What better way to kick off a holiday weekend in New Orleans than with a marching band, beignets and a group of stylish Black folks?

Gucci and global luxury group Kering partnered with ESSENCE on a special preview of Fashion House—a three-day experience featuring fashion shows, panels and pop-up shops during Essence Festival weekend.

ESSENCE Chief Content & Creative Officer MoAna Luu and Gucci Vice President of Brand & Culture Engagement Antoine Phillips co-hosted the evening Thursday at the historic Gallier Hall, a stunning three-story structure, which once served NOLA’s City Hall.

“This is about bringing people together from every continent. We are one tonight and we will be one for this entire festival,” said Luu as the guests raised their glasses for a celebratory toast.

With notables like Dapper Dan, June Ambrose, and Symone D. Sanders in attendance, Thursday night was the perfect way to kick off the first ever Fashion House.

During the pre-dinner reception, Phillips officially announced the New Orleans launch of Gucci Changemakers—the Italian fashion brand’s ongoing global scholarship fund and program promoting diversity and inclusion.

“This is about bringing people together from every continent. We are one tonight and we will be one for this entire festival.”

A local marching band and students from the Fashion Institute of New Orleans were able to network with some of the industry’s top influencers. The intimate Women in Motion dinner that followed, hosted by Kering Group, continued the luxury house’s continued efforts to celebrate female creatives.

The doors of ESSENCE Fashion House are officially open to the public from July 5 through 7. Check out our favorite moments below, and if you’re in New Orleans during the holiday weekend, be sure to grab your tickets here.

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