DC’s Passion for Fashion Uplifts Local Youths

This seasons sweltering heat may be keeping most indoors, but a fashionable function at the Carnegie Library this past Saturday drew in quite a crowd.  Fashion du Soleil: A Fashion Wonderland manifested as collaboration between non-profit The Jarmal Harris Project, local fashion ambassadors, and high profile designers from the D.C. Metro area and beyond.

As doors opened around 7:30pm, guests were greeted by a man dressed in English riding attire, who accompanied a female model posed atop a muscular mare.  Inside, the crowd buzzed as they anxiously awaited a fantastical journey into a fashion wonderland.  The stage was set with a twinkling banner and wrap-around catwalk, featuring ample space in the center of the floor.  There, a creative cast leapt into action, whisking the audience away to a realm where an evil queen kept all gorgeous garments for herself.  The princess, played by Kiante Watts, called upon her fashion friends to help her defeat the wicked ruler.

In between skits by Xquisite, Jarmal’s performing arts troupe, models worked the runway.  Their ensembles had been crafted by stylist JBriggs of Largo, MD, designer Tyrell of New Jersey, and Laquan Smith of New York.  Each presented a unique line full of color and texture, with outfits suited for men and women alike.

After the show, participants flocked downstairs to change and chat with the press.  Guests filed into the elaborate reception hall for hors d’oeuvres, while crew set up for the after party in the main hall.  Upon my descent to the lower level, I managed to strike up conversation with the show’s producer, Jarmal Harris.

“I wanted to get started working right when I got out of high school.  I formed the Jarmal Harris Project because I wanted to give youths opportunities I didn’t have growing up, and I wanted to give back to my community,” he divulged.  Jarmal claimed the hardest part of his 6th production was simply getting the plethora of ideas out of his head and into motion. 

The team of performing models was comprised of local ladies and gentlemen, although Jarmal retrieved one of the show’s main characters from New York City.  Atika Greene, whose role was that of the Evil Queen, joined the production after a member of the troupe invited her to participate.  She recounted her performance, exclaiming “It happened so fast!  There was no time to think or be nervous.”  According to Atika, the cast and crew were incredibly welcoming and acted cooperatively - “It was a great team to work with.”

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Jarmal extends an invitation to audition for his organization for those interested in joining forces with the project.  “If somebody has a passion for fashion I will embrace them, and I encourage people to reach out via Facebook and Twitter.  My advice is to put your best foot forward and go for all or nothing.”

The Jarmal Harris Project is a premier comprehensive Arts group and a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization that provides learning opportunities for youth living in Wards 1-8 in Washington, D.C.  The philosophy of the group is to establish and maintain a caring, learning, and performing environment, wherein youth will grow into productive adults who will lead fulfilling lives and enhance the conditions of life by making significant contributions to the community.

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