DC Fashion Week held its 35th season this weekend with three shows featuring more than 40 designers debuting looks ranging from simple patch-work denim dresses to elaborate headpieces and gowns.
The week started with the Washington Menswear Collection on Friday followed by Saturday’s Emerging Designers Showcase and concluding with the International Couture Collections Showcase Sunday. Each event was co-emceed by executive director and founder of DC Fashion Week Ean Williams and Miss D.C. USA 2021 Sasha Perea.
Williams said the event’s group of 120 models represented a diverse range of ethnicities, body types and sizes. He said participating designers ranged in age from 9 to 80 years old, each representing a different and completely personal realm of design.
“We’re all about diversity, all about love, all about celebrating the creativeness that D.C. has,” Williams said.
We headed to The Hilton Washington DC Capitol Hill Hotel Saturday to view the Emerging Designers Showcase Saturday. From simple denim streetwear to elaborate 80s-inspired looks, here’s a taste of what designers brought to the runway.
Phoebe Jacqueline’s collection lit up the stage with refined, chic designs influenced by Swedish and Greek architecture and culture. These feminine pieces range from dresses to kimonos and combine soft neutral solid colors with light floral designs to create a fairytale-esque feel throughout the collection. All of Jacqueline’s pieces are created with recycled or dead stock material, making her line completely sustainable.
Created by designer Doncel Brown, this casual streetwear collection combines social commentary with fashion. Each piece in the Generation Typo collection features a red line in some way, like across a sweatshirt or as an accent lining on jogger pants, which is a nod to the red line associated with spelling typos. The reference is meant to start an open dialogue between generations about opposing viewpoints without assigning negative value to each other’s opinions.
Kayla Davis, the creator of Kash Kouture, showcased pieces that were form-fitting and trendy. The looks were more interesting than your average going-out fit, featuring loud patterns and intricate embellishments, but they were significantly less experimental and more casual than other collections of the night.
Hiari Strong, the designer and curator of fashion company Love Allie, presented a collection that screamed high fashion with abstract silhouettes that seemed to swallow the models in looks that you aren’t likely to see on the streets. One piece even featured a basket of grains incorporated onto the front of a dress.
This collection combined monochromatic fabrics like satin with statement jewelry pieces and ruffles looking like a line straight from the 80s. QueJohna Jones first started designing in 2016 when her grandmother, who she said was her fashion icon, passed away. Jones inherited her grandmother’s sewing machine, taught herself how to sew and started creating pieces like the ones in her showcased Blueprint Effect collection.
Chanel Hendrickson, the creator of Rack Duco, showed off a collection of piece-work denim style made of recycled jean material. Each piece layered multiple jean wash colors in multi-chromatic and geometrically appealing designs.
Hendrickson said the COVID-19 pandemic “slowed” down her clothing line and “encouraged” her to take her time creating the pieces.
With her Latin-inspired designs, Rosa María Rodriguez’s Rossemary’s Creations collection was one of the most eclectic of the night. Her pieces featured mixed patterns like houndstooth and animal print and materials like lace and velvet. Rodriguez started her work as a fashion designer when she lived in Argentina and expanded her work to include teaching others how to sew.
African Fiesta Café
A combination of vibrantly patterned fabric and crocheted accessories defined African Fiesta Café’s collection. Husband and wife duo Mutombo and Peggy Kankonde have combined multiple passions into one brand with African Fiesta Café. Along with running their cafe, the Kankondes collaborate on their clothing line which is inspired by their African culture.
Incorporating denim material and print fabric, Ashubira Designs’ collection combined elements of streetwear with Tanzanian culture for a modern but unique feel. Angelina Mushala, the designer of the collection, showcased her work last year at Tanzania’s Swahili Fashion Week, the largest annual fashion event in East and Central Africa.
Designer Emily Butterfield said she was inspired by fashion in the TV series Game of Thrones when she created her collection of chainmail accessories for her brand Unchained. From chain neck ties and head pieces to draping shoulder adornments and garters, Butterfield handcrafts chain metal to create magnificently intricate fashion
“On a tactile level, her work plays with the satisfying weight of metal draped on the human form,” Perea, the co-emcee, said. “On a symbolic level, she experiments with the way Chinese combine, adorn, hide, accentuate, inhibit and release us.”
EJE Intl. Designs
Erika Evans began her career as a hair stylist, and gained inspiration for her current fashion pieces through international work as a hair stylist in cities like Tokyo, Paris and Amsterdam. Outlandishly fashionable gas masks, glasses and head pieces matched with colorful coats and sweatshirts made up her EJE INTl. Designs collection that drew design influence from the “youth of the 90s and early 2000s.”
The motto of Evans’ line is “never be afraid to stand alone,” which embodies the avant-garde nature of her wild designs.
This collaborative fashion project by designers Orlando Ortiz and Derrick J. Sellers titled the 1988 Berlin Limited Edition Collection ended the night’s show with a bold and cohesive theme that showed off 80s fashion. Metallic fabrics, ski goggles, oversized clutches and cowboy hats created looks that felt like camp versions of costumes from the original Star Wars movies.