Tears – of sadness and joy – fell during Abrima Erwiah and Rosario Dawson’s Studio 189 exhibit, which was more than clothes. It still is: Studio 189 is a mission-based, sustainably made label that supports African artisans, celebrates black heritage across the diaspora, and encourages community. But this year, the presentation of the new collection coincided with the 20th anniversary of September 11, and the co-founders honored it in several ways.
The silence that fell before the start of the show was broken by an original composition by Uproot Andy using sounds he recorded just after 9/11. The show’s first “release” was made by three musicians: a drummer and two singers, Neda Zahraie and Bridget Barkan, who sang a love poem in Farsi and English. Following this, a powerful oral creation piece was performed by Sarah Jones, the Tony Award-winning playwright. After all the clothes were paraded, there was a moment of silence in remembrance of those who were lost.
Connection is at the heart of everything Studio 189 does: connection to the earth, connection to materials and craft traditions, connections between people and connection to the past, which was particularly at stake this season. The collection was called Inheritance because of the way it braids the Spring 2021 and Fall 2021 collections with this season’s designs. But on this historic day, it was impossible not to think about how we still came to terms with the legacy of 9/11, let alone American history.
There were a few new silhouettes for spring – like a maxi skirt that combined kente and indigo-dyed fabric – and new categories as well, including swimwear, in partnership with Cosabella. The print offering has been expanded and the patterns and colors have been designed to oppose for maximum impact. The mixture of prints, woven fabrics and quilts was particularly effective; the varied hands of the materials also created a visual texture.
They were cheerful clothes that were joyfully worn and received that way. As the models danced along the runway, the audience, seated in a circular formation – representing “the circularity of clothes, of each other, of our humanity,” as Erwiah told the crowd – danced on. their seats. It was a fashion show and a shared emotional experience on a day of national mourning.
“A lot of times when we’re in pain, we come out of the circle, we pull out,” Dawson said in his speech to the guests. “We think it’s too dangerous, we think it’s too hurtful, but it’s actually the time when we’re supposed to come into the circle so that we can comfort each other and be there for each other and become more. strong together, so that then we can go back and tighten that circle. So thank you for being in the circle with us, for expanding this circle, may it always be inclusive of every generation, every race, every sex, every culture, everyone. We have shared so much among ourselves and we focus too much on what separates us when we could celebrate these differences for what they make of our humanity, which is only our breath , our beauty.