Queen Sophie Charlotte of England was born exactly 277 years and ten days before the first ball in her honor was held in the U.S. city that bears her name. Level21’s very own Chequelle Brown got an exclusive look into Queen Charlotte’s First Annual Ball this past Saturday and caught up with the brains behind it all, Socialite CLT’s Levi Darosa.
“Growing up in Charlotte (North Carolina) we hear so much about the Carolina Panthers or new residential buildings, but we rarely get to the spirit of Charlotte – which IS Queen Charlotte. We see the crowns everywhere, we see the royal essence that’s here but we don’t really get the why. So I kind of wanted to fill the gap,” Darosa shared.
The beloved Queen was seven years into her reign and marriage to King Henry III when the city was incorporated back in 1768. According to the African American Registry she was England’s second black queen, and it’s this little known fact that brings a different light to the history and culture of the Queen City.
Queen Charlotte had an interest and affinity for the fine arts and humanitarian work, and in her honor this inaugural event chose to highlight local artists and raise funds for non-profits the Grooming Greatness Foundation and Light + Song. The night began with a red carpet where Brown caught up with two of the featured artists – Fashion Designer Luis Machicao and 16-year old glass artist Elijah Kell.
The Soiree Runway show of the night featured an extravagant display of bright red couture with a deeper meaning, according to the Charlotte designer. “The whole year after my show in Paris for Fashion Week, suddenly I thought OK enough is enough. I’m going to be grieving my whole life, but I NEED to have color,” Machicao explained as he opened up about going through the loss of his sister.
His previous collection used black and white to represent the darkness he felt with the occasional bursts of light. “So I decided to design the collection Machicao FIRE, everything was red,” Machicao said. The models displayed a beautiful mixture of long pieces, short pieces, and fun patterns mixed with red for a unique yet cohesive look that came together in just eight months.
His advice to young designers coming out after a tough year: “Be stubborn. Be super stubborn,” Machicao smiled. “Because life kicks you in so many ways all the time. So if you’re stubborn, you’re going to be persistent. And persistence helps a lot because that means you’re going to do what you’re going to do and reach your goals.”
Sixteen year old glass artist Elijah Kell already knows a thing or two about persistence. Kell described the intricate and lengthy process of how he completes his different pieces that can take anywhere from one to over five weeks. “I’ve been working at this since I was 10, then I got an LLC when I was 11,” Elijah shared. “It just feels great to have it [on display] in such a formal setting with the work surrounded by several talented artists. It’s just a dream come true.”
In case you needed more reasons to add to your FOMO, Queen Charlotte’s ball also had many other artists on display throughout the night. “I had the best time,” Level21 TV Host Chequelle Brown reported. “I felt as if I were in a magical doll house with beautiful fashions, Charlotte’s rich history, beautiful art, and beautiful people. It’s a night I’ll never forget for sure.”
High praise from guests all around for this inaugural event that left us here at Level21 eager to see how Queen Sophia Charlotte will show back up again next year. “It’s a lot of emotion for me,” event host Darosa exclaimed. “This is important to me. To get people to understand that art is important. And in some way, shape, or form we’re ALL artists so I feel like I wanted to celebrate that. Whether it’s by the fashion or by the art, you’re going to be inspired”
Stay connected with the fun that is to come at www.socialitecharlotte.com or @socialiteclt, and don’t forget to support our local artists with a follow or two at @levidarosamusic, @luismachicaocouture, and @elijahkellart. We know that’s exactly what our Queen would have wanted.
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