CSA takes West Haven to Paris during spring fashion show

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Photo courtesy of Mia Adduci.

Destiny-Jenkins Rubins and other models dazzle in sleepwear, West Haven, April 24, 2022.

Kayla Mutchler, Editor-In-Chief

The Charger Gymnasium at North Campus is typically the home of athletics, but on Friday night, the Caribbean Student Association (CSA) transformed the venue into an epicenter of glitz and glamour during their annual fashion show.

This year’s theme was “Caribbeans in Paris,” a fitting motif for the night, considering Paris is one of the hotbeds of the fashion industry. Entering the gymnasium, spectators could grab a glass of non-alcoholic Champagne and a cupcake before taking their seats, or snag a few pictures in front of an Eiffel Tower backdrop.

The center of the gymnasium featured a real runway surrounded by chairs, a projector with live camera feeds of the event and mood lighting. By the time the event started, nearly every seat was filled.

Luis Flor shows of a Mario & Lee sweater, West Haven, April 24, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Mia Adduci.)

Each year, the CSA hosts a fashion show with a unique theme. This is the first time the event has been held in two years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students audition to be models, and train and prepare for weeks in preparation of the show, as CSA works behind the scenes.

Starting off the event, Monsoon Dance Crew took the runway by storm in a mime-themed hip-hop routine. Each of the performers dressed in black and white striped shirts, black pants and mime makeup, even showcasing mime-like moves, welcoming West Haven to Paris for the night.

Tempor Essence took the runway first, featuring a variety of vibrant colored, clockwork-themed clothing. Models strutted in casual wear, starting with a hot pink shorts and cropped hoodie combo, accentuated with “Tempor” on the back of each article. The second model showcased the baby blue variation of the outfit. The next outfit featured a zip-up hoodie in bright orange, embellished with a sparkly clock on both sides of the hood, which can be zipped up all the way to the top of the head. The models also showed off Tempor’s bags, silk shirts and dresses.

Next up was Feverié, an extravaganza of animal print and vibrant colors. From two-piece outfits to body suits, maxi dresses and more, Feverié showed off a diverse collection of clothing. Starting off with a white, mesh two-piece paired with a colorful handbag, this outfit screamed summer. The next outfit brought on another two-piece, this time in yellow. With baggy pants that cinched and ended at the knee, it contrasted its tight, cropped tank top with “Feverié” in light blue across the breasts. Models later displayed two variations of a multi-colored body suit, one being a halter top and the other being an off-the-shoulder with long sleeves. For menswear, yellow animal print was the game, paired with casual, gray shorts.

Obioma took the stage next, combining western and African fashions. The brand took a strong start, with a vibrant, multi-print trench coat on top of an all black outfit. Next up came a pantsuit in a yellow and black print, followed by a similarly-printed dress, with a color shift to black in white coming below the breasts. Another outfit featured baggy pants that cinched at the ankles, coming in multiple prints and paired with a black top.

Then came PVID IN FULL, showing off streetwear and casual pieces. Hoodies and t-shirts embellished in the brand name and its acronym, “PIF,” highlighted the collection. One model took the runway in a nude tennis-style two-piece. Featuring a double zipper on the top and bottom and paired with biker shorts, this outfit combined athleticism with stylish leisure. Ending off the collection, a model showcased a men’s brown tracksuit with joggers and a hoodie, with “PVID NATION” written on the front and back of the hoodie and thigh of the joggers.

Sequins were the staple of Kess Designs. One blue gown featured a plunging neck, paired with a matching head wrap and embellished with a slit up the back of the dress. Another model wore a similar dress in gold, this time paired with a hooded scarf. The final outfit came as a green spaghetti strap gown with matching sleeves, also showing off a head wrap.

Intermission came after, with performances from Incendio Dance Project and Elite Step Team, who both took the stage with power and grace.

Starting off the second half, Legacy Over Labels commanded the runway. Two models entered the stage, showing off the brand’s t-shirts. One came in black with pink writing, and the other featured the inverse, with a definition of “legacy.” One model paired the shirt with a suit jacket, and the other cropped the shirt, juxtaposing formal with casual. Two other models showed off their black and white variations of a t-shirt, featuring a lady justice graphic on top of their logo.

Changing the pace of the show, models then came out in a variety of sexy, satin nightwear purchased from Amazon. From baby pink robes embellished with black lace, to pink and white striped shorts and camisoles, men’s matching sleep sets, black robes and more, the models captivated with powerful, hot looks.

Mario & Lee then graced the stage, combining streetwear with prep in their runway segment. The first model strutted down the runway in a beige turtleneck sweater dress, featuring long sleeves and a monogram print, completed with a matching tote bag. Another model came out in a sweater polo shirt with the same design. Next, Mario & Lee showed off their vintage varsity jacket, which came in navy blue with brown sleeves and patches throughout. Shying away from the preppiness of the other pieces, one model dazzled in a blue puffer jacket, with a matching crop top and sweatpants.

Ending off the show, PND Gold Label took a unique approach to their two-part segment. A cellist played to start off their set, sitting in front of a pair of red and black angel wings. After, a vocal intro played, ending with “welcome to my world,” as the models took the runway. One came out in a long, white turtleneck puffer jacket with matching pants. Another model strutted in a black ninja-like outfit, featuring a cut off turtleneck shirt, with swords crisscrossed on the back, paired with baggy black pants.

In between PND Gold Label’s showcases, there was an entertaining and upbeat drag performance by Shae, who had the crowd cheering the entire time.

PND Gold Label then entered the runway once more, starting with a model serving in a shiny silver dress, paired with a prop fan. Another came out in a vampiric count-looking outfit, dazzling in all black. Ending off the set, the cellist took stage once more –– this time without the instrument. Strutting the stage with the same wings from earlier behind their back, draped in a black pantsuit and red velvet embellishment, this was an outfit among outfits to end the night.

Once more, all of the models took the stage, rocking different pieces from each designers’ collections. The CSA executive board then strutted down the runway in matching pink outfits, thanking all for coming.

Desheania Andrews, senior communication major and president of CSA, reflected on the event. She said that preparing for the show is a year-long process, and is an annual event that CSA has hosted for years. From getting a contracted stage to lights and audio, securing designers, weekly model rehearsals and beyond, there is a lot that goes into the event.

Andrews also said that this event usually takes place during the Black Latino Alumni Weekend, and the theme is always different.

“Watching the fashion show finally come to life was both a sigh of relief and a humbling experience,” Andrews said. “Watching it from the audience and then the work behind the stage, I realize I could have never pulled it off by myself.”

Andrews also said, “the overwhelming support from alumni, my eboard and other students really made the fashion show one that will be remembered by many.”

Andrews reflected on her time in CSA and the turnout of the event. “I thought most people wouldn’t turn out because a lot of new students had never been to a past CSA fashion show and due to COVID we didn’t have one for two years,” she said.

“So, when the day finally arrived, and I saw people pouring into the gym,” she said, “it definitely felt so accomplishing and relieving to say the least.”

Andrews said that CSA helped her grow as a person. “I have been a part of the executive board for 3 years and it has taught me so much about leadership and diligence.”

For more information about CSA, follow their Instagram, @newhaven_csa.