You may ask yourself, now how does one create their own Fashion Week by themselves in Cleveland, Ohio? It's simple- I planned a week around fashion events, and decided to call it Lady Silk's Fashion Week. Voila'- do what you want lol. From Saturday, September 10th, to Monday, September 19th, I made it happen and this is what I did...
Personal Style Workshop *Saturday*
My first event was my own. The awesome Renee Jones invited me to participate in the First Annual Collinwood Resource Fair, a wonderful event that had the People's Church of God in Christ's parking lot full of resources for the community. Local organizations participated and had information on empowerment programs, health screenings, face painting, and art stations. They had workshops on human sex trafficking, record expungement, financial empowerment and a Men of Purpose talk. Children who attended received book bags filled with school supplies and refurbished bikes! Inside Ms. Jones put together a series of workshops, both inspiring and useful. I arrived right in time to hear a presentation on Edwin's Leadership and Restaurant Institute, a place that gives formerly incarcerated adults a start in the hospitality industry and helping them regain entry back into society. I think we need more programs like this everywhere.... I sat through two empowering testimonies before my model Harmoni showed up right on time for our segment.
My model friend Dionne invited me to help her judge a team of Glenville High School students for a city wide Best of the Best Fashion Face Off Competition. It's a major fashion show in April where high school students from different schools compete with each other for the title. I agreed to meet up at Glenville, the first high school I attended for a year when I moved back to Cleveland in 1998. Of course everything looked different, newer, brighter, but still felt familiar you know? Especially sitting in that auditorium where the tryouts were held.
A group of about fifteen girls and boys shyly slid across the stage while Dionne and another model I have worked with named Deanna, gave them pointers. They were all nervous at first as we judged them on things like confidence, eye contact and their walk, but loosened up as they got more into it. I mistakenly thought it was a regular fashion show and was confused when I saw them swinging arms, dancing up and down the stage and requesting their own music lol! I was like hold up, they can't choose their own music?! But Dionne explained to me that it was more about their own modeling style and I instantly got it and had to go back and changed some of my marks and comments lol...
It was fun watching them cause they were having lots of fun and I could tell, hopefully I'll be able to attend the show in April. I left right after to go to my next event...
I rushed off to the GCFC Fall media mixer at the Music Box Supper Club in the Flats right after I left the high school. I wanted to attend because I'm thinking about expanding the costuming branch of my business and wanted to make contacts. I am a costumer for independent films and web series which means I help decide what the characters and extras will wear, lending a certain look to the production. There is no sketching, sewing or actual building of the costume as a costumer, those are the duties of a costume designer.
The words costume and wardrobe are used interchangeably, but costume/design deals with characters for television, movies and plays, while wardrobe is for an individual personality. So let's say if Rihanna was starring in the Hollywood remake of Catwoman (which I would be totally here for!), I would sketch, design and fit the costume for her Catwoman character to wear throughout the movie. If she were promoting the movie on talk shows and with personal appearances, including photo shoots and interviews then I would style her wardrobe using items I purchased or borrowed for her to wear that particular day.
Anyway, I attended not knowing what to expect but was surprised to see how crowded it was and how of course everybody already knew everybody else. Except me. Always forever the new girl lol. I attempted to sit and listen at a lecture, but it as too noisy to hear so I sat and ate my cheese and crackers and my sugared nuts and high price vodka and cranberry and then tried to network. My film friends Jasmine and Unity eventually joined me and I felt a little more comfortable but I only ended up talking to a handful of people. Regardless to my social skills, the event was really cool and I liked the resources they seem to have available for Cleveland's small (but growing) film industry. I will attend their next event, this time with a plan and a thirty second elevator pitch to the right people lol.
When I got the email invite to Fashion Week Cleveland's rooftop party at Azure on the 9, I was excited to say the least. For years I have wanted to be on the planning committee, or at least involved with FWC, every since I attended fashion school in 2009. The email asked me to join models, designers, volunteers and the staff of FWC to have an input in the planning of Fashion Week 2017. Oh baby...
It just so happened that the evening of the party was also my son's first open house at his high school and of course I had to be there for that! I sat through four of his classes, learned about each of his subjects, how he was doing in them (my son is a talker lol) and enjoyed a celebration to kick off National Hispanic American Month with fresh chicken tacos and tortillas.
I barely swallowed my last chip before I dipped off and headed towards the Fashion Week Cleveland party, determined not to be too late. I arrived at about 7:30 pm and raced into the posh Metropolitan at the 9, a converted bank made into a hotel and a living space in downtown Cleveland. It is huge with a with a restaurant, a theater, a club, a gym and an indoor dog park. I collected myself just as the doors to the elevator opened and I made my way into club Azure. I looked around for a cluster of fashion folks, and walked around the small area before asking a bartender about the party. She had no clue what I was talking about. I walked around again and finally went over to a group of people standing off to the side and asked if they knew anything about the FWC party. I found out that they had arrived earlier than me and were looking for the same thing. No one made any announcements or let it be known that any representative from FWC was in attendance.
Upon further investigation, we found out from another bartender that the head of FWC had been there earlier, but that it looked more like a small family gathering of only like three or four people. I can't lie, I was pissed. I was more mad at myself for getting all pumped up for FWC when I should have known better smh... I got one good photo using those lovely mirrors though lol...
I stayed up all night Friday finishing both an essay for my Saturday morning Lit Cleveland writing workshop and a fashion article for the upcoming Haute Ohio fashion magazine, a publication dedicated to showcasing the talents of Midwest fashion professionals. I perform better on deadlines but was cutting it close and did not finish everything until about 2 am Saturday morning. I got up and finished critiquing a story by one of my workshop peers, before leaving for the once a month class that meets at the library at 10:30 am.
It was pouring rain when I left for the class, but after 2 hours, the rain evaporated and left a thick, heavy blanket of humidity over the city. I went back home to briefly remove some clothes, eat and then was off to the Extreme Model Bootcamp offered by runway model Dionne @diva.dionne and her partner fashion blogger Evelyn aka @fashionevesta. The free event was held at Shameless Studios on St. Clair and was already in full session when I got there. It was a workshop for models ages 13 and up to learn about the industry, hear from industry vets and learn how to walk runway. I thought it was a fun, awesome, educational event and the ladies will do it again so follow them on Instagram for updates!
I stayed for about 45 minutes and then headed off to my next destination which would have been the epic Capture Ohio photoshoot event for the Haute Ohio publication debuting in October. I took an hour long bus ride to the wrong location with a dead phone battery before realizing my mistake. It had started raining again and I was a hot, wet, sweaty, late mess and decided to just go home.
On Sunday I woke up bright and early and took my son to get our CPR certification in an intense four hour class in Gordan Square. Yay!
For the past month or so, I have been researching costume for a documentary on the anniversary of the Hough Riots. This year marks the 50th anniversary of riots that lasted from July 18 to July 23, 1966, in the Hough neighborhood where four African Americans were killed and 50 were injured while a whole community was destroyed and never really got back right. I was excited to do costume for this documentary of reenactments because it happened here in Cleveland and with everything going on today, the subject is totally relevant. Not to mention that I would be working directly for Ward 7 Councilman TJ Dow.
I went to work asap, reading the script, breaking down the characters and scenes, determining time and location and other things to wrap my head around the look of the film. Then I searched for images related to the riot and was extremely unhappy with Google search and even more pissed that there had been little to no official documentation- no books, movies, or other documentaries specifically on these Cleveland riots. I decided to go to the library to conduct a more formal search.
I spent a whole day browsing photo archives in the downtown Cleveland Public Library and then poured over the microfiche and microfilm machine looking through articles from the July 1966 issue of that week's Call and Post newspaper, The Plain Dealer, old issues of Ebony magazine and a few more resources form that era. It was the coolest thing and I learned a lot and received nice references for my costume lookbook.
I woke up the next morning to an email saying the shoot was cancelled until further notice. I am extremely disappointed, but hopefully it picks back up again because I feel like it is a very important piece and an awesome project for residents and the families closely related to the riots. Not to mention a very important part of not just Cleveland history, but Black history as well. And 20 years later when another black girl is looking for information on the Hough Riots, hopefully she won't come up empty handed.
Would you like for me to cover your next fashion and style event? Hit me up! Ladysilk@thehouseoffly.com