Written by Renard Roberts
There is another outlet for the black community to in which to engage and network – fashion. Phoenix Fashion Week, the largest fashion presence in Arizona, held an entertaining launch party to catapult local lovers of the industry into a huge week of fashion later this year. The event announced the national winners of model of the year and emerging designer of the year.
Not only were there a surprising number of black people attending, but there were many who participated in making the event possible. Behind the scenes is the man in charge of Phoenix Fashion Week, Executive Director Brian Hill. Emphasizing networking, Hill said, “One thing you must do is network.”
Also behind the scenes was Gerry Watkins, creative director of hair stylist Toni & Guy. Watkins did a wonderful job making sure the models hairstyles were on point.
One model who stood out from the 40 models competing for Model of the year was Deja Monet. She is young woman whose professional modeling career is just beginning and she made it all the way to the final three.
“I was not expecting them to call my name, and when they did I was shocked,” Monet said. She mentioned that of all the places she has traveled as a model, Arizona has supported her and recognized her as an equal. Her message to other young black girls who aspire to pursue modeling is, “Know that being an African American woman is pretty, and once your heart is set on doing something go after it.”
On the designer side of the competition were three artistic black designers. Among them was a very young and creative Azmara Asefa; also Michi Knitwear creator Michele Walden from New York, and Leola Sky creator Sherrell Hall, who came to the Valley from St. Louis, Missouri.
These designers and models were welcomed and supported by the fashion community here in Arizona as their hard work and efforts to emerge at the top in their field in the fashion industry were acknowledged. When speaking to how the black community can better support those in the fashion industry Michele said it best. “Many people are into popular name brands, but emerging black designers have quality, fashionable creations that would appeal to black women and men. So to support us, buy our fashions and value our creativity. Just as you wouldn’t try to negotiate a lesser price for a Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton or Coach, you should respect our worth.”