By Timmy Chong
For Unwind magazine
From March 28 to April 1, this university’s MasTERPiece, a networking club for fashion contemporaries and entrepreneurs, held its first-ever fashion week, which featured a variety of networking events and workshops to promote the fashion community on the campus.
Brittany McCoy and Fei Mancho, co-founders of the organization, along with Oru Wonodi, vice president of marketing, all featured their own collections at the show and had spent the last year planning and raising money to give the fashion week as much hype as possible.
The event, sponsored by Pepsi and Student Entertainment Events, featured a “Fashion Is” kickoff discussion and interactive photo booth on Monday afternoon at McKeldin Library, followed by “Create Your Masterpiece” on Tuesday, a DIY event for students to make inspiration board collages and bring clothes for tie-dying and denim distressing.
Wednesday and Thursday featured separate networking expositions for men and women during the evenings; “#WCW” featured nails by Tataw, makeup workshops, job recruiters, and guest speaker Desiree Ven Frederic, founder of Fashion Empowering Women and vintage distributor Nomad Yard Collectiv, while “Classic Man” was a similar style networking event for the boys.
But Friday night’s event featured a luxurious fashion show at Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center. A couple hundred students, parents and alumni showed up to watch local designers and models showcase collections. The hosts, Hassan Bangurah and Benay Walker, kept it lit and light, taking selfies with the crowd and having audience members walk the runway.
“There was great energy and good vibes,” Mancho said. “Fashion Week was really about bringing people together, and I think we accomplished that.”
The two-hour show was orchestrated and executed well, showcasing six designer collections with a variety of music and dance performances in between sets, including a poetic hip-hop opener by spoken word artist Bree Osei and expositions by KUSH Models and Entertainment near the intermission. DJ LittleBaconBear, who has played sets at the Verizon Center and a variety of college campuses, spun a diverse hip-hop set throughout the night.
One of Osei’s repeated lines was “Because we artistic but we don’t stop,” which aligns with MasTERPiece’s holistic vision to push the arts at this university back to the mainstream.
“I think UMDFW helped bring the fashion community that has been pushed into the background, back to the forefront,” Wonodi said. “We are in fact, not just an arts and craft club, but a club of young professionals.”
The fashion show’s purpose was to exhibit how much the fashion industry has to offer young talent.
“People think fashion is meant to be portrayed by certain echelons, but fashion and style are for everyone,” said senior communication major Christian Herrera, a model who represented several designers on the runway. “This was my first time modeling, but it was definitely a worthwhile experience, and I would do it again.”
“I honestly think we were super successful,” Wonodi said. “Everyone that we spoke to said they had a wonderful time, and couldn’t wait until next year. We can’t stop now, next year has to be bigger and better.”
Photos from the Fashion Show, courtesy of Mayowa Photography, can be viewed here.
MICHELLE C. GIBSON
Michelle C. Gibson, a graduate of Howard University, presented her four seasons “Bold & Beautiful” Collection, which was featured on the runways of the New York Fashion Week in February. She said she was inspired by the Ladew Topiary Gardens, Lana Del Ray’s “Young & Beautiful,” and becoming the best version of oneself.
Benny Harps exhibited his edgy, urban casual collection. The designer, who was initially inspired by old Spike Lee movies, said “the whole clothing line is based on naturalness, and being comfortable with yourself. That’s why our models came out with no shoes or makeup.”
NOVA PRINTS & APPAREL
Designer and sophomore management and international business major Oru Wonodi featured an urban-casual street wear collection for the globally conscious individual. She was inspired by the West-African style from her visit to Nigeria in 2015. Nova Prints participates in the “Do Good Challenge,” and uses proceeds to provide vaccinations to people in Nigeria.
KUSH MODELS AND ENTERTAINMENT
KUSH featured their mostly black Flood collection near intermission.
Senior marketing major Fei Mancho, MasTERPiece co-founder and designer of “Fancy Muffin,” has been featured in D.C.’s All Things Ankara Fashion Week. She displayed her urban-casual collection, with hand-dyed pieces also inspired by West-African style.
Founder Wes Woods showcased his spring/summer collection, “Phase One.” His pieces typically feature geometric patterns with stark lines and high contrast. The brand name originates from the DMV lingo “crack,” which means fresh, and the concept that lines are the original crackage of design. On the importance of fashion to the world, Woods said, “Remember that you’re showing an image to all people, make sure it stands for something.”
Senior marketing and supply chain management double major Brittany McCoy, a MasTERPiece co-founder who designs uplifting lines for women, was the finale of the fashion show’s lineup. Her “Dynasty” collection was featured in D.C. Fashion Week 2016. “Keep being creative. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way,” said McCoy on stage following her collection’s presentation.