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Fashion Designs Speak to ‘California AfroChic’

Palm Springs' Aneka Brown creates a day-long event that honors Black History through fashion, music, arts, and food

Marcia Gawecki Fashion & Style 0 Comments

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In less than two months, Palm Springs fashion designer Aneka Brown was able to pull off her upcoming fashion show-music-art festival to coincide with the trail end of Black History Month on Feb. 28.

"When people ask me if there's a need for Black History Month, I tell them yes, whenever cultures are not written into American history books," says Brown. "Besides Black History Month, there needs to be American Indian History Month, Asian American History Month and others."

The fashion show starts at 6:15 p.m., but the day-long event starts at 10 a.m. with music, art vendors, and culturally diverse food. "If I did just a fashion show, then the event would be over in 20 minutes," Brown says. "This way, people can participate in African American culture, music and food all day long."

Brown seeks inspiration for her women's fashion line through previous strong African American women like Dorothy Dandridge.

VIDEO: Aneka Brown gives a preview of the Feb. 28th event.

"She was the first African American actress to be nominated for 'Best Actress.' I looked up to her growing up," says Brown.

The famous 1920s charicature, Betty Boop, was based on an image of singer Esther Jones, Brown adds.

Brown's designs use one-of-a-kind African wax fabric prints from small villages in Africa. The patterns are bold and bright, and lend themselves well to her casual wear spring designs.

The first thing Brown designed was a harem pantsuit that would be dressed up or down, depending upon the over jacket.

Singer Keisha D in one of Aneka Brown's African wax cloth creations.

"I went from a size 8 to a size 12 with asthma medicine," Brown explains. "So I design clothes for women from sizes 0 to 20, and who want to be fashionable."

She calls her style, "California AfroChic." "I grew up in California, where there's a definite style," she says.

Brown has only been a fashion designer for a short time, but has been working toward this goal her entire life.

Brown worked as an associate for a Palm Springs interior design firm, Jeffrey Jurasky & Associates, for five years. During that time, she picked out colors and fabrics, and worked her way up to designing rugs and furniture. That experience taught Brown a lot about working with clients and creating designs with clean lines.

Aneka Brown jewelry creations.

After that, she owned JJ&A Pop Up Gallery, and later founded the Palm Springs Cultural Arts Food and Wine Festival.

Brown began designing clothes as a hobby for friends with African wax fabric that her grandma used to wear as a head wrap. Her designs sparked interest among others.

Her friend, Keisha D, a singer who will also perform at the event, would wear her designs and when people would admire them, she would hand out Brown's business cards.

Brown always creates custom-made designs for each woman's specific measurements. If they don't live in the Coachella Valley and can't stop by her apartment for a fitting, then she sends them to a tailor.

When her business beganpicking up, Brown set up a website and ordered the African wax cloth through a Fair Trade website. Proceeds from the cloth sales go to educational programs for South African villagers.

 Bows and material-covered bracelets from Aneka Brown.

The spring line that will be featured at Sunday's extravaganza shows casual wear and evening wear, including 'A" line dresses, decorative tops, and short jumpsuits, all made from African wax fabric.

The jumpsuit with a cape and sleeves, came from Brown's own style preference.

"I like to wear a tank top and shorts in the summertime, but I don't like the way my upper arms jiggle," she says.

So she created a sleeve that gently covers her upper arms, while stylishly turning into a cape in the back. That complex design was difficult to translate on paper, and took up to six weeks to get it right.

Her spring line will not be unveiled on a formal runway at the Palm Springs Women's Club. Instead, models like her friend, Brenda Lynn Martin, will be mingling with the crowd. Each piece is for sale, and can be purchased that evening, or created later according to any size.

Black History Month Cultural Appreciation Fashion, Music & Art Extravaganza, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 28, Palm Springs Woman's Club, 314 S. Cahuilla Road, www.AnekaBrownDesigns.com

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