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All the World's a Stage

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What: Indiana Black Expo's Summer Celebration fashion show, featuring Paris designer Mike Sylla and more than a dozen Indiana-based designers and boutique owners.

When: 3 to 4 p.m. July 18.

Where: Hall H, Indiana Convention Center.

Cost: Free with admission ticket to IBE's Summer Celebration exhibit hall ($10 at the door).

Info: www.ibeonline.com

Indianapolis designer Nikki Blaine, of Nikki Blaine Couture, will feature 10-12 pieces at the "Fashion Here and Now" IBE fashion show.  - COURTESY OF NIKKI BLAINE
  • Courtesy of Nikki Blaine
  • Indianapolis designer Nikki Blaine, of Nikki Blaine Couture, will feature 10-12 pieces at the "Fashion Here and Now" IBE fashion show.

It was a standing-room only crowd of hundreds of fashion enthusiasts during last year's Indiana Black Expo fashion show, when Project Runway alum and runner-up Korto Momolu showed her Summer 2014 Collection.

This year's edition is primed for a repeat response.

Fashion Here & Now will feature the cutting-edge, painted leather creations of Paris designer and Senegal native Mike Sylla. His Baifall Dream Collection is just one of the many designs that will hit the runway on the Interactive Stage inside Hall H at the Indiana Convention Center.

The show will also feature innovative looks from more than a dozen Indiana-based designers, boutique owners and students, offering everything from colorful and artistic bow ties to Afro-contemporary ready-to-wear designs.

That fashion lovers flock to this event each year speaks to the caliber of its participating designers and the growth of Indianapolis' fashion scene, says Nikki Blaine, who promises a color-enriched show.

"We get so caught up in the mainstream, and we often overlook those designers that are offering a fresh, cutting-edge take on fashion, but that's exactly what this show is about," she says. "There's a renewed energy for fashion in Indianapolis, and many of the emerging designers and the major schools offering fashion (courses and majors) is helping to birth that interest."

The designer and owner of Nikki Blaine Couture, which she describes as "glam chic," will feature 10 to 12 of her own looks with a focus on what she's calling a "resort feel " of bright, neon colors.

Designer Mike Sylla brings his Baifall Dream collection to the "Fashion Here and Now" Indiana Black Expo Fashion show on July 18 at the Indiana Convention Center. - COURTESY OF MIKE SYLLA
  • Courtesy of Mike Sylla
  • Designer Mike Sylla brings his Baifall Dream collection to the "Fashion Here and Now" Indiana Black Expo Fashion show on July 18 at the Indiana Convention Center.

For the last five years, Blaine has served as a fashion show committee member and the mastermind behind selecting the designers who participate in the annual show.

But just like any major event, it takes an all-hands-on-deck approach to bring this annual event to life, says IBE fashion show coordinator and celebrity stylist Nicole Rene.

The Indianapolis native, who has styled everyone from rapper and actor Nelly to professional athletes, says her volunteer team -- which selects the designers to the models and hair and makeup professionals --pulls out all the stops each year to create an exciting program.

In their eyes, no job is seen as too big or small.

"During the show, I'm backstage helping with models, designers and doing whatever it takes," says Rene, "I know how to play a role and do what's needed at that moment."

Rene has been involved with the fashion show for 10 years -- the first five as a stylist and assisting backstage, and the last five as coordinator.

Each year, she says the show is more exciting and the fashions more cutting-edge.

"We want the show to be more couture and high fashion," says Rene.

Paris designer and Senegal native Mike Sylla is the featured designer for this year's Indiana Black Expo fashion show, "Fashion Here and Now." - COURTESY OF MIKE SYLLA
  • Courtesy of Mike Sylla
  • Paris designer and Senegal native Mike Sylla is the featured designer for this year's Indiana Black Expo fashion show, "Fashion Here and Now."

Having an international designer such as Sylla, who has shown at Fashion Week Paris and Miami Fashion Week, and whose pieces have been in some of the most esteemed fashion magazines in the world, solidifies both the "high fashion" and "couture" boxes.

Sylla's presence also raises the bar for the other designers in the show, including herself, says Blaine. "This gives (us) an opportunity to compare (ourselves) to an international designer."

In addition to sharing the stage with Sylla, IBE's fashion show provides a platform for local designers to showcase their skills, creativity and aesthetic to a large, diverse crowd. It also offers them a chance to interact with the audience immediately after the show and sell their designs.

That's not something you see at most high-end, couture fashion shows.

"It's all about seeing it today and wearing it tomorrow," says Rene.

"For local and (emerging) designers, this is amazing opportunity, and it's definitely needed," says Blaine, about the platform. "It's such a challenge (when you're a new designer), and I understand the grind and the process."

45th annual Summer Celebration

If fashion isn't your thing, there are many other ways to enjoy Indiana Black Expo's Summer Celebration. For more events, visit www.ibeonline.com. Here are a few to try:

Music Heritage Festival I Editor's Update: This concert is cancelled due to weather conditions

For years, music lovers have staked out their spot in the lawn days in advance for this annual outdoor concert. This year's entertainment includes performances by Black Street, Al Hudson & One Way, and The Original Lakeside. It will be a night of '90s jams and old-school favorites.

When: 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. July 17.

Where: American Legion Mall, 700 N. Pennsylvania St.

Cost: Free for lawn seating; $40 VIP wristband.

Cultural Arts Gallery

Explore visual art and history under one roof inside the Cultural Arts Gallery through exhibits from various Indiana arts institutions, including Herron School of Art & Design, Harrison Center for the Arts, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Indiana African American Genealogy Group, Indiana Historical Society, Freetown Village and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

When: Noon to 9 p.m. July 17-18; Noon to 7 p.m. July 19.

Where: Indiana Convention Center, Hoosier Corridor Rooms 130-135.

Cost: Free with admission to the Indiana Convention Center ($10 at the door).

The IBE Fashion Show is from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 18, inside Hall H at the Indiana Convention Center. - COURTESY OF MIKE SYLLA
  • Courtesy of Mike Sylla
  • The IBE Fashion Show is from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 18, inside Hall H at the Indiana Convention Center.

IBE Music Heritage Festival II

It will be a night of old-school soul music when Patti Labelle and The Isley Brothers (featuring Ron and Ernie Isley) take the stage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The '80s crooner El Debarge will also be performing.

When: 8 p.m. July 18.

Where: Bankers Like Fieldhouse, 125 S. Pennsylvania St..

Cost: $40, $65, $75.

Info:www.bankerslifefieldhouse.com.

McDonald's Inspirational Gospel Tour

Each year, Indiana Black Expo closes out Summer Celebration with a high-energy gospel show. Hosted by Christian comedian Small Fry, this year's concert features performances by Donald Lawrence, Rickey Dillard, Dorenda Clark-Cole, Tasha Page-Lockhart and Dewayne Woods.

When: 3 to 6:30 p.m. July 19.

Where: Indiana Convention Center, Sagamore Ballroom.

Cost:Free.

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