They came from as far away as Nigeria, Algeria, Peru and Pakistan to showcase their collections at the Feb. 23 finale of DC Fashion Week at the Historical Society of Washington D.C.

The designers showed winter garb ranging from wooly, furry tops to wispy velvet evening gowns to loose-fitting silk chiffon pants. The models were Black, Brown, brunette and blonde, tall and skinny, with uniform long straight hair. They strutted the runway in outfits that ranged from a few hundred to several thousand dollars as photographers’ bulbs’ flashed and 150 or so who had gathered for the show oohed, aahed and clapped their appreciation.

In previous years, the DC Fashion Week finale was held at the Embassy of France, but DCFW Executive Director Ean Williams said he moved it to the Carnegie Library, home of the historical society, because he “wanted a place that is symbolic to Washington.” The fashion show culminated a week of events that placed fashion center in the nation’s capital.

“All week long we’ve had exciting events at fabulous places,” Williams told the audience. “…I’m glad you all were a part of it.”

The fashion show opened with three international designers showcasing their work. African designer Maryam Elijah displayed stunning evening gowns from her brand, Rikaoto.

“For this collection, I just looked at different fabrics to get my inspiration,” Elijah said. “I don’t even have a name for this collection. I got invited, again, to show at this year’s DC Fashion Week, so I just started sewing.”

Elijah designed and sewed the collection in only two weeks. Her evening gowns were draped with tulle, adorned with sequins, and finished with velvet and mesh in all colors. Each dress was fashioned with sheer paneling to expose skin or give the illusion of bare skin–handmade with intricate detail. Rikaoto garments are sold in the Lagos showroom in Africa, London, Paris, Milan, New York and online.

“Her incorporation of fabrics, textures in a very cohesive and fabulous manner is why the Nigerian collection is my favorite,” said Mia Simms, Miss Black D.C. 2014 U.S. Ambassador. “It was very eclectic, and many designers don’t connect heritage in that way.”

The event was emceed by founder Williams, who stunned the crowd when he closed the show with his own collection. His debut collection, called Corjor International, named after two of his sons, Corey and Jordan, features lines for women and men, as well as a collection of men’s briefs called Magnum C.I.

With heavy use of wild orchid, the Pantone color of the year for 2014, Williams showed pants, dresses, separates, fur scarfs, and more. He used such materials as silk, chiffon, patent leather, rayon blends, organza, feathers, faux and real fur.

“I started as a model. Then, I began designing,” he said.

The six designer fashion showcases wowed guests and fashion lovers as they anticipate DC Fashion Week in September 2014.

Special guests at the DCFW finale included fashion show producer EmoreJ Couture, Shy Magazine Founder Sebastian Bruce and renowned photographer Phelan Marc and others.

 

Ashley D. Diggs

Special to the AFRO