Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Earlier this evening I swapped ideas with Ray. If you'll recall, I met Ray at a birthday celebration for my friend Stephen last month. And after speaking with him over the phone, I immediately knew that he is a creative force to be reckoned with. Actually, many of you ladies have probably worn some of his fabulous shoe designs for Coach or Nine West. The thing about Ray that is most endearing is that there is no pretense or fakery. He is just a vessel for creativity whether he expresses himself through apparel, jewelry, shoes, or fine art. And in the fashion world that is a rarity. I know you've watched Project Runway, so you know a little about the cattiness. And since I really wanted to get some input on the fall collection I am cobbling together from someone whom I truly respect, Ray just fit the bill. So I showed him my inspiration board which is filled with images, i.e. the pocket chain watch, the spat, the bow tie, etc. which are motifs of the dandy look. I showed him my first sample and described the jewelry which I am also designing to enhance the theme. And he thought I was really on the right path. After I had shared my work, Ray showed me some of his clothing designs from his college days as well as his presentation boards of his shoe designs. And it all just blew me away. We definitely have a mutual appreciation for each other's aesthetic. And before rushing off to catch my train home, we have vowed to meet soon and check out the latest exhibits at the Cooper Hewitt Museum and The Museum at F.I.T. He is a kindred spirit in fashion and connecting with him is something I can truly be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oprah & Me

Today it was announced that Oprah will end her daytime chatfest, The Oprah Winfrey Show, in September 2011. She is someone who has inspired me to pursue my dreams as a fashion designer. An anomaly when her show first aired nationally in 1986, she is an example that success is attainable despite one's humble beginnings. Part of my dream has always been, since I started my company 11 years ago, to meet her and be a guest on her show. So it doesn't give me much more time to get to Chicago to sit on that sofa. I've tried sending letters. Family members have tried sending letters. But something drastic yet fashionably fantastic, almost earth shattering, needs to happen between now and then. But if I've learned anything from watching the Queen of Talk, it's that if I do not make it to her sofa there is something better and bigger coming my way. But it sure would be nice to have a conversation with her broadcast over the airwaves.
Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Little of This & Some Of That

If you're reading and following my odyssey, then you know that last week I made a bold move when I asked you to make a monetary donation to help me finish my collection. I tried to figure out another way to complete the remaining 7 samples without having to resort to taking up residence on the streets, but it seems that I have run out of options. Of course I never thought of pole dancing, but I don't think I have enough of a fan base to justify those kind of moves. And besides, my talent really lies in fashion design. Already I've raised $250. Thanks Guys! But we are still quite a ways off from funding this endeavor. So please keep it coming. I've robbed from Peter to pay George who has begun work on the next look. And I am elated by the thought of having my model Ila come in and have the muslin fitted sometime this week.

On Saturday night, I bumped into my friend Calvin C. on the commuter train. He admitted to being exhausted by his own fashion odyssey. I met Calvin several years ago after I had produced a runway spectacle showcasing my pieces as part of a charity event held at the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.). We were introduced by one of my models and he was a graduating fashion design student at the time. Now he has created a website called styleapple.com in order to help people in the fashion industry find jobs. He holds me in reverence because he says I just put all my business out there. And in an industry that is known for hype and smoke & mirrors, that takes guts. I confided in Calvin that writing this blog is, in a way, cleansing and therapeutic. It provides an outlet to get things off my chest and leave them at the alter of disappointment and disgust. This way I am not emotionally held back from pressing forward. And I think we all need to purge every once in a while. But I need it more than most.

A couple of months ago, a young man introduced himself to me on the 6 train. As I squeezed into a seat with my dresses hanging above me, Eric J. asked me if I was a stylist or a designer. We exchanged pleasantries and business cards during my ride before I quickly reached my stop. But I was impressed by Eric's audacity because nobody ever approaches me on the subway unless they're begging for money. Last week we met at a Starbucks close to the plantation. Eric is a very talented hairstylist who hails from the hinterlands of Texas. And I shared with him my vision for the collection and showed him the sketches, the first samples, and the shoes. He was positive and deeply spiritual and we hit it off just fine. And now we are planning to work together on the photo shoot in January. I think that this will be a fruitful collaboration.

I've got big dreams. Each time I finish a collection, I believe that this will be the one that has store buyers ringing my phone off the hook with orders and shoppers chanting my name and magazines begging to borrow the pieces for their shoots. And then other times I wonder if I am on the right path to turn my dreams into reality. But I am always encouraged by friends, as well as strangers, to just stay the course. And that is exactly what I plan on doing.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Prologue

Today was the final fitting for the first dress for the Fall 2010 collection - Fine & Dandy. And I think it went swimmingly well. George and his team were able to really articulate my vision and bring it to life. I am a vessel for my creativity, so it is essential that my perspective be clear, concise, and translatable. Because if it is not, George's skills would be squandered. Each season I try many different incarnations with materials and concept before I settle on one that best expresses where my head is at that given moment. I began to conceive and sketch this line mid-summer. It is important to me that my sketches - my work - tell a story. It must have a beginning, middle, and an end. Yet, after I had all my sketches together and laid out on the dining room table, the story was not unfolding. So I would tweak the shape of a skirt here and the bodice of a dress there looking for a narrative. And still the sketches were not transforming to sentences. And then suddenly, weeks after summer had ended, it was as if a light bulb came on. I had a moment of clarity and the story became crystallized. I settled on the dandified gentleman as the inspiration for the dresses. And then I feverishly re-sketched some of the looks because a couple of the dresses just didn't fit in with my new storyline. It is a process that requires patience. Yet once the flicker of an idea is ignited, I am able to construct entire new worlds. I look forward to visiting this world as each of my dresses is assembled. Silhouette, shape, and line will build on one another until my story is complete.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When The Party's Over

If you've been reading, then you know my birthday was this past Halloween Saturday. And it was a marvelous celebration. I was treated to a Broadway show (Memphis), a Harlem gospelfest (Sing Harlem Sing!), and dinner at a fabulous Harlem-based soulfood boite (Billie's Black). And on Sunday, my boyfriend, mother, and sister pulled out all the stops when they invited my close friends to a dinner that they prepared in my honor. And I received numerous texts and phone calls and messages on Facebook that made me feel loved.

On last Thursday, I attended a different kind of birthday celebration in honor of my friend, Stephen E. This was his 2nd annual charity birthday bash at a lounge in Hell's Kitchen. Titled "Midgets & Cupcakes" (Stephen has a weird fascination with little people and he loves vanilla iced cupcakes), the proceeds from the evening were donated to the Ali Forney Center, whose mission is to help homeless Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender youth be safe and become independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. It was a blast! And the evening also served as an introduction to a possible kindred fashion spirit. My sister & I noticed Ray S., who naturally stands out in a crowd, as he approached the bar. And we complimented him on his obvious talent with a make-up brush. It was then that we learned that Ray is a shoe designer by trade. But he also designs apparel, paints, is an amazing make-up artist, and can probably build houses, too! I am always excited to meet people who are passionate about their craft. And Ray certainly fits the bill. And because he and his partner have been together for 9 years, I know that he also possesses a stable character. I look forward to swapping ideas and learning from such a creative genius.

Although the party's over and I must begin to get back to reality, I do so with the understanding that I am truly blessed. I have great friends, an awesome family, and wonderful experiences that have enriched my life. And each day that I am alive, the possibilities are endless.

Peace & Fashion!