Diversity made its presence known at Fashion Week, with Caribbean artists changing the dynamic one illustrious presentation at a time.
New York Fashion Week, one of the most iconic events in the fashion industry, has evolved into a powerful platform for celebrating diversity and inclusivity. With each passing season, the runways showcase an increasingly rich tapestry of talent, featuring designers, models, and creatives from a wide array of backgrounds and cultures. This commitment to diversity not only reflects the vibrant spirit of New York City but also sets a global precedent for fashion that embraces the beauty of differences. For NYFW 2024, Caribbean artists made their presence felt with presentations that titillated and provoked thunderous applause, both on the runways and virtually as favorites returned and new artists made their debut.
Marrisa Wilson Infuses New Life Into Fashion with ‘Wild Coast’
Designer Marrisa Wilson pays homage to her Guyanese heritage in her latest creation, “Wild Coast,” unveiled during New York Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2024. Marrisa Wilson, a CFDA designer, embraces the mantra “Wear your soul” in her eponymous label, a philosophy vividly demonstrated in this season’s lookbook.
In a departure from conventional runway presentations, Marrisa, a first-generation Guyanese-American designer, transports fashion enthusiasts on a captivating journey to the Caribbean, celebrating her roots. “Wild Coast” represents a harmonious fusion of Caribbean cultures within Guyana, skillfully balancing elements from the remote Rupununi region, characterized by vast savannah grasslands and indigenous cowboys, with the vibrant coastal plain, home to lush tropics and native fishermen.
This collection underscores the rich diversity of the Caribbean, dispelling the notion of a monolithic culture confined to picturesque beaches. “Wild Coast” carries Marrisa Wilson’s signature touch, featuring hand-painted prints, bold color palettes, and meticulously crafted textiles. Notably, the collection introduces innovations such as garment-dyed cotton netting, a tribute to Guyana’s “cast net” fishing trade. Bridging her dual cultural identity, the Spring/Summer 2024 line seamlessly melds Guyanese historical influences with the timeless appeal of classic Americana, specifically Western wear.
The designer, a two-time recipient of the Fashion Scholarship Fund Award and the esteemed 2023 FGI Rising Star Award for Ready-to-Wear stands out as one of the relatively few Black women designers who consistently participate in Fashion Week. This significant discrepancy is not overlooked by the designer, as conveyed in her recent statement.
“The challenge as a Black woman in the fashion industry is that we are so often the muse, the source of inspiration, but you don’t see us placed in positions of thought leadership or being the voice of fashion brands.”
Diotima Releases Ambitious ‘ Nine-Night’ Collection
Rachel Scott, the visionary founder of Diotima, has rapidly ascended in the fashion world, securing finalist positions in both the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and the 2023 LVMH Prize. Recently, the brand marked its debut at New York Fashion Week on September 11th.
Diotima’s Spring 2024 collection strikes a balance between rawness and poetry, delving into a profound exploration of the enduring impact of slavery. This Jamaican-born designer contemplates the immense loss it engenders while simultaneously celebrating the resilience and richness of life it can nurture.
The collection, titled ‘Nine-Night’ after the African-born funerary tradition observed in various Caribbean countries, embodies the essence of this extended wake, where friends and family gather to commemorate. The garments themselves serve as reflections of this tradition. The night song, central to the ceremony, finds its expression in darker-hued attire, transforming deep evening skies into onyx beads. White chalk, a symbol of remembrance, takes on a central role in fringed ensembles, button-up shirts, and tank tops.
For the Spring 2024 season, Scott collaborated with the Jamaican artist Laura Facey, whose artistic endeavors grapple with the enduring legacies of slavery and colonialism. Their connection initially began online, eventually leading to a meeting in Jamaica and a decision to unite their creative forces for the upcoming spring collection.
In a notable partnership, the theme of death emerged as a poignant subject, mirroring elements found in Facey’s own artistry. A striking manifestation of this collaboration was the heart pendants, expertly crafted by Facey, which adorned the models as earrings and necklaces, adding a profound layer of meaning to the collection.
Despite the weighty subject matter, the clothing exudes a distinct Diotima essence, radiating a sense of fullness and continuity. This is achieved through a design language that incorporates crochet, crystal mesh, intricate beadwork, dancehall-inspired pieces, and subtle hints of gold. Mesh and crochet, varying in size and texture, coexist harmoniously with masculine suiting, while a striking addition is the golden basket-weave fabric featured in pinafores and skirts, contrasted by vibrant red linings. Notably, Scott showcases a white fringe dress, layered over a suit.
In essence, Scott’s collection stands as a testament to her ambition. She is a designer known for her audacious use of almost entirely sheer fabrics, yet her label maintains an air of sophistication and intellectual depth that sets it apart in the world of fashion.
Jezra Williams Shines Spotlight on Full-Figured Models for ITA Label
Modeling professionally for less than a decade, hometown favorite Jezra Williams has had a meteoric rise and impact on the industry as an advocate for full-figured women. The Brooklyn native made her debut at New York Fashion Week in stunning fashion, and in doing so, is changing how the fashion industry looks at full-figured women.
She has modeled for some of the top magazines and brands like Refinery29, Forever21, Ekineyo, Essence Magazine, Bustle, Vibe Vixen, Curvz Magazine, and many others. At NYFW S/S 2024, Jezra teamed up with the femme wear label ITA. Launched by Mel Corchado, the label centers on collaboration, care, and transformation, so it was only fitting that the presentation was every bit as impactful as many expected it to be.
The ‘Everything for Everybody’ collection, rooted in archetypal American fashion, is uniquely tailored to each collaborator, putting the femmes of New York City at its core, making it a collection created by and for them.
ITA made a statement that resonated with the crowd and with a clear mission: to reshape the fashion industry by offering an alternative to the Fashion Industrial Complex.
Samantha Black Gets Romantic with ‘Racing Down Lovers Lane’ Collection’
An ode to the motions of love, designer Samantha Black gave spectators the full spectrum of moods with a presentation that was a virtual roller coaster.
The looks were a blended color scheme of yellow and black, including maxi dresses, skirts full of movement, and intricate tops with cutouts as the central theme. The collection then took a pivot into a ballet core with soft pinks of sheer and net garments gracing the runway. A few worthy highlights include a fish net-like mini dress with mega sequin embellishments brimming the bottom and a circular wired bralette, a must for next summer season. There were also a few sultry sheer pieces with graphics of the Sammy B logo, followed up by a leather button-down maxi and dark blue in a racing graphic turned midi dress. The finally spotlighted Sierra’s daunting and lace-savvy micro top married by an elongated leather train maxi.
Black clearly understands her place in today’s fashion world and as a disruptor in the industry, she stated: “I can’t go out without people knowing that I’m a black designer. I’m very forward-facing as well and have longevity just like continuing no matter what the circumstance is good or bad and just like pushing my art out there is very important to me. I feel like that’s disruptive to be passionate and consistent in an industry. Let’s just stand our ground and keep pushing what we do effortlessly.”
For NYFW S/S2024, the presence and creative contributions of Black Caribbean artists proved to be a vibrant and indispensable force. The unique perspectives presented and profound narratives have breathed new life into the fashion landscape, transforming runways into captivating stages for storytelling. As the fashion industry inches towards more diversity and inclusivity, the voices and talents of Black Caribbean artists stand as a testament to the boundless creativity that thrives at the heart of New York Fashion Week, promising a future where representation and innovation reign supreme.