The night before the annual celebrity-focused gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) will host the People’s Ball, a free event where New Yorkers can express their most creative style in a more egalitarian setting on Sunday, May 1. This year, self-expression, diversity, and democratized fashion are not the only causes for celebration—the event will also honor the Library’s 125 year anniversary.
Authors Isaac Fitzgerald and Scaachi Koul will serve as hosts with special guests that include the fashion curator Souleo, whose 2021 exhibition “Showing Out: Fashion in Harlem” celebrated the legacy of the Harlem Institute of Fashion, which helped cement the upper Manhattan neighborhood as a fashion center. Models that walked in fashion shows put on by the Institute in the eighties and early nineties will be present at the People’s Ball this Sunday along with models from the Grandassa modeling agency that, along with the African Jazz-Art Society, hosted the historic “Naturally '62” fashion show of 1962 in the basement of a Harlem nightclub that celebrated the African American models’ natural hair.
Also in attendance will be Damian Jöel, an alumnus of BPL’s BKLYN Fashion Academy—a program for aspiring designers based at the Library that provides the skills needed to launch successful fashion businesses. BPL also offers freely loaned sewing machines and sewing workshops.
Guests will be welcomed to walk a runway and dance along to performances by DJ Rimarkable, singer Inyang Bassey, burlesque aerialist Opera Gaga, and Paris the Hip-Hop Juggler. “Open and welcoming to all, the People’s Ball is a chance to showcase Brooklynites in all of our creative, idiosyncratic, resilient glory,” BPL President and CEO, Linda E. Johnson, shared in a statement.
The People’s Ball event is one of many initiatives led by BPL to foster inclusion, diversity, and literacy—as demonstrated by the recently announced "Books UnBanned Initiative," which will grant a BPL library card to any teenager in the US for access to its vast digital catalog in the wake of an alarming spike in book bans by school districts in various states.
The People’s Ball will take place Sunday, May 1 from 7-11pm in the Lobby Gallery of the Central Library. More information can be found at bklynlibrary.org.