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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Spring 2017 Collections of 5 Black Fashion Designers

xuly bet fashion designer
Diversity in runway fashion has been a big issue in the industry, but so far, the story has largely been contained to model casting. African-American designers have rarely been discussed as a group. This week, the Museum at FIT opened its exhibit on Black Fashion Designers in a small step to correct this. While I will give my report on this show a bit later, I thought I would highlight the Spring 2017 collections of a few Black designers I love and have showcased in the past.

Xuly Bet was a huge name when I came to NYC in the 1990s. He made a comeback to New York after doing his thing in France for awhile. His Spring 2017 collection was a celebration of his intricate prints and color combinations. The patterns had African advertising motifs, traditional tribal prints with some contemporary motifs of other cultures mixed in. There were killer shoes with coordinating prints and models were styled in fierce headwraps. Spike Lee, June Ambrose and Kelly Osborne were on hand to support him.
tracy reese spring 2017
photo from WWD.com
Tracy Reese was my senior year designer mentor when I studied fashion at Parsons School of Design. She was always in sync with her the lifestyles of her customer. Her Spring 2017 collection featured "real" women instead of traditional models. The presentation was a garden party instead of a runway that showcased women of all shapes, ages, and sizes who worked in different professions. The clothes themselves were feminine, mixing graphic prints and flirty details. Animal print, lace, color blocking were all tricks employed by the designer to flatter the body.
byron lars plus size
Photo by Mariana Leung
Byron Lars is another designer who is committed to the body inclusive discussion. He expanded his collection to sizes 0-22 this season. He spent many hours (many that I was personally a part of) consulting with full figured models of different shapes, bloggers and customers to create a beautiful product that flattered the true range of his fans. The result was a gorgeous collection of pieces in silhouettes not usually found in the plus size range.
african fashion designer
photo from African Fashion International
I always loved David Tlale's elegant silhouettes gliding down the runway. He came from South Africa to show in New York for several seasons. His Spring 2017 collection was a mix of both menswear and womenswear. The models looked like Gods and Goddesses striding down the runway in clean, bright, white and black looks.

Public School designer Maxwell Osborne was one of the few prominent designers to publicly embrace the Black Lives Matter movement. Together with partner Dao-Yi Chow, they recently stepped down from their posts as creative directors at DKNY. Their spring 2017 collection was a mix of collegiate styling with the proportions tweaked (extra-long sweaters, shorter pants), with a lot of too cool for school attitude.
duro olowu fashion
Photo by Luis Monteiro for Duro Olowu
I fell in love with the aesthetic of Duro Olowu's work when I encountered his big collaboration with J. C. Penney. It was probably the first and last time I could afford anything with his name on it. That doesn't mean I can't admire his spectacular collections from afar. His Spring 2017 collection was a mix of ladylike dresses and capes with a retro silhouette. Prints were mixed from florals to big polka dots to color blocked stripes. 

After this last election, the fight to see diverse creative forces will be more challenging than ever. Show publishers that you not only want to see different models representing your clothing but tell your retailers that you want your fashion to come from designers of color as well. Check out FIT's Black Fashion Designers exhbit then, since they don't have a gift shop, get to the boutiques!
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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Shop Your Holiday Dress With B. Michael at Macy's

Haven't found your perfect party dress yet? Holiday shopping at Macy's is an event unto itself. There are fashion shows with designers, Santaland, fireworks, tree lighting, parades or Believe Day in cities all over the country. In New York, I will be joining fashion designer B. Michael on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, from 6 PM - 8 PM.

B. Michael has brought the glamor to past New York Fashion Week runways and will be at the Macy's Herald Square location to help party gals like you and me find that special dress. He's the ultimate NYC designer, starting on Wall Street before working his way through the ateliers of Oscar de la Renta and Louis Feraud. He is proud to make manufacturing his collection New York a priority. Writing as someone who has worked the industry, that is a challenging commitment to make.

Some of the looks I plan on trying on Wednesday evening include a few shimmering sheath dresses and jackets in elegant abstract patterns. I particularly love the outfit with the red printed evening topper. 

You can consider Wednesday evening's Macy's event with B. Michael a party in itself. There will be live music and treats in addition to the fashion presentation. Just call it holiday soiree #1 (of many?) It's free! Care to join me?

Just show up and play #MacysBelieve

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy's; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 
Photos courtesy of  B. Michael America
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Charliewood: Faux Fur Flies at the Charlie Le Mindu NYC Debut

burlesque charliewood
charliewood nyc
fashion show charlie le mindu
In a world of corporate apparel, you forget how much fun a collision of fashion and art can be. French artist/designer Charlie Le Mindu made his debut on the New York scene on Monday night with his performance art fashion show dubbed Charliewood.
I became a fan of Charlie Le Mindu's from dramatic human hair embellished runways in Paris a few years ago. At the Cedar Lake space in Chelsea, the show was a series of performances from New York's most celebrated artists. Debbie Harry was the grand hostess introducing the artist to a Gotham crowd, wearing one of his two-toned, long haired coats.
Various models in elaborately constructed headpieces strolled around the room while a giant mouth beckoned guests towards another space. A cabaret stage had dancers in avant-garde bodysuits and sculpted hair corsets titillating viewers. The mainstage had more dancers representing different body parts. Another dance featured great use of black light with long-haired neon embellishments on black bodysuits.
Burlesque queen Dirty Martini was sexy and hilarious playing a glam chicken lady. She wore a soaring feathered headpiece, feathered train, chicken beaks as pasties and mask. She trailed a grocery cart of eggs then handed out fried chicken from her crotch while sitting on a haystack. Punk drag performer Christeene rapped out an energetic performance on the spinning pedestal at the center of the bar. Breast-shaped cake truffles were served in all colors of flesh.
The crowd was the who's who of New York's art and fashion scene. It was full of designers, some fashion writers like me, models, actresses, artists. It was the kind of fabulous event that I miss from the 1990s where people were celebrated for being against the norm, and anything could happen. Wow, I really loved those days. Thank you Charlie Le Mindu for bringing Charliewood to NYC.
Photos by Mariana Leung
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#GivingTuesday Donate Your Time or Money, It's Fashionable

Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend? What were you thankful for? Consider #GivingTuesday.  I know that many of us might be struggling to answer that this year. If you're hard on cash right now, donate your time. It's more rewarding than you expect. Often it also leads to opportunities you didn't count on either. If you have some cash to contribute, there are countless organizations that could use your support.

With the election results, there are many segments of the population that are at risk now. Jezebel has created a great list of anti-bigotry, pro-women, pro-earth groups that could use your time or money.

I have donated to the PKD Foundation, a good friend of mine is currently waiting for a kidney donor. I also donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society because of a friend's son is fighting blood cancer. Your donation here would be matched, making your contribution more impactful.

If you are still shopping Cyber Monday deals, do it through https://smile.amazon.com/Amazon Smile. It's like regular Amazon with all of your Prime benefits but will donate a percentage to charity.

For the fashion quotient of Giving Tuesday, you can always donate your clothing and accessories to Dress for Success that provides at-risk women with professional attire for job interviews and provides career training.

Now that you have stuffed yourself for days with turkey and pie, FEED is an organization that many designers have partnered with in the ultimate goal of feeding the hungry all over the world.

Now that I have made my case for #GivingTuesday, I hope you will give of yourself as you see fit. It's only the biggest trending hashtag today!
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Friday, November 25, 2016

FAB Exclusive: Lily Collins Chats Rules Don't Apply

lily collins costume
 I had the privilege of attending a screening of the upcoming film Rules Don't Apply. It is a drama romance of two fresh-faced Hollywood newbies who are brought together through their employment with Howard Hughes. Warren Beatty wrote, directed and starred as the eccentric mogul.

Lily Collins plays ingenue Marla Mabrey under contract to screen test for Howard Hughe's new film The movie sheds light on the inside stories of the countless young females who were subjected to excessively controlled lives just for the opportunity of becoming a star.

If you love the aesthetic of vintage Hollywood, this is a movie for you. Marla Mabrey's makes an angelic impression with her first look when arrives onscreen in a layered peplum jacket from costume designer Albert Wolsky. The light colored outfits that the hopeful starlets wear reflect the optimism of the actresses in the beginning. The darker colors and sharper silhouettes reflect how many of them quickly learn how Hollywood is not the fantasy they thought it would be.

I loved that Lily Collins played Marla as initially innocent and naive, but fiercely principled and self-aware. When thrust into awkward situations with Howard Hughes and his staff, she continually sought to take back control of the situation through questioning and wit. 

I got to chat with her about how she approached this role at the screening. She was intrigued in reading about the many nameless women who experienced what Marla Mabrey experienced. She sought to bring depth and heart to the once hopeful starlets that history had forgotten. 

Ms. Fabulous: What was your inspiration for your performance as Marla Mabrey?
Lily Collins: I felt a connection with her (Marla Mabrey) when she first came to "Hollywood" to audition. I was "naive" because I am always a positive thinker instead of the negative. There is a lot of politics that go into Hollywood, but she is very passionate and determined as I am, but she didn't have the bigger picture. She needed her Mom there to help her. Her moral compass was very strong, but Hollywood is there to test all that. Through the trials and tribulations that she went through, she was forced to overcome that and deal with what it takes to be in Hollywood, and decide if she agrees with what she wants it takes. Luckily, she learns a lot about herself in the journey.

lily collins red carpet
Ms. F.: You had mentioned earlier that you had read books about some of the women who had lived this experience. Were there specific stories of an actress that struck you?
LC: No, Marla was more an amalgamation of women who came back from Hughes that struck me, that these stories were true. That they would come with their Moms and live there for weeks, months, years. It struck me, who would do that today? But women did because they had that hope of the dream. It was shocking, yet commendable.

Ms. F: I am a big costume fan, that first outfit with the layers of peplums!
LC: Ah yes. That was the first look we tried on. Right away I knew that was Marla!
We made multiple of them. 

Ms. F: And today, a much more contemporary look. It's lovely. I hate to ask this, which designer are you wearing today?
LC: This is Zuhair Murad. 

Ms. F: Thank you, Lily!
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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Desigual's Snapchat Styling Spring 2017

desigual spring 2017
desigual nyfw ss17
So 2016 is the season that social media styled the runway. The Desigual Spring 2017 show took that quite literally by opening the show on a giant lit red circle to emulate the Snapchat button. 

Many of models were actually accessorized or made up to look like Snapchat filters. From dog noses, tiger stripes to flower crowns, my friends were wondering why I posted runway photos that were filtered, and I had to explain I did not.

The clothing itself, I loved the upgraded embellishments and embroidery on many of the looks. There was a military influence in the jackets, the pants, softened with sequin flowers. Complex knits also looked rich mixed with varied textures. I always think of big mismatched prints when I think of Desigual. All of us photographers count on this show to bring tons of color to the catwalk and they  have to disappoint.

In this ugly election season, I saw Desigual as making their subtle statement. Military, war and misguiddedachismo balanced by the beauty and femininity of butteflies and flowers. Old school being propelled forward by new media. How Desigual always casts one of the most ethnically diverse runways of NYFW and styles them accordingly shows how a love of fashion transcends politics and race.

I like to think that fashion week is more than clothes and economics. I like to believe that some brands speak through style. Desigual Spring 2017 says it in person and on your mobile broadcast.

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