On Saturday 16th I headed down to the Convention Center in Washington D.C. for the annual Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle expo sponsored by CW DC50 and GWFCC. I woke up early, excited, and anxious to see what D.C. fashion business/boutiques and local designers have to offer once again. Since I'm part of GWFCC I had a commitment to be present and inform folks on this amazing organization. The expo was scheduled to start at noon, but I arrived a few hours earlier to get the downlow of things. The first scenes of the expo were a bevy of hispanic men in the process of installing a stage for a display of hair-styling by Beauty Spa Center and Alexandre de Paris. Around the premises, there were empty aisles of booths covered in red wine/burgundy colored curtains, displaying a rather small white sign with the name of each respective business, designer or boutique. After greeting fellow GWFFC member Brittany Wilson, I spotted my surrogate mother/The Boss Lady/producer of the show Maggy Francois clutching a clipboard, with a stare that suggested her mind was incessantly running everywhere. And that's understandable, orchestrating one of DC's most prominent events, including approximately 60 local business, one of the top photographers in the industry Nigel Barker and an array of ladies from America's Next Top Model such as Isis King, Bianca Golden and Jaslene Gonzales is not a paltry endeavor, but the expo was a success nonetheless.
A few minutes from my arrival, I see Shannon and Clarita (See pictures above. I had to post both pictures because we look so good that it would be a waste not to, I mean I can't get enough of myself here). We were directed towards the GWFCC booth. We garnished the booth with a GWFF tripod, flyers, business cards, and there were even a few give-aways laying on the table. Throughout the event, all types of folks, with a very distinctive sense of style came to the table inquiring info, and I hope we successfully answered those questions. I'm glad most of them, or at least those inspiring designers and boutique owners, walked away with a sense of hope that D.C. one day will become a major fashion capital.
Behind us there was a booth (see right above), which I can't remember their name, but I'm sure it was something kinky. Needless to say their table was covered in all type of erotic products, such as lotions, creams, feathered handcuffs and other things of that nature. I thought this was a family-oriented event, but I guess not (I received two other pictures that I would not post since I'm trying to remain PG for my younger readers). At one point I was envisioning a little boy walking pass this booth and he would start asking his parents all these questions. Daddy what is this for? Answer...priceless.
One of the few designers (and a great supporter of De La Style) showcasing their collections at the expo was Kenny "KAS" Flannagan. I saw him earlier setting up his booth with the help of his assistants. There seemed to be a bit of a dilemma with the t-shirts brought to be sold at the expo but I was glad to hear the issue was resolved. He bestowed me a white tee (see above) that read "I'm a KAS Man" on the chest and a description of what a KAS man is on the back. I personally love the deconstructed pair of jeans on the front, festooned with actual pieces of denim covering most of the legs and miniature Swarovski Crystals on the edges. You can get your W.E.T tees here.
If you read my blog before, then I'm sure you're familiar with Kenny's clothes. His offerings have a sense of sex-appeal, and create a desire to put them on. I have had the privilege to witness his creations walk down the runway multiple times, but every time, it's a unique experience. At the expo he showed his classic, sharp-taliored suits, and come-hither short dresses, but he managed to introduce a new piece without straying away from his aesthetic. The last look was a spagehtti-string nude vivacious evening dress with the most beautiful beading I seen in recent memory. They sort of looked like fish scales, but the model only looked like a goddess out of the sea. It was Diana Ross, Tina Turner and Beyonce all in one. Unfortunately, I don't have the shot that I wanted of the dress, but hopefully I would see it graced the runway on Friday at NOVA Fashion Week.
Out of nowhere, something shined in my vicinity. I spotted a familiar looking sneaker, but calling this a pair of "sneakers" is a complete understatement. Though these are the second time I spotted them on a feet of an stylish man, I certantly knew the name of the designer behind it. The Christian Louboutin's spiked high top sneakers were seen on new acquaintance Jarrick Jerrel (since you love me so much, you already know what I want for Christmas, just saying).
One of the missions I set for myself when I go to these type of events is to meet as many people as I can. One of the ladies I met was the owner of "The C.A.T. Walk" Boutique, which specializes in new and consignment brands for women. Shuffling trough her racks I found some great pieces, such a fur cheetah-print bolero and a Just Cavalli LBD. I'm so glad I met Carolyn, she's fun, uplifting, convivial (you don't see that very often in the industry) and most of all, she cares about her business. I'm so looking forward to working with her in the near future.
As I was walking around the premises of the expo, I spotted a booth with a rack of clothes that caught my attention. There was a hip factor to the whole display of clothes, they certainly were assembled to lure a specific market of customers. The sign placed at the backdrop read "Hush Boutique" then I get approached by a young lady, the owner of Hush, Tamara Lee. Not even the minute we started talking about her boutique I immediately sensed her love for it. I inquired about the selection of her garments, she responded amicably that most of the apparel she carries in the store are from L.A. designers. I think by the looks shown on the runway, the clothes are not limited to L.A. girls only, but I could easily envision any cool, hip, young girl in D.C. rocking clothes from Hush. Below two looks from the boutique, tres chic!
Indian/British Photographer and ANTM's judge Nigel Barker served as one of the host. Once Nigel popped on stage along with a lengthy camarel-skinned lady, the crowd conglomerated around the runway. It sort of looked like a scene from a Jonas Brother concert, only this time, it was a single child, much older, and his fans did not look like they just reached puberty. Nigel came out sporting a classic suit and brown silk tie, keeping the same image from the infamous show that arguably catapulted his fame. I could hear women, from all ages, yelling and cheering frantically as if they just seen Marcus Patrick stripping. This is the first time I seen Mr. Barker live, he certainly looked charming, but I would have never heralded he would have such welcoming reception in the nation's capital.
The schedule was packed with a list of designers that I seen and a few other that I haven't. I was anxious awaiting to get my fashion fix. The first designer we saw was Natalia Sanz, a young American designer with Spanish roots. Whenever I'm about to see a new designer, I get these giggles in my stomach, I get anxious, and impatient. My standards are neither place high or low, I go in without any expectations. After watching her fall/winter abbreviated collection, I got a glimpse into what she's all about. At the end of her show she mentioned she was imbued by origami, and that translated into demure evening dresses in simple silhouette and smart detailing. The color palette was rich, without looking gaudy. There were deep purples, indigos, and neutrals in different shades of grey. The folds, pleats and sharpness of her collection echoed the feeling of an origami piece. After her show, I walked to her booth to talk to her in a more intimate setting. She expounded on the source of inspiration, "furniture and art", she said. The standout piece was a cropped tuxedo jacket in midnight blue, that alone speaks volumes about her aesthetic and her vision for the modern woman. I can't wait to see her S/S 2011 collection on Saturday at NOVA Fashion week.
|Natalia and I at her booth festooned with her beautiful creations|
After Natalia's collection we saw an equally talented maestro. Tristan Blake was not a name that resonated with me, but after that day, I was enamored with his clothes. He opened up with a crisp terra cotta-colored trousers paired with a simple navy blue top with a keyhole on the back, this look heralded what was to come from Blake. The source of inspiration, which Blake told me later were, "different places in the Caribbean, especially St. Trope". He presented a hooded jumper, a tube skirt, a skimpy swimsuit, and a long-sleeve evening dress in a wavy, irregular print that was reminiscent of ocean waves, or even traces of wet sand at shore. There was a soft pink hooded jacket dress with gold chains delicately dropping from the pockets, and a beautiful deep v-neck navy blue summer dress. At the end of the show, the models came out with their hands up, swaying as the music played, there the festive, tropical and joyous attitude of the models reflected those of the clothes. I hope this would not be the last time I'll see from Tristan, there is definitely precious, raw talent to polish.
|Me, Nailah Seabron, and Tristan Blake backstage|
After his show, I rushed backstage along with my photographer Matt to get a few words from the man himself. What I saw was something I was not expecting. This petite lady in a denim jacket was sobbing over Blake's shoulders, repeatedly saying, "it was just beautiful" (I would later found out it was Nailah Seabron, Tristan's marketing director). It was a riveting scene of a deep-felt human expression after seeing something profoundly touching. When a designer manages to touch people in an emotional or phycological level, that is suggestive of the talent this man possess. I hope to see more bonafide reactions like this after a collection is shown, only a few can pull that off.
Sadly, I had a prior commitment so I had to abandon the scene. There were, of course, more fashion to be shown, but I wasn't able to see it live. Luckily, I've seen work from the remaining designers. One of them was Tashia Senn, trained at F.I.T and based in Washington D.C. presented her Fall/Winter 2010 collection. I adore Tashia's vision for the woman of today. Her designs seem to evoke a damsel with refine taste, but is not shy to walk on the edge. To me she's dangerous, seductive, and coquettish. This collection was the added touch of glamour needed for the day. I mean, the bow-neck pumpkin orange silk blouse worn with a black and grey striped lame (or sequin) skirt was the perfect option for a night-out, anywhere in the world. Another standout look, was a pale orange one-shoulder ruche frock with feathered hem, can you say fashion orgasm!?!
To close out the event, former Project Runway finalist, Korto Momolu made her presence felt at the expo. Unlike previous occasions, she showed a few looks that looked less afro-centric, and more mainstream without straying away from her aesthetic. The motif lame leaves-life prints evoked nature, as well as the draped sleeves on the summer dresses. For night she proposed a sexy black lame draped top and skinny black pants with two zippers on hip. My favorite look was an angelic white draped cocktail dress with an asymmetrical hem.
This is one of those events where the burgeoning fashion community in the nation's capital gets a chance to connect and celebrate as one. It was a chaotic, yet rewarding event where at least if you didn't buy anything, you got to see the talent, passion and level of professionalism that exists here in D.C.
See you next year!
Model, Jasmine Agnew walks backstage wearing a creation by Hush Boutique
Photos by Matt Statler, Vithaya Phongsavan and Vadim Zee