Life, Liberty & Liberian Fashion with Designer Melody Asherman

This article was originally posted here.

Even in a room full of people it is nearly impossible not to notice fashion designer Melody Asherman! The Newark native’s energy is enough to light up a room, her voice echos through the ears of anyone whom can hear and her bold designs are hard to ignore. The creative mastermind behind Everything Rrouge, an upscale women’s collection, designs have been seen on runways across the country, in the pages of magazine including LSV Magazine as well as on fashion blogger Ashley Hutchinson of TheySayAsh.com, full-figured model Aba Forewa, digital influencer Jezra M +, and most recently on inner beauty blogger Christina “Chrismiss” Bright at BET’s 2017 Black Girls Rock Award Show.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Liberian-American designer Melody Asherman to discuss her line Everything Rrouge’s upcoming New York Fashion Week presentation, the rise in popularity of tradition African designs in American fashion, cultural appropriation in the industry and more. Check out the full interview below!

Your garments have been seen on everyone from fashion blogger Ashley Hutchinson to more recently inner beauty blogger Christina “Chrismiss” Bright at the BET’s 2017 Black Girls Rock Award Show. As a self-taught freelance designer, the road could not have been easy! How did you endure this journey? What were your tips on building your brand?

“It takes a lot of prayer patience and WOOSAH moments!!! Tips on building your brand is to never stop building. Any and everything you do needs to be in you brand’s best interest! Never give up on yourself and always believe you can do anything you put your mind to (A LOT OF PRAYER & sacrifice)!”

We are now witnessing the rise and reclaiming of blackness across all forms of entertainment including the reintroduction and reimagining of traditional African designs in today modern times so much so that now major fashion houses and popular designers are capitalizing on the culture for non-ethnic conception. As a Liberian designer, what are your thoughts? Is it cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation?

I think it’s both appropriation and appreciation!!! I remember there was a time that wearing African clothes or being African was looked down upon. Today I laugh because those are the same ones wanting everything “Ankara”! African culture isn’t a fade to me, it is a part of me. Our music and clothes our hair is now so popular. Growing up it wasn’t. We were called African “booty scratchers” and any other ratchet thing that came mind! On the flip side there are people that embrace, respect and appreciate African culture and not because its “cool” or matches a natural hairstyle!

You were your Liberian heritage as a badge of honor so it is only natural that you’ve teamed up with the organization, More Than Me, that uses education as a catalyst for transformation social change for every girl in Liberia. How did this collaboration come about?

It only made since to donate proceeds to an Liberian organization that invest in young girls. I see myself as THE “Girl, Girl”! It just made sense to me. I had done my research on Liberian organizations to donate to, More Than Me popped up and I reached out to a Liberian blogger and she suggested them! That’s how that worked out.

You are gearing up for the debut of your SS18 Collection as part of New York Fashion Week on Saturday, September 9th! What is the inspiration behind this season’s collection? What can attendees expect?

“This collection is all about transition. Not only will it show growth and maturity with my work but will also highlight where African fashion has come from and where it’s going. My plan is to continue to challenge myself as a designer and to “push the envelope”. I’m beyond excited!”

Following the reveal of the upcoming season’s collection, will you be resuming creating custom orders? If so, how can people get in contact with you for service?

“Yes, I will be resuming to custom orders after the show. People can contact me by emailing [email protected]

Header image credit belongs to Kaila Boulware

Be sure to catch Melody’s line, Everything Rrouge’s SS18 presentation as part of New York Fashion Week on Saturday, September 9th beginning at 5 pm held inside of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center. Click here to purchase your tickets! Stay connected with Melody Asherman on Instagram.

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