The Soulhaus

Hip Hop Takes Center Stage at the 16th Annual Harlem's Fashion Row

Category: Art & Design

In the vivrant Apollo Theater, a nod to the “future’s past” unfolded at Harlem’s Fashion Row’s (HFR) 16th Annual Fashion Show & Style Awards on September 5th. In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop, this year’s theme centered on one of the genre’s core innovations, the “Remix.” The essence of “Remix” reverberated everywhere — from the floral, boombox, and concrete stage design to the gender-expansive runway presentations.

Brandice Daniel, the visionary behind Harlem’s Fashion Row, heralded the event as a “celebration of the art of storytelling.” Beyond highlighting the connection between music and fashion, this occasion highlighted HFR’s ‘can’t stop, won’t stop” determination to drive equity in the industry.

Harlem’s Fashion Row’s 16th Annual Fashion Show & Style Awards brought the essence of “Remix” to life, celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop and intertwining the past with a glance into the future through a floral, boombox, and concrete set as a backdrops to gender-expansive runway presentations.

‘Round the Way’ Trailblazers and Global SuperStars Receive HFR’s Highest Honors

The 2023 Style Awards spotlighted resilience, creativity, and the ongoing synergy between hip hop and fashion. The honorees were: 

Kelly Rowland

Kelly Rowland received the Fashion Icon Award, presented by her husband, Tim Weatherspoon. In his surprise tribute, he remarked, “Clothes are clothes until you put them on.”

Below: (Left Image) Kelly Rowland; (Right Image) Tim Weatherspoon
Gabriella Karefa-Johnson

Gabriella Karefa-Johnson was awarded Editor of the Year by Tonne Goodman, her fellow Vogue  colleague. In line with HFR’s dedication to mentorship and representation, Gabriella expressed, “It brings me great joy to be able to model possibility.”

Below: (Image Left to Right) Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Tonne Goodman, Brandice Daniel; (Right Image) Gabriella Karefa-Johnson
Stella Jean

Stella Jean received the Designer of the Year Award. Her acceptance speech extolled the power of community and solidarity, noting that her sisters “[Tamron Hall and Brandice Daniel reminded me that I’m not alone. And I never will be again.”

Below: (Left Image) Stella Jean; (Right Image)Tamron Hall and Stella Jean
Johnny Nuñez

Acclaimed photographer Johnny Nuñez received the inaugural Hip Hop Trailblazer Award from Valeisha Butterfield, who acknowledged Nunez’s two-decade contribution to the culture as “stamping a moment in our time.”

Below: (Left Image) Johnny Nuñez; (Right Image) Valeisha Butterfield
Wayman and Micah

Wayman and Micah received Stylists of the Year, presented by Harper Bazaar Editor-in-Chief Samira Nasr, noting that the duo understands fashion and “why it matters.” The business partners recounted the vision board session in Harlem a decade ago that catalyzed their successful careers.

Below: (Left Image) Wayman and Micah; (Right Image) Samira Nasr
A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky received the Virgil Abloh Award presented by Anish Melwani, chairman and CEO of LVMH, and Gena Smith, chief human resource officer of LVMH North America. The rapper revealed the story of Abloh’s discovery of A$AP Mob, leading to the former LVMH creative director designing Rocky’s first album. Donning his signature “ghetto expressionism,” Rocky honored his hometown: “I can talk like this today because of Harlem.”

Below: (Left Image) A$AP Rocky; (Right Image) Anish Melwani (on left) and Gena Smith (on right)

HFR Runway Show: A Meditation on Self-Expression and Liberation

The Fashion Show articulated the intersection of hip hop and fashion via presentations from Nicole Benefield (Nicole Benefield Portfolio), Aaron Potts (A. Potts), and Megan Smith (Megan Renee).

Nicole Benefield

“I’m remixing it up this season. I have guys on the runway (which is new for me). My collection is slightly more tailored and sophisticated than I have been in the past. So, I’m remixing the old with the new. The collection is called ‘Duality.’” – Nicole Benefield, Designer, Nicole Benefield Portfolio

Megan Smith

“I think music and fashion go hand in hand. My brand dresses the everyday woman that’s strong and very feminine, and you see that [aesthetic] in music, especially hip hop with female rappers in hip hop. So the relationship between music and fashion has been a major influence on my work.” Megan Smith, Designer, Megan Renee


“I always approach things through an unconventional lens. For me, it’s about unexpected expressions of gender. It’s about framing all body types as beautiful, all ages as beautiful. That’s ‘the remix’ that should have happened many moons ago.” – Aaron Potts, Designer

The event culminated in a surprise performance from Doug E. Fresh and Lil Vicious, punctuating an evening dedicated to the heart of hip hop and the spectacular fusion of music and fashion.

Images (Left to Right): Doug E. Fresh | Doug E. Fresh | Lil Vicious | Doug E. Fresh (left) and Lil Vicious (Right)