I consider myself a fashionista, but who am I kidding?
I try - and usually fail - to find designer labels I can afford.
Makeup bottles and tubes collect dust in my bathroom.
I haven't had a drastic hairstyle change in about three years. (Before which I immediately regretted getting bangs.)
I do pore over the pages of Vogue each month, imagining myself as a woman of style who lands a front-row seat at fashion week. That counts, right?
I'm no Sha' Summerlin. The CEO of the local styling company Primp Agency has been on the cover of Smart magazine, styled a York Sunday News retro fashion spread and was recently involved in a New York City fashion show.
An Africa Fashion Week organizer contacted Summerlin through Facebook.
AFWNY includes runway shows from more than 21 designers from various countries in Africa and African Diaspora, as well as exhibitions and industry networking events.
Summerlin said AFWNY is in its second year in the U.S. It's been successful in other countries including London and Paris.
She assembled a team of beauticians to do hair and makeup for the event, which was held July 14 to 16. Since Primp's 2009 inception, its team has grown from eight to 12 stylists. They live up and down the East Coast and two are based in California.
"I like to keep a close-knit group because (we) work well with each other," Summerlin said.
The clothes blew Summerlin away.
"Africa is so rich in colors and fabrics and textiles," she said. "It was so vivid. It was like being in a different world."
The designers used prints, clean lines and draping for looks that ranged from casual to bridal.
Summerlin's team styled about 150 models a day - each one in a different ensemble.
The hairstylists were instructed to give models long ponytails with extensions. Some of them opted to twist, braid and tease the tresses.
The makeup artists used two looks - smoky eyes with nude lips or minimal eye makeup with bold lip colors.
Summerlin got to experiment with purple, orange, green and even yellow lipstick.
"It was beautiful, who knew?" Summerlin said. "We had a ball."
Working with African natives was a new and challenging experience, since Summerlin said that facial structures vary by nation.
Models were styled first and then dressed. Right before they hit the runway, the makeup artists did quick touchups. In the midst of the whirlwind, Summerlin was able to sneak out to see her work on the catwalk.
It was one of the biggest jobs Summerlin has ever undertaken. She worked at Couture Fashion Week in February. Her goal is to get to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City in the fall and to eventually work on movie sets.
My goal, after seeing the gorgeous photos of AFWNY, is to take more risks with my style.
I might not be able to pull off yellow lipstick, but I don't think it would kill me to paint my nails.
PopEye is a bi-weekly column focusing on the ever-changing landscape of popular culture. To reach writer Erin McCracken, call 771-2051 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Africa Fashion Week New York: www.afwny.com
Watch AFWNY videos: www.CNN.com/InsideAfrica
Other Primp credits
Miss Black USA Pageant this weekend, Aug. 6-7, in Washington, D.C.
A Primp stylist will work with Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice King during events Aug. 28 for the unveiling of the national Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C.
Charity fashion event for "Project Runway" designers
Female Hip Hop Honors in Los Angeles
The Heart & Soul Awards Celebrity clients include actresses Wendy Davis, Vanessa A. Williams and Nicole Ari Parker