Art + Culture

In Conversation with: Essence Magazine

On September 10, Essence is taking over DUMBO for its third annual Street Style Block Party. Consumers, designers, stylists, bloggers, local fashion vendors and more will come together as a community to celebrate personal style and diversity within fashion. From noon to 7pm, enjoy performances, beauty pods, a kids crafting section, Essence Eats, and more.

For Essence’s audience, The Essence Street Style Block Party is a chance for them to demonstrate their own fashion style, and to connect with one another. Candace Montgomery, Senior Director and Head of Event Marketing, says this is what she most looks forward to and what makes the event so special. “The crowd epitomizes everything that the Essence brand and the Block Party is about,” she explains. “Street Style is one of the most popular sections of our magazine and the website, and this event is all about bringing it to life.” She’s right: for one day, DUMBO is transformed into one all-encompassing runway, with thousands of beautiful and stylish individuals descending on DUMBO to show off their style. And speaking of the runway, a few lucky (and best-dressed!) members of the crowd are invited to take the stage on the day of the event. “Our readers are where street style begins – so we’re scouring the crowd for a select number of people to take part in the fashion show, where they are taken backstage and prepped,” Candace tells us.

The Street Style Block Party gets bigger with each year. Last September, the event drew more than 6,500 people, and the Essence team expects more fabulous people to come out in 2016. Although part of fashion may be to predict trends, Julee Wilson, Digital Fashion & Beauty Director, says the unpredictable nature of street style is part of the fun. She notes that bright colors, patterned garments and beautiful sundresses are some of the reoccurring themes, but it’s the creative and innovative way that their readers style these components that makes a difference. And it’s not just about the clothes: “The hair is always so dope! Black women’s hair is magical and can be manipulated in so many different ways. You will see it all at the Block Party!” exclaims Julee. This is what’s so great about this event, she continues. It’s about “celebrating personal style in a really awesome way.” No matter what trends come down the runway, it’s what the people are actually wearing on the street that counts.

The Awards from the September issue are also an important part of the Block Party. This year, everyone will get in on this action. Julee explains the choice to move the Awards Ceremony to the event is all about sharing all stages of the experience with their audience. “The awards are a part of the party because we didn’t want to separate certain aspects from our audience. We wanted them involved as much as possible. ” she notes. Although some of the honorees are well-known celebrities–such as Kelly Rowland, who will receive the Closet Crush Award–it’s also about supporting upcoming names. “With our Essence Street Style Awards, we aim to make sure that new talent is not overlooked, but uplifted and celebrated,” says Julee.

Now in its third year, being in DUMBO remains a major part of the Block Party; not least because it’s an inspiring place to be the weekend before New York Fashion Week. “I love DUMBO because it feels urban, street and raw but at the same time, very chic,” says Julee. “It’s a perfect reflection of Fashion Week, because there are parts which are elevated and glamorous, and other parts which have more of a party atmosphere.” Connecting with the local neighborhood is another feature of the event, and Essence has planned lots of fun collaborations with local shops and vendors. For Candace, it’s important that people know this is not just another commercial event, but that Essence is committed to the community, too: “We want it to be very inclusive, and for people to know that they can bring their family, eat great food, play interactive games and have a fun time – there’s something for everyone!”

The Essence Street Style Block Party will happen Saturday, September 10th, 2016 – it’s a FREE event, but you must RSVP to attend: essence.com/streetstyle

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