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Artistic Passion & Purpose to Host Farewell Fashion Show and Party

by Keegan Fraser
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Artistic Passion & Purpose—a community partner at Express Newark that cultivates the talents of local entertainers, models, make-up artists and designers—will be marking the end of its residency with a November 5 fashion show.

The event, called Artistic Passion & Fashion, will be held at 46-54 Halsey Street from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It will feature dancers, poets, vocalists, deejays and a live band, in addition to designers and models. There will be vendors, raffles and giveaways. Tickets are free for standing room only and from $5 to $15 for preferred seating along the runway. Tickets can be purchased here. 

“It’s going to be heavy in artistry,’’ promised Michael De’Von, co-director of Artistic Passion & Purpose.

The organization is a Newark-based non-profit that offers aspiring and professional performers, as well as models and designers, lessons in sewing, singing, dancing, design and hair and make-up artistry.

The group moved into Express Newark in December of 2019, prepared to serve as a bridge between the university and Greater Newark residents, a mission of Express Newark’s community partnership program. Two months later, the Covid-19 pandemic struck, making it impossible to hold live events and lessons for many months.

“Everything we do is hands on, and we couldn’t even stand next to each other,’’ recalled De’Von.

But the group was able to adapt by producing three issues of a fashion magazine, called, The Artistic Eye, a bold, colorful platform that showcased the style and talent of its mostly local members, clients and collaborators.

“We managed to keep our head above water,’’ said De’Von.

RU-N staff and students were among the talent Artistic Passion & Purpose worked with during its residency. Some served as models while others assisted in photo shoots, including those held at Express Newark’s SHINE Portrait Studio, with support from the studio’s assistant director Anthony Alvarez.

De’Von hopes the magazine (really more of a “coffee table book,’’ he says) will remind many readers that they possess talent and creativity that’s waiting to be realized. 

“I want it to wake up the artsy side that we all have. And I hope that if you’re operating in your artistry, it will inspire you to collaborate with other artists,’’ he said.

“People are out here doing things. Whatever your dreams or aspirations, they’re achievable,’’ added De’Von, a designer and hairstylist who has worked with celebrities such as Gladys Knight and Tiffany Haddish. 

Although COVID-19 made it challenging to pursue the group’s original plan, Artistic Passion & Purpose was still able to offer some classes and keep the cost at less than $10, including seminars in vogue dancing, taught by Leiomy Maldonda, an emerging star in the LGBTQ ballroom scene.

De’Von’s goal has always been to include a range of communities. “Community can be very broad and we wanted to make sure we touched on all of them. We catered to everyone,’’ he said.

He hopes the fashion event, originally scheduled to be held in April of 2020, can serve as both a farewell and a new beginning. 

 “We’re hoping that this traction will help us move forward,’’ he said.

Anne Englot, founding co-director of Express Newark, praised the group’s work during a difficult time. Members still managed to teach and produce “groundbreaking” content,’’ she said.

“It was one of the greatest pleasures of my tenure as co-director to work with Michael De’Von and the dynamic group of stylists, designers and artists he gathered,’’ she said. “When Covid hit, APP quickly pivoted to put most of their programming online and produce a stunning fashion magazine to continue promoting the talent of Newark designers. I look forward to seeing what APP has in store for the future.”

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