This year, Howard’s annual Springfest fashion show is inspired by this year’s Springfest theme, “Renaissance.” The Golden Age fashion show aims to take viewers through a day in Harlem, immersing the attendees into the bustling Black culture of the era through fashion.
The month of April on Howard University’s campus is known for many things – day parties, graduation prep, and more – but while the season is one of excitement and anticipation, the Springfest fashion show has long been one to take the crown.
Playing into elements of harmony and coexistence, the first leg of the show portrays the organized chaos yet beautiful spirit the city seems to hold. Transitioning from day to night, the second half of the show (Love in Harlem) draws viewers into the ambiance of a Harlem night, filled with jazz, performers and romance.
Directed by seniors Madisen Suell and Maiz Lawson, with a host of models, designers, and stagehands bringing the show together, Lawson shares the importance of creating a production that was “in-house” and took advantage of the talent living at Howard University.
“There’s always like a weird, unexplainable wall in-between fashion designers, and [the] Chadwick Boseman [School of Fine Arts], and these big grand fashion shows. And so I really wanted to open up the floor and provide a direct opportunity for these fashion designers to come in because they have great designs, [and] they have great work,” Lawson shared. “I really wanted to incorporate the set design students and fine arts. I think it’s really important because there are so many capable students at this school.”
In previous years, the Springfest fashion show has become a staple event for participants to showcase their talent and ingenuity within fashion. Lawson exemplifies this, going from
modeling his freshman year, to now directing, felt the importance of continuing this tradition.
“[At] every point throughout the process, whether it’s music or the clothes we’re using, the set design, the models, it’s how can we break this tradition and incorporate something new that will take people aback…[making] sure it’s a culmination of everything I learned and [a] culmination of everything that the people I’m working with have learned,” Lawson said.
Creating room for experimentation and creativity is what the show has been for those involved, and for freshman English major Jayvyn Morthel, it has also been an avenue to create community.
“It’s a really fun experience. I go to practice with my suitemate …and we’re always just taken aback [by] being surrounded by super cool, super creative black people. And for me personally, coming from PWIs my entire life, it’s always such an awe-inspiring experience,” expressed Morthel.
Housing talent from different sectors of the Howard community, the show is set to be cross-organizational allowing participants like Morthel the experience to create and grow as an artist amongst those in and outside of his org.
“Constantly being around people who are trying to make art, I feel so good because you’re in a space where there are like-minded individuals… I’m a part of Models of the Mecca, and I’ve been working with a lot of Elite models recently, and I think it’s just been really fun to create art with them because they’re not in the same org as us, but we’re still able to create together and make something beautiful together as artist[s] on campus,” Morthel shared.
With previous university fashion shows gaining coverage by publications like Teen Vogue, and guest appearances by stars like Tink and Fabulous, this year’s show is sure to emulate the high-quality productions of the past. Through moving beyond merely displaying clothes to pushing to tell a story and foster community, participants like Lawson and Morthel have left with gifts of their own in pursuit of giving a memorable show. Amongst those gifts is the ability to create space and cultivate family.
“There’s this big warm, open, safe space in the form of this fashion show, and they see the inner workings of it…It just gives room for experimentation and finding true passion,” said Lawson.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew