By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For the Birmingham Times
Designer LaVinnia “V. Monet” Holliday wants to be more than just a part of the Magic City’s thriving fashion industry—she wants to shape the next generation of aspiring designers. Holliday is creator and founder of Poze Bazaar, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore the importance of creative arts in Birmingham’s inner-city schools and local communities.
“We’re going to create the next generation of fashion designers with this program,” she said. “Poze Bazaar will provide mentorship for all art forms: vocal training, dance disciplines, acting, photography, videography, modeling, canvas art, you name it. But, of course, there will be a special focus in fashion design [because] it’s my first love.”
Holliday, 30, better known as V. Monet, designs high-fashion swimwear, and she founded Poze Bazaar this year.
“[The organization’s] funds are set aside for [Birmingham students] because they are the forgotten ones, the ones that lack opportunities, resources, and programs, she said. “A school with no arts curriculum is very uninspiring.”
V.Monet has several goals for Poze Bazaar, which focuses on mentorships for 11th and 12th graders.
“We want to teach [students] industry etiquette,” she said. “We will teach them how to properly submit to callings, provide model coaching, and offer portfolio-building tips to models and designers. We will help aspiring singers and studio engineers start building their demo reels. We want to help prepare them for a professional future.”
Poze Bazaar will train students how to take their ideas from concept to reality.
“From drawing sketches, to selecting fabrics and patterns, to doing the actual stitch work, we’re going to provide the foundation they need to take their dreams and ideas beyond their imagination,” she said.
V.Monet does not put on fashion shows as much as she creates experiences. From designers to body painting, dance performances to contortionists, as well as a pop-up art gallery, she bills her productions as events “Where Fashion, Art, and Music Collide,” drawing the best of Birmingham’s designers, dancers, artists, makers, and musical guests along with national artists.
The first-annual Poze Bazaar Charity Fashion Show, held on Sept. 15, was hosted by local author and personality Christine Lee and featured an array of presentations, including a contortionist and aerialist. Model and coach Daniel Deon Scott Lewis, 22, entertained the audience between segments in 12-inch-high “no-heel” shoes.
“Every time Poze Bazaar comes to town, it will employ an array of entertainers and various media professionals,” V. Monet said. “Inner-city and regional talent can have an opportunity to showcase in this market, and all art forms are welcome. [Entertainers and creatives] can make Poze Bazaar what they want it to be for themselves. It can be a platform to expand brand presence or create awareness and support for nonprofit organizations.”
Dawn Richard, of the multiplatinum music group Danity Kane, was named Poze Bazaar’s 2017 Visionary Style Icon.
“I feel glad and proud to be a part of something so beautiful because women of color are overlooked in the fashion-and-arts world, period,” said the singer-songwriter. “I think we are present and here, and I think the louder our moments and the louder our voices, the more people are going to have to stop ignoring that we exist [in the fashion industry].
V.Monet’s swimsuit line, Camille Anthony, presented its summer latex fashion as the grand finale of the Pose Bazaar Charity Fashion Show. Asked what she hopes Poze Bazaar does for the city’s fashion industry, V. Monet said, “I hope Poze Bazaar helps garner a need for a downtown shopping district. We need a fashion economy downtown. We need to be able to do more than eat in the new Uptown district.”