I live in Cleveland, Ohio and while we do have a lot of fashion talent here and a somewhat strong fashion community- it is segregated, spread out and a lot of times more of a flex of popularity and money than it is about supporting and cultivating new talent. We used to have a Fashion Week but that fizzled out a few years ago...
So what is a lover of fashion to do when Fashion Week rolls around to every city but yours? Create your own shit! And that's what I did! I scoured my personal calendar, Eventbrite and Facebook for opportunities to celebrate and when I could only find a few, I made the decision to produce my own.
And yes, I know that I am several months behind on this post lol, but some things happened in my personal life (read about that here) that caused me to put a pause on blogging. But now I'm back and BETTA THAN EVAAA and September was just too lit for me to not write about it so here we go:
September Fashion & Style Challenge
The way my brain is set up, I feel like we have three opportunities throughout the year to hit the refresh button and that is New Years, your birthday, and September. The first two are obvious but why September? Because September marks the change of a whole season, it is always associated with back to school- which I equate with shopping and a new wardrobe to be whoever you want to be for the first few days of school.
As an adult we miss out on that. Or so I thought until I started taking fashion more seriously about a decade ago. See September in the fashion world is Fashion Week (now know as Fashion Month read this throwback post to see how we got here and find out about the start of Press Week) and everyone knows that fall fashion sets the tone for what we will wear all the way until spring, so it's a big deal whether you are in involved with fashion or not.
Now that I have created my own lane in this industry I can admit that the "fashion" part no longer excites me, but styling will always cause my heart to flutter and that's when I found out how I could participate and clean out my closet in the process. Cause my closet always needs to be cleaned out lol.
I came up with a 30 day style challenge and invited friends and followers to participate. I loved doing it because I was forced to get creative within my own closet; I wore items from the very back that had been tossed to the side, cast off and forgotten about, some items still with tags on them, I had to think about what I would wear for the following day and I found ways to take my own OOTD pics in the most random locations so I could post them lol!
I think I might do it again for spring, so let me know if you want to join in!
Making It Happen
To my dismay, throughout the month there were only several fashion specific events that were going on in the city at the time and I made it my business to be at all of them, but I was left wondering how I could stretch it out to a whole month of events. But then I remembered that I could create my own shit and so I did! These are the events that I organized on my own or invited myself to partake in lol...
The Renee Jones Empowerment Center Photo Shoot and Mini Style Show
A few years ago I started volunteering with the Renee Jones Empowerment Center that provides resources to victims and survivors of sex trafficking and abuse. Every month I host a workshop with the women who come to the center and it is an open space to talk about whatever they need to get off their chests and believe me, it ain't usually about fashion and style.
The center recently moved to a bigger and better space which is perfect for a lot of the in-house activities and resources they have including hosting a new group of clients with mental disabilities who are vulnerable to sex trafficking, abuse and other issues often ignored when it comes to that particular group. In one of the workshops I attended with them I found out that these young women use social media just like most people their age, but unfortunately they were posting hypersexualized and inappropriate photos of themselves for likes. I ignorantly shrugged it off as being harmless because we have all posted "thirst trap" photos of ourselves in hopes that our online crush, ex or cute randoms gives us heart eyes, a DM or just that validation we sometimes want/need. However it is different for these women because of their vulnerabilities and this practice led to so many avoidable problems.
So that's where I came in! At the next workshop I brought in a suitcase full of vibrant wigs, props, blinged out sunglasses and accessories that were made to be posted and we had a style party where the women chose their accessories and poses and then we went outside and had a photoshoot! I talked to them about posting the flyest pictures that had nothing to do with being naked, or showing T&A and that you could still get lots of likes based off your personal style and not your body.
It was a success and when the program rolled back around in September I wanted to do it again! This time it was even better because the building that the center is now located in is right above a thrift shop and Ms. Renee allowed me to shop with the ladies, pick out an outfit and we had another mini style show right there in the center! I definitely want to make this an ongoing and bigger thing, so please email me if you have any suggestions, resources or want to help participate!
I actually can't show the photos and videos, but just know that the ladies had a great time and felt good about themselves in the process!
When Bosses Connect Fall Style Show
Remember when said I scoured Eventbrite looking for events to attend? The 'When Bosses Connect: Mixer Edition' was one of those. I contacted the creators and asked if I could add a little something extra to their event with a small presentation focused around fall fashion.
The event was presented by Perfectly Bundled hair vendors Kamika and Asiah as a way for hair, beauty and cosmetics vendors to come together and set up for a day of shopping and networking and for the ladies to promote their own up and coming hair business.
I jumped at the opportunity for alignment and asked for 30 minutes to present. The ladies said yes and I gathered three models with two quick changes and talked about what was hot for fall: hats, layers, animal prints, neons and translucent accessories and outfit ideas for work, date night and the weekend! It was fabulous and my models were fly as hell!
She Said Brunch
Lleauh, my good friend in fashion and style and owner of the H.T.Z Styling Team, is always coming up with great fashion related events and every year since we first met randomly at Burlington Coat Factory (RIP) at least ten years ago (could be 8 or 9 or 11, I'm bad with numbers and dates lol) we always help each other out. She has modeled for me numerous amounts of times at so many different events and when ever she has a show or presentation if I can make it I am there!
She asked if I could do a quick style presentation at her Women's Empowerment Brunch and although I had another event right after I could not say no! I showed how second layer pieces like jackets, blazers and vests can help elevate your style and how if you have a set of core basics (jeans, tee, blouse, heels, etc.) that you will always have a stylish outfit ready to go. We mixed and matched and created looks for different occasions with fewer than 10 items of clothing and accessories. Another fun and successful event!
Fashion Meet Ups
3D Bracelets and Buttons @CPL
Something else I wanted to do was to actually utilize different sites around the city and create fashion moments for myself that others could join in on if they wanted. For the first event I looked no further than my favorite place in the city- the Cleveland Public Library!
I am always in the main building's Tech Central space and wondered how I could make it fit into my fashion mission when I remembered the 3D printed dress designed for burlesque queen Dita Von Teese a few years back (boy those obscure fashion references come in handy at the best times I tell ya lol!) and my brain started going. I knew that I could not create a whole ass dress, but a bracelet could definitely be done and so could a button! I designed a bracelet and then my two homegirls and I designed mirrors, magnets and buttons with custom images on them. I know you see my Lil Kim Hard Core button right lol? Check out Tech Central's Maker Space and see what you can design on your own!
Fashion Sketch Meetup @ CMA
Another one of my favorite places in the city is the Cleveland Museum of Art! They always have the best exhibits, throw awesome parties and the Atrium is a great meeting spot inside the museum where I go to chill out and blog, or read, or just soak up the atmosphere.
I thought it would be kinda cool to meet up with fashion minded people to find fashion and style in the library and draw, sketch or discuss what we saw. I was prepared for absolutely nobody to show up, but my good blogging friend Shauna (who has an awesomeresources based website for childcare!) arrived and after we explored the museum for a bit we went outside to sketch.
It was interesting to see how we both drew from our personal experiences and interpreted what we saw and how it reflected within our art. Shauna's sketch was deeply personal and had everything to do with changes she was going through at the time and mine was in response to not seeing myself or anyone that looked like me among the art in the museum. It was a very intimate moment and it is another activity that I want to do again!
Fashion Film @MHL
The third and final event I hosted was at the Maple Heights Library. My favorite fashion movie of all time is Mahogany starring Billy Dee Williams and Diana Ross! And I am always in awe, but never shocked when it isn't brought up in conversations dealing with fashion films in certain circles, but I totally understand why. It is a Very Black film, with Black themes and Black subject matters and it deals with a corrupt fashion industry rife with racism, sexism, and classicism and this was back in the 70's.
The film is glamorous and gritty and every time I watch it, different layers are exposed the older I get. And did I mention that Diana Ross designed all her own costumes in the movie? It was the perfect film to watch and discuss as I was joined by three of my model friends (one had to leave early) and the conversation was GOODT!
We talked about the reasons why we thought this movie wasn't so popular with the fashion set, discrimination, appropriation (there were so many moments in there!) could this movie be made today, and if so who would play the starring roles? Watch it for free on YouTube and tell me what you think!
Events I Attended
Avenue of Arts
I found out about this fabulous event through Eventbrite and moseyed on down to Superior Avenue without actually reading what the event was about lol. I just saw the words "fashion show" and put it in my calendar, so I was kinda surprised when I arrived to the address given and asked about the fashion show only to be told I had to do the walking tour first and at the end there would be a fashion presentation. I was like oh...
But it ended being an awesome tour and I learned about how the once local garment district evolved into a living and working space for today's artists- there was so much to see and experience, but I was one track minded and was only concerned with the local fashion portion lol. I was not disappointed and was happy to discover new (to me) young designer talent!
And I loved how the organizers made it a point to showcase the old and the new including the fact that Cleveland was then known for manufacturing and the how garments were made for practical everyday uses, not just high fashion. That is a very important part of Cleveland's fashion history and the history of the city as well.
I was already familiar with the RAW Artist Showcase from a few years ago when they came to Cleveland and when I found out they would be back on September 11th, I jumped at the chance to ask for an invite because this is one of my favorite things that comes to the city!
RAW is a showcase for artists of all genres- painting, photography, fashion, beauty, musical, etc and they all gather at the House of Blues and we get to see all the fresh talent that Cleveland has to offer, and it is a lot! Yes, it is an art show per se, but it is loud and the art is violent and cheeky, flashing lights and spectators walk around looking like they are the art and although I have never been it almost feels like a rave or a rock concert. But with art for sale lol. It's awesome and when it comes back around, it is definitely worth it to go!
Check out my video and find out more about RAW and read up on the artists from Cleveland here.
And that wraps up my September Cleveland Fashion Month! I had a blast and it was so much fun that I think I will do it every year and build and expand as I go. Do you want to participate? Hit me up and let's work!
About the Blog
The main goal of this blog is to connect my readers to everything dope, fresh and stylish- All the Fly Things.
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