J Song’s Dream of Happiness presentation of their Fall 2011 collection during New York Fashion Week proved to be a stimulating display of heaven on earth. The collection was inspired and infused with colors and textures of the four elements, Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. The array of styling compliments women of many styles combining pieces that are elegant, sophisticated, and relaxed. I really loved the variation of texture and colors, bringing life and color to Fall 2011!
Here is a clip from the JSONG New York Fashion Week presentation:
Here are a few of my favorite looks from the JSONG Fall Collection:
Curvy Socialite friend (and contributor), plus modelAsia Mone’t recently shared her feelings about being comfortable with her curves with her readers on her blog. A big proponent of size acceptance and loving yourself for who you are versus who you wish you were, Asia’s words are very timely and very much needed. Check out her blog here.
After the January that we had (one that was marked by record snowfalls and subzero temps), New York and this diva were definitely ready for a change of pace. The arrival of New York Fashion Week was definitely needed and welcomed.
Not sure why, but it feels like Fashion Week snuck up on me this season– it maybe because I have been crying over the snow that’s been falling every 3 or 4 days (not making that up) since December and the threat of snow that caused me to postpone my much needed tropical vacation. Whatever the reason, I’m just happy that it’s finally here.
With official dates running from February 10th through the 17th, the fashion season is also packed with pre- and post events that end up making Fashion Week almost the whole month long. For me, this fashion season began last night with two fabulous events that had me racing between SoHo and midtown.
EVENT #1: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY’S TeenLIVE EVENT FEATURING
DESIGNER LAQUAN SMITH
The TeenLive event drew a full house of aspiring designers, stylists, fashion enthusiasts, press and those curious about the industry to hear an insider’s view of making it in fashion.
The TeenLIVE events at The New York Public Library feature thought-provoking conversations, real debates, and exciting spectacular performances with your favorite authors, artists, filmmakers, musicians, fashionistas, and more. These events reach teens culturally, artistically, inspirationally, technologically, and more with the biggest, best, and the brightest stars. The programs will spotlight current cultural trends and important mainstays that inform the lives of today’s teens. Last night’s event, in honor of Fashion Week, featured emerging designer LaQuan Smith.
Utilizing a format similar to “Insider the Actor’s Studio,” 22-year old design ingénue LaQuan Smith shared his experience on his entry and subsequent rise in the fashion industry.
With his unique pieces being seen on some of entertainment’s hottest celebrities including Dakota Fanning, Rhianna, Amber Riley (Glee), Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, Smith is quickly establishing himself as a designer to watch. His talents have already graced the pages of some of the top fashion and lifestyle publications including Essence and the New York Times.
LaQuan talked about his inspirations and motivations behind his lines LQS (his younger more contemporary line) and LaQuan Smith (his more elite line). A lover of color, construction and femininity, LaQuan draws inspiration from 90’s fashion and pop culture– including the ultra femme yet playful stylings of Cher Horowitz (played by Alicia Silverstone) in Clueless. He also drew heavy inspiration from great designers including the late, forward thinking Gianni Versace and the classic fashions of Ralph Lauren. Life experiences and travel also find their ways into the designs of LaQuan Smith.
Garnering fans from across the country and around the world, LaQuan Smith has been creating a buzz within the fashion world. His participating in BET’s Rip the Runway (his pieces were worn by host Nicki Minaj) sparked a request to be a part of the “fashion meets music” spectacular as well as spawned an invitation by famed lifestyle publication Arise Magazine. Smith has been asked by Arise to participate in their upcoming fashion showcase in Lagos, Nigeria this March.
When asked why he wanted to participate in the library’s TeenLIVE event, LaQuan said “fashion and art have always been my passion, from the artistic expression of sketching to the manifestation of the garments. So, I’m excited to share my love story between fashion and I with the youth, to inspire them with my many triumphs and tribulations.
LaQuan’s best advice to the audience was to learn and live the craft. He tells would be designers to pursue an education in fashion and the arts and to get involved in the fashion community. LaQuan emphasizes networking is key and always practice and study your craft. He also stressed building a strong foundation. Something he is putting into practice as well.
With a focus on building his brand and business, LaQuan’s collections aren’t currently available on a mass scale as yet. Currently, those wishing to sport his chic designs can order then on an on demand basis via his website at www.laquansmith.com. One thing that really caught my attention was LaQuan’s willingness to celebrate the female form of all types of shapes and figures. He stated that when the line becomes available in stores, he wants to be available for the curvier woman up to size 16.
His aspirations for the future? He’d love to collaborate with Ralph Lauren and create a show collection for Christian Louboutin as well as dress young Hollywood’s style icons including Blake Lively, Kiera Knightly and more.
EVENT #2: THE LAUNCH OF PAMPERED ROYALE BY MALIK SO CHIC
After meeting up with Pink Suede stylist Shatonia Amee (who also attended the TeenLIVE event), we raced uptown to 220 Atelier for the launch of Pampered Royale by socialite Malik So Chic. Featured in the CW’s High Society, Malik debuted a capsule collection of tricked out totes of various shapes and sizes. The event was a who’s who of fashion, entertainment and New York’s society.
As soon as Asia Mone’t sent this to me, I knew I had to tell everyone about it….she’s launched a new project everyone! As you know, Asia is quickly establishing herself as one of the top plus models in the industry. She’s decided to share her journey to the top with everyone in her new blog, The Fab Life of A Curvy Sexy Diva. Check it out everyone and please support!
A NEW ERA IS UPON US…CURVES ARE “IN” (AGAIN). Well…at least for a little while. It seems that the fashion community is making a move to be more accepting of the curvaceous figure. Or at least that is what appears to be happening.
During New York Fashion Week, One Stop Plus, the “online fashion mall” catering to the fuller-figure, held the first ever plus size show (to actually be a part of the fashion week festivities) to rave reviews. Big deal, you may be saying to yourself. But indeed it was. A much coveted ticket, the One Stop Plus event was a much needed step in the right direction of acceptance. With the average woman in the United States wearing a size 14, it’s amazing how what is a “common size” is so stigmatized.
The standard of beauty for a very long time was something that was not a reflection of reality. What was considered beautiful was a woman who was 5’10” and a size 0/2. And one point it even seemed like a 00 was even more appealing. How many women do you know how actually fit that standard? Fashion and fashion retailers seemed to think that everyone looked like that and that was the norm. When you walked into shopping centers, all you found were clothing sizes 0 to 10 (with a 12 and a 14 (one piece each) thrown in for good measure. But one of the largest (no pun intended) untapped markets out there is the plus-size community. Curvy girls spend millions each year on clothes—ironic when there are so few outlets that cater to their bodies. But there is hope.
I was one of an eclectic group of people to have been invited to witness this moment in fashion history. Showcasing at the Time Warner, the guest list for the event was a who’s who of the plus, fashion and entertainment communities. Seated front row at One Stop Plus were plus size celebs Nikki Blonsky (Hairspray and Huge), Emme, the full figured supermodel, and Academy Award nominated actress, Gabourey Sidibe(Precious). Walking in the show were model faves Tocarra (America’s Next Top Model alum) and Lizzie Miller. Spotted in the crowd were stylist Steffany Bready Edwards, celeb plus model Asia Mone’t, curve-loving designer, Monif C., Maddie Figueroa Jones from Plus Model Magazine, Tiffany Tucker of Manik Magazine, model Fluvia Lacerda, Shante Gordon and Jamie Litt of VH1’s Money Hungry, Kim “Philli” McCarter of SkorchMagazine, the diva behind The Big Girl Blog, and more. I even ended up getting interviewed by the New York Post for a video about the show.
Besides Mercedes Benz/IMG, there are other groups that hosted Fashion Week in New York this season—including NOLCHA. Started by Kerry Bannigan, a Brit with a passion for fashion and business, NOLCHAis one of the “leading business platforms for independent fashion designers and retailers” by providing educational and event resources and thus “making business easy for the fashion minded.” In the short time that NOLCHA has been around, the company has done great things for brands that may not have had the opportunity to showcase themselves to the world. So each season, when the invitation for NOLCHA Fashion Week (which ran September 13th– 16th), I make it a point to attend some of their events. This season, I was introduced to the lovely bridal and eveningwear collection of Liz Fields.
Named after the designer, Liz Fields is a luxury, special occasion (weddings, black-tie, red carpet, and more) brand that last year with launched with their Spring 2010 collection. The brand’s mission is to “create gowns that women fall in love with.” With their Spring 2011 collection, they definitely achieved that goal.
The show had almost an ethereal feel to it with the models walking barefoot (odd and first, but when you continued watching the show, it fit perfectly) on a rose petal- covered runway. Featuring the traditional hues of Spring and Summer (teals, pinks, whites, creams and yellow), the collection featured pieces that were very much about the minute details (pearl beadings, gem appliqués, floral additions, etc) as well as the overall look. Liz took into account every aspect of the dress ensuring that the woman lucky enough to wear it would look absolutely gorgeous.
Here are a few pieces that were on display before the show….
Fashion Night Out (FNO) served as the official launch party for New York Fashion Week. Virtually every fashion retailer on the island of Manhattan (and for that matter, city and country wide) kept their doors open late to entice the masses to shop. They really did everything possible to ensure that everyone knew that the event was taking place—full page ads, TV spots (see below), billboards, window displays, Facebook, Twitter—you name it, they did it. However, I’m not sure the economy really got a much needed boost Friday night. Everywhere I went I saw more cocktails and celebrities than I saw shopping bags.
This year, fashion stylist extraordinaire, Hayden and I stayed in midtown and the Upper East Side for our FNO jaunts. We walked along 5th Avenue and poked our heads in Lord & Taylor, Saks, and Versace. At Versace, I ran into long time friend and designer, Takiyah Jerome. After taking a brief tour of the store, we continued our sojourn north where we bumped into stylist, Oluwakemi “Kemi” Omoyosi, and agency head Katie Sellu of Sellu Management near Barney’s. We happened to see this guy with the Swarovski crystal and studded motorcycle helmet. I had to grab a shot.
The ladies joined our little party as we headed north towards Dolce & Gabbana. As we neared D&G, all you could see was utter chaos. But Hayden and I kind of expected that since Miss Naomi (Campbell) was making an appearance there. That and friends were telling us they were lined up outside the Madison Avenue retailer at 3 PM (festivities didn’t start until 6!). Not ones for waiting on lines, our little quartet headed a few doors down to Max Mara, another amazing Italian brand. Peaking in at Max Mara gave me a chance to inquire about one of their lesser know but definitely fabulous brand, Marina Rinaldi.
A luxury lifestyle line catering to the curvier figure, Marina Rinaldi is probably Max Mara’s best kept secret. But I will let you in on something ladies….they are opening up a Madison Ave store this month. I heard it should be open by the 22nd (the perfect birthday gift—this socialite’s special day is three days earlier). I can’t wait!
We actually ended our little FNO trip there and headed back downtown for a quick bite to eat and to part ways home. I have to admit that FNO this year seemed more like bar or club hopping versus a shopping event. But a good time was had nonetheless.
The next day was an absolutely gorgeous day despite it being a day of sadness and protests (September 11th). In an effort to enjoy the sun and keep my spirits up, I headed down to the SoHo Grand Hotel to meet Hayden for the BeSpoken Clothiers Spring/Summer Presentation.
The weather was absolutely on BeSpoken’s side as the event took place in an urban “garden” under the clearest blue sky ever. Brining a modern interpretation to the age-old made-to-measure tradition, BeSpoken describes itself as part “Savile Row, part Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Can I tell you I love this line?
The looks that were showcased at the presentation were the quintessential marriage of urban and tailored styling. Beautiful, vintage like styling in a youthful skinny fit. They even tailored the wait staff in a classic “newsie” look! Hayden aptly described the new BeSpoken collection as “a 1920s flair for the urban man.”
Here are some of my favorite looks for the presentation.
With a sometime to kill before our next show, grabbed a bite at famed Lincoln Center Asian eatery Ollie’s where we bumped into fashion writer, Troy Artis. After our quick bite, we headed over to the tents. For both of us, this would be our first appearance there since Fashion Week’s move from Bryant Park.
While being nosey before our Jose Duran show, we ran into fashion maven, Stacy Armand, and make up diva, Miyako Marie Johnson. Also spotted at the tents: June Ambrose on her way out of the tents, Kimora Lee (Simmons) Hounsou on her way into a show, and Russell Simmons giving an interview.
We made our way over to the Samsung Experience at the Time Warner Center, a few blocks down from Lincoln Center at Columbus Circle. We had to wait nearly an hour and a half to be seated…but it was well worth the wait.
Jose Duran is a designer whose creativity comes through his work. After a hiatus which took him to Paris for inspiration, he came back even stronger than ever.
A combined men’s and women’s wear collection, the line immediately made me think of a luxury spa retreat in Paris. Earthen tones of deep tans, khakis, olive, black and grey coupled with relaxed fabrics that moved evoked a calming feeling. But as each model appeared on the runway (including one of my favorites, Sessilee Lopez), the pieces started moving into a realm of evening wear glam. A quiet sophistication screaming style. Interspersed amongst the organic tones were red-carpet ready pieces in pink, green, purple and red.
Duran even changed things up a little by having male models strut their stuff on the runway in sky high wedges and relaxed jersey knit dresses….definitely making sure his celebrity filled audience ( including June Ambrose, Ebony’s Harriette Cole, Memsor Kamarake, Angela Simmons and style don Spry Lee Scott) was paying attention. A remarkable comeback for a talent with renewed passion. Jose Duran is definitely looking to be here for the long haul.
Today was the pre-cursor to the Fashion Week festivities—and after being cooped up at home fighting a nasty cold for the past two weeks, it was nice to spread my wings and be out amongst the masses. Never one to hold back, I jumped right back into the social scene with 4 appearances today.
First stop, downtown at the Jane Hotel for the Candela Spring/Summer 2011 Presentation.
I met up with Shatonia Amee, the style maven behind Pink Suede, Inc. and together we headed over to view Candela collection. As we walked into the venue we were met by bright lights, flashing bulbs and something that looked like a scene right out of a Laura Ingalls Wilder book. A reflection of the collections title, the first floor of the Jane Hotel had been transformed into a trading post for the Candela presentation. Aux Armes, who designed the set, did a wonderful job.
On three staged scenes, models looked like they were right out of the pages of books in what was a blend of rustic versus Native American with a modern twist and a little hippie chic thrown in for good measure. Sounds busy, but it so worked. The collection had a very natural feel with cotton, silk, leather and crocheted pieces. Even the coloring of the clothing was very “natural and organic” with white, navy, wheat and olive tones. The collection featured floor length prairie dresses and skirts paired with saddle shoes and boots, knee military like shorts paired with very fine, very femme cotton tops and silky, ethereal dresses coupled with latticed leather boots– tough by very feminine at the same time.
Shatonia snapped a few pics of well dressed models (styled by Kate Sebbah) before we headed north to Nexus Showroom for the second stop of the evening.
We headed to midtown for our second stop at Nexus. There we got an up-close- and-personal look at Elise Gug.
Elise Gug is a Danish designer that caters to the ultra femme and ultra chic, but also to those who desire comfort and a sophisticated simplicity. Drawing inspiration from the Italian Riviera, the collection featured sun-kissed hues mixed with neutral tones (beiges, creams, whites, blush pinks, and black).The line featured dresses that emphasized the waist, A-line jackets, pants, shorts and skirts—all designed to be mixed and matched and all made to flatter the shape. Looking at the collection inspired thoughts of Lucille Ball, Grace Kelly and Jackie O with their quiet sophistication that spoke volumes. I also saw hints of design greats like Elie Tahari and the classic Yves Saint Laurent. Definitely a line to watch.
After grabbing a cup of ice-coffee at Prêt-A-Manger, Shatonia and I headed downtown to Tela Design Studio in the Meatpacking District for the Women’s Mafia Fashion Show. Though time didn’t allow us to stay for the actual show, we ran into a few friends including styling diva Mary Lafayette of Fashion Luv Joenz and retro-chic designer Shantell Richardson of Shauntele.
After showing our face at Tela, Mary, Shatonia and I headed over to the Gates in West Chelsea for the Laureluxe fashion show. The famed metal Jewelry designer’s event was another reunion opportunity. Before even walking through the doors, we bumped into Fashion Week mainstay, Aminah Benjamin. Inside, we ran into Shelly Castro, jewelry diva Tammiko Beasty, Arthur Donaldson of Arabelle Modeling, and Devora Wooden of Dig Deep Inc. Scanning the room we saw other faces we knew including famed stylist Spry Lee Scott and hip hop couture designer Lexx Perry, After a few cocktails, we all ushered to our seats where we were greeted by host, Amanda Diva. Then the show started….
Laureluxe opened sporting the men’s pieces first which included chainmail tees, metal plated skinny ties, chained suspenders, arm and shin guards and “spiked” shoulder pads that would make any defensive lineman shudder. Definitely more than just “jewelry,” the men’s collection brought simple, classic looks to a whole new level with pieces that brought to mind 300 and the Gladiator. Definitely couture. But the best was yet to come…
The women’s collection for Laureluxe was phenomenal. Evoking memories of Grace Jones and Tina Turner in Mad Max, the line was surreal—chain mail dresses and hoodies, swimwear pieces made of chain mail, even lingerie (garters and even a chained “legwarmer.” There were definitely pieces that I could see Amber Rose and Rhianna glamming on a VMA red carpet.