'Tis the Season...

...to be Blessed!

This time of year always finds me in warm spirits; the optimism of humanity, the celebration of life and the concerted effort to give.

Sure, the reason for giving should not just be mandated on 1 day (or several days) of the year, giving is something that we should be practicing on a daily basis- without necessarily looking to receive anything in return.

But keeping with the 'holiday' spirit, this is the season for blessings... sharing special moments with loved ones and looking out for those who may not be as fortunate as you are. These are all blessed times in one's life. Being able to put a smile on someone's face is a blessing, and having a smile on your own face is a blessing as well. Yes these things may seem trivial or even childish, but it's the simple things in life that adults seem to miss, that block the blessings from flowing.

With these days (both past and ahead of us), we have the celebration of several holidays: Chanukah, Christmas & Kwanzaa (among others throughout the world), and in their differences of being celebrated, they all have one connecting theme- celebration.

E.g, Chanukah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Antiochus IV and commemorates the "miracle of the container of oil"; Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ; and Kwanzaa celebrates the cultural and historical heritage of African traditions (mainly for African-Americans).

So, no matter what your personal reason for celebrating this holiday season may be, just remember to be Blessed... and be a Blessing to everyone else.

Happy Holidays,
Avon L. Dorsey II.

Mr. President... Yes We Did!!!

Ladies & Gentlemen of the free world... we are witnessing history in the making. It was only 1-short-week ago when millions of voters turned out in record numbers in America, to elect the 44th President of the United States... and this time we got it right!

We didn't settle for a presidential candidate who wanted to continue the same lopsided politics of the last eight years, and we didn't settle for a candidate who promised to pull tricks out of a hat, come 2009.

Instead, we thought long and hard on our voting decision... and we chose a man (an educated and highly-qualified man), who has shared some of the same struggles as the ordinary American: student loans and being a child of single parentage, among other things. We chose a man who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk... we chose a man who we can finally recognize as being FOR THE PEOPLE...
We chose Barack Obama!
(America's new President-elect)

Barack Obama is a man of character and a man of diligence... and as I think back to a television interview of Congressman Elijah Cummings (Maryland), where he gave full detail of a phone conversation he had with Obama announcing his candidacy for President, I'm reminded that Barack Obama is also a man of faith.

Cummings recalled that Obama was driving during their conversation and that his voice was calm but excited over the phone, and he went on to say how Barack had pulled over his car and asked Cummings to pray with him so that God's grace and mercy could be with him during the presidential process. To me, right there in Obama's gesture of faith, he shows us a raw humility and reverence to a higher-power that can truly solve all of our problems, and when you put your trust and faith in God, all things will work out for the better, and I am so glad that this country now has a President who embodies that notion.

Moreover, looking beyond the brunneous complexion of Obama's skin, we must first see that he is a man of mixed heritage (of both African & European descent), who was raised in America. He represents the identity of this nation's vastly growing multi-cultural population, and I believe that's why so many people -all over the world- feel a connection with him, because he looks just like you and me. In looking at Obama, we are re-assured that we are all of the collective, human race and not just black and white.

And with his two, beautiful daughters and his wife (and soul-mate), Michelle Obama, the new First-family further symbolizes the diversity that makes up this world. Although Michelle's African-American heritage denotes a reflection of America's past cruelty towards dark-skinned people, we hold tight to the promise of America's future... knowing that men and women (in the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), will continue to be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.

Mr. President, because of you, my faith in mankind has been restored and I am finally proud to be an American... I am at your service, sir. We are all, humbly, at your service.

May God Bless Us All!

Avon L. Dorsey II.
Publisher- STYLE 101 Magazine

Black & White...

by- Zaina Adamu

From bold prints to neutral palettes, the past few seasons have shown fashion designers opting for a “new look.” While peering through the current offering of sleek and sophisticated styles reminiscent of the late 90’s -I could not deny if I tried- I noticed something deeper than the clothing… in the collections, the models who strutted down the runways were predominately White, with an exotic, Black model gracing the stage every so often to add diversity to the mix. It struck my attention not because I am a Black woman, but it seemed to highlight certain collections by seeing the clothing differently- something kind of new, as some would say.

It is a triumph to see the inclusion of more Black models in designer shows, and to think it was only a couple of decades ago when the late fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent was one of the first major fashion designers to use Black models in his shows. Fast forward to the new millennium, and now more Black models grace the covers of major magazines such as Vogue and Bazaar, as well as the catwalks of fashion giants such as Prada, Oscar de la Renta and Gucci.
(Jourdan Dunn in Prada, Fall 2008)

Overall, just like the pages in a magazine, fashion catwalks may have blank, white backgrounds, but it is the black font that translates the creative work… helping to illustrate the ideas of the fashion designers into the minds of the public.

Mr. Obsessive

by- Reginald Larkin

Leaves are orange and reddish-blue, the cold weather is here… and fashion is too! I feel privileged to bear witness to so many changing colors and budding fashions –all happening at the same time this season. And with such an emphasis on style, the obsessions that I have right now (for both men and women), are for the abundance of rich textures and bountiful patterns in everything from shoes to jackets. Joelle Carter, a Morgan State University activities coordinator says, “It’s all about the accessories,” and she couldn’t be more right. Even if accessories aren’t your thing, there are still options –you can make a fashion statement by purchasing items that have a one-of-a-kind authenticity; things that will stand out amongst the milieu of everyday finds.

My Obsessions for Women: Showstopper

1) The Peep-Toe
(Shoe, Christian Louboutin)
• Whether it’s a pump or a boot, this heel is sophisticated and flirty all at the same time. The concept that you are showing a smidgen of skin leaves mystery, so why not make his mind wonder. A peep-toe has both class and sass that is effortless.

2) The Motorcycle Jacket
(Jacket, Rick Owens)
• This type of jacket is such an American icon and a timeless staple that one should be in every woman’s closet (picture James Dean with breast and a ponytail). The rugged yet chic style of this jacket is desired in cold weather atmospheres –either in leather or in piled fabric, and by pairing it with virtually anything (a dress or a shirt and jeans), it can make your outfit versatile and enviable in an instant.

3) The Cardigan
(Cardigan, Alex Gore Brown)
• With the brisk air, some extra coverage is needed when you leave the house… and that’s when a sweater comes into play. But not just any sweater, it’s more chic to layer with a cardigan (a thin sweater open at the front and which closes with buttons). These aren’t your grandmother’s sweaters, the new updated styles are textured and form fitting and pairing one with leggings or skinny jeans create a slimming effect for the body, and can add height to any form.

My Obsessions for Men: Renaissance

1) The Blazer
(Blazer, Dolce & Gabbana)
• Personally, I have dreaded wearing one this season, but I just recently found the blazer of my dreams! And, I believe that if you too can find the right fit then you have found the perfect blazer for you. These jackets (aka Sports coats), can add a hint of class to any wardrobe, and they have the versatility to go from work-to- play in one swoop. This is one trend that every gentleman should commit to (for any season, really). But don’t settle for just any random suit jacket, search and find the right blazer for you.

2) The Loafer
(Shoe, Yves Saint Laurent)
• Sneakers are fun, but there is something altogether unique and classic about loafers. Diversity in ones shoe collection is crucial, and this shoe not only adds diversity but it also gives a preppy edge to any outfit. The loafer (minus the penny), calls to mind that Harlem Renaissance man (picture Billy Dee Williams in Lady Sings the Blues), an era when style ran rampant.

3)The Denim Jacket
(Jacket, G-Star)
• Just like its relative (the motorcycle jacket), the denim version is another American icon, and is both fashionable and a great tool for layering underneath of your winter coat. The trick to finding a good denim jacket is to go for durability, quality and a great, streamlined fit.

New York Fashion Week- S/S '09 Collections (September 5-12th, 2008)

“Be anxious for nothing…” is a famously quoted Bible passage used to remind people that patience truly is a virtue. For example, the best things come to those who wait for it, and in my case, it’s been a long wait for me to enjoy the experience of New York Fashion Week- all over again.

Once upon a time, I held invitations to exclusive events and shows for companies such as Christian Dior, YSL, TSE New York, BCBG, and the list goes on and on, and as a friend recently told me ‘there’s no better feeling than to be legitimized’ with your own invitation and a seat with your name on it. But in contrast, I had to leave all the glitz and glam behind- four years ago, because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

As a young student attending the Fashion Institute of Technology, I was too caught up in the flashing lights… I was partying seven days a week, attending class too little, and drugs became my best friend as I beat the pavement night after night in search of the next best thing. But in those happening places, trouble was there too, and I was eventually hospitalized for flirting with cocaine, heroin, pcp, and hard liquor- some of my errors in decision making.

My fashion fairytale didn’t just end there, that was only the beginning for me because during my hiatus from New York, I rekindled my relationship with God and I apologized to friends and family for the hell I had put them through when I was acting out in the big apple. I eventually re-enrolled into college, attending Morgan State University, and after the past four years, I finally graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandising… HALLELUJAH!

But, as aforementioned, anxiety played a huge role in my downtime- often getting the best of me because when I left New York, the last job I had was working as a Freelance Fashion Stylist for InStyle Magazine –under direction of the beautiful Ms. Sydne Bolden. And during the years I was laying low in Baltimore, Maryland, I desperately wanted to get back to Manhattan to re-join the magic of the bright lights in the big city… but it just wasn’t my time yet.

I’ve since learned that God has a special plan for us all, and His plans for me were to clean me up, get me back together (spiritually, mentally, totally & completely), allow me to become the founder of FAM- Fashion At Morgan (a prestigious student organization on Morgan State University’s campus), produce several premier fashion show events that gave exposure to burgeoning creative talents, and to finally have me obtain a college degree (so that my ancestors’ blood, sweat and tears were not in vain, in the pursuit of equality and education for all people- fighting against slavery and oppression)!

Fast-forward to present day, God has re-opened those doors of New York… not only for me to now have access to Fashion Week and the glitz and the glam, but for me to be there with a purpose. I now blog for my own on-line publication, STYLE 101 Magazine (which I thank you all for reading right now), and in my free-time, I am a contributor to other great publications such as Bleu Magazine.

During this past weekend to kick-off Fashion Week, not only did I get to see what was being offered on the runways for the Spring/Summer 2009 season, I also got to see Chanel Iman (in-person) with Damon Dash, I caught up with some old friends, and I even ran into my former college roommate from F.I.T.

In essence, I share all of this with you because I know how it feels to want something so bad and then to lose it and want it back again… and I know that there are some of you who may be wondering just how some parts of the fashion industry really work?! Trust me, it’s not all about the glitz and the glam, and there’s always more than meets the eye- within any industry. But, it’s my hope that you will take charge of your life and leave everything in God’s hands, so that you can make a positive change in this world. Don’t be anxious, there is a special plan for all of us, and Jesus paid your bill a long time ago!

Take care, and I hope you will enjoy this outlook on life that God has given me...

God Bless Us All,
Avon L. Dorsey II.
Publisher, STYLE 101

My Life as a ‘B.P.G’

Bryant Park Girl
by- Ola Lawal

In New York City you have to walk, talk and think fast. This being my first time ever attending New York Fashion Week, I didn’t know what to expect… nervously ascending the staircase to Bryant Park, I checked my hair/make-up/& outfit, doubled checked with STYLE 101’s publisher Avon Dorsey, and presented myself appropriately at the heavily guarded entrance- breezing past security, and arriving finally inside the miraculous fashion palace.

The tents for Fashion Week (sponsored by Mercedes Benz), are huge and reminiscent of a permanent building with plastic walls. The outside is gated-off to the onlookers with no invitations, and the stairway was clearly used for the fabulous to enter the arena without being bombarded by unfashionable peons. Above the three sets of double doors, the tents were graphically covered with 2008 election-esque ‘voter’s pin’ motifs, some of which read: “Elect style, Spring ‘09”, “Electorate Couture”, “Wear your vote”, and “Hope.Change.Shoes.”

Ahhh, the proverbial fashion-conscious… I love it!

Inside, it’s like heaven. Since I was a child I have been watching this event on television and seeing the action in the magazines, and now I’m here in the flesh- watching it all unfold before my very own eyes. On the first day of events, I was so nervous that I didn’t even realize I was holding on to my wrist so tight that it turned red. As I walked in, there was a huge floral arrangement in the center of the tent (taking the place of where the looming water fountain would be in regular Bryant Park season). The ‘tent’ itself was about 20 feet high and the floral arrangement was about half that size. Displayed around the centerpiece were various, customized red shoes in glass cases, commemorating the 70th Anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Moreover, the lines to gain access to the fashion shows were literally wrapped around the shoe display.

The new 2009 Mercedes Benz Coupes were strongly on display, with many other Fashion Week sponsors tending to their site locations (bars and lounges) around the foyer… As a reminder to all that were there, who –in a sense- had ‘arrived’, free food and drinks were bountiful!

This experience was the most wonderful one that a freedom-fighting fashionista could ever ask for, I thank God for my opportunities… I can’t wait to do it all over again in February!!!

xoxo, Ola


by- Avon Dorsey

"The Young And The Banging"

Class was definitely in session at this exclusive event that took place on the lower-east side of Manhattan. Y&B is the brainchild of Heron Preston, and it chronicles the lives of a few of the city’s most alluring and inspiring downtown hipsters.

Inside the gallery at 255 Elizabeth Street, there were locker installations that would remind you of any high school corridor and just across the hall there were several prom/homecoming-esque photo backdrops set up so that party-goers could try on an array of school-themed attire and pose for the camera.
(Locker Installations)

‘Once you live downtown, it can begin to feel like a big kid’s high school…’ read a quote from the party’s invitation. And, in keeping with the events theme, photos on the wall were assembled in the likeness of a new millennium yearbook, featuring the book’s committee along with a few chic classmates.
(Mr. Heron Preston himself- creator of TY&TB)

Some of the night’s revelers included DJ Lindsey (an entrant into Heron’s exclusive yearbook, and whom I also worked side-by-side with years ago in Atlanta, Georgia selling clothes for the retail chain Bebe, lol). Also present were the Nintendo Twins, Dee & Ricky (who designed the now famous Lego-inspired accessories for Marc by Marc Jacobs’ Spring/Summer 2008 collection).
(DJ Lindsey)

All in all, it was an event to remember, and these school ties have found a bond with our hearts here at STYLE 101.

Shine on Heron!

For more info on this exhibit, please visit: http://www.youngandbanging.com

The Museum at FIT

‘Gothic: Dark Glamour’
(cover image by Sean Ellis- styled by Isabella Blow w/finger horns by Sarah Harmanee for Alexander McQueen's Fall 1997 'It's A Jungle Out There' Collection)

On Friday, September 5, 2008, The Museum at FIT opened its doors to the bat cave of fashion. Its new exhibit titled ‘Gothic: Dark Glamour’, is an exploration of all things bridging the gap between the world of fashion and the world of Goth.

“The association of fashion and death is central to gothic style. Within gothic discourse, the clothes are the life… and the imagery of death, decay, the power of horror and erotic macabre are perversely attractive to designers,” says Dr. Valerie Steele, the museum’s Director and Chief Curator.

Installed in the lower level of the museum, the exhibits dark corridor is filled with a moody ambiance. There’s no music, just the echoing sound of other patron’s heeled-shoes walking on the gray, stoned floors- a befitting match for the gothic evocation of death, destruction, and decay. The first room shows 1870’s mourning gowns with midnight bustles and black veils, the antithesis of a wedding gown. The deep mourning gowns are accompanied by modern garments such as an Eiko Ishioka blood-red silk gown that was designed for the character Mina, in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’

In another section of the room hangs photographs of a leather clad androgynous figure with finger horns making a gesture of hard rock and demons, the upward stare is flat and the eyes pierce the soul, and in another photograph a shadowed figure is held up by cords affixed to its leather clad torso. The ‘cabinet of curiosities’ is filled with bejeweled calf skulls, human skulls, ornate finger horns, evil-eye beads and other objects that have unclear categorical boundaries.

This exhibit gives a comprehensive presentation into the different categories of Goth; old-school Goth, cyber Goth, elegant Goth, with high-fashion being influenced by the Goth subculture. Designers such as Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Yohji Yamamoto, and Ricardo Tischi for Givenchy women’s have all re-interpreted an ideal of Goth on their runways. Interestingly, Ann Demeulemeester rejects the gothic label while Owens proclaims to be a former Goth, just as Vivienne Westwood proclaimed to be a former punk.

John Galliano’s most extraordinary collection for Dior in the Fall of 2005, featured a one-piece ensemble that was inspired by the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead.’ Its satin bodice has rib-bones strewn along the chest area, with embroidered skulls in pink, green, and turquoise throughout the motif. The hat that accompanies the cloth also has similar silver dollar sized skulls hanging from its brim; and the museum poses the mannequin with a large-sized human skull, just as the Mexicans would carry during the Day of the Dead processional. Kia Kagama’s ‘Ensemble 1 and 2,’ are black silk gowns with plastic and metal corsets and breast plates that emphasize that the future is envisioned with inorganic materials. Kagama was inspired by the film ‘Bladerunner,’ evoking the image of a cyborg using glass to magnify and draw attention to the details of the corset.

Black is the predominate color found in all of the fashion relating to Goth culture. Micheal Pastoureau, the greatest modern historian of color, states that “…there is a good and a bad black. Good black is brilliant and shiny and bad black is matte and muted.”

There are many ideas and ideals surrounding the concept of Goth, but the museum offers that with the rise of the enlightenment, the entire medieval period known as the Dark Ages, was characterized by sorcery and superstition, prime components of the mysterious culture. Moreover, two mental states that are central to Gothic narratives are claustrophobia and vertigo (dizziness and balance disorder).

Coco Chanel once exclaimed, “Fashion must die and die quickly, in order that it can begin to live,” the perfect phrase to summarize FIT’s exhibition of ‘Dark Glamour.’

For more info on this exhibit, please visit: http://www.fitnyc.edu/museum or call 212.217.4558. Museum Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 12pm-8pm/Saturday, 10am-5pm/Closed on Sunday, Monday and legal holidays.

Fashion How- S/S '09 Collection(s)

Fashion How: International Designers Show

The International Designers Show -produced by the lovely Christie Dinham (pictured above)- and presented by Fashion How & Red Model Management, was star-studded and filled to the brim with celebrities and talented young designers. Actor Terry Crews, attending his first ever fashion week in New York City (sported an exclusive Nana Boateng shirt and suit), and said he was, “…so impressed with the show,” as he is just beginning to appreciate fashion more and more.

J. Alexander (aka Ms. Jay), was in attendance, and was -as usual- critiquing the models with his now famous facial expressions; he seemed pleased with the show.
(Ola Lawal from STYLE 101 & Jay Alexander from ANTM)

Fashion How’s S/S ’09 runway was full of talent and unique points of view, featuring designers from around the world, including collections by Roger Gary, Kae Couture by Kenyatta Williams, Crooked Knitwear by Megan Crook, Larry Moultrie, Herani Ethiopia, Samantha Mark, Nana Boateng (younger brother of Ozwald Boateng- the acclaimed menswear designer of Givenchy), and Rome by Roméro Bryan.
(Rome by Roméro Bryan Collection)

Roger Gary’s designs were fit for an elegant South African princess, incorporating soft ivory pants paired with brocade tops, and ivory asymmetrical silk dress that drifted down the runway like a dream. The stacked heels, the bamboo chokers and long ostrich feathers elongated the models physique into safari- like gazelles.
(Roger Gary Collection)

Kae Couture presented its version of ‘tainted love’, a collection that featured satin finished swimsuits as elegant one-pieces with cut-outs and bejeweled necklines; very fitting for an evening on a yacht in the French Riviera!
(Kae Couture Collection)

Samantha Mark’s collection was very witty and delightful with her use of librarian-esque frocks and sweaters. Mark presented floral fabrics and khaki in cute, sexy boy-shorts and baby-doll shaped shirt-dresses paired with cropped jackets.
(Samantha Mark- with the curly hair & pieces from her Collection)

The finale of the show, was none other than Mr. Nana Boateng, who much like his brother Ozwald Boateng, showcased smart menswear- suits tailored at the right places, pants worn with pin-striped shirts, and 60’s styled skinny-ties. Keeping with African tradition, Nana’s suits were finished off with the male models wearing be-jeweled Ashanti sandals.
(Nana Boateng, Nana with Avon Dorsey- Publisher of STYLE 101, Wendell & Salieu modeling Nana's collection)