Thursday, April 28, 2011


Those of you who are part of my facebook family already know that my reality show audition did not go as I had hoped.  In fact, I was not chosen for the new venture that is supposed to air on NBC in the near future.  I had really hoped for a better showing, but I couldn't really shine in the five minutes that I was alotted with the casting director as another hopeful sat beside me waiting her turn.  I'd prepared my samples, had my sister print out our images and bind them into a neat folder, and gathered anything I felt represented my best work as a plus size womenswear designer.  I had even asked my model friend DeeDee B. to join me wearing one of my creations so that the casting people could get a clearer idea of my aesthetic as it hung on a live person.  I was psyched!

First, my casting person, Kim, didn't even remember that I had applied online, but recalled the application of the hopeful beside me.  That was not a good sign!  DeeDee B. was not even allowed into the room and Kim was not interested in seeing any of my samples.  As she browsed through a couple of photos, she began asking me about my upbringing.  She seemed more interested in the fact that my father succumbed to cancer in 1994 and that my mother was now battling the disease.  Needless to say, when I walked out of my "interview" I did not have a good feeling.  After an almost four-hours-long wait, I could not help but feel that my time would have been better served doing something else.  To date, I have auditioned for almost every fashion reality show that has ever aired on televison with the number of hours wasted totaling approximately 26.  And the reality is that reality is just not my strong point.  So next time you read that I am considering trying out for another show, just send me a polite little note asking, "Wilbur, are you on crack?!?!"  I thank you in advance.

Peace & Fashion!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Secret

I've got a confession to make.  Please don't hold this against me.  Although I swore off ever auditioning for another fashion reality series, I am going back on my word.  Okay, there.  I said it.  One of my models/fashion friends emailed me the info a couple of weeks ago.  And this time, judging by the application and description, it doesn't sound like I need to be a tailor par excellence.  When I explained that to my boyfriend, he just laughed asking, "Well, how are they going to judge you?"  All I could do was grin sheepishly.  Let me say this.  I am not looking for stardom.  Well, maybe just a little bit.  But the grand prize winner gets their line in stores and that is the kind of help that I can use.  So tomorrow afternoon I'll be waiting in line with other hopefuls, my arms full with photos and samples and a video DVD.  I'll flash my winning smile and suck in my stomach when I meet the judges and hope for the best.  After all, nothing beats a failure but a try.  And this time I won't feel all sad and dejected if they never call me.  I've been down this road too many times to warrant that kind of reaction.  But I am going to prepare the best acceptance speech ever.  "I'd like to thank my mom and my agent. . ."  Oh, I forgot, this isn't the Oscars.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fashion Takes A Backseat

My Mother
I had noticed that my mother's breathing was labored once she finished climbing the stairs at home.  And since she does water aerobics at the YMCA three times a week and is always on the go, I thought it strange.  "You sound like Darth," I remarked, referencing the breathing of the super villain from Star Wars.  I didn't think much of it, but she said she would pay her doctor a visit.  So she had her heart checked and blood was taken and her doctor said she was healthy as a horse, but he wrote a script for a chest x-ray.  It was after her x-ray that my mother learned she had cancer.  The day she confided in me that she had been diagnosed with THYMOMA, it seemed like the air was sucked out of my life.

Darth Vader
After dealing with the deaths of a host of relatives, including my maternal grandmother and my father (and all his siblings), I feared that my mother would suffer the same fate.  I was in shock and I felt disconnected from life.  The day after this bomb was dropped, I confided in some of my friends and colleagues at the plantation.  It was a woman named Gwen who convinced me to call Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the renowned and respected cancer hospital.  She had worked diligently to get her mother-in-law into the hospital and then stood by her side as she fought lung cancer.  Over the years, I'd heard so many glowing testimonials about the hospital.  Gwen's testimony awakened me from my cloud-like existence and I immediately called my mother to get her insurance information.  She had already scheduled her surgery with another doctor at another hospital, but I convinced my mother that we needed to try something new, something I thought would increase her chance of survival.  She said, "Okay."  Things began to move fast as she got the results from her previous tests sent to Sloan and scheduled appointments for additional tests.  Arming ourselves with information, the battle had begun.

When my father passed, my sister was only fourteen years old.  His death really threw her into a tailspin.  Her teenage and young adult years were pretty tough.  I didn't know what kind of impact this news would have on her.  I wanted to protect her from the truth, but there was nothing I could do to change the reality.  So I arranged for us to meet after work.  Over cocktails at TGIFriday's in Lower Manhattan, I calmly relayed the news.  There were some tears, but she soldiered on.  And a couple days later, my sister and I arranged a conference call with my brother and sister-in-law who live out of state where we broke the news to them as well.  My mother confided in my aunt, her only sibling, who resides in Texas over the phone one afternoon.  Collectively, we decided that we were going to keep a positive outlook.  With the best doctors in the city tending to my mother at the best cancer treatment facility in the city, optimism has been in no short supply.

This Friday past, my mother came through surgery with flying colors.  We are waiting to get the final word from her doctor after the pathology, but it seems that her cancer was detected and removed in its first stage.  She may not need any radiation and she definitely will not need to undergo chemotherapy.  I continue to remain in prayer as my mother recuperates.  I look forward to seeing her smiling face in the audience when I present my collection in September.  And I expect to see her, healthy and beautiful, for so many more seasons to come because we are conquerors. . .

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What's Next?

I am rejuvenated and focused - again.  And I am ready to conquer the fashion world with my sophisticated line of fashion for the curvy woman.  Every season I say that it is my best collection to date.  So I am not going to say that this time.  But what I will say is that I am convinced that I am on the right track.

I am reaching out to goddesses, both near and far, who will be descending on New York City for Full-Figured Fashion Week this June to see if they may be interested in a Wilbur original confection to wear.  The event will be jam-packed with runway shows and seminars and discussions designed to empower the fuller woman.  I'm just excited to be a part of the love fest.  It's not about snubbing the slimmer woman, but it is about uplifting the voluptuous woman who has been marginalized for too long.  My sister, Ashanti, and I will be front and center ready to make new friends and connect with new business contacts.  And I'll be sharing all the great news right here. But that is almost two months away.  Right now, I've got to get busy and make sure my ladies are well-turned out.

Peace & Fashion! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dream On

Last night was the opening for Lonette McKee's show Can't Help Lovin' at the Algonquin Hotel.  My family and I took our seats in The Oak Room around 8 p.m. and I began to get giddy with excitement.    It was really happening.  I'd designed an outfit for Patti LaBelle years ago, but I never got a chance to see her wear it.  This was going to be the first time that I would witness a celebrity actually wearing one of my looks.  It was almost surreal.

Before the show was about to begin, I excused myself from the table to go to the restroom. And I was hoping to see if Lonette was waiting in the wings.  Then I saw her, standing in the hotel lobby preparing to enter the show space to begin her set.  She asked, "Oh Wilbur, did you come out here to check on me?"  "Absolutely," I lied only partially.  She confessed that she'd had difficulty weaving the grosgrain ribbon through the button holes on her french cuffed shirt.  I immediately went to work threading the cuffs with the ribbon.  It took about 15 minutes before I had the perfect bow!  And then I had to return to my table because the show was about to begin.  Oh well, my bathroom break would have to come after the show!  It didn't matter.  My bladder issues took a backseat to Lonette's stage presence and the way she carried me and the rest of her audience on a journey through song of some of her greatest moments in show business.  Songs from her films "Sparkle", "Round Midnight", and "Cotton Club" were pitch perfect fabulous and a couple of Billie Holliday faves were arranged in such a way that breathed new life into them.  She also sang a few songs that she had written over the years and when her musical director Bette Sussman joined her at the piano for one selection it was an awe-inspiring moment that I will never forget.  I never would have thought as a little boy of 9 years old that I would grow up and work with this woman from the silver screen whose beauty I dreamed about for so many nights.  This was a wish fulfilled.  And I hope there are many more dreams that turn into reality to come my way.

Peace & Fashion!