The exhibition will be directed and operated by Black and African minority groups as they proudly give the audience a peek at the clothing that best represents their various cultures.
This fashion show is held at The Venue at Highlander Accelerator, a modern building consisting of steel rods and numerous skylights. The show will present five collections consisting of 15 to 19 pieces that vary from traditional African dress to some American styles. All of the designs are created by Mourdjana Batcha, the owner and founder of M.J Queen Beauty & Fashion, an Omaha boutique.
Batcha, who goes by MJ, started her textile career in her car, when she would drive to friends’ and family members’ homes to hand-alter their clothing. She is self-taught and learned how to hand sew before ever using a sewing machine.
“The first true garment I made was a skirt for someone who was going to a church conference,” Batcha said. “I had never made a skirt before, and I was so excited. I didn’t want to spend time learning how to use a machine, so I just hand sewed the whole thing. It was such an eye-opening experience. I realized that I was made to do this.”
After becoming more well-known for her sewing skills, Batcha moved her shop out of her car and opened M.J Queen Beauty & Fashion in 2011. The store originally focused on making custom-made African-style garments. Customers would bring in their own fabrics or choose from the selection of fabrics Batcha had in her store, and she would sew the desired clothing pieces. Since then, Batcha has expanded to include American-style clothing and now has an entire team to help her create and alter garments for the people of Omaha.
According to Batcha, putting together an entire fashion show is no easy feat. While this is the second year for the Legacy Fashion Show, making sure everything runs smoothly can still be a struggle. Luckily, Batcha has a whole team behind her.
“I’ve been in multiple other fashion shows, but this one is the most stressful because it’s all my own,” Batcha said. “It’s big and nerve-racking and scary. The easiest part for me was deciding to do it. I’m also super grateful for the team that I have. Without them, this show wouldn’t be possible.”
One such member of her team is Charity Williams, a model walking in the Legacy Fashion Show wearing three different Batcha looks. She explained that the opportunity to walk in the show just fell into her lap after an entrepreneurship meeting from The Omaha Star.
“When I was leaving the meeting, MJ was passing out flyers about modeling in the show,” Williams said. “The deadline to signup was like the next day, too. It was really spur-of-the-moment.”
Not only did the universe make the fashion show happen for Williams, but she is also passionate about the fashion show’s message of minority empowerment. She explained that the show is primarily created and run by Black and African people.
“I love how minority groups are running the show. It’s expressing the deeper message that ‘Black girls can be beautiful too,’ and the overarching theme of African and Black empowerment,” Williams said. “I’m also super honored that MJ trusts me with wearing her clothing and representing her culture.”
Williams is very passionate about modeling, and she hopes to exude her love for clothing and modeling this weekend at the Legacy Fashion Show.
“To me, modeling is art. If you do it correctly, the audience members should feel just as cool as the models feel, much like the feeling you get when you stare at a piece of art, like you are a part of the art,” Williams said.
According to Batcha, the fashion show will express an important message about clothing. To her, clothing is deeper than just fabrics and threads, and she wants everyone else to realize this as well.
“Fashion has an absolute impact on our lives and how we feel on a daily basis,” Batcha said. “My hope is that, after my show, people will see fashion differently in African textiles and the fashion industry as a whole.”