PROVIDENCE – With spring upon us, Rhode Island Fashion Week is celebrating the occasion by blooming into its 10th season of events, taking place over eight days, March 27-April 3 in Providence.
This year, to celebrate the big 10, founder and creative director of Lights Fashion Philanthropy, LFP, Yemi Sekoni, said the group wanted to make it bigger and not made up completely of fashion shows. Sekoni owns two companies, in LFP and The Donahue Group, Models and Talent. LFP puts on the annual fashion show.
Sekoni said that in previous years, Fashion Week was about three to four days, over a long weekend, either starting on a Thursday or wrapping around to a Monday and would feature four to six designers a night. With COVID-19 things started to change and they had to cancel in-person shows in 2020.
They had already been planning the 2020 show when lockdown happened. Sekoni wanted to stay active so she reached out to some of the designers, who were supposed to be part of the in-person show. She asked the designers to put together a small presentation about their designs and record a mini runway.
Each designer recorded about four minutes and Sekoni edited them together in 30-minute episodes, becoming Fashion Fete.
“It became an eight-week mini series,” she said.
The series was so popular and got so many views that they brought it back last year for the ninth Fashion Week. It grew last year as they received videos from designers from all over the world, including Uganda, Switzerland and London, to name a few.
“It was one of the good things to come from the pandemic,” Sekoni said.
They streamed the episodes every Thursday evening between 7 and 7:30 p.m., and Sekoni said people would tell her they looked forward to a night of fashion after work.
This year, Fashion Week will incorporate a number of activities and webinar events throughout the eight days.
The theme of this Rhode Island Fashion Week is sustainability. So the week will start on Sunday, March 27, with a Clothing Swap event at The Nest, 1155 Westminster St., Unit 220, from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
Sekoni said The Nest has a great set of people who also promote sustainability.
The idea of the event is to bring five gently used items, such as shoes, clothes and handbags, to swap for other items. There will be a stylist on site to give participants tips on how to style their new treasures. That way, instead of throwing out clothes you may no longer wear, someone else has the opportunity to use the “recycled” clothes.
Whatever is left over at the end of the event will be donated to The Nest. Admission is $5.
Monday and Tuesday will feature virtual events that are free.
On Monday, March 28, join LFP for their first evening of panel discussions. This night will feature three segments. The first being Sustainability and Fashion from 7 to 7:30 p.m. The second segment is all about adding color to your wardrobe. “What if you could no longer wear black?” is part of the description. This will take place from 7:30 to 8 p.m. And from 8 to 8:30 p.m., the segment is Summer 2022 Fashion Trends.
Day three, on Tuesday, March 29, is another panel discussion featuring Chris Donavan, and will also have three half-hour segments. From 7 to 7:30 p.m., the segment is called “Being Fashionable and Fabulous at Every Age.” Three stylists will share their tips for looking your fiercest whether you are 25 or 85. The second spot is “Of Bowties, Ties and Ascots, for Men and Women,” from 7:30 to 8 p.m. In the last segment, from 8 to 8:30 p.m., Donavan, creator of Chris Donovan Footwear, will share how he transitioned from a service repair professional to a shoe designer while in his 50s.
Day four and five, Wednesday, March 30 and Thursday, March 31, features Fashion Fete, The Virtual Fashion Show. Both nights this global fashion show will be available to stream from 7:30 to 8 p.m.
Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2, will consist of in-person live runway shows. Day six, on Friday, will feature emerging designers who have been designing for about one to five years.
“We also have a Drag Extravaganza,” Sekoni said. “Drag Queens usually make their own clothes and it’s another talent.”
Another part of the evening will be a presentation on denim, which Sekoni said is the most used recycled fabric.
The live runway shows will take place at the Providence Career & Technical Academy, 41 Fricker St. Sekoni said that they’ve had a great relationship with the school for the past three years. The Cosmetology Department instructor invited the show to the school, and they have since used the students in that department in the beauty team to put what they’ve learned to good use.
Featured on Friday, from 6 to 9:30 p.m., will be BCV Design, The Nest, ABYS, A history of denim Presentation, Drag Extravaganza and Abigail by Gail Hannel. Not only will there be a fashion show but performances as well by Inara, Blacc Brandi and Arlande Ferdinand.
Saturday has two events, a Kids’ Runway Show, from 2 to 4 p.m. and a Seasoned Designers Runway Show, from 6 to 9:30 p.m.
Tickets for the all of the runway shows are $30 for general admission and $50 for VIP.
The Kids’ Runway Show features styled denim for kids and teens styled by Fashion Trend Class, styled accessories by Fashion Trend Class, and more to follow.
The final live show of the week features seasoned designers as well as a cosplay scene. The lineup includes: Dress with Confidence, Royal Ebony, Peace by Piece, Shaco Couture, CosMODA, Jack Attackk Clothing, Jonee Anderson Designs and Maternity Wear Styled by Fashion Trend Class with performances by Chloe Savage and more.
The final day, Sunday, April 3, concludes the Fashion Week with a Designer Market Place at the PCTA and is free. Sekoni said this is where people can shop for what they’ve seen throughout the week and support local business, from 3 to 6:30 p.m.
Sekoni said she hopes to put our small state of Rhode Island on the map for fashion as well as being inclusive.
“We’re a really fun organization that puts emphasis on inclusivity,” she said. “Our mission is to celebrate the beauty of diversity and talent in Rhode Island.”