The Black Women’s Collective held its first fashion show with standing room only in the Student Union Feb. 22.
The show, titled Bridging the Gap, was part of BWC’s celebration of Black History Month. BWC members modeled outfits from across the African continent, including East, West and South Africa.
“I felt like America’s Next Top Model at Mills!” said freshwoman Ashley Grant, who strutted on the catwalk.
Julia Sudbury, head of the Ethnic Studies Department and advisor to BWC, introduced Bridging the Gap as an attempt to connect African culture to the African-American experience.
“It’s catchy and straight-forward,” Grant said. “It’s about bringing back generations and familiarizing them. . It’s a culture we may not have known about.”
After the introduction sophomore Vaughan Bradley-Wilemann played the Black National Anthem on the violin.
“[The show] inspired me,” sophomore LeJeana Reagan said. “It’s beautiful.”
Reagan had a front row seat, but others in the audience were not so lucky.
Seventy-five chairs were put out for the audience, but the show became standing room only. BWC president sophomore Paige Gardner estimated that 100 or more people attended, crowding in the back and the sides of the Student Union.
Junior Randyl Pamphlet, who led the fashion show organizing committee, was initially worried that 75 chairs may have been too many.
“We didn’t want any empty chairs,” she said.
Planning for Black History Month began back in October. The committee that planned the fashion show was just one of many in the BWC.
Other committees planned its film festival, the timeline of African-American leaders and accomplishments across Toyon Meadow, and how to raise awareness across campus.
Mills music professor India Cooke played the violin while Ensemble Director Terry Baruti played Kongolese drums for the entire show and intermission. N-yoka Bakongo accompanied Baruti on drums.
During intermission, dancer Empress Freedom performed traditional African dance. Sudbury donated clothes to be worn.
Stores such as Africa by the Bay in the Laurel District, Arada Gebeya on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, and Clothes 4 the Soul donated outfits for the show.
Sophomore Ixquel Sarin attended the show and said the beauty mesmerized her.
“The women made the clothes, and the clothes made the women,” she said.
University of San Francisco’s Kappa fraternity donated Monster energy drinks and Kappa member Gray Taylor emceed the fashion show with freshwoman Sasha Jackson.
Pamphlet hopes to make it an ongoing tradition.
She said, “We hope next year is bigger, with more countries . with more African heritage and ancestry.”