Towards the end of July when Sarah Edwards, founder of I AM MPLS! and Co-Founder of Fashion Week Mn, asked me if I “had any plans in December”, I had no idea it would lead to this. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock the past couple months, let me refresh you: Culture Piece Magazine did an “event takeover” of the annual event, I AM MPLS! fashion show/event. I AM MPLS! has always been an amazing event. So amazing in fact, that I’ve been trying to get press passes to these shows for years and even walked in I AM ST.PAUL! a year ago too. This year though, I have to say was the best yet. Culture Piece came through with an ALL POC lineup of models, performers, and hair/makeup team at the Machine Shop on December 7th.
If you need a little background info, here’s what I AM MPLS! Is all about:
“A city isn’t just the land it inhabits.
Or the water that flows through it.
Or the buildings that tower over it.
It’s the people.
The dreamers. The doers. The historians. The iconoclasts. The scavengers. The creators. The tacticians. The generators.
It’s a vibrant gallery with hundreds of thousands of hearts and souls finding their own unique rhythms, gathering in groups of those that share the same beat.
Each year, we bring these collections together to celebrate the creative ties that bind us all in the creative hub of the north. For one night, we set a spark that creates new collaborations, new ideas, and new friendships.
The land, the water, and the buildings may bring us here, but it’s the people that truly allow us to say with pride and without hesitation – I AM MPLS!”
I honestly don’t know why I put it upon myself to write these Culture Piece event reviews, knowing damn well I’m going to have a biased opinion BUT it's safe to say, everyone in the venue that night enjoyed themselves just as much as the team did. The event commenced with a special VIP hour catered by Pimento Jamaican Kitchen and a special performance by the rapper/singer/songwriter/producer extraordinaire that is DJ FRND aka Donovan Jackson. Another perk of being VIP? Now y’all already know that Culture Piece swag bags are something crazy, but thanks to the help of our friend Grace Tait, they were some of the best I’ve ever seen given at a Minnesota fashion show. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the photos! Our screen printed totes designed by Art Director & Graphic Designer of Culture Piece, Yoonmi Cho, were overflowing with goods from Steller Hair Company, Acowsay, and Bumble to name a few.
Once the doors opened for all, our favorite DJ WNDRLND, set the vibe with some of our favorite songs and even some of his originals. The real show started once comedian Bruce Leroy Williams hit the stage to warm everyone up. Bruce isn’t just a funny guy, he’s also the co owner of Minnesota’s first Black owned comedy club AND he’s be recognized by Kevin Hart! We also had a noteworthy performance by rapper Destiny Roberts with guests Aubriana Jackson and Radio Ahlee alongside her. Dwynell Roland was our long awaited headliner with one of the liveliest and enjoyable performances I’ve seen in a long time, especially coming from a local performer. The entire event was hosted by one of my favorite not so local models, Ashlee Blake. Haven't seen any of her work? Just take a look at one of her many apperances in some top ads including Puma!
Pop Up Shops:
This was an element of the show I was extremely excited about! We gave our attendees the opportunity to shop some pretty amazing hand picked pop up shops on the balcony level of Machine Shop. Among featured pop up shops were Ice Cream Bow Ties, Imani Creates, Wulfchild, RuvaAfricWear, Ramadhan Designs, The Coven, merchandise from Destiny Roberts, and so much more!
Of course any event with Culture Piece involved has to have some killer fashion. Thanks to our Lead Stylist, Shola Shodipo, we had just that! Our entrepreneur-turned-models graced the runway in looks from local brands Hazel & Rose, Atmosphere, Cliche, AK Collective, Saint Ola, Proper, and B. Resale. These amazing looks were topped off with hair and makeup led by Yanna Jordan and Tamia Daye, always a favorite of ours. This was probably one of the most beautiful shows I've been apart of simply because of the models. When I gave directions about walking (keep in mind almost NONE of these "models" have ever walked a runway) I kept it simple: walk down, hold the pose, walk back. These beautiful humans were better than any professional model out here, letting their personalities shine so damn brightly and brilliantly for us all to experience. Who knew a bunch of tattoo artists, designers, product makers and could show out like that?! Not only did the models make this runway show crazy, the actual runway did! Our runway was lit (both figuratively and literally) giving the show an element that is very rare in the Minnesota fashion scene!
All in all, I had so much fun planning and executing this event with Sarah and my team. It doesn't always need to be high fashion and glitter. Sometimes its just about paying homage some to great people doing even greater things in AND for the community. 2017 has been a bomb ass year for Culture Piece and this event was the perfect way to close it out. I sincerely thank everyone who has supported us throughout our journey. We couldn't have done it without y'all!