This summer marked the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip hop – and NaturallyCurly celebrated it in style at Essence Festival 2023. Of course the music and the fashion transformed culture as we know it, but we had to celebrate the hair (naturally). For the first time, NaturallyCurly’s must-see event Texture On the Runway took the stage at Essence Festival of Culture 2023 to pay homage to the iconic hairstyles of hip hop.
What is Texture On the Runway?
Texture On the Runway is a runway show that “puts texture front and center — to let the hair dictate the fashion rather than the other way around” says NaturallyCurly Founder Michelle Breyer. NaturallyCurly started presenting Texture On the Runway during New York Fashion Week as a way to bring naturally textured hair representation to a space that historically straightened and manipulated models’ hair before sending them down the runway. “Texture on the Runway is unique from other events in that it allows hair to dictate fashion and highlights the diversity of hair textures and styles in a bold way” says Linda Voracek, Group Vice President of Merchandising for Sally Beauty.
Texture On the Runway at Essence Festival 2023
Texture On the Runway took over the BeautyCon stage, hosted by Mielle Organics Founder Monique Rodriguez and NaturallyCurly Editor Cristina Cleveland, and accompanied by a classical hip hop string piece from Neutral Ground Orchestra. “Texture On the Runway is a unique and innovative event that puts textured hair and multicultural beauty center stage on the runway” says Rodriguez. “It represents more than fashion, it represents pushing the culture forward.”
Celebrity stylist Tater Pazon honored the iconic hip hop hairstyles of Salt N Pepa, Mary J Blige, Lil Kim, Erykah Badu, Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaji and Cardi B. “I am extremely excited I was chosen to recreate looks of the most iconic females in HIP HOP” says Pazon, “especially because I’ve had the chance to work with a few of them personally like Mia X and Megan Thee Stallion.” The show stopping looks he sent down the runway were an expression of the art and creativity New Orleans is known for.
Models representing the queens of hip hop strutted, danced, and drew the largest crowd the BeautyCon stage had seen all Essence Festival weekend. The show ended with a jaw dropping wedding-style dress structured 100% from hair, designed by celebrity designer Sylvester West and braided by Pazon. “I call this a love affair between hair and I” Pazon said of the dress.
“This meant the world to me, it’s definitely a dream come true” Pazon shared after the show. “I used to work for Essence since 2013 and to come back and be honored, and to get express myself on the stage and show everybody my craft, I’m very excited about it, I can’t thank Essence and NaturallyCurly enough.”
If you missed the live show, you can stream it and catch up on the action.