On a Wednesday night bodies filled into Strongwater Food and Spirits, a century old warehouse in East Franklinton to attend ELEVATE a non-traditional fashion experience by Ohio non-profit Heart of It All. The organization founded in 2015, is known for their very unconventional fashion productions and ELEVATE was nothing short of the experience they provide each year.
From hosting their first fashion experience on The Ohio State University campus, where founders Nadiyah “NadiHafeeza” Harper and Aaron “AC” Carey birthed their org to Fashion Week Brooklyn and now their Fashion Week Columbus debut, the pair is making big strides. “When we reached out to Tommy McClure, we told him we wanted to bring a fresh feel to fashion week. Our goal was to fuse students and young professionals with the more established professionals who already support FWC. He was extremely open to partnering with us and welcomed the idea of the event.”, says the duo and they accomplished just that.
ELEVATE, an experience amongst color shifting LED clouds brought out creatives in Columbus, including fashion enthusiasts, artists, photographers, models, and a host of the people in Ohio community. The event welcomed its attendees into a wide open rustic space with music provided for the evening by DJ Flugazy.
The space featured showcases from The Columbus Book Project, which captures Columbus in a unique coffee table styled publication and Ketchup from the Lookout Supply Shop on the walls of the entry room. That was followed by a live canvas painting by artist J.Cross.Art, of a model styled by Harper, wood layered portraits of notable musicians by Percy King of Shaolin Wood Technique, and Kato a wiz in custom shoe restorations.
Harper stresses the importance of their mission to tie fashion and art together, “Having artists in the room with fashion further shows people how fashion ties into the arts.” Also supplied for a photo op was a black and white wall blasting the word ELEVATE by Ketchup and the Lookout Supply Shop. The adjoining rooms highlighted some of the top brands in Columbus such as TACKMA, Tongue and Cheek, Max Arcos and a style exhibition by prominent photographer James “MrKingJD” Drakeford, utilizing freeze frame models.
The freeze frame presentation differed from the traditional runway show, allowing attendees to have a more interactive experience with the garment. “We hosted a model casting in early September after we had secured all of our participants. We had 3 platforms staged and asked the models to step up on the various platforms and pose. Since we knew we weren’t using a runway (which was different for us) we didn’t judge the models by walk.” says Harper. Models in groups of three or more stood atop “elevated” cloud platforms built by MWC Made It. Many onlookers and photographers surrounded each platform as models occasionally shifted their poses and positions. The setup allowed for those in attendance to engage with the designers first hand and network with others in the room.
The event definitely set a tone for full interaction amongst all in attendance, guests were able to move around the venue freely to network with each other, the featured designers and models, watch live paintings and live shoe restorations and even had the chance to have a shirt screen printed during it all. Harper and Carey are excited to keep bringing their unconventional experiences and building a solid foundation for their non-profit. “As far as future events, we’re taking more of an educational route. We aim to host more speaker series, workshops, and trainings. HOA will also be engaging in more philanthropic endeavors throughout the city,” says the pair. Look out for all that HOA has in store as they continue to build relationships in New York and Los Angeles and bring that inspiration right to the heart of the Midwest.
For all things Heart of It All, including upcoming/past events, merchandise, brand photo shoots and donations to fuel their vision visit their website and social media pages.