UMOJA’s Impact 2003 Renaissance fashion show Saturday night gave a new meaning to the phrase “fashionably late” when models strolled down the runways at 8:15 p.m., over an hour later than anticipated.
In an effort to desegregate the fashion industry, UMOJA, Boston University’s black student association, waited “until the place was pretty much packed so that the designer’s fashions were not being showcased to such a small audience,” said Tanya St. Julien, president of UMOJA and director of the show.
By 8:00 p.m., however, the GSU Ballroom almost overflowed with guests. The Boston University Police Department’s Captain Robert E. Molloy estimated that about 600 people attended, in addition to the about 100 that participated behind the scenes.
“Impact 2003” displayed the Spring 2003 lines of eight independent black designers, the talent of over 25 models, the entertaining styles of two performance groups and UMOJA’s effort to “celebrate the end of black history month,” St. Julien said.
Eight different scenes framed the show, which was focused on Renaissance, or rebirth, and each was inspired by a different designer and a different theme. Designers included Conrad Lamour, Silverback D’zyne’s Herby Firmin, 8’9, Yves Amazan, Black Latina ‘ Everisse, Andy Jacques and the House of Nadira.
The show’s themes included “The Rebirth of Cool,” “The Rebirth of Chic,” “Back in the Day,” “The Rebirth of Innocence,” “The Rebirth of Sensuality,” “The Rebirth of Style” and “The Rebirth of Black Diaspora.”
The BU student dance group Soulstice provided a short entertainment break between the second and third scenes. Special guest designer 37DEEP from Brooklyn also offered a break in scenes when he paraded his new line, followed by a final scene inspired by the “Rebirth of Funk,” with a musical accompaniment by the duo Headwrap.
Many members of the audience enjoyed the brief interludes between scenes, as well as the real essence of Impact 2003. Some said the show could have been enhanced if it included more entertainment between scenes.
“The spaces between scenes could have used some more entertainment,” said Jenn Bobb, a freshman in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “The gaps where nothing was going on kind of made me lose interest in the show. But other than that, I thought the show was fun and a little different and I would definitely go again.”
Wild Boy from Hot 97.7 FM attended as the emcee for the event, adding flair to the show line-up.
Audience members also participated in a singing and rapping contest and an audience model face-off between scenes, with the winners each receiving $100. A woman known to the viewers as “Lady Denise” or “Leffy” won the singing contest at intermission for her rap performance about society, self-esteem and racism, while BU freshman Thaline Sirjep prevailed in the model face-off.
“The show is really a culmination of all the things UMOJA has done this month to celebrate black history,” St. Julien said. “We wanted to give black designers the opportunity to show their talents and show that they might not be Versace yet, but they sure could be.”