Five designers showcase their wares at Qns. Fashion Week

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New York Fashion Week step aside. The Queens Fashion Week Runway Gala Event pulled out all the stops at the York Performing Arts Center Sunday, with five new head-turning designer lines.

Executive producer and designer Delali Haligah, of OSUN Designs, put together another exciting runway show introducing up-and-coming designers who are making their mark in the industry.

Asking everyone to help make Queens better, Haligah said. “It’s all about making connections so more talented people can work here.”

Her mission has been to gradually transform the borough into a multicultural fashion mecca, second only to Manhattan.

Models sashayed down the runway Sunday to the sound of electrifying music, wearing a medley of spring and fall 2011 urban chic designs in a variety of fabrics and tones — ranging from muted hues to bright splashes of turn-up-the-volume color. Sassy plus sizes were spotlighted as well. Many styles featured decorative shells sewn onto hems and sleeves, making a subtle but dramatic impact and lending the show a Caribbean feel.

Haligah’s stand-out Art to Wear styles were simple but elegant. Eye-catching, bold handmade jewelry, also on sale at the event, accented the designer pieces, as did Haligah’s son’s unique beads collection. At 12, he is following in his mother’s creative footsteps. They work from their home studio in Laurelton.

Michele Walden’s Michi Knitwear — — can be worn all year round.

“I incorporated spring, summer and fall 2011,” she said. “I’ve been knitting all my life and found out my niche is doing knitwear. No size is too small or too large.”

Shonetta Steele’s Royal Rush Designs for her 2011 Candy Collection were inspired by fun, bright candy store colors. The Brooklyn designer attended the Art Institute of New York and described herself as super-dedicated and a go-getter.

“If you want something, just go ahead and do it,” she said.

Steele creates her one-of-a-kind items in her kitchen: pretty baubles, unusual handmade bags covered with beads, sequins, feathers and faux fur. Surprisingly, it took her just one day to complete her entire runway collection. Steele’s items are available online at

Cambria Heights global lifestyle designer Barbara Garnes’ African and modern art-inspired home decor items include washable tablecloths, beautiful tea sets, linens and kitchen and bath accessories. She also offers merchandising services to small businesses.

And she said she is “encouraging designers to seek out manufacturers in our vicinity, and look to small businesses to buy products ... 80 percent of my line is produced in New York.”

Garnes uses a manufacturer in Woodside and gets her fabrics mostly from the United States, Indonesia and India, selling her collection online and in small museum shops.

“I formed the company to promote my lifelong dream of creating products in my own fabrics that reflect heritage and culture,” she said.

The website is

Though the designers’ visions differ, they are all exploring new looks for the contemporary woman. They hope, in time, that their hard work and signature styles will be recognized.

“After all,” said Haligah, “this is how they pay their rent.”

Updated 6:01 pm, September 22, 2011
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