By: Morgan Smith
On Saturday, April 7th, I attended the 2nd annual Serene Culture Fashion Show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The show’s team includes two of VCU’s very own fashion merchandising students Justin Johnson (@thetrent_setter), Aysia Ward (@aysia_baysia), Mailk Sparrow (@malikjsparrow), and another VCU student, Khamahri Ward (@mahriblaize). Each possessing a creative talent of their own: Johnson runs a styling service with his sister Kelci White (ig:karissamour) called Accustomed 2 Style (@accustomed2style), Ward also has a styling service Styled By Aysia, Sparrow owns the Kapitol brand (@kapitolart) of artwork and clothing and is the founder of Serene Culture, and Khamahri Ward owns a VA based blog called Home of the Hustlers. So, let me get this straight: the show is full of arts, talent, creativity, and fashion and is being run by creatives full of talent, artistic craftsmanship, and wonderful fashion senses? All I have to say is to them is: y’all are doing amazing, sweetie.
The show opened up with four dancers representing the four seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall), giving us a wonderful dance routine to Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s “All the Stars”. After intermission, they gave us yet another great performance to Feels by Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, VA’s very own, Katy Perry, & Big Sean where they pulled audience members to dance with them. They made the show even more energetic and produced an all-around good feeling for the audience.
Now to my favorite part: the bald, beautiful baddies of the show. The four women of the show that stole the hearts of the audience and the show itself. They possessed such elegant walks and when I say they were giving us face, honey…THEY GAVE US FACE. I mean, fierce looks and were styled to perfection. These four women were:
Aminata Jalloh (ig: @aminataa__) in Santiago (@__cephas)
Maria Rutayuga (ig:pinkhooper) in Hoodlvm (@hoodlvm)
Amber Welton (ig: @bold.beautiful.baldie/@naturalelegant) in Kapitol (@kapitolart)
Nanah Bai-Kamara (@ogafricvn_) in Twozz (@yearofthe2/@chazztwozz), shot by Mark Patrick (@gphotography4)
One brand in particular that caught the eye of everyone in the building was the swimsuit line called Kinetic Styles (@kineticstyles) by Aaron Handy (@andyhandy) and Iran “Bang” Paylor (@bang500). The line was perfectly executed and SLAYED by 8 gorgeous women: Amber Welton, Korie Roane, Maria Rutayuga, Maryah Sandidge, Kayla Watkins, and Sydney Oldham, Eden Gordley, and Briana Vaughn.
(Sydney: @sydneyold_ham, Amber: @bold.beautiful.baldie/@naturalelegant), Maryah: @honeeeyyy__, Korie: @definitelykorie, Kayla: @kaynificent, Maria: @pinkhooper)
Another brand that caught my attention was the African brand by the name of Santwa Couture (@santwacouture). It is owned by Maame Serwarh Owusu, a young Ghanian girl. The name “Santwa” was inspired by her mother’s name which is Asantewa (which means bravery). Her brand is combination of her African culture but with a modern and urban twist to it. The line featured vibrant colored and well-constructed garments such as two pieces and dresses.
A group picture featuring Maame in her very own flared pants.
Victim15 (@victim15)…let me tell you…SHOOK. As soon as the first model walked out, I knew we were about to witness greatness. Not to mention, the designer is Shareef Mosby who happens to be a RVA native. A song that came into mind when I saw this brand was “S&M” by Rihanna, specifically the lyrics “sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me”. And they did excite me. Items such as utility jumpsuits and duffle bags featured chains and belts hanging from them. My favorite look had to be the off-the-shoulder black leather jacket and black leather skirt combo with the choker and fishnet bodysuit underneath the ensemble along with thigh high leather boots to set the entire look off.
A few pieces from Victim15, featuring my favorite look as mentioned before worn by Camille Mendoza on the right (@moondoughh)
Serene Culture allowed for established brands to preview their latest and upcoming pieces, but also they allowed underdog and upcoming brands to do the same. Vintage Apparel (@vintageapparel96) was a particular brand I felt as though does not receive the credit and recognition it deserves. Run by Shade Elliott (@shad333elliott), a young female African American stylists and designer, she takes vintage pieces and reconstructs and styles them. She also creates her own pieces as well including a hand-bleached tees with the Vintage Apparel logo. A few others to mention include Essentials (@_essentials75), run by Denis Davis as a streetwear brand with simplistic and contemporary clothing, and Santiago (@__cephas), run by Lee Cephas who simply wanted to use their artistic abilities and fashion sense to inspire people to keep working toward your dreams even in your darkest hours.
A handmade plaid skirt, paired with a distressed olive green hoodie by Shade Elliott, modeled by Maryah Sandidge
Overall, the pieces created by these amazing designers really made you feel as though you were sitting at an exclusive underground New York fashion week show. With Kenneth Love’s (@kennethlove) patchwork denim jackets and Hoolvm’s (@hoodlvm) oversized puffers, I felt like I was sitting at a Vetements or Off-White show. Seriously. They were just that good. All in all, there were nothing but good vibes and great designs. The show can best be described by three words: creativity, art, and Black excellence. It is truly amazing how much skill and hard work every single person put in to make this show happen. I am very much looking forward to the third annual show next year with high expectations that they will outdo their previous years’ shows. A big kudos to the Serene Culture team, the designers, artists, vendors, and anyone else who helped to make the show happen!
All the @ names are from Instagram. So follow and support them!