“When you cut open a White man, a Black man, it doesn’t matter. They all bleed the same blood.”
Hey there, Style Kat!
Florida A&M University homecoming might be over, but people everywhere are still buzzing about the festivities they indulged in during homecoming week.
Although I was too busy to participate in most of the events during hoco week, you’d better believe I made time to attend FAMU’s annual Rip the Runway Fashion Show!
On Oct. 12, 2017, graduating seniors, Daysha Excell and James Rozier, received the opportunity of a lifetime when they were called to organize this year’s block party fashion show, on Wanish Way between the Al Lawson Center and Gaither gymnasium.
“We actually were picked out of a batch of students that are known for their fashion sense here on campus. So, we were picked out of that batch of students and asked to do the show,” said Excell.
Now, most seniors I’ve met want as little stress placed on them as possible as they prepare themselves for graduation and their lives beyond FAMU. However, Excell and Rozier were up for the challenge and decided that they would end their senior year with a bang.
“Being that this is our graduating semester, we wanted to see, like– you know, what was the matriculation like from our freshman year until now? And we noticed that the biggest thing that stuck out the most was our evolution of our style,” Rozier explained. “So we just kinda pondered upon our four years and came up with the concept.”
The theme for this year’s show was “Schooled in Life,” which embodied the evolution of the Rattler at FAMU. There were three parts to the show plus a “Graduation Day” finale. Each scene of the show had a school-related title–with a twist.
Sigourney Hunter, personal stylist for the homecoming fashion show, was in charge of styling all of the models using handmade, custom garments, by local and out-of-town designers to fit the vision that Excell and Rozier had.
“Our inspiration was with Fenty with Rihanna. And they basically had the color scheme that we had to go through and I went with that.”
“We decided to make each scene of the fashion show basically be a course. So, each scene has a course name, but a special course name,” said Excell.
Daysha Breaks it Down:
Each scene of the show incorporated a powerful message about resilience, growth and confidence.
The opening scene of the show was called “Humanities 2017,” which was about self-identity and that no matter how much melanin we have, we are still American’s regardless of the color of our skin.
“That class is basically a red, white and blue, black leather, patriotic-looking concept. But, the purpose of that is to embody that we all identify as American,” Excell explained. But, up under our skin complexions, up under our ethnicities–when you cut open a Democrat when you cut open a Republican, when you cut open a White man, a Black man it doesn’t matter. They all bleed the same blood. So that everybody can embody that we’re human first and we all bleed one blood.”
Scene two featured all male models called, “Manhood 1101” which is about freshmen starting off their collegiate journey with a more urban, street style then evolving into a more business-casual look.
“This scene is basically embodying the evolution of the male Rattler. So, we’re trying to embody that urban, new-school student, that just got to school, and don’t really know his way or where he’s going and show his transition up until–now he’s a senior.”
The third scene was called, “Women’s Religion.” This scene was all about the ladies tapping into their inner bosslady and becoming a confident, sophisticated young woman.
“Women’s Religion is the all women’s scene. And that scene embodies the same thing of the evolution of the female Rattler, from freshman year to senior year as well,” said Excell.
The grand finale was the “Graduation” scene. During this part of the fashion show, seasoned models from both Faces and Images modeling troupes strut down the runway with the rest of the models to close the show in the most Rattler way possible–a dazzling display of orange and green!
“It’s orange and green, so that’ll be like our school spirit/school pride scene. It’ll tie in the whole ‘FAMUly’ reunion theme for the overall homecoming, into the fashion show as well,” said Excell.
James’s Baby is Born
“Four years at a HBCU will change your life, literally.”
After seeing their hard work, persistence and dedication come to fruition, I spoke with James for his insight on how he felt after seeing the show come to life.
“I’m excited, I’m grateful, I’m ecstatic. It’s like seeing your child walk for the first time. Like, I’m excited, I’m grateful, and I’m just glad it’s over.” Rozier said with a laugh.
There were at least 50 models who walked in the runway and with graduation, school, and the fashion show, most people would’ve back out, but not James. He was elated to watch his muses grace the runway with confidence and conclude the show on a glamourous note.
“I feel like they finally got it,” shared Rozier. “Like, after all of the yelling, after all of the screaming, after all of the countless nights staying up ’till, like, 2:00 a.m./ 3:30 a.m., it just feels good to see the show and the models get it.”
He also shared that he felt like the students would feel inspired by the show and that the runway looks could inspire their wardrobe evolution.
“I feel like the students would definitely be inspired, because they’re able to see, like, how your style can evolve from freshman year to senior year. Yeah, you might not have been the greatest dresser coming in freshman year, but by the time your senior year comes–four years at a HBCU will change your life, literally” said Rozier.
My Final Thoughts:
I was absolutely blown away by how well the show was organized. Although the show began later than what it was supposed to, the crowd released an electrifying energy as soon as FAMU’s finest hit the runway.
Each piece was designed and handcrafted by local and non-local, independent brands including: GODz SOULz by Kaalum Williams, Dinero Xchangd by CJ and ENO by Reece Jones.
After interviewing Excell, Rozier and the rest of the team who made the event happen, I discovered a newfound respect for students who manage extracurricular activities while balancing school, work and other things.
Luckily, the duo had some of the most topnotch students working right alongside them to create a completely original concept from scratch within two weeks.
What I loved most was that most of the models featured in the fashion show were amateur models! I loved that there were men and women of all shades, shapes and sizes, who were strutting their stuff on that stage with passion in each stride and pride in their eyes. It was moving to see members of the crowd gazing in ‘awe’ at models that they could identify with on stage.
Home of the college of love and charity, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University will forever leave an imprint (or should I say ‘heel-print’) on the hearts of thousands of Rattler fans everywhere.
How do you wear your school pride during homecoming? What makes your school’s style distinct from others? How did you like the FAMU style this homecoming? I wanna hear from you! Sound off in the comments below!
As always, keep on stylin’!