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February 2017

art fashion Fashion exhibit History Lifestyle shoes Uncategorized

The Museum at FIT’s Black Fashion Designers

Currently on display at the Museum of FIT is the “Black Fashion Designers” exhibition.  Just in time for Black history month the exhibition showcases both African and African American designers. Fashion ranging from the 1950’s to the present is on view, along with the history of challenges African American and African designers have faced within the fashion industry. The exhibition focuses on an array of classifications for these designers such as eveningwear, menswear, street style and six more categories.

Breaking into the Industry

As in most of the U.S.A during the 1950’s the fashion industry was a segregated profession. Taught the craft of sewing primarily by a loved one the inclusion of Black designers into the industry only began slowly during  the 1960’s. During this time some designers were able to learn the business side of the fashion industry while they worked in Seventh Avenue manufactures. Ann Loewe was taught sewing by her grandmother a former slave. Her designs became well known by the American wealthy in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Her specialty were wedding gowns and debutante dresses for the elite.

Museum of FIT

Left:Anne Loews wedding dress 1968. Right Ethiopian designer Amsale wedding dress fall 2016

 

The Rise of the Black Fashion Designer

The Civil Rights movement, music and African American culture became prevalent in influencing the fashion of the day. Disco music and the African American musicians inspired the designs of the 1970’s. Their designs were beginning to influence not only New York fashion but that of Paris and London.

 

Museum of FIT

James Daugherty green jumpsuit 1974 and Jon Higgins dress 1980-85

 

 

Eveningwear

The 19th century was an important time for Black fashion designers in the eveningwear arena. Their use of different techniques and craftsmanship afforded them the opportunities to dress elite clientele like Princess Diana and Beyoncé. The attention from high end retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman had African and African American designs being sold on Fifth Ave.

FIT Museum

Ann Lowe 1955 dress and B.Michae 2015 silk brocade dress.

                          

Street Influence

During the 1980’s Hip Hop and it’s culture influenced the trends of fashion. The use of oversized jackets and pants were being used by the youth of New York City. What the fashion industry call’s the ” trickle up” movement  of street style influencing the runway occurred. This movement shook the fashion industry into recognizing the market of hip hop and its youth. Unfortunately this led to high end designers being influenced by the movement without crediting the originators of the trend. Although this has slowly changed and the trickle up movement is now more appropriately used by design houses such as “Public School”. ” Public School” streetwear and high fashion fusions often stump critics and is hard to define on weather it is streetwear or not. Designer Virgil Abloh of the brand “Off-White” uses streetwear to express issues in society like climbing the corporate ladder. His purpose in making streetwear is to add an intellectual layer to a style of clothing that is often seen as cheap.

FIT Museum Exhbit

Pyre Moss fall 2015 and Off -White Ensemble 2015

FIT Musem Exhibit

Right: Public School Fall 2016. Left Xuly.Bet Fall 2016.Off White Ensemble Fall 2015 .

 

Activism

Activism in the African American society has given designers a chance to showcase their designs while infusing their culture and message. Activism prompted designers to revive the Afro hairstyle and traditional African textiles. The use of fashion allowed these designers to express their frustrations and hopes during times of oppression. Activism and fashion have collided expressing certain messages important to the designers and the public. As it was used in the past by African American communities as an outlet of social injustice it is also used today. We’ve seen particular clothing and  accessories like hats to convey a social injustice message in the Women’s March and on the runway. Most recently in the Missoni closing of their Fall 2017 Ready To Wear collection.

The Mueseum of FIT

Left: Patrick Kelly denim dress 1987. Above Patrick Kelly t-shirt. Right: Stoned Cherrie T-shirt and Tsonga skirt 2010.

Menswear

During the late 1970’s black designers were making an imprint in menswear both in the US and in London. Andrew Ramroop was the first black designer to work on the famous Savile Row in London.  Meanwhile designer Jeffrey Banks infused American prep style with traditional colorful tweeds in New York. In the early 2000’s elaborate suits fit for royalty were combined with street flare on the Sean John runway. Menswear continues to be pushed by black designers as they change proportions, add new designs and play with the idea of masculinity in suits.

FIT Museun

Patrick Kelly 1989

FIt Museum

Casey- Hayford fall 2015. Agi & Sam fall 215

FIT Museum

Sean John Fall 2008. Maurice Sewell 2003

 

Black Models

During the 1950’s Ebony magazine began the ” Ebony Fashion Fair”. The fair discovered and launched the career of supermodel Pat Cleveland among others.  It was one of the only platforms or magazine’s besides “Jet” magazine showcasing black models. African American designers were also given a spotlight to showcase their designs during the fair. In 1973 the fashion show ” The Battle of Versailles” a fundraiser for the restoration of the Versailles Palace featured five American ready to wear designers and five French couturier’s. It not only gave the American designers recognition but featured ten black models. The freedom of movement given to the models made an impact on what a model was allowed to do on the runway. Black models have been muses for designers like Stephen burrows and Azzadine Alana in the 1990’s. Model Alva Chinn became a favorite of Oscar de la Renta, Halston and Stephen Burrows. Although there are more models of color on the runway now, they are still in the minority. Supermodel Liya Kebede has given back to her native Kenya by working with the World Health Organization. They have given Ethiopian weavers a platform to showcase their work and contribute to the  Ethiopian economy.

Come des Garcons jacket, Azzedine Alaia bustier and pants. Pierre Hardy shoes. Styled by model Veronica Webb. Iemlem by Liya Kebede spring 2014

Ebony Magazine 1974 ” The Big Whirl of Fashion” featuring their fashion fair.

US Vogue and Vogue Italia

 

African Influence

African culture has inspired many designers, but can be interpreted in an incorrect manner. For an African American designer the ability to interpret  African influence in their designs is a chance to explore and portray their heritage with respect and understanding. Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo adds modern touches to the Ankara, a traditional West African fabric. The designer has been known to add custom prints and embellishments to the fabric in her collections.  Scarification an ancient African tradition is one of  the influences for designer Mimi Plange. The influences of scars can be seen in her 2013 leather curved line dress. While designer Christie Brown uses traditional African textiles to design modern clothing.

Left :Patrick Kelly 1988. Right Stella Jean 2015

Middle: Mimi Plange
Right: Christie Brown
Left: Lisa Folawiyo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experimentation

Designer Jon Watson known for dressing the contestants of  beauty pageants experimented with silhouettes. In the late 1950’s he stepped away from his traditional hourglass form to an innovative pleated evening coat. It was innovative because it stood away from the body reflecting Parisian couture. Designer Brenda Waites experimented with 13th century techniques such as macramé knotting in her 1970’s collection. Punk and British tailoring were combined in designer Joe Casely-Hayford’s 2000 collection. He as well as most Black designers fight against the label of “black designer” for the more appropriate “designer” label.

Left:Jon Weston coat 1957
Middle: Brenda Waites Boiling tunic 1970’s
Right: Bryan Lars Union suit 1987

Left” Epperson dress 2008
Right: Joe Casely-Hayford 2000 Ensemble

 

The exhibition is open until May 16, 2017 at the Museum of FIT on 7th Ave and 27th St. Let me know if you got to visit this exhibition.

T.S.

fashion Life Lifestyle Uncategorized

New York Fashion Week: Latinista Fashion Presentation

NYFW

This season New York Fashion Week was not smooth sailing for me. An unwanted snow storm, canceled shows and a packed freelancing schedule did not allow me to attend the amount of shows I intended to. I did however manage to fit in “Latinista Fashion Week” a platform for Latino designers that I was excited to view once more. In collaboration with Iman cosmetics and Aveda the beauty showcased complimented the collections perfectly. Both experienced and emerging designers showcased their Autumn/Winter 2017 collections.

Knit and crochet wear designer Milagros Batista featured a collection of  red and black dresses, tops and an extravagant poncho. The colors and hand fans were a nod to the motherland of Spanish culture. My favorite piece of the collection was a red high neckline dress with a frill hemline. I also admired the multiple embroidered roses with green stems  on a simple black dress. Knitting from the age of seven Batista uses bold colors inspired by her homeland of the Dominican Republic.

For her knitting is a spiritual as well as a personal experience. Her knitting and crocheting gave her a feeling of strength and beauty in her community as she donned garments  made by her own hands. This is what she wants the wearer of her products to feel. The intricately detailed knitted pieces are a testament to her lifelong experience of the craft. With the bold colors she uses in her collections and the pieces I saw in this collection, how could you not feel strong and beautiful?

NYFW

NYFW

The designer and her collection.

 

NYFW

Colombian designer Sandra Baquero featured her newest collection. Inspired by the 20’s and 30’s with a touch of aviation, the collection was retro yet modern. Billowing and structured hats topped off asymmetrical jackets, while the simple sweater dress got stark details of leather and top stitching. The neutral color pallet of black, white, olive green and navy were a great canvas for the pleats, zipper detailing and leather accents . Baqueros’s experience with both ready to wear and couture is showcased through her wearable yet dramatic ensembles.

The designer who has eight years of experience with NYFW made her newest collection within four months. With blazers that can be worn multiple ways this NJ and NYC based designer has infused innovation and retro flair into one collection. Beauty was a clean face except for the classic red lip. Aviation style caps with strands of hair peeking out gave the models a just flown look. While the extraordinary wide brimmed and bowler styled hats were my favorites accessories of the night.

NYFW. NYFW NYFW

NYFW

Baquero and I.

 

Celebrity designer César Galindo’s collection was a parade of cocktail and evening attire. Simple elegant silhouettes were the perfect frame for the busy prints. An array of textures and techniques were melded together perfectly through the color story of  red, white and black.  Black embroidered cocktail dresses were perfect for an evening out. The red, black  and satin flower printed maxi is a great alternative to a traditional red and green holiday dress. Jumpsuits with keyhole tops and flared legs gave a nod to the past while staying present with metallic animal prints. The makeup was classic with bold red lip, while hair was tied back in bubble ponytails.

NYFW NYFW NYFW

NYFW

César Galindo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did these collections make you feel? Let me know what you think and if you attended any shows. I look forward to the next season of NYFW and sharing it with you all.

T.S.

Life Lifestyle Uncategorized

Birthday Lessons

What is the best part about turning a year older? How do you change? Well I’m another year older and here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.

1.Things never turn out exactly how you plan them. Well duh you might be saying, but for an “A” type personality like me I like to stick to my plans. Now this is not a lesson I learned recently but it is one my career and the struggle of it constantly reminds me of.

2. Being an introvert is not a bad thing. Growing up, and even in my career in the fashion industry being an introvert has been perceived as a hindrance by peers and myself.  When in reality introverts are usually creative people with great ideas. The lack of loudness that comes from introverts doesn’t mean we are weird or stuck up. We simply need time and space to express whatever is on our minds. There are plenty of loud voices in the world. Some of those loud voices are simply that, loud without sense or substance. Let other people be loud, being introverted will serve you in another form. With that said working in an extroverted industry does push you out your comfort zone. And because of that I am not as introverted as I once was.

3. I’m a hustler.  Now I always knew I’d be able to take the bad with the good in my industry but it sure has been a tester.  I have done many different jobs in the industry, all in the name of pushing my career further.  Blogging has also helped unveiled this quality, as it entails being one’s own boss, PR rep., marketer, editor and more. To accomplish the task one must be ready to work and network.  Never give up, be ready to put in time and hustle.

4.When you begin the journey of the hustle you don’t realize who’s watching you.  To my surprise this is something I dealt with during 2016.  I’m glad and appreciative that the people watching have enjoyed my content. Always put your best work out there.

5.There are certain societal issues that have become important to me. I’ve learned if you want something changed you must contribute. Write, email, call, text, tweet, just do something. If you complain without trying to change the outcome you aren’t contributing at all.

 

 

6. Saying no can hinder and help you. As women we tend to want to please and say yes to everything and everyone. You might feel guilt, but if you feel your work is worth more than what someone is offering go with your gut. Learn when to say no.

7.This one goes back to number 4. As people watch you they tend to begin to want things from you. I love giving advice whether it’s career or blogging wise, although you notice when someone solely wants something from you. They aren’t interested in nurturing a relationship or offering something in return.

8. Blogging as a business is a lot harder than it looks. Now there is blogging as a hobby and blogging as a business. When you blog as a business, you are responsible for everything. Bloggers are entrepreneurs, who make something out of nothing. There is so much you have to learn about running a small business. Because essentially when you run a blog as a business it is a small business. With that comes the creative collaborations and fun events as well as the boring such as SEO( search engine optimization),  taxes, expenses, legal guide lines, etc.

9. If you don’t try you’ll never know. I was hesitant to begin a blog, but I’m so glad I did. Oversaturation was a big worry of mine before I started, but I learned my niche and found a way to express it.

10. And finally I surround myself with boss babes and hustlers. Surrounding yourself  with people of similar goals is important. ( Hello blogosphere!)

So what are some of the lessons you’ve learned? Are they similar or completely different. Let me know in the comments and on social media.

T.S.