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)

Rosa Cha'- S/S '09 Collection

by Avon Dorsey

Rosa Cha’

Opening his S/S ’09 collection with a structured white bikini and 18 karat gold accessories, seemed a sure-fire way to put consumers in the mindset of surf and sand, although we’re currently anticipating leaves and snow.

Models sauntered out from behind a gold-colored backdrop and sashayed onto a black lacquered runway, while attendees nodded their heads -in synch- to an island beat of music. Top model Isabeli Fontana (currently featured in the Fall ’08 Valentino & Versace ads) opened and closed the show. Among the shows guests were the beautiful actress Zoe Saldana, the Nintendo Twins Dee & Ricky, Miss USA & Miss Teen USA, and ANTP judge Mr. Nigel Barker.

Rock & Republic- S/S '09 Collection

by- Ola Lawal

Redemption: was the title of the collection...

(Chanel Iman -pictured above- opened the show)

And on Saturday, September 6th, 2008, not even Hurricane Hanna could keep me away from witnessing Rock & Republic's redeeming glory; it was the most exciting show for me. It was scheduled to start at 8pm but they had us wait outside for 30 minutes, while they had a run-through (for everything had to be perfect). As we filed in to the large auditorium that sat 500, even Damon Dash had trouble getting through the door… can u just imagine?

On the third row from the runway, I had a prime view. Across the row sat Mary-Kate Olsen next to two stars of the hit CW TV show Gossip Girl –Jessica Szohr (who plays Vanessa) and Chace Crawford (who plays Nate). And seated directly next to them were John Legend and his beautifully exotic date. The show was definitely rock and roll! The collection incorporated black and white palettes, with leather cropped jackets for men and women. Tight jeans and leggings strutted down the runway on stacked heels that were five inches in the air.

Cover Story

Nathan Green (Morgan State University)

1) Can you describe your Black College Experience for us?
So far, I wouldn’t have it any other way. By me attending an HBCU like Morgan State University, it has taught me how to be a strong African-American man, nurturing me and really [opening my eyes to] what’s important to me; having this experience has really left me speechless.

2) Before attending college, you were overweight and had an unhealthy diet… How does it feel, having been almost 300 lbs. and to now having lost more than 100 lbs.?
As far as my dramatic weight loss, I am now down to 182lbs. When I was larger, I was really confident in myself and I was comfortable, however, my weight was a health issue. I knew that I had to loose the weight in order to be healthy. When I started to loose a tremendous amount of weight, it was in my senior year of high school. My diet became a way of life, and not going to the gym seemed to become abnormal to me- after a while. When I came to college, I was around 200 pounds, and experiencing new people and new adventures became even more of an inspiration for me, and I started to drop more weight.

3) In your opinion, overall, how important is image to a person’s success?
In my opinion, one's image should be of the utmost importance. Your image is what represents you as a person; how you feel about yourself is the first important thing about your image. If you feel confident in yourself and feel good about yourself, then nothing or no one can take that away from you, you cannot be defeated. To be a success, is to be determined, ambitious and eager to learn more every day. You can never know enough about anything, and once you are ok with yourself and your self-esteem, all other things will surely fall into place; and that positive image is what will lead you to success.