Yo-Yo, left, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Brandy perform onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival presented By Coca-Cola - Day 2 at Louisiana Superdome on July 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Photo: Bennett Raglin (Getty Images for Essence)

We wanna be down! While The Root’s own Danielle Young made her way to New Orleans from July 5-8 to party with our sister-girls at the 2018 Essence Music Festival, alas, The Glow Up stayed home to attend to other pertinent business.

But that didn’t keep us from catching a major case of FOMO. After all, Essence Fest—as epitomized by last year’s blockbuster comedy Girls Trip—is the ultimate family reunion—a for-us-by-us homegirl extravaganza.


This year was no different, as your favorite aunties (spoken as a favorite auntie myself) and all their faves descended upon NOLA for a weekend of sisterhood, music, motivation and of course, #BlackGirlMagic.

We’ll be leaving the details to Danielle, but you know we had to take a peek at how the celebs—too many to name here—turned out in their Essence Fest best. But as to be expected from an array of primarily ’80s-’90s faves, there was a wide array of fashion-statements; some far flashier than others (see Teddy Riley’s cape and sparkly hat).

Some trends? Undeterred by any accusations of cultural appropriation, kimonos made a few appearances this year, notably on Ledisi (who went full-on with an obi belt) and a gorgeous beaded red-and-gold version worn by the Queen herself, Latifah. Also big were Kente prints, as seen on Yo-Yo and V. Bozeman.


On the younger set, Issa Rae was, as always, a standout at the Insecure event, in a slinky saffron-colored jumpsuit, while Angela Rye gave a few lewks through the weekend, our fave being a red sleeveless and gathered sheath with pussy bow, styled by one of Rae’s favorite stylists, Jason Rembert.


And then, of course, there were major labels in the house—not just record labels, but fashion labels—especially on Missy Elliott, who put Gucci front and center, and Janet Jackson, who wore an Alexander Wang jersey (and a bit of grunge-inspired chic) during her performance, which included a tearful tribute to her father, Joe Jackson, who recently died of pancreatic cancer.


But the biggest label lover by far was Mary J. Blige, who rocked head-to-toe Fendi to appear on one of the festival’s many panels, and not one, but two Dapper Dan-designed Gucci outfits—with surprise waist-long platinum microbraids!—for her performance.


And how much did she love it? Enough to do the classic Mary bop-and-kick!


But whether you loved their looks or not, it’s reunion season, and it’s always great to get the family back together—or at least see them—in our case. And since we’re guessing that we weren’t the only ones with FOMO, we’ve put together a little family album for you ... Maybe next year, we’ll meet you down there!

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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