Black History Month at Kent has seen a celebration of culture and diversity; from MOBO Award-winning hip-hop artist, writer and historian Akala to an art exhibition entitled ‘Celebrating Kent’s Black Professors’. It has not stopped there, on 26 October the Kent African–Caribbean society, in collaboration with the Kent union, held a fashion show showcasing designers and models from all backgrounds. It was a collision of nations and inspiration.
Kent-tech transformed Elliot hall into a platform for boldness and entertainment. The runway stretched across the hall, surrounded by chairs waiting to be filled. As the energy increased and people started flooding in, the models, designers and performers could not contain their excitement backstage. DJ and student Ayomide Yusuf, AKA Super MiDz, set the night off with a constant stream of familiar anthems. The crowd was buzzing. Backstage, I spoke with Olaoluwa the designer of the ‘Fashaun’ clothing line who saw the show as an ‘eye opener for the brand’, an opportunity to bring people together outside the seminar rooms. Very much involved in the manufacturing of the clothes he called for ‘more’. More shows, more runways. He called for the breaking of ‘boxes’ in the fashion industry.
Everyone seated and ready, guest hosts Sharon Baiden and Nathan Dior introduced performer Esere Ibeke (KJ) who opened the night with a song, which flowed well with the first designer of the night, Urban Focus. Originally inspired by street fashion and Kente material, the designer’s creativity sprawled across a variety of different styles of dresses, jumpers and raincoats. The line celebrated the casual and the everyday. Up next was Mami Chula, quite the opposite. The models displayed an array of affordable evening wear, showing classy suede nude and navy tones on dresses, sequins embellished on playsuits and velvet jumpsuits. ‘Chula’, meaning hot girl in Spanish was a befitting term for the line. The crowd cheered and danced in their seats in response to the cat walks. Next: Fashaun clothing. ‘Simple yet complex’ was the description of the creativity of his work; the jackets, hoodies and hats showed comfort yet originality. The hosts then introduced the jewellery line Infinity Galore, which spoke for itself, an abundance of trend and flamboyance. YemsXO clothing was more celebratory of African prints and colours particularly that of Ghanaian influence, the aim for the young designer was to bring modern Africa to modern Britain. Nu Identity was more ‘Cinderella’ themed on the side of evening wear, with the designer hoping that people would step into a new self when in their clothes. The Christian Performing Arts Society then gave a phenomenally energetic performance, which kept the atmosphere charged. The night closed with Melanin Made Clothing, which wrapped up a night characterised by unapologetic confidence and creativity. The designer’s clothing is at it says, ‘I’m Melanin made and happy’.
There is nothing stopping Kent students from taking their ideas from Elliot hall to Paris. Call it ambitious but that is exactly what this past month has showcased. Ambition, excellence and unity.