where the top was cropped, long-sleeved and off the shoulder, and the shorts were of the same material and equally flowy. Hoodlvm was the most casual line and almost exclusively showcased a vibrant white, yellow, black and orange pattern on t-shirts and jumpsuits, with some featuring blue tidal waves as well. The highlight here wasn’t the clothes, although many were among the better pieces of the night (I’m talking about the dark blue overalls worn with a leather blue hat), but a Kappa shimmy.

Carlos Antvione’s line consisted of women in tube tops/strapless bras, and high-waist long pants of various fabrics. The favorite look from this line was a two piece, vertically striped black and white long pants and sleeves outfit that featured a loosely tied knot in front of the top. Ron David had the most eclectic line, and fit into the category of business formal the most of out all the designers. His models carried large handbags and wore modest dresses, while the men wore colorful leather jackets. The most favorably dress was a black with pale, purple flowers around the bottom of the sleeves and ankles.

Royal Respect prominently showcased jackets and vests riddled with faux fur lining the inside and also on the entire hood. That’s pretty much it. Tvenchy was also streetwear and contained a lot of blacks and see-through plastic. A notable piece was a half black tee, half see-through plastic shirt, as well as ripped black, skinny jeans with plastic sewn into one of the leg patches.

Nickoli August featured formal, long gowns paired with chockers. A standout look was a black choker worn with a long black dress with a plunging V neckline, that was tight around the waist and hips then went out and had a broad, flowy bottom, similar to a mermaid dress.  Bradley Douglas Jordan’s line contained a lot of black, with some red and white here and there. Mostly it appeared he was marketing his face masks, which were zany and giving off BDSM vibes. Some had cat ears, most had chains and silver. His other accessories lit up, like his fitted hats and chokers.

Finally, Lillie Designs closed the event with elegant, long and lacey white, nude, cream and soft gold gowns. The models looked heavenly and showcased a variety of styles. Some were particularly formfitting, while others were princess dresses with multilayered skirt details.

The Models. There were a number of standouts on Thursday’s runway. The most stunning struts and looks were carried out by Tiara Bolton, Soukeyna Diouf, Chidimma Achebe, Jaclyn Carroll, Jonathan Joseph, and Raaziq Brown.

The Performances. The opening performance was a high energy dance by senior Sydnee Carroll, to a spoken word piece. The line “I am the mother of a black son” summarizes the angst and indignation the poem contained.

The second half opened with three dancers performing a routine to “Freedom,” a track off Beyonce’s latest album Lemonade. The dance featured some choreography similar to what was performed on Beyonce’s tour. Altogether, it was powerful and elicited some of the loudest cheers of the night, particularly when the three held signs at the end that read “protect our black”, “black forever”, and “black lives mater.”

There was also a musical number by the Duke Ellington Band that featured only percussion instruments. It was a solid transitional performance and was well-received by the audience.

The major performance of the night came when Howard Gospel Choir came on stage during Lillie Designs’ model walk. They sang the choir portions of an extended rendition of “Ultralight Beam” off Kanye West’s most recent album, The Life of Pablo, and it was beautiful. An interpretive dancer was also off to one side of the stage passionately giving off tons of energy. This was one of the grandest moments of the night, and was well put together as Lillie Design’s elegant formal gowns fit with the lofty message of the song.

The Words. Throughout the night between designers, various words flashed across the two large screens in Cramton. At the outset, the words included “clear, optimistic, moral, harmless, wholesome, and honest.” Later, the tone shifted to “glorious, stereotyped, determined,” as words with positive and negative connotations fluttered onscreen back and forth. It was a conversation starter, as whispers were heard around the rows.

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