When it comes to Black culture, the world is watching, and Natalie Morrow knows how to put on a show. In 2002, at 29 years old, she founded the Twin Cities Black Film Festival. In 2018, she co-founded Black Fashion Week MN (BFWMN).
“I started off promoting music, then film and now fashion - they all tell stories and stories bring people together,” Morrow explains.
Now in its fifth year, BFWMN continues to showcase talented Black and Indigenous people of color throughout Minnesota. The platform also encourages local entrepreneurs to dream bigger. Following a tumultuous 2020 that exposed racial inequities in nearly every system in America, major brands are looking to partner with BIPOC people and businesses more than ever,
“There’s more of focus on our communities now. Doors that were closed, prior to the pandemic, prior to George Floyd’s murder, have since opened,” Morrow says. “Businesses are actively seeking partnerships, and we can seize the opportunity.”
Morrow points to a current Target campaign featuring Minneapolis business owner and designer, Houston White. “Houston‘s face, name and fashion line are in Targets across the country. This raises the bar for what Black entrepreneurs should strive for, which are connections with major brands so that their authentic voice is heard far and wide.”
Black Fashion Week MN spotlights love and 90s Hip Hop
For Morrow, Black Fashion Week is more than makeup, designers and models — it is a celebration of Black culture and businesses.
”Our community has a natural swag and talent for styling. We can wear any color, any print, any hairstyle and make it look as fly,” Morrow says. “Whether it be our hats, glasses, makeup, earrings - anything! - we have that talent to make it look naturally fly.“
Tonight, at the Melanin Wedding Fashion Show and Reception, Black love and joy will be center stage.
“You don’t really see Black weddings celebrated in the bridal industry. But we do have them, we do fall in love and we do get married,” Morrow says. “And we have Black-owned business that support the special occasions, from venue owners, to florists, to hair and makeup.“
LaNoire Bridal, Minnesota’s first Black-owned bridal boutique, is a featured vendor at tonight’s fashion show. You can hear from owner/operator Lorraine Love below where she explains why a business like hers was long overdue.
Black Fashion Week closes out next Saturday, Oct. 8 with a 90s Hip Hop Fashion Show.
“The 90s were one of the best eras for fashion and music,” Morrow said. “Think tracksuits, bucket hats, combat boots, large hoop earrings - it was a vibe! And hip hop was being birthed into what it is today.” The show was originally scheduled for Sept. 28 - this past Wednesday - the same day west coast rap legend Coolio died.
“The theme of our fall lineup is ‘For the Culture’, and I can’t say enough about Coolio’s
contribution,” Morrow says. “From radio to TV to movies — Coolio’s music was a staple in the 90s, and whether you liked his hair or not — you certainly remember it!”
There will be a prize for the best dressed fashion show attendees. While the 90s essentials like track suits, bucket hats, work boots and bamboo hoops are expected - Morrow says to win, you’ll have to bring something extra.
“You just have to have that 90s swag. Whatever that is to you, or whatever that was to you back then, that’s what we’re looking for.”