萝莉少女

Detroit's Avenue of Fashion shines at Light Up Livernois event

Aya Fayad
The Detroit 萝莉少女

Performers, artists and designers revealed the vibrancy of Detroit's Avenue of Fashion at the annual Light Up Livernois festival Saturday.

The one-day street festival, created by the Independent Business Association and presented by Amazon, strives to promote Detroit's art and fashion scene while shining a light on businesses along the Avenue.

Rufus Bartell, the founder and president of Light Up Livernois and a business owner along the corridor for over 20 years, said Light Up Livernois, which started in 2018, is all about getting people to venture further from the usual tourist spots.

"We wanted to showcase the fashion, art, and design in this neighborhood." Bartell said. "The sole purpose is to ignite how people display their storefronts, how people handle their facades. Oftentimes, these kind of events are in other parts of town, rather than being right in the neighborhood where people can gauge the experience and have a look and see the different designers."

Hundreds of people explore food, vendors and entertainment during the Light Up Livernois event on Saturday, July 6, 2024 in Detroit.

Hundreds of people walked along the Avenue on Saturday to enjoy the live performances tucked into street corners, diverse eateries, and vibrant art vendors and fashion vignettes taking place right along the sidewalk.

Krystal Flemmings, 42, of Detroit has been to Light Up Livernois several times and brought her kids along Saturday to watch her daughter, Hadiya, perform a dance.

"This festival is just amazing. It's wonderful to see the community come together like this and see what everyone specializes in and what they're good at,"聽Flemmings said. "There's so much to see and explore."

Models display fashions during the Light Up Livernois event on Saturday, July 6, 2024 in Detroit.

Home to almost exclusively African American-owned boutiques and businesses, the Avenue of Fashion, along Livernois between Seven and Eight Mile on Detroit's west side, has become a renowned fashion hub, shopping and travel destination.

鈥淲e get to highlight what鈥檚 here in this city all across the country,鈥 said Garnette Archer, the second generation owner of Jo鈥檚 Gallery, an African American art gallery that has been on the Avenue of Fashion for 27 years and now stands as an 鈥渁nchor store.鈥

鈥淲e鈥檝e become a tourist location for a lot of people, a lot will come from out of state to see everything, so people get to come here and learn about who we are,鈥 Archer said.

Detroit City Councilwoman Angela Whitfield Calloway, left, speaks with Monica Roseman, right, in front of Jo's Gallery during the Light Up Livernois event on Saturday, July 6, 2024 in Detroit.

After undergoing a massive transformation in 2019, visitors and tourists to the Avenue have increased dramatically, said Bartell, owner of Simply Casual Clothing Store and Petty Cash restaurant.

"You get that full, rich, cultural heritage of the city, and when you have tourists come into town, they want to complete the experience," Bartell said. "At some point, all downtowns will look and behave the same, but when you go into the neighborhoods, that's when you get authenticity."

With red carpets and stages laid out, several fashion boutiques, like CDK Kreative Kreations, showcased everything from gowns, prom dresses, swimsuits, streetwear, and even luxury robes right outside their shops.

Cheryl Denise Kitchen, a designer and owner of CDK Kreative Kreations, a dress boutique that has sat along the Avenue for 12 years, showcased her hand-made dresses and fine beadwork at their fashion vignette. Kitchen and her son, James Edwards, work out of two shops across the street from each other on the Avenue, and Kitchen said she moved her business to the Avenue to be among other Detroit designers.

"It's truly amazing to be located in an area like this now. I love Light Up Livernois." she said. "We've always been a feature store during Light Up Livernois, and it just feels so rewarding to be recognized on the Avenue of Fashion, because this place is what fashion is all about. It's about making things, making an impact in your society, and being able to do what you love for everyone to see it."

A crowd forms as gospel duo Sounds of Imani performs during the Light Up Livernois event on Saturday, July 6, 2024 in Detroit.

Dance and music performers lined the street up and down Livernois, each displaying a unique sound and look. Rochelle Day and Dusty, a singing and guitar duo from Windsor, sang and played soul and rock and roll music for a crowd of 30 in an alley on the Avenue.

"I'm honored to have been invited to something like this and get the chance to perform at Light Up Livernois," Day said. "It's just beautiful."

Dusty, whose family has lived in Detroit for 150 years, said, "We get to be a part of the revitalization of this city. We get the chance to perform our traditional music that also takes inspiration from Detroit and is steeped in Motown, so we're really grateful."

Hundreds of people explore food, vendors and entertainment during the Light Up Livernois event on Saturday, July 6, 2024 in Detroit.

Clement Brown Jr., owner of Three Thirteen, a "Detroit-centered" fashion and souvenir business that has been on the Avenue for the past five years, moved his business from the downtown area to the city's west side to be a part of the Avenue community.

"This area is highly touted nationally, and there's a concentration of retail and business owners, so we wanted to be a part of that," Brown said.

"Detroit is one of the blackest cities in the nation, and having our business on the Avenue of Fashion is a blessing. Adding value to the Avenue is a big deal for us, so we're really intentional about that."

afayad@detroitnews.come