Harlem’s Fashion Row Kicks Off NYFW, Honors Issa Rae With Inaugural Virgil Abloh Award

Just a few days before the official start of New York Fashion Week, Harlem’s Fashion Row hosted its 15th Anniversary Fashion Show and Style Awards at the General Grant National Memorial in Harlem, New York, on Tuesday night.

“President Grant fought to protect the rights of African Americans more than any other 19th century president so tonight we are here at Grant’s tomb,” Harlem’s Fashion Row CEO Brandice Daniel kicked off the event. “In 2020, we all had to face the truth. We were not doing enough. Now business is tough, we are dealing with a pending recession, climate change and a tough business environment — so now we have to decide if the lives of Black people still matter. I believe they do.”

Daniel has been a key advocate for designers of color since establishing the agency in 2007. Through this annual Fashion Show, Black-owned brands and emerging designers are showcased with the objective of finding real business opportunities within the fashion industry.

This year, designers Clarence Ruth, Johnathan Hayden and Nicole Benefield presented their spring ’23 collections on the runway. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was the title sponsor for the event and Louis Vuitton Americas awarded the Harlem’s Fashion Row ICON 360 grants to the three designers. Each were also assigned an executive mentor from Louis Vuitton Americas to guide and support their growth.

During the event, Harlem Fashion Row honored its 2022 award recipients, which included actor, writer and producer Issa Rae with the inaugural Virgil Abloh Award presented by LVMH. Corey Smith, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion at LVMH North America introduced Shannon Abloh, who presented the “Insecure” star.

“When I think of [Virgil Abloh], I think of ingenuity, I think about breaking barriers, a path-defining confidence and I most appreciate him as a high fashion doorman just because of all the doors he’s opened for others intentionally and just through his visibility,” Rae said onstage. “This is such a validating encouragement. It means that you guys see me. That means more of us will try to succeed and exceed… as for me, I love being the first but as long as I’m working I vow to make sure I won’t be the last.”

Other award winners during the night included Sergio Hudson for Designer of the Year, Robin Givhan for Editor of the Year and Ade Samuel for Stylist of the Year.

Following the Fashion Show and Style Awards, guests made their way to the after party held at the Jazz at Lincoln Center where Janet Jackson accepted the Icon of the Year Award.

Janet Jackson, Off-White, red carpet, NYFW, New York Fashion Week, LVMH, Harlem's Fashion Row
Janet Jackson attends the Harlem’s Fashion Row 15th Anniversary Fashion Show And Style Awards After Party on Sept. 6.
CREDIT: Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

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