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The streets were killing, the conversations were erupting and the drinks were flowing at the annual Fashion House Essence on Monday, September 12 at the Walker Hotel in Tribeca New York. An immersive experience of panel discussions and workshops, presentations by up-and-coming creators, “buyable” digital marketplaces and a digital fashion show, the event brought a unique experience New York Fashion Week (NYFW) experience to fashion lovers across the city.
The day was split into two panels. Each time slot offered attendees the opportunity to hear from influencers, designers, celebrities and trend setters while allowing them to network, grow and connect.
Kahlana Barfield, whose new Futures collection with Target was released on Sunday, September 11, was a fan favorite. She spoke to attendees about the art of street style, owning your own style story, and her new line.
“I always knew I wanted to design a collection, but it had to be with the right partner because I wanted everything I created to be accessible,” Kahlana told HelloBeautiful. “The goal is that daughter. We do our shopping there, that’s where we are, that’s where we spend our money.
Kahlana continued. “They gave me a lot of creative freedom, they really wanted me to be happy with what we were doing. It wasn’t just about putting my name on a label. I was intimately involved in every step of the process. From photography to marketing, all the design, the fabrics, the colors, everything I was there was me in it.
Russell Westbrook and Justine Skye were two other celebrities that attendees couldn’t help but talk about. Justine interviewed emerging designers as part of a partnership with Lagos Fashion Week and Russell joined ESSENCE CEO Caroline Wanga to discuss her personal style and influences.
“My mother.” Russell smiled and said when asked who her top fashion influencer was. “She showed me not only how to dress, but also how to shop. Plus how to buy certain things, not super high end but how to be able to put things together. She inspired me to do it and still inspires me today.
Other panelists and key participants heard from and spotted include TikTok influencers Yusufs (Nastea & Nuni), writer and PR influencer maven and Black in Fashion Council co-founder Sandrine Charles, and fashion entrepreneur and owner of storeTelsha Anderson
The in-person experience was complemented by a one-of-a-kind virtual presentation with The Walker Fashion Experience Powered by The Place. The platform is a NYFW hub combining technology, fashion, music and blockchain with a focus on creating more financial opportunities for black creatives and fashion industry supporters.
Immediately following the day’s event, ESSENCE hosted a private Best in Black Fashion Awards dinner at Lume Studios in Soho. The dinner honored fashion favorites such as Christopher John Rogers as Designer of the Year, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson as Stylist of the Year and Amanda Murray as Studio Influencer of the Year. Lume in Soho.
Check out our gallery of street-style looks from this year’s ESSENCE Fashion House attendees below.