Fashion – Jersey City style
Fashion Week kicks off with a lot of local talent
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Sep 14, 2014 | 5582 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SHOWING OFF – Jersey City Fashion Week lets local talent emerge, and benefits local charities as well.
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For the third year in a row, Desha Jackson’s DLJ Give to Live Foundation will present four days’ worth of fashion events to raise money for Jersey City-based community organizations. Fashion Week gets underway on Sept. 24 with a VIP reception.

An event that rivals its counterpart in New York, JC Fashion Week will present more than 30 designers, and will likely give a glimpse of emerging fashion that would not available elsewhere.

Started in the fall of 2012, this is actually the fourth edition, with a special JC Fashion Week held earlier this year to coincide with the Super Bowl.

The event is designed to highlight fashion and local Jersey City businesses, and to give back to the community.

Last year, the event was focused largely on Jersey City, but this year, it looks to many people and organizations that are from around Hudson County, as long as they contribute something to the local community.

Proceeds from this season will go to the Mo Hair Foundation and The Concordia Learning Center at the St. Joseph School for the Blind, public service organizations that will also be honored for their contributions to the local community.

Two individuals from Union City will also be honored for work they’ve done inside Jersey City and elsewhere in the community.

The five-day event kicks off on Sept. 24 and is open to the public.

More than 100 models aged from 8 to 40 were chosen to take part on the runway fashion show.

What’s there

Among these is crowned National Ms. 2014 Jeannette Josue of Jersey City.

Josue, who is a web TV reporter for MarblePlayTV, will also be hosting the JCFW Designer Show on Sept. 27.

A model as well as a reporter, she will be hosting the fashion walk on Sept. 26. She said she has taken part as a model in New York Fashion Week.

“This is my first in Jersey City,” she said.

The big difference between New York and New Jersey is that New York tends to show works that are designed with particular buyers in mind, while the New Jersey show gives a glimpse of emerging designers.

“There is a wealth of creativity that you wouldn’t see in the New York show,” she said.

Although shy about seeing herself as the star of the show, her recent title as National Ms. puts her out front of this show. Born and raised in Jersey City, she will get to talk about the fashions and explain what is going on for those who come to see the events.
“Things like this allow us to recognize Jersey City for what it is a place where creative people live and work.” -- Jeannette Josue
“I’ll be greeting guests and announcing designers,” she said. Her duties will include talking about technique and other aspects of modeling.

As a model, she will also take part in displaying fashions at the walk. This is seen as the main part of the four-day show.

“I started when I was 16,” she said. She will be doing the walk herself for designs by Nathaniel Paul.

She said the fashion show is important because it gives Jersey City its own identity.

“Many people think of Jersey City as a place where people commute from to New York, and can’t afford the rent in New York City,” she said. “Things like this allow us to recognize Jersey City for what it is – a place where creative people live and work. We have great people in nearly every field of art.”

Local talent with an international flavor

A number of Hudson County Designers will be involved including Nadu Lawson, a native of West Africa who currently lives in Jersey City.

Lawson said she will present evening fashions with African influences on Wednesday night.

“I learned to sew when I was back home,” she said, learning her craft as designer both in New York City and in Paris.

This is her first time at the Jersey City event, but has been in others. She said she is presenting 12 pieces that present some elements of African wear, trying to show the diversity of color and textures, yet in a setting the would be considered formal wear.

“I’m presenting 12 pieces,” she said.

This is not just African wear for African American women.

“I have a mixture of models, white, Asian and black,” she said, and was delighted by the reaction of other participants at the show during rehearsals last week.

She said her message in this show is “Not to judge someone by their looks,” or “Not judge a book by its over.”

She said she made her first dress in 1973, and got her first sewing set in 1978. She has gone back to continue her education several times, including a certificate in Paris where she went to school with younger kids.

Not a model herself, she said she liked seeing others wearing her work.

“When I wear it, people tell me it’s nice, but I want to see it for myself,” she said.

Part of her inspiration comes from seeing a boss she worked for in 2000 who had received an African garment as a gift, and hung it on the wall – partly because there was not an occasion or venue to wear it comfortably.

In her effort to allow people to discover another side of African people and the misperception that they only wear white and their clothing is only casual, she is designing garments that can be worn fashionably in more formal settings.

“I want people to be able to like it and wear it,” she said.

A local talent with a national reputation

Another star of this year’s event is Helen Castillo, who was featured the Lifetime series “Project Runway.” She is also being honored as a 2014 Person of Influence.

Born in Weehawken, Castillo was raised in Jersey City and currently lives and works in Union City. She designed a dress Mary Lambert wore to the 2013 Grammy Awards. She is also active in Union City High School where she designs costumes for the theater department.

Priscilla Pender, of Jo’Pri Consulting, said the Person of Influence Award was expanded this year to go to people around Hudson County that had a positive impact on Jersey City or who are currently involved in Jersey City.

“Castillo works with the Union City High school fashion program and helps organize shows,” Pender said. “She also does speaking engagements and is involved with Montclair State University’s fashion program.”

She will be showing her collection for the spring/summer 2015 during two nights, the awards night on Sept. 25 at Maritime Park, and at the emerging designer event at Liberty Science Center on Sept. 27.

Also being honored as a Person of Influence is Benedicto Figueroa, co-founder of the Jersey City Slam. A native of Union City, he is the poet laureate of Union City and has been involved in national competitions as well as worked in communities outside of Hudson County.

Durability and style

Kenya Smith, who is bringing motorcycle sportswear to this year’s show, is an architect by profession. He also rides a motorcycle, and did not like the choices he had so he decided to design his own. He said the wear before he started was either protective or fashionable, and he decided to combine them.

“I don’t do fashions typical of the runway,” he said. “I like surprising people with what to expect next.”

This year, he said, he is presenting fashions that are even more stylish than in previous shows, and employs male and female models in his demonstrations.

“I work a lot with leather,” he said. “I want durability that is also stylish”

A lot of talent over four nights

Opening night will be held at VB3 Restaurant and Bar. 475 Washington Blvd. on Sept. 24, featuring designer Serwah Asante of Rue 114 and LeVirage Fashion by Nadu Lawson.

Thursday, Sept. 25 is VIP Night at Maritime Park. 85 Audrey Zapp Drive and will feature designer Jim Jones’ work from Vampire Life; Kenya Smith’s work from Planet Zero Motor Sports; Sadia Hussain’ House of Sadia; and a sneak preview of Helen Castillo’ collection.

On Friday, Sept. 26, a children’s show will be held at New Jersey City University and will feature work by P.S Aeropostale, Pinky Sez, Victoria Gibbs, and Tyrone Chablis.

The grand finale will be the Emerging Show at Liberty Science Center on Saturday, Sept. 27 and will include Marco Hall, Helen Castillo, Megan Teeters, Victoria Wong Samanta Samuels, Kesha Worodfork Berger and Tyrone Chablis.

Jersey City Fashion Week is sponsored by The Hudson Reporter. For more information and ticket sales go to

Al Sullivan may be reached at

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