Fashion designer Sara Crawford created this black, sequined midi tutu and cheetah printed crop top for Fashion Week. Photo by Chris Both

Local clothing designer Sara Crawford’s career will reach a milestone this weekend that many fashion lovers only dream of achieving. On Saturday, Crawford’s signature designs will make the journey from Delaware to the Big Apple, where models will strut her creations on the runway for New York Fashion Week (NYFW).

Crawford’s fashion brand, Anara Original, is making its NYFW debut alongside several other emerging fashion designers from across the country at a show hosted by the AMG Group, which aims to bring attention to independent brands.

Designers, models, artists and musicians will celebrate the event at Manhattan’s trendy Loft 51 venue, just steps away from other major Fashion Week shows like Longchamp and Private Policy.

Crawford paired a cream camisole with her full maxi tutu on this model who is sitting on the Jack Markell Trail on the Riverfront. Photo by Chris Both

“When AMG Group reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of Fashion Week, I knew the opportunity was going to come with a lot of pressure,” said Crawford. “When I decided to do it, I decided I really needed to marry myself to the idea of it.”

Crawford, 36, who graduated from Padua Academy and later from the International Academy of Design, is using her first NYFW appearance to illustrate the deeper meaning of her brand.

Though she has a background in business and commercial fashion, she also has a deep love for the personal voice that designing gives her. As an African-American woman with albinism, Crawford has always been driven to use clothing as a medium for social advocacy. 

“I felt like I had to grow up with tough skin,” she said. “Kids can be really mean. Being different and growing up a little lighter definitely inspired me to work even harder for what I wanted to create.”

Her runway show, which she titled The Pigment Collection in honor of the light pigmentation of her skin, features a muted color palette with an emphasis on texture and edgy detailing. According to Crawford, watching strong, confident women march down the runway in her pastel designs is a part of her journey of loving her skin. She hopes that the line will inspire other people to find strength in their own diversity.

Crawford will present her Pigment Collection at New York’s Fashion Week

“I want people to know that matter what they’re going through, they still can flourish and grow,” she said. “Growing up as an albino, people would always make such a big deal of it. I want the collection to be representative of the power of women.”

Though Anara Originals, which was established in 2004, includes clothing for men, women and children, Crawford is focusing on women’s wear for her NYFW show. Runway shows typically last only a few minutes, but Crawford has spent several months honing new designs for the event, including blazers, jackets, pants and the brand’s signature tutus.

To give her delicate color palette an edge, Crawford decided to contrast her feminine fabrics with rebellious studs and embellishments. 

“I like things that have some kind of wow factor to them,” she said. “I like details. The details really pull a look together for me.”

This weekend marks her first NYFW show, but Crawford is no stranger to New York City. After growing up in Delaware, she spent several years in the City that Never Sleeps, diving fully into the fashion industry. She has experience working with brands like Tommy Hilfiger, DDC Lab and H&M, but finds owning her own brand incredibly fulfilling. “I always wanted my brand to be an extension of myself,” Crawford said.

Crawford also mentors women in business at True Access Capital

Along with her fashion expertise, Crawford has a wealth of experience in the non-profit sector. As Program Director at the Women’s Business Center at True Access Capital, Crawford mixes her entrepreneurship with a passion for advocacy. When she’s not designing for Anara Originals, her work allows her to mentor other women in business. 

Looking forward, Crawford is sure that fashion will always be part of her journey. With NYWF soon to be in her rear-view mirror, she has already been invited to bring her designs to London’s Oxford School of Fashion.

But before she makes the trip across the pond, she plans to exhibit her Pigment Collection at a show in Wilmington as an homage to her home state. The event will happen in late February, and she plans to turn it into a celebration for friends, family, and anyone interested in her work. She plans to share details over all social media platforms, including her business page on Facebook.

“There are no definitive plans for what will come next,” she said, “but I always have a platform. I always have something near and dear to my heart, and I always use fashion to show it.”

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