Despite Sunday’s sweltering 90-degree heat, the models and designers looked cool and breezy for the Fresh Air Fashion Parade in Montclair Center. Organized by Cynthia Walker of Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (S.O.F.I.A.) and Kathryn Waggener McGuire of Clerestory Fine Art, the parade complemented the popular Fresh Air Montclair exhibitions, which have transformed vacant storefronts into an open-air museum. With music, color, and artistic style, the Fresh Air Fashion Parade gave Bloomfield Avenue a welcome infusion of energy and creativity.
The parade’s billowing, vibrant designs were all created by local designers and artists, and the models turned Bloomfield Avenue into a temporary runway as onlookers snapped photos, cheered, and honked horns in support. The parade completed its route with a ribbon cutting at 641 Bloomfield Avenue which houses an exhibition by HiCoup, curated by Mary Z of See Gallery and Design Studio.
Participating designers included Stacey Angela (Stay by Stacey Angela), Jennifer T. Ley (Avoid Living the Lyric), Markell McCormick (Markell’s Closet), Arlinda McIntosh (Sofistafunk ), and Shamar Green (Octavia Anyae). Each artist’s wearable art had a distinct style with billowing skirts from Sofistafunk, crocheted garments from Stay by Stacey Angela, colorful, crafted outfits from Markell’s Closet, graphic collage kimonos and leggings from Avoid Living the Lyric, and vivid, gorgeous tops and skirts from Octavia Anyae.
The idea for an outdoor fashion show started with Cynthia Walker, executive director of Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates. She contacted Kathryn Waggener of Clerestory Fine Art to see if an open-air fashion show could be incorporated with the Fresh Air Montclair exhibitions. Cynthia explains, “I have always had a passion for fashion, modeling, producing, and coordinating fashion shows. I thought that it would be great to do a wearable art show and showcase Montclair designers.” In addition, Jennifer Ley, of Avoid Living the Lyric, is splitting proceeds from sales of her designs between Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates and the Montclair Art Museum. The designer installation is currently at 26 South Park Street and will last through Saturday, July 11. Work by all of the designers is for sale through them directly.
Kathryn Waggener’s inspiration was to uplift the community and build foot-traffic for existing businesses with high-quality art in empty storefronts. Mary Z’s passion for bringing art to the public fit perfectly into the concept behind Fresh Air Montclair. The art is especially focused on highlighting health and sustainability, food banks, non-profits and other avenues of support and compassion. Together, they’ve created over a dozen exhibitions that residents and visitors to Montclair can enjoy and purchase. They hope to expand the public art to other areas of town.
In addition, Kathryn Waggener explains, “Fresh Air Montclair is the overall umbrella for lots of creative programming that will be happening in the Montclair Center BID. The storefront installation component is “Fresh Air Montclair Exhibitions,” but we have the opportunity to expand the programming, “Fresh Air Fashion,” “Fresh Air Fitness” and so on. With a new world where so much commerce and activity needs to happen outside for safety reasons, we decided to brand it as a collective representation of outdoor creativity, commerce, and solidarity.”
Montclair Mayor-elect Sean Spiller, Councilor-at-Large Robert Russo, and Councilor-at-large elect Peter Yacobellis were on hand to cut the ribbon commemorating the official opening of the Fresh Air Montclair exhibitions.