A photo posted by ESSENCE (@essence) on Sep 11, 2016 at 1:30pm PDT
Without fail, Tracy Reese's NYFW shows make me forget about the lack of diversity on runways. This season, the groundbreaking designer upped the ante by including a mix of models and inspiring everyday women in her SS2017 presentation. The elite group included Kristi Henderson, co-founder of the Women In Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN).
"I think my network of friends and family are equally as excited and if not, more," she told me while getting dolled up backstage. "It feels really good. With the work that I do, we're really encouraging sisterhood and the empowerment of black women. So to see a stage set with a black woman at the top and leading the way is really wonderful."
My ears perked up when Kristi quipped that she is also Director of Special Projects for Planned Parenthood, the last thing I expected to hear from a model walking in NYFW.
"I think the biggest misconception about Planned Parenthood is that the goal is just to provide abortions and it really doesn't focus on preventive healthcare and all the work we do there. we're the number one provider of reproductive healthcare for women and families in this country. We stand behind a woman's right to choose. At the end of the day, our goal is to provide safe and effective healthcare for all women, regardless of race, class and ability to afford care."
She cites Tracy not only as an "amazing person," but a trailblazer who isn't afraid to go beyond sample sizes on such a large platform. Seeing curves on the runway is a rare occurence, but yesterday's one of a kind presentation is proof that we're making considerable progress.
"You know, approaching 40 and being a size 12/14, you never imagine that you'll participate in any show; especially during New York Fashion Week," Kristi adds. "Tracy makes dreams come true ...it's wonderful to support her and step into her world for a day."
Keeping in line with the collection's whimsical aesthetic, each woman was also adorned in blush-toned makeup by Mary Kay and natural hairstyles by Cantu (in their NYFW debut!). As for her wardrobe, Kristi actually didn't find out what she was wearing until minutes before showtime.
"I'm not quite sure what dress I'm wearing," she added. "I tried on three beautiful outfits that I'm excited about. But, the whole feel of the garden and fantasy is really exciting; especially for a non-model. It feels like a day of beauty and pampering."
And despite the hoopla of a busy day, stepping in Tracy's breathtaking garden presentation was just the breath of fresh air I needed after a long day. Check out some of the looks below!
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