On April 23rd, the Black Student Forum (BSF) of Boston College hosted a high-energy and stylish celebration of Black culture known as the BSF Fashion Show. The elegant gowns and vibrant streetwear were only the start of a party which also featured dance performances and audience participation. This event was especially anticipated and memorable because BSF invited 12 local Black-owned businesses to sell their creations to audience members.
The show’s theme was “House Party” and the night truly captured this sentiment of a communal celebration. Audience members showed out in their best ‘fits and intensely cheered on their friends and classmates. According to the Artistic Director of the BSF, Kyannah DePina '23, the idea for House Party’s theme was initially developed with graffiti and street art in mind, some of the first public displays of Black creativity. Since the fashion show took place during Black Family Weekend, the BSF also wanted to include an element of a reunion among family and friends. The theme was the culmination of these ideas, and the BSF’s house party did not disappoint.
In putting on the fashion show, the BSF aimed to establish itself as an organization that generates excitement and engagement within the Black community. BSF Co-President, Ellana Lawrence, discusses the obstacles in reaching this goal, especially within a predominantly white institution. She explains, “It is challenging to find spaces where we can be ourselves and celebrate our culture.” By putting on events like the fashion show, the BSF creates these spaces of community. Kyannah DePina also shares that there is a lack of Black American representation in clubs on campus and this event was an opportunity to contribute to that representation, share Black culture, and support local Black owned businesses.
Streetwear, hip hop, pop art, and fashion were all important elements of the show that demonstrate unique aspects of Black culture. Audience member Malaki Hernandez '23 observes that streetwear is a combination of hip-hop, punk, rap, and other subcultures that resist the status quo of white, American standards. Artists have used these mediums throughout history to express themselves literarily or visually about the problems they see in their communities or the inequality present in America as a whole. He particularly enjoyed seeing how each designer incorporated these elements into their clothes. DePina adds that the show captured the passion and creativity of Black culture, while also showcasing the professionalism, modernity, and elegance of emerging streetwear styles.
John Mendizabal / Gavel Media
The partnering small business organization included: Art Gallery, Roll the Dice, Watch the Krown, Growth & Maintenance, Unearth, Ardzir, Tshikani, Dreams from the East, Daitan, Displaced, R Mode by Raniya, Goodieluxe, and Radical Route. Among these vendors are numerous original and creative designs, with some featuring cultural references and sustainable materials. Unearth, a clothing brand based in Boston, for example, uses entirely recycled material to make their clothes. In today’s age, with fast fashion having become so popular, it is especially important to shop sustainably and locally. BSF made sure to attract and create a relationship with vendors that are important in today’s climate.
In addition to the eye-catching designs and model walks, the show also featured a performance from the F.I.S.T.S Ladies of Boston College, and several audience walks. F.I.S.T.S, or Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step, is Boston College’s all-women step team; their performance was fast paced, intense, and engaging. Paired with a captivating storyline and passionate facial expressions, the F.I.S.T.S. Ladies’ dancing owned the stage. The audience walks were another section of the show that made the event personal and entertaining. During this part of the program, the hosts Roland Heacock and Latifait Odetunde announced that anyone who believed they had the best outfit of the night could come on stage and strut their stuff down the runway. Seven brave spectators showed off their best model walks, inciting cheers of encouragement from the audience and proving just how strong this community is.
The BSF Fashion Show was a place where everyone was encouraged to express and represent themselves in unique and personal ways. Ellana Lawrence initially conceived the idea for this show during the height of the coronavirus pandemic; she shared that given the restrictions, the event seemed inconceivable. Its success, however, is a testament to what happens when one remains driven and focused on achieving their goals.
Ellana Lawrence later shared some words of thanks, “I want to thank everyone who came out to support this event! We are truly thankful for everyone who attended, and it couldn’t have been what it was without everyone involved! Thank you!”