Last Saturday, October 22nd, I attended the Haute Ohio Magazine Launch Gala and it was a magnificent, high fashion classy affair that catered to the often overlooked Midwest high fashion industry. It was literally what the game had been missing. Spearheaded by Jackie Bertolette- designer, photographer and creator of the Haute Ohio Magazine- this fashion show was an eclectic mix of design, construction and style that served as a platform not only for Ohio designers, but models, hairstylists, makeup artists and photographers.
The event was held to celebrate the launch of Haute Ohio Magazine, a publication dedicated to showcasing Ohio fashion and Midwest talent while putting the spotlight on the creative teams behind the scenes. It includes high fashion photography, original garment design and regular columns and articles dealing with fashion (yours truly has a fashion critique article in there as well!).
Held at the Radisson Inn in Eastlake, Ohio, the show was broken down into three sections: Kids/Menswear, Emerging/Unconventional/Plus and the grand finale featuring established designers and brands from our area. And we were privy to an exhibition in the back of the room with garments provided by Project Runway contestants Valerie Mayen, Nathan Paul, and Joshua McKinley Cook. Ohio's got talent...
The designs in this show gave us everything from baroque and rococo Marie Antoinette designs and gowns with hundreds of hours of beadwork and hand sewing (haute couture in it's grandest, most explicit form) to dark gothic and modern steampunk looks with dashes of ready to wear pieces and sustainable fashion styles in between. They had designers there who were industry vets and a few who where showing their collections for the very first time. And they all came together and represented Ohio and Midwest fashion in a way that I have not seen in a long time. I was proud to be in attendance!
I'm going to say that I feel like this event will eventually become THE premier fashion event in Ohio, if Haute Ohio can keep it going and get bigger and better. This is Columbus Fashion Week and Cleveland Fashion Week combined and so important for us fashion creatves because as much talent as we have here- many of our photographers, designers, models and hair and makeup artists will never get a chance to participate in- hell, to keep it all the way trill- in Cleveland Fashion Week, let alone New York Fashion Week or any other out of state fashion event. We won't even get started on the subject of getting your work submitted to fashion publications as a contributor smh...
This was a great event and I plan on supporting the shit out of it because quite simply I have to. We need events like this to showcase our talent here in the Midwest and let them know how we do, what we do. With the spotlight on our sports teams, the constant rebuilding and restructuring of our city, and the emerging fashion, art and night scene here, Cleveland is definitely going through a Renaissance period that probably won't be acknowledged for another twenty years or so. With that being said, I am happy to attend events and contribute to the documentation of the talent arising from my city.
10/19/2016 1 Comment
It was exactly eight months ago when Angela Miller, of Painting in the Park Cleveland approached me about her idea to have an event that combined fashion, art and entertainment for families in the Cleveland area. On Sunday, October 16th, after months of planning, she pulled it off with an amazing action packed event!
The My Art! My Fashion! My Creativity! Charity Event was all about the children and their families and it was so much fun to be a part of. I, along with Evelyn 'LuxieStar' Smith co-produced the fashion portion of the show and remained in the back area most of the time, so I can't describe the show as it looked to the audience, but from the loud rounds of applause and cheers, it seemed to have went over well.
We arrived at the Ariel International Center, a beautiful event space, around ten that morning and started setting up, moving tables and chairs, creating spaces for vendors and pockets of art, making sure the food area was ready for the VIP guests when they arrived- all the un-glamourous work that comes with producing any type of event. Families started arriving and sat down for hair and makeup while we went over the scenes, rehearsed and discussed the layout of the show. Guests arrived at 4 pm, just as I was finishing up styling clothes for the vintage scene a few of the women participated in. Backstage was a calm chaos of excitement, nerves and bursts of energy- mostly provided by the kids in the show lol. From the time the lights dimmed and the music by DJ Yulissa played, the "stage" was never void of entertainment. The audience enjoyed interpretive dancers, singers, poetry, and fashion modeling from our team of participants.
There were four fashion scenes: Sunday's Best, which had models dressed up in their very best Sunday clothes, including a vintage scene that had a few ladies in it, but was exclusively held down by extraordinarily styled gentlemen in tailored pieces. We had Rep Your Team, where families dressed in their favorite sports teams jersey's or shirts (lots of Cavs and Indians fans obviously lol). There was the cute Family Fitness, scene that showcased fashionable athleisure wear along with fun props like yoga mats and boxing gloves. And last but not least was the casual chic Just Kickin' It scene. We also had a live modeling presentation by designer Jasmine Renee and a fashion runway presentation by Candence Clopton.
I loved seeing how proud and happy the families were to walk the runway, the little girls shined and even the macho preteen boys and men had smiles on their faces as they GQ'ed their way down the catwalk. But the most important thing to me was looking into the audience and seeing whole families enjoy the show too. A lot of events are not family orientated, especially those dealing with fashion (we love it and can handle it, but maybe lil Tay Tay or Molly should not see models dressed in risque' lingerie walking to 'Red Bottoms' by Trina lol)
Besides the personal style showing runway show, there was self expression from a wide range of artists, male and female, young and old that gave everybody something to enjoy and look out for. On the flip side of that, I also believe the families that participated within the show walked away with something too. See, we had parents encouraging and holding the hands of their children, whispering to them while walking the runway together, ecstatic little girls in their favorite outfits, lip gloss poppin' and glittery shoes excited to show what they could do. Parents stood at the sidelines while their children practiced routines and turns and poses, some even performing along with their kids. The designers had something to prove to, as it was some of their first times showing their work and participating in an event like this. It all came together in such a beautiful way, and best of all- the proceeds from the night went to funding next year'sPainting in the Park Family Fun Day Festival and provide an educational activity for the children who participated in the show!
My personal highlight of the entire night is when the one young lady who had barely spoken three words to me the whole time ran up after the show and said excitedly, "I had so much fun walking, thank you!" And she threw her arms around me and hugged me and it took just about everything in my soul not to cry lol. Others may have seen My Art! My Fashion! My Creativity! as just another show or a way to pass time that Sunday, but I'm sure I was not the only one who saw this epic event for what it really was- a safe space for families to mix, mingle, share and receive creative self expression, fashion and art.
For more information on Painting in the Park Cleveland and to find out how you can volunteer or donate, please visit: FFPinfo.org.
10/12/2016 31 Comments
I wanted to open this post with the "Make way for the big guuuuurls!" chant, but then I also want to use the chorus to rapper T.I's hit,"Bring 'em out, bring 'em out", cause that is exactly what happened at the Curve the Runway Fashion Show I attended in Columbus, Ohio!
I was invited by Brandee Bailous, plus size model and designer of the House of Bobinski, who came to an audition for one of my fashion shows a few years back. Me and my home girl Antiniec hopped on the rode for the two hour drive to Columbus, not knowing what to expect from this show. When we arrived the building was already STACKED with people sitting shoulder to shoulder around the stage that jutted out into the center of the room. Some guests were placed on the side of the stage as seating for VIP ran out- I wondered what the audience knew about this show that I didn't.
I did not have to wait long as the show opened and the models came out in all their voluptuous glory- beautiful ladies of all shapes, sizes 12 and up, with skin tones ranging from pale white to the darkest chocolate and every shade in between. The ladies got into FORMATION on that stage and the crowd went nuts which caused me to get excited lol. The ladies looked so good and so much in sync that you could tell two things- that they had practiced for a very long time, and that they genuinely liked each other- cause you just don't move like that with people you don't like lol.
The show was long, but fast paced and moved quickly thanks to an awesome host who kept things rolling and those ladies walked for their LIIIIVES ok! I really enjoyed the show overall mainly because it was highly entertaining, but a few things stood out to me like:
1. I Wanted That.. and That and That Too: The fact that both independent designers and boutiques participated in this show gave such a large variety of fashion that I found myself zoning out while taking mental notes of what pieces I would personally wear, what I would use for an editorial shoot, a commercial shoot, a fashion video and in a fashion show- like an editor from the hottest high fashion plus size publication that ain't even out yet. That perfect blend of fashion and style was awesome to see on all those bodies.
2. The Models were 'Real Women': I adored the the fact that all the models were not carbon copies of the big breasted, flat stomach, dangerous curves ahead, hourglass shaped, Instagram boutique waist trainer wearing girls we see all the time. These women were petite, tall, average height, slim thick, thick boned and big stomached, they gave us rolls, stretch marks and back fat realness and I was here for it ALL!
3. They gave HIGH FASHION: Some of those designs looked like they were fresh off the Parisian runway and I loved that they did not hold back on the fashion. Sometimes these types of shows are more about the entertainment- which is fine- but that was definitely not the case up on that stage. There was sequins, stripes, contrasting shades, print mixing, sheer panels, bold colors and wild prints, furs, florals, mini skirts, tea length and floor sweeping gowns, capes, lots of volume and everything else big girls are told to stay away from. Those ladies gave us all a lesson in confidence and wearibility ok!
4. The Lingerie Scene: Y'all. When I tell you that scene GAVE LIFE, DEATH AND HIGH CLASS SEXY DRAMA in a way that cannot be described! That scene was so real and so sexy, several of us stood up out our seats and gave those confident ladies a standing ovation. Strutting out to Shabba Ranks and R.Kelley in the sexiest, most revealing, leave nothing to the imagination lingerie were plus size ladies with T&A for days, cellulite and wobbly bits be damned, they looked great and EVERYBODY in that room agreed!
5. The Purpose Behind the Show: I can't lie, it touched my soul when the producer of the show stated that this was for the girls who have been told no- they were too short, not the right proportions, or whatever and that this was more than just a fashion show, but an actual movement and a sisterhood. And you could tell just by looking at the women up there on that stage. The confidence and sauce levels were through the roof and I wished every plus size women could have felt all that positive energy and love radiating from the stage.
6. The Audience was Lit: I have been to so many shows, but never have I witnessed crowd participation to that extreme before. You know how at an event, most people cheer for whoever they came to see? Not at this show- I felt like we were a big happy family of about eight hundred watching our favorite niece cross that stage. They went in for every single model and it was so refreshing and energetic that it almost brought tears to my eyes. It really was a "if you cheer for one, you cheer for all of us" type of situation and I was here for it.
I truly believe organizations like Curve the Runway Ohio should have a chapter in every city. Although fashion is slowly changing, it is still a very exclusive industry that turns its nose up and plays favoritism. But what about those of us who physically can't or just refuse to conform? Some shows exclude plus size women, claiming the designers they choose only make up to a certain size- never mind the fact that more than half of the audience watching can't even wear their garments due to the size constraints. Instead of asking other designers with a larger range of sizes to participate they exclude a whole group of ladies who love to rip the runway as well. When will they understand that big girls are here to SLAY?
Fall is finally here and style wise, it is definitely my favorite shopping season! I love that I can actually get dressed and wear deeper colors like eggplant and military green, sensual fabrics like cashmere and nubby wool, not to mention the opportunity to layer without the fear of overheating and literally melting in your boots lol.
We see the trends on the runways, celebrities and other women, but don't know how to incorporate those looks into our own closets without wondering if we are doing it right. Listen- if you are wearing a trendy item- then you are doing it right because you are taking a chance on fashion and having fun with it- I'm just here to show you alternate ways of styling the trends shown in the photo above. Let's go!
Bomber Jackets: The shape and fit on this jacket is so cute and flattering on all bodies. Heavy floral print, army green or black- they all look good with a classic jeans and tee outfit- but don't be afraid to try your bomber jacket with a skirt or over a dress
Tie Bow Blouse: Add this top to a pair of trousers and you have a look that is ready for work- but why not try it with an A-line skirt and a blazer, or a pencil skirt and long vest? This is the perfect item to look for while thrift shopping!
Wide Leg Pant: After rocking our beloved skinny jeans, slim fit pants and leggings for the last ten seasons, wide leg pants are slowly but surely coming back into style. Tuck a t-shirt into a bright pair for a casual look, a button down and a skinny belt looks good with wide leg pants, and a long sleeve crop top looks sexy with a high waist pair.
Loafers: We still have time to show off our ankles before the weather becomes unbearably cold, so why not try your loafers with a cropped pair of pants and an off shoulder sweater, or with a denim skirt and a button down for a fun spin on menswear and last but not least, try them with a fun print dress and a denim jacket.
Animal Print: Fall is when animal prints come back with a vengeance and you will see it everywhere- on shoes, bags, clothes and accessories and in all color variations. Buy yourself a sexy print bootie to liven up your basics or a forever fly animal print coat to toss on over your lazy day outfit. Stick to one piece at a time!
Velvet: Sensuous fabrics and cozy clothing add a lush and plush look to your winter wardrobe and velvet is no exception. You will see velvet pants. dresses, camis and accessories in rich fall colors just in time for all of your holiday parties. Offset the texture with an opposite- try a skimpy velvet dress with an oversize wool cardigan, or a velvet cami with jeans and a mod pair of booties. For a fabulous party look combine your velvet pants with a silk cami and leather blazer. #Posh.
Belts: Belts are back and in a big way! Add shape to anything you own and use them to cinch everything from dresses, and blazers to dusters, cardigans and even leather jackets. Try a corset style and ones that have gold or silver hardware. Get a belt with a large buckle or bright color that might wake up that shift dress in the back of your closet. Also try a thick belt with high waist pants and a billowy sleeved shirt tucked in.
Bucket Bag: The easiest bag to carry this season is the bucket bag! Stylish, roomy and coming in a variety of different colors and embellishments, this is THE fall bag to have. It holds all of your stuff and looks cute tossed over your shoulder. Right now, the hottest version has tassels, fringe or studs...
Ruffles: The ultimate feminine flourish, ruffles used to be tricky since they added excess volume to blouses that top heavy women avoided like the plague. But now there are many ruffle related fashion items being sold and the ruffles are placed in more strategically flattering places like on the sleeve, the bottom, the side of a skirt, or added to an otherwise basic handbag. The key is balance. If you are wearing a blouse with an explosion of ruffles, then wear slim fit bottoms to offset it. If you are wearing a pair of pants or skirt that is bursting with a ruffle fiesta, then wear it with a less voluminous top.
Choker: These necklaces are like little acts of rebellion for your neck! Taking it back to the 90's and the innocence of wearing chokers with baby doll dresses and platform shoes bring back visions of Hole, Drew Barrymore, Angela from My So Called Life and Laura from Family Matters. All grown up now, chokers look good in velvet, suede, lace and charmed out and pretty much anything goes. Try one with your fanciest dress and pull up your hair, or wear one with a white t-shirt, wide leg pants and blazer with your hair parted down the middle. Either way- I bet you will slay!
Will you try any of these trends? If so which one? Tell me in the comments below!
I love thrift shopping and have been doing it for years. It's where I get the majority of my furs, (faux and real) vintage dresses and blouses, and most of all my photo shoot/fashion show wardrobe comes straight from half off Mondays at Unique Thrift store lol. With lots of patience and a plan, I have scored many out of this world pieces for great prices. I can't even tell you how many designer, name brand and incredible vintage finds I have purchased and sold over the years. Where else can you find classic work essentials, unique print dresses and show stopping outerwear for $10 or less other than the thrift store? I decided to use this information for the Style Me Fly lecture I facilitated on October 1st, at the Stop Traffic Teen Summit sponsored by the Renee Jones Empowerment Center.
The two part fashion lecture first focused on using my six beautifully diverse models, Sam, Jasmine, Mahogany, Harmoni, Yolenny and Frankie to help me emphasize the importance and the wearibilty of the easiest most basic fashion uniform: the tee shirt and jeans. There are so many stylish ways to build on this easy fashion formula by adding accessories like scarves, necklaces, chains and bracelets, printed heels, dusters, blazers and jackets- all pieces that can be thrifted! Fall fashion is perfect because we have room to play around with light layers, mixed prints and textures.
The second part of the presentation started as my money saving models tipped across the stage in fabulous inexpensive thrifted finds, posing while I described their outfits and gave away my top ten thrifting tips:
1. Go with an open mind.
This is the one time that I will suggest shopping without a list! It's a proven fact that when you have your mind set on finding a black blazer, you will find everthing except for that blazer lol. Don't limit yourself with a list, but set a budget and stick to it!
2. Dress appropriately.
Wear something that you can easily slip a shirt, dress or skirt over, preferably a tank top and leggings. If it's during the colder months add a duster or light layers that can be quickly removed in case fitting rooms are packed and you have to try something on in the aisles
3. Location is everything!
Shop in high end neighborhoods and you won't be disappointed by the massive amount of designer cast offs, vintage pieces and expensive garments donated by people with great taste in fashion and the most stylish clothes.
4. Go early, and take a snack.
Thrifting is a sport and is to be treated as such! Get there early or you will be left with the picked through leftovers and declare it a failed mission. Most stores open early in the morning, especially on their sale days so check the website or call the store to find out. Also bring a bottle of water and some sort of granola bar, nuts or something to fit in your bag because shopping can make you hungry (or is that just me lol?)
5. Throw it in the cart now.
Immediately claim whatever catches your eye because by the time you turn around to go back and get it, I guarantee someone will have snatched it up without a second thought. Don't play yourself by second guessing when you can always put the item back if it doesn't work out.
7. Try on everything and think outside the box.
Concern yourself with fit, not size. Sizing was different 5, 10, 15 and 20 years ago and you can't really go with what is written on the tag. Besides, you may want that cardigan to hang in an over-sized way, or that jacket may become the perfect vest if you cut the sleeves off and if a dress has an elastic waist well that is a shirt and a skirt set for the price of one! And cotton fabrics+RIT dye= all new possibilities!
7. Experiment with bold prints, patterns, colors and fabrics
What is missing from your wardrobe? If you have a closet full of solid neutrals, add pops of color with bright hues and prints that you can't find in stores today. If you wear tons of black, load up with more black but in rich textures. Scared of too much too soon? You can't go wrong with a festive print scarf...
9. Check the garment thoroughly!
Watch out for stains, rips, and odors that may have been set for years. Look under the arms, inside the item, check the back and inside and see what you are working with. Some stains can be removed using a mix of solutions or dry cleaning, many odors can be lifted with something as simple as vinegar and sunlight, and if you are handy with a sewing machine or a needle and thread, then a small hole or missing button won't stop your flow.
10. Edit down your selection.
Narrow your choices down to pieces that you can't live without, fit you well and need no extra repairs. If it comes down to two blouses that you love, but one has a loose button and you have not sat down at a sewing machine since they taught home ec in high school, then go ahead and get the other one lol. It's not a great deal or look if the items just sit in the back of your closet!
Are you in the Cleveland area and want to find awesome treasures but don't have the time, the energy or the know how? Let me help you out- email me at:firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to supplement your whole wardrobe with thrift finds! Are you already a thrifting pro? What are some of your survival tips?
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