Friday, April 30, 2010

Fashion in the 'Hood

Early this morning, on my way to the plantation, I walked through the garment district. Nothing is open before 8 o'clock, but workers entering from stage left and stage right were starting to take their designated places for today's drama that would soon begin to unfold. It was almost serene. And this is such a stark departure from the kinetic energy and hustle-as-if-your-life-depended-on-it attitude that pervades between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. As I hurried quickly to my destination, I gladly welcomed the quiet moment. But I could feel the excitement and the intensity of the neighborhood bubbling beneath the surface preparing for both established and emerging designers to make their appearances center stage as they begin their daily grind.

Earlier this week, I found myself searching the maze-like grid of city blocks between 36th and 40th streets stretching from 6th avenue to 8th avenue for stores that sell wood buttons. Since I am creating 8 handbags which will accessorize my Spring 2011 looks, I wanted to apply earthy elements like wood, leather, metal, and stone giving them that nomadic, been-around-the-world feel. I needed 80 buttons to compliment one bag's ethnic pattern and it was a task that could only be completed in fashion's epicenter. After striking out at several spots that either didn't have the style of button that I was looking for or didn't have enough of a particular style, I finally settled on a rough hewn look that I discovered at M & J Trimming. And although I consider them the Bergdorf Goodman of the trim world, their selection is unsurpassed. I am very fortunate and extremely lucky to live in a city that fosters the kind of dreams that I possess. Armed with my imagination and a few bucks, I am only a subway ride or a short walk away from finding the necessary tools and hiring the most skilled artisans to make the visions in my head come to life.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Last week a friend of mine confided that she was mad at me. "Why are you mad at me?" We hadn't spoken in a few months and I had not uttered a word about her that could have been misconstrued as antagonistic or mean that might have gotten back to her. She went on to explain that earlier this year my blog had taken on a darker tone and she was not pleased about it. She had always anticipated reading about my odyssey because it made her feel empowered and energized and it motivated her to be a better person. Well, she didn't actually say that it motivated her to be a better person. I just added that because it sounds good. But, admittedly, I was caught up in one of my blue moods. Whenever there is an extended period of frustration because of money woes or lack of support from my business partners or I am invariably hitting a brick wall, I will fall into a funk. After I apprised her of the previous months' rough patch, I began to, without delay, admonish her for not reaching out to me to see if I was okay. "Instead of being mad at me, don't you think you should've checked up on me?" I asked. While I am certainly not in the same dark place as Alexander McQueen, the genius fashion talent who hung himself last month, I recognize that this fashion game takes a toll on my spirit and I liken it to a ride on an emotional roller coaster. My dreams for my life are bold and big and inclusive of so many others and I want so much for my hard work and persistence to begin to pay off. I am hungry for my moment to shine. In fact, I'm going to start referring to that as my Madonna moment, because, Lord knows, she is one person that has mastered the shine. So if you see my tone darken, just have a little patience with me. The sun doesn't shine every day and, unfortunately, neither do I.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fear Of The Unknown

Tomorrow I meet with Victoria. She is my new seamstress. Oh, I will still be working with George. After the job he did, I would be a fool not to. But because I have more looks for Spring 2011, I need more manpower. Victoria was referred to me by another George who works at Mood Designer Fabrics. She hails from the Ukraine and after seeing some of her work, I think she is going to enrich the process. And she says she can sew a dress a day. Whoah! I won't be able to keep up with her! I've already discovered one fit model for my latest project. Her name is Alli McG. And she is GORGEOUS! I've only spoken to her over the phone, but she has a very professional and friendly tone. Today I picked up a pair of shoes that will be used for one group of looks for the collection. I had taken them to the shoe maker for adjustments. I really liked them before the adjustments, but now I LOVE them. It's like Mtv's Pimp My Ride, but for shoes. And they are sick! And I've already begun to compile a list from the google search I did on high end plus size boutiques from here to California. There are dozens of them! Who knew?! And I just met with my friend Ron Goldstein who was the brains behind my very first guerrilla show on the sidewalk outside of Bryant Park during NY Fashion Week when we used Sex and the City as inspiration. So everything is rolling right along. But I am a little nervous of what the future might hold. Although many people have applauded my decision to cater to the curvy woman, I am afraid of the new. I mean, that is to be expected. But I am also excited with the promise of possibilities that this new direction can have on my journey. So I am embracing the mixture of emotions that I am feeling right now. And I am so looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Big Girls Don't Cry

I always try to be open to what the universe is telling me. Because it is the truth. But, you know, life is noisy and sometimes the voice of truth can be difficult to hear. For so many years, curvy women have told me that they've loved my designs. And many have asked, "When are you going to start making dresses for us big girls?" I've responded to their queries with the same rehearsed, yet honest answer. "I've gotta crawl before I can walk." My word is my bond and I stood by my solemn promise that I would not forget them once I made it. After all, none of us should be deprived of being full-fledged fashionistas, no matter what the size. Right?! I took enormous pride in the custom pieces that I designed for family members and friends. My great Aunt Edie who is a size 14 commissioned me to make a teal wrap blouse with ruffles and matching slacks that was rendered beautifully. And I once designed a wool tweed pant suit complete with a faux fur pony print collar and silk top for my cousin Lamesha who is a size 12. It was beyond statement making. In fact, it screamed "I AM FABULOUS AND YOU SHOULD BE LOOKING AT ME!" And the awesome wardrobe that I created for my sister's cruise vacation a couple of years ago was both chic and smart. In fact, I've never had nothing but love for my big girls. So imagine my surprise yesterday when I was sitting with my very successful art gallery owner friend Alexandre, when he suggested that I create a niche for myself. He has done it by being a purveyor, dealer, and curator of fine Russian contemporary art. And he articulated that my financial freedom has been so elusive because I am lost in a sea of fashion designers trying to do the same thing. What I need to do is focus on a small underserved portion of the market. Hmmm. Sounds smart. And then the wheels started to turn and something clicked. I have an affinity for curvy babes. I have been surrounded and loved and nurtured by them my entire life. And my big girls do not have the same kind of options that the skinny chicks do. Maybe they will appreciate my aesthetic a little more than the usual suspects. But this requires a leap of faith just like anything else. What if the boutique owners for the curvy customer reject me the same way the others have? What if I am way off the mark with their desires for stylish contemporary dresses? What if. . .? Oh, what the hell?! As my ex would often say, nothing beats a failure but a try. And the time has come for me to try! Big girls don't cry 'cause I am here to offer you something new and fresh that is an alternative to caftans and muumuus. I am here to offer you Wilbur.
Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Going & Going & Going. . .

Time waits for no one. So I am just trying to keep up the pace. And that requires a juggling act of epic proportions. I've found it a necessary evil to manage multiple projects simultaneously without them crashing down around me. And that is just the life of a successful fashion executive. Ha. After my friend Chris teasingly called me a fashion executive a few years ago, it just sort of stuck. I think it has a nice ring to it. But back to juggling. As Ashanti, Serosh and I were busy selecting a new web designer and we were preparing for Queens Fashion Week and I was meeting with my hat man, OH, and my make up artist Alexandra, I was also finishing up the sketches for Spring 2011. It was absolutely insane! A couple of years ago, I answered one of those online personality assessment questionnaires and I found out I was a 7 which is The Enthusiast. And basically it described me as a serial multitasker who craves happiness through creativity. Yet, I also tend to wear myself out in the process. Sounds about right. I am so psyched about Spring 2011. It all began with the idea to dissect the trench coat that just mushroomed into an 18 look collection. Now that's ambitious. And I hear a lot about globalization, so this collection is called "Been Around The World". My lady has just returned from far away exotic locales like Bombay, Africa, Bali, and South America with a quick jaunt in Montego Bay, Jamaica too. But all the dresses have a distinctly American sportswear sensibility. Think It's A Small World in New York. And my songstress of choice for this season is Chaka Khan. Man, did I have a crush on her as a kid. Chaka is sexy, earthy, sensual and just bad to the bone. Everything I want these dresses to be. So just sit back, keep up, and enjoy the ride. I've got a ways to go before it's all said and done. I'm just getting started. But right now I've got to polish up my juggling act. The next few months are going to be very, very busy.
Peace & Fashion!

Friday, April 9, 2010

April Fool

Last month, my business partners and I met someone who seemed to be interested in working with up and coming fashion designers, like myself, to take their businesses to the next level. I'm talking about linking us to a major distributor/licensor that would get our product into stores on a national level, like JC Penney or Urban Outfitters. I'd already envisioned our concept for the tops for young girls flying off the racks. And the line would include colorful jersey dresses, skirts, and tote bags using the same concept as the tops. It would mushroom into a real lifestyle brand just as I had always dreamed. And that income would, in turn, bankroll my more sophisticated line of dresses. I would be able to gain my freedom from the plantation once and for all and do what I love 100% of the time. My dreams are vivid and bold, but accessible just like my fashions. But dreams rarely unfold like they do in your head. And when someone promises you a rose garden, there are usually thorns included. And most times you have to do the planting and tilling and watering before that garden comes to full bloom. But in this case, the rose garden turned out to be just a plot full of dirt populated with dandelions. This woman who had initially sounded so promising made us jump through hoops to set up a meeting. Because she splits her time between the west coast and New York, her time is very limited. One of the business partners could not make it because of obligations to his 9 to 5 and the other partner had to take off early from work. And the woman full of promises pulled a no show because she had overbooked herself. After apologizing profusely, she rescheduled a conference call for the next day. It was at the beginning of this phone conversation that she apologized again before explaining that her business model was changing and she would no longer be offering the services that we were interested in. After she disclosed that she knew before coming to New York that her plan had changed, I began to admonish her for her unprofessionalism and the time she wasted. Sometimes my mouth gets the best of me. One of my colleagues steered the conversation back to civility and quickly ended the call. But I don't think that we will ever hear from her again. She'd already played us for the fool. But life continues and, despite the setbacks that sometimes seem to plague us, we are making progress. I guess sometimes you have to be punked in order to learn and grow.

Peace & Fashion!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Wilbur Show

I don't really have much to say. Surprised? Believe it or not, there are some days when I don't have much to report or harbor a desire to weigh in on a hot topic. But those days are few and far between. Today, I am just here to ask any one of you readers who have not yet voted for me for fashion designer 2010 at to do so as soon as possible. Time is running out. I think voting ends on Friday. It's not like it's that big of a deal. I don't win gobs of money or a trip to an exotic locale. But I've hardly won anything in my life. I mean, I won an art contest when I was in the fifth grade. We were asked to depict brotherhood and I drew the Pilgrims shaking hands with the Indians. That was exciting. And back when I was in college, I won a silver plated trophy in my video production class for the music video I shot for "I Wish It Would Rain" by The Temptations. I had my baby sister who was about 8 at the time and her friends from across the street playing in the rain with their umbrellas. And on a couple of occasions, when I've played MegaMillions, I've won $7 here and $9 there. But the big fashion prize continues to elude me. So it would be nice just to say that somewhere I was voted for best in show. After all, doesn't everybody love a winner? I'm only about 148 votes short of being in the lead. LOL! Below I've included some of the images from the new collection shot by Eric Hason. Maybe they'll inspire you to click, register, and vote.

Peace & Fashion!