Style on Capitol Hill: The Obama’s Inauguration Day Fancy

Good evening, folks!

This is a quickie because my 1st day of school is tomorrow and I have homework already, but I just HAD to write this post NOW while all my style excitement is flowwiinnggggg!

Okay, so today was a very special day as the 57th inauguration took place to swear in President Barack Obama for his 2nd term, and as history was made yet again, millions watched on to be a part of it. Today we also celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I personally feel that his dream for equality has become more true today than it ever has before. I am humbled to be able to have witnessed such history TWICE in my lifetime, and it’s something I will remember forever and ever!

Okay, enough with the mushy stuff, let’s get to the point of my post. The styyyylllleeeeee! It’s the one thing everyone drools over, especially when it comes to the beautiful First Lady! At the private swearing-in ceremony this morning, Michelle Obama chose a blue Reed Krakoff dress with a sweater to compliment the look of simplistic sophistication. It seems that the family followed suit with the sea of blue, except for the spunky Sasha that is. Malia is wearing a dress from H&M, my kind of girl!

Inauguration 2013 swearing-in ceremony

Fast forward to the main inaugural ceremonies, and Michelle Obama dazzled in her grace in a subdued and beautifully navy structured coat by Thom Browne, which kept her warm over a dress by Thom Browne as well. Her statement belt, that she is known for wearing for a little pop, is by J.Crew and so are her shoes. The girls were super posh in their hued coats, Malia’s by J.Crew, and Sasha adorned in Kate Spade.

Michelle, Sasha, Malia Inauguration 2013

 

Michelle Obama Reed Krakoff 2013

 

Michelle Obama in Thom Browne Inauguration 2013

 

Sasha and Malia style Inauguration 2013

And last but not least, the inaugural ball! The WORLD really just wanted to know which designer Michelle Obama would choose. Many predicted that she’d choose a newer designer, or one that may not necessarily be considered a household name, but to everyone’s surprise she went with Jason Wu, again! Jason Wu designed her 2009 inaugural gown, and he sure didn’t disappoint this time either. Within minutes, phone calls were being made to figure out who designed her amazing red gown, and Jason Wu gets the credit!

Michelle Obama Jason Wu Inauguration dress 2013

 

Minutes after revealing Jason Wu as the designer of this red masterpiece, an original sketch from Jason Wu’s headquarters was released and it gave us an even more intimate look at the design details and specifics behind this lucky dress.

 

Jason Wo sketch Michelle Obama inagural dress

This gown definitely lived up to its original design details, constructed out of a mix of fluid chiffon and luxurious velvet; making use of the duchess satin belt that is reminiscent of the First Lady’s style signature. The diamond studded hand-made ring at the close of the halter was made by Kimberly McDonald and she’s wearing Jimmy Choo shoes. Stunning.

I LOVE the first family. They represent me in so many ways and I’m able to see a mirror reflection of my family in them. The Obamas have a love for one another that is contagious, warm, and sincere and so many aspire to be just like them. I can’t leave this post without a nod to my main man’s style. Obama had SO MUCH SWAG today, that I had to look away! He showed so much confidence today, as he should, and I simply loved his choice of a white bow tie at tonight’s inaugural ball as he did 4 years ago at his first inauguration. He did thaaaaaat!

Obama inauguration 2013

 

I thank God that I’m alive to see history continuously being made, spoken from our forefathers and brought to life by today’s dreamers.

 

Sincerely,

with style and humility,

 

 

 

The Ins and Outs of Personality on the Runway

Hey! Glad to see you back,

For today’s Freestyle Post, I decided to write about a realization I made a while ago (as I’m sure many others may have), the In’s and Out’s of personality on the runway. Most people that stake claim to “loving fashion” more than likely take a liking to runway. It’s sort of the big shebang in the fashion industry where designers get to showcase their designs that once only resonated as ideas, but now come to life for onlookers to interpret, criticize, and… wear of course. We know that with the seasons’ change, new trends are introduced in addition to styling techniques and projections from forecasters, but what about the muse? The model.

I’m no model connoisseur, but I am keen on the history of many and being an observer, I have realized that models’ presentations have changed drastically over the years. Let’s think back for a minute to 1987 (No, I wasn’t to be born for another 3 years, but that’s why I love the Internet), Oscar de la Renta’s spring/summer show, which included Supermodels like Iman, Veronica Webb, Yasmin le Bon, Paulina Porizkova, Dalma Collado and more, was a lively show full of models with various backgrounds, looks, and personalities that all had a chance to shine on that runway. It wasn’t taboo to twirl and turn until the model’s heart was content, it was encouraged! They did just that, as they still kept in mind that the ultimate goal was to model the beautiful dresses and gowns to be marveled over. Take a look at some footage from that show below. The quality is not so good, but hey…it was over 20 years ago!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0cAh2js8Uc[/youtube]

As you can see, the models seemed full of joy, grace, and simply did their own thing. If you go even further back to the early 70s, specifically the fashion event that changed the face of American fashion in the light of our European counterparts, The Runway Battle of Versailles ’73, we see that this marked the change that allowed for models to be more expressive on the runway and move away from the very robotic old European way of modeling. This is a perfect indicator of the fact that the fluctuation of expression on the runway has been occurring for some time, but that the constant wave seems to continue it’s pattern of “In and Out”.

Throughout the 90s, the notion of “fun on the runway” was popular, and I believe it is what allowed models the chance to prove themselves and create signature aspects of their work to later gain them the title of Supermodel. Think Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and even Tyra Banks, they are known for their quirks and namesake signature walks, turns, and smiles on the runway, but what has happened to that element of character and life on the runway?

Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, and Tyra Banks

90s models, they brought character to the runway!

 

Today’s runway seems to be on a downward sloping trend toward the “Out” end when it comes to models being “themselves” on the runway. Yes, I understand that it is about the clothes, but as a consumer and lover of the visual imagery that runway shows bring, personality brings the lively theatrical element back to the runway. It’s fun, unexpected, and personable! I guess they don’t want that? Besides the Victoria Secret fashion show and Betsey Johnson’s fashion week shows, traces of smiles, excessive but properly executed spins and twirls, and “I’m not just  a number” odes are nonexistent. The sad truth. Now, the runway has went back to its robotic ways, everyone is the same. Yeah, there are one or two models every season that get a little more shine and gets bumped up to supermodel status overnight, but it’s just not the same. Not like back in the day where it wasn’t really based on hype, but when models earned their credibility and star status by becoming trusted muses of famed designers who cherished the ground they walked on. In a Q & A I did with Iman a couple years ago, she stated “Unfortunately, models are no longer muses! When I used to model, designers always asked me how I felt about the clothes or how I would style it. Our opinions mattered then but unfortunately now the girls are all told to walk the same hence making them more like mannequins.” See, it’s not just me, guys! I would love to see life resume on the runway, smiles and winks and extra hip dips, all of that!

 

New York Fashion week

Today’s runway! They all look the same!

 

I’ve had the pleasure of attending a few runway shows at New York Fashion Week, so I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, and although the shows are exceptionally beautiful with aesthetic genius, I can’t help but wonder why after  the light tricks, runway illusions, and apparel designs have left the runway, people lend a little hand clap and rush off quickly to their next destination. I think the missing element is the character and life models used to be encouraged to bring forth on the runway, the things that people can feel and want more of. That’s what it is. It troubles me to think of how long it will take for the trend to head toward “In” again, or if it will land at a plateau where only a few designers and models will continue to employ this entertaining style of runway, while the rest continue to line up by who can be the most robotic. Is anyone else with me on this one? Do you want to see personality return to the runway or are you cool with today’s norm of the unwritten uniform policy?

Let’s have a conversation!

The Runway Battle of Versailles ’73: A Story That Needed to be Told

Just like everything else in the world, fashion has a history. A very elaborate history that is often told through stories passed from generation to generation, “he say, she say”, carrying the tradition of those old fables you learned as a kid. Only this time, the tortiose and the hare are substituted with real people trying to make their dreams come true, back stories of the lives of once struggling designers and models trying to make a name for themselves, all while doing everything in their power (on purpose, or not) to leave their mark in fashion. Even as we marvel at the stories we’ve heard over the years, and get even more giddy as we learn of new tales of old stories, we all know that all stories don’t get their chance in the limelight and that many times, they are the ones that deserve it the most. The events of what has been named Versailles ’73, is one of those stories, and it’s finally being told.

Versailles '73

Last evening I had the pleasure of being invited to a private screening of Versailles ’73, a documentary, directed by Riley Draper, about an event in fashion that was so monumental and life altering (for some), that someone….forgot to tell the story. Neither here nor there, the story of Versilles ’73 is now being told in a exciting and attention grabbing documentary, with intention to either make you feel like you were there, wish you were there, or say to yourself, “…and why did it take so long for them to tell this story?!”.  I asked myself all three of those questions, and with much purpose. To give you a brief synopsis without telling the whole story (I promise, no spoilers…although I want to soooooo badly!) Versailles ’73 tells of an EPIC–people usually use this word for non-epic moments, but this is one that’s deserving– fashion show that would put five well known French couturiers against five, then less globally recognized and respected, American fashion designers in an initial effort to raise money to repair the Palace of Versailles. I emphasize the word initial because although that was the primary purpose of the show, the end result of what happened that night would forever change fashion, the lives of the designers involved, and the models that served as muses that night; especially the African American models who came onto stage and dazzled the predominantly French audience like nothing they had ever seen before.

Versailles '73 on stage

Bethann Hardison and Daniela Morera with designer Stephen Burrows,  Versailles '73

Bethann Hardison and Daniela Morera with designer Stephen Burrows, Versailles ’73

Versailles ’73 is an electrifying account of the magic that took place in Paris on that November evening in 1973 , and only those involved could tell the story with such excitement, accuracy, and step-by-step detail, captivating the audience in such a way that it pulls you to the edge of your seat! Just talking about it has me excited again, and being able to hear the story told by those who were actually there that night makes it all the more thrilling. The model muses include Pat Cleveland, Bethann Hardison, China Machado and Carla Lemonte just to name a few, and the five designers that would ultimately prove American fashion were Anne Klein, Stephen Burrows, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, and Halston. These designers put ready -to-wear on ‘the map’, and took fashion in a new direction, away from the elaborate haute couture that only the noble and, well, rich could wear, and opened everyone’s eyes to a new way of dress, that was fit for all. If I go on, I will tell the whole story and you’ll be mad at me, so take a look at the trailer to get a piece of what Versailles ’73 was and is all about and why this story needed to be told. Thank me later after you see it!

This story needs to be told, heard, and appreciated. It will make you laugh hysterically, gasp in shock, and clap in glee as the story unfolds! I hope you all get to see this remarkable documentary, and that you share it with others.

There will be a public screening of Versailles ’73 tonight at 7:30pm ET at Temple University’s Center City campus, 1515 Market Street room 222 organized by the Philadelphia Collection. Mikki Taylor, Editor-at-large of ESSENCE Magazine and Author of Commander in Chic, and fashion Philanthropist and style maven Cameron Silver will also be doing a Q&A after the screening, so come out! It is open to the public and free of charge, hope to see you there!

ps, the models and some attendees of Versailles ’73 recently had a reunion, don’t they look FAB?!

Models of versailles 73 now

Models and attendees of Versailles ’73 in 2012, beautiful!

Visit Versailles ’73 for more info.

Sincerely,

with style~ Sharontina B.

African Americans in Fashion: Honoring “African Queen”, Iman

Happy Black History Month!

I’ve see many people say that they don’t particularly agree with the idea of only honoring the greatness of African Americans during ONE month (be in the shortest month) of the year, and that it shouldn’t be separated, and rather integrated into a celebration that never ends. Although I “get” it, I’ve been celebrating Black History month since as far back as I can remember, and with it being put on super blast in elementary and middle schools, it’s become something I’m used to and love to celebrate. As this is true, I was thinking of what I’d like to do to honor us brown beauties this month, and decided to feature African American pioneers in fashion and style. There are so many, and I’m sure I won’t get them all, but they definitely should be recognized for what they’ve done to change our world of fashion.

For my first feature, I’ve decided to honor my “Fairy Fashion Godmother”, Iman, one of the most recognized supermodels in the world.

Iman is a native of Somalia, an African queen whose captivating and ethereal beauty has been a representation for so many of us for years. She was discovered in 1975 by photographer Peter Beard, who invited her to New York City where she rose to the top of fashion in no time…literally. Iman is known as the world’s first black supermodel, and was so coveted in her reign that she served as Yves Saint Laurent’s muse for his “African Queen” collection. A few months ago, I was blessed with the privilege to do a Q&A with Iman and I asked her my most pressing questions about her journey through fashion up to her role now as CEO of Iman Cosmetics. During the interview, Iman spoke about her amazing experience being YSL’s muse and one of her most memorable…
Out of the many shows you have done throughout your career, which was your absolute  favorite? Why?Mr. Yves Saint Laurent when he chose me as his muse for his “African Queen Couture Collection”. He cut the fabrics from bolts on my body… I stood for hours on heels and sheer silk pantyhose and nothing else but it was a once in a lifetime experience and to top it all I did the campaign for it with the legendary photographer David Bailey. Unforgettable!”

As a pioneer of fashion who showed the world a beautiful representation of black beauty, I honor Iman this black history for her contributions to fashion through not only her physical beauty, but through her humble and pleasant spirit. I also got a chance to meet Iman last year, and it’s not normal that you see a woman of Iman’s celebrity walk into a room full of people and greet and thank them with hugs before she can fully get in the door. A beautiful experience indeed and a testament to show that black beauty is not only on the outward appearance, it starts from within.
So, to Iman, on this Black History month we thank, appreciate, and honor you.
Sincerely with style,
Sharontina B.