BY NATASIA LANGFELDER
Rainbow Fashion Week is a yearly event where LGBT designers and brands showcase their latest collections on the runway in NYC. NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio has sanctioned the event, “An official New York City Pre-Pride Fashion Event.” In it’s third year, the event is set to take place June 17 through the 26, 2016- just in time to coincide with Pride.
Attendees at the 3rd annual Rainbow Fashion Week will be treated to events such as, “Kids who Tech,” “Fashion for the Cure,” and a pet fashion show. The event is also committed to going green and discussing important social issues alongside sick fashions.
E. Jaguard (Jag) Beckford, founder and producer of Rainbow Fashion Week. In 2013, Jag launched Jaguar and Company Clothier where she presently designs “male identified” clothing for women. We chatted with Jag to discuss how Rainbow Fashion Week came into being and what inspires her to create.
How did you come up with the idea for Rainbow Fashion Week?
After launching my clothing line “JagandCo” in 2013 for the gender binary, gender fluid, aggressive women such as myself, I realized that most of the “talent” is hidden behind the scenes. Wouldn’t it be great to have a Fashion Week kicking off pride in New York City that highlighted all of those fashion professionals that help create the finished work of art that struts the runway.
You started out as an entertainment attorney, how did you make the leap from law to fashion with your clothing company, Jaguar and Company Clothier?
Not a leap, more like a baby step. I actually supported myself designing clothes in the 90s. I would custom design tees, jeans, denim jackets, paint leather, make cool hats and jewelry and raised enough money to drive my 1967 red mustang to law school. My wares sold like hot cakes from my table in the student union.
What is it that you love about fashion?
The Art. Fashion is “Art.” So our tag line for Rainbow Fashion Week is “The Art of Fashion. I see artistry in the make-up composition. I watch many videos of men transforming themselves into beautiful women. I see photos of amazing hair, wigs and weaves sewn on a head and transform into magic. I watch the lighting designer, strategically place halogen lights, against soft bulbs and create inviting mystical spaces. I see designers breathe life into sketches. It’s the magic of the art of fashion that has me so mesmerized.
What inspires your work?
Almost anything can inspire me. I once was transferring trains in New York at 14th Street and they have Alice and Wonderland Statutes. I designed a few bowties, took then back to the station and did a mini photo shoot. I am also inspired by stories. I receive stories from a cop in Camden, New Jersey, who just wished for an opportunity to try walking a runway. She stated she felt in her 30 something years, she was at her best and just needed the world to see it. I also received a FB message from a young girl in London, who stated she was in a play called the “Young Prince” and it took her to move to the UK to be able to find herself, but she thanked us for creating spaces for the average Joe to be able to walk the runway, out and proud. I’m also inspired by a straight woman, seeing how I put my suits together, the stitching, the beautiful pattern compliments and have them ask me if I could help their husband. All of these things inspire me.
What celebrities would you love to see wearing Jaguar and Company clothes?
Ellen [DeGeneres]. I know I could dress and style the hell out of Ellen.
If I ran into you on a typical day in the life of Jag, what would you be wearing?
Probably my signature Jag and Co snapback cap with gold cats and spikes, diaper pants, rockin’ my shell toe adidas with fly “lace-locks” or my paper-boi trousers, with some argyle socks and saddle buck shoes.
Tell me your favorite story from last year’s Rainbow Fashion Week.
Watching two double mastectomy breast cancer survivors, walking the runway in our show called; “Inside the Celebrity Closet” which addressed the issue of body dysmorphia. Very touching to watch that victory walk.
Rainbow Fashion Week is ‘carbon neutral’ – meaning achieving a green event having a carbon footprint of zero. Why was that an important goal for you?
RFWNY has recently been invited to present our Fashion show in Nepal. This invitation came after attending my second meeting with the Water Keeprs Alliance where I learned that the textile industry is the 2nd largest polluters of our global water system. I went home that night and rewrote our mission statement to do our part of making a change. His Holiness stated that when looking to do your part, work within the industry that you do your best work in. I felt that it was our responsibility to make whatever changes we could.
This year we will reduce our energy consumption by 1/3 through the usage of solar 12 kilowatt generators and 300-watt panels. Our Rainbow Pet Fashion Show has a petition to have the City of New York, create the very first Dog Waste Composting Bins on every other corner in the City. Because it causes disease and can be turned into fertilizer for our tree beds and parks system. We will have biodegradable serving plates and utensils, less bottled water and for many of our venue a recycling system in place, rather than the required “take everything with you in black bags and dump in the trash.”
So it is important that all of us teach one another how to “just do it.”
What cutting edge fashion trends can we expect to see at the event?
Fashion is recycled as with everything going back in time very 20-30 years, so nothing is actually new. Even when you look at technology fashion, ahhh it’s actually early “StarTrek” episode costuming. But, this year I am going for the plaids, stylish, bold handsome patterned plaids in my “Paper Boi” styled trouser short suits. We will also have some bold pieces made by Bravo TV Star Andre Sorriano, who is going to be working on re-purposed products donated by Delta Airlines. We are going to have some interesting works from “PrettyinPink” who has taken Hollywood by storm with her “Pussy Power” garments.
Click here for more information on Rainbow Fashion Week. To peep more of Jag’s fresh looks, click here.