Presented by Coca-Cola, this year’s celebration was held from June 29 to July 3, highlighting 50 years of hip-hop music –– from in-person to virtual experiences showcasing its impact throughout every aspect of culture. Ms. Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Megan Thee Stallion were among the festival’s iconic line-up of headliners, with fans having the option to also livestream the Superdome performances on Hulu. Other performers also included Janelle Monáe, Jill Scott, Tems, Wizkid, Coco Jones, Juvenile, Eve, Lil Wayne, Monica, Ice Cube, and more. Vice President Kamala Harris and Oprah Winfrey were among other notable attendees over the course of the four-day event.
Dollie Michelle of Philadelphia, P.A. was one of many fashion standouts as she rocked bantu knots paired with a shirt from her brand, Cocoa Canvas, during ESSENCE Festival. The podcast host told Unbothered that she is grateful for the opportunity to showcase her brand while also being “immersed in Black culture and Black joy.”
Michelle, who describes her style as “bold and whimsical,” added that she had the chance to meet various artists during the festival such as Tank, Maino and Elle Varner. “I like to think of my fashion as an extension of my art that I can wear on display,” Michelle said.
Malissa Anthony, who served as an Associate Producer for the ESSENCE Stage in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, told Unbothered that a plethora of “personal style was on full display,” adding, “the heat didn’t even hold us back.”
While working the festival, the New York City producer and Creative Director helped oversee the ESSENCE Stage with host Jessie Woo along with panel discussions and performances by LaKeith Stanfield, Angie Martinez, Taraji P. Henson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and more.
Anthony said the festival represents the full scope of Black culture, including the brand’s “New & Next'' opportunity for upcoming artists — like Don Knock, RKHTY and JxHines — to perform on the ESSENCE Stage.
Whether it was through music, film, fashion, beauty or food, the nuances of the African-American experience was certainly exhibited throughout the festival. From colorful kimonos to Afrocentric accessories, here’s a round-up of some of the best looks from the 2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture.