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(above) FROM SCREEN TO RUNWAY: (l. to r.) Rashanda Johnson, Letty Hipsalito, Ashika Payne, Alice Blake Powell and Vanessa Burgess brought Fashion to Film alive as part of the NC Black Film Festival held in spring. Courtesy photo

From the little black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” to Judy Garland’s sparkling red heels in “The Wizard of Oz,” fashion and film exhibit an unparalleled partnership. Sewfli, Inc. intends to highlight this connection with their exhibit “Fashion in Film” at the 13th annual NC Black Film Festival, to be held in March 2014.

Having been friends since the sixth grade, Ashika Payne of Sewfli, Inc., and Charlon Turner, festival director, seamlessly merged their respective worlds of art. Payne approached Turner about the idea of holding a runway show after volunteering for the festival.

“No matter how old you are, you’re wearing some type of fashion,” Payne says. “It can connect or relate to anyone. Fashion is just the thread, literally, that connects us.”

The resurgence of the ‘60s brought on by “Mad Men,” and the fabulous set pieces of the highly acclaimed “Downton Abbey,” certainly illustrate current examples of the importance of fashion in film. “Wardrobe design is a huge part of filmmaking,” Turner advocates. “Sometimes the fashion in films even dictates the fashions that are current.”

Payne and Tuner hope to give designers the platform to display their own work, and possibly enlighten them on a way to apply their talents.

Last year was the film festival’s first venture into fashion. The program showcased selected designers who created garments inspired by classic black films that were chosen by the coordinators. The response soared.

“I think it brought in an audience and it definitely increased the attendance,” Turner says. “There were a lot of people who were coming strictly because of the fashion show but stayed.” The fashion show was blended into the awards ceremony, which added a festive touch. Those who came out just for the fashion show received a special treat as the festival’s winning film happened to be the final screening, which end-capped the night’s celebrations.

Payne and Turner recall Letty Hipólito, a stand-out designer from last year. Typically a creator of Quinceañera dresses and ball gowns, she brought precision and elaborate style to a creation inspired by “The Josephine Baker Story.” The event coordinators also applaud Rashanda Johnson, who brought a male component to the event. She showcased tailored suits motivated by “Harlem Nights,” and took a modern spin on the fashions of the 1930s Harlem Renaissance period.

“I think just seeing it on the runway and seeing how creative people can get from just designing something out of nothing—that’s what people really like to see,” Payne says, “the innovation.”

Looking toward the future, Turner and Payne certainly hope to build off of the momentum created by “Fashion in Film.” “Expanding is the goal,” Payne clarifies. “We definitely want to bring a new element and put a new spin on it. It was good last yea; we just want to make it better.”

For the 2014 showcase, designers are asked to base their apparels off of the classic black film “Coming to America.” Anyone can enter, but experience definitely serves as a requirement.

“We’re looking for people who are very creative, of course,” Payne tells. “People who have a love for fashion and are willing to bring high-quality designs. We’re looking for someone who can design from a particular film piece and can take the idea and run with it.”

They will select designers based on initial sketches and whether or not they can generate professional work in time for the show. Submissions for this year’s exhibit are due by December 31st.

“I expect to see elaborate and regal designs full of embellishments,” Payne says of her hopes for submissions on “Coming to America.” “I also expect to see colorful and unique creations that represent the beautiful and bright images brought to mind when one thinks of Africa.”

Payne also seeks models for the show—5’7’’ or taller and any ethnicity. She states that a formal call for models will be done closer to the show.

Anyone interested can contact Payne at (910) 409-4172 or

Fashion in Film

Calling for designers as part of the NC Black Film Festival, March 2014.
Deadline for submissions: 12/31/13
Ashika Payne: 910-409-4172

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Charlon

    October 2, 2013 at 12:09 am

    It is the NORTH CAROLINA BLACK FILM FESTIVAL held March 13-16, 2014 in Wilmington, NC.

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