I had a great time styling two photo shoots with three awesome models- Diondra, Donnella and Quecyon! I had been dying to get my hands on reconstructed pieces by Cleveland designer Kimberly Alexander, creator of Virgo Voodoo, every since I started following her work on Facebook. Kimberly designs handbags and jewelry, but also has a talent for shopping at thrift stores and re-imaging the garments for one of a kind looks. You can shop her original designs and thrifted finds on Vinted.com
Once I secured the clothes I started planning the shoot. I laid out all 15 pieces Kimberly let me pull, draped my mannequin and took photos to get an idea of how to piece it altogether. Then I narrowed down the complete looks including accessories and add ons, always remembering to keep an open mind and other options cause sometimes things look right on a mannequin, but awkward on a real person.
I looked through my contacts to see what models would properly serve the looks. I knew I had the clothes for a limited amount of time and only one free weekend available to do this so it all went into the picking and choosing and added a sense of urgency. I chose Quecyon, a professional dancer/model I met when she walked my first style show in 2010, and my other two picks were Diondra and Donella. I actually work with Dion at my desk job, she also modeled in a fashion presentation I did last year and I met Donella sometime a year or two ago when she came to a model call that I had and walked in another one of my style shows.
I try to come up with a theme, or a story based around the clothes, even if nobody ever knows because it helps with cohesion and gives the models something to play around with in their head while posing.
The (very loose) theme I chose for Donnella and Dion played on the contrasting fabrics and colors. Fabrics ranged from rugged leather, stiff cotton and soft tulle, fluffy and skinny, pastels and brights, prints and solids etc...
I also played with the line of the neck by using a white Victorian collar ruffle bib shirt on Donnella and a hot pink tie bow crop top with black splotches on Dion.
Quecyon actually had a story based around a modern day urban geisha who comes to an urban city in America and immediately starts to assimilate through clothes. Like I said sometimes they don't make sense but it helps me narrow down my selection and set up a few shots lol.
As a stylist I prefer to concentrate strictly on the fashion, but sometimes it is hard to coordinate a photographer, a makeup artist, a hairstylist and a model so I do most of it myself. Obviously I am not a photographer or any of those other things and I don't pretend to be, but when I need to play other roles to get the job done I will.
The first shoot with Dion and Donnella was on Saturday. I had chosen the Cleveland Public Library downtown cause it is one of our most beautiful buildings and they let me have complete use of it for my shoots as long as I don't block any doorways and ask for permission first. It had been raining all week and I really wanted the shoot to be outside in the downtown area, but I secured the library anyway just in case. And thank goodness I did cause it rained lol! I had asked another photographer Essence (read more about her, here) to join me and see if she wanted to shoot models for her own portfolio a s well. Both models were sooo fun to work with and we got a lot done in under two hours.
Quecyon's shoot was the very next day on Sunday and I had her meet me at the rapid station (again just in case of rain, you better have back up locations lol) but we ended up walking to a nice area where you could see downtown Cleveland in the background. She slayed three separate looks and we were done in a little over an hour and a half.
For me, there is more work to be done... After we wrap, I quickly check the clothes for any damages, gather any jewelry, accessories or shoes and pack them away.
When I get home, I round up all the pieces I pulled from Kimberly, including the ones I did not use and hang them all in a garment bag to return. Then I sit down and look at all the photos on my computer and discard any blurry photos, the ones where the clothes don't look right, or the model's eyes are not focused, and then I place the ones that really stand out in a folder. It's the process of elimination from there, I narrow the photos down to around 15 or 20 out of 100s and then do very basic editing. I place my watermark on them, email them to the designer and then to my models. Then I am done!
It's a lot of work for sure, but I love the results of collaborating with new models, clothes and energy! Just like any production there is a lot of planning and replanning, organization and timely execution that helps it go smoothly, but in the end it's all worth it!
I hope you enjoy the pics!!
*And check out other shoots that I have done on my styling page!*
It was the mid nineties and I was in seventh grade living in Decatur, GA with absolutely no fashion sense at all lol. I had previously attended a private school in Gadsden, AL, for six years straight wearing nothing but homemade knee length dresses and skirts (hey when I was growing up there was no "jr. plus" smdh) the dress code in the strict Christian school I attended stated that it was indecent for girls to wear pants (yep swallow that and get back to me lol).
Anyway, on the weekends I basically rocked the most comfortable clothes on the planet- baggy boy clothes. My style was reminiscent of 90's rappers at the time with the team jerseys, striped polo shirts, creased white tees, (I was spending half my monthly allowance on spray starch, and the other half on the Source magazine, don't judge) a jogging pants (one leg up, and then both up when that soon played smdh) and baggy jeans.
So understand that when I first saw this video it was all about LL's swag- his throwback jerseys and and leather jackets, but then a strange thing happened... I took notice of actress Gillian lliana Waters outfits and was instantly knocked upside the head by the style fairies! She rocked Chanel, Prada, and Coach, slick leather skirt sets with oversize jackets, knapsacks and clear plastic ensembles, the original sneaker heels with the chunky 90's thick sole, and last but not least, the flyest, cutest idea for a purse ever- the pink teddy bear back pack!
(And yes I did beg, plead and throw the most obvious hints til I got a brown replica that Christmas exactly two months after the video came out..thanks Mom! Now when I think about it she probably just was happy I wanted a purse lol.)
Everything in this video caught my eye and when I went back to school after that winter break I saw just how much of an influence music videos had on me and my peers. All the boys were rocking FUBU gear and the girls definitely had the sneaker pumps and some version of the teddy bear back pack or imitation nylon Prada/DKNY knapsacks... (shout outs to the Candler Rd. flea markets my mom and my aunt took me to on the weekends, I stayed in the latest knockoff urban fashions lol).
I mean yeah- I still dressed like a rapper 93.6% of the time but on the days I decided to get girly I was semi cute lol. Anyway, get into Ms. Things in the video and if her style don't get ya, LL's entire existence surely will...
I had my first thrift date! I met Kimberly- avid thrifter, redesigner and jewelry designer- earlier this year and we volunteered at the Dare 2 Care Charity Fashion Show. In fact, she is the one who put me on to the event and let me know about her favorite thrifting spot, a church on the westside.
We made plans to go last Friday and that Thursday night I went to bed more excited than a kid starting his first day of kindergarten lol. I never had a thrifting partner before! Most of my friends think thrifting is nasty, time consuming and they can never find the treasures that I seem to find, so I always go alone.
Kimberly is a pro at buying the most obscure pieces and redesigning them into versatile style statements and she also maintains an online boutique on Vinted.com- check out MyThriftLife to see what she has to sell... So anyway Friday morning came and I woke up bright and early to the heaviest rain! I was saddened but not deterred and I sent a quick text to Kimberly asking if she was still down to go. She said yes, but we would have to think of some where else to go cause the church where she thrifts holds the merchandise outside and we could not go while raining.
I quickly thought of Unique Thrift Store which was not far from our meeting spot and suggested we go there. Kimberly had never been and agreed to go. By the time we arrived it was only a light drizzle and we proceeded to go in and shop. Now I had been toying around with the idea to join Periscope for about a month now, but had no idea what to broadcast until I got inside the thrift store and it hit me- SHOPPING AT THE THRIFT STORE BROADCAST-DUHHHHHH!! Lol so I did it, and the video version of the FlyGirl Chronicles was born! I'm in it explaining shopping tips and tricks including what I wear, how I choose and edit pieces and Kimberly chimes in with ways to style your new (to you) finds. I had so much fun and can't wait to do another one! Watch the videos below, see the rest on my Youtube channel and follow me on Persicope- @thehouseoffly to see the full broadcast!
Versace Versace: Talk about full immersion method acting! Spanish actor Antonio Banderas is starting his second week of fashion school at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design as he prepares to play slain Italian designer Gianni Versace. Banderas is going through an intense one month training for the movie on the the designer's life set to start production in March 2016. I'm here for it cause that Lifetime 'House of Versace' movie was ahem- less than... Read more here.
No Go No Show: Never mind the fact that Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci invited literally everybody and they mama to sit at his NYFW show- there is one legendary model you won't catch anywhere near a catwalk- Iman. The retired supermodel and cosmetics pioneer told Page Six, "I haven’t been to a fashion show since 1989... The industry itself has changed; shows were being held for over an hour for the likes of Paris Hilton. I’m not going to that.” Oop lol! Read about how Iman spends here time here.
Checkmate: Not even ten years ago that iconic Burberry plaid was everywhere- apparel, shoes, bags, curtains, tablecloths, baby strollers and other random items that could be found at your local mall or hair store to the point where it became cliched to wear the distinctive camel, black, ivory and red tartan. But then designer Christopher Bailey became the creative director of the British heritage label and helped bring its status back by designing fashion forward ready to wear, updating their classic trench coat in new cuts, colors and fabrics, and the company slowly/snatched back all of those cheaply made mass market overseas licenses. Today the brand is strong and has now debuted the 'Scarf Bar', an online and in-store customization program that allows customers to personalize their cashmere scarf in any way they would like, choosing from over 32 colors and prints, classic warm or breathable lightweight cashmere, and for an extra $75, customers can even have their names monogrammed Make your own here!
Gen Yeezy: Remember Kanye West's minimalist atheleisure rags 'n' tatters NYFW collection for his first ADIDAS collaboration? It seems like forever ago even though it was only just this past February that we viewed (and some clowned) his debut. Well we are now finally seeing the 'Yeezy Season 1' collection make its rounds in fall editorials with R&B singer The Weeknd posing in GQ magazine while wearing exclusive outerwear pieces from the line and now in the inaugural men's issue of subversive style god Carine Roitfeld's CR FashionBook. West handpicked four rising musicians- Fetty Wap, Tink, Vic Mensa and Holt (the latter three all Chicago artists) to model the unisex label for the issue. To read the articles and see the photos go visit CRFashionBook.com
Essence Sullins- owner of Infinite Visions Ent., an arts and entertainment company based in Cleveland, Ohio- is a mother, designer, stylist, writer, photographer, fashion show producer and playwright. She will also add boutique owner to her repertoire after the September 7th launch of 'Suite 55 Boutique' her online shop selling clothing, shoes, and accessories. Somehow Essence found the time to answer The HOF Fashion&Style Blog Q&A via email:
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING ALL... THIS LOL? I've been doing everything for at least five years. I began writing when in high school, many moons ago LOL
WHEN DID YOU GET YOUR “BIG BREAK”? I still haven't got the "big break" that I'm expecting
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT SO FAR? Getting my poetry book published and successfully putting together my first fashion show!
WHO, IF ANYBODY, HAS REALLY HELPED YOU ALONG THE WAY? My mother and brother have been so crucial and critical in what I've been able to accomplish so far
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? (NAMES OF MUSIC,BOOKS, BLOGS WEBSITES, ETC) Successful entrepreneurs, in general, inspire me. Pharrell, Tyler Perry and Oprah are big inspirations, in addition to Lebron James, Steve Jobs and Beyoncé. I look up to individuals who have been successful by going against the grain and then ensuring that their money is making them more money lol
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH? I would like to dress/style Kyrie Irving or Pharrell. I would like to shoot Pharrell, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Justin Beiber. I would love to write a script with Tyler Perry.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES AND WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME? Writing and Photography. I also like to watch movies and listen to music. Magazines and books also hold my interest.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OFF IN YOUR INDUSTRY? Learn your craft and never stop learning, be consistent, and never get up.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE? Unique and generally ahead of Cleveland's fashion sense lol
WHAT ARE YOUR GO TO PIECES? Accessories and Footwear
WHERE DO YOU SHOP? A little bit of everywhere... Thrift stores or consignment shops.... Malls.... Gabe's.... Wherever there is a deal or wherever I can find clothes to "alter" to my personal liking
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU REFUSE TO WEAR? HEELS lol... But other than that, I'm usually pretty open with what I'll try to see if it works for me.
WHO ARE YOUR TOP 5 STYLE ICONS? Pharrell, Michelle Obama, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, and Wale.
FAVE DESIGNER OR FASHION HOUSE? Me lol
IS THERE A MOVIE OR VIDEO THAT YOU REALLY LOVE THE FASHION? Not a movie but Empire always does it for me... and Keri Washington in Scandal.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVE OUTFIT GROWING UP? Basketball shorts and Jordan's.
WHOSE CLOSET WOULD YOU LIKE TO RAID (GOOD OR BAD) AND WHY? The wardrobe closet on set for Empire. There is such a variety of styles and statement pieces, I would be in heaven.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVE SONG TO GET READY WITH? Dreams and Nightmares Intro by Meek Mill
WHAT DOES “FLY” MEAN TO YOU? Being yourself and turning heads in the process.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU? Hopefully completing a full-length film, written and directed by me. More short-term: the opening of my boutique, Suite 55 Boutique.
I KNOW IT'S HARD LOL, BUT KEEP UP WITH ESSENCE VIA SOCIAL MEDIA:
Facebook: IV - Infinite Visions (business), IG: suite55boutique (boutique) and photographyinfinitevisions (photography) ... Personal IG: ayeitsessence, Twitter: ayeitsessence, Facebook: Essence Sullins
This video is what did it for me! I loved Lil Kim when she first came out. Hardcore, explicit, sexy, and she could spit! I loved her ghetto fabulous style and this video solidified her iconic status to me. All the colored weaves, the furs, the glasses, the fits and the shoes- it was like sensory overload for me and I remember hitting record on my VCR every time this video came on and playing it repeatedly in my room when I was younger. When I got older (much older lol) and started to wear purple hair, I consulted this video for styles and inspiration. I can't say much about her knifed up appearance now, but I was proud she was reppin us brown/dark skinned girls back in the day.
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