Crave Forbidden Fruit

At a glance, the state of fashion at UVA is a sad one. Homogeny rules, holding in one hand a scepter in the shape of the Vineyard Vines’ Whale, in the other a Lilly Pulitzer handbag, and Sperrys on both feet.

However, on the night of Friday, April 14, in Slaughter gymnasium, the CIO Creative, Raw, and Very Edgy (CRAVE) broke that homogeneity. The organization, dedicated to creating and supporting an environment of creativity and diversity, hosted their annual Spring Fling Fashion Show which showcased what UVA needs more of in the realm of fashion. The audience and the runway were its medium.

Titled “Forbidden Fruit,” this season’s show featured looks by ten designers from Washington to Virginia Beach, and pieces ranging from Jordan Nichols’s (@j_reality) lushly embroidered streetwear to eye-poppingly printed suits by Aaron Handy (@kineticstyles), and from the vintage inspired designs of Bettina Coleman (@virlecole) to Scheron Harley’s (@hofalcenciago) evening gowns.   

To organize these diverse collections, the show kept with its title by breaking the evening into seven sections bearing the names of the seven deadly sins.  Every piece within a section corresponded to that section’s sin.  For example, during “GREED”, the outfits, which were all bought from Charlotte Russe, positively reeked of money; the gentlemen kept it clean in richly colored velvet blazers while the ladies strutted the catwalk in decadent furs.  

Theatrics had been an emphasis for CRAVE in past events, but this year they took a back seat. CRAVE President T’sara Nock said that this was the first time a majority of the show’s pieces were made by designers. Thus, more attention needed to be payed to the clothes than in previous shows.

Performance, though, still had its place in the event. To only call CRAVE a fashion show would be an injustice to the models. With each sexually-charged walk down the runway, the models took on as many roles as outfits they wore.  

Of particular note was the the interplay between the male and female models.  Whether it be the slightly comical scene of a man checking out a woman in a bathing suit or the intricate dances during LUST, the performances told engaging stories.     

The choreography was most effectively used during PRIDE portion of the evening.  As they displayed a selection of designs influenced by African, again bought from Charlotte Russe, and Caribbean, designed by Jasmine Edmonds and the Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness, motifs, each of the models broke into dance at the end of the catwalk.  These moments injected energy into the proceedings that are rarely seen in  fashion shows.

The models were remarkable for more than just their performances.  In an industry that is still criticized for lacking diversity, it is affirming to see such a strong representation of minority models and such a range of body types as well.

CRAVE, however, is more than just an annual fashion show. Its final product is certainly an impressive feat, but the value of each year’s worth of effort is far more than just the successful event.

CRAVE’s Spring show each year coincides with UVA’s “Spring Fling”, an admissions event hosted by the University. Spring Fling serves to give prospective African American students an opportunity to learn about the academic and cultural opportunities awaiting them at the University. CRAVE is an outstanding example of a social space outside of Rugby Road or the Corner, giving these students an opportunity to see another side of UVA social life. On this side, diversity is welcomed and encouraged. Nock emphasized her joy of being able to work with students who were once high-school seniors visiting the event.

Philanthropy is another initiative important to CRAVE. All proceeds from their annual fashion show directly benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia here in Charlottesville. Additionally, CRAVE members spend many of their Fridays hanging with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club.

These initiatives–the philanthropy, involvement with Spring Fling, and show itself–all serve to emphasize the same point: CRAVE is about more than any one of these initiatives alone. It’s about the community created when all of these efforts work in tandem. Both to Grounds and greater Charlottesville, CRAVE creates spaces of expression, diversity, and creativity–spaces of the utmost importance in promoting progression and acceptance around Grounds. The organization serves as a model of what can be achieved with a desire to take on homogeneity, and how to look good while doing it.


A full list of the designers and the Instagrams who displayed at the show

Fran Hall @shopfahboutique

Robert Gray

Eddie Van @themaddnessshop

Jordan Nichols @j_reality

Jasmine Edwards and the Student Organization for Caribbean Awareness

Scheron Harley @hofalenciago

Bettina Coleman @virlecole

Aaron Handy @kineticstyles

Daniel Norris and Gabrielle Ritchie @firstoriginalstyling


Anthony del Rosso is a first-year who knows how to get down, just ask him.

Garrett Lukens is a first-year who only posts videos of his dog scooting its butt on the ground to his facebook