Forbes - Fashion Week

The Best Collections From New York Fashion Week Spring 2019

Studio 189 presented more than a mere fashion show. It was a celebration. It was a no-holds-barred spectacle with performances by Jojo Abot, Frenchie Davis, a voguing dance troupe and musicians playing traditional African beats. And Alicia Keys and Naomi Campbell, who were both sitting in the front row, can attest to that. By the end, the former was up on her feet (Campbell exited midway), along with every other guest, reveling in what can best described as a party.

“Thank you everyone for coming out and supporting us in our very unusually show,” said co-designer Abrima Erwiah after the parade of performers and models strutted out. She then explained how Studio 189 was built on a “cradle-to-cradle philosophy” that aims to directly impact marginalized communities in sub-Saharan African, to help grow their GDP and create jobs. A video before the presentation gave an overview of the brand and its mission, but hearing it from her gave it more resonance. Then, actress Rosario Dawson, the other co-designer, went on to say how the event was being broadcast to the groups that created the clothes seen on the catwalk.

The collection was every bit as vibrant and energized as the show itself. There was a bevy of sophisticated kimonos, jumpers, elongated shirts and belted maxi dresses that were done in hand-woven textiles and tie-die techniques from West African. And instead of the requisite heels, the models all wore sneakers or raffia slippers, perhaps to enforce the sense of easy, no-fuss dressing that is a hallmark of the brand.

Another hallmark is that Studio 189 creates fashion for everyone. This was made apparent by the motley crew cast in the show. Women, men, children, an amputee, a pregnant lady and gender-benders strutted out with vivacity to a hollering crowd. They all seemingly understood that they were not just a part of a mere fashion show.

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