Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Alright, Diallo, I'm ready for my close-up."

"A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety."

~Ansel Adams

Bear with me for a moment as I take a quick trip down memory lane to when I was ahem "younger" and looking through magazines to see the latest fashions.  While I was always mesmerized by the clothing and amazed by the talent that the designers displayed, I couldn't help but notice that it was also the model(s) who helped bring life to the clothes.  With every design that I sketch, I'm always imagining how I would want the layout to be in a magazine.  I'm always thinking of the story I want to tell that not only highlilghts why someone should purchase my clothing, but that they are able to appreciate the details.  Part of that story involves making sure that the model can convey in pictures what cannot be conveyed in words.

On Sunday, March 14th, I had the chance to help designers tell their story when I stepped into the role as model with Diallo Ferguson serving as the photographer.  Although I had been told before that I should model or was often assumed to be one when I was at a fashion event, modeling was something that I just avoided and admired from afar.  But since I've been on the path of trying new things and not letting my own fears stop me, I figured it was time to give it a try. 

Despite a few setbacks such as the high wind, constant rain, change in location the day of the shoot and the task of trying to make everyone happy, my first photoshoot was fun.  Out of all the models that were there, I was a newbie.  Keeping that in mind, I took time to talk to the other models and hear about things they've done and any tips they had to offer.  We all had a chance to bond given that we were all housed in a public bathroom changing, doing each other's hair and makeup and sharing beauty products back and forth.  It was like getting ready for the prom, with a little more lifting, tucking and modesty thrown out the window.

While in our makeshift dressing room, jewelry designer Kendall V. Bretto, CEO of Chandler Jewelry, came in to handpick models that would be wearing her custom made one of a kind jewelry.  I've seen her work in some recent runway shows and was honored when she chose me to model some of her pieces.  As a special thank you for modeling her jewelry, she presented me with a custom ring that she made on the day of the shoot.  I will post that when I'm done sketching the dress that it inspired.

For my next look, stylist Janeen Williams of Contrast is Key, assembled a fashion forward outfit with clothing and accessories provided by MOD Boston.  This shot required me to loosen up a bit and really play it up for the camera.  Luckily music was playing in the background and with a little help from the song "Stanky Leg', I was able to let loose and make it work.

As the day went on, I was able to find my groove and feel more comfortable creating my own poses for the camera while also taking direction from Diallo and Janeen.  Whether I was draped across a couch trying to make sure that I highlighted the jewelry and shoes that I was wearing, or sitting on a piano bench, the poses started to feel more natural and I was always happy to hear when Janeen thought a shot was hot.

One of the best shots of the day came from something so unexpected that it at first had me questioning Diallo.  I was getting ready to leave and had put back on my rain gear which consisted of thermals, a pink sweatsuit and boots.  I had neatly tucked my hair into my hooded sweatshirt and buttoned myself up hoping to keep out as much rain as possible.  After a quick hug and high-five for doing a great job, I was turning to leave when Diallo and another model thought that taking a picture of me from the neck up would look like a high fashion pose.  I thought they were kidding and was grabbing my umbrella when they insisted that I let him take the shot.  After a few different poses, Diallo let me see the pictures and I must say that I was impressed.  Who knew that something so simple could be turned into something that makes you say "wow".  Lesson learned...that's why he's the photographer :-).

Overall, my first photoshoot was great.  Yes, there were moments where tensions got a little high and people had to walk away while biting their tongue.  That's bound to happen when you have creative people trying to work together to complete a vision.  With that said, I met a lot of new people that are now Facebook friends as well as people I hadn't seen in a long time and was able to reconnect with. 

With each new venture I get involved with, I learn how important it is to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.  It's easy to live in the world of "someday" and "now isn't the time".  But living in those worlds keeps you stagnant while the worlds of "why not today" and "right now" continue to not only revolve around you, but without you.  I have a lot of new projects coming up and although it will require me to learn the art of balancing family and work more than I ever had to do, I welcome the challenge since I always welcome the reward.


"Conquering the world, one stylish step at a time"


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Evolution O.V.E.R.D.O.S.E.

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

~Martin Luther King Jr.

On Friday, February 26th, 2010, I attended the 4th annual Evolution O.V.E.R.D.O.S.E. (formerly Sensory Overload), presented by the Black Student Union of Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.  The event, held at Massachusett's College of Art"s Pozen Center, was a celebration of music, dance, and of course, fashion. 

The evening began with a pre-shower mixer that included a live band.  While guests were eating and mingling, artwork of notable African-Americans hung on the walls helping to remind us all of those who came before us to make this event possible.  Guests whose attire ranged from "college campus chic" to "I'm dressed for the after party", were then ushered into the main seating area to vie for one of the more desirable seats.  We were all then treated to a live vocal performance of the National Black Anthem by Soul4yoSystem.  After an introduction of Andrew Kuforiji who would be serving as our MC for the night, the show began.

Designer Sparkle Thames opened the show with her collection of swimwear and red, white and blue themed ready-to-wear. 

The collection was then followed by poetry which included "I Rise" by Maya Angelou while Michael Jackson's "What About Us" played in the background and a poetic explanation behind the meaning of Evolution O.V.E.R.D.O.S.E. 

After a ballet performance, designer Perpetual Anastasia was next with her collection of handmade jewelry.  With Maxwell's "Butterflies setting the tone, models hit the catwalk with black leotards and buttefly wings on their backs.  Unfortunately, this didn't play well in terms of letting you see the actual jewelry  The use of a larger screen that focused in on the jewelry as the models were walking would have made it easier for everyone to know that the collection was for jewelry and not for a repeat of black leotards in varying sizes and styles.

We were then given a history of R&B starting with Earth, Wind & Fire and including artists such as Alicia Keys and Angie Stone.  After a piano solo, a student from Berklee College sang "Redemption Song" which seems to have become the staple piece for shows in which proceeds are donated to Haitain Relief efforts.  There was a bit of confusion as to whether or not we were in intermission when a few minutes had gone by and there was no activity on the runway.  Guests had begun to make the usual run for the restrooms when our MC for the night appeared to introduce a guitar duet with songs inspired by Haiti. 

After intermission, designer Ty Scott opened his show with a model carrying a sign with the word "justice". The collection was well-received and was followed by a presentation on the History of Rap, which included a live rap performance followed by a step performance.

For the final designer of the night, the audience was wowed by an opening featuring a man voguing in a tutu.  His performance set the tone for the Prajje Couture collection, which appeared to be a crowd favorite.  Prajje's skill in selecting the right fabric and fabricating the right cut, is a formula that always adds up to a great collection that has everyone asking where they can purchase his clothing.  He is definitely on my list of designers to watch.

The show was a success as evidenced by the the filled to capacity seating that then became standing room only.  It is always nice to see people who are not only following their passions, but are coming together to help spotlight each other while sending a positive message that coming together and showing support for one another will always be more powerful than tearing each other down and not giving back.  The Evolution of the human spirit was on full display at this event and I look forward to attending the next one.


"Conquering the world, one stylish step at a time"