NEW YORK New York Fashion Week’s glitz and glamour is returning for another season, and the celebration began with flowers given to trailblazers Kelly Rowland and A$AP Rocky.
At Harlem’s Fashion Row Fashion Show and Style Awards, held at the storied Apollo Theater on Tuesday night, the former child of Destiny, the “Fashion Killa,” and the new father of two were both recognized for their contributions to style and fashion.
Rowland won the Fashion Icon Award, which was previously given to Janet Jackson, whom Rowland acknowledged as an inspiration. A$AP Rocky, on the other hand, won the Virgil Abloh Award, which was given in honor of the late designer.
Kelly Rowland’s Fashion Icon Award speech features memories of Destiny’s Child fashion moments.
After cheering on Beyoncé during her Renaissance tour in Los Angeles on Monday, Rowland was given a heartfelt introduction by her husband Tim Witherspoon, who said that she “didn’t know I was coming.”
“I couldn’t pass up this moment to tell you in front of the world that you have always been my icon, not just in fashion, but in all that you do,” said Witherspoon. He was proud of her for “raising the bar for yourself and for others to move in this ever-changing industry, along with your refusal to show up as anything less than a fly model to our sons.”
Witherspoon related the story of how Rowland removed her shoes the moment an intern showed interest in them and gave them to her. “You’d give anyone the shirt off your back – and clearly the shoes off your feet,” said the man.
“I’m sure many of you are aware, but Destiny’s Child is actually where my history with fashion began,” Rowland stated during her speech. Since fashion gatekeepers and designers “were very reluctant to dress us,” Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles “took matters into her own hands and dressed us, and I learned there what it was like to start a trend.” I still recall how proud I felt at the time.”
“We start the trends,” Rowland said to the assembly of his fellow Black people in the room. We create the cool stuff. We should be grateful to fashion.”
A$AP Rocky honors Virgil Abloh, the late designer and collaborator
In keeping with form, A$AP As he accepted the Virgil Abloh Award, Rocky went off script and spoke spontaneously instead of reading from a script.
“I think I look good,” he said in jest. “Everybody came up here all eloquent, they had written speeches and I ain’t really write nothing because I wanted to come from the heart … (and) be sincere.”
He remembered getting to know Abloh when they were both young members of the ASAP Mob. “Virgil saw us when we were just a group of kids, before I signed my record deal. We weren’t old enough to enter the Le Bain nightclub in Soho downtown, so we would sneak in there while he was chilling. Virgil then looked at us. We had no idea that he was aware of who we were. “Wait, y’all are those Harlem kids, the trendy ones,” he remarks.
“We were having fun, thinking, ‘Wait, Virgil recognizes us, is aware of us?'” The fashion industry is aware of us. And then, a year later, I became A$AP Rocky—well, I was always A$AP Rocky, but you get what I mean—and Virgil went on to design my first tour and album cover.”
Fresh beatboxer Doug E. commemorates 50 years of hip-hop
In honor of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, HFR prepared a surprise performance by Doug E. Fresh for the audience. The rapper and world beatboxing champion owned the stage, transporting the audience to bygone periods of the genre’s officially 50th anniversary on August 11.
Doug E. Fresh, whose roots are in the Bahamas, honored the Caribbean’s contribution to hip-hop by inviting Lil Vicious to join him on their song “Freaks.”
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Stella Jean, Johnny Nuñez, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, and stylists Wayman and Micah are honored in Harlem’s Fashion Row.
At the agency’s fashion show and awards ceremony, other honorees included stylist and contributing editor to Vogue global Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, who was named editor of the year; celebrity styling team Wayman and Micah, who have styled everyone from Tessa Thompson to Jodie Turner-Smith, and who were named stylists of the year; designer Stella Jean, who won designer of the year for her work and her protest against the lack of diversity and inclusivity at Milan Fashion Week in February; and photographer Johnny Nuñez, who was named hip-hop trailblazer.
When introducing Jean, TV host Tamron Hall emphasized her “formidable spirit.”
Karefa-Johnson delivered an inspiring speech emphasizing the need to “break down barriers,” and Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald of Wayman and Micah celebrated the power of manifestation, relating how a nighttime vision board session in a Harlem apartment inspired them to collaborate and bring in the clients they had dreamed of.
Nuñez shared his personal experience of the value of the Harlem persistence mentality, recalling how, due to a last-minute ticket problem, he had to enter Nelson Mandela’s 85th birthday celebration in secret in 2003.
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Before the show began, June Ambrose and designer Dapper Dan made an appearance to take pictures with the audience.
Several well-known designers’ collections were on display at HFR’s fashion show:
Nicole Benefield Portfolio, which tapped into the red trend with a gorgeous two-piece set and displayed a master class in structure.
Megan Renee, which emphasized feminine details combined with masculine silhouettes.
And A. Potts, whose flowing gowns and vivid colors transported the audience to a church.