DC Fashion Week concluded its return to the main stage after celebrating its 37th season in a four-night experience highlighting models, designers, entrepreneurs and attendees. Executive director Ean Williams pulled a diverse slate of creatives, from both international and local backgrounds, showcasing the multi-faceted centrality of DC through Menswear, Emerging Designers and Couture collections.
Originally from Chicago, Williams’ inspiration for the development of the semi-annual DCFW trade shows was born from his experience in the industry in the years following his relocation to D.C. “I started off as a model and actor, then ventured into designing and started producing. And as a designer, I wanted to elevate exposure for our brand,” recalled Williams. “[At the time], DC didn’t have a single recognized trade show that really showcased fashion, so I launched fashion week.”
His experience navigating over 20 years of the DC fashion scene grew to become evidenced by the 36 seasons leading up to the most recent DCFW.
The Spring/Summer season designer showcases kicked off with a Menswear Collections show held at the Patterson Mansion in Dupont Circle, featuring brands like Andrew Nowell Menswear, Earle Bannister, The Debonaire Club Clothiers and Obioma Fashion.
The Friday, September 23 showcase was a drastic departure from the standard notions of masculinity in fashion, in both formal and casual wear. Playfulness and experimentation informed the range of shapes, patterns and storylines. From Earle Bannister’s wool animal-eared masks to Andrew Nowell’s silver-blue jacquard short set, the menswear show was a display of creativity and diversity in both designs and models.
“It’s the first fashion show of our 37th season. We’re one of the few major fashion weeks that still have an exclusive menswear collection show that’s very important to me,” provided William’s regarding the value he placed on the event.
Ranging from ages nine to 80, designers from Saturday’s Emerging Designers Showcase–many of which were DC natives paying homage to their hometown–used their work to tell their stories, shed light on social issues and acknowledge history and culture. One designer duo, in particular, Coco Wright and Adisa Bomani of Coco Bomani, dedicated their collection to history.
“Coco means ‘chocolate’, Bomani means ‘warrior’. Coco was founded upon the foundation that all fashion was predicated upon the slaves. Without cotton, no textiles, so therefore we pay homage to all the people that brought Ean here, your parents, your ancestors, your mama’s mama’s mama’s. So when you wear Coco Bomani you represent something greater than you–it represents the people that brought you here.” asserted Bomani after premiering the company’s contemporary and intricate designs.
Delight Dzansi, CEO and creative director of alkeBULAN and University of Maryland alumna, expressed a similar vision for her brand’s target demographic when showcasing her eclectic ‘My Closet’ collection.
“alkeBULAN was established in 2018, in hopes of providing cultural wear for Africans and people of African descent in the diaspora, while creating jobs.”
Designer Aje’Ne Thomas of the Accept All Love All brand dedicated her brightly-colored collection to those who battle anxiety and depression. The creator behind Fedele Nero, Briscoe Nero, dedicated his collection to his DC roots by accenting designs with details reminiscent of the culture like the cherry blossom leaves that traced the seams of some of his garments. The Emerging Designers showcase provided creatives with a platform to represent the causes and culture that they care for.
The closing night of events, revealing International Couture collections, provided the audience with an air of extravagance. Some brands like Obioma Fashion recategorized themselves for reappearances, while brands like Williams’ Corjor International , Eryn Boggs and Troy Anthony made their sole appearance for the weekend on the final night.
The one-of-one garments of the night featured architectural structures and fresh takes on patterns, texture, and color combinations. While some designs leaned classic, others were unique enough to elicit audible sighs from the crowd.
Opening the finale with live go-go music, featuring small local businesses during intermissions and showing immense support for Howard students, faculty and alumni, DCFW SS 22 was a celebration of the cultural facets that DC has laid the foundation for.
The next fall/winter installation of DCFW is slated for February 2023, attendees can expect a wealth of established and emerging designers, models, vendors and sponsors.
Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman