High Style: Erika Dalya Massaquoi

The visual arts curator and educator is making a bold statement in Seattle
Ali Brownrigg  |   August 2013   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION

Personal Style: Leschi’s Erika Dalya Massaquoi is a fashion chameleon, absorbing and reflecting the many moods and styles of her influences, which are as diverse and far reaching as the Miami of her childhood and her parents’ interest in civil rights and modernism. “I’m all about the high/low mix,” Massaquoi says. “You see me in vintage mixed with Africana and JCrew, Marni or Prada with a pair of beat-down Converse. I’ve been wearing those since 1986.”

The Brains Behind the Bangles:
This recent New York transplant has an impressive CV, which includes a Ph.D. in cinema studies from New York University. Massaquoi served as an assistant dean of the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and was a curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She worked as a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered, and her love of fashion led her to a stint as an on-air correspondent for the Oxygen channel from 2000 to 2004, for which she interviewed Reed Krakoff, Ralph Rucci and Donna Karan, among others.

See and Be Seen:
“Fashion solves the visual problem of who you are,” Massaquoi says. “It’s a narrative form, like film.” Her attunement to culture gave her a love of the joyous and colorful prints of African textiles and edgy design, but her Southern roots gave her a love of pearls and high heels. “I always feel overdressed in Seattle, but that doesn’t stop me from rocking my look.”


WHAT’S IN A NAME:
Massaquoi is taking Seattle’s arts community by storm, with an exhibit at this year’s Bumbershoot fest called Fashiony that explores African and Asian illustration and street fashion around the world in three workroom-style galleries. Another show, co-curated with SAM’s curator of African and Oceanic Art, called Disguise, is set for 2015 at SAM.