31st on the 31st

YBBW celebrates their 31st annual fashion show

CORRECTION: We mistakenly mischaracterized details of Pretty Brayah’s absence from YBBW’s annual fashion show. We said that Brayah had canceled on YBBW and provided no further explanation. Brayah became unavailable due to a medical emergency. Further, we mistakenly implied that Brayah was already paid for her appearance. Funds were allocated to be paid to her upon the completion of the appearance. But, as Brayah did not appear, the funds were returned. The verbiage in the article has been updated to reflect the correction.

Williams Auditorium filled with 100 guests, bright colorful lights, loud music and dressed-up members of You Beautiful Black Woman to commemorate their 31st annual fashion show “seasons” on March 31.

Special guest star Pretty Brayah, on whom a considerable portion of the budget was originally allocated to, became unavailable due to a medical emergency the day before the show. YBBW members moved quickly to find her replacement but remained “business as usual,” as YBBW President Jaime Maximore said. They persevered through the challenge and invited their founder, Terri Houston, to give a speech instead.

The crowd loudly cheered as Houston walked up on the stage. She referred to the audience as her “brothers and sisters” and talked briefly about YBBW history, Black history, current events and a YBBW scholarship.

Houston was Ferris’ director of student activities in 1990, which is when her idea of YBBW flourished. She described her invitation to the show as “humbling,” and there was absolutely “no hesitation” in making her decision to attend.

The 31st YBBW fashion show theme was “seasons.” Models walked the runway showing off different outfits for their scenes. Photo by: Marissa Russell | Multimedia Editor

“You know, people seem to think this started because of me,” Houston said. “And it did not, it started because I was fortunate to have an idea at a time, and it grew because of the students’ leadership and the vision, and I cannot take the credit.”

The fashion show is a tradition meant to give YBBW members a way to display their inner and outer beauty through their clothes and personal style.

“Fashion shows in the history of anybody’s legacy or past represent a way to showcase your beauty,” Houston said. “Well, that’s in our mantra, that is who we are as beautiful women.”

Social work junior Keonie Thomas-Russell does public relations work for YBBW. While planning the show, she decided on the theme of seasons. This was a theme she always thought would work in a fashion show because of how versatile the outfits are when entering a new season.

She strongly believes in displaying individuality through fashion. Her creative direction was swayed by her urge to make sure everyone was comfortable in their outfits.

Photo by: Marissa Russell | Multimedia Editor

“I feel like seasons are a great way to showcase fashion because every season you’re wearing something different,” Thomas-Russell said. “I’m all about being comfortable in your own skin and being confident enough to showcase your own individuality.”

Each session was named after the four seasons and consisted of six to ten looks. The models dressed up in their best fall, spring, summer and winter attire and strutted down the stage.

Thomas-Russell did a lot of pre-planning to make it easier for her future self. Leading up to the show, she felt a lot of anticipation because of how much she wanted everything to run smoothly. However, she described the planning process as a “breeze.”

Maximore, a dental hygeine senior, had a small part in planning, saying she believes Thomas-Russell did “all of the legwork.” To her, chaos is the recipe for a “perfect show” because everything ended up going exactly how she wanted it to.

“Honestly, I want to say with her planning skills, everything went by a lot smoother than it would have been if somebody else had done [it],” Maximore said.

Criminal justice student Miracle Gray came to support YBBW and was happy to see everyone else there to show their support as well. To her, the show was “amazing” because of how much she loved all the outfits and how “beautiful” she thought everyone looked.

Photo by: Marissa Russell | Multimedia Editor

Throughout the years, YBBW has expanded to four other chapters. Members from Grand Valley State, the beta chapter, also came to show support for their sisters.

Parents Brian and Kesha Robinson described the show as creative, constructive, encouraging and uplifting. They believed that the show was a good way for YBBW members to come together and “bring light to Black women.”

Photo by: Marissa Russell | Multimedia Editor

As a Ferris alumna, Houston wanted to give a “thank you to Ferris State University” for giving her the opportunity to serve as the director of minority affairs and as the director of student activities because that’s where it all started.

“Through that process, the whole opportunity and vision came to fruition,” Houston said. “It was through leadership affairs, it was through visionary of amazing students back in the day and it is because of the community that rally behind the idea of what YBBW stands for.”