Kicking off Homecoming Weekend, “The Chronicles of Culture” will feature a runway of models sporting various designs created by young designers from other colleges across the state, along with performances from different multicultural groups on campus.
“Our aim is just to unite the whole community and not just the specific black community, but the community of Binghamton in general,” said Janiera Headley, the social cultural coordinator of BSU and an undeclared sophomore. “It’s something that we want to bring everybody together for.”
Among the acts performing in this year’s show are dance groups Uyai Nnua, Quimbamba and X-Fact’r Step Team, along with two up-and-coming BU artists, Essence and Delly.
The fashion show has always been held on the Friday of Homecoming Weekend, since the 1970s, and this consistent timing each year helps the show stand out from other cultural events on campus, Headley explained.
“Everybody wants to have an event Homecoming Weekend,” Headley said. “Our event is always Homecoming Weekend, like, that Friday. So the timing is just always there.”
To differentiate this year’s show from others in the past, Headley explained that there will be a pre-show: an interactive event that includes games, vendors, food and more that will start an hour before the event begins. The pre-show will introduce the facets of culture that the fashion show will highlight, along with elements of culture that students might already be familiar with.
“[At the pre-show] we basically are just showing aspects of culture that people have grown up in, especially inner-city kids,” Headley said. “Just the feeling of walking down the street in New York City, like the different things you see.”
The theme of this year’s show, “The Chronicles of Culture,” is a play on the popular “Chronicles of Narnia” series. The show will be split up into six different scenes that relate back to the theme and follow the plot of the book series chronologically.
Headley explained that when the theme was initially devised, organizers had no specific plans for the cultural part of the show in mind.
“When I thought of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ as a fashion show theme, I wasn’t even thinking about culture,” Headley said. “[I was] just thinking, ‘Let’s do a theme … [where] every time this little girl or her siblings walk into the wardrobe, they enter a new fashion dilemma, like a new fashion world.’”
However, as time went on, the focus on culture emerged as the organizers decided that certain characters could represent various ethnicities or cultural influences, Headley said. For instance, in the fashion show, the character Aslan will symbolize the Caribbean community, Mr. Tumnus will represent the Latin American community and the White Witch will personify the world of materialism.
“I learned that we could twist this plot in so many different ways,” Headley said.
Each year, the fashion show serves as a fundraiser for the BSU Youth Program, which brings children from the Binghamton area to campus to interact with BSU members in fun and educational activities each Saturday.
Whether it is putting on a show for Kwanzaa or buying gifts for the kids at the end of the semester, BSU has a strong connection with the local children and values the opportunity for involvement, explained Sasha Meus, the secretary of BSU and a junior majoring in sociology. Headley echoed this sentiment.
“In a way it’s a feeling of escape,” Headley said. “These kids are all underprivileged — some of them, you know, they suffer from many issues within their households. So those few hours every weekend really do make a difference.”
All of the designs showcased on the runway are created by rising fashion designers who attend college in New York City and at University of Albany, although none have any connections to Binghamton University. Since the show is a fundraiser, the models aren’t paid for their services. As a result, the BSU Executive Board members were limited in who they could contact, Headley explained. However, she said these restrictions were not a burden and actually add a unique flair to the show.
“It makes it, I feel like a more home-felt experience where people devote their time into coming out because they generally want to just showcase their work and their pride,” Headley said. “I would definitely say that this year we do have some very talented designers — they all prioritize their label. This is something that they take very seriously.”
According to Meus, BSU also reached out to BU students who specialize in hair and nail styling to give them the opportunity to promote their services during the pre-show.
The fashion show is one of BSU’s largest and most popular functions of the year.
“It’s definitely an event that is talked about, I would say, forever,” Headley said. “Like, even me being a freshman last year, I would hear about previous fashion shows from years ago that were still being spoken about because every year is just a new experience.”
The event will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6 in the Mandela Room. Tickets are $10 in advance and $20 at the door. All proceeds will go to the BSU Youth Program.