Twitter Love

I'm always receptive and welcoming of compliment and positive comments, including the comment section. Someone once had the panache to ask me out (check previous comments). The commenter probably meant it facetiously. The twitter folks show me love too. The proof is in the pudding. Yes, that's Kimora, Ms. Fabulousity. And his Academy nominated husband Djimon Hounsou.

Although, I don't recommend anyone from hurting themselves over anything, I appreciate the love. 


A Whole Lot of Blackness

In one of those moments of lassitude, I came across a set of steamy new visuals by Kelly Rowland. This did not come as a surprise. A few days before the video came to surface, she ostensively mentioned via twitter the release of her new video dubbed, "Motivation" featuring Weezy (who by the way, is on the April cover of Interview. He was interviewed by Paris Hilton. You already know how that went down). Ms. Rowland has parted ways from trio Destiny Child's years ago, but the sultry, vixen mantra is still looming over her persona. Sex sells, and Ms. Rowland knows that. She injected all these notions of sexuality in Motivation, that at times comes off as a soft-porn flick.

The video takes place at a foggy abandoned warehouse, where Ms. Rowland seductively walks across the hall, imposing her presence, wearing a purple frilly swimsuit under a long cardigan. She's not alone. She's accompanied by a bevy of chocolate shirtless dancers and models, who bare a perfectly sculpted physique. We later see Ms. Rowland wearing what seems to be a shredded macrame dress over a fishnet bodysuit. When fashion suppose to further express one's own identity, this look muddled it. But I don't think it hindered the outcome of the original idea. In one scene, Kelly's hands appear from behind a shirtless dancer and blatantly starts groping his beefy body (this is eye candy to the 100th power). In another instance, she's holding on to a dancer's belt while he's withering along with her. Their bodies come to a synchronized move that suggests sexual tension. This sex factor reached its climax, when one model is pushed against a wall, and a male model is portentously standing in front of her. His right arm is not on the shot, but it suggests that he's grabbing her privates. But then the camera slowly lowers and we can see she's wearing men's boxers. In one group shot, this could certainly be confused as an orgy in its beginning stages (I hope I'm not setting myself up here). At this point I can't fathom how this video made it on mid-day national television. 

After the video came to a conclusion, I couldn't help but to associate its resemblance to an Interview editorial published back in May of last year (see below). The fashion story, shot by Mikael Jansson and styled by Karl Templer, gave much fodder to discuss. The photographs portray a clutch of diaphoretic black models (this is what I call "glamorous sweat") caressing Polish model Daria Werbowy in a mysteriously-litted, smoke-filled mechanic studio. Evidently, Daria's light pigmentation against a black body of mass makes a stark contrast. This contrast of white and black lead to a flood of accusations of racism. I never though of Jansson and Templer as racists, hence they worked with black models before, and celebrated their beautiful skin tone. Perhaps, that was the idea of the story; make the Versace gown stand out, at the risk of portraying black models as fashion "accessories". I don't think it was intentionally done, but I comprehend why some people felt offended. They now have Lil' Wayne on the cover of the April issue. Not as an attempt to seek forgiveness from the world, but as a manifestation of culture diversity. 

This alleged racism that the photographs portray did not lead me to link these two forms of art. But I was more intrigued at how both, the video and the editorial boast raw sexual tension within its subjects. I don't know if Kelly was imbued by Jansson's pictures, but it's clear that both forms share similarities in attitude, setting and dialogue.  If you take a look at the entire editorial, and ponder for a minute what is unfolding in the story, one could easily see the locales, and how they're precisely illuminated in order to give off a mysterious, almost underground vibe, that they are not too far from each other. They both display wet, dingy floors, deteriorated furniture, and accoutrements you could only find at an specific place. In addition, the lascivious attitude of the models in the editorial, and talented dancers in Motivation further intensifies the nonchalance, romance, and sex so unabashedly presented in both forms. It's also important to note this non-verbal dialogue between subjects that can be read through body language in sexual suggestive pelvic thrusts, dalliance, and the manner in which they interact. In short, they both ooze sex. 

Karl Templer is a seasoned editor and one of the best in the business. What he does for Interview Magazine you won't find nowhere else. Once again, these shots (click on the link provided above so you know what I'm talking about) exemplifies his adept abilities to conceptualize a story. The Interview pictures you could see there is a fashion dialogue going on. It's certainly better edited and stylized than Kelly's video. However, though, they're both so rich visually appealing and entertaining enough that it sorts of makes you want to be there, absorbing all kinds of artistry in motion, or even if it's just for eye-candy purposes. 


What A Gala That Was

I couldn't help but radiantly gleam when I received an email from Carlos Reaves (this time, toiling the producer hat) cordially inviting me to The Washington Chiefs Gala Fashion Show. It was a natural reaction. Invitations that pour on my inbox are always well appreciated. According to press notes, Washington Chiefs is a youth service organization that provides support to underprivileged kids in the Washington DC metropolitan area. In their own words, they put kids first. Though it might be obvious that I come off a bit harsh at times, I still have a tender heart. So I made it my obligation to attend. Showing up is not the dilemma here, but what to wear. I was initially planning to wear vintage Cardin, but from matters out of my reach, I was not able to. Needless to say, I had to execute plan B with just a few hours shy of the event. I rushed to Georgetown to pick up a pair of pants, because the ones that are sitting on my closet were not speaking to me at the moment. When I arrived, I realized I shouldn't have worried. 

The "gala" was held in the 2nd floor at the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The art-nouveau deco present all over the walls and columns, and carpeted floors gave the hotel a quaint feel, though the bathrooms' floor, if I might add, were covered in vinyl tiles with sleek detailing on the sink (I don't particularly like pee-wafting-stench type of bathrooms). Once I checked in, a lady with a clipboard unprecedentedly appeared and proceeded to walk photog Matt (who showed up earlier) and I to the reception room. The hallway that connected the reception room to the ballroom where the show would take place, was filled with vendors from assorted types pushed against the wall. The attendees were treated with hors d'oeuvre that included cheese/crackers, and a few celery and fruit options, placed in a long white table at the entrance of the room, right across was a small bar area with an amicable bartender ready to pop bottles. I, of course, stayed away from not-age-permitting beverages and poured myself a glass of punch. As I mentioned to Matt while sitting at one of the many round tables occupying virtually the entire room, this is the way the press should be treated. I'm not asking for a personal assistant, but feeding me (though I wasn't that hungry), and assigning someone as usher was a nice treat. Kudos to Carlos for that. 

In case you didn't know, Washington D.C. or many of its fashion followers have their own way of doing things. In this case, it seemed, the meaning of a "gala" was deprecated a few notches. This was my very first "gala", but I never consoled the idea of wearing a tux. In the back of my mind, something suggested it was not those type of haute events. Regardless, a tux was not in conversation (maybe when I get invited to The Met Gala someday). The perfect scenario would be: I dial Tom Ford's number and he proceeds to invite me to his studio (I would go to Dubai if I have to) to select a look from his fall collection. In the same vein, I would be as equally as content to be outfitted by Domenico Dolce/Stefano Gabbana, Mr. Armani or Stefano Pilati. Now, back to earth. I chose a white shirt vs. a tuxedo shirt from Hilfiger, the pants and coat from Zara, and vintage shoes. Once there, it didn't take long to spot a coterie in jeans or skimpy, short and tight dresses more adequate for a boite around the block. I was speechless. 

This picture, taken while waiting at the foyer to be seated, depicts a mixture of frustration, impatience, and timidness, but I waited patiently. I can't profess enough my perpetual love for this Zara military coat.

Unfortunately, the show started with a sour note. Never mind, the blindingly bright lights (my shades came in handy). The show started with deafening sounds of an anonymous DJ hidden behind a wall of navy blue curtains that divided the runway with the backstage area. Out comes local artist Ki-Mani, I wasn't sure if he was rapping or singing (at one point while I was answering an e-mail, I looked up, and he's suddenly groping a woman on the middle of the stage. Though he attempted to appear as The Adonis, he come off as The Perpetuator. He exited with his pants sagging below his butt. Now you know why people like Lil' Wayne don't get invited to fashion shows) while "models" ostentatiously walked around the rectangular-shaped runway, wearing accoutrements from Coogi (think of it as oversize sherbet-colored tees, shirts, and jumpers with sparkling details. I was confused as to why they thought their line needed to be on the runway? This is coming from someone who has been at their showrooms in New York). The tone was set for the rest of the night. The girls, or young ladies, I should say, looked pretty, but being pretty does not make you a model. I couldn't help but noticed, in some, their exaggerated strut and superfluous hand gestures and long pauses at the end of the runway. I don't know if they were trying to emulate an intoxicated Naomi Campbell or if they nursing a hurting leg, or maybe the lights affected their performance, but it all made sense when the host, who seemed to have difficulty reading her script uttered, "this is urban modeling!!!". "Urban modeling?", I pondered for a second, "Is this a new term in the fashion industry?", "Or was she referring to those models in hip-hop videos who seemed to have forgotten their clothes at home, and thought exposing themselves to goons was sexy?". I don't think baffled is the word here. I looked over at Matt, who was sitting on one end of the runway, with my mouth slightly open in complete disbelief. I signaled him not to take pictures since those shots would most likely won't end up here. It all went downhill from there.

A few looks from Tyrell Collections. Every woman (and drag queen) loves a great evening gown, but I thought Mr. Mr. Tyrell presented scantly clad models in gowns that seemed to be unfinished. Black works, but it would be nice to see him explore other colours. 

One of the few reasons that kept me on my seat was the fact that designers that I've never heard of were going to show their collections at this event. I thought they will take this opportunity to introduce their brand to a new market. As far as first impressions go, it wasn't a particularly good experience. Tyrell Collections (his last name is nowhere to be found) was intriguing, to say the least. The source of inspiration behind this dark collection was most likely Cat Woman stepping out of a strip club. He focused on eveningwear, but the gowns he presented made me wondered what type of event she was going to. Not a red carpet, for sure. Most of his designs included diaphanous chiffon panels, exposing the models legs, breast and at times their underwear, leaving not much to the imagination (I don't know any woman who would go out showing that much skin). He elevated this fetishistic obsession by adding wide leather corsets that seemed to be pulled out of an S&M shop. But why were pink embroidered rosettes cascading down the side in one of his gowns? If he attempted to juxtapose sex with the romance and delicacy of the rosettes, it didn't work. Not because some other designers have done it better in the past, but because the execution and vision were not there. LT Dickens was on the same boat. The problem here was fabrication. It was visible the materials she chose to work with were not on her favor, or maybe they were just the wrong fabrics (bingo!). A shiny taffeta pant suit just looked odd, if not revolting, and a bicolored lace gown was downright sad. If there were any signs of youthfulness was a pantsuit with a perfectly fitted, belted jacket and gathered slim pants. Not only did it looked great on the model, but you could see it work in a variety of sizes (there were other casualties that occurred on the runway, but I'm trying to stay positive). 

Meena Tharmaratnam presented an array of dresses, versatile enough for every woman in attendance. 

Meena Tharmaratnam saved the night. She owns a boutique in Bethesda, Maryland, where she carries an assorted line of womenswear from designers such as Joseph Ribkoff and Samuel Dong. I love her eye for clothes, no wonder she selected some of the best looking pieces of the night, such as a white top with an asymmetrical zipper that looked hip and modern, sexy laser-cut cocktail frocks, a variety of day dresses with exotics motifs, and a gorgeous lilac floor sweeping gown (the best of the night). Another one that stood out was Philissa Williams, the creative mind behind Thembe. It's always delightful to watch her use of draping and far-flund references, but somehow it all came together in vision. One of her best offerings was an open-neck white shift festooned with beautiful soft blue rosettes (from far away they looked like blurred blue splotches, intriguing nonetheless) and a cowl-neck navy top worn with a grey felted wool long skirt. 

I came in with an open mind, and left light-headed. It was not the event that I was expecting. I didn't stay for any type of post show festivities. But I was still inquisitive of the story behind this event. I called Carlos the day later but there was not a response. We finally talk two days later, and he provided me with some insight that I would not discuss through this medium. There were obviously, as Carlos puts it, style differences, or even better, a "tug-a-war". In the midst of the debauchery, something good happened, they raised approximately $20,000. At least the kids would be happy. 

All pictures by Matt Statler