Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gimme A Break

Every now and then we all need a break from the daily grind. It's true that I love fashion. And oftentimes I do not mind being immersed in the beauty of a well-made coat or a fabulously sexy evening frock. But even I must rejuvenate my creative spirit by getting away from it all. So that's what I am going to do. This Friday, my boyfriend and I are flying to Nice where we will meet friends who have invited us to stay at their home in the South of France. It sounds really ritzy, right? This is my first time traveling to this part of the world so I am really excited. And it always looks so chic because celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z and Sean Combs are photographed vacationing there. Needless to say, I will not be posting to the blog while I am away. Hello! That's why it is called a vacation. But I do want to leave you with something really special. Below is the first image from our photo shoot of the Wilbur line - Spring 2010. It's awesome.
In closing, I'd like to pay my respects to two very talented style icons who just passed away. May our angel, Farrah Fawcett, and the king of pop, Michael Jackson, rest in peace.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Behind the Scenes

I told you about the shoot a couple of days ago. But I didn't tell you about all the technical stuff that was going on in the background. My photographer par excellence, Rebecca, who also happens to be my sister-in-law needed to block each shot before the models took their place on set. A table and chairs were removed from their well-appointed spot in the livingroom and placed closer to the kitchen. And since lighting, composition, and positioning are key components for a beautiful photo, it was my best friend, Donelle, and I who played stunt doubles as we stepped into the role of supermodel. I guess you could say that we are twisted versions of Tyra Banks & Naomi Campbell because what resulted is a pictorial that is absolutely HILARIOUS. And those flaws that you thought only you noticed are all captured on film. Let's just say that I need to look up Valerie Bertinelli so I can get Jenny's number. Security detail, my brother N'Gai and his ace Spencer, even got in on the stunt double action later on when Rebecca asked them to be model stand-ins. All I can say is that I have tremendous respect for models because it is so not easy posing in front of the lens.

Last night, Rebecca and I poured over the footage from Saturday's shoot. The pictures are amazing! And as soon as they are fine tuned, I will share them with you. But I've got a special treat. I have included selections from the portfolio of all of us wannabes so you can howl as much as we did. Enjoy. . .

Peace & Fashion!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fashion All Day

You're dying to find out, aren't you? Don't act like you could care less about knowing the details of Saturday's photo shoot. It was in one word - MAGNIFICENT! The day could not have gone any smoothly. Originally, I wanted to shoot outside the United Nations. I had even acquired all the necessary permits weeks in advance. But after Mother Nature ordered the heavens to rain down on me, we moved the shooting location inside to a dear friend's apartment. His elegant home was to be our base where we only did outfit changes and made adjustments to hair and make up. But it instead became the backdrop - an instant photo set for the ladies readying themselves for a swanky evening on the town. New York, New York!

The day began with a very early 9:00 a.m. call and ended after several hours at approximately 7:00 p.m. But time did not drag and all of us merrily got along as if we were old friends. Monique coiffed the hair into modern masterpieces - a la Mary J. Blige circa The Breakthrough with a mishmash of Angela Davis & Funny Girl thrown in for good measure. Then there was Alexandra, a wizard with the makeup brush, who painted Vanessa & Valencia as if she were working on great works of art. My sister, Ashanti, is my go to manicurist and she lacquered the models' talons a candy apple red. I love red! My brother, N'Gai, and his comrade Spencer were on hand for security while my sister-in-law, Rebecca, was busy behind the lens. Having borrowed over $12,000 worth of lovely gold baubles for the shoot from my dear friend Camilla Bergeron who is a purveyor of fine estate jewelry, I thought having security was the smart thing to do. And since my baby brother is bigger than me, he was more than up for the task. Luckily, he and Spencer didn't have to let out their inner guard dog! The 2 V girls (Valencia & Vanessa) were not just gorgeous, but professional and divatude-free for the duration of the day. I really cannot express enough gratitude to all of the players. And it was extra special and reassuring having my family there.

Now that this part of the journey is over, it is time to move onto the next phase of the plan. Once I've selected the photos that best show the garments, I've got to hire a showroom to rep my line and get it onto store racks. But as I turn the page to the next chapter, I look back satisfyingly at the fun that we had with fashion all day.
Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dress You Up In My Love

I am really looking forward to the photo shoot planned for Saturday. It is the culmination of months of painstaking attention to detail. From the craftsmanship of the finishes on the inside of each garment to the shiny metal belt buckles that I spotted on ebay, I have made it my mission to create something truly special that honors the history of great designers while applying my own imprint. A few times along the way I've questioned my reasons for taking on such an endeavor. Because, quite honestly, all of it is really headache inducing. In fact, there have been disquieting moments that have awakened me from my sleep. Yet I always come to the same conclusion. I do it because I love it. So when these dresses hit the racks of better stores this coming Spring, women will be able to sense that every stitch, every zipper, and every little detail is made of Wilbur's love. And I just want to dress you up in my love.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Goddess #2 Discovered

After searching far and wide, I am happy to report that I have come face-to-face with Goddess #2. After posting another call for a model with the same measurements as Valencia, we were inundated with prospects. And although we needed our goddess to be at least 5'10", we got responses from young women as short as 5'1". Ashanti diligently combed through the heap of emails and started scheduling the ladies for a meet and greet with me. Out of 8 scheduled appointments, 4 candidates showed up. Later on I would read excuses varying from the simple "I cannot make it" to the ridiculous "I did not check my email and I went to the wrong location." But the young woman who stood out the most for us is 25 year old beauty, Vanessa. She is shapely, has a lovely disposition, and, most importantly, looks dynamite in my dresses. Now it's on and poppin' as we anxiously await for the fun to begin on Saturday. Pray that it doesn't rain. . .

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

WANTED: A Model Citizen

I thought I'd have photos to share of the fruitful and wonderful casting I was conducting today. I thought you would be able to see the other model who, along with Valencia, will be posing and cavorting in front of the camera on June 20. Not. This time craigslist let me down. None of the candidates worked. They were either not camera ready or did not match Valencia's measurements. And since all the pieces were made to fit Valencia's body, that's just not going to work. But there was one glimmer of hope. Her photos were playful, yet sophisticated. Sexy, yet appropriate. She is lovely to look at possessing a beauty that is accessible. And best yet, her measurements matched Valencia's. I knew, looking at her images online, that I'd found my other goddess. So this morning I packed up all the denim pieces and shoes and jewelry and trudged into Manhattan. That bag was heavy. By mid morning I received word from my sister that our goddess was filming a movie starring Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep. She was not available, but wished us luck. That stinks. But the show must go on, so we have rescheduled the casting for this Monday. These photos have got to be magical and my dresses have got to POP. And we're hoping that we find that model citizen who has all the snap and crackle to do just that.
Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Renewing My Vows

After several years, marriages are often subjected to a little wear and tear. And it is necessary for you and your mate to engage in activities that rejuvenate and strengthen the bond. Maybe it's a good idea to have a date night and hire a babysitter to watch the kids while you go out like you used to when you were "courting"? Or maybe plan a weekend getaway to that cozy little bed and breakfast that was recently reviewed in your local newspaper? Yesterday I had my date with fashion. And I am happy to say that I am re-committed to her. Long before fashion design had roped me into this matrimonial roller coaster, I would take a weekly jaunt to Bergdorf Goodman, the very tony Fifth Avenue shopping emporium in Manhattan. There I would blissfully caress the garments that lined the clothing racks inspecting the finishes and the fabrications of each piece. I found myself awestruck by the boundless creativity of each designer's confection. I believe those moments were as close to heaven as I could be. When I decided to commit to a career in fashion design those weekly outings stopped. Bombarded with problems that quickly needed to be solved, I no longer had the time nor the inclination to visit Bergdorfs. Yesterday standing in front of the large windows of the store's facade, I was whisked away to another time as I gazed upon a slinky jersey gown designed by CD Greene. I was beckoned to step inside and get a closer look. And as I wandered through the evening gown salon on the 4th Floor, I remembered why I am married to fashion. Quite simply, I love it. And sometimes you've got to plan that date night to be reminded that renewing your vows and reconnecting is absolutely necessary for a long-term relationship.
Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fashion's Next BIG Thing?

I am tired. This latest endeavor to launch a line of denim cocktail dresses has been emotionally draining. And I'm not even out the gate! Roadblocks to fashion nirvana have been reported by me ad nauseam. I am so ready for the style council to smile upon me and grant me entree to the VIP area behind the red velvet rope so I can hang out with Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. When my great Aunt Edie wrote in my 8th Grade autograph book, "The elevator to success is broken - Take the stairs," I had no idea how right she was. So after 11 years of climbing stairs, I am beginning to wonder if the elevator will ever be repaired. As my tailors near completion on the remainder of the looks, I have been hunting for accessories, including shoes, jewelry, and handbags for the photo shoot scheduled on June 20. I called in a favor from my sister-in-law, Rebecca Rodriguez, who is a positively talented photographer to take up the lens after I realized I had no budget to pay my long-standing photographer, Eric. I will be casting the other model for the shoot in a couple of days, but could not work with Ford Models after I was informed that their models do not work for anything less than $1,250 a booking. Ouch! That is just way beyond my company's budget. But after all the dust settles, I know that my journey is very similar to many others who have preceded me. In my heart of hearts I understand that Ralph, Oscar, and Carolina did not get to their perches in the VIP area without struggles. I just wish the elevator was working. . .

Peace & Fashion!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Casting A Fashionable Net

Let's face it. It's a new age. Now more than ever it's not about what you know, but who you know. And you better make some awesome connections if you want to get ahead. As my friend Chris reiterates often, "Make your net work for you." I think he heard it on a commercial some time ago, but whoever coined the phrase has definitely got it right. So how does a fashion designer with talent to spare (so modest!), but not a lot of cash make his "net work for him"? I am on every networking site possible including, but not limited to, Myspace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Fast Pitch. I am out there engaged in conversation with any fashion and finance professional who will listen. I write a blog, for chrissakes! So why isn't my net working? I've heard this theory of 6 degrees of separation. And I think it is so true. I've even met Kevin Bacon! But seriously, I don't think the people in my net are talking me up. So I am asking all of you who still read this to pass the word on. Have you read the title lately?! I really am FABULOUS. I guarantee you that there is somebody that you know who knows somebody who may know somebody that wants to invest in a bright, witty black fashion designer from Queens who is humbled everyday by his odyssey. Just cast your net and see what happens.

Peace & Fashion!