A Recap of the 16th annual AATS Fashion Expose 

Kierra Leggett | Editor-in-Chief

The African American Textile Society (AATS) hosted its 16th annual Fashion Expose, Monday, as a part of the 2013 Pan Afrikan Festival. The theme of this year’s expose was “Foster Fashion, Experience Design…” and sponsors included Belk, Maurice’s, UAB and the Raleigh Paul Mitchell School.

At the expose, seventeen student designers competed in three different categories: Exhibit, Novice and Intermediate and Beyond. According to the AATS, designers in the Exhibit category had the ability to “construct a full garment, but not a full collection.” Designers in the Novice category had the capability to compete against other college students, typically with one to two years of design under their belts and Intermediate and Beyond designers were able to “produce a cohesive line.”

Four judges scored the designs in each category. Among the judges, was Felicia Ferrar, a Durham based fashion designer who has designed for late music legend, Whitney Houston.

The expose which took place in the W. Duke Kimbrell Atrium was hosted by Germanee Gerald and Pherin Gregory, both seniors in Fashion and Textile Management, as well as members of the AATS.

             The Winners 

The winner of the Exhibit category, Angelica Barton received a $100 scholarship. Novice winner Charenessa  Hamlett, a sophomore in fashion and textile management and Intermediate and Beyond winner,  Joelle Purifoy, a senior in fashion and textile management won $250 and $500 scholarships, for their respective collections “Runaway Swan” and  “Amina.”

While Hamlett found her inspiration from Kanye West’s “Runway” music video, Purifoy was inspired by the colors and textures of traditional African mudcloth.

Hamlett was consistent in using the color black in her collection, as well as feathers and gold detailing.

A now three-time winner at the AATS Fashion Expose, Purifoy interned with designer Tracy Reese during the summer of 2011 and was also a finalist in the 2012 Belk Southern Designer’s Showcase. Purifoy’s collection featured lots of intricate beading and rich tones like olive and amber.

After learning that she had won for a third time at the AATS Fashion Expose, Purifoy said, “ It feels awesome. This is my third competition here at N.C. State and it’s just a relief, I can finally sleep.”

Purifoy who was accepted into the Lorenzo de Medici study abroad program will spend her summer in Italy, studying design.

                  The Designs  

Trends forecasted by the fashion elite for spring 2013 could be seen all over the runway at the 16th annual AATS Fashion Expose with the designers’ inclusion of leather, stripes, ruffles and global prints in their designs.

Tanequa Leak, a sophomore in fashion and textile management and designer in the novice category, embraced the stripes trend seen in the 2013 spring runway collections of designers Vivian Westwood, Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger.

Leaks’ collection, “Sassy and Chick, Worth a Peek,” boasted several dresses made of satin with vertical navy and white stripes. Leaks, first began designing as a little girl, experimenting with t-shirts and socks, because she got tired of her Barbies wearing the same clothes.

While some designers kept things somber with leather, black and grey fabrics, designers Lisa Hoang, a freshman, and Jasmine Rhodes, a senior in Fashion and Textile Management, brightened the runway up with their use of bright colors, especially peach.

In her collection, “So Impolite,” Hoang, who says she was inspired by the “elegance of the female form,” paired many elements such as lace, flower petals, feathers and even wings to her garments, giving the feminine pieces and unexpected edge.

Rhodes, who was inspired by her “obsession with the islands,” incorporated bright pastels along with light and airy fabrics such as cotton and linen into her collection, “Summer in Turks and Caicos.”

      The Models 

No fashion show is complete without models, and at the 16th annual AATS Fashion Expose, there was no shortage of long-legged talent.

Standing six foot three inches tall, 22-year-old Yahrock Bates was just one of the more than 50 models who graced the stage.

A senior majoring in Recreation & Administration at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), Bates has modeled in BET’S Annual Fashion Show, Rip the Runway, as well as made appearances on Season 10 of Project Runway.

A native of Summerville, S.C., Bates was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.  He gained his first modeling experience after joining Bon Vivant Fashion Society at NCCU. Shortly after he began modeling with Bon Vivant, Bates began pursuing modeling as a serious profession. “Modeling was never something that was really on my mind, but when people kept telling me that I should [model]…I realized I could go somewhere with it,” said Bates.

It was at Charlotte Fashion Week, that Bates made a networking connection that would help shape his future. “I met Iris Olivia, [a model from Raleigh, N.C. who had previously participated in BET’S Rip the Runway] and she helped me get to the casting for Rip the Runway,” said Bates. He walked in both the 2012 and 2013 Rip the Runway shows.

While he has walked in large scale shows, it is important to Bates that he stays grounded, which is why he continues to participate in local shows like the AATS Fashion Expose. “I always help out people I know,” said Bates “You’ve got to be willing to be patient, and you’ve got to be willing to do some things for free.”

Bates, who prepared for Monday’s show by doing 600 pushups, realizes that a career in the modeling industry can be short-lived, which is just one of the reasons he is still pursuing his degree. “I’m not going to look like this forever,” said Bates, “It’s gone through my head [quitting school] but it’s important to my mom that I get my degree, so it’s the least I can do.”

    The Vendors 

This year’s AATS Fashion Expose featured several vendors and a special intermission where models, like Bates, showcased their goods.

One of the most popular vendors among N.C. Students featured in the showcase was Cherry Dot Dork.

Originally founded by Michael Cherry to fund the non-profit organization, More than Dance (MTD), Cherry Dot Dork is now a stand-alone company that promotes self-expression and self-confidence.

According to Johnathan “Slim” Roberts, an alumnus of N.C. State and the President of Cherry Dot Dork, the goal is for Cherry Dot Dork to “become a recognizable brand nationwide…and ultimately to open our own store.”

Many students have been seen sporting Cherry Dot Dork t-shirts and hats around campus and the brands slogan “Yeah I’m a dork” is also beginning to be incorporated in everyday lingo. “The phrase [Yeah I’m a dork] stems from being comfortable with who you are,” said Robertson. “It’s kind of like ‘yeah, I’m a dork. So what?’”

Cherry Dot Dork offers all kinds of custom pieces and can be purchased online at cherrydotdork.bigcartel.com.

    The History 

The AATS Fashion Expose is the longest running fashion show on N.C. State’s Campus and every year the students of the AATS put in many hours and lots of dedication to make sure it goes off without a hitch.

Lisa Redfearn, a senior in Fashion and Textile Management and Co-Director of the 16th annual AATS Fashion Expose was instrumental to the success of this year show.

“It feels amazing to finally imagine going to sleep tonight and not having to worry about what to do for the next three months,” said Redfearn. “The show went well, everyone enjoyed themselves, and that’s the biggest thing, just making sure everyone had a good time, I’m really proud.”