Essence Magazine’s Annual Festival took place on the 5th-7th of July and as always, it was an epic celebration of black style, music, culture, and entrepreneurship and community. The New Orleans based festival also celebrated a landmark 25 year anniversary and it’s very first Essence Fashion House. As part of the celebrations, the magazine featured fashion and beauty insiders who led panels, popups, masterclasses and fashion shows such as Ade Samuel, Loza Maléombho , Misa Hylton, Sade Teyibo of Kering Group, Rosario Dawson and Abrimah Ermiah, TV personality Bevy Smith, founder of Harlem Fashion Row Brandice Daniel, designer Dapper Dan, and celebrity hairstylist Nai’vasha Johnson.

Abidjan-based designer Loza Maléombho showed her collection, featured her signature prints and gold coated brass hardware in cocktail dresses and cut-out two pieces.


On the panel entitled, “Look Good, Do Good, And Feel Good,” moderated by lawyer and political commentator, Angela Rye. Co-Founders of Studio One Eighty Nine, actress and activist Rosario Dawson and ex Bottega Veneta communication executive, Abrima Erwiah discuss sustainability, job creation powered empowerment and strategic collaborations.


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Another panel featuring Candace Stewart, Ivory Walker and Sade Teyibo, discussed their journeys working in the notoriously non diverse luxury fashion space (the panelists work at Prada, Neiman Marcus at Hudson Yards New York and Kering Group respectively)

They shared their personal victories and how they manage to lead the way for other black women – as one panelist aptly put it 

“I don’t want to be the only one in the room, I want to continue to move forward,”  – Sade Teyibo.

In a conversation moderated by ESSENCE Fashion Director Marielle Bobo,  Co-founder of CFDA award-winning menswear brand, Public School, Maxwell Osborne and Tanzanian supermodel Flaviana Matata discussed social responsibility and the strides they are making in aligning their brands with certain values, as well as giving tips on how  young creatives can create an impact and be social change advocates in the fashion industry. A key takeaway? Authenticity. Both Matata and Osborne cited it as pivotal to achieving success.


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According to a press release :

Essence Fashion House – With ongoing accusations of cultural appropriation and tone deafness in news and social headlines around the world, many major and luxury fashion brands continue to face issues around their appreciation, understanding and representation of people of colour globally. In addition, the increasing awareness that free promotion from cultural giants in the Black community bestow a lucrative cultural significance to these brands, but with little economic inclusion, and as Black creatives struggle to create and maintain significant business, this conundrum presents the challenge of how do we exercise our creative and economic influence for the benefit of our community. Focused on elevating the Black fashion community as well as the fashion experience for Black consumers, the Fashion House will provide the necessary tools for Black-owned brands to be successful and opportunities for major fashion brands to provide support, capital and partnerships for Black designers and consumers, as well as curate and showcase Black-owned brands via a shoppable designer trunk show and online Fashion House collaborations.

Learn more about Essence Fest’s Essence Fashion House here.

The ESSENCE Festival® is presented by Coca-Cola.