'Fashion, it's not just something you do, it's something you are': 23rd annual fashion show, “Dear OBU”

Two models pose on the stage in Plachta Auditorium, Saturday, Feb. 25.

For a few hours, on a snowy Saturday, Feb. 25 in a dimly lit Plachta Auditorium, Central Michigan University students and community members packed into a sea of stadium seats for the Organization of Black Unity’s (OBU) 23rd annual fashion show, “Dear OBU”.

As the doors opened at 5:30 p.m., audience members slowly filled the seats while listening to R&B music playing loudly over a speaker set on stage. The show started a few minutes after 6 p.m.

With the themes Heartbreak, Self Love, Rizz and Soulmate, each with its own unique color palette and design style, for about two hours the OBU fashion show hosts and models the attention of the audience.

Models dance during ‘Act 3: Rizz,’ Saturday, Feb. 25, in Plachta Auditorium. Per OBU’s Instagram post regarding ‘Rizz Fundamentals,’ tips such as ‘Come with some heat (fit, game, etc)’ and ‘Be yourself’ were listed.

“Fashion, it's not just something you do, it's something you are,” Head Director, Producer and Host Kala Marshall said. “You see it everywhere. It's an art.”

From start to finish the event was filled with loud music blaring over the speakers with choreography from all those on stage. Songs from artists such as SZA, Beyonce and Rihanna consumed the auditorium as the models strutted across stage showing off their attire. 

“All the different types of styles,” OBU Model Samahjay Hitchcock said. “There were so many different unique styles that were out there today. Everybody had their own drip. Everybody had their own style.

“That's probably my favorite thing about fashion. You can throw pieces together. When you’re getting the pieces you might not think it, but once you put it on, you put that (stuff) on!”

According to Marshall, most of the work for the event started at the beginning of the spring semester, with model calls and workshops before eventually getting into tryouts and then practices.

“Once we get closer to the show day we have maybe four [practices] a week,” said Marshall. “Then we have a week called “Hell Week” where we practice every single day.”

Around 30 to 35 models, eight to 10 backstage crew members and seven to eight e-board members all dedicated themselves to this one single evening. 

“We worked real hard on this,” Hitchcock said. “We took months.”

The event's head director and co-director usually pick the theme, but the e-board also has the ability to put in their input, Marshall said.

“If [the e-board] has a slight issue with it, we can work as a team to figure out a different theme or work on the one that’s already decided,” Marshall said.

Throughout the entire event, random outbursts and cheers of support erupted from the audience. The crowd sang and danced along to what seemed like each and every song, and they even had a chance to get on the stage briefly and show off their own outfits. 

Four OBU models stroll to the front of Plachta Auditorium’s stage, Saturday, Feb. 25. Models wore multiple outfits during the show, and in between acts and songs, models changed quickly behind curtains.

There were also performances throughout the event from artist Mondtae and ReaXtioN, a dance team at CMU.

Hitchcock said the event was a great experience, as it serves as an opportunity for people to go out and enjoy themselves. 

As stated in the “Dear OBU” program book, OBU’s mission is to provide a cultural experience through fashion and bring unity within the many different cultures on campus. With the help of all OBU members, past and present, they have been able to build the organization into what it is today, and create an event where CMU students are able to express themselves through fashion.

“It's okay to be you,” Marshall said. “Don't try to change yourself for anybody else. Be you, be truly you.”