The Phresh Kid From Ohio

Several weeks ago I stumbled onto a blog by mere mistake. I often say some mistakes turn into a golden chance, that would be a more accurate description for this post. It was a style blog, like thousands upon thousands of same sorts out there, but there was something special about this one. The picture at the top right hand was of a young fella (I don't even use that word in real life, I just like the way it sounds, I hope it doesn't make me sound decrepit) indicating the author of the blog. He's wearing dark shades, no shirt and what looks to be a blazer. On the concise description adjacent to the small photograph read "Columbus, Ohio", I suddenly got interested. I don't know a minuscule thing about Ohio, besides the fact that it's located on the Mid-Western part of the country (and I also heard they grow good potatoes). I never been there, thus it intrigued me in how a young African-American saw his community through eyes more def trained for style in a state that is known for its...say, food. I been always interested on how people look at fashion in areas where there is little to no tradition at all. 

On the blog, he posts meekly pictures of his daily ensembles using his white MacBook, others feature a brand new pair of shoes, most likely Jordan's, and a few others conveyed his inspirations and things he found interesting. I did not only find the pictures "dope" but there seems to be a strong, bonafide interest in style, and how it is interpret. The layout, the graphics, colors, and sense of diligence of editing a fun blog made me click "follow" and remain amuse. I caught up with James Love, the man behind Premature Billionaire, about a month ago (due to my busy schedule I could not get it written, edited, and publish it on time, but it's finally here). He explained the idea behind his blog, the people that inspires him, and his various future endeavors. 

Tell me how old are you and where do you currently reside.
I'm 16 years old and I currently live in Columbus, Ohio.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?
Well since I was little I dreamed about being a Billionaire and it's my favorite word so I knew that I must use in my name. So I began to look up words that meant something before its normal time or time that was expected to happen and I thought of me. Because I was a premature baby and I was born a month before I was supposed to be. So Premature means, "occurring or done before the usual or proper time; too early." So I put them together and a few weeks later Drake released Fear and said "Premature Millionaires" that's when I knew the name was official and that should be the name I use.

When did you start your blog and what was the reason behind it? I started a blog because I love Kanye and Pharrell and It was always something that I thought I would be good at since I saw my first fashion blog.

see you gravitate towards a simple streetwear aesthetic but how do you describe your style?
I say where the streets meets high fashion! I love streetwear and it's my thing, but I also do love high fashion so I like to switch it up. I'm working on transforming my look into more high fashion and less streetwear, so that is equal, so my style truly express me.

Tell me briefly how you got interested in fashion.
I love fashion and even as a little kid I loved fashion and my parents always dressed me well. As I grew up I was always around clothes and got a love for fashion but as I reached into middle school I learned how saying that you want to be a fashion designer wasn't the cool thing to do so I began to explore other careers because I didn't want to be made fun of or called gay. But I later realized to follow my heart and If it wasn't for Kanye and Pharrell I probably wouldn't be doing fashion. I look up to them and they were very fashionable men and still getting all the girls! I don't know, I just always looked up and found inspiration from them.


How does music affect your sense of style?
Music plays a major role in my style depending on what I am listening to. It may depend on what I am wearing the next day. I often listen to music when I am planing my outfits or trying to figure out what I am wearing the next day! I love music and without it I would go insane and I'm a strong believer that I do things better listening to music.

Is there anyone out there who you look up to for their sense or style? In other words,  do you have any style icons?
They would have to be Kanye, Pharrell, Lv the Stylist, Dee & Ricky, Taz Arnold, Cool Kids, Rihanna, Teyana Taylor, Amber Rose and any other beautiful girl! Woman inspire me sooo much.

What would you ultimately like to do in the industry?
To be a fashion designer, or stylist and have my own street wear boutiques and store in malls. Then, venture out into other things.

How can people contact you?
They can follow me on twitter http://twitter.com/Milliardaire
or email me at at Billionairefly@gmail.com


Welcome to The House of KAS

The torrid temperature at the National Habor hinted what was to unfold on the runway that evening. On Friday, July 16, the store opening of the first African American business-owned at the Harbor, House of KAS, opened its doors to the world. The celebration manifested in an all white runway conjured up on the plaza of one of the most affluent spots in the area. The Occoquan Bay served as the backdrop to a serene and sensuous elongated catwalk where the 2010 KAS designs would be shown. The cosmopolitan growing city was the chosen place for Kenny Flanagan, the man behind KAS Collection, to open its very first boutique, a privilege only a few can come realize. 

As I arrive to the location, the open businesses, including several restaurants, beauty shops, and accessories and clothing stores looked updated since the last time I was there. The crowd strolling around the sidewalk, the bonafide vibe and sense of community felt familiar. I been at the Harbor once before, but now coming back about a year later I felt refreshed. My feeling of reinvigoration did not help my sense of direction. I had failed to realize the runway show was not going to be held on the address provided which was the store's location, but on the plaza at the Harbor. After a few minutes of hunting, I arrived. I was delighted to see the level of work of the makeshift catwalk and panel set behind it as to create a touch of drama. I was surprised to witness that all almost every seat was taken, I did not recognize a single face on the front-row. As I started to instigate, the invited guests and VIP's were mingling at a two-story restaurant located adjacent to the runway setup. I arrived late to the reception and trying to get to the second floor of the restaurant was chaotic if not confusing, so I stayed at level ground. All of the sudden, I see Maggy Francois, the producer of the show, we exchanged words, but then a slightly fiasco ensued. 

It was hot and a bit humid and folks were already seated ready for the show to start, little did they know, they were about to get kick out of their seats. The folks that were seated were not invited, much less VIPs so they were instructed to vacate their seats. The picture was not pretty to say the least. I noticed some folks fuming, seemingly ready to curse somebody out. I understood their anger. There was not a single person present to instruct the crowd on the seating situation nor there were "reserved" sings placed on any of the seats. However, this was not a local hood fashion show. The fact that there were no instructions given, does not give folks the right to act nasty and vulgar to the people working for the show. Though their behavior read as disrespectful, most of them stayed to watch the show bitterly, but at least they got their treats. In hindsight, I think I slightly felt like bitch at some point, like it was a bad thing, but I paid no attention, fashion is a bitch, after all. 

I was seated in between MSGFT's Ryan Charchian (Military's Style Guide For Teens) in dark Chanel sunglasses (I also had the chance to meet the lovely Elizabeth Hogue, MSGFT's market fashion editor), to my left was GWFCC (Great Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce) Christine Brooks-Cropper wearing a fitted jean which nicely hugged her curves, across from me, on the other side of the runway, was vanguardist designer EmoreJ Couture. I guess you could say I was seating amongst the right people. The show, like any other fashion show, started late as ever, so I chit-chatted with Ryan most of the time, he was briefly telling me about his organization, his appreciation of my blog and how much the models loved him. As I look at the front row, I noticed Ryan, Elizabeth and myself were the youngest out of all the attendees. I won't be surprised if folks thought we were wrongly seated from the lack of information they know about us, but I personally felt I earned my spot. 

The music slowly started to rise on the background, Kenny's voice crept in narrating on his humble beginnings and how the haters won't stop him. Two rows of models clad in white (short and tight) ensembles lined up at the end of each side of the runway. I truly did not know what to expect, Were they going to give us a lap-dance? or, Where they going to hand out Kenny's business cards? My premonitions were be to proven wrong. They got up all along the runway and performed their posed-and-shake routine. It was a lovely intro. However, the choreography did not tell me anything about Kenny as a designer. But in someway, it heralded the vibe of his presentation. 

The show opened up with a chocolate brown silk top with a plunging neckline, dark-washed jeans with gold pipping, and faux-croc printed bag. Right from the first look, the mood of the collection was established -- short and feminine. The seductive appeal from the clothes and the vixen touch of the hair, make-up and accessories just ratchet up the temperature on the runway. The girls seemed ready to hit the town for a wild sex-charged party night, or at least that's the impression the clothes elicited. The most transitional looks were composed of wrapped silk tops with billowy cuffed sleeves with tiny buttons detailing. The one that felt most innovative was the one in lilac with the armpits cut out, it looked like a nod to modernity and practicality. I don't see a single person complaining about a bit of ventilation. 

The illusion created by the wrapped waists and slightly flowy sleeves was not only attractive but also contributive towards achieving a slimmer silhouette, which at the end of the day is what every women wants. Also, the idea of de-emphazining a much more lusciously-targeted area on the body besides breasts and legs was an alluring concept. Covering the arms and exposing the legs looks more appropriate than baring it all out there and leaving nothing to the imagination. 

The demure color palette just felt right for the moment, it composed shades that would work for a majority of consumers. It included: midnight blue, black, deep purple, chocolate brown, rubi, silver and touches of gold.

Two other standout looks was this strapless cocktail dress in rubi with a bow at the side-front and this long-sleeve dress with a draped neckline in shimmering red silk. Both looks had enough sex-appeal to turn heads everywhere, and both models turned out looking vivacious instead of slutty. I was much less convinced of a gentrified cerulean silk blouson worn with a high waisted skirt. It just completely clashed with the youthfulness of the whole collection. I wish I hadn't see it. I thought the efforts to create a draped night gown were commendable, after all Kenny's strength centers there. But I was slightly disappointed with one of the gowns that just felt underwhelming. The colour, bright orange, looked gorgeous, but the fit was downright blah. The tulle straps holding the dress and the sash across the waist just looked like an afterthought, the shape of the girl suddenly disappeared and she ended up looking like a premature version of her mother who happen to have bigger body features. The gown certainly look mediocre in comparison to the rest of his fabulous collection. 

Regardless of the minimal mishap, the evening wear shined on its own. The most unconventional, still wearable looks was this long-sleeve with an open neck in what seems to be in fleece or velour and to bring a more appealing touch the hem was sequenced. It was a dress that at first, might not look tempting but after considering the choice of the unconventional fabrics to create an evening look, suddenly it becomes an "it" dress . There was also this cocktail dress in luscious black silk with controlled frills cascading down the neckline, it certainly looked stunning on the model and perhaps the most chic looking dress on the collection. His last look, and what got the crowd cheering the loudest was this strapless gown with slashes of silk silver, black and sequence beautifully entwined altogether. The intricate workmanship and coquettish vibe of the wear certainly made a lasting impression on the attendees, it felt like the right note to end an impressive show. 

Talking about a lasting impression, the most editorial look (see below) was on Bianca Chardei which was a silk strapless printed dress with a red overlay adoring the neck and exposing the back. The glamour of the dress as it swayed down the runway was palpable. The intricate melange of the African-inspired prints was so visually appealing and the rather seductive move on the girl made for a stunning look. And Rihanna, if you're reading this, get in contact with Kenny asap. 

Photo by Ryan Charchian

Kenny posses other conceits, his menswear was also a hit on the runway. The suits he presented were casually worn over v-neck tees, open-collar and matchy combinations of ties and handkerchiefs. What look more interested than the suits as a whole was his fabrication, they looked lush and it seemed as if he spent a considerable amount of research on them. There was a simple plaid brown and red lines, camel, and silk ivory. The silhouette was roomy and boxy, more tailored around the shoulders, pants were loosen but did not look saggy. As the model walked down the runway, I kept pondering on who his male customers are. It may not be a Frenchy who prefers Dior Homme (circa Hedi Slimane era), but an American with a much sturdy physique and is perhaps an assailant of "skinny" jeans. Think more Chad Ochocinco than Elijah Wood.

When this man came out, women (and some men) went bonkus, I think I overheard someone said "He is going to bring the cougar out of me". And who is to blame, everybody loves chocolate. 

After the show, guests were directed to the boutique located on Fleet Street. Once I arrived there I stepped in and I sort of felt I was stepping into the world of Kenny, a piece of his soul bared on the walls. I instantly noticed this gorgeous lace bustier gown perched on the window, later I told Kenny that gown should have been on the runway. There were some samples on rack, one of them was a fur jacket, on a coffee table were his lookbooks and right by the window a copy of Krave magazine which I picked up the minute I saw flesh. I didn't not get to see the back but I was already enthralled with the front of the small boutique. Moments later, Kenny arrived and he was swarmed with folks wanted to kiss him and congratulate him, and he graciously welcome all the blessings. Everybody wanted to get a piece of him, and most of them who approached them did. Once I got my chance to get a few words from him, Kenny looked exhausted, but seemed relieved that it was done.

After the show, Kenny was asked who was the inspiration behind his collection, he answered his mother, "she's everything to me", he then introduced his lovely daughter and stated some beautiful words standing next to her, it was a beautiful image of a loving father and daughter. I wasn't completely satisfied with his answer for the source of inspiration, I wanted to know more. Once at the store, I asked him, what specifically about his mother was that inspired him? His eyes lit up, "her attention to details", he added, "she had a great sense of style and she focused on the silhouette." I felt his passion, his sincerity and humility (he gave a shout-out to his seamstress who was seating frontrow). In a way, I witnessed a side of Kenny that I have not seen before, the man who actually makes things happen and puts the time and effort to his craft. I saw the man who backs up what he states and does it triumphantly. It was an inspiring moment witnessing a successful black man in fashion going after his dream and remaining true to himself along the way. 

Photos by Phil Kogan. 


The Milkshake Girl Gives Me Fireworks

I hope you all had a great-buzzing 4th of july weekend, I had planned to go to NYC with the boyfriend but it never really worked out so we were stucked out here in DC with white republicans at the memorial watching fireworks in true hippie form. I wasn't blogging on that day since my Mac was here at home and I was somewhere else getting ready, but a music tone kept rippling in my head. I kept thinking about Kelis' new joint coincidently titled "4th of July (Fireworks)" hence my post tittle, and as I kept watching the fireworks illuminating the sky serving as backdrop to the White House, I imagined the song playing on the big loudspeakers. It was a special moment. I never witness such a comely presentation of mundane fireworks in such iconic setting. It was something I wanted to attend for the longest time but I never had a chance. I'm glad I was there with a person I love so much. 

The album called "Flesh Tone" released on July 6th of this year pushed Kelis forward, in all sense of the word. The sound now is more festive-trance-pop than club-down-the-block. My picks are "22nd Century", "Acapella" and "4th of July". Though I miss the old Kelis, sex-charged-lyrics with a vixen vibe, I'm starting to embrace her new persona. I sense she is one of those women that is challenging to fathom but once you look deeper she has a story to tell. In other words, she's more than meets the eyes. I already checked the whole album out and I'm convinced, but I'm still on the limbo on her sartorial choices, which leads me to talk about her sometimes questionable sense of style. 

I think folks often mistakenly associate the word "futuristic" with "clownish", there is a thin line between "fashion-forward" and "trying-too-hard" and most people on entertainment don't posses the looks to frolic with Lady Gaga games. Much less, delve into her uncanny feyness. Frankly honest, I'm trying to understand the direction of where this women is going, sartorially speaking. Perhaps I'm getting lost in translation, but the some of the things she has been publicly seen wearing look dubious and questionable tasteful. I don't mind the armadillos Mcqueen shoes form the Spring/Summer 2010 she has been wearing, but all these unnecessary accessorizing is bewildering. I think her stylist is sabotaging her or she's saying "yes" to things she should be saying "NO". Don't get me wrong, I love the drama, but drama well executed.

Regardless, I still find myself musically attracted to Kelis, she has this off thing that I find interesting. It's a bit difficult to word it, but I hope you know what I'm talking about. I decided to take some screen-shots of the video and further illustrate my point. I also intended for the shots to looks a movie so that's why you see them in that order. 

The dangling shiny pearls worn as earrings, the peter pan collar shaped necklace and the head piece which seems to be made out of pearls as well just screams "too much". And noticed that I'm not even mentioning the overdone eye-lashes and nose-ring which I find outdated. Nonetheless, I like the simple make-up. 

The golden lame, asymetrical-batman-wing-high-slit gown does say great things about her body, but the decoration around the hems just reads cheap. Also, the dress sort of reminds me of something you'll see women wearing at an Arabian Nights party. I love the color of the earrings, I think it sets well with the whole color theme of the shot and the setting. I guess she loves long, dangly earrings. 

Just the elaboration of the feathered native indian head piece gets points from me. I don't know where the idea to add this item into the scene and story of the whole music video came from, but it adds an interesting factor to the whole thing. 

The post was supposed to be published later since it was not done, but I mistakenly clicked on the publish button, ooops...I will update soon.


In The Meanwhile...

(Editor's note: I know I have not been blogging as often as I should and I'm so behind in fashion years it's not even funny. But I have a good enough excuse, I been dealing with "life things" that need my priority attention. I'm working on different projects to get my career going and hopefully pump up the content of the blog. I know you'll understand since you love me so much...just like I do, too).

I don't read Rolling Stone, since they cover so much music and politics that disinterest me, but they got my attention with their new issue. The name says it all --GAGA-- is in the cover semi-naked, wearing a leather-harness bra and bottom, armed with two gun machines ready to kill. The weapons covering much of the bra gives the illusions that they're protruding from the bra, but for some reason it reminds me of Madonna's Gaultier bra from back in the day. The cover and the story inside the issue was photographed by my fav naughtiest photog Terry Richardson and styled by none other than the talented Nicola Formichetti (on his blog, he species that the bra Gaga is wearing was custom made by David Samuel Menkes and the shoes are not Mcqueen, they're by Norikata Tatehana, now ROGER THAT!)

(Yes, I had to put this quote up in CAPITALS, because it's that good, and if you're offended, too bad, nobody likes a victim)
(And also I had to post the same picture, so you can admire the shoe-art, now gag)

In the issue, Gaga "tells all", and that means she opens up about the name change from "Germanotta" to "Gaga" (pause)...Have you ever heard of an uglier name? No offense, but that's seriously one of the most repugnant names I ever heard, but then again the transition to "GAGA" is perhaps one the best decisions she has ever made, musically. She also goes to root her success on the break-up from her East Village boyfriend five years ago (Awww!). And she doesn't fail to mention that she's not sexually active, "sex is certainly not, like, a priority at the moment" which vaguely brings me back to what some rapper said a while back, clamming he would "do" her, so I guess this goes to him and the rest of his goons. Furthermore, she even goes political, "Why are we still talking about 'Don't ask, don't tell'? -- "It's like what fucking year is it? It makes me crazy!" This is one of the reasons I like this lady. Unlike most of her counterparts, she says what she thinks, and it's not scared of what people are going to say and she loves the gays (groundbreaking!). Lastly, she gives a glimpse of her next album, in a a true cookery/bakery form (for the smart ones), "I have been for three years baking cakes -- and now I'm going to bake a cake that has a bitter jelly. The message of the new music is now more bitter than it was before. Because the sweeter the cake, the more bitter the jelly can be." --- I love a sweet cake with a bitter jelly in it. 

You must be living under a rock, or must have a turban pinsack over your head (as Anna once said) to not know what's going on in South Africa right now. The biggest sporting event (yes, it is) THE World Cup is unfolding and that means my television is on ESPN almost all day, simultaneously flipping back and forth to catch up on Wimbledon. I been a Brasil fan since forever, but I'm also rooting for Portugal and Italy (though they already lost). I'm rooting for Portugal for the simple reason that Cristiano Ronaldo is playing on that team -- which is the whole point of the editorial above. The spread it's called "Footballers' wives" shot by Sebastian Faena and styled by de Dudzeele. The photographs screamed tabloid tackiness as well, the clothes look cheap, trite and the attempt to make the women look sexy crosses boundaries of sluttishness. I was expecting more from V and I'm just appalled that this spread was even given thought to be done and printed in the pages of the magazine. What happened to the taste level? The only thing that I find worthy here is the stylist's attempt to transform male model Simon Nessman into a version of Cristiano Ronaldo. The wet, gelled, wavy dark hair; putty lips and "pretty boy" earrings. Check out the rest of the spread here, NSFW. 

I wanted to post these pictures up not to demonize them, but just to serve as a vague intro to a future World Cup post I'm working on. You thought that was it? Not even. 

The spread was shot by Terri Tsiolis and styled by Simons Robins and features chocolate models: Reina Montero, Jeneil Williams, Sedene Blake, Shena Moulton and Aminata Niaria. 

The July issue of Vogue Russia has an editorial with black models, enough said. 

The 2011 Resort collections are set and done as well as the S/S 2011 Men's season. Not to mention Couture is right around the corner. And I haven't said a word, but if we're friends on Facebook, then you might have read my thoughts on a few of the collections. A sentence about a collection is not a valid "say" for the most influential designers in the business, an 8-year old can do that. I'm not a Suzy Menkes, but I tend to wrap my mind and fathom the idea/content/inspiration behind each collection and then make an "analysis" of it. It's just within me to look at fashion in a non-label-whorish way and try to dig deeper than the surface. I will soon post my thoughts on the best collections for Resort and the men's season as well. I know this post looks random as hell, which is what I wanted to look like anyways. And yeah, one more thing...

Givenchy Spring/Summer 2011