Southpole models were all smiles as they posed for pictures
North Grand High School, 4333 W. Wabansia, opened its doors at 5 p.m. yesterday to host the unique show that engaged local youths and Chicago Public schools in a setting that delivered a full-blown fashion production, Gen Y Millennial Day. Bringing Hollywood to the neighborhood, designers backstage hyped up their models with an inspiring vibe I couldn’t help but be drawn into. The positive spirit and excitement as these designers watched their works of art strut down the runway was unimaginable.
The two lines featured in this show were Southpole, presented by Janice Welles, Director of Marketing & Advertising for Wicked Fashions, Inc., which is home to Southpole clothing, and Royalz, designed by Benjamin “Royalz” Kwofie with style director Jade Leehoy be his side.
Royalz designer Kwofie (left) and style director Leehoy (right) took a joyride on the props of the show
Show opened with Royalz first model, Kyara doing an opening skit on a bedazzled tricycle. A creative opening set the tone for the remainder of the show. A hectic backstage atmosphere typically ends in a fabulous show. If it is calm behind the scenes, you know something is wrong. Before model Ceasar when on stage, he asked Kwofie how the peace-sign scarf should be warn, and the Royalz designer, 25, said, “Do whatever you want, have fun with it. I’m not here to boss you around and limit what you can do, just have fun out there.” This free-spirited attitude defeated all other moods of the night.
Kwofie’s line began with the help of a community program, ArtReach Toronto, which supports youth-oriented arts projects with a funding plan that awards grants for creative arts projects led by young people living in susceptible neighborhoods. Hanging out with the wrong crowd left Kwofie with assault charges and experienced jail time; however, when his mother had pass five years ago from cancer, he decided to channel his anger into something more personally fulfilling, a clothing line. "I kept to myself. Clothing was my getaway," he said.
His signature logo was the footprint, which was portrayed through many of his outfits. The men flaunted t-shirts of various designs, vests with exaggerated collars and stripe-hooded sweaters. The women kept the footprint alive along with eagle-printed t-shirts and both striped and face-printed sweaters.
Starting in Toronto, he has since done shows in states like Kentucky and New York before making a stop in Chicago, which he said he absolutely loves.
Next on the agenda was for the Southpole models, coached by Welles, to parade down the black catwalk. Short of models, this crew took no time to breath once offstage. Quickly, they would run off, change, then run straight back on, everyone feeding off this chaotic high behind the scenes.
Welles has influenced Southpole to become more active in community programs, such as, sporting events, clothing drives, celebrity appearances and performances, and a “Stay in School” event that targets educating vulnerable students about the importance of continuing education to reach their dreams, inspired by figures of whom they think highly.
The Southpole collection had a more winter theme to it with coats, large-collared sweaters and zip-up, hooded sweaters. The bold color red was chosen for one coat a male model wore, and another female model wore a red-stripped sweater and hat.
Overall, the crowd rewarded the collections with cheers and applauds, allowing everyone backstage to jump for joy and pat one another on the back.
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