Black Excellence, Truly Yours
The Arte of Style, LLC and its creator Naika Colas used Brooklyn as a platform for a photo shoot in order to display “Black Excellence” at its apex. Appropriately titling her photo shoot, Colas presented an embodiment of Black excellence. Nas and D’Angelo played through the speakers and models threw up their historically Black fraternity and sorority signs. The scenery captivated us as soon as we walked in. Everyone worked in their individual niche to collectively create an event that exuded an air of artistry via their respective channels. Naika Colas and her team effectively recreated vintage black glamour and Black excellence.
Naika Colas began designing in college and has taken her dream to new heights. She aspires to be a world-renowned creative director but most important to her is the persona she maintains when she gets there. It deviates from the traditionally serious and unapproachable names in the business today. She wants to maintain her kind and personable energy despite any accomplishments. Her next project will be a couture line of printed dresses tenderly named Jacques Louis after her late father who also serves as her muse. In addition to her dreams of creating, she feels that Black excellence is rooted in mentorship, networking and entrepreneurship. The Black Excellence photo shoot exemplified those components: Colas invited adolescents from different high schools around New York City to share in the experience and to realize that their dreams aren’t as far away as they may think.
Okhela Bazile was on set filming information for her upcoming documentary about multicultural entrepreneurs. The purpose of her work is very similar to Naika’s. She speaks passionately when she states that her inspiration for this particular documentary is to let the younger generations know that there are people who look just like them in the field of entrepreneurship and film making. She argues that the formula to success is not the same as the one our parents passed down to us and that we should all blaze a new path.
“Black Excellence is building on what makes Black people beautiful.”
Briana Bigham, creator of B. Marie Styles added to the talent that existed in the room. Bigham brought something different to the atmosphere. As she reminded us of our buying power and the need to use it constructively, she was steadfast in driving home the point of the need for education. Her aspirations include the technical approach to maintaining excellence. She speaks of wanting to teach aspiring designers how to source their materials and work, reminding us that a lot of people have a love of fashion but not the knowledge of it. Having been in the industry for twelve years, Bigham’s experience and humility remind us how to maintain the reality of our Black excellence.
Tatiana Ilia, CEO and Founder of Ilia Accessories, was also present to help designs come to life on the models who were adorned with her hand made pieces. She's been officially handcrafting pieces since October 2011, but she has always been artistically creative. She exemplifies true entrepreneurship in that she draws inspiration artistically and spiritually; you’ll notice a lot of images of popular religious figures such as Buddha. We were blown away by her one-woman show and will definitely be visiting tatianailia.com to purchase a few of her dope creations! (Seriously, we created a list of future purchases)
Black excellence did not solely begin and end with women at the shoot. There were a lot of amazing men on set to make the photo shoot a success. Alonzo Williams Jr. who hails from Houston, Texas was able to capture the passing moments and completed the vision through his photography. Williams says he travels the country to follow his purpose. He was down to earth, making sure to lend as much information as he could about his craft. With his direction and expertise, The Arte of Style was able to capture beautiful and timeless images needed in order to document the momentous occasion. Alongside Alonzo, there were other photographers snapping away at interactions, laughter and work in motion.
The cameras turned on us as the end of the evening. Harold Williams, the producer of the Young, Urban Professional (YUP) Show that Naika participates in, had a few questions for us. He had the help of David Edouard who asked the hard-hitting questions. We were forced to confront some of the obstacles that exist for Black people in the United States while also asserting what makes us excellent.
The existence of so much Black talent is nothing new but to be in its presence continues to be inspiring and refreshing.
The Black Excellence fashion photo shoot launched by The Arte of Style LLC and its Creative director Ms. Naika Colas was beyond a shoot. It was more of a beehive complete with every component of the colony buzzing to contribute to the finished product. Using Brooklyn as her backdrop, Ms. Colas cultivated an expansive network of dedicated creatives that share her vision. The photo shoot embodied what it means to be both black and excellent. The atmosphere exuded professionalism and purpose. It was refreshing to be in a space that called for Black Excellence and to see the collective effort live up to its name.
Azalia Brown and Ruth Jean-Marie decided to play double-dutch on this particular article. Shout out to NYC public schools for not giving us tennis courts. Azalia (not Iggy or Banks) hails from Harlem, NY and Ruth (“Rudy”) is one of those Brooklynites that honestly won’t live anywhere else in the country. Despite their long distance friendship (yes. long distance), these two seem to have made it work—partly because they were stranded in the cold abyss that is Binghamton for four years—some refer to it as an undergraduate career. Not only do they write together, they protest, joke, shop and travel together too. Follow Azalia at @azaliaism and Rudy at @toharrietwithlove on Instagram. If you do, you’ll get the key to their other social media pages.