Through college, a pandemic, and work, three designers took on the challenge to create an entire collection on their own. And even though each collection had its own flavor to it, they all came together to host an event that tied them all together. “A03: an Evening of Fashion & Film” was an event that will be remembered for the rest of their lives.
[Interview with Bria Renee, Iman Michelle, and Gabrielle Cleopatra]
I had the opportunity to interview Gabrielle Cleopatra, Bria Renee, and Iman Michelle to understand their passion, dreams, and goals before the exhibition.
How does it feel to be a designer?
Iman: For me, I consider myself more an artist than a designer. I don’t like to put myself in one category because there are a lot of avenues that I feel I can get my creative jitters out. It feels like it’s more meant to be and it feels more natural to create.
Gabrielle: It’s pretty exhilarating because I just think that the whole process in itself is a lot to process. But when you put the whole thing and it all comes together it really is something that you can be proud of because the outcome is your creation coming to life.
Bria: It’s a roller coaster of emotions because there are days where it's super exciting but then there are days where you don’t even want to get up to sew. Overall, it’s rewarding in the end.
What inspired your collection and film?
Bria: “Cultivate” in a nutshell is the evolution of self through spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects. I explore that through color and draping. The emotions explored are sadness and fear then by the end it becomes a blissful state. Throughout the film, you will see me going through the motions while modeling each piece.
Gabrielle: “belle amè” is a collection of gowns based on asymmetry and accentuating the woman making them feel confident. So basically dresses that compliment the woman’s body. The film is about women modeling each piece that I thought complimented their bodies with music that sets the mood.
Iman: “nu-growth” is inspired by my experience as a black woman in America with black hair. Each piece is inspired by hairstyles common in the black community and all of them have a double meaning because I pulled inspiration from afro-surrealism in television shows.
How difficult was the process of creating your collection?
Iman: For me, it was difficult because I work full-time. So time management was hard to grasp and I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I would get off of work around 5:30ish, take a break no longer than 3 hours and then sew until I couldn’t anymore.
Gabrielle: The most difficult part for me is making the collection my own and not letting too many voices infiltrate that. There were a lot of times when I was stuck and mentally gave up because I felt like it wasn’t me anymore. I had to navigate what was mine and what advice I should take from other people.
Bria: It was a lot since it was me going through different stages of emotions. In the fall quarter, I was super low, so I was trying to push myself to sew because I was unmotivated and ready to graduate. Then, I was getting excited during the winter quarter because I had more pieces finished. So going through these emotions helped me come up with different drapes and prints.
After the exhibition, what’s next?
Iman: I want to get back to having fun designing because I feel like before the showcase I was heavily focused on work. So when I get back home, it’s game over. I just want to have fun and let my creative spirit go because she has been bottled up for too long. I also want to get away from Oklahoma City because it’s time. So, wherever my designs lead me I will go.
Gabrielle: I personally want to keep building my own brand because now that I am starting to understand who I am and what I want, I know that it’s okay to use my own vision. I think I can truly create my own brand and move to New York while learning from other industry leaders.
Bria: I want to also build on my brand. Everything I like to do is surrounded by self-love. I want to start tapping into my inner child. I also found a love in film so I want to find a way to mix self-love, fashion, and film concepts. I will also be dropping a small collection soon as well.
The exhibition I attended after interviewing these three amazing designers, showcased the heart and soul of each designer through hand-picked fabrics and gorgeous themes. The night consisted of food, drinks, and a live Q&A and each room evoked emotion and curiosity throughout the audience.
So congratulations to these newly birthed fashion designers/artists!
Be sure to keep up with each designer on Instagram: