Let me be honest here: while I’m grateful that I get to attend New York Fashion Week and that I’ve have had some amazing experiences at the presentations in my three years of attending, I can also say that I have never been rocked in the way that you might imagine fashion shows during fashion week rocking you. A few designers here and there make me go "ooh" and "ahh.” Sure. But the repeated lack of Black designers and Black models on the runway magically overshadow the flashing lights, loud music and fashion that I too often can't afford.
But something happened yesterday at the Art Beam studio, where Tracy Reese, who was once the head of the women’s portfolio for Perry Ellis, showed her spring 2015 presentation.
I had a priority standing seat behind the A section, in other words, I got to peep all the Black celebs and notables awaiting what was already seeming like an interesting twist to the normal fashion runway. There was no real "runway", because people were seated in each corner of the room, as well as in the middle of the stage. The lighting was desert-like, and there was a DJ booth tucked in the back.
The lights got really dim, and then, all of a sudden ballet dancers, sprung from the audience, breaking into a beautiful number. The music intertwined classical instrumentals and Bobby Smurda's Hot N*gga (yes, I was tempted to hit the Smurda dance for a second), and then drastically melted into a Jersey house "Drunk in Love" mix.
It was captivating. But don't take my word for it, watch the video below.
Anyway, while that was the opening moment that made everyone shut up, sit down and pay attention—the clothes, the models, and the inspiration is what overwhelmed me. Pure silence befell the room, well except for Andre Leon Talley's "Yassss!", that he shouted after pretty much every model that passed him. The thing is, we know Tracy. We know her talent. We've seen her pieces on Michelle Obama and major celebrities. We expect that everyone loves her. But this was something that no one expected.
This time her clothes showered us with the odd coupling of grunge, edge and femininity. She mastered textures and prints, per usual, yet threw boldly colored curved balls, just when you thought you knew where she was headed. And of course, there was brown model after brown model, after brown model.
Go off, Tracy.
By mid show, all I kept thinking to myself was, "I'm so, so proud of Tracy Reese. I'm so glad she's a Black woman."
There it was. For NYFW14, it would be a Black woman to give the most mesmerizingly beautiful fashion moment that, dare I say, no one in fashion will ever forget. I left wanting to work harder and do better.
This show felt like it was for us. For all the brown girls who've dreamed of excellence, especially in a world where we've been taught we don't belong. And for that, all I can say is thank you, Tracy. You let the world of fashion know that Black girls really, freaking rock.
Check out our favorite moments from her spring 2015 show here.
-Melanie Yvette Martin