Malena Belafonte, producer, director and all around ringmaster of fashion’s most theatrical productions, took New York Fashion Week by storm in what guests described as James Bond meets Moulin Rouge.  

Guests were invited to Bond45 on Broadway, in the heart of the world’s theatre district, welcomed at check in with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres only to be swept into Malena Belafonte’s Boudoir by a belly dancer adorned with a candle-lit chandelier headpiece, who interacted with them all.

In a setting reminiscent of a vaudeville dinner-theatre fashion show, guests were treated to a set menu paired with wine while the show, which guests described as James Bond meets Moulin Rouge, played out like chapters in a book. The show lasting around 90 minutes included multiple designers as well as a talented cast of models and performers, some performing solo, some intertwined into runway segments. Sarafina Belafonte, Harry Belafonte’s youngest granddaughter, sang a soulful and emotional rendition of I’m Sorry by Joshua Bassett while she along with her younger brother Amadeus were cast as both models and dancers, making for a real family affair.

Malena Belafonte, a dancer, singer, and model herself, is the founder of The Journey Fashion Festival which is one of, if not the most diverse independent show production platforms of NYFW. “I like to say that we are exclusively inclusive. We have been DEI focused years before it became a thing on everyone’s lips and minds. My family is of color, my husband David who is my production partner is black, I am white, our children are mixed, and our entire show crew is reflective of the diversity of backgrounds and stories in the world that should be more reflected in the “elite” fashion industry. My production team, backstage crew, and models I consider an extension of our family so it’s very simple to me. We used men on the runway wearing dresses before Vogue did, we used models with disabilities without the need to highlight that fact. I have kept the doors open for models that might have aged out to others, or were not considered industry standard size. One of our models just had a baby 1 month ago, and she really wanted to do the show. I was thrilled, but as a mother I did not want her to be away from her baby for such long days, so we incorporated her infant into the show and rehearsals. My cast in phenomenal – we are a big circus family, and that is what I strive for. Fashion is supposed to make you feel good, shows are supposed to be fun, but sometimes the industry takes itself too seriously, and that is the mold I like to break.”

Malena Belafonte’s Boudoir differs from the regular NYFW shows in that it is a series of evenings that run like dinner theatre, even after fashion week is over. True to being exclusively inclusive, the public can now get a front row seat to what only fashion insiders usually get to experience during fashion week, and the show’s designers get exposed to a whole new audience that they otherwise might never encounter.

Designers and brands included but not limited to, Maria Wells from Peru,

EPluribus by Muriel Grabe from the UK and US, Layana Aguilar from Brazil and Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars, Kristi Vosbeck Couture, Kristi Vosbeck Bridal from USA and Denmark, Yeroc by Corey Woods from NYC, Henry Picado from Costa Rica. Team MC, Alex Salem/Douglas Elliman, FIT, Sennheiser, and more.

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