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Fashion@Brown announces ‘bigger-than-ever’ 2021 Brown Fashion Week lineup

Sarah Jessica Parker, Emma Chamberlain, Gwyneth Paltrow among speakers

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 11, 2021

Brown Fashion Week ’21 promises “bigger-than-ever” virtual programming this March, including a star-studded lineup of CEOs and style icons, according to an email to The Herald from President of Fashion@Brown Sasha Pinto ’21. 

Set to run from March 4 to 22, Brown Fashion Week has been extended by F@B to last more than two weeks this year. Operating virtually for the first time since its creation, Brown Fashion Week will offer 16 different events, featuring a total of 24 fashion industry leaders and two film experts in conversation with F@B student moderators.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Emma Chamberlain, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney, Kenneth Cole, Steve Madden, Olivier Rousteing, Olivia Palermo and Francesca Bellettini, among others, will all feature as speakers.

Events will also include a conversation with Patrice Louvet P’22, CEO of Ralph Lauren, and with Isabelle Guichot, CEO of Maje. F@B will also host fashion journalism editors such as Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic of the New York Times, Samantha Barry, editor-in-chief of Glamour, and Chioma Nnadi, editor of Vogue.com.

The 11th Annual Runway Show is set to be the program’s grand finale, live-released as a YouTube film showcasing the creations of various student designers. F@B will release a  print lookbook to accompany the runway show, as well as digital copies of some of the designers’ looks.

A panel of award-winning costume designers will also feature Ruth E. Carter, the first Black costume designer to win an Oscar. Carter’s portfolio includes Black Panther, Amistad and Malcolm X. The panel will also include six-time Emmy winner Michele Clapton of Game of Thrones, The Crown and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and Emmy-nominated Heidi Bivens of Euphoria, Spring Breakers and A24’s Mid90s.

According to Pinto, booking such an esteemed array of guest speakers was no easy task. 

“Despite our incredible success in lining up 25 of the top people in the fashion industry, we probably had 25 people turn us down for every one that said yes,” she wrote in an email to The Herald. “It was a process of cold calling, letter writing, emailing, DMing … in short we tried doing anything and everything to reach out to people on our wish list.”

Brown Fashion Week will also feature a panel of models discussing representation and empowerment in the fashion industry, a panel of fashion designers discussing culture and ethics and a screening and discussion of “The Remix: Hip Hop X Fashion,” co-hosted by the Brown Arts Initiative.

These events mark a continuation of F@B’s efforts to cater its programming to a remote audience, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fall, student leaders from the organization spoke with André Leon Talley MA’72 over Zoom to discuss topics including his experiences in the fashion industry and the industry’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The COVID-19 pandemic “changed everything,” bringing all programming “virtual, which was a factor in so many speakers agreeing to participate,” Pinto wrote. “In past years, appearing at Brown Fashion Week meant making your way to Providence to appear on stage, which, of course, limited our options, since a superstar like Stella McCartney was unlikely to pop over from London.”

Still, the pandemic posed new challenges for the F@B staff. 

“The biggest (disappointment) has been not being able to hold an in-person 11th Annual Runway Show,” Pinto wrote. “We had hoped to be able to do something creatively socially distanced, like holding the event outdoors in an enormous field, or in the football stadium even without an audience.”

But due to restrictions on club activities, F@B has had to cancel all in-person components of its programming for Spring 2021.

“The sheer number of events this year is the biggest difference,” Pinto wrote. “And of course the star power we’ve managed to attract is awe-inspiring. It’s surely one for the record books.”

“I dreamed of making Brown Fashion Week 2021 bigger-than-ever to spread inspiration, creativity and community within the University and beyond,” she added. “And the fashion industry responded in overwhelming numbers, which is an amazing tribute not to only the kindness and generosity of the individual speakers but of the industry in general.”

“Most of all, at Brown Fashion Week this year, we wanted to give something wonderful and of value to the community,” Pinto wrote. “And I believe we have achieved that on many levels.”

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