by Colleen Digney and Gary Axelbank
May, 10, 2019
Bay Plaza mall is getting ready for its fifth annual fashion show tomorrow, Saturday, May 11 from 2:00pm – 6:00pm. But it’s not just the sterling outfits that draw crowds of Bronxites each year. It’s about the people of the Bronx – ALL people of the Bronx – showing off what’s beautiful about each and every one.
Flora Montes, the creator of the show, calls the fashion show, which is part of Bronx Fashion Week, a labor of love and she’s come to learn that Bronx people love them, too. She says that literally thousands have come to enjoy the Bay Plaza show, which is hosted by Caridad De La Luz.
“It’s more than just fashion,” she told thisistheBronX during a mid-week interview. “We’re empowering people to show them that we’re all beautiful.”
While she says the models range from two to 92, they do have one thing in common: living in the Bronx. From day-one of Montes’ Fashion
Week endeavors, she valued the notion of ‘by the Bronx and for the Bronx’.
People who have never considered modeling and are sometimes hesitant end up modeling at Bay Plaza after hearing Montes’ words of encouragement. She makes a point to emphasize the beauty and potential of each individual.
For example, she recently received a message from a transgender male who wanted to participate in the event, but believed he wouldn’t even be considered. “Of course I want you to come to the casting, I want to meet you!” she told him.
As for what fashions are displayed, the south Bronx native constantly searches through Instagram to see what styles are popular and more importantly, who is wearing them.
While she remains true to the Bronx by constantly providing opportunities to locals, her work has caught the attention of people around the world. People from faraway places like London and Bermuda have reached out due to their admiration of not only the show, but what it represents.
Montes started Bronx Fashion Week five years ago, after living through some hard times. Despite it being one of the darkest points of her life, her outlook turned while watching a fashion show. Because of this, she believes her shows contain a spiritual element. Hence the name ‘Legacy’ for this year’s show. She hopes the Legacy of Bronx Fashion Week will continue long after she’s gone.
“We’re showing it to the whole world,” she said. “We’re not limiting it.”