Saturday, July 30, 2011


A necklace from Lee Angel
Preparing my collection for a show takes a lot more than just designing the looks.  It is of equal importance to hire skilled samplemakers who will flawlessly construct each design so that the translation from sketch to actual garment is seamless.  I must also cast the models who will bring just the right amount of sashay to my runway.  And then there are the extraneous details like shoes, makeup, hair, and jewelry.  A moment that lasts a little less than 10 minutes takes months and months of meticulous preparation.

Michelle Pfeiffer & Al Pacino in a scene from Scarface
This week I began to actively search out those extraneous details.  I landed at Lee Angel, the company known for its chic, yet affordable fashion jewelry.  Ms. Pema, my guide through the company's archives, showed me fabulous piece after fabulous piece of necklaces and bracelets.  I am so pleased and excited to have them as my jewelry sponsor.

Next, I was onto hair.  My inspiration for this season is Michelle Pfeiffer's character in the Brian DePalma film Scarface.  She was just so elegant and sexy and sophisticated.  A real foil to Al Pacino's crass drug lord.

I have also begun approaching several shoe companies about supplying the footwear for my models.  A few have turned me down.  I am not sure why as my approach has been extremely professional, highlighting the public relations benefit of being part of a NY Fashion Week runway show.  Undaunted, however, I continue with my quest.  A barefoot woman on my runway is SO unstylish.

I remain in the trenches as I battle it out to have the most polished catwalk possible.  As I get closer to my September 13 show date, I am sure that there will be more drama, more obstacles, and more fashion.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ending The Week With A BANG

Emily M.
Today I met with Emily M., a fabulous plus-sized model, who will be wearing one of the pieces for my runway show on September 13.  The dress needed to be tailored just a little more to accentuate her glorious curves.  Once my tailor, Carl, had pinned the dress in all the pertinent places, I could visualize Emily setting my runway on fire.  It's a shame that there are not many opportunities for curvy models to parade the catwalk.  Luckily, Emily has a career doing hair and makeup on television shows like Royal Pains on USA and The Good Wife on CBS.  The woman is multi-talented and I am very fortunate to have found an ally in her.

This afternoon I received a call from Matilda from the production company that is working on the as-yet-untitled reality show for the Lifetime network.  She left a message on my voicemail while I was at the plantation congratulating me on getting to the next step in the process to being chosen for the show.  YAY!  When I called Matilda back she was eager to conduct a telephone interview with me.  "Are you available at four o'clock today, Wilbur?" she asked in her proper British lilt.  "It will take about forty-five minutes," she advised.  "That would be great, Matilda," I answered.  At almost 4:15, Matilda and I were deep into my interrogation, I mean, interview.  I felt good afterwards when Matilda informed me that she would be sending an email with a release for my photographers to sign off the use of their images.  She also told me that the powers-that-be would be making their final decision soon, as the series is set to begin shooting on August 9.

As I get close to the end of this reality show process, I cannot help believing that my chances are really good and this time I will finally make the cut.  Persistence, I guess, really does pay off.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Short. . .

This evening my seamstress, Yvonne, and I met with curvy supermodel  Allie McGevna at Mood Fabrics.  The purpose: to take her measurements for the next batch of samples for the spring 2012 collection.  It was Allie's first visit to the mega fabric store made famous by Project Runway.  I, on the other hand, live in Mood.  As I greeted the owner and the employees, Yvonne remarked how familiar I am with the store's floor plan.  It really is high on my list of NYC go-to destinations for beautiful fabrics.

Taking measurements is always brief and the three of us were done in a snap.  Thank God.  This morning, I left the bag with my sample fabrics home in Southeast Queens and had to ride back home and then all the way back into Manhattan for my 6 p.m. meet-up with the ladies.  Between all the commuting and the oppressive heat, my energy was completely zapped.  But I can't complain.  Sometimes you've just gotta suffer for fashion.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trying to Keep My Cool

Although the mercury lingers above the 90 degree mark with no relief in sight, I press forward with arrangements to get my spring 2012 collection finished.  I am completely psyched about this collection because it shows how much I've matured as a designer.  I have a better understanding, I believe, of what retailers want for the curvy fashionista.  Last year when I launched my line for plus size women, I think it may have been a little too fashion forward for retailers.  Needless to say, I am hoping for better results this coming spring.

I have also been very busy putting the finishing touches on my inaugural handbag line.  It is too soon to tell whether or not it is going to be a hit.  But advance buzz is positive.  As soon as we have established accounts with reputable stores, I promise to share the news of where they may be purchased.

Great News!  I have learned that I will be featured in the August 15 issue of JET magazine.  Chronicling all things newsworthy in the Black community, the weekly periodical debuted in 1951.  It is truly an honor to be included on the pages of such an auspicious, culturally relevant publication.  As the date gets nearer, I will be reminding all of you to hurry to your local newsstand to buy your copy.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bingeing on Bling

Over this past weekend my mother was perusing the latest issue of Architectural Digest to come in the mail. That was when she came across a photo of a breathtaking piece of fine jewelry.  "You know how I love beads," she said between sips of coffee.  "Let me see?" I asked.  It was a stunning five-strand necklace comprised of 18K yellow gold beads by Marco Bicego.  "It's only $28,700 and it's only sold at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship," my mother explained with a nudge and a wink in her voice.

I love jewelry.  I am not sure if it is my mother's or my grandmother's influence, but it is safe to say that we are a bling loving family.  I promised to make a trip to the tony department store later on in the week to check out the trinket in person.

Yesterday I eased on down Fifth Avenue and found myself darkening the store's grand doors.  I met Richard, the friendly sales associate, behind the Marco Bicego display case who informed me that the piece was not on the premises.  "However, it will be here tomorrow and so will the designer," he promised.  It didn't take much to convince me to make a return visit.

One of the results of my mother's cancer surgery this past April is that she gets winded very easily.  Although I wanted her to join me, I understood why she was reluctant to make the trip into Manhattan from Southeast Queens.  I promised to try on "the piece" (as we now call it) and have someone photograph me wearing it.

When I reached the fine jewelry area today, I was met by Leslie Block, the company's national accounts merchandiser for the U.S.  Apparently, Richard had already informed her of my interest in the necklace.  She whisked me to a cozy, carpeted back room where I came face-to-face with "the piece".  It was as awesome as I had imagined.  And the only one of its kind.  Leslie indulged my request to be photographed wearing "the piece" to make an assessment on the necklace's length.  It felt very tight around my size 17 neck and I think it would be only slightly roomier around my mother's neck.  When Leslie introduced me to the designer himself, they both agreed that having another necklace constructed for just a little more money would not be an issue.  I love great service and I was being treated like a V.I.P.  You just cannot get that at H&M!

After chatting with Richard and sipping champagne, I had to get back to my real life just outside the doors about 30 feet away.  But I know if I ever make it big, my mother can expect to get that necklace just because I think it would look pretty around her cancer-free neck.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shine On!

After taking a little Independence holiday break from blogging, I am back.  I feel something, some kind of excitement, percolating under my exterior.  There is nothing tangible happening. . . yet.  I am still waiting to hear from the two television reality shows that had expressed initial interest.  Being on either one of those shows would certainly provide me with great exposure.  In the meanwhile, I am working my butt off as my September 13 runway show date draws nearer.  I have started contacting models.  My seamstress, Angela, and I have begun fittings.  And I am in the throes of sewing more samples on my mother's old Singer for my soon-to-be-revealed handbag line.  I still wonder about my finances, or the lack thereof, and how I am going to pay for everything.  But my focus has shifted and I feel positive that things are going to work out in my favor.  Ashanti & I have also begun contacting a couple of brands about in-kind sponsorship for our runway show.  In other words, it is business as usual.  Only it's not, because this time I'm not going to let anything or anyone dull my shine.  So I suggest you put on your sunglasses.

Peace & Fashion!