Black Fashion Week Comes To Paisley Park as "Design of the Times" Event Showcase Minnesota Talent
Reported by: LaKisa Renee
Black Fashion Week Minnesota kicked off its 5th anniversary celebration on May 11th, 2022 with the Design Of The Times Fashion Show and afterparty at Prince's legendary Soundstage at Paisley Park. The event was produced by BFWMN CEO & Founder Natalie Morrow and it was the first ever public event produced at Paisley Park outside of events done by the estate. Morrow created BFWMN in 2019, as a platform for designers, talent, models and artists of color to showcase their work. Black Fashion Week has grown over the past few years gaining many supporters and new sponsors. Mitch McGuire, Managing Director of Paisley Park stated that he decided to collaborate with BFWMN because Prince intended for Paisley Park to be used as a space for creatives and this is what he would have wanted to happen. Fashion was important to Prince on and off the stage. He was a major fashion influence in Minneapolis and all over the world. Prince fans and fashion enthusiasts gathered in the iconic Paisley Park soundstage, which served Prince's rehearsal space and filming location for movies such as Purple Rain, Graffiti Bridge, Grumpy Old Men and Drop Dead Fred, for a night of Prince inspired fashions, music, dancing and remembrance.
Black Fashion Week Comes To Paisley Park
As I arrived at Paisley Park I was in awe that I was actually at Prince's home. The big industrial complex-like building sat just off the highway with his famous purple symbol outside. I walked up to the building, took some pictures and walked the VIP purple carpet as my favorite Prince's song "When Doves Cry" played on the speaker. I walked inside the gift shop filled with Prince memorabilia and into the soundstage. As I entered the purple lit, dim room I could see Prince's iconic outfits all around the room, as well has his cars, instrumentals and his illuminated purple symbol. You could feel his spirit and influence all around you. The event began with a special Q&A panel with a special guest designer, Debbie McGuan. McGuan stated that she always knew she would work with Prince and took a huge chance my sending her sketches to him. Prince and his current wardrobe designer liked the sketches, met with Debbie and the rest is history. She worked with Prince for nearly 20 years. She described her process of creating looks for him stating that he would hand her a paper of song lyrics and tell her to design a look based off of the song. Some of Debbie's iconic looks graced the stage on mannequins as she spoke. She stated he was very open to her ideas and loved looks that were wild, unique and eye-catching. He also had custom made heeled shoes created to make every outfit he owned. He owned over 300 pairs of shoes. As Debbie spoke the whole audience started receiving tornado warnings to their phones. The show was paused for a few mins as everyone started to get worried. Mitch McGuire got on the mic and assured everyone that we were in the safest place possible as the soundstage is used as a storm shelter. The storm passed and the show continued on without any issues. Prince definitely protected us and kept us safe in that moment.
The fashion show began after the panel and featured 30 models and 10 designers such as Monjaz Couture, Tanya Yarwood, Scooter Boi, Vandalism Designs, Leslie Lee: Designs by Lee, Studio 23 & Lexurie. Special guest models included actor Lance Gross and Lizzo's DJ Sophia Eris who looked fabulous while ripping the runway in the designer's looks. Each designer's collection included a Prince inspired look and showcased their fashion creativity. All of the fashions were so beautiful and original. A few of my favorite looks of the night were the Purple Rain inspired reversible jacket and dress with Prince's symbol incorporated into it by Leslie Lee. As well as the gowns from the Monjaz Couture Collection and the unique urban x skater boy looks by designer Scooter Boi. There was also a contest for the best outfit of the night which was won by a guest who wore an outfit inspired by Prince's red chain hat and catsuit look. The winner won tickets to see Diana Ross at the Minneapolis State Fair in September 2022. Special guests in attendance included TV star BeBe Sahara Benet from Rupaul's Drag Race and Celebrity Stylist/Fashion Creative Director Grant Whittaker who wore a suit originally worn by the legendary Morris Day of "The Time" music group. Some Prince's family and friends were in attendance as well.
After the fashion show, all of the VIP guests were whisked away to Prince's NPG Club for a private afterparty. This was the space where Prince held private parties for his personal guests and fans. The decor was all purple and velvet and featured a performance stage, an illuminated Prince symbol which was a common theme at Paisley Park and more of Prince's iconic wardrobe pieces. The guests danced the night away to current music and Prince classics. I had a chance to personally meet and talk with Debbie McQuan and Lance Gross and take pictures with them at the afterparty. I also spoke with and took pictures with Prince's former personal security guard Mark Webster who shared some cool stories about Prince. The following day I was able to take a house tour of Paisley Park and a city tour of some of his famous landmarks which was mind-blowing! As a huge Prince this was by far one of the best experiences of my life! I can't wait to go back and visit again, there's so much more to explore about Prince.
Black Fashion Week MN (BFWMN) has continued to grow rapidly since its humble beginnings in 2018, when it had only 100 social media followers, says founder Natalie Morrow. Now, it’s armed with nearly 5,000 online supporters, new sponsors, and a renewed fervor.
About Black Fashion Week Minnesota
Black Fashion Week MN is an organization created "to showcase talented and creative Black, Indigenous people of color." Now in its fifth year, BFWMN continues to give a platform to talented creators and artists throughout the state of Minnesota. This year, Morrie’s is not only an official sponsor, but will also be providing Morrie’s Fashion Forward Scholarship to provide opportunities for developing designers to further their craft. Learn more about Black Fashion Week Minnesota at BFWMN.com or on Facebook and Instagram.