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Alumna Highlighting Designers of Color at WBUR

Designer Melina Cortes-Nmili's work will be on display at Diversity On the Runway on June 13, 2019.

Designer Melina Cortes-Nmili’s work will be on display at Diversity On the Runway on June 13, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Melina Cortes-Nmili)

By David Ertischek ’01

Cooking demos, musical performances, interviews with authors and politicians, have all been put on at WBUR’s CitySpace in Boston. But a fashion show has never strutted through the Commonwealth Avenue studio. Until Marcelle Hutchins ’15.

As an associate producer for WBUR’s popular Here & Now show, Hutchins pitches ideas all the time. She suggested that the CitySpace was a great fit for the Diversity On the Runway fashion show that would celebrate designers of color from the Boston area.

“I really wanted to understand the future of fashion and where it’s heading,” said Hutchins, who recruited the five featured designers and will host the show on June 13. “More importantly, to see how fashion and diversity come together on the runway, not just racially diverse, but as sustainab[le] and gender-fluid fashion.”

Gender fluid means that any gender can wear the clothing. Men can wear dresses, and the clothes are made for all types of body shapes, not just a stereotypical “male” or “female” body, said Hutchins.

“Some of the designers do address [the question of] why can’t men wear dresses or skirts? Why is it just for women? Why do women have to wear tight outfits, and not wear loose-fitting clothing? We will definitely touch upon that, too,” said Hutchins.

Marcelle Hutchins '15

Marcelle Hutchins ’15

As host, Hutchins will lead a Q&A discussion with the five designers to talk about the inspirations behind their looks and how they got involved in fashion.

The five designers are:

“A lot of them are self-taught, and you wouldn’t know that when you see the looks presented in front of you,” said Hutchins.

The show will feature 50 looks presented by the designers, and a live reggae band will perform during the show as models strut.

Selecting the five designers wasn’t easy for Hutchins, who has become part of the Boston fashion scene in recent years, and most recently served as a panelist for Boston Fashion Week’s Open Runway in downtown Boston on May 30

“When you’re looking for diversity in Boston, it’s something you need to look really hard for. It’ll be a chance for the audience to understand the designers and their experiences in the industry,” said Hutchins. “Tania Anderson is African and Muslim. She talks about the challenges she’s faced as an African Muslim designer here in Boston. We also have Nahdra Ra, founder of The House of Nahdra. I’ve gone to her fashion shows and a lot of the models have markings on their faces. It’s very fascinating as it ties her back to her roots in Ethiopia.”

A dress by designer Tania Anderson. (Photo courtesy of Tania Anderson)

As the creator, curator and host of event, Hutchins is excited to share the night with everyone who wants in.

“You don’t have to know fashion to be interested in it. You just have to have an open mind and be willing to come see something that will open the door to the fashion industry you’ve always wanted to know about,” said Hutchins.

Diversity on the Runway will be on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at WBUR CitySpace, 890 Commonwealth Avenue. Doors open at 6 pm, the show starts at 7 pm. The event has sold out.

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