Vintage vests, berets, chunky jewelry, oversized blazers, and bold colors marched right alongside the understated elegance of a Black lip and a beautiful bare chest — that’s the diverse aesthetic Ashlee Phillips curated when she styled the models for the Alt Black fashion show at Change Today, Change Tomorrow’s inaugural fundraising event, The Black Recharge. With an open-mic feature, coveted raffle items, and a “Sip & Paint” activity all capped by the Alt Black fashion show featuring two dozen local Black models of all genders, The Black Recharge set the precedent for future interactive and innovative fundraising events.
Ten20 Craft Brewery played host to The Black Recharge on February 28th, 2021, a volunteer appreciation event designed to round out Black History Month and provide a reprieve from the daily stressors of the pandemic for the Black community.
“Black folks have been fighting through this global pandemic and racial injustice for far too long,” said Nannie Croney, Deputy Director at Change Today, Change Tomorrow, “we want(ed) to create a space for Black people to come and be appreciated. (The) Black Recharge is intentional for the acknowledging, uplifting, and celebrating Blackness in all aspects.”
“(The Black Recharge) is a time to plug in via art, fashion, poetry, and all things Black ASF,” said Ashlee Phillips thrift connoisseur and fashion stylist at Thrifting With Ashlee, “even in a pandemic, we gon’ shine like we supposed to.” Phillips set out to create an “interactive” fashion show that aimed to break the stereotypes that plague the Black community. Phillips’ style is all-encompassing, breaking gender binaries and curating a look for each model that had them strutting power and prowess with each runway stomp.
In addition to Thrifting With Ashlee, The Black Recharge also partnered with Blossoming Brown Skin Art Gallery owner, Kayla Morgan.
Art is therapy, beauty, and capturing history. I’m trying to make sure Black people are in it,” said Morgan. Morgan led the Paint & Sip activity during the event. Her work “thrives to show how beautiful Black lives are, a mix of emotion, beauty, and a pop of color.”
Black Girls Conquer All, a local events group that brings women together to openly discuss their struggles, coordinated the online raffle items for the event. Attendees were thrilled to see familiar faces on the catwalk expertly modeling Phillips’ various looks, from local chef, MJ Mays, to entrepreneur M’Laysia Smith, to dancer, creative director and artist Ania Diallo, and many more. The Black Recharge was another example of Change Today, Change Tomorrow’s work in the community to advocate for and provide not only basic resources for Black folks, but to celebrate the art, creativity, and provide a level of luxury and acknowledgement for the Black community not only during the COVID-19 pandemic, but always. – Kelsey Westbrook