On April 28, 2017, I was able to experience some amazing, talented and driven individuals put their skills to use within the city limits of my hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina. The Fashion Society and Student Alumni Association at Johnson & Wales University (JWU) hosted their 3rd Annual #4THELOVECLT: RIP THE RUNWAY Show. From the designers and their designs, to the models and the acts in between, this show was a great representation of the culture and what we as a generation have developed to be more than just fashion, but instead a lifestyle. 

I honestly didn't know what to expect walking in the doors of the Wildcat Center. Would this be a a real production? Would there be a crowd? How would the designs look? Would I be engaged? All of these questions were racing through my head as I stepped up to get my media band from the sign in table. And then my eyes met the step & repeat and out of my peripheral I saw none other than Samuel (Sam) Polley, or as he's known in the fashion realm, Mr. SOC. He was getting things in order, from the volunteers to the vendors and the way he was handling business reassured me that the night was going to be nothing short of amazing.

Sam directed myself and a few other media attendees to the back of the house where the models were getting hair and makeup done, practicing walks and given face all the mirror in prep for the show. As we walked in the room, the smell of the flat iron welcomed us. Sam introduced us to the group and told that we were there for media coverage. At that moment, everyone got their game faces on and were ready for their close ups with the cameras. It was awesome to see how confident everyone was in their skin and how excited they were about the show. 

While backstage, I got the chance to speak with a few dope people in the room. First up was model coach, Ahmad Watson. Hailing from Nassau, Bahamas. I immediately fell in love with his accent. This was his second year working with the event and when asked what he liked most about this year he stated "There's a lot of diversity. The passion that people have is genuine and the models are reliable!" Being that this was my first time attended an event at JWU, he reassured me that I was in for a good time! From Alexandria White, a freshman makeup artist to Elaina Hall, a junior stylist; just looking around the room and seeing all the different types of people, ranging in age and background, yet all passionate about the same thing, was amazing.

Fashion is the ability to express how you want to be perceived. - Ahmad Watson, Model Coach

The show began promptly at 9:00pm with hosts Jennifer Michelle , model and runway coach and Ka'bre Dennis, senior at JWU.The gym was packed to capacity from the front row to the bleachers and what I loved most was positive energy that surrounded the room.  They opened the show with a dope local artist by the name of Devin Johnson, who serenaded the crowd with 2 songs. He reminded me of a mix between Maxwell, Music Soul Childand a hint of Usher. Then it started.

With the DJ playing Pharrell's 'Get Lucky' in the background, Amani Sharfiah' opened up the runway with her customized Season 1 &2 "Distressed MANI" line, which is catered towards both men and women. From t-shirts (long and short) to crop tops, t-shirt dress and jeans, she showed the audience how versatile a distressed look can be. Amani definitely gave more than you would expected with her distressed pieces. Her detailing was crazy! What I loved most was her sporadic use of bleach on some of the looks to add an extra flare to the over all ensemble.

Following the first designer we had Deyanna Williams come and grace the crowd with her vocals by singing her rendition of "Listen" by Beyonce.

Next to hit the runway was Five13 Studio, a chic Women's apparel boutique owned by Jekia Benson, located in the quaint Dilworth community off East Blvd. Her pieces went from casual to chic to glam, real quick! What I really loved was how she incorporated the popular trends of the spring season into all her looks on the runway. From off the shoulder chic slit dresses, to ruffle and tassel details, to the hint of soft tans, the vibe was lit! While I enjoyed all of the looks, the mic dropper was the 'Katie Sequin Chiffon Cape Jumpsuit'. The crowd went crazy as the model walked down the runway. Her confidence and the cape alone just dripped so much sauce it was gravitating. I say all that to say, ladies, if you are looking for some unique, one-of-a-kind pieces to step out in this spring/summer, you definitely need to check out Five13 Studio.

Fashion is making a statement - Jekia Benson, Owner of Five 13 Studios

During the intermission, Jennifer and Ka'bre got the crowd involved by having an impromptu runway challenge. It was cool to see how supportive everyone was of each other. You could tell that the community at JWU is some what like a family.

After that fun intermission, we went straight back into the show with some motherland vibes from Elegance by Olive. Her mission as a designer is to "bring back the root of African Fashion with a modern twist to embrace our current generation." Through the use of vibrant colors, pattern work and structured silhouettes we got to embrace the culture. What I loved most about this collection was the fact that there were pieces for every lifestyle, body type and personality.  My favorite pieces would have to be the beaded top and the structured, cape-like, cardigan.

Following the model walk of the hosts for the evening, both laced in pieces from Elegance by Olive, we got to experience the vibes of Carlitos Chavez also known as Chocolate Taco. He performed two original pieces and got the crowd hype for the final designer of the night.

As the DJ started the mix, featuring Young Joc 'It's Going Down', DKTT: Don't Kill The Twill hit the runway. This was a capsule created by Mr. SOC himself and it showed his perspective on denim for #FW17 along side complimentary textiles. I really enjoyed looking at the details put into this collection. From the hand painting to the lace detail and the dramatic head pieces, everything was thought out and done with precision. My favorite look from the collection would have to be the shredded denim skirt paired on top of an all white button up shirt. It gave me so much life!

Overall, my night at #4THELOVECLT was awesome! I met some amazing people, learned of some dope local brands and was truly inspired! The students and alumni of Johnson Wales University definitely showed up and showed out! Their talent is undeniable and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future!

All pictures provided by Paula Davis

Check out my weekend vlog below which includes my girls birthday, the #4theloveclt show and a glimpse into the Curl Confession shoot I did for my friend and founder, Carnience!