Showcasing and celebrating black excellence
Black Student Union’s annual Black Explosion show highlights more than fashion
Saturday night’s Black Explosion was more than a fashion show; it was a celebration of art, culture and black excellence.
This year’s show, “Chateau Noir,” or Black Castle, was named in honor of the Black Student Union itself and the work it does, in commemoration of its 50th anniversary on campus.
BSU spent over $34,000 on Black Explosion and related activities according to SA’s general ledger. The annual fashion show brought in a seemingly smaller-than-usual crowd to the Adam’s Mark Hotel this past weekend, but excitement for the show was tremendous.
The hotel offered a red-lit ballroom with several overhead chandeliers and wall-filling mirrors, but none of that distracted attendees from the diverse night of glamour, music, dance, fashion and overall talent that made the event truly shine.
Although the show started over an hour late, the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Attendees filtered in sporadically, but once everyone took their seats and the first string of models took the stage to show off Jah Doubois’s line, D.I.R.T.B.O.M.B, it became clear how intriguing the stage’s setup really was.
With entrance points on both sides of the stage, models came in from two different directions, giving everyone in the crowd something to keep an eye on.
This was also the crowd’s first look at the practice and intricacy of the night’s models. As they rocked Dubois’s sequin-sprinkled hoodies, t-shirts and crewnecks, the models occasionally switched hats and glasses amongst each other and lifted each other up.
Even with the venue’s dim and luring lighting, the vibrancy of one designer’s work could be seen just about anywhere.
Moshé Douglas, a senior graphic design major and one-year designing veteran, showcased his Peace and Parmesan line. The line features bright-colored, bleached and distressed hoodies and shirts, a testament to the artist’s individuality.
“I’m a unique person and people notice me in a room. I feel like I reflect my work,” Douglas said. “I put my own individualism inside my work. There are a lot of colors. People seem to dig it and I like it so that works.”
After Douglas’s craft hit the stage, Cayla Renee’s Drip swimwear and lingerie lines proved to be just as colorful and unique.
Renee’s work brought summer to life as models showed off the polka dot, cheetah print and vibrant bikinis. The swimsuits could be tied in six different styles, focusing on body type instead of size. Although Renee was initially nervous for the night, it didn’t last.
“Before I get here, there’s always so much nervousness and anxiety,” Renee said. “But once I’m here and I see all my swimsuits and art here with me, I’m calm.”
The uniqueness of Renee’s swimwear wasn’t Saturday’s only display of something brand new. One of the most unique but exhilarating moments of the night was when Jorel Cunningham took the stage with his electric guitar to perform the Black National Anthem, or “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson.
As an ode to black guitar-pioneer Jimi Hendrix, Cunningham shredded and left the crowd cheering. After playing the anthem, the guitarist noted he was using a “recreation of history” to “create new history.”
Music group Poetic Melody highlighted other black artists in their medley performance shortly after. With just a violin, keyboard, guitar and some spoken word, the group's sound filled the ballroom as they played through renditions of SZA’s “The Weekend,” Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” and Childish Gambino’s “Redbone.”
The spoken word hit topics like love, trust and pain, and with the medley’s ever-changing yet recognizable melodies, the crowd paid close attention.
UB’s CrossFyah dance team and Buffalo State’s Legacy dance team both highlighted the work of black artists, as well.
CrossFyah tackled the skillful choreography of N.E.R.D’s “Lemon,” worked its way through Migos’ “Stir Fry” and stayed in sync through the whole performance. In between songs were quotes from influential black artists, including Kanye West.
Host and performer Rotimi, famous for his current role in the TV series “Power,” wrapped up the show with just as much thrill and excitement that students and locals showcased throughout the night.
He jumped in the audience, performed hits like “Want More,” and gave the crowd the biggest dose of audience involvement of the fashion show, high-fiving and singing to a majority of the crowd up close. As he performed, the final models graced the stage in glamorous, sequin-laced attire.
After the event, BSU Activities Coordinator Anyssa Evelyn said she was glad with how it all turned out. After planning since the summer, her work was done.
“I think we were able to make do with what we had and be the best that we could be with the space that we had and everything,” Evelyn said. “I thought it was a great event and I’m really happy.”
Nathaniel Cadet, BSU’s Activities Coordinator, took a lot away from the trials of the event.
“I am quite ecstatic with the way that we managed to fight adversity to get to this point,” Cadet said. “We dealt with a lot of everything. … We learned to come together as a family and push through and work as a business. It’s a great way of celebrating 50 years of being on this campus.”
Brenton Blanchet is the senior arts editor and can be reached at Brenton.Blanchet@ubspectrum.com.