By Meg Lappe
Last week on Nov. 16, the African and Caribbean Villanovans (ACV) put on their first annual fashion show and after-party in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center. Tickets were $10, and part of the proceeds went to Broward Alliance Caribbean Educators (B.A.C.E.) which provides school supplies for students and award scholarships to those about to attend college.
Junior Ifunanya Nwanonyiri, is the president of the ACV. She was in charge of organizing, designing and securing the room for the show. This fashion show has been in the works for ACV since last year.
“The fashion show has been a goal since last year, but we knew that our group wasn’t ready at the time, to produce the fashion show the way we envisioned it,” says Shelley Gutierrez, the vice president of ACV. This semester, the group felt strongly about having the show after preparing for it all summer.
This cultural show featured two designers, Rysheen Ian–whose collection is entitled Suede Square–and Christine Provencal, a student from Drexel University, whose collection is called Goshen.
There were also four acts within the fashion show,—two poetry readings and two dance performances. The poets featured were senior Turalloy Jackson and Luis Marrero, from Voices in Power.
The Wazobia Dance Group focuses on the styles of African, modern and step dancing. The company was co-founded by Nwanonyiri and sophomore Ayo Onatunde. Live drummers accompanied the African Dance performance. Sister Mafalda, who teaches an African drumming class in the Honors Department, also participated.
The rest of the scenes in the fashion show featured African clothes that people had made in the past. ACV members who did not wish to model allowed other models to wear their outfits. Many of the male clothes were brought by junior men’s soccer player Tomi Adeowle and designer Michael Onaderu. Other clothes were brought by the models, such as a beautiful Moroccan dress brought and worn by Salima Bouhirz.
The opening scene was of constructed hats called Geles. Nwanonyiri really “enjoyed the Gele scene because they are very different for people who aren’t familiar with African or West African culture.”
The 22 models for the fashion show attended a casting call between the end of September and beginning of October.
The show featured mostly juniors, sophomores and freshmen from the University, Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College. Both males and females modeled.
The fashion show was successful, filling up the Villanova Room with about 200 people in attendance.
“This fashion show was also a success because it allowed people to get to know more about ACV as an organization and it was something that many people had never seen before,” says Ashley Phillips, a member of the executive board of ACV.
This was just one of many events that the ACV wants to host. Since ACV is a relatively new group on campus, it is trying to host two big staple events each semester.
In the fall, the group will once again put on the fashion show and in the spring the group will host a gala. This past spring, they hosted the Gala for Haiti event. For each event, ACV will choose an organization to donate money to, alternating between an African organization and a Caribbean organization. The money that was raised by this year’s fashion show goes to B.A.C.E., an organization in Florida that works with people in the Caribbean and those of Caribbean descent to provide them with scholarships for education.
The ACV was created last year after a former alumnus who used to run the Villanova African Student Association (VASA) and the Caribbean Student Association (CSA) suggested the idea to the students.
The mission of ACV is to show the campus how ACV defines themselves and their culture, but also to allow the community to learn about their culture as well.
The fashion show was ACV’s way of letting the University community know it is here on campus.
“The fashion show was a reflection of us and the different African and Caribbean cultures of students right here on Villanova’s campus,” says Fafavie Lumax, a junior on the executive board of ACV.
ACV is involved on campus through volunteering with Special Olympics and hosting forums such as “Africans and Caribbeans for Dummies.” Members of ACV also get together and have family dinners and cook traditional African and Caribbean food.
One thing that Nwanonyiri stresses is that although there is a Black Cultural Society, the ACV focuses more on the fact that for some members of the group, when they go home for Christmas, their home is not in the United States, a different experience from growing up in this country.
The name of the group was chosen specifically to include all of the different identities that people might have.
“The name we chose is special because we are also Villanovans, not just Africans or Caribbeans,” Nwanonyiri says.