Art Hearts Fashion · Black Tape Project · Culture · Drakhan Blackhart · Entertainment · Fashion · Fashionista · Joel Alvarez · LAFW · Live Performance · Los Angeles · Media

Drakhan Blackhart’s Black Tape Project

Hey Angelenos and fashion lovers who followed LA Fashion Week from elsewhere!

The last time I wrote about the Black Tape Project (BTP) was last month after its final show during New York Fashion Week. This month is LA Fashion Week, and as usual, Art Hearts Fashion had some of the hottest designers in their production. This lineup included the Black Tape Project… but with some changes. First things first: The BTP creative director and designer, formerly known as Joel Alvarez, is now known as Drakhan Blackhart. And the BTP is back… kinda.

If you’re not familiar with the Black Tape Project, let me give you a quick rundown. It was started by multihyphenate artist-designer-photographer-entrepreneur Joel Alvarez (now Drakhan Blackhart) in the early 2010s. Blackhart creates intricate designs directly on models’ bodies using black or holographic tape. The designs are often geometric and strategically placed 😉 to create a unique and edgy look.

Creative mastermind Drakhan Blackhart remained true to Alvarez’s style, and the looks were along the edgy, boundary-pushing vibe of past collections. The designs with holographic tape are still my personal faves. The main difference between this show and last month’s show is that at LAFW, the show was presented as a burlesque show rather than a fashion show. Guests at Art Hearts Fashion’s show on March 18th saw a variation on the traditional BTP show. The presentation took place during the after-party rather than as a runway show. And instead of using the full U-shaped runway that was used for the fashion shows that evening, the BTP only utilized one side of the runway.

Although it did not have the over-the-top dancing, theatrics, and comedy typical of a traditional burlesque show, Blackhart’s show (which did have a maturity disclaimer before the presentation started) was not lacking in attention-grabbing styles.

The main aesthetic difference between this presentation and last month’s final show was, in my opinion, the use of more body jewellery. Although the tape art was obviously the main focus, Blackhart himself adorned a model on the runway in an intricate body chain. This use of body jewellery was seen throughout the BTP presentation, with some pieces being large and chunky and others being delicate, small enough that it looked like shimmer gracefully floating around the model.

But let’s rewind a little bit to the moments before the models graced the runway. There was a large video display showing behind-the-scenes prep for the BTP. It showed the preparation for the NYFW show and shots of models on the runway. It also showed the highlight of that runway show: Blackhart’s dramatic entrance and emotion-packed display before exiting the runway downstage. I had chills watching it last month, but seeing it in such close-up detail was a whole new level of connection with the artist. His emotion was raw, and seeing this recording reminded me of why this theatric performance was my favourite part of last month’s show. Again, chills!

The burlesque show followed the same format as the NYFW fashion show. It was around 30 minutes long and started with a live taping on the runway. The first set of models strutted their stuff and showed off Blackhart’s designs in black, studded, and holographic neon coloured tape. There was a second on-stage (is “on-runway” a word?) taping followed by a second set of models who graced the runway.

If you missed the LAFW burlesque show, fear not! BTP will be returning to LA for LA Swim Week (June) and LAFW (October). The show will also be in Miami for Miami Swim Week (July) and NYC for NYFW (September). So what are you waiting for? Grab your friends, get dressed up, and prepare to be mesmerized by the artistry and sensuality of the Black Tape Project’s new show. (Tickets here.)

The artist formerly known as Alvarez had said that he and his team were “looking forward to topping ourselves in 2023” and it looks like they are already well on their way to this being the best BTP year yet!

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