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Charcoal Fashion Show: The Magic Behind the Runway

by Sara Diaz

Charcoal Magazine continues to push beyond the limit of the heavens, and Charcoal’s First Fashion Show was definitely no exception. It was held in the Howard Thurman Center on March 26, 2022, on the fifth-year anniversary of Charcoal Magazine, to a sold-out show of 422 guests, making it the largest student event held on campus. This event was the first of its kind, marking the beginning of a new era for Charcoal. This fashion show not only marks a precedent for Charcoal but also for all the other creative minds on campus. With only less than two weeks of preparation, everyone on this team handled this hard work with grace. I had the amazing opportunity to speak with the minds that translated creativity from the pages to real life.

Chike Asuzu, Editor-In-Chief

“I really wanted to fuck around with how people think of perception and expression and everything. The performance and the attitude and the body they have. Everything is accentuated by the make-up artists and the hairstylists and the stylists—every detail. We’re challenging every single idea you think of what expression is. We’re challenging everything you think can exist on a gender scale, on a power scale, and on an everything scale. So much of the work we’ve done this semester has been about questioning everything. Challenging everything. If the work is never done, how can you continue to change,

grow, and adapt? To us, we hope someone at least questions something about themselves.

This process has been very crazy for me in my personal life. My uncle passed away and that hit me very hard. What am I doing this for? It really is that ease that I get not just talking to people here at Charcoal but real people who are willing to have true conversations. And, I’ve learned a lot about praise. You need to give yourself grace baby. Delegation is really just trust. We are not perfect, but it’s really about the process. Charcoal has the most talented and most skillful people in the world. This is for people of color by people of color. I’ve learned not only to depend on community but also to build community.”

Shamayam Sullivan, Editor-In-Chief

“This idea first came about last semester. Chike and I both talked about doing something big. I proposed the Gallery Showcase, and we also talked about a Fashion Show. Chike was really heavy on that. It’s something that I really wanted to explore as well just because I wanted to see how tangibly we could do it. This is such a big thing for everybody–regardless of whether you indulge in it or you don’t. It’s something that’s just so integral to each of us. It just shows how we portray ourselves and how we see ourselves. All the things we adore in ourselves are so important to showcase, especially within our community.

I hope people gain a little insight into the creative minds of our stylists. I hope they find joy in this. We’ve worked so hard–every single member of this team from the stylists down to the production assistants.

Everybody is fighting tooth and nail to make this thing as gorgeous as it is, and so I hope they see the beauty and the effort that we put into this. I hope they could see themselves in it, and all the opportunities that they could do as well as just inspiration to pursue things within the same field, to pursue the same outfits, to rob outfits.

My rock has been this community at large. It’s very hard just because to produce good work, you have to produce work, period. So, we push and we grind. We push to be the very best that we can. I get caught up in the actual physical work of it and sometimes I don’t give myself enough time to appreciate the beauty of it. I’m so appreciative of my community. I’m so appreciative of Chike and Jess. It’s just great people to lean on for the physical work as well as the emotional and just making sure that we get ever. I just love seeing the joy that our team feels when they step out and look good. They know it’s because they worked hard to get here, and that’s all I ever want to see. It makes that part of the work that we do that much sweeter.”

Taylor Walker, Production Assistant

“We are a part of the set. This could not have been done without us. The people around us make this hard work worth it. Developing relationships makes this so worth it. I was struggling to find a community, especially with Boston University being a PWI, and when I found Charcoal, I said ‘yeah this is it.’”

Sandra Kyaw, Stylist

“For my collection, I named it The Reimagined Uniform, and essentially when we were prompted to apply for this, they wanted to talk about youth and transformation. Growing up in Boston Public Schools, you have to wear a navy polo, khaki pants, and sneakers. Even going into the corporate world, you still have to wear a uniform whether it be blazers or slack pants–you basically wear a uniform your entire life if you think about it. So, In combining those two concepts, I decided to make a rebellious version of that because you still have that rebellious teenage spunk persona that you try to hide. I took this very distressed, denim and blazer look and applied it to my models while wearing very uniform-esque clothing. I made it very individualized to show off their personality.

Though as a stylist, it took a lot of long hours. It’s all a labor of love not only for yourself but for your teammates and the

entire show, so you just have to remember to have fun.”

Toni Gomez, Model

Toni, who is one of the muses for Sandra’s creative vision, gives an insight into her look for the fashion show. “I am actually wearing my own school uniform. It’s very interesting to see Sandra’s take on this uniform. It’s very different from how I would’ve styled it in middle school, but I love how it turned out!”

Jaelyn Carr, Model

Jaelynn spoke about the impact of her experience with Charcoal.“I’m not currently a part of Charcoal, but I love the community here. They want to represent us. They want to represent people of color.”

Hikima Lukomwa, MUA

“There’s no exact technique to my makeup. I usually prefer to do eyeshadow because it’s what I get the most excited about. It’s a lot about different brushes and seeing what works with the face. I think it’s very interesting since you work with different people who have different faces. People have different eye shapes, different skin tones, and different skin textures–so I think it’s not necessarily a particular technique but more so to fine-tune the knowledge I already have.”

Jayda Bonnick, Model

“I’ve been around so many new creative people that I never would’ve known outside of this experience. My stylist is handmaking a lot of our pieces. So, even that exposure to someone who is literally sewing pieces in their dorm is not a world I really would’ve thought about, but I’ve been exposed to it in these past two weeks.”

Atiyyah Mayaleeke, Model and MUA

“When I do my makeup, especially something more creative, I feel better than myself. You just feel more than yourself. It allows me to feel confident. Sometimes you need that little boost from someone else and feel that support. I feel like I can conquer whatever the fuck else I need to conquer. When I give people the mirror when I’m done and they’re like “OMG!”, that makes me so happy. You feel good about yourself. You feel excited.

I really like to emphasize people’s features. The features that they already have, instead of trying to cover them. I have a lot of scars, and I felt for the longest time–not necessarily that it had to be covered–but it was hard to find shades for myself and everything. It just felt like this realm wasn’t for me, so I just stayed away from it. One thing that I really like to do when I’m doing makeup on other people is that I tell them what I’m doing and what features I want to accentuate so that they know. I like to make people feel good, so if they don’t have their shade, I’m going to make their shade.”

Uni Valdivieso Woolridge, Stylist

“Because the theme was transformation, inner & outer personas, and what it means to be human, I decided to look at the human psyche. There are four main parts. The first part is the outer persona, which is the outer mask and how you present yourself to the rest of the world. For one of my looks, we are using very bright and bubbly colors. We’re using gold colors. We’re doing glitter hair. The second look is meant to represent this animus/anima that is part of our psyche, which is the masculine/feminine traits within us. No person is fully masculine. No one is fully feminine. I wanted to explore this duality. I’m having two models walk at the same time. The third look is the inner perona, and this is the person that you can’t see. This is where our creativities come from. They are chaotic, which is why we’re having this completely black outfit with different textures and silver jewelry. The fourth part of the human psyche is the self. There is no look for this but it is the unity that ties it all together.”

Jessica Muchiri, MUA

“The vision behind these looks is definitely a back and forth between my knowledge of the makeup and executing what the stylist wants to see. Our technique was to try everything and then see what was best to include. I’ve learned how to work with a lot of people and especially under a time budget. Usually, it’s just me doing my own makeup before I go out; it’s never five people back to back. I definitely put my skills to the test.”

Let me describe the scene. Doors were still closed, but guests feel the anticipation as they see models and staff practice a run of the show through the giant glass windows with colorful music blasting through the speakers. The lobby was filled. Crowded lines were stretching around the Howard Thurman Center in the pouring rain as far as the eye could see. Though it was a sold-out show, tickets were also given out to the first 100 people, so many were clamoring at the opportunity to snag one.

At promptly 7:00 pm, the crowds disperse and fill up the space as they observe the flowery and bright decor. At 7:30 pm, we see the first model walk the runway. The crowd was in awe the entire time of the show with all of their eyes glimmering with excitement. The energy in the room was euphoric, to say the least, with loud cheers following the models with every strut they took.

Here is a playlist to relive one of the best moments in our timeline: