Stars in the Front Row

The Thurgood Marshall College fund celebrated African-American Leadership in the Fashion Industry with the 3rd Annual Front Row Awards and fashion show on Saturday night. The capacity crowd, that filled the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, included students who had participated in the programs of the scholarship organization, which was established in 1987.

The Mistress of Ceremonies for the event was actress Tamara Tunie, a television veteran who currently appears on the series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She kicked off the evening by taking a turn on the catwalk in a slinky, brown dress by designer B. Michael. Tunie kept the crowd entertained until the night’s first presenter, actress Janine Green-Doh, whose arrival had been delayed by traffic, made her way to the stage. Green-Doh presented the Fashion Icon Award to makeup artist, Ross Burton, who is best known as the National Artistic Director for Lancome. As he held his trophy, a bronze bust of Thurgood Marshall, Burton described his work as “creating transformation and change with a makeup brush.”

Supermodel and “Modelpreneur”, Beverly Johnson, accepted her award from Deborah Gregory, author of the Cheetah Girls novel series. Johnson recalled the day that Wilhelmina herself, of Wilhelmina models, called to tell her that she had gotten the famous Vogue Magazine cover.

Bethann Hardison, who has represented Tyson Beckford since 1992, said that she had no clue that he would become the star that he is today. She remembered the early days of his career, when he would arrive for “go sees” and occasionally be told not to take the elevator because he had been mistaken for a messenger. After Hardison presented his reward, Beckford told the audience not to “let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve what you want.”

Celebrity hairstylist, Oscar James, received his Fashion Icon Award form Vanessa Williams, of the hit television series, Ugly Betty. Williams joked that James has “weaved his way into notoriety” and that she was the only one of his clients in attendance because he loved her the most. James has also styled the tresses of Tyra Banks, Iman, Beyonce, and Halle Berry, to name a few.

Other Fashion Icon Award recipients included noted photographer Keith Major and full figured specialty retailer Ashley Stewart Stores. The ‘Breaking Barriers Award’ went to fashion entrepreneur Audrey Smaltz.

The second half of the evening was comprised of the much anticipated fashion show. The collections of no less than 13 designers were presented, including Trophy Husband by Linwood, Johnny Vincent, Lafayette 148 New York, Sean John, Tracy Reese, Stephen Burrows, Douglas Says…, Kevan Hall, Sixxfoota, Miguel Antoinne, Thurgood 1954, Steven Cutting, and Xiomara. Standout looks from the runway show featured the sexy swimwear of Johnny Vincent, Tracy Reese’s floral day dresses, and the “Trophy Husbands” in Linwood’s tribal dress.

-Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb

Rhonda Erb writes about fashion, travel and lifestyle from a New Yorker’s perspective in Better Bets. A self-confessed Instagram addict, her work has also appeared in such publications as Runway Magazine. Follow her at: Instagram: @betterbets Twitter: @betterbetsny tumblr:

  1. My name is Andre aka Dreyton Jordan,and I’m very proud of my brother-n-law celeb. hairstylist Oscar James, for recieving the fashion Icon from one of his clients and friend Venessa Williams. The award was well deserved! Those of us who know Oscar know how talented he is;but more important know how special he is!!

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