Arizona has hosted a lot of things: draught, really terrible governors, the Waste Management Open. But the Grand Canyon State has never had a cannabis-inspired fashion show. Until now.
Fourtwenty Collections CEO Marvina Thomas, whose company makes cannabis-infused toiletries and edibles, has hooked up with New York fashion designer and Project Runway All Stars champion Korto Momolu to launch a new cannabis-inspired women’s fashion line. The pair will unveil Momolu’s high-minded creations on September 11 at a Tempe runway show they’re calling Queen of the Nile.
The hemp-friendly fashions are just one of several new projects by Momolu, who’s spun her cable fame into an accessory line for Dillard’s department stores and an eco-friendly jewelry collection for Smithsonian Museum retailers. She’s designed staff uniforms for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and served as the Cheerios ambassador for the Shoprite grocery chain’s anti-hunger campaign.
Leaping from breakfast cereal to cannabis fashion is no stretch for Momolu, who like any good 21st-century fashionista understands the importance of diversification.
“I’m also thrilled to be the first person to, you know, bring cannabis-themed clothing to Arizona,” she says of the runway event, proceeds from which will go to Start Living Recovery, Thomas's non-profit anti-drug group home.
“A fashion line has been a goal of mine since I made my first product,” Thomas says of Momolu’s pot apparel, though she’s not clear on what the line looks like just yet. “Some of the fashion will be made from hemp. I’m not sure how the rest of it will be cannabis-related. I’m like, ‘Korto, what’s next?’ and she’s like, ‘You’ll see it in a minute.’ She won’t let me look at the majority of the designs, but I’m still like, ‘Oh, my god, this is going to be so neat!’”
Momolu agrees about the potential for catwalk neatness, though she’s equally unclear about how much of her new line will be made from hemp. “The struggle now is that hemp is scarce,” says Momolu, whom New York magazine called “one of the Top Five designers to watch” in 2019. “With COVID, you can’t get it readily. A lot of the hemp-infused fabric is overseas in Thailand.”
And so Momolu’s focus has shifted to hemp-adjacent ideas. “There might be some cannabis-leaf imaging on some of the fabrics,” she says. “Also, I’m using other fabrics like linen and burlap and silk, raw materials that come from the earth, which is reminiscent of hemp, a plant that also comes out of the ground.”
Thomas says that runway models posing with vape pens might make the Egyptian-themed event more pot-centric. And the models themselves are women of all ages and body types who work in the cannabis industry, she says. So there's that. Choreographed dance routines are definitely going to be a thing, she promises, and pacing is going to be pretty fast.
“We’re gonna whip in and whip out,” she says with a laugh, “in an hour, hour-and-a-half.”
Her facial products empire really got started, Thomas says, because buying toiletries for the residents of her group homes was so expensive. She decided to save some money by making the products herself.
Thomas was inspired to add CBD oil to some of her products after hooking up with Women Grow, an organization focused on female leadership in the cannabis industry. “I wasn’t a smoker, and I thought the meeting would be average people who were pot-heads,” she admits. “But I was totally wrong. It was all these professional men and women who use cannabis as alternative medicine.”
Not long after, a vape pipe blew up in the face of a resident of one of her group homes.
Thomas gave the woman some of her cannabis-infused soap, hoping it would help with the healing. “Her face was a mess, all kind of greyish-green,” she recalls. “After a couple of weeks you could see the difference in her skin. I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, we got something here. That’s how I started Fourtwenty Skin Care.”
Edibles and a clothing line soon followed. And how better to launch a clothing line than an Egyptian-themed fashion show?
“My whole brand is all built around Egypt,” Thomas swore, “because women are all goddesses, and because the cannabis plant is female.”
She’s looking forward to seeing what her new women’s fashion line will look like on the catwalk.
“But what I’m really looking forward to is me dressing up in a goddess outfit and hitting that runway,” she says. “Which is going to be so awesome.”
Queen of the Niles will take place Saturday, September 11th, from 2 p.m.—3:30 p.m. at Fabric, 132 East Sixth Street in Tempe.