By Lauren E. Williams, Special to the AFRO
Floor-length African prints and hair wraps. Locs, braids and afros adorned with pearls, jewels and gold pins. Make-up inspired by the hills of Wakanda.
“When Hair Meets Fashion” brought together chic, African-inspired high fashions and tribal hair artistry to the DMV area. Held Oct. 6 at the Silver Spring Civic Center, the event served to raise funds for the Heart to Hand Foundation and increase awareness around sexual health and HIV/AIDS.
The goal of “’When Hair Meets Fashion’ is to draw artists together to celebrate their craft and to commemorate the rich heritage behind African inspired design and natural hair styling,” Salih Watts, owner of Loc Love Salon and fashion show producer, said in a press release sent to the AFRO. “It’s such an honor to be able to gather some of the most talented designers and stylists to create a night that benefits Heart to Hand, a public health organization that provides support, education and resources that promote a healthy lifestyle, decrease health disparities and increase access to quality health care.”
Two Afro-centric fashion lines and three hair shops were featured during the show: ÖFURRË and The Matador Shop and N Natural Hair Studio, Locmamas Salon, and Loc Lov Salon, respectively. A combination of a hair show and a fashion presentation, event highlights included an opening dance performance from Kan Koran and a live hair cutting demonstration.
“This is our effort to create a moment of Black excellence and put us on the front page,” said Watts, in his opening remarks to the crowd. “When the stories that are being told about us are not the stories that we agree with and not the stories that are true, then we need to tell our own stories.”
For Salih, part of telling our own stories, means supporting Black businesses. To that line of thinking- Omolewa, Haku Holistics and Diana Darby Model Management sponsored the event. Meaning ‘beautiful child’ in the Yoruba language, Omolewa is a cosmetics line created for every woman and every skin type while providing nutrients needed for healthy skin. Haku Holistics is an all-natural hair and skin care product line focused on creating products that help heal the most common hair and skin ailments. Diana Darby Model Management features a great deal of Black models and designers.
The event’s African Bazaar Marketplace also featured items direct from the runway for on-site and online purchase.
Tehilah Abakasanga, 22-year-old owner and designer of ÖFURRË, traveled from Canada to participate in the marketplace and show. Launched in 2015, ÖFURRË is a size-inclusive brand featuring bold patterns and colors.
“After hearing about the event, I wanted to participate because the charity it benefits is amazing, Abakasanga, told the AFRO. “This was also an opportunity for me to get my brand out there and meet other people.”
“It is my hope that tonight’s event will encourage us, Black business owners and consumers alike, to walk towards building an alliance that allows Black businesses to be the first stop for the goods and services our communities seek,” Watts wrote in a statement. “It is my hope, Black business owners, that we will commit to establishing a caring and supportive relationship with each other.”