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Red Carpet Looks at Baltimore’s ‘Met Gala’

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If you have ever seen photos from the over-the-top annual spectacle of fashion that is the Met Gala, you understand the extraordinary level of creativity and craftsmanship put into every annual themed affair. It has a legendary red carpet entrance, where celebrities model their chosen designer with theatrical flair, a performance in itself that captures a global attention and raises necessary funding for the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute.

In Baltimore, we have a number of highly talented fashion designers (and many have been featured in past print journals at BmoreArt), but most of them are not yet household names, although they probably should be. There’s a unique flair and style to the fashion scene in Baltimore. It’s bold and flashy, truly innovative in its display of classic influences and contemporary materials.

Last Saturday, July 30, Baltimore hosted its own “Met Gala” event at the Baltimore Museum of Art and it was a red carpet affair not to be missed! As the following photos show, this event was a glorious spectacle of fashion that showed off the talents–and big hearts–of local designers.

The evening event included a runway show featuring cohesive lines of five designers, and combined this with performance, culinary art, and philanthropy in support of Just Our Youth (JOY) Baltimore, a non-profit organization that works with homeless, displaced, and runaway LGBTQ African-American and Latino between the ages of 13-24 in Baltimore City.

The Fashion Team Led by Lana Rae (creative director and fashion show producer) truly delivered an experience to remember through the amazing talents of just a few of Baltimore’s most remarkable designers. Earle Bannister’s power suit looks featured edgy embellished leather gloves, capes galore, pleated scarves, black rabbit masks and all the herringbone you could ask for! Garments from Syeko Design House were jaw dropping: ultra embellished blazers dripped and splattered with colorful paints featuring signature red lipped smooches.

The works of Jody Davis were an elegant intersection of classic and contemporary, with dresses and pants suits balanced with edgy square glasses to make each wearer stand out. Her bold prints, layered tulle, and plaid patterns allured the eye, powerful but feminine. The line by Different Regard featured sustainable, zero-waste ready-to-wear bespoke pieces, for weddings and special occasions. Their garments displayed abstract pastel fabrics, maroon leather, asymmetrical necklines, black and white patterned block sets, truly a look for every occasion. And Evette Monique Couture’s models wore golden radiant sculptural pieces with black lace, puff sleeves, and feather detail with crowning headpieces, appearing like goddesses, both regal and modern. These designers understood the assignment!

The event was organized by LaRian Finney, director of the Finn Group, and we spoke with the organizer a few days prior to the event, which was photographed for BmoreArt by Jeff Butler and Kyle Pompey. The following interview is edited for clarity and we hope you enjoy these gorgeous photos as much as we did.

 

LaRian Finney and Derrick Chase, Event Organizers
Lonnie Walker, Founder and CEO of Joy Baltimore

Interview with LaRian Finney

Aya Dixon: Tell us about your roots and background please.
LaRian Finney: I grew up in Cherry Hill with a single mother and 2 sisters followed by a step father and brother. I am now married to Shajuan Finney with three kids: Rachael, Rian, and Kolbi. I attended Baltimore Polytechnic, spent one year at Hampton University followed by a three year basketball scholarship at Mount Saint Mary’s University. My degree in Chemistry.

What is your relationship to Baltimore? 
My roots and heart and tenacity was groomed and developed in Cherry Hill. Baltimore is my home but I also have a home in Atlanta and split time between both cities.

Are you a fashion designer or artist? Tell us about your work or professional life.
I am a fixer. I create partnerships with individuals and organizations and provide solutions to their issues/opportunities or goals. Clarence Avant and Reginald F. Lewis are my role models.

What is your connection to JOY Baltimore?
I met Lonnie and his organization in 2020 through my business partner Derrick Chase.

How did you find out about this organization and what makes it so important to you?
I love Lonnie Walker and the tireless effort and heart to help the homeless youth community in Baltimore and felt it was my responsibility to assist with his vision and goals for Joy Baltimore.

First of all, for readers who don’t know – what is the Met Gala? And why did you want to create an event inspired by it?
The original Met Gala is the epitome of fashion, influencers, and cause-related fun. I wanted to showcase the best of the Baltimore and DMV around art, fashion, culinary, and community impact. Baltimore is rich in these categories but under-appreciated.

How did the idea of a Baltimore Met Gala come to fruition?
The idea was developed in two minutes in my living room with Lonnie Walker and Derrick Chase as the path to create an unbelievable way to showcase JOY Baltimore, raise funds for JOY Baltimore, and showcase the talent in the city.

How did you get involved in planning and organizing it?
Typically in our circle if you birth an idea, you own the idea–hence me leading the effort to produce and execute the vision. I set out to get the best and brightest as the advisory committee to plan, partner with the BMA to host, and the rest will be history

Who are your partners in planning and pulling this event together?
Immediate Partners are Derrick Chase and Lonnie Walker and the BMA staff. We have leads in the fashion (Lana Rae), Arts (Bryan Burkett and Tracey Beale), and Culinary (Black Swan), and design (Finn Design House) to put this together.

What makes the Baltimore Met Gala different than other events? Will the Baltimore Met Gala be an ongoing event?
This will be the annual fundraiser for JOY Baltimore. If you know the MET Gala the Baltimore MET Gala will be over top touching all your senses and emotions. We are very proud to bring this to the city.

What makes Baltimore a unique city, especially for artists and fashion designers, in your opinion?
Baltimore is overflowing with talented artists and creatives. We have to be more intentional in providing high level opportunities to showcase this talent.

How would you describe the fashion scene in Baltimore?
Innovative and fab. Perfect for this year’s theme: Your Vibe Your Choice.

How can we continue to strengthen the value of community here in Baltimore through art and fashion??
Be intentional.

 

Wes Moore, Candidate for Governor of MD, Shajuan Finney, and LaRian Finney
Akio Evans, fashion designer
Model wearing design by Jody Davis
Jody Davis
Fashion Designer Earle Bannister
Fashion Line by Earle Bannister
Fashion Line by Earle Bannister
Fashion Line by Earle Bannister
Fashion Line by Earle Bannister
Fashion Line by Earle Bannister
Fashion Line by Earle Bannister
Entire fashion line by Earle Bannister
Fashion Line by Different Regard
Fashion Line by Different Regard
Fashion Line by Different Regard
Fashion Line by Different Regard
Fashion Line by Different Regard
Fashion Line by Different Regard
Fashion Line by Jody Davis
Fashion Line by Jody Davis
Fashion Line by Jody Davis
Fashion Line by Jody Davis
Fashion Line by Jody Davis
Fashion Line by Jody Davis
Fashion Line by Syeko Design House
Fashion Line by Syeko Design House
Fashion Line by Syeko Design House
Fashion Line by Syeko Design House
Fashion Line by Syeko Design House
Fashion Line by Syeko Design House
Fashion Line by Syeko Design House
Fashion Line by Evette Monique Couture
Fashion Line by Evette Monique Couture
Fashion Line by Evette Monique Couture
Fashion Line by Evette Monique Couture
Fashion Line by Evette Monique Couture
Fashion Line by Evette Monique Couture
Fashion Line by Evette Monique Couture
LaRian Finney and Derrick Chase

Header Image: Model Amanda Olivia wearing a dress by Evette Monique Couture

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