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Style, Success, & Sisterhood

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Project Runway Alum Korto Momolu Brings Designs to the Cole Steven’s Salon During Inauguration Weekend 

I heard it said once that Black Women need a new publicist to spin the bad press we always get. Actually, I think I’m the one who said that. 

 
We have a bad rap for being unsupportive and catty; pushing one another off the summit of success so we can hog it for ourselves. I blame the Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks.
 
I’ll happily play the role of spin doctor. 
 
Last week,  Diane Cole Stevens of the Cole Stevens Salon hosted designer and stylist Korto Momolu’s Trunk Show. Diane and Korto formed their relationship a few years back after the publicist they both shared introduced the two. 
 
“I love Korto’s style, her business sense, and her spirit. And she’s freaking smart,” Cole Stevens said of the Project Runway alum. “Our publicist introduced us and immediately I began thinking of people I needed to connect her to. She’s so talented and I wanted to see her succeed.”
 
The Liberian-born clothes and jewelry designer made a name for herself when she appeared on Project Runway in 2005 where she was a fan favorite. Her choice of bold fabrics, bright colors, and African-inspired aesthetic landed her as the first runner up on the popular show and on the path to carving out her own niche in a very exclusive industry. 
 
“Most people hear ‘fashion designer’ and they assume it’s easy and the money is just rolling in,” Korto told B. Couleur. “It’s a lot of hard work. You have to work hard to make it a business.” 
 
In addition to connecting Korto with influential investors and sponsors, Diane and the Cole Stevens stylists were on hand to do hair and makeup when Korto showed for the first time at New York Fashion Week in February 2012. As the Inauguration of President Barack Obama approached, she did not think twice about using the opportunity to have a trunk show at the DC-based salon.
 
“I was going to be in town for the Inauguration and it just made sense. This is a big weekend and a great time to get together with the people who have supported me throughout my career,” the designer shared. 
 
Four Cole Stevens Salon customers served as live models during the trunk show. Guests were treated to Korto’s signature style; lots of color, mixed prints, and impeccably constructed garments. Her dresses look like they should be framed in a museum after they’ve been worn to some fabulously over-the-top event. I could not take my eyes off of the bright yellow number Korto designed for Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes’ appearance in the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant
 
Speaking to the intimate crowd Korto said, “These people, Diane and the stylists here at Cole Stevens, have been here from the beginning. It has been very difficult and times; a serious struggle. They believed in my dreams when I didn’t have the energy to do it for myself. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for my family, friends, and people like Diane.”
 

Korto announced she would be donating a portion of the sales from the evening’s event to Diane’s non-profit organization, The Cinderella Foundation. The Foundation empowers African-America girls in high-risk, low income areas by providing workshops and mentorship that nurture their self esteem, help improve communication skills and academic performance, and open doors to professional opportunities.
 
“We are supposed to grab our sister’s hand and pull her up. If I am successful, you should be successful,” Diane remarked. “For the Cinderella Foundation, it’s important for young girls to even know that this kind of success is an option. They need to see Korto being successful. It opens their eyes to opportunities they might have never considered.”
 
It’s encouraging to see this happening in the fashion and beauty industry, and especially among women of color. Providing rungs to someone else’s ladder of success contributes to your own. The partnership Korto and Diane have formed exemplifies how important it is to be surrounded by a village of enthusiastic supporters who put action behind their intentions. 
 
This is true beauty and style. 
 

Korto will have a ready-to-wear line available on her website in February 2013. For more information visit www.kortomomolu.com.  
 
For more information about The Cinderella Foundation or to make a donation visit www.cinderellafoundation.org

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