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Harlem Fashion Affair Reflects Model Behavior and Runway-Like Living

Fashion Bomb blog creator Bethann Hardison and rolling out publisher Munson Steed

In many industries African Americans are carving new paths and making headway each and every day, while pursuing their aspirations and designs for the world in an African American way. I recently had occasion to spend the day with individuals from Target along with a number of icons in the fashion world during a heralded event for Harlem’s Fashion Row. In fact, Harlem’s fashion scene is impacting the glamorous world of fashion and the traditions of yesterday, and breaking its influence and hold on what does and does not make it to the runway. And as for full-color spreads in major fashion magazines, too often that color is not quite what it seems. But here innovative new designers bring their creations to be seen.

But there are those greats like Target that are keeping things alive every day. They give people a voice and allow them to push forward their dreams of affecting fashion in a special way. So I spent the day and the evening too, in New York, it was a big to-do.
With Tyson Beckford and Bethann Hardison there in tow, and then the fashions miraculously began to flow. The restaurant was all the rage you see, the place was immaculate and the plates were abundant, but the theme was what really struck me. More corporations each day are putting their spin on how fashion can change each and every day. I think about those who dream of being fashion designers and on the runway someday. I think about those pop icons like Diddy who have altered the stage in their own personal way. Even for celebrities like Russell Simmons who had the means to cultivate the brand Phat Farm, there are more role models and more design opportunities to be afforded those with the talent and the charm. Moreover, we all have to make a point of making others aware that we feel this way.

Target’s Greg Cunnigham and friend, Ebony magazine’s fashion creative director Harriet Cole; BET’s “J’s My Model is Better Than Your Model” judge Bev Smith; and Mark Ecko vice president of brand development, Emil Wilbekin

It was wonderful to see the change in the air and that those who were showing their creations really did care. Famous photographers, and infamous editors and popular television hosts came out to support the Harlem dream of changing the world’s voluminous fashion scene — yes, to see and be seen. I thought about how the tenets of this industry also applied to our community, and that we must be model people in order to make our dreams a reality, for so many who try hard to live model lives every day. The fact is that we have to study, educate ourselves, work hard and identify role models to emulate. Even our president needs us to live up to our potential and behave like role models in all areas of industry and commerce, as well as science and business and every other discipline open to us.

Yes, we are all models of behavior and part of a collective footprint. We are the subjects of great thinkers and immense creativity, from music to the visual arts and then back full circle to business and commercial activity. It becomes clear that it is important that we support this ingenuity, and the accomplishments of those old and new to me.  We were there in Harlem to celebrate fashion, and what began to happen is that we were also fashioning our minds to embrace change, while we oohed and aahed over every collection and every dress.

We are a community of models, fashion and otherwise, too. Model homes and model cars and model behavior aren’t new. But black architects and engineers are still too few, and black professionals are only recently getting their due.
Make it a point to stand tall and straight, you may get noticed right out of the gate. Be creative and don’t worry if you stumble and fall. The point is to get back up and face the challenges of the day. There are poems from African American greats we should keep in our heads, there are books that have been written that we should keep near our beds. These are the stories and the armor to keep doubt and doubters at bay.

There are runways and stages in life just waiting for your approach. There are students and young people aching for a life coach. Make sure that you are a reflection, an image that represents what you want others to glean. And if you’re going to shop, support those business who support you. Think about the economic model you want to support, and make sure that your selection is of good report.

I enjoyed the dinner with Target, the designers and Tyson Beckford to name a few. And I look forward to seeing your model emerge as you walk the runway, too.