Right after I came back from Paris I ended up going to see the latest offering from Anna Wintour’s Costume Center at the Met. For once I actually had someone to go with, so it was a raucous afternoon of laughing at things that other people take seriously and day drinking wine at lunch. Not a date, just two ladies cackling their way through a cultural institution.
I need more of that in my life, tbf…
Anyway. we met up at the museum and wound our way through the excellent display of stolen goods in the Egyptian wing to the museum. The exhibit was in a little room that you could easily miss. The line for the exhibit is over by the Temple of Dendur.
The show centers around American fashion, and the first items that you see on display explain ASAP Rocky’s red carpet quilt. Patchwork and quilting are as old as those little houses on the prairie. It’s an integral part of the American legend, homie and comfortable. It’s a symbol of how disparate parts can come together as a rich and cohesive whole (which we are capable of, but that’s a whole other blog post).
The museum is actually doing the show in two parts, so right now it’s just a dodgy little display in a smallish suite of rooms in the basement. And because of the times we live in, the narrow aisles feel like a death trap. And there’s this horrible music, that resembles no American music trend, droning on in the background, raising the hackles. Yes, I’m complaining. Better to wait and do it properly instead of this, but no one asked me about that, so…
I will say that they had a ton of black designers so I’m excited to see what the larger show will look like. Featured in the exhibit were Pyer Moss, Patrick Kelly, Stephen Burrows, Dapper Dan and for some reason a look from Rihanna’s Savage underwear line. Not to slight her, but she also did a pretty respectable fashion collection that could have been included.
If you’re in New York, I’d definitely go and take a look at it. Try going early or mid-week so as not to be stuck in the maze-like aisles with a crowd. You can get tickets here.
One thing about the past year of worrying, anxiety causing, horrifying and alarming events was having to retreat into a bubble (quarantine) and having to really and seriously think about what I would do if my job didn’t come back. Luckily I’ve been selling stuff online since 2015, and I had that to fallback on. My online business gave me something to focus on and a lifeline, since so many were shopping online.
The last few months have been collectively better than the last few years, and the last few weeks have been amazing. But this week really floored me because I sold items that I had refashioned and handpainted, which made me super happy. I believe in everything that I list, since I picked these things to sell, but when I sell something that I personally created, it’s like having wings on my heart.
This week I sold a handpainted denim jacket for full asking price and I was on the floor because I also sold a pair of penny loafers that I reworked into fun fashion statements. I think these are so cute, tbh. I wanted to do something that suggested spats and had an old fashion, 30s feel. I’ve sold designer, vintage and plain old used but selling items that express my personal creative outlook is icing on the cake.
This week I sold a handpainted denim jacket, these shoes and a striped sweater with embroidered patches. I started experimenting with reworking and upcycling items in 2018, and I’ve sold 16 items, from bags, to tiedyed t-shirts to shoes. One the one hand, it’s an economic endeavor because I do want my items to sell, but they’re also individual artistic statements. I put a lot of effort into every piece, even the ones that seem simple like dip bleached jean shorts. I took a sashiko stitching class, bought a sewing machine, spent days in the bathroom tie dying. Every sale gives me the energy to work on more ideas. I’m dying to get into screen printing.
6 years ago I was just trying to make a little money selling blogger perks and thrifted items and now I’m a fashion designer. Granted, there are tons and masses of people ironing on patches, bleaching, tie dying g and stitching items. A lot of people have sewing machines and are doing creative things with them. I’m not the only person handpainting denim jackets, and I’m not the only one who loves drawing hearts. But that doesn’t stop me. You can’t always be the first and only, but you can do what makes you feel happy and creative and not worry about the competition.
I was unexpectedly catapulted back into retail last year and I was bored. I was trying to think of a way to get a promotion while extending my job into something more creative, so I jumped on the Continuing Ed page at Fashion Institute of Technology‘s website to see if there was anything that I could turn into a bigger paycheck. I used to be a photographer, and have done some styling but I have no interest in doing photo shoots, so I had to find something that tied retail to art. Enter DE101 15A Prin D&E Dsgn – Small Scale Spring 2019 (a.k.a. Visual Merchandising)! I spent every Monday evening from February to May learning about why store displays look the way they look.
We had to build a foamcore shadowbox and every week there was a new assignment to create a contained display that expressed ideas and creativity without using words or being too obvious. This was the first assignment, white on white. Inspired by Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
The next week was a black and white assignment where I painted sheets of paper with fast drying acrylic paint (neatly referencing the previous week’s cotton balls in the white on black paint splatters) and using these awesome Steve Madden Harpir boots. It’s amazing how much fun you can have being creative when you’re just taking one class and it’s not causing you to take out crippling loans!
This one was about selling health & beauty products, so I chose my fave perfume and did a presentation inspired by Magritte’s The Banquet, a painting that features a huge red sun. I feel like I could have done the roses on the side walls a little better, but I was trying to invoke a sort of 70s vibe, and infuse my presentation with the spirit of both disco and tango. So…yeah.
We did the holidays (my family is from Guyana and I live near Eastern Parkway so I just drew on my own Caribbean culture for this one.), accessories and famous personalities (can you guess who I did for my personality presentation?). We had to make everything in class so that the instructor could see our thought process, so it meant packing up my art supplies and lugging my big bag of foamcore box parts from Brooklyn to Manhattan,making a ritual out of stopping at the Starbucks across the street from school.
For this one I painted the backdrop to evoke water, like the water you soak your feet in for pedicures. Blue is such a spa color to me. We had to take an element of the product and repeat it throughout the design. I sat in the class tracing a foot-shaped cardboard piece that came with some socks I bought. I just sat there cutting out construction paper feet and stamping them with a round sponge brush. Good times.
This was my final project. I was thinking to do something grand, but then I found out all we had to do was design a presentation with fruit as the product. We couldn’t cut the fruit, put holes in it, paint or carve it… I was a little disappointed, because I thought it would be something more sophisticated. I decided to make mine about lemons because I have an actual lemon plant that came out of a seed that I planted. Just pretend it’s a warm summer day and you’re relaxing and anticipating a tall, cool glass of lemonade form the giant lemons that came off of your tree.
I know, what a boring post!
What I took away from this class is that creativity never leaves you, and that having to build a presentation on the spot every Monday was a great exercise in discipline. I really like looking back at my shadowbox creations, and I can always use what I learned to improve my online stores or maybe go back to styling… Maybe. I’m definitely thinking of taking the large scale class where you dress mannequins. And I passed with an A, so I felt pretty darned accomplished.
I almost didn’t do anything for New York Fashion Week. I got a few invitations, but my main plan was going to be working on paid writing assignments, maybe doing a trend roundup from the shows, and working on a Fall/Back To School beauty guide. The big event of my September was going to be working the NY primaries as a poll worker for the Board of Elections. Of course, the best laid plans often go awry and my plans changed abruptly upon seeing an ad for NYFW interns. I have experience in pretty much every aspect of fashion, and I’ve been writing/blogging since hitting the streets of New York so I applied and interviewed and got hired. Instead of chilling at home watching netflix and writing, I was working NYFW.
I’m not going to lie, it was the single most triumphant moment of my time in New York (aside from the day that I moved into my apartment). Although, this is like, my 4th industry internship in New York, this is the one that used everything I learned everywhere else.
If you’re interested in doing a Fashion Week internship, understand that you’ll probably be the lowest person on the totem pole and own that. If you know that you’re really grandiose and want to be the boss of everyone, this might not work for you. Partially because you’re co-workers will hate you, and also because you will be angry about doing things like monitoring (ok, standing around in) stairwells to make sure people leave the show location, asking people (nicely) to stand on line, even if it’s Joe Zee or Anna Dello Russo. You might not like wearing a uniform, or not standing out. If you can handle being the person who pushes the elevator button for fashion royalty (and assorted hangers on) without resentment, then you’ll be ok.
And make sure you set two alarms, because call times will be alarmingly early.
One of the best ways to survive 12 hour days standing on your feet is to maintain a healthy diet. This was how I made it. I ate quick breakfasts of yogurt with fruit, honey and chia seeds. I snacked on fruit and veggie ice pops. I drank a lot of water, packed lunches of salads and crackers with cheese. I also used Energems, the chocolate covered caffeine and vitamin bombs that give you a clean energy boost that won’t leave you sugar crashing. (I did interviews for them for awhile and they were cool enough to give me 3 boxes of samples.Blogging rules). Luckily, my boss was also into providing good food on long shifts, which was epic.
I don’t do selfies much anymore, because…why bother? But this was me leaving for work on the last day, at 4:30 am. I have finally got the 10 minute face down, much to my surprise. I kept my hair natural all week, varying it up with two strand twist cornrows, a bi-level afro with braids on the side, bantu knots, and this freestyle business which was just letting the bantu knots out and fluffing up the curly kinks. I also wanted to show that you don’t have to be a model to get an NYFW internship or job. You just have to be a sane, reliable person with a decent personality. And probably some college. And a positive attitude. And good interpersonal skills. And willingness to work on a team. And money for carfare because you won’t get paid instantly (and in some cases you don’t get paid at all).
You know, just the basics.
Remember to take care of your skin and body. I don’t usually wear makeup every day, so I was careful about removing it every night. I actually soaked a facial wipe with Jouviance Micellar Solution, $22 (not in this pic because I keep it in the fridge and forgot) which cleansed and moisturized. If I had an early day I went for a gentle exfoliant, or used the origins Spring Super Stars Set, $20 (I bought this with actual money) which includes an overnight moisturizer. This Ahava skin serum oil came in handy, too. I spent more time soaking in the tub, and this Molton Brown body wash has a heavenly, relaxing scent. I also just got these samples from Petal Fresh, which were exemplary. The Aloe Vera Moisturizing Body Wash, $5.50, makes great bubble and the Perfecting Body Butter in Guava Nectar , $7.70, soothed skin chafed by my waist trainer. I wrapped my waist in plastic wrap for extra softening.
I definitely had fun messing with my hair every day, but of course I was careful to keep it clean and my scalp moisturized. I massaged my scalp pre-shampoo with either Pura D’or Argan Oil ( I mixed it with apple cider vinegar to remove dead skin on my scalp) or this Argan Oil Hair Treatment that was sent over by Agadir. They also sent this amazing comb, which is strong enough to glide through my hair wet or dry. I still have a ton of Aveda shampoo hanging around the bathroom from last year, but I relied on their Be Curly moisturizing, sulfate free co-wash for NYFW. CurlKeeper Original Total Control for Frizzy Hair and Styling Cream were my go to products for braids and knots, and I kept hair hydrated while styling with their award winning H2O Water Bottle, which mists hair and keeps it pliable while braiding and plaiting. Aveda Brilliant Emollient Finishing Gloss, $29, added lightbending sparkle and a light fragrance to finished styles.
Keeping teeth brushed and clean, and especially using the Dentek OrabrushTongue Scraper, which helped stave off bad breath. I went between a deep berry lip gloss to classic reds from Makeup Forever and Gerard Cosmetics. On the last day, as I opened the door for gorgeous 90s era supermodel Carolyn Murphy (she walked in the Michael Kors show), she actually took two seconds to complement me on my Immortal hydra-matte liquid lipstick, $20. Score! I have a slew of Makeup Forever primers and two versions of the Ultra HD foundation, so that got me through. Lightweight coverage that stayed true for all 12 hours. Susan Posnick Color Correct, $16, highlighting and concealing pencil in C-4 helped me add light under my eyes and minimize bagginess.
By using the best products (and yes, I know- most were sent to me or given at events, so in a way unfair to suggest spending your hard earned cash…), maintaining a sensible diet and drinking water regularly you can make it through the most grueling NYFW job. I’m definitely investing in foot pads or flatter flats next time as well. You’ll need black clothes if they don’t have a uniform, so if you know this is what you want get some basic black pieces that you can interchange and be comfy but stylish in.
AND- which is prob what you really wanted to hear- keep eyes peeled for opportunities. I follow Fashion/Beauty Monitor, Fashionista.com, and Stylecaster on twitter and that’s how I learned about the internship I snagged. If you want to go into fashion pr or work in a showroom, try calling or emailing their hr department. The most important thing is to be real and realistic about both your chances and what the jobs will be like.
NYFW is a job, whether you’re working the runway, doing hair and makeup or writing up shows. Nobody has time for prima donnas or overly competitive bitches, so be aware that eyes are on you and tongues are wagging before you start acting up. This is that industry that has seen every type of hanger-on and psycho user type, so while people are friendly, it doesn’t mean that they don’t notice your behavior. Also… this is that funny industry where it feels like you’re going up but you’re really just another place filler until someone new comes along. Keep that in mind when you’re backstabbing.
Last Wednesday I got to hear fashion veteran Fern Mallis speak with retailer/philanthropist Jeffrey Kalinsky about the origins of his interest in retail, the development of his talent as a fashion buyer, and how he’s used retail to help others.
I didn’t dress up (jeans, holy crochet sweater, thrift store fur…the usual) but I did take a second to do my nails. Instant nail art by layering a glittery butterLONDON overcoat over a deep shimmering burgundy shade from O.P.I. Grungy but pretty.
GCUNY was kind enough to send over the highlights of the event in this cute image:
I was going through folders trying to make up my mind what to do for my first 2016 post. Of course I got distracted. I found an old folder of images that I took to go with an Examiner.com post about fashion exhibits. I got drawn in by the sequins and flapper cool of Catherine Martin’s costumes for Gatsby all over again.
So my first post of 2016 is actually a look back.
Remember back in 2013 when Gatsby was the only movie to see? Here in New York, you could not get away from it. Which is not a bad thing, since it’s a Baz Luhrman spectacle, but… it reminds me of something I want to keep in mind this year.
Everybody loves you, until they don’t. Everybody thinks you’re cool, until the next cool thing comes along.
I’m keeping that in mind, not just about my blog or myself, but about what I endorse or chime in on. Am I playing into the game of making women want things they don’t need or am I expressing myself? Am I in it for you guys who read this, or just so I can climb out of (now) semi-poverty? My blog has given much, but can I take that for granted?
This exhibit was styled mannequins dressed in clothing, shoes, and other accessories seen in the movie.
The shoes are decadent, bejeweled, whimsical, and stunning.
Gatsby is in itself a look back. A look back at a classic book set in a classic time in history, and fashion. It’s about someone who can’t tear himself away from an old idea of something, and it kills him. Gatsby loved something that could only ever hurt him and make him feel less than perfect. His love is inherently self destructive, and his efforts to achieve success to capture a self-destructive love came to nothing in the end.
I don’t want to be a Gatsby, but I want to be something more than I am right now. I stared blogging because I had lost yet another job and I had nothing to lose. I was just looking for a way to promote my writing and photography. I was just looking for something to do. When I started doing this, I loved fashion the way Gatsby loved Daisy, all starry eyed and thinking it was my one true thing. But, luckily, blogging taught me something really important.
Blogging taught me about myself. It taught me about certain unrealistic tendencies, it taught me about what I would do to survive and blossom. It taught me how to blossom. Blogging gave me the courage to strike out and grow up. Blogging gave me things that I needed for the price of words and photos. More than any moment of me trying to be a writer/photographer, it was blogging that taught me the worth of my talent. I am valuable enough to attract all the things girls need…for free. That is some crazy stuff to think about.
Want lipstick? Here. Shoes? Here. Soap, perfume, clothes, laundry detergent, toothpaste? We’ll send it over. Come to this event, not only will we give you free stuff, but we’ll feed you delicacies and ply you with liquor. You don’t have to do anything but write a few words and post a few photos. That is intoxicating.
Until it stops. What if it stops? Should it stop? Or should I stop it?
That’s where I am right now. I want something, but it’s not the same thing I started out chasing. I’m glad I blog and I’m glad I got stuff (not as much as some, but more than others) because I needed all of it. But what next? And who am I now? Can I outgrow my inner Gatsby tendencies?
Everybody loves you, until they don’t. I feel like the trick is to love yourself enough to know that’s true.
I studied to be a photographer. meaning I actually went to a school, applied to be allowed to go there, went through a home exam and a couple of interviews, and then when I thought I would die they let me in and I cried and was happy and then went to school and went into debt, but we won’t talk about that. What we’re focusing on is that I actually went to school to learn how to take photos (and write coherently and do graphic design) because that’s how I wanted to make money.
I picked my job. I just didn’t know you needed a penis to do it.
I started studying in the late 90s, before digital so I actually had to go in the darkroom, develop film, print images etc. I was lucky enough to get internships at two major studios, the second one in the equipment room. I can actually set up and break down large amounts of photo equipment alone. Like, all by myself with nobody helping me. I can use cameras of varying sizes (35mm, medium format, 4×5) all by myself. I’m proud of this.
Unfortunately photography is not something that you do all by yourself all the time. At some point you have to work on a team and that means working with models, makeup artists, hair stylists, wardrobe stylists and photo assistants. Even without a client and editors, If the photographer and staff each have two assistants that’s 15 people on board.
I’m pretty sure that I could handle that. I love bossing people around almost as much as I love taking pictures.
But I wonder sometimes, is my vagina stopping me from being successful?
I’ve assisted male photographers, and they don;t get treated the same. I mean, so yeah, you can’t flirt with me, but does that make me any less of a photographer? Ok, no I can’t date you, but am I less of a photographer? I once saw someone grab a male photographer I knew and beg to work with him. It’s ok if I was standing right there and had been building a realtionship with them in order to get work. I mean, don;t mind poor vagina having me when you can get a MAN.
I once assisted for a male photographer who did high fashion. I had to access and answer his email account and It was devastating. People offered him mansions to shoot in, tons of emails from models and stylists, and all of it was ‘you’re so amazing! let us give you money!!!’. I mean a lot of emails and emails from other mail photographers offering him help, looking to hang out, asking for advice…
At that point I wanted to have a sex change operation because my email box is tumbleweed city. At that time I was actively seeking work and promoting myself, and I got a job every so often. One year I made $5,00 and I considered that amazing. If I had a penis it would have been $5,000,000. I know it.
But funnily, I don’t blame the guys. I know for a fact that a female makeup artists will get a man work before she’ll help a female photographer because I’ve seen it happen. A female editor or client will go with a male photographer. Why? Hormones. he’s cute, omg look at those eeeeyeeeesssss… and he’s hired. Me? let’s not go there, ok?. And men will hire men because they’re men and they can all hang out and be men together and look at nekkid models and ten marry them and have model babies.
Me? I’m sorry, but male models make me feel weird, like- you are not gonna be prettier than me. So it doesn’t quite work like that for me.
Now, I have good ideas- but I am a 5’2″ black woman who wears overalls to shoot in because I’d rather be ready to crawl on the floor adjusting cables or smoothing out backdrops than trying to look cute. I think my work is good, but I’m not paying me. I don’t flirt because, hello? I’m a stinking photographer and my photoshoot is not where I look for dates or husbands.
I am probably doing this all wrong.
I started blogging because it was a way to keep taking photos, even if I had to take them of myself. Through blogging I’ve learned how much I love product photography, which you can do all alone, and how much I love getting dressed up to go to events. I do squirm a little, thinking that I’ve sold myself out just so that I can get free lipstick and wrinkle cream. I do wonder why it’s so much more acceptable for me to be ‘stylish’ than to be a paid photographic creative. I’m taking pictures, but are they the pictures I set out to take all along? Did I do all that model casting, thinking, plotting, planning, lighting, location scouting, wardrobe styling, and fighting just to wear cute clothes and go to blogger events?
I hear a lot about gender inequality in fashion, and I think that by hiring female imaging professionals (aka photographers) to shoot those fashion shoots and ads we can start closing the gap. I think more black editors should hire black female photographers for their magazines. I think female wardrobe stylists and makeup artists should recc their female photography associates and pass on jobs to them. I think gender and racial inequality can only be addressed when everyone, not just the men, are in there pitching whoever is best for the job.
If I’m that person, don’t go through my portfolio and earmark pics to show to a man to re-shoot them. Hire ME. And yeah, stuff like that happens, to men and women.
I’m a good photographer. I’m not flashy about it and maybe I need to be. I don’t say other people suck (men will do that, and I hate it. “Oh, that guy sucks” just because you want the job), and I think I bring a lot to the table because I’m fun to work with but my main objective is to get the job done. I will do the art direction, creative direction, write the copy, do the styling, do the makeup, hold everyone’s hand, make sure they get fed, make sure we get the shot, make sure to clean it all up afterwards. Cuz I’m awesome, and because that’s what needs to be done.
Since everyone is out there screaming about inequality, I’m going to test the fashion and photo industries. I am going to put my portfolio together and I am going to get back out there and market myself like the guys taught me to. I will make 2016 my year to make it as a photographer in New York. I’m gonna go hustle and see what happens. Because if people are really about change, I should be the perfect person to hire. Right? We’ll see.
This is it, the last of my NYFW recaps. I wanted to include every show that I was invited to, even the ones I missed. Because obviously, one blogger staying in bed does not stop anyone from walking the runway.
Mongol by Bayarma Bayarkhuu:
I actually thought that this was a presentation and figured I’d have lots of time to mosey on down to Lincoln center. Um, no. It was a bigass show and everyone I know was there and got little felt purses as parting gifts. So I felt stupid.
These were my four favorite looks from the show. The designer was born in Mongolia and is using the windswept steppes as the inspiration for her sprawling collection. I loved the use of color. The rich, ribbed furs in violet and flame red are gorgeously done. The outfit in photo 1 is so perfectly 90s with long shearling lined velvet coat and the yellow sunglasses, I’m in awe. The caped black jumpsuit with the figure sculpting white half-moon shapes on the sides is a showstopper.
After looking at all the photos, I think that they could have edited better, but when it’s your first show it’s hard to cut pieces that you treasure, so I get it. You can see all of the looks here, and watch the video below.
I was actually looking forward to this one, but just couldn’t force myself to go out in the frigid cold and darkness. I love fashion, but c’mon. I missed a great show though- as you can see from these photos. I love the sweater in photo 1 with the bright smear of yellow around the face. The wheat colored knit ponchi is pretty good, it would look great thrown over a stiff collared white shirt, and I love the see through knit sheath dress.
These leather clutches with a simple contrasting strap and the designer’s name is wonderful. No crazy hardware, just simplicity. Gajardo also showed a knack for reinventing denim with her patchwork pieces. The shearling lined denim jacket with leather trim is an easy update that looks effortlessly stylish. She also convincingly wove feathers into pieces without coming off costume-y. Good job!
Check out the rest of the collection here and check out runway video below:
So last Thursday was another marathon day for this stay at home blogger. I had made some goodies for my former intern boss Janine Just, and then had to run to a last minute event invite where I was meeting ‘that guy‘ and then go on to the Trollbeads store for an X by Trollbeads celebration.
It’s nice to feel wanted.
So first, I got a packed homemade candy, pecan turtle cookies, and one bowl of lemon pudding cake (so hard to part with that) in a Pinch Me box and got ready to drop it off at the Alley for my old internship crew. Why? Cuz they invite me places like CC Pop. Ya gotta show love to your pr people. Blogger’s best friends!
i would like to take a moment to mention these pigs in a blanket with mustard sauce. I had 5 while that guy lingered by the cheese table. Then we had some So Delicious dairy free frozen treats. Ten I had another pig in a blanket, because they rule.
Then we walked through the gently falling New York snow as strangers bumped into us repeatedly. It was so amazingly romantic. We were grateful for the warmth, prosecco and cookies at the X by Trollbeads event. At their store, nestled on 6th Avenue near 38th, guests were met by Olivia Jeanette of Corporate Catwalk, who showed off the X by Trollbeads Collection.
We hung out and looked at beads, mingling with guests like Nicky Dror of Four Eleven blog. I got to see the manager, Kim, who was super enthusiastic about the fact that Trollbeads might be adding another store soon.
After all that excitement, I went home to poke through my haul. I had bottles of Elderflower presse from Belvoir Farms, Simple products for sensitive skin, Zoya nail polish, Cottonelle cleansing cloths, and lots of Tic Tacs. I ate all my NA fruit snacks on the train home, and my friend gave me a bottle of wine for Christmas, which was nice. We’ve only known each other since August, so it’s not like I deserve a ring or anything.
Then I wiped off my ‘no makeup’ makeup look (which involves every product in the bathroom) and made myself a dinner of striped bass, spinach, and roasted breadfruit.