Unity through art

Jessica M. Kanalas

Show exhibits local designers

Designers from Kent, Akron and Columbus were featured in “Fashion is Life” last night. The fashion show raised money for Harambee. Cricket Bowman | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

The lights dimmed, the music turned off and the crowd quieted.

This marked anything but the end of the night for eight designers, several models and even more spectators last night in the Kent State Ballroom.

Fashion designers from Kent, Akron and Columbus shared their designs in a fashion show called “Fashion is Life,” put together by Kent State student organization Harambee.

“I’m hoping this will be an annual thing,” said Vallery Washington, sophomore visual communication design major, “a new tradition.”

This year’s show is only the second for the members of Harambee.

Guests had the option of choosing a regular ticket for $10 or paying $20 for VIP treatment. Doors opened at 7 p.m. for VIP guests, and they were able to enjoy a few extra treats.

Round tables, seats and snacks filled the upper level of the Ballroom, where the VIPs were welcome at any time.

The regular ticket holders, who joined the VIPs on the floor at 7:30 p.m., could sit anywhere except the first two rows, which were also assigned to VIP guests.

Maureen McCoy, sophomore criminal justice major, said she enjoyed the VIP treatment.

Brittany Brown, senior biology pre-med major, wanted to make sure they “get their money’s worth,” she said.

Also a VIP was Derrick Williams, father of Jasmine Williams, one of the show’s designers.

“I’m here because she’s so eager to show me what she does,” he said. “I’m here to support her.”

Jasmine has been involved with fashion for quite some time, her father said.

“She even made both her prom dresses,” he said.

Audience member Brandi White, freshman fashion design major, said she has also been designing for awhile.

“I just started drawing clothes when I was little,” she said.

White wasn’t showing her clothes in the show, but she came because she heard about it through her First Year Experience class.

Behind the scenes

Harambee’s members used Facebook to keep in touch with designers and sent out invitations for the show. They decided to use it because so many students have a profile. Also, it could be interactive since the Columbus designers couldn’t come to meetings in Kent as often, senior communications major Adrian Neal said.

For Shannon Lowry, sophomore fashion design major and her roommate, freshman anthology major Marissa Bush, experience came from behind the scenes.

“It’s a good starting point,” Bush said.

Both girls worked behind stage as dressers. They were assigned a designer and helped the models assigned with that designer to get ready for each outfit. Little fixes like handing a shoe and zipping zippers are details the show had to focus on.

“It’s a good opportunity and it has a focus on art,” Lowry said.

She hadn’t heard of the organization before, but once she got an invite on Facebook, Lowry quickly shared the information with Bush and signed up.

It’s showtime

Bianca Brown, senior criminal justice major, began the show with her rendition of the black national anthem as she stood on the T-shaped runway.

The crowd cheered as the first designer began sending her models out to the runway.

As the show began, the doors closed, senior finance major Bryan Gadson estimated that sales were almost doubled from last year.

He didn’t have exact figures, but he said the approximate $1,600 made this year from ticket sales compared to last years $750, “was a big improvement.”

“Harambee is about self-expression,” Neal, also president of Harambee, said. “We are uniting the community through art -that’s what we’re all about.”

Contact fashion reporter Jessica M. Kanalas at [email protected].