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Nashville Fashion Week on Jefferson Street

by Wanda Clay

Models walk the runway at Nashville Fashion Week on Jefferson Street 2017. (photos by Wanda Clay)

The Rev’s Denim is the top feature on Sunday, April 7, at the Nashville Fashion Week on Jefferson Street.

Anyone who loves fashion will attend this event at the Historic Elks Lodge, formerly The Club Baron at 2614 Jefferson Street at 3 pm.

With such unique items as hats, dresses, jackets, skirts and much more, it’s not just something made from ‘jeans.’ It is truly a show of fashion.

Barbara Woods Riles Washington was born in Cleveland, Ohio and began designing clothes with denim as a student at Tennessee State University. “As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, I first made denim skirts as the uniform dress wear for the Spring ‘74 Rush Party show. By Spring ‘75 I was working with ‘The Soul Shack’ in Bordeaux to present denim wear in a TSU campus fashion show.” Following a great display of fashions in denim, an interview was published stating: “Denim Just Won’t Fade Away.”

Upon her graduating from TSU, Washington said: “I moved to Atlanta thinking ‘fashion’ then answered a call to Ministry.”

Washington is also a gifted quilter. After quilting for approximately 11 years, she felt an interest in participating in the 2015 African Street Festival. With a plethora of beautiful, unique and awe-inspiring specially designed quilts, she did not want to include them in this festival. Instead, Washington wanted to do denim. After displaying about 25 denim pieces, the response was so great because they are so unique that there is none like them in any marketplace! “I have been doing denim since that time.”

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington

Why the theme ‘The Soul of Nashville Fashion?’ After two festivals, 2015 and 2016 African Street Festivals and the 2016 Malcolm X Festival, in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2017, she said she “decided to take The Rev’s Denim to the runway,” said Rev. Barbara. “While searching for just the right show, I learned of Nashville Fashion Week. Of the persons I asked, none had knowledge of Nashville Fashion Week. My first runway show was ‘Thick ‘n Curvy’ on March 19, 2017. The response was overwhelming. I came to see that the African American community of Jefferson Street with its three HBCUs residing on this corridor is the heart and soul of Nashville fashion.”

Washington thought of not only the schools. “I thought of the churches and the clubs of Jefferson Street and realized that fashion is who we are! I awoke to what for me, is a vision of ‘Nashville Fashion Week on Jefferson Street.’”

Now with the purpose of providing a platform for designers of the Black Nashville community, she was unable to enlist one.

“On Sunday, April 9, 2017,” Washington said, “the First Nashville Fashion Week on Jefferson Street became a reality for me when as a sole emerging designer, along with eight models, produced a show of 32 Looks at The Loft at Ella Jean’s.

“Like the world’s greatest fashion designers, I began this fashion show journey with the sole purpose of selling clothes,” she said. However, the vision she now has is tapping into her years of experience in community building.

“In promoting this year’s show, ‘NFWoJS3,’ I am seeking to raise the community’s consciousness of the Historic Jefferson Street Music District’s ‘Last Club Standing-The Club Baron.’ Now owned and operated as ‘The Elk’s Lodge, 1102 Pride of Tennessee,” The third Nashville Fashion Week on Jefferson Street show, on Sunday, April 7, has found the way onto the Jefferson Street stage where Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Fats Domino, The Isley Brothers and other great musicians have left their footprints.”

Following this show, The Rev’s Denim will be continuing on its journey in the June 2019 RAW, in Cleveland, Ohio and then onto the Atlanta Fashion Designers Showcase in September 2019.

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