Photo Credit: Jamel Mosely
Creative Under 40 Story by David King and Katie Cusack

Albany-based fashion designer Vaceia Payne was nominated for her work ethic, creativity and dedication to her craft. The freelance designer creates beautiful, Afrocentric pieces as part of her goal to create 54 unique collections based on each country in Africa.

“Africa is painted in such a negative light, so when I do my research on these countries, I research everything from the people to the tribes—and not just the tribe that everybody has heard about, but tribes that are hidden really deep in the mountains or way deep in the desert or somewhere people don’t really get to interact with them. I research their flowers or birds, everything that you could possibly know about the country,” Payne explained to The Collaborative last year.

So far, she has completed a collection dedicated to the cultures of Ghana, Morocco and Congo—a line of eight pieces she premiered at a highlight of her growing career, February’s New York Fashion Week.

“For the Congo collection, I did the research the same way that I did my other collections, but for this one I stuck with one particular thing—the work of Congolese painter Marcel Gotene,” she explains. “His paintings have a lot of abstract shapes and show off the female body. I wanted to include a lot of those elements into my designs. The colors that I use for the garments are those of the Congo flag as well as those that he uses in his paintings.”

While showcasing the Congo line in New York City, Payne was also approached for an exciting opportunity. She will premiere a new line at Dubai Fashion Week in September. “I was so happy that I didn’t feel emotion,” Payne laughs.

“When she [show organizer Deshai Williams] told me after the show, it solidified it for me that she had seen my clothes in person and wants me to be in Dubai.” Payne will also organize her first fashion show in the Capital Region. Slated for the end of August, the small show will feature five designers with their own models, hair and makeup teams.

“In my experience as a designer, a lot of times when fashion shows are put together designers have to share the models,” she notes. “I want to create an event where each designer as their own model so, the hair and makeup are significant to the collection and the garment that the designer creates. Full picture.”

Payne hopes her efforts—and those of her colleagues in the fashion scene putting on small, independent shows and large-scale productions such as Stitched—will continue to grow fashion culture in the region. She hopes Albany will soon have its own fashion week.

“I would say definitely not the same weekend as New York Fashion Week because a lot of models and designers here are down there for that, but we should be bringing more people here,” she says.