Alumni contribute to second annual Magic City Fashion Week

Models brought vibrant colors to life as they walked down the runway, showcasing clothing designs at the emerging designer competition at Magic City Fashion Week (MCFW). Kenya Buchanan, UA alumna and winner of last year’s inaugural emerging designer competition, was eager to crown the new winner. 

“I started this last year along with my former design partner as a means of showcasing local talent from all realms of the creative community in Birmingham and the surrounding areas,” said Derek DeAndre, co-founder and managing partner for MCFW. “We wanted to create a diverse and inclusive stage for people to enjoy.”

MCFW started in 2017 in order to cultivate a fashion community in Birmingham and engage industry professionals and designers in order to evoke social change. Those involved with MCFW work not only to host the annual fashion show, but to raise awareness for HIV.

Buchanan was excited to present her collection in this year’s show, inspired by “Las Palenqueras,” the women known for dancing around Cartagena, Colombia in colorful dresses balancing bowls of fruit on their heads. Buchanan credits the University with teaching her how to share her creativity on the runway and stay true to her design aesthetic. 

“Though I think our program provided excellent apparel design training, her previous marketing degree combined with it really propelled Kenya along professionally,” said Paula Robinson, UA Apparel and Design Professor. “Mostly Kenya has a bright, vivacious personality, which is her primary advantage professionally and in life.”

Buchanan said she finds inspiration from cultural textiles and is inspired by the vibrancy and meanings behind the colors in textiles. 

“It’s a fun process because I am able to take pieces of the culture and incorporate them into design elements and silhouettes,” Buchanan said. “My goal is for each collection I create to have a deep and significant meaning and be beautiful and full of color.”

The power of a person’s transformation into their drag queen persona is what inspired the designs DeAndre presented at MCFW. The bold and funky designs found in drag culture is what DeAndre aims to capture in the details of his craftsmanship.  

“I’m doing my best to just have fun with this and not overthink it at all,” DeAndre said.  “I want for my collection to be something that people remember. I feel like it will be polarizing. Either you’re going to hate it or love it, but either way, as long as I’m satisfied that’s all that matters.”

Emilie Hope, a sophomore majoring in theatre, was excited to be chosen as a runway model for DeAndre’s collection. According to Hope, DeAndre’s street style was one of the most chic she has ever seen. 

“Derek taught us the skills we needed to be successful as models for not only their collections, but any designer we may work with in the future, and they really took pride in what they were doing for the fashion industry in Alabama,” Hope said. 

DeAndre is enrolled in the UA consumer quality management graduate program. He chose this to pursue his goal of running a high-performance organization for a clothing brand. 

“I feel that my time at UA has given me the opportunity to explore both my creativity and my acumen as a businessman,” DeAndre said. 

Equipped with an educational background from the University, MCFW has helped open doors for these alumni. Buchanan is in talks with producers to audition for season 16 of the design competition show “Project Runway” because of the exposure from MCFW. 

Several UA alumni have gone on to compete on the show in the past, including Anthony Williams in 2010 and Amanda Perna in 2011

“Magic City Fashion Week has definitely jump started my career in fashion right here in the Magic City,” Buchanan said. “We are changing the way fashion is seen in Alabama.  We are creative, magical and super talented.”

With the conclusion of MCFW season 2, preparation is in store for season 3. Participants are eager to begin working on the upcoming season. 

“But no matter where my career takes me after this, my experience with Magic City Fashion Week and working with Derek will definitely be bringing me back for season 3,” Hope said. “From what I’ve been hearing already, it’s going to blow season 2 away.”

For more information on Magic City Fashion Week visit

-Kendal Aldridge, Contributing Writer, Crimson White