The fashion set is expanding its reach in Harlem beyond The Red Rooster. Wednesday night, the likes of Fabiola Beracasa, Nell Diamond and Phoebe Collings headed to Minton's, the historic jazz club famous as the birthplace of Bebop (and for chef JJ Johnson's gumbo) on 118th and Saint Nicholas Avenue. The occasion for the hike uptown was a fundraiser for The Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans - ahead of a major Adam Pendleton exhibition opening next week, the museum touched down in New York to stir up some press. (Not too far from there, The Studio Museum of Harlem was throwing its own party for its spring show, featuring Rashaad Newsome, among others.)
And who better to host the evening than Nola's unofficial ambassador Solange Knowles? The singer-songwriter has lived in Louisiana since 2013, and brought a few of her friends - musicians Trombone Shorty of Treme fame and Leyla McCalla - with her to perform.
"You know honestly, I don’t have to help New Orleans in terms of getting the messaging out about how great the city is. New Orleans has been doing that for hundreds of years on its own," said Knowles. "I’m just excited to be a vessel in terms of my experiences there."
She was game, however, to get the messaging out about the relaunch of her e-commerce site, Saint Heron. Though the project started a few years ago as a multimedia cultural hub last week Knowles celebrated the addition of an e-commerce platform. The goal is to feature emerging designers of color, such as James Flemons and his labelPhlemuns, who created a capsule collection specifically for Saint Heron that Knowles modeled last night.
"I really wanted to create a space [that had] the conversations that I wish that I would have seen and the representation that I wish I would have seen as a young woman of color," she said. Other brands on the site include Devonrae Jones, Morgan Parish, beauty company Folie, and avant garde candy company Sweet Saba.
Knowles acknowledged that the fashion industry is "actually making strides towards [being] a more thoughtful place," pointing to women like the iconic Bethann Hardison and young models who are already speaking out on diversity. But she wants to do her part, too.
"We transitioned into the online store that kind of continues the mission of pushing designers of color to the forefront, and just trying to do our little part of making fashion more diverse in a cultural way," said Knowles. "Saint Heron’s whole mission is just to be a part of that conversation."