If you know anything about yours truly, then you know that I love a good road trip! Sightseeing, unexpected weather changes, food stops, searching for the cleanest restroom for a potty break, seeing how people really live in different parts of the country, rest stop naps, and the quality time you get to spend with those traveling with you are just some of the things that make road trips special. And our trip to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA was no different. It checked off all of those boxes and more! Check out how it went…
Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you a lil’ bit about the university and why we went in there first place. Carnegie Mellon University is a top tier global university that was founded in the 1900s by philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. They ranked #23 in the 2016 edition of Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report. The university also has quite a notable list of alumni ranging from artists like Andy Warhol, actors including Joe Manganiello, Blair Underwood and fashion designer Gela Nash-Taylor (co-creator of Juicy Couture) to name a few.
Sammie Walker, the Spirit Show Design Chair, contacted Blue Labels Boutique to inquire about our interest in being a part of their annual Spirit Fashion Show. She went on to say that the event is in its 29th year and is produced by SPIRIT; their Black Awareness and Multicultural Organization. This years theme was Paladin: Guarding Our Identities Through Expressing Them Genuinely. They wanted to convey the message that we should strive to be people with the knowledge of our past, origin, culture, and to represent them with grace and dignity. Who could say no to that type of message? Not only did I happily accepted but I chose to take it a step further by going out to Philadelphia to check out the show in person. The things left to do was to style 10 looks for the show, create a playlist for the runway, ship the items to the school in time for rehearsals, and plan a trip to Pittsburgh. How hard could that be? 😳
If you are anything like me, when you saw the word paladin, you were thinking, “what the hell does that mean?” Don’t feel bad, you certainly aren’t the only one. By definition Paladin is being a champion; a defender or advocate of a noble cause. Once I found out what it meant, it was time to figure out how to convey this message through style. My research found that those who were referred to as paladins wore body armor, weapons and carried shields while leading their pack in a war to fight for their beliefs. After weeks of going back and forth with ideas, I made my final list of outfits and shipped them to the CMU campus.
Since the show was scheduled for Saturday (Apr. 9th) we decided to hit the road on Thursday afternoon so that we wouldn’t have to be in a hurry. Our compact sedan was packed with pillows, blankets, a cooler filled with goodies, two outfits each (not including gym clothes) and we started our journey! Pittsburgh is 1,494 miles away from San Antonio and according to Siri, it would take 23 hrs/3 mins to drive. Let’s do this!
When I was able to get my phone ready fast enough, I captured Welcome signs as we crossed state borders. It’s interesting to see what each state uses as their tagline, West Virginias’ Wild & Wonderful is definitely a favorite.
After driving for a while, we took a 4 hour nap in rainy Arkansas at a Rest Area (yes, people do that) and got back on the road. The more North we drove, the colder the temperatures and it got real, real fast! When we left Texas, the temperature was in the mid-80s but as we drove into Ohio the temperature had dropped to 37 degrees. We decided to stay at a hotel for the evening in Columbus, OH. A warm, cozy bed and having dinner that didn’t come from a drive thru was definitely something that we were looking forward to. I was also hoping the under eye bags and red eyes would clear up by morning. 😳
After a wonderful nights’ sleep, a hearty breakfast and quick workout, it was time to make it to our final destination.
We finally arrived in Pittsburgh around 5pm on Saturday and showtime was at 7pm. So that left us with very little time to check-in to another hotel, get ready, and head back out to the show. But as usual, we made it happen. I took a quick pic of what I wore for the night before running out of the door. Originally, I was going to wear a leather mini with tights, a cable knit sweater and a moto jacket but when that wind hit my face, I knew I couldn’t do it! I wore this dress instead which wasn’t much better. I was still freezing!
We arrived at CMU minutes before the show was about to start. I met up with Sammie and quickly met the team behind the show before grabbing my seat.
The emcee came out and got the crowd ready for what we were about to see. He introduced the first act which was from a member of The Arts Greenhouse, a hip-hop music education program that serves Pittsburgh teens. He was on point with a rap that he did for the crowd.
The stage was set and the show was ready to begin…
The first designer down the runway was a collection entitled; Versus: Amor Noir by Sam Sanders. Two beauties came out and ruled the stage in sexy, floor length black and white dresses that had a unique structure and strong shoulders. They were truly Paladin warriors!
Sam Sanders designs were followed by, Bradford Mumpower Designs by Bradford Mumpower.
The show then had an inspirational dance routine performance entitled, Four Women.
After their powerful dance performance, models floated across the stage wearing a collection entitled Kawaii Overload by Grace Wong.
Grace Wongs’ collection was followed by, Versus IV: Simple Elegance by Sam Sanders. They hit the runway with trendy street-style male and female designs! Take a look at a quick clip from the runway…
Their runway was followed by, Josh Abah, who performed an inspirational speech.
Next, First Kiss Boutique graced the runway with unique body jewelry and accessories.
They were followed by the clothing store, H&M…
The runway continued with looks from a colorful collection entitled, Spring Tides by Fine Designs LTD by Leslie Lewis-Harris.
The Spring Tide blew in a collection entitled, Dolos Volos by Myles Blodnick & Alex Walker. They set the runway on fire with unique stylish looks that had all of the textures, colors, and sexiness that all fashionistas fall for! Check out this quick clip of their models leaving the stage…
After Dolos Volos exited the runway, Amos Evans, hit the stage and blessed everyone with a beautiful rendition of the song, Lift Every Voice & Sing.
Next up BLUE LABELS Boutique…
See the full BLB runway right here 👇
I was so proud! These girls ruled the stage, each representing their culture to the fullest!
(P.S. You may have noticed that I didn’t walk out behind my models like its done traditionally. I decided to watch the show from the audience instead of backstage. So I can actually watch the show and see what everyone else gets to see for a change!)
The final designer to hit the stage was Sharrell Rushin with her collection entitled, Tragic Twenties.
The last performance of the night was by Alpha PHI ALPHA Fraternity: The Omnicron Chapter. They stomped to hip hop beats and I couldn’t barely sit in my seat!
The shows endsand Director, Alex Walker throws on his cape and the models came out together showing their unity…Paladin style. Talk about closing the show with a bang!
As you can see, if you weren’t there, you missed quite a show. It was inspiring to see such talented, innovative students and designers who were involved. BLB would like to thank each and every person who worked to produce the show and everyone behind the scenes. As well as all of the students and all of the models who tore up the runway rocking BLB gear. Thanks for the invite. We look forward to watching each and everyone of you fulfill all of your dreams!
Wanna shop looks from the show? They are all available at Blue Labels Boutique 😉
Thoughts? Leave a comment below…
Stay Fearless 💋