Text by Jillian Meehan
Photos by Nydia Hartono
The most stunning part of EBONI’s BLACKOUT fashion show was a toss-up between the designs and the models—each gorgeous individually and even better when paired together. The show was the last scheduled event of Black History Month 2016 at Emerson and was a huge success, if the audience’s excitement Friday evening was any indication.
A long line of students, friends, and family members filed into the Cabaret for the show, filling the venue with ease. After a chillingly beautiful performance by singer Ny Ony Razafindratandra and her accompanying band, the lights dimmed and the models took the runway by storm, where they were just as much works of art as the clothes they were wearing.
All of the pieces were designed by Adele Ngoy, a fashion designer from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Currently based in Portland, Maine, she is the alteration manager at David’s Bridal and the founder and president of Women United Around the World, a local nonprofit that seeks to support and empower female immigrants. Ngoy’s exclusive line for the show was named “Miriam Makeba,” after the South African singer and civil rights activist who was the first to wear the type of fabrics used for the clothes.
“Each design is so intricate and so different,” said model Peyton Lyndsey Dix, a senior visual and media arts major. All of the pieces were tailored to each model, she said, which helped to celebrate the many different types of bodies in the show.
“We’re all so many different shapes and heights,” she said. “It was cool that it wasn’t your quintessentially skinny, tall, white model.”
The audience seemed to think so, too, clapping and cheering throughout the entire show as the group of 24 Emerson students brought Ngoy’s bold designs to life and charged up the room with their sheer confidence.
“It was fun because everyone there seemed like they were really into it,” said student Laura Tormos, a visual and media arts sophomore who attended the show. “I love that everyone was there supporting each other.”
The Cabaret was full of energy until the very end, from both the audience and the team that made the BLACKOUT show possible. When Ngoy herself came out onto the runway at the end of the show to see firsthand the effect of her designs, she was all smiles amid the applause and well-deserved praise.
“It was just an incredible experience to be a part of and to showcase work and style and bodies that we generally, especially at Emerson, don’t look at as often,” Dix said.