A Southeast native and celebrity fashion stylist put on a New York Fashion Week-level show, thanks to the work of a few Ward 8 children.
Jarmal Harris, 28, of the Jarmal Harris Project nonprofit held his 10th annual fashion show on Saturday, Aug. 5 at The Sphinx Club in Northwest.
The 160 youths who worked with his organization for six weeks through the Summer Youth Employment Program showcased what they learned in a stellar production titled “Royalty.”
“We work with 160 kids every summer and we train them in different industries like fashion, hospitality, dance, production and set design and public relations and marketing,” Harris said.
He asserted that the tense racial and political climate in the country inspired the theme for this year’s fashion show.
“This year I feel like we are really in a space where we are embracing our culture and standing up, and embracing being black,” he said. “We have so many things like Black Girls Rock, the Black Lives Matter movement, and I felt this was a really good time to embrace the black or African-American youth here in Washington, D.C..”
Serving not only fashion the students performed choreographed dance routines and monologues saying the names of victims of police violence such as Eric Garner and Tamir Rice.
Clad in a Black Panther-esque attire three female students gave a riveting rendition of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.”
“I wanted to show all of my students that you’re kings and queens and anything that you put out there you can do it, and it will manifest for you,” Harris said. “I wanted the students to know that — and our audience who are majority African American to feel the same way.”
“I wanted them to be uplifted, inspired and I wanted them to leave this particular event feeling really good.”
The exquisite runway fashion included designers Andrew Harris NY, Kelvin Hill, Vintage Hazel, Hoodlvm, Ty Scott, Haus of Falenciago, Cesar Galindo and more.
“A lot of the designers that showcased in the show are personal friends of mine,” Harris said. “These are just relationships that I have built over the years, however, one particular designer Cesar Galindo, I actually use to work for him in New York. I was his personal assistant, in-house stylist and I also was the production lead for all of his shows.”
When Harris isn’t teaching his students about the industry, he’s operating as a designer, wardrobe stylist for celebrities such Monica and doing what he does best — producing fashion shows.
“We really go all out because we really want to give the kids the experience,” he said. “That’s why we do the show downtown in exquisite venues. Just because you’re from Southeast or just because you’re from the inner city doesn’t mean you can’t put out quality work and get an amazing response in return.”