A Burst Of Color: How The Fashion Industry Is Now Seeing That Black IS Beautiful

With an industry that has previously been dominated by white designers and white models, Lagos puts a foot down and says no more. In the wake of Black History Month, there is no better time to spotlight the amazing efforts of up and coming designers coming straight out of Nigeria. Lagos is proving why the city of over 21 million should be added to the list of fashion capitals of the world alongside Rome, Paris, New York, and London. With the beauty of the prints and traditional culture kept within the clothes, Nigerian designers display their pride of Nigeria, which has caught the eyes of many fashion editors and designers alike around the world. Launching in just 2011, Lagos Fashion Week, also known as Lagos Fashion and Design Week has grown immensely since. Just this past fall, the event featured dozens of Nigerian designers of both tender and established experience. The Lagos Fashion and Design Week aims to encourage creativity within their Nigerian designers. Because of their exposure in Nigeria, designers like Folake Folarin-Coker (Brand: Tiffany Amber), have had the opportunity to display their clothing during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

But the bold and striking tribal designs influenced by African culture are not the only things catching fashion's eye; it's the models. With Lagos slowly gaining their credibility as a fashion capital, people are noticing the plethora of black models being showcased in the shows. This is not something common in the fashion industry, where many of these models of color are not given a fair chance. Because of the opportunities given to them by LFDW, they are now being able to build stable careers as models elsewhere. It is a sign of the times, and the strides we have made not only in the industry, but in society, accepting the beauty of black. The power and positivity of these changes only preview what's to come. The barriers that Nigeria has broken in the industry, supporting these black models is overflowing into fashion's realm.

Montgomery. Re-invention.

Fashion designer Montgomery is relaunching her brand.  Her fashion forward work received the Vidal Sassoon Award for Style in 1995 and the Absolute Vodka Style Award in 1999.  

Her ring-a-ding spin on style has been photographed the world over with a Japanese cult following that encompasses all generations. Sixty year old grandmothers share their collectables with their four year old granddaughters.

Montgomery's stylish store once called Harlem home but the aggressive gentrification placed the artist in a situation that almost found her, and her collections, homeless.

The voluminous inspiration found in that store is best summed up by style legend Andre Leon Talley: "What's great about Montgomery is that it is exactly what it is: a specialty dress shop in the old-fashioned sense.  Go there for a full-skirted Dorothy Dandridge dinner dress -- hello Halle Berry? with a Schiaparelli-pink Salvador Dali lipstick print."

2014: Walking pass the Studio Museum of Harlem a collection of one-of-a-kind Collage jewelry (sold in the museum store) caught myNewYorkeye and that's how this creative exchange began.

She's one of three Harlem designers that have generously offered to style me for my Hollywood/Oscar/ESSENCE 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon and celebrity one on one interview adventure.

myNewYorkeye: What should we call you?

Montgomery: My name Montgomery Harris but I like to go by Montgomery.

web-link montgomeryboutique.com

myNewYorkeye: So that would make your FaceBook just Montgomery.

Montgomery: Correct and my occupation is designer.

myNewYorkeye: I understand that a generous percentage of your sales, inside the Studio Museum of Harlem goes to that organization?  True and if so, why?

Montgomery: True.  It's part of  an organization that I feel is amazing.  It allows me to give back to the community of Harlem were I grew up.  The same applies when those pieces are purchased on-line.

myNewYorkeye: Your favorite creations?

Montgomery: My favorite creations is  Jolinda, the family group of which baby girl, is a third generation and the Toad Skin print collection.

myNewYorkeye: I'm working on a book called "failure?" which is a collection of real life stories about people who "failed" until they "didn't," asking the question what is "failure?"

So, you know the question.

Montgomery: Failure (to me) was closing my business in Harlem and almost becoming homeless.  To follow my dream of being a designer, artist, I sacrificed...everything.  And now....

I'll answer that for Montgomery since the emotion stirred in her like a cyclone,rendering her temporarily speechless. 

And now comes a phenomenal-Montgomery-reinvention. 

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