The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Saturday June 15th

The Space Beyond Beauty: BSU and ICA present their second annual multicultural fashion show

<p>(Photo courtesy of Riley Eisenbeil)<br/><br/></p>

(Photo courtesy of Riley Eisenbeil)

By Riley Eisenbeil and Bailei Burgess-Simmons
Staff Writers

The College’s Black Student Union (BSU) and Intercultural Affairs (ICA) recently hosted their second annual Multicultural Fashion Show, “The Space Beyond Beauty,” with the purpose of celebrating culture through art and fashion. The show featured fashion from seven designers of color, cultural apparel from a wide range of countries and over 60 students walking the runway. 

“The Space Beyond Beauty'' took place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 16 at the Brower Student Center (BSC). Shown on a slideshow at the beginning of the show, the BSU and ICA said they wanted to offer an opportunity for all cultural organizations at the College to come together on one project to promote unity and collaboration among all of the groups. They aimed to showcase fashion as one of the few universal languages of the world.

Before BSU and ICA began collaborating on this event, the fashion show was solely an annual BSU legacy event — something that students at the College looked forward to every year.  Diamond Urey, BSU’s multicultural events chair and a junior history and women, gender and sexuality studies double major, described legacy events as “big staple events that are like the essence of our being… these core events that hype people up.” 

Guests were encouraged to arrive at 6 p.m. for a 30-minute reception in the pre-function space outside of BSC100. Refreshments included mini sandwiches, baked goods and mocktails courtesy of “Bringing Happy 2 Your Hour,” a mobile bartending service.

Event planners Diamond Urey and Michelle Naval giving opening remarks (Photo courtesy of Adithi Prasad)

The emcee for the night was Keywuan J. Caulk, the director of the Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities at Rutgers University, who was better known to the audience as "Emcee Key." 

His infectious energy took to the stage around 7:15 p.m. to kick off the night after being introduced by the main planners, Urey and ICA intern and senior accounting major Michelle Naval. He was sure to keep the crowd energetic and encouraged loudness. 

“Every time your person grazes the stage I need you to lose your mind,” Caulk said. “Get y’all phones out — I need to see flashes, I need to see cameras. I need y’all hyping them up.”

The unique styles and creativity on the runway were courtesy of Marco Hall, Rodney Alexander, Softlife Beauty, wearwhatevauwant, PHNTM Studios and Sam Yim and Jennifer Lee from Rebel Minds. They each brought their unique styles and creativity to the runway. 

Starting off the night were the looks of Rodney Alexander, a designer producing Afrocentric clothing designs with the goal of empowering people through their appearance. He aims to use fashion to boost people's self-confidence and bring positive change into their lives.

The next set of students showcased senior international and global studies major Michelle Takouezim’s designs. She established her brand SoftLife Beauty in October 2022 with the vision of establishing a community that fosters both peace and happiness. She crafts pieces of all varieties for others in hopes of taking crochet fashion to another level. 

“It’s been a fun challenge; this is my first fashion show,” Takouezim explained. Her line included crocheted bathing suits, cover-ups, dresses and more. 

During the first intermission, AFRORIDDIM, a new African dance group created by students on campus, performed their debut show. Their group is interested in African dances with some influence from different cultures from around the world. They performed a selection of songs incorporating three popular African musical genres: Francophone music, Amapiano and Azonto. 

When the show resumed, wearwhatevauwant’s founder and senior interactive multimedia art major Serina Montero showed off her creations. Montero has been an avid thrifter for the last decade and an avid upcycler for the past five years. Her goal is to show folks that sustainable fashion is not only ethical but can be fashionable, accessible and creative. All of the pieces that she showcased were thrifted and upcycled — some were even reworked entirely. 

“The vision and the reason why I did that is because I know and understand the healing power of art,” said Montero. “Doing something with intention and putting your all into something creates something that people can connect with and that can uplift and change perspectives.” 

The next looks on the runway were courtesy of Rebel Minds, a street brand born and raised in New York City in 2014. Sam Yim and Jennifer Lee came with clothing designed for those who like to “look different, think different and be different.” Their pieces featured a lot of fun colors and flashy logos.

The College’s dance team, Dragonflies, performed during the next break. Their group is dedicated to preserving traditional Chinese dance while infusing elements of modern dance. The dancers used Chinese water sleeves, inspired by the long sleeves in Chinese opera, with choreography inspired by the Pan-Asian Dance Troupe of the University of Pennsylvania.

Brandon Jones, the founder of the New Jersey-based unisex independent clothing brand PHNTM Studios, showcased his line next. His goal is to create one-of-a-kind pieces that are repurposed and reimagined to cherish the art of fashion. His philosophy is simple: create and inspire. 

After Caulk called audience members on stage to walk the runway and guests had a chance to appreciate them, it was time for the Cultural Wear portion of the show. Students were invited to showcase their own culture through traditional clothing to show what beauty looks like where they are from around the world. Over 15 countries were represented, including Panama, Nigeria and Vietnam.

“Once I got on that stage I felt unstoppable and celebrated,” said Starlin Regalado Nunez, a senior public health major and a member of the planning committee. “Not only for what I was wearing but for who I am as an individual. Of course, at one point, I did feel nervous, but it all went away once I realized the power that I hold as someone who stems from intersecting identity and has the opportunity to showcase myself beautifully.”

To represent Indian culture, he was wearing a sherwani, which he explained signifies the dignity and etiquette of the nobility and is used to be the court dress of the nobles.

After a lengthy showcase of cultural apparel, Jiva, the College’s premier Indian classical dance team, performed a piece called “Shiva Tandava,” a Hindu hymn that praises Shiva, the deity of destruction. The program said that their choreography “speaks to the power, beauty, and kindness of Shiva, who is also the God of Dance.” They emphasized sharp footwork, gestures and emotive facial expressions throughout their performance.

Last to share their designs was Marco Hall. His pieces have walked the runways from New York City Fashion Week to the Red Carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in France. He has designed collections for Beyoncé, Cardi B and Mary J. Blige — and now, students from the College. Hall takes a lot of pride in his work and aims to inspire a sense of luxury, sophistication and cultural richness in all of his clothing, which was evident when the models came down the runway. 

“The Space Beyond Beauty” served as a celebration of culture and diversity that encouraged people to see fashion not only as a creative outlet but as a powerful tool of expression and appreciation. Outside of this event, Regalado Nunez explained how students can continue to promote and support diversity in the fashion industry and at the College beyond this event. 

“I would say people should look into buying from local designers that stem from diverse backgrounds,” Regalado Nunez said. “If a brand does not seem to be inclusive of models or sizing, call them out on it. Everyone has a voice and it is possible to make a difference whether it is online, on social media or organizing a rally at their headquarters. If someone is putting others at disadvantage then they deserve to be exposed so that behavior can be fixed.”

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Starlin Regalado Nunez was of Indian heritage. The story has been updated to reflect that Nunez is not of Indian heritage and was only representing Indian culture in the fashion show. 


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