Inaugural ASO fashion show gives local designers spotlight

Though it didn’t go off entirely without a hitch, the African Student Organization’s first fashion show was a promising start to what will surely become a staple of Oswego State’s campus arts events.

Battle of the Designers, hosted by Eniola Alawoya, a junior education major, and Abdulai “Flex” Kamara, a 2013 Oswego State graduate, not only showcased budding student designers, but also the talents of the ASO Dancers and R&B/hip-hop trio A’won Boyz.

Set to begin at 6 p.m. last Friday in the Hewitt Union Ballroom, the show’s biggest blunder was that it didn’t start until 7:45. However, the event’s organizers were apologetic and the audience was patient. The ballroom was a full house by the time the show kicked off.

Alawoya and Kamara strutted onto the stage with style, confidenceand a demand for audience participation.

“Africa has been on top of the fashion world for a long time,” Alawoya said in her opening remarks. “We are trying to bring Africa back to Oswego.”

The hosts then listed countries in Africa, calling on the audience to clap and cheer for the country they hailed from, which started the night off with a sense of community and pride. Alawoya and Kamara then introduced the five judges, whom Kamara said each represented a different country: Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, the U.S. and Ghana.

The six scenes put on by the designers were presented in three sets, between which A’won Boyz and the ASO Dancers performed.

The first three scenes were Afrique Stylish, Je Suis Design and Desire by Denise.

Afrique Stylish was an edgy collection that combined classic black pieces with bright African fabrics. This fabric was used in bags, bow ties, slacks and blouses. Another standout set of pieces in this collection was a pair of two hoodies, one black and one red, with a white outline made up of squares of the African continent emblazoned on their fronts.

Je Suis Design, a more subdued scene, began with a short film. “Fashion doesn’t always have to scream,” the video proclaimed as it showed simple, everyday scenes of life in the city. The models walked on stage to sound effects of the city. Bright patterns were once again featured in this collection, but in more colors like yellow, purple, green and orange. The most notable pieces of this collection were bold dresses, half a solid bright color and half a bright pattern, split vertically down the middle.

The third scene, Desire by Denise, featured only clothes for women. Though this collection covered less ground than the other two because of this, the clothing was varied and daring enough to make up for it. The dresses had unexpected touches like halter fronts, long sleeves with open backs, long skirts with wide, high side splits, high collars and unusual cutouts. There were also bandeaus, skinny trousers, crop tops, skirts and a bikini. The female models ended the scene in impressive fashion as well, all dancing and moving in synchronized lines back onto and off of the stage.

After this scene, Alawoya and Kamara introduced the musical act of the night: A’won Boyz.

Three Nigerian brothers from Brooklyn who called themselves Mel, Muk, and JR, A’won Boyz sang two songs, one of which they said was brand new and had not yet been released, and got the audience up on their feet dancing and singing along. The models from the previous scenes also joined in on the performance, acting as backup dancers.

The next scene, Rue Fashion, featured more formal designs. Slacks, button-downs, jackets, pencil skirts and blouses were the main pieces worn, but it was not boring formal wear by any means. There was little disparity in the level of femininity or masculinity of the outfits, so the male and female models who came on stage in pairs looked well-matched. Plenty of the pieces were in neutral colors, but they also featured pops of pattern, the colors of which were also subdued.

The ASO dancers performed next. There was plenty of dancing throughout the night: models, hosts and even members of the audience danced on stage, but the ASO dancers blew them out of the water. Audience members got up out of their seats to better see the dancers or to dance along with the music that the ASO dancers moved so expertly to.

The second to last scene was The Grunge Project. Although the clothes in this collection, featuring lots of loose tops and metallic fabrics, were designed well, they were not presented well. The lights were set low and the stage was dim during this scene, which may have been an attempt at the club-like atmosphere this designer’s clothes seemed to be inspired by or meant for, but this made it difficult to see the clothes in detail.

The last scene, The Royal Try, was the most casual collection. It mainly consisted of long-sleeve T-shirts, hoodies, sweaters and hats all featuring the same graphic, possibly an attempt at a clothing line that would have immediate brand recognition. The colors of the later pieces of the collection that were a little less casual were fun, happy and fit well with the coming spring atmosphere.

The last scene finished at 10:30 p.m., a half hour past the planned end time of the show. By the time the judges finished their deliberations and announced the winners, half the audience had left.

The winning designers were, in order of last to first, Desire by Denise, The Grunge Project and Je Suis Design.

Alawoya, who was chosen as a host because of her previous involvement with ASO’s e-board, said she thought the show went well for a first-time event.

“I know it started late, which you know, could have definitely been avoided,” Alawoya said. “I think it definitely could have been more organized. But for the first time, it went really well. The designers all were great. And there was a lot of great audience interaction.”

Regardless of the few minor setbacks, ASO’s first fashion show accomplished what Alawoya said at the beginning they set out to do: bring Africa back to Oswego.

“I think ASO is doing a great job,” Alawoya said. “This is our 10th year on campus and I think it’s inspiring to see an organization actually growing. I hope to see it get bigger and better.”