The actress and TV personality has teamed up with UPS to highlight three emerging HBCU alumni designers in a joint NYFW show titled BIG MOTION: An HBCU Runway
La La Anthony is all about amplifying Black excellence.
The actress and TV personality, 41, is teaming up with UPS to support HBCU alumni-owned fashion brands this New York Fashion Week as a way to showcase diversity in the fashion industry. This is UPS's third season as sponsors of NYFW: The Shows.
Ahead of the Sept. 8 event, Anthony exclusively spoke with PEOPLE about the importance of supporting the next generation of Black designers.
“Black communities are definitely underrepresented in fashion, but we're also the ones that set the trends in fashion,” she said. “So we need to be supported, we need to be uplifted."
The show, titled BIG MOTION: An HBCU Runway, features pieces from three fashion brands whose designers graduated from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the country. The designers received a grant of $150K total to put on their show this season.
The designers taking the stage are:
Duo Nola McEachin and Shaq Robotham, who met at Virginia State University, where they bonded over their love of fashion and later created The BRAND Label. They were passionate about designing one-of-a-kind garments for themselves that they couldn’t afford to buy while in college.
Also featured is Undra Duncan, founder and creative director of Undra Celeste New York, which focuses on modern workwear for multicultural women. She graduated from Howard University.
The third designer highlighted in the show is Chelsea Grays, a graduate of North Carolina Central University, whose eponymous label focuses on, among other things, gender fluidity and social justice.
As someone who briefly attended an HBCU herself — Anthony spent about two semesters at Howard University in Washington, D.C. — the Power and BMF star tells PEOPLE she feels strongly about supporting the alumni designers as she felt such “community and camaraderie” during her time as a student and wants that for others.
“It's rewarding to just help anyone who has a vision, who has a passion, and might not have the resources that they need,” Anthony said. “To be able to put people in positions to win is such a great feeling.”
“A lot of times all somebody really needs is somebody to believe in them,” she adds.
Anthony explains why it was important for her to attend an HBCU and how it inspired her to become involved in the UPS x NYFW partnership.
“I wanted to be around people that looked like me, understood what being me felt like, talk like me, walk the same, walk like me, understand culturally the same things that I deal with and go through every day,” the star said.
Anthony adds: “So many amazing, talented creative entrepreneurs come out of HBCUs and I just love that UPS is committed to their diversity and really putting money and resources behind allowing programs like this to thrive.”
In the spirit of NYFW, the actress also shares some of her favorite Black designers with PEOPLE, including Sergio Hudson, who designed an all-white Met Gala dress for her in May, Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, Brandon Blackwood, Pharell, and the late Virgil Abloh.
However, Anthony said she still makes it a priority to support emerging Black entrepreneurs in fashion.
“Shout out to all the Black designers that are always sending stuff to me and they know I support them completely. There's a lot of them.”
And she will "definitely" be commissioning pieces from the designers featured in BIG MOTION. "I am going to decide at the show. I want to see pieces are showcased on the runway [then] I would love to support all of them because they're all incredibly talented."
The UPS event capped a hectic few days, which kicked off with Anthony attending the PrettyLittleThing x Naomi Campbell Pretty Little Thing Fashion show. "It was really nice to wear clothing [she] designed and to watch her walk the runway," the star says.
As Anthony continues attending events this fashion week, she tells PEOPLE how she's not fazed by one of the most “hectic” weeks in September.
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"You just kind of got to mentally tell yourself, all right, it's going to be like this, it's going to be fun, it's going to be a whirlwind, take it all in because it goes really fast,” she said.
“And then you can take a deep breath when it's all said and done.”
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