Oh what a night it was Dec. 8 at the beautiful August Wilson Center for African American Culture, in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District; FashionAFRICANA took center stage. The beautiful people were in the audience and on the runway. Guests gathered in the lobby around the catwalk in anticipation of a unique show that FashionAFRICANA is well known for. This year’s show featured designs by Kiya Tomlin, Pittsburgh Pa.; Eva Gabarra, Paris, France; and Sandra Reiman, Pittsburgh, Pa.. This year’s special guest was Cameroonian artist, art director and photographer Mario Epanya.
Epanya’s inspiration started at an early age, watching his mother, a designer and boutique owner in Cameroon, at work. This awoke the artist in him, and he began painting as a teenager, ultimately moving to Paris, the world’s capital of high fashion, beauty and art, in 2000 to launch his career. He started assisting at fashion shows and doing makeup for small magazines before securing a job at cosmetics company Dessange, where he became its main makeup artist and hairstylist, working with stars like Denzel Washington, Jade Jagger and Elijah Wood.
He eventually became one of the top makeup artists in the business and a trailblazer in the field. Seven years later, he felt the need for change and with a camera in hand, quit Dessange to begin his own hair, makeup and photography company, Mario Epanya Productions.
The breathtaking work of Epanya was on display for all to see as well as a gripping spoken word performance by Vanessa German and music by Preach Freedom & Connect. The evening ended with a dance party with DJ Nate “Da Phat Barber” Mitchell.
FashionAFRICANA was founded in 2001 by Demeatria Gibson Boccella and co-founded by Darnell McLaurin. FashionAFRICANA explores African history and culture in a contemporary context, and collaborates with fashion designers and artists to create new work through various media, including: design, photography, sculpture and performance.