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Runway Rundown: Behind the Scenes at EBONI’s BLK Out Fashion Show

model holding shades
The author, Zenebou Sylla, modeling her own outfit. Photo/Mingrui Dai

By Zenebou Sylla ‘22

Emerson’s Black Organization with Natural Interest (EBONI) held its third annual BLK Out fashion show this past weekend. I was able to be a part of this event, and it was an extraordinary experience, from the rehearsals to stepping out onto the stage.

The event showcased designers of color and their fashion, and I was excited to be a part of that because it allowed me to celebrate my African background while also embracing inclusivity and diversity among our community. 

Before I got to Emerson, I never thought I would be walking a fashion runway, yet this would be the second time I’ve done it in my two years here. I want to try new things whenever I get the opportunity. I also appreciate that the show allows me to express myself and share my love of style, fashion, and art with others.  

I auditioned on January 19, along with a few other Emerson students who were as excited, nervous, and optimistic as I was. My nerves had not gotten to me as much this time, considering this would be my second year trying out, but there was still a hint of them there.

First, we were asked to walk in a group of three and show our best walks. This was the real test, demonstrating how you were able to walk among other people while making sure your individual personality shined through. As the night went on, we practiced several walks in groups and with partners.

Within a few days, I would hear back about rehearsal dates and times. I had rehearsal several times starting February 2-9, and was thrilled about the pieces that I would get to wear.

model in white dress on runway
Leyla Said ’23 models a design by Nathalia JMag. Photo/Mingrui Dai

As the day of the show got closer I got more excited! I wanted to see the overall vision of the show finally come together, but I was especially eager to see how the outfits would turn out because fashion is a passion of mine that tells me so much about the person who designed the clothes and put those styles together.

Finally, it was the day of the show and in a few hours the lights would be on us. Getting ready definitely was hectic, as models ran in and out to change and get into makeup, we did run-throughs, and people left to get last minute essentials. Now my head was all over the place. How do I walk? Will I fall down the runway? Is there anything I’m forgetting?

Before I knew it, it was 7:30 pm and the show was starting. Everyone was scrambling out to line up and the nerves were kicking in. It was time.

I turned the corner of the wall that was once hiding me and now I was on a platform. It was like my mind kind of froze, but my body kept moving. I stepped out in my own outfit: a black ribbed turtleneck underneath a velvet spaghetti strap top with lace detailing, paired with orange and black patterned pants. Carrying me down the runway were classic Fila Disruptor sneakers.

I wanted to show some warm, dark colors to give off the feel of autumn, so I thought the burnt orange with the burgundy top were two pieces that would go well together. I’ve also been inspired by the cami overlay T-shirt trend lately, so that’s what I did with the black turtleneck and the burgundy top. My Filas just really go with anything.

Zen and Layla on runway
Zenebou Sylla ’22, left, and Layla Said ’23 on the runway. Photo/Mingrui Dai

That part over, I still had two more walks to do with my partner. During intermission, I changed into a black, red, and white Afro print blazer on top of the black turtleneck I had previously worn, with a pair of blue mom jeans and the Filas. I also wrapped a belt around the blazer to give it more of a cinched silhouette.

For this look, I was going for a laid-back business casual inspo. I think pairing it with the mom jeans gave it a relaxed tone while the blazer added a pop of color.

The final walk was meant to showcase our own personal style, so I wore a blue and yellow windbreaker with the mom jeans and Filas. I added a brown beanie and a pair of glasses.

It was fascinating to see what the designers had created, brought to life by the models.

I was excited to share a part of my culture, my voice, and my creativity among different communities. The show’s support of fashion and designs by people of color has not only inspired me, but reminded me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

There was a feeling of relief that came over me as I finished my walk, but overall I was proud that I challenged myself to do something out of the ordinary. It was a new learning experience for me, and even if it wasn’t a first, who knows what’s next?

Zenebou Sylla is a Journalism major and a student reporter for Emerson Today. She is also a stylist for Atlas Magazine. Scroll down for more photos.

Jaeden poses on runway
Jaeden Boatwright ’23 strikes a pose. Photo/Mingrui Dai

Magenta Thomas walks runway
Magenta Thomas ’21 walks the runway wearing her own clothes. Photo/Mingrui Dai

Models parade down runway
Models take the runway in Nathalia JMag apparel. Photo/Mingrui Dai

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