A couple of days ago, flipping through different channels, with obviously nothing better to do, I stop at Bravo! (Watch What Happens!), and a marathon of the 3rd season of America's Next Top Model was viewing. I'm not a huge fan of the catty show, but I love models, so I watch it whenever it's on. The 3rd season is one of the favorites and it's probably one of the most watched since there was more ethnic diversity, which sounds pretty reasonable since Tyra Banks has an African American background, that's the least she could have done. I love watching the drama (isn't that where ratings come from? Isn't that the shenanigans that people want to see on T.V. anyways???) and the transformations the girls go throughout different photoshoots. That particular season was historical since they featured the first curvaceous and size "sexy" model named Toccara. There is something about that girl that attracts me tremendously, I'm not sure if it's her vivacious personality or sassy looks that calls my attention. I just feel she has that "it" factor that lead me to think she was going to be literally crown "America's Next Top Model" or "The Next Plus-Size Model", but I was wrong about the first one.
As I kept watching, I perceived Toccara had to go through a lot more obstacles than the other girls. On the show she confessed that she had to excel in all the challenges they were throwing at her in order to be just in the same level as the other size 2 models. There was this challenge where they had to pose in front of this very luxurious red car dressed as a character and shoot again dressed as their alter ego or some sort like that. Most of the models went through it easily; posed, took a couple of shots and done. Toccara was a different story. The drama started in the dressing room, the stylist on duty kept complaining and bitching that there were no clothes that could fit her, which to me sounds utterly ridiculous, since they consciously knew a "plus-size" model was going to be doing that shoot, why couldn't they just get bigger clothes???, I didn't get it. Consequently, that lead to Toccara to raise her boiling points. The so-called stylist putted her in a get-up that looks more appropriate on a Home-Depot employee. She had a slouchy orange men's shirt, and some ill-fitting kaki pants, not hot. She went on, and took a couple of luke-warm shots next to the car, while holding the car keys, which at that moment made sense, they were trying to make her look like a chaffer or one of Queen Latiffa's movie roles where she plays a jail runaway and hijacks some rich woman's car, not tasteful. Toccara's face expressions did not showed any signs of fierceness, she looked pissed, almost about to cry. The photoshoot director did not look happy either, he kept continuously shouting commands at Toccara to change her poses and such. She was a trooper though, she stood her ground and rolled with the punches. Her next outfit looked more "Toccara". The look consisted of this shiny royal blue strapless gown with this blonde bob-like wig. The second looked seemed to fit more her character, it had this understated old-Hollywood glamour that radiates "Queen B". After the shoot, Toccara broke down and one of her fellow models pulled her aside to comfort her, she looked defeated and almost out of the show, luckily for her, the judges showed some mercy and Toccara stayed to live another day.
ANTM does show some actuality, unlike those so called "reality" shows now-a-days, where almost everything is acted or scripted. I love how the show faces the girls with obstacles they might face in reality and Toccara was not an exception, the plus-size industry is not predominant but is emerging, I would love to see more size 10 women on editorials of French Vogue or even on the cover of Bazaar. I feel there is this hidden, behind closed-doors discriminative act that a lot of fashion insiders deny, but it's true. The fashion industry is not going to drastically change overnight but it can step by step. I loved the courage some Toccara when she mentioned she wanted to get more into high fashion, which might sound delusional at this moment but we might see a size 10 walking down a haute couture Chanel runway some day, you never know.
It has been years since Toccara did that shoot, and I'm glad she has moved on her career to do bigger things. She has been in various covers such as Today's Black Women and King magazine. She has also walked at multiple shows such as Celebrity Catwalk for Charity and she's a regular for BET's Rip The Runway fashion show, but to me, her most impressive body of work is her spread shot by Steven Meisel for Italian Vogue. The complete world went bananas for that issue, since it celebrated influential black models that have left their mark on the industry or that are currently making a lot of noise, below some pictures of the Italian Vogue spread and more.
Looking for new shoes releases on pickyourshoes.com, I got hooked on these TK (Terry Kennedy) Supras, for those who are not familiar with the name, Terry is a professional skateboarder from Los Angeles, CA. He also is a self-proclaimed actor and rap artist. Supra is a well-respected streetwear brand. The TK Supras come in purple suede and full leather black and red. I happen to own a pair of Chad Muska white high-tops that I barely wear since I don't want to get them too dirty.
Browsing in the net the other day, I stumble on YouTube with this particular video titled "Baby, Baby, Baby" by Make The Girl Dance, the artist's name itself seemed like a good enough reason to peek at the video. I pressed play and there is a shot of this brown vintage looking automobile and this cute young girl steps out with this striped black and white summer dress holding a blue radio on her hand, so I'm thinking this is typical cliche, but next thing you know, she starts stripping down her clothes in plain sight and starts strutting down the streets of Paris. There is obviously a black rectangle covering up her private parts, since it might come off a bit porno-ish, but I like how they play it off, by showing the lyrics on the black space, very clever. After she has walked for about a block or so having no shame on her persona, another girl strips down and takes the lead, replacing the previous girl. It kind of reminded me of the Olympics, you know, at the ceremony when athletes take turns to hold the torch and run around the stadium. I love how some of the pedestrians have this look of "OMG she's naked", others look much "How dare she !?" and some dudes look like they been waiting for this moment their whole life, hilarious. I enjoy watching people's reaction to anything that has to do with fashion, there is nothing more boring when there is none. I never heard of this band before, but I just checked their myspace page, and they sound pretty good. I love "Coachella Ma Pute" and "Chupa" and I can already hear these songs being play at various fashion shows such at Versace, Herve Ledger, Miss Sixty or even Chanel but baby you already know you are going to be playing in my Ipod all day long.
Make The Girl Dance - Baby, Baby, Baby
Believe it or not, someone has dared to place the intersecting Cs on fast food products. I mean if it has to be Chanel, then it must be black and white. I don't think Karl would order this particular "Chanel Meal" anytime soon, since he always looks to be on a strict diet. I'm interested on what the hamburger might taste like, it looks very plain and the meat looks super-well-done. I like the fact that the fries are alined in the most neatly position and the black containers look impeccable just like every Chanel show. Now I feel like people think their product would stand out if they stamp a luxury-brand logo on their goods, which in a way makes sense. Just take a look at this LV trash bag, it received so much publicity over the net, just because of the monogram exterior it had, but if it was just a plain black trash bag, then nobody cares, but what captivates me about this picture is the short but very true quote from Uncle Karl. "Fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight." Think and stop. I'm not a licensed nutritionist or nothing of that sort, but to my understanding people loose weight for different reason; peer pressure, body-image issues, lack of self-confidence, and a couple of others, but as Karl said " Fashion is the healthiest...", which in a way makes sense. There are tons of fashion-conscious women out there who crave every night or hit the gym every weekend just so she can fit in that Vera Wang dress she just purchased or that Versace bikini she'll love to wear to the beach. If Karl means "healthiest" as in starving yourself for a whole day or regularly exercising to fit a size 2, then he takes the quote to a new different level, it goes beyond fashion and becomes now an issue. Isn't a bit ironic that there is this very presentable and tasty "Chanel Meal" right in front of your eyes and then Karl tells you to loose weight for fashion? Nonetheless, I'll take a bite.
Roberto Cavalli is synonym with Italian glamour and exotic animal prints, I'm a huge Cavalli fan and I been following his work for quite sometime now. I love his use of rich fabrics and his rather seductive silhouettes. His work always celebrates a women's body and entices a hungry feeling for wearability. I believe his clothes serve as a men's magnet, I bet his female customers never complain from being single or dateless. For some reason, these two collections got me hooked, they are almost like an addiction, since I watched them almost everyday.
The first video comes from Roberto's younger line, Just Cavalli. His approach for the 2008 Spring/Summer season looks very youth-friendly, very funky and sexy at the same time. I believe he took inspiration from his trips to Africa, evident by the use of his vibrant colors, and fun patterns. There was one men's look that shook the runway a bit, a model sporting a mumu tunic, which can either look very chic and stylish or turn into a fashion faux-pas when pair with the wrong shoes but I prefer this look more in women.
The second video is from his main line, Roberto Cavalli for the Spring/Summer 2005 season. I can literally see all these looks in the cover of any Vogue (Italian, French, American...just to name a few). The set looks like a Spanish hacienda, or like the interior of a very traditional Mexican restaurant. The collection is just full of drama and conveys a strong message, coming from the powerful strut of the super confident sexy models and the more couture-esque shape of the clothes. I love a strong statement, and one way to accomplish that is by implementing bold colors that work harmoniously into a look and Cavalli does that better than anyone else. His palette always catches my attention and usually stands out from the rest. In a serious note though, this 2005 Spring/Summer collection in particular is one of the best shows I ever witnessed from Mr. Cavlli.
Let me first apologize for those who take a minute out of their day and read my blog, I haven't been able to write because I recently flew to NYC in a field trip with my fashion design class, along the way, I took some pictures and recorded some scenes from the trip.
On Wednesday 29 of April, we left from Virginia around 6:15 a.m. (I was kind of late, since we suppose to be at the departure point at 6:00 a.m, I showed up around 6:15 a.m.!). The road was long and boring, I'm not a very patience person, so you can imagine my will to get off the bus, which had a very limited space to comfortably stretch your extremities. We arrived at the Marriott in New Jersey at around 11/12:00, everybody got their luggage and spread on to their own groups, when I stepped into my room, it felt a bit too small, I noticed there was no balcony, but the bathroom looked big enough for my temporary three new roommates; one has a t-shirt line, the other is a football player, and the last one is a part-time model, so you can imagine the crazy things that could go down in that room, and no wonder we were sleeping next door from my teacher, just so she can surveillance what happens in that room, what goes in and what sort of activities we might be doing. I'm sure she was surprise at the end of the trip that we behaved like little cherubs, as if we have fallen from heaven to bring piece to the world.
At around 3:00 p.m., we were outside of the CBS/BET Studios building on 57th Street to attend a live session of 106 & Park on BET, which is a young urban music related show hosted by a young amicable fella named Terrence and a sassy, stylish and always smiley young lady named Rocsi. The show includes artist appearances, music countdown and dancing/rapping competitions, similar to the no more existing TRL on MTV. Luckily this year, we did not have to wait in line for three hours as last year. This year we waited in the bus for about 45 minutes and almost got a VIP treatment, but not really. I had my camera ready, but we were indicated that there was no photography allowed in the studio, so I had no choice. Every Wednesdays, the show has this segment called "W.O.W" (Wild Out Wednesday), where they invite 3 young unsigned promising new talents to perform on the studio for the whole nation to see. The whole studio witnessed the organic talent from a smooth R&B singer, who had all the girls taking their thongs off, a heartthrob guitarist and and a breath-taking dancing/stepping group. The young artists are not very well known and probably do have to work a part-time job to support themselves and their craft, so I thought this was a great opportunity for them to promote their craft and hopefully get signed to a big music label, which I'm sure it's one of their career goals.
Outside the CBS/BET studio on 57th Street, I'm the one in red (that day I felt very casual, so I opted for an Uglee T-shirt, H&M jeans and New Era cap, I'm not really a matchy-matchy person, but I turned out looking super red). Photo by Ashley Lawrence.
The next day, we had a meeting at SG Footwear in Hackensack, New Jersey, which is a children's and adult shoe manufacturing company. Still early, we pulled over this dull red bricked building, which did not look externally exciting, but when we stepped into their showroom, I changed my mind. The tour started with the introduction and presentation of the company. I love the fact that they had this little poster with all the things we were going to do later on, to me that just shows that these people were ready for us, where as there were places where I felt they weren't aware that we were coming, which looks very low and unprofessional.
This guy is super hilarious and happens to be the CEO of the company, we learned that he has been working there for over 20 years.
After the presentation, we moved into the showroom, which was full of products for different collections for the up coming seasons. On the back of the room, I noticed there were a bunch of sandals with flag graphics of different countries and surprisingly enough, there was a sign with the South Africa World Cop logo, which I guessed those were coming out next year. They didn't really elaborated on the products placed on the wall, even though I asked a question about their sandal collection for 2010 that looked very fun and exciting. The people at SG Footwear talked about more their hands-on process with the products, how it starts from a simple sketch and photograph and where it ends up.
I spotted this sleepers on our way to the showroom.
That Harley Davidson leather jacket sitting on the table looked tempting but it was not on my size.
It was time to leave and head to F.I.T. I was more than excited to hear what F.I.T offers in their fashion program. We arrived at the F.I.T Museum. At first, the building looked plain boring, grey, but when I stepped inside after observing a few of a couple fashion kids get-ups, my eyes couldn't believe at all the talent inside that single building. By the entrance, there was this see-through glass showcase of accessories made by the accessories major students. I was really blown away, it looked like a Vivienne Westwood exhibit, from funky bags, leather boots and innovative sunglasses designs. I loved it.
This poster welcomed us at the entrance
When I first saw this so called shades, it reminded me of the ones Beyonce wore during her "Diva" music video.
When we entered the room, I was on the lookout for those who dared to be themselves, I did see a couple of students dressed the part. In the other hand, there were those who were confused to where they were going, well, I guess anything goes in New York. My class and I waited a bit in the lobby and then we were directed towards a dark classroom on the second floor, a rather small, probably in his late 30s wearing a very comber tailored suit man gave us the presentation on what F.I.T had to offer. I picked up one of their lookbooks and let me tell you, it looked very impressive, maybe because there was a picture of Alek Wek in a Chado Ralph Rucci bright silk orange gown and a feathered jacket with the same shade, genius!. Alek' skin color against that eccentric orange looks stunning, I can't think any other model who can pull that dress off as well as Alek, (probably Naomi ?!).
After F.I.T, we headed to the offices of Coogi, a funky urban apparel and accessories company. The office was at the Empire State building, which might seen a bit intimidating for those who see it for the first time, but it's actually very secure inside, or at least that's how I felt. When we reached the 66 floor, I realized I forgot my camera in the bus, which sucked so bad, since I wanted to take some pictures of this amazing view from where I was, a look out the window and I felt that I was in the top of New York, you could literally see everything from there, it was just spectacular, I can't recall a moment where I was positioned that up high and looking down so down low, next time I'll promise I'll have my camera wrapped around my neck so I don't forget it. It was time for lunch and we had a reservation at Juniors Cheesecake on West 45 Street. We had to be sitted and ready to order at 4:00 p.m., but I got there around 15 minutes late, because I just couldn't resist to get my hands on a french Vogue and i-d magazine which feature Miuccia Prada on the cover, I headed to Barnes and Noble with a friend and by the time we were at the check-out we were already late, so we rushed to Juniors Cheesecake, by the time I got there, people were already eating and I got reprimanded. However I got my issues =).
After Juniors, we had tickets to go to Stomp at the Orpheum Theatre on 126 2nd Avenue. Stomp is a play/musical but without typical instruments. the performers used recyclable materials, such as aluminum cans, match boxes, and plastic bottles to create a unique sound that fascinates everyone in the audience. Truly thought, Stomp is one of the best shows I ever seen in my life, after the first act, I was amazed on the abilities of these maniacs, so you can imagine how I felt by the end of the show. The set looked like an urban alley full of recycled products hanged on to the walls, very New York. I loved how each performer represented a character that represented someone in life, maybe you saw yourself on stage. There was the hard-rock punk dude, the black independent self-confident woman, the loser outcast fellow who never really fits in, and others. I thought the theater was a bit too small, but I like how it played with the cohesiveness of the mood of the show, it kind of brings the audience in. I hope I can watch it again, it's truly magic.
While in the city, I was attracted by the architecture, there were some great locations for a shoot.
The next day we went to WWD (Women's Wear Daily) to get the download of the magazine world, I was very excited, since that's where I want to be at, working in a magazine, going to fashion shows, and attending parties, which I can do everyday. We were sitting at this rather big conference office and people were spreading the Friday WWD issue. It was interesting to see all the commotion that goes into making a daily publication and to such a respectable level. The photo editor came to enlighten us about WWD. He was wearing this simple tee over a loose fitting cardi and some grey skinnies, but what attracted me the most were his Gucci loafers. He seemed really cool and down to earth, I could see myself working with him. By the end of our visit, we were given an option to see the WWD closet, which were most interns work at. A group of friends and I walked into this rather small closet filled with racks and clothes on hangers, there were three young ladies minding their business, but as soon as I walked in I spotted this jacket with fur trims, as I look around I see a wall of shoes and more accessories, this kind of brought me back to a moment of "The Devil Wears Prada" where Anne was taking to the biggest closet she has ever seen, and almost fainted, but in this case, I didn't get any free clothes.
There was this "Look Board" on the back of the conference room where we were waiting for, it had cut-outs of looks from the 2009/10 A/W collection in Paris, Milan and New York. Loved it.
After WWD, we headed to Jones New York, where they handle Anne Klein and AK. We walked into this room, where there were about four big mood boards of up and coming trends for the next season, it was like seeing what people were going to wear before anybody else. On one wall, there was this huge picture of Frida Kahlo and next to it a combination of different items that went with the theme, almost like saying, what will Frida Kahlo would wear if she was alive today. I was rather surprised when I learned that particular board was named "The Peruvian Board", it was quite estrange since Frida is mexican, but I could perfectly see the connection, since Mexico and Peru have few similarities in terms of fashion. The other 3 boards had different themes, one was full of soft flowy fabrics an nude colors, the other was a bit retro and the last one had this exotic, animalistic theme. After a bit of shopping we went to eat at BBQ'S on West 45 Street.
Later on that day we went to UGGs on 106 Columbus to check out the store and probably get a free pair. The lecture was a bit boring, but I was impressed at the neatness of the store and all the thought that goes into putting together a store, from the design to the display. I loved the fact that they incorporated the roots of the company into the store, they applied this surf/beach elements to the store; from the ceiling and the lighting to the product arrangement and the whole mood of the store. At the end of the lecture, the UGGs people wanted to ask us some questions and if you got it right, you get a free pair, so I woke up and payed attention, at the end I was not one of those lucky fives that won a free pair of UGGs, but I'm getting a pair anyways...
At the UGGs store
The next day, it was a shopping day, be free and shop til you drop, we stopped by SOHO and Canal Street (water down market of designers good) It was my first time there, and it was definitely an interesting experience, there is this whole process for buying this counterfeit designer bag per say. When I bought a Gucci backpack, I felt guilty, but I couldn't resist. As I walked down Canal Street, I notice all this vendors reselling their products, I entered one of them, and I see there is this secret door on the back, me and a few friends walked in and there were thousands of fake Fendi, Gucci and Prada bags everywhere, I instantly noticed this Gucci backpack, tried it on and couldn't take it off, it just felt right, so I bought it. I also got a couple of sunglasses and a shirt that said "Bada Bing" with a silhouette of a nude woman, which for some reason freaked a lot of people out.
New York was defiantly tiring, but accelerating at the same time. I just feel at home when I go to the city, it almost feels like the place where I suppose to be at. Where I currently live, there is a couple of malls, bowling alleys, restaurants and a couple of recreational centers. It's not exactly the countryside, but nothing compares to New York. I'm probably moving to Miami, Florida after graduation, but my goal is to eventually move to NY to pursue my dream as a fashion editor.
Posted by Jimmy De La Cruz