when mariah carey burst onto the scene in 1990, her hit “vision of love” broke the mainstream format of what music sounded like at radio of that time. this groundbreaking instance would become a regularity in her career. in the first three years of her career, a blockbuster set of four albums were released, including the best selling christmas album of all time, “merry christmas”. through the early years, mariah dominated the adult contemporary and pop billboard charts. throughout her career, mariah’s musical journey has touched genres of soft rock, gospel, jazz, hip-hop and R&B. quite literally the most influential vocalist of the 1990’s, mariah’s resume is as extensive as should be an artist of her caliber. set to take home the icon world music award, carey has sold over 200 million records worldwide. the artist known as mariah carey is still at present day an untouchable name in vocal, lyrical and production that cannot be touched. to her credit, carey is the best selling female artist of all time and moving into the 2000’s continued this reign with the need to transform. blending genres of urban sound into the pop musical mainstream, mariah’s influence goes far beyond what can be awarded through grammy’s or what can chart billboard.

“butterfly” the album, was particularly important for mariah’s musical journey and personal growth. it became the first time she was able to have a true footing in her image, and you felt it. a genius songwriter, mariah has co-written her entire catalog, produced or co-produced much of that catalog as well. she had long established an identity in the composition and lyrical components of her career, which created a strong foundation for her career to sustain upon. most artists in today’s industry have a strong image component but a weakened musical identity. for carey, this inverse is likely a large factor as to why she has been able to soar as a top billing female entertainer from the golden age of the music industry. the ethereal, melismatic arranging of vocals with a colorful word play something like a fairy tale have become mariah’s trademarks since the very beginning. emotions, music box, daydream, butterfly, rainbow, charmbracelet- all album titles from her catalog, and all synonymous with her artistic persona.

but beyond just pretty words, and whistle register vocal arrangements, mariah is an icon of culture. her 1995 hit, “fantasy”, became the first single by a female artist to debut at #1 on the billboard charts, and only the second single ever to do so following the lead of michael jackson’s “you are not alone”. spending eight weeks at #1 and a total of 23 weeks in the top 40 on billboard, “fantasy” was a best selling single in 1995, moving 1.5 million units and becoming certified double platinum by the recording industry association of america. it was during this era that mariah began to transition away from her adult pop contemporary home in music, and ventured more into the genre that would soon become the hybrid of hip-hop/R&B. working to produce a remix for ‘fantasy’, carey enlisted sean “puffy” combs. the result of this pairing came a greater merging of rap and R&B, when it was decided that wu-tang clan’s ol’ dirty bastard would become a feature on the hit. the lyrics, “me and mariah, go back like babies with pacifiers” became emblematic of the hard vs soft image that mariah would become much more enchanted by for the remainder of the years she would spend as an artist representing R&B. soaring higher and higher with each record release, the album which fantasy was produced for “daydream” became an international best seller, moving 25 million units worldwide. also from that album, “one sweet day” became, and still is to this day- the longest running number one single of all time. the song spent 16 consecutive weeks at number one. these feats during this leg of mariah’s career in the year 1995-1996 sealed her position on the music scene as one of the most untouchable female singer/songwriter/producers in the history of music. a title she still holds today.

much of mariah’s early career was guided by the hand of her then husband, sony music boss, tommy mottola. as her voice flourished on the airwaves, and her album stats began to stack, things got rocky in the marriage. resulting was a divorce, which resulted in the musical works that revealed her freedom, an album we know as “butterfly”. released in 1997, the album welded together the elements of mariah the woman, and mariah the artist. influences of hip-hop thumped into carey’s poetic lyricism- moving five million units while in the process. revealed and represented were a fleeting type of beauty that resounded in the sensibility of freedom and escape, the very taste of fantasy with a daydream like sequence- heroic in a way. the album felt genuine. while other albums held up against billboard chartings and platinum certifications, you seen a real identity with the butterfly LP. this would become the formula for mariah’s albums to follow. there was the classical, R&B feel of both ‘music box’ and ‘daydream’. but rather than poising thoughts of freedom, ‘butterfly’ accentuated and realized such daydreams in music boxes. the particularly interesting element of ‘butterfly’ was the bold references and depths in which hip-hop were seen.

as mariah has developed as an artist she has seemingly graduated into the R&B roots in which she was always destined. beyond the commercially acceptable, chart-topping, diamond album certified confines of industry, mariah is now where she needs to be. and that position is as a representative of the musical genre most affectionately known to music fans as rhythm and blues. criminally underrated, though heavily decorated with accolades in comparison to her other contemporaries and peers- there is no greater female artist than that of ms. mariah carey. with an arsenal of an album catalog, a wardrobe to rival a queen and talent that has secured the future of her children’s children, this style vs. sound feature could forever, due to the simple fact that mariah is the most influential female figure of the 1990’s and 2000’s. while this cultural influence often is not seen in accolades at the grammy’s- culture speaks for and represents itself. the trajectory of her career can never be surpassed, nor can it be made equivalent. a cultural diva of unmeasured talents, mariah is still a relevant force in music and cannot be dethroned simply because, no other female artist has lent their talent or taken risks to merge genre’s and bring art forms together in the ways she has- as an artist. her latest studio release is evidence that her taste level, instincts and understanding of music remains untouched.

a sound for all who have enjoyed any of her music for the past 20+ years is found in the new album. for the critics who have felt that she has deviated from her adult contemporary roots, mariah has created: “cry.”, “camouflage”, and “heavenly”. for those who have shifted into her fan base through her contemporary hip-hop inspired production elements, all other records on the album just about quench that thirst. which is actually one of my favorite album cuts, produced by hit-boy, “thirsty” – which was submitted to urban radio as a single. the album includes the worldwide success “#beautiful” which features R&B superstar, miguel. but the album is different than other albums by mariah. it’s more sophisticated, and well rounded. they say history repeats itself, and here we see another moment of glory for carey, similar to the way that we seen freedom flourish with “butterfly”. all in all, this post is long over due and my dedication to mariah as a fan can never be met properly with words or expressions. nor can it even begin to be expressed in just one feature, but many, and made evident in more emotional transactions that surpass words. i could praise the album to high heaven, but it’s up to you to listen and hear what i hear.

this is an installment of the sound vs. style music feature series
click here to view past artists featured


there are no reasons left to hate. only reasons to love. what american vogue did was represent interracial coupling in the utmost of glamour. shot by annie lebovitz, the world’s most famous couple, kimberly kardashian and her fianceé, kanye west grace the april issue of the premiere fashion publication of all the world, vogue. the cover goes beyond what can be said of celebrity, or beyond what public relations offices could have ever built. there is a gap that has been bridged, a void that has now been filled. what happened when kim and kanye decided to get together was a merge; a blending of media culture. him from chicago, raised by a photojournalist and an english professor. her from los angeles, being raised by an armenian-american attorney businessman and stewardess. both have had upbringings that have shaped their view of the world, and have remarkably impacted the ways that they have built their own separate empires in music, film, fashion and commercial media. kanye’s fruitful career as a producer evolved into an even more fruitful career as one of rap’s most regarded performance artists, moving beyond the confines of urban media, and into the glossy competitive world of high fashion luxury. kim’s career as an american television personality has lent her image to a string of successful brands, and has assisted in further expanding the family business built on the kardashian name, along with her two sisters kourtney and khloé, all managed by their mother.

kanye’s career began to take an upshift while, he too was managed by his mother. kim learned the ropes of the entertainment industry, working for her dad at his entertainment firm, where she learned to hone in on her entrepreneurial instincts. kanye became quickly linked to rappers like jay-z, lending his production genius to various projects. as he developed as a solo artist, the visual component of his work rapidly developed through collaborations with world renowned artists and luxury designers. kim began gaining traction with her television career, which documents the life she leads with her two other sisters, brother and two step sisters. as their private boutique business developed, along with their regular television exposure, the world of celebrity embraced them. the public quickly became fascinated with both kim and kanye separately.

the two were associated for many years as friends before they joined in union in 2012. the two share a common struggle of the glaring spotlight, and the tragedy of losing a parent. both kim and kanye’s romantic struggles have separately and very publicly played out for the world’s stage. scrutinized for everything from styling choices, lyrics, romantic choices, or even the name of their child- one thing still remains, these two are making history. for my top 20 covers of 2013, kim kardashian was the only female to rank in my listing twice. the two appear in what is the first ever cover in vogue history for an interracial couple. a major feat and major first of intense value, the cover also beautifully represents what it means to be an american. that diversity, the blending of culture and that heightened sense of beauty. this will no doubt be the number one cover of the year, in my book. and i don’t give a fuck about what you think about kim kardashian, because she has become an emblem for women of color in business. kanye west actively pushes the artists boundaries in the music industry and no two could have been a better fit. a better fit for a vogue cover, a better fit for the world of celebrity and a better fit as a representation of what love can be in or out of the spotlight. to put it simple, this is progress for individuals of color.


congratulations to both kim kardashian and kanye west
special thanks to vogue and conde nast


PARIS – at the close of show season on the fashion calendar, it seems us fashion spectators, the models and editors alike are dizzied by all that has been shown at the three other fashion capitals. but when it’s time for paris, there’s a pause, a moment of silence. suddenly, all that chaos from capital to capital seems worth it, when all the effortlessly chic collections glide down the catwalk at some of the greatest fashion houses in the world. paris is a gem, and often looked to as the leader of high fashion, but this season was interesting. we seen a greater culmination of diversity across the board, and progress showed it’s face in runway casting. there was a throng of talent out of new york, while london banned together to secure a better creative future for it’s young, emerging designers and milan continued with exaggerated opulence and show stopping vibrance. paris, though vital, is just one piece of the luxury puzzle that makes up this unstoppable, evolutionary entity we know as high fashion. these are the top collections from the city of light. word up, let’s get it!

LOUIS VUITTON – the most publicized show of fashion week in paris, this season, was nicholas ghesquière’s debut for louis vuitton. to describe the collection in one word, i would choose- paced. ghesquière is a genius of many layers and many perspectives, equipped with an innovative method of translation. this season, there were injections of his own signature style seen in the collections silhouettes. his favorite girls were cast for the show, including ethiopian supermodel stunner, liya kebede. press was warded off until the end of the show, so that none of the collections themes or aesthetics were revealed before their scheduled debut. collection inspiration was posted at, as photographs by juergen teller aided to convey this message in a visual format, outside of the show. there was a gentle nod to modernity, but a powerful grasp of the house of vuitton’s eternal code of french luggage aristocracy. was it jaw dropping? no. was it horrible? not at all. but was it everything that we expected it to be from a fantastical let’s-pretend-this-is-like-what-transformed-balenciaga view point? no. i respect that pace controlled this collection, so as to not rupture the existing brand identity elements of the biggest luxury handbags label in the world. a greater attention was focused upon the clothes in the collection. it was much more accessible than what we’ve seen from vuitton in the past. a staggering 90% of revenue generation at the house is racked in through handbag and accessories sales alone. vuitton’s mission in bringing ghesquière on board is to revitalize the house as a full scale fashion and lifestyle label. fragrances are said to be in the works, and elements of the luggage legacy of the label were included on design of the collection bags. while not the most powerful collection of the season, it was very precise. there is an intention in design that was felt in the story, the choice of color and the adherence to classicism as it relates to the louis vuitton. exciting new horizons, for sure.

BALMAIN – strong is the aesthetic represented at balmain, season after season. olivier rousteing have represented a savvy of youthful appeal bringing industry characters like rihanna into the houses DNA. this savvy has brought about a whole new feel of concentration to the label who elevates what ready-to-wear means in the fashion retail market. the strong shoulders, the razor sharp silhouettes were all present. there always seems to be a military feel to the house of balmain through construction. this season, that feel was elevated. details were dizzingly chic, as every seam was covered in gold hardware- it was truly a sight for gods. again, balmain continues to drive themselves to another playing field, escaping the dreary categories occupied by their luxury contemporaries. one of my favorite collections this season, and my favorite in paris this season; this collection was everything that i envision the balmain woman to be. inspired by the jungle, there was a collage of construction elements that kept the collection thrilling from start to finish. a cool set of enriched greens set to sleek leathers were presented as the model casting represented the new wave of diversity which only torched the already fire hot runway. it was all very striking, in a way that made you want to be those women on the runway. that is what fashion and design should do- inspire you to embody the spirit felt in the clothes. a new kind of woman was seen here in this collection, and unapologetically, in a very rihanna type of way; all likely intentional. strongest collection in paris this season.

GIVENCHY – romantically growing season by season, what was seen at givenchy this season could only be described as interesting. i always love to align fashion collections at labels while contrasting womenswear and menswear. this season’s womenswear collection by givenchy was feminine to the core. the menswear collection? all very masculine. i think the lines have been blurred at the house of givenchy for a while now. androgyny was the name of the game, and has been for many, many seasons at the house. tisci has mastered the fine art of blurring the lines culturally, sexually and artistically. in this luxurious manner, the collection graduated from vague categorization into something more typically feminine, but in a new way that only tisci could produce. always spot on in vision, there was a greater amount of subtlety to this collection. casting at givenchy is always a sight to see. new faces walk alongside known faces and stars are made. this season, a surprise casting for kendall jenner of elite models paris had the reality tv star little sister walking alongside supermodel joan smalls and icons mariacarla boscono and stella tennant. walking near the close of the show, i would not at all be surprised if kendall were to book the campaign for the collection which she debuted as an exclusive for in paris. not bad consdering this is her debut season on the catwalk, internationally.

BALENCIAGA – after ghesquière vacated the house of balenciaga, i had little hope that anyone could fill his place. through a twist of fate and surprise move, alexander wang was appointed as creative director and silenced critics with his debut collection which merged his street sensibility to the spanish houses own creative DNA seamlessly. as important as debut collection may be, so is the importance of pace. it seems to me, conceptually, that wang is losing steam. this collection felt like he referenced archives, but nothing too far back in the history of the house, it looked like he sourced inspiration to closely to the more recent works of ghesquière himself. this collection fell flat for me, as have the following collections that were showed after wang’s debut after his installation at the label. overall, balenciaga is a label with a rich history in innovation and forward thinking. i have long doubted that wang would be able to carry this torch to new heights. while his first collection held a great deal of promise, those potentials seems to be wearing thin. from palette to silhouette, this looked like a failed attempt at carrying over what was done more recently at the label. there is no identifiable element of wang in these clothes. this set was not individualized from past works in a way that felt new or necessary to what women of the future will and want to wear.

CHANEL – the house of chanel continues to remain supreme on the luxury sector. dominating retail sales in all avenues from fragrance, to accessories, footwear and apparel. that level of accessibility and functional luxury was brought to new heights as production for the FW14 collection staged a full scale chanel themed grocery store. this meant chain linked shopping baskets and flavored bottles of juice. there was a reliability that was so incredibly charming about it. gimmicky, maybe. well played. absolutely. another show which featured kendall jenner to our dismay, along side joan smalls and rising superstar, grace mahary. all the girls were out to stroll for chanel groceries in paris. leggings and exaggerrated silhouettes were seen throughout as the signature tweed was re-worked in jumpsuits and oversized knits. while the clothes fared more masculine than feminine, the collection was strong. conceptually from set to garment- chanel took the cake as the show to see and be seen at. this season paris had is share of lulls from the usually strong contenders. but the big names and brightest stars were included in this five piece listing. chanel will always kill on all levels, even their production of a show changes what we now envision for fashion runway shows to be. true artistry, season after season at the hand, heart and mind of the incomparable karl lagerfeld.

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MILAN – more is more in the fashion capital of milan. over indulgent, maximal and gold gilded- nothing is too lavish in the world of italian style. while headlining designers like prada and dolce & gabbana are the ones to look out for, this season, subtlety was what stood out most for me. collections strolled the runway with imagination, some with humor and some pushed the limits of what we know now as style. as the fashion calendar draws near it’s close, these collections are the most interesting and captivating five out of milan.

GUCCI – while other labels helped further push the trend of print, gucci took a back seat. instead of opting for bold color, as they have for the past few seasons, they decided to cast a spellbound palette of pastels for the FW14 season. in milan, gucci is a crowned jewel. a leader of forward style, in a way that blends italian heritage with europan polish, this collection played up the loves of creative director frida giannini. seventies glam was the name of the game, as has been many seasons before at the house of gucci. there was a polished functionality that i loved about this collection. the clothes were well styled, and from look to look there was a cohesion that blended the collections palette beautifully. the collection felt soft and feminine from start to finish. the palette almost whispered and the outerwear was done in textiles that didn’t feel heavy. there was a certain avoidance of anything typically fall in this collection, that i really, really loved. this approach was useful for milan, since most labels in the region are over the top, capitalize on gimmicks and take things a little too far, stylistically speaking. nearly every model walked the runway with matching eyewear, accentuating another avenue of successful revenue generation at gucci, in the form of accessories sales. except for the print standard of leopard, the collection was kept streamlined. crystal encrusted necklines were presented which brought the collection to a close, but weren’t necessarily needed in conveying a message of strong suited style. a standout in the world of italian style for the season, this was one of my favorite collections, for it’s poised approach to style and polished level of execution. a simple and striking message of style.

DSQUARED² – conceptually ambitious, every season, dean and dan have again presented another stella collection for the FW14 show season. as one of my favorite menswear collections earlier this year, the DSQUARED² womenswear collections similarly serves in the same lane, but with a feminine twist. unsurprisingly, the collection was beautifully executed, with supermodel on the rise, malaika firth opening the show backed by two models draped in white. inspiration seemed to have been sourced from valley of the dolls and the film, girl, interrupted. up-do’s, mod styled dresses and model pairings that resembled nurses were all seen in the collection. the theatricality of DSQUARED² is so reliable at this point that it almost has spinned into a wheel of redundancy. small glimpses of  changes are seen from season to season, from menswear to womenswear; but what has really created a shift with this collection? there are signatures that work, signatures that bring about a feel of familiarity. this collection seems dulled in brining anything new to the table, but does not completely sacrifice the feel of inspiring style. DSQUARED² brings a show to the forefront of milan, and almost in a camp type of way. it almost pokes fun at fashion, while representing such cultural nuances, or media happenings. commercial where needed an imaginative where unexpected, the collection was fair and presented pretty options of women, but some aspects of design and style were left unattended.

SPORTMAX – there is a certain element of commercial appeal that i think with, just naturally, when reviewing collections. my selections from each fashion capital aren’t necessarily the best, but the most interesting. so is the case with sportmax. each season, there is a poise to the clothes. outside of that poise, this season, sportmax seemed to raise the bar. a punctuation was shown in this collection this season, an exclamation. the minimal design aspects were easily rivals of calvin klein in new york, while the use of leopard was easily a competitor of what we seen at gucci with a likely friendly slash in the price tag. the fur and use of reptile were enough to make fendi’s furrier do a double take and the reptile was a nod to what tom ford did. fashion is about competition, and this season, sportmax did just that- compete. a strong model casting, as well as inclusion of print in a streamlined way- it was all very chic. what i love of sportmax is the way that they escape the typicality of milan, that overdone, that more is more approach- you don’t feel that with their clothes. and when you do- it’s controlled in a thoughtful way. it’s smart, it’s commercial. commercial can seem like a daunting adjective for many high end labels in narrow minds, but that to me equates to sales. sale-ability is of acute importance in the competitive world of high fashion. and what sportmax proved this season, is that the race to the finish is definitely on. sportmax is a strong contender with a viable vision.

FENDI – perhaps the most innovative part of all show season were the fendi drones that captured the show, flying above the runway. a glimpse into the future, fendi’s website supported a greater thrust into the world of social media and provided a larger dialogue for where fashion could conquer on the digitial scene. this, all without a single look yet presented on the runway. when the clothes began to stroll the catwalk, on the bodies of the models, and the drones took flight- you seen an elegance presented through a layer of cool. the heritage of the label was evident with use of fur, and range was the ultimate theme of the collection. long coats, short shorts, knee high boots and mesh. there was a true ‘fuck it’ sensibility to the aesthetics and choices in design elements this season. it was arrogant in all the right ways, to put a model on the catwalk with her thighs out and then to expose her skin in looks of mesh for the fall. it was young, and vivid. fendi as a label has really graduated from this stifled of style. with a label as entrenched in history as themselves, it’s often a struggle to create a new sense of beauty in this rapidly transforming industry of high fashion. there is this beautiful modernization that has happened with the iconic italian label, and at the hand of karl lagerfeld, this family heirloom of a label will continue to see more growth, and greater thrusts into the future. i loved this collection for it’s forward portrayal of femininity, embracing of diversity and strength of female character.

MOSCHINO – jeremy scott has quickly made his mark at the house of moschino. his humorous approach to fashion is no laughing matter, but is it so bad that it’s good? mcdonald’s, spongebob, and gold lamé. that’s what was presented. unbelievably so, it kind of worked. instantly, like true PR magic, pieces from the collection were seen already being worn. the collection felt very 90’s chanel to me. it was camp, it was playful and all of those things that jeremy scott has become known for, through his own namesake label’s work, as well as his licensed work with brands like adidas. one major mark of criticism was that; this was not moschino. this was very much jeremy scott, but it made no attempt at differentiation between how he has been mindful of the label’s own DNA. it referenced fast food, cartoons and took elements like nutrition facts and exaggerated everything. while this is a sure shot conversation piece, will scott be able to move past gimmicks and really sell? fashion on the runway is very about showmanship, commercialization and press. while this may cause a ruckus for the moment, when will the jokes subside and a serious take on fashion be lined up. it’s cute for the time being to see sponge bob splashed onto an italian catwalk, but come on- is this a punchline or an insult to the seriousness of what large an impact style and dress have on us as a human race? when all is said and done, gimmicks hold no real worth of taste level. gimmicks do little to move culture or art forward. content was served, perspective was allowed a platform; but in what ways was fashion really changed by this collection? milan brought out it’s share of glamour, and laughable attempts all the same. paris awaits, the proper finale of show season, where style leaders produce ideas of the future in the present.

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LONDON – the underdog of the fashion capitals, london has seen it’s share of highs and it’s many lows. recovering from one of those lows in the last few years, the fashion capital is quickly looking to maintain that track record. of the five collections i’ve selected from london this season, burberry remains the crown jewel of london. they have made the largest effort in aiding the re-centering around of british fashion with their return to the UK in 2009. london, unlike new york, represents a certain liberation of style. london is the home of punk rock, home of the mod and has long lead the influence of fashion movements while not always being properly credited for doing so. london continues to drive headlines, as the british fashion council (BFC) continues their own efforts in creating programs that help keep design inspiration and financial backing thriving in their home turf. with the collections that were presented, each held an aspect of progress visible in runway casting. london is and will always be a leader in style. as a fashion capital, the british represent the freedom of fashion and have long been a platform for true artistry. that reign will surely thrive into 2014.

burberryBURBERRY – print stormed just about every major runway show in new york. it’s interesting when you’re viewing collections, and begin to view which trends will rule in the next year. this season, burberry took a hands-on approach to print. in what appeared as hand printed graphics, the collection seemed as if it was formed by several scarves. the classic trench coat is a staple for the british label and that staple was presented but in a subtle, softer, much more feminine way. the handpainted print continued onto the collections footwear, handbags and scarves accompanied every look that strolled the catwalk, including the few menswear looks which also encompassed the printed theme. i was surprised that the collection felt so light, in textile, for a fall collection. there was inclusion of rich floral sheers while injects of the label’s usual sherling fur and suede jackets were presented as well. deep tones of maroon and emeral green were seen, as pastels were seemingly carried over from the label’s spring collection. overall, the collection presented strong concepts in an unexpected way. the runway casting was strong with campaign model malaika firth walking the runway alongside burberry favorite jourdan dunn. burberry has been wildly successful from concept to execution, and this pattern shows no clear signs of slowing down. love to see, as large a label as burberry, is embracing diversity and leading as a glowing example. standing ovation to the talented, christopher bailey.

TOPSHOP UNIQUE - in the context of british style, topshop has raised the bar for fast fashion retailers like the swedish owned H&M, and the japanese founded uniqlo. topshop remains in a class all their own. unlike their fast fashion contemporaries, topshop stages a fashion show among the high brow show season collections which continues to set them apart in a striking manner. an arsenal of blue set the collection off right, as those tones soon cooled to a wave of greys. color was major aspect of the collection, while styling did it’s part in allowing the clothes to bring about a greater feel of livelihood. yellow palette injections were seen on the runway, but the collection didn’t feel as seasoned as other labels showing this season. the model casting was stellar, but the collection felt a bit retail. while topshop understands how to stay a cut above the rest in their fast fashion market, im not sure that this collection was at the same level of other high end labels which occupied the runways at london fashion week. with london making every attempt to hold onto their reign, topshop definitely lends it’s prowess. a strong collection at retail, likely, but not as powerful a contender in alignment with fashion in london, in producing key elements of trend, focusing on bringing abouts new aspects of designs and challenging the pre-existing with how women are viewed by the clothes that they choose to buy. good, though not great, topshop definitely lends it’s contribution to london.

TOM FORD – it’s interesting the ways that tom ford can create a collection of standards, in a basic palette and be able to execute on a higher playing field. maybe it’s the fact that tom has earned his place in high fashion. perhaps it’s the fact that we’ve developed an expectation that has been proven years before a tom ford namesake collection even touched a runway. on the runway this season, ford played to nothing but standards. the palette was kept strictly in black and white with a few punches of red for contrast. sleek lines, reptile skin and use of fur were seen in the collection that is sure to be a hit at retail. while standards were presented, there were very few moments that seemed to push womenswear forward. the sequined jerseys that referenced jay-z “tom ford” record had people talking, but in my mind- it lacked a special element of surprise. void of print, which seems to be a popular trend for the FW14 show season, ford seemingly continues to create only what he wishes, having no concern for promoting trends or pushing the boundaries of design. is tom ford a design genius? yes. has he developed a proven track record? yes. was any of that genius or proven track record carried off into this collection? no. tom ford is the kind of designer that is functioning at a different level than others. there is a heavier expectation for his work and his method of dealing with that pressure is seemingly to ignore it. to create past that pressure and give something unexpected. i understand that ideology, but wonder how long until the novelty of that approach wears off.

PETER PILOTTO – in what appears to be the routine route for designers looking for greater visibility, peter pilotto has joined the ranks of designers that have partnered with american super retailer, target. while peter pilotto has seemingly scratched the surface of what it takes to win on the luxury sector, greater visibility is always the key for designers. pilotto has quickly become known for his digitized prints, and that signature was well represented this show season in london. modernized through cut and kept sleek from look to look, the collection was one of the strongest in london. speaking in terms of trend, pilotto’s signature use of print has positioned him with greater relevance this season. diversity in model casting was represented as well, which only accentuated the wide ranged palette of pilotto’s fall collection even further. i really loved the collaged effect of the print that was chosen for the collection, but was in love with the use of graphics that were used which allows mountainous regions to become plastered across the outerwear of the collection, towards the middle of the collection. overall, the collection felt like it grasped onto the range of concepts while not slipping off of cohesion. the looks were both thoughtful and visually stunning. while pilotto’s entrance into target stores didn’t seem as well received as say, philip lim, he is definitely on the pathway to gaining major notoriety outside the confines of london’s fashion scene. though i’m not sure how successful this move will be for securing the future of peter pilotto as a major brand, visibility is visibility. a strong collection, for sure, with interesting reinterpretation of florals.

MARY KATRANTZOU – another designer known for her prints, mary katrantzou has been a design name to look out for. this season however, she seemed to scale things back. the simplicity of making such moves was done in all the right ways. use of print was seemingly isolated, and some designs were entirely void of print. you could feel that a bar has been raised in this collection in comparison to katrantzou’s past work, there is a steady elevation of creativity. katrantzou is one of the standouts in all of london, and her collection was definitely the strongest showing this season. whether printed or not, each look was done in a stunning way. there were embroidered aspects of design with selected forms of encrusting as well, there were cut outs and patchwork which all seemed to bring about a sense of elegance in a smart way. it’s important for younger, newer or emerging designers to flex conceptually during show season because taking those risks set them apart. that’s exactly what mary katrantzou did for herself this season. aside from raising the bar on the competition, she seemingly competed with herself; taking what she has become known for and flipping the script. a risk well taken for the fall, i loved the exaggerated lines in the collection and the serious, deep tones in the collection palette. this collection was my favorite collection presented in london for the FW14 show season. strong concepts, with even stronger execution.

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NEW YORK – the game has been changed, and what new york city represents for our nation of american’s is very, very special. during men’s fashion week in milan this past january, it seems more and more common that american menswear labels are joining the ranks of new york fashion week to present their latest collections. selecting my favorite five collections from each of the fashion capitals this show season, these are my absolute favorites of the fall/winter 2014 season, straight out of new york city. new america thrives beautifully.

PUBLIC SCHOOL – a rapidly developing style duo out of new york city has quickly become one to watch. this season, they continue to promote and actively create a visual signature. distinctively american in their use of blending the sophisticated and the street. predominantly a menswear label, the collection this season entered into the realm of womenswear. heavy where needed but also effortless, the collection has a strong identity in comparison to the throngs of labels that are showing every season in new york. i find that public school is very modern in this interestingly classic, very new york city type of way. following their CFDA fashion fund victory last year, all eyes are on this label. the collection presented headwear and focused on layered richness. sneakered and wisely tailored, it was interesting to see the designers touch upon a perspective of womenswear. the lines have gradually become more and more blurred between men and women in fashion. women’s lines are becoming stronger and yet more relaxed, shilouettes have widened. all the while menswear collections have borrowed some of the creative ideals that often keep womenswear a cut above the rest in the world of fashion. and even beyond that, the developing visual signature was not once shifted, or off-center. overall, the runway show from concept to model was strong. i do feel that a greater sense of development needs to happen. i don’t feel that the collection was completely independent in thought, as much of the large brimmed hats reminded me of saint laurent. it’s tricky when inspiration is sourced from the street. the street is inspired by a number of elements which include other design houses. it’s important for design labels like public school to create the trends, not to follow them. in palette, the collection is also very one note, there seems to lack a true sense of versatility there. relevant of now? yes. there is clear potential here, but in order to reach past that plateau will take some time. i loved the outerwear and feel that a range of must-haves or style essentials were provided in this strong showing.

coachCOACH – stuart vevers steps in as the executive creative director at american fashion brand, coach. this collection proves a lot. it represents vevers understanding of coach in the present, while being mindful of the past in order to set up the label in having an even stronger future. print seems to be the element of fancy for fall 2014, as we’ve seen it sprayed across many collections from menswear in milan to what has been strolling the catwalk during this first leg of show season, at new york fashion week. in the market of american fashion, many are transplants. coach has been a long standing entity on the scene. past creative director, reed krakoff worked steadfastly to allow for the label to see it’s greater creative potential, which can be a blessing and a curse for new director vevers. while the brand has been set up for success, it’s track record under krakoff can apply greater pressure in the present to continue that path to greatness. what i felt in the collection, in just viewing the clothes was the potential to appeal to an even younger, cooler market but to appeal to that demographic is a more relevant way. the clothes felt competitive of proenza, while flexing a bit on brands like prada. coach is more widely regarded as an accessories brand; with millions of american women buying their bags across the nation every day. this collection seemed to take the focus off of accessories a bit and create full looks. to be present in the sense of showcasing and promoting trends and further developing ways to expand the brand’s appeal across the board. successful, even at this early a stage in the game; i am definitely going to keep my eyes on this label. i admired the ways that they respected the DNA of the brand. the incredible footwear and beautiful use of leather, fur and suede celebrated the idea of coach as an emblem of american iconicism. as a leading leather goods company, i would love to see coach become a stronger fashion force in apparel as they clearly have the consumer audience to win. in aligning themselves to compete with brands like j.crew, the company being founded in 1941 means they stand to create a stronger sense of identification by priding themselves on the construction of that legacy, even with just their handbags. a strong collection, and an impressive first showing for vevers.

VERA WANG – an interesting label associated more closely in my mind with bridal, vera wang is actually a gangsta in fashion. she has had a long, enduring career which began during her years as an editor at american vogue. her sprawling career as a fashion designer has allowed her a larger platform, in which she culivates beauty and makes women’s dreams come true. but this season, vera murdered the runways of new york fashion week, presenting an interesting fall collection that was sprayed with florals and entracing bouts of sheer. it was almost like a feminine response to all that saint laurent, hipster, emo bullshit that has been trending lately. i was incredibly impressed by the design quality. labels on today’s scene busy themselves with re-interpreting existing trends, but this season vera presented a different type of female. you felt that vera wang signature of elegance, but here we seen a greater style commentary that said, “this is new york, as we see it”. beautifully conceptualized and imaginatively executed, this collection was easily one of my favorites this season. i love that balance of agelessness, while a sense of cool is still felt. that cool can easily feel forced when the execution of certain design components is put together in a way that feels inauthentic. consumers feel that and here that cool factor was communicated clearly. there was this upper east side snob shit combined with this east village ease to this collection. a perfect marriage of street sensibility that was all very new york. the long length gloves, the bugs that were sprinkled through the collection. the plaids were super classic, but done in an alternative music type of way. which i love, love, loved. the palette was everything i live for, in tone and there was a greater sense of function that didn’t lack style or prettiness. a little touch of glitter, sheer florals, fur, leather- everything ill of the fall season was put into this collection in a unbreakably consistent type of way. through to the final collections looks, the sheers that closed out the collection were almost valentino. functional while sophisticated- everything to love about womenswear was provided in this collection. every girl should buy or duplicate what vera presented.

OPENING CEREMONY – the minds behind the reinvention of kenzo are the same minds that have allowed opening ceremony to have a cemented place on the american fashion scene, in new york city. outfitting the cool kids, this label brings about a greater feel of style libertation. this collection felt much more poised, more refined in comparison to other collections, and reveals an entrance into the fashion big leagues. already successful on the scene with a well received consumer base, what i love about new york is the merging of the street onto the runway. this stye marriage was ever present in the collections this season, and the collections i gravitated toward all encompass that sensibility perfectly. a leader in that whole movement, humberto leon and carol lim have evolved incredibly quickly. their creative role at kenzo seems to have aligned with the ways they approach their first partnership at opening ceremony. similar to vera wang, the lines in this collection; and every collection i selected this season, have this studious feel. i love that look of school girl, i love the idea of uniformity as consistency. print is usually a trend that is presented for the spring, but for the fall of 2014-15, print will be on everything. lines were kept tight and clean in the collection that felt weighted in the right ways. deep forest greens reminded me of pine trees, and quilted leathers added dimension and greater depth within the collection. i loved the use of blue, but could’ve done without the palette cameos of pink throughout. off all the concepts provided, there was a strong identity. quite literally, some of the collection pieces were differentiated by their use of what appeared to be a finger print. i took those elements of mindfulness with a true sense of inspiration. you see that the brands work at kenzo influences some of what is presented in this collection, but it’s all done in a way that is greatly identifiable to that of opening ceremony’s distinct DNA. one of the coolest collections presented in new york.

edunEDUN – playing to my love of neutrally centered palettes, edun presented an incredibly chic fall collection that was comparative to parisienne levels of taste. as a fashion label with a greater purpose, edun was created to generate greater opportunities of manufacturing in regions of africa. that theme of africa is often incorporated in the collections, while diversity is often represented in their model castings. this season, that aesthetic was upgraded as the label continues to develop as a major competitor adopting chic cleanliness that gives brands like celine a run for their money. soft, feminine, sporty and luxe- the collections warm palette was void of print, which was seen galloping down every show’s catwalk during new york fashion week. edun as a label has developed a strong signature in their use of weaving, this season seen that signature develop in a smarter, more significant format that was less obvious than in season’s past. i loved the knitwear tremendously, and appreciate the label holding tight to their signatures while not ignoring the importance of expanding that sensibility through design. this collection, though tame, was one of my favorites for it’s subtle gesture of awareness aimed at trend. one of my favorite labels to watch, evolutionarily, this collection sees greater potential being exercised. all five collections represent that beautiful merger of suit and sport, luxury and function. a stunning showing from all five have position new york in an even stronger position as a leader in world style. a strong showing for new york as a fashion leader this season.

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PARIS – with menswear coming to a close, we meet the immediate start of haute couture collections. at present day, the world of couture seems to be as expected as ready-to-wear. though much more exclusive, collections are presented in similar format, and inspiration of such seem to run through other facets of big fashion brands these days. in adopting a new format of runway coverage, i aim to sustain energy while balancing the need to bring about dialogue of these important fashion collections. the couture report is a report generated that includes five of the best the haute couture collections of the season. these collections protect an aspect of fashion history, as protected by the chambre syndicale de la haute couture. headquartered at 100 rue du faubourg saint honoré, in paris since 1935, the association dates back as far as 1868. made up of couturiers and designers of womenswear, the chambre aims to preserve paris’ position as the world capital of fashion design. in the process of such preservation,  designers are expected to follow guidelines in order to participate in this exclusive presentation of runway collections. established are calendars for each of the show weeks, which optimize scheduling for both venues and shows. hosted in january and july, approximately 30 haute couture shows are presented. such presentations are aligned with the fashion calendar, which accomodates 150 ready-to-wear women’s collections that are shown outside of haute couture. invitations for the couture collections are managed by the fédération française de la couture, which follows an accrediation process and tracks attendance. press and buyer information/welcome kiosks are set up during couture shows to give access to 800 buyers, 2000 journalists, 400 photographers and other fashion professionals. these kiosks allow for digital, print and audiovisual information about the shows to be disseminated to those in attendance. the fédération also aims to facilitate growth of new and emerging brands, while defending intellectual property rights, develop training and education programs and to resolve collective problems, while providing assistand and advice to members. of the season, these five collections are my selections for best couture showings this spring. through concept, detail and execution, as well as influence and discussion; these are my picks. in recounting the history, guidelines and activities of couture, my desire is to remind you, in case you’ve forgotten. when you see them bitches in valour on the street with juicy on their ass, understand how to separate that from this. make no mistake, this is couture.

VALENTINO – of my most loved labels, valentino has consistently produced designs, collections and campaigns that remain in the vein of all that i love of beauty and elegance. inspired by the protagonist roles of famed operas, the collection was thoroughy inspired and meticulously produced. comprised of 55 looks, the collection held a wealth of range in palette and detail. holding true to their brand DNA that, the house continues to defend their heritage in the world of haute couture. theatrical minimalism was presented while wondrous intricacies proved that the collection was among the most complexly inspired and thoughtfully designed. with the fast pace of high fashion rapidly building greater momentum each season, some of the collections that were presented as couture had that ready-to-wear feel. that feel communicating a sense of rapid release, or quick turn over in the connectivity of design. even in the moments of minimal, streamlined design- you felt the difference. you felt the care in the construction when viewing the collection and seeing it’s movement down the intimately staged runway show. my favorite collection of the SS14 couture season, was valentino. i always feel inspired by their merging of classic and progressive aesthetics. this inspiration is felt through not only their couture collections, but all they have done in recent years. from recovering from creative directing flaws, lacking marketing and a clear voice on the high fashion scene. they are owed the respect of being able to sustain as a viable fashion label, and iconic couture house. i applaud maria grazia chiuri and pierpaolo piccioli. completely stunning from the first look, to the last.

GIAMBATTISTA VALLI – beauty was in full bloom this season, as floral danced across the runways of paris. no collection felt as much of a representation of spring than giambiattista valli’s SS14 couture collection this season. usually a flair of the dramatics are seen by valli, but this collection was much more spring than any of his others- if only for the hemlines. short designs were seen this season, which are not as expected as one would think for a fashion collection. couture rides that line of differentiation from ready-to-wear collections. when i review couture, i look for that difference. i like the idea of transcendence with all things haute. that’s what you feel when you see a giambattista collection. you get that sense of wonder, that emotion of fantasy. this collection seemed a bit more tame than other collections by valli, for couture in seasons past. that said, it was no less beautiful. i loved the contrast of colors, and the modernity that was expressed in the creation of couture separates. it was young, while remaining mindful to the art of couture. loved the use of hardware, and though i could draw comparability to the likes of christian dior by raf simons, i won’t. this collection was far more interesting, as oppose to dior’s reliance of mundane minimalism. it was pretty, in an alluring way. not pretty as the sub-par little sister of beautiful. it was light, well constructed and imaginative. i loved the controlled aspects of drama that were injected in thoughtful ways.

3ATELIER VERSACE – power has long been the inspiration and founding presence of the house of versace. over the past five seasons, the house has returned to the haute couture runways, proving themselves to be strong contenders of the art form. grace jones was the female icon that inspired this seasons couture collection, as donatella described her as ‘power goddess’. the musical icons presence was felt in the clothes, and portrayed in her signature hooded look. maria borges of women model management, was the only black model cast for the show and she closed on the runway. strange as it may sound, there wasn’t enough color, representing a woman of color despite the fact that she inspired the collection. yes, there were versace elements and the embodiment of jones was vividly presented, but the casting proved to lack the true essence of her power. that power being the fact that she is black. grace jones has been widely regarded as an icon for women, but a large component of her influence is recognized by the fact that she afforded women of color the opportunity to be seen as true artists, commanding of power in undeniable ways. versace’s visibility, especially in modern day media is largely to credit for it’s lyrical reference by black artists, most commonly in the rap genre. the unease that i feel in seeing un-pigmented bodies strolling the runway to represent what cannot be faked or unrealistically reproduced is both jarring and unsettling to me. great inspiration- yes. execution? i find it puzzling, but more so, i find it annoying. represent the artist, and recognize what aspects of reality have aided her proclamation of that power. duplicate that through proper utilization of said reality.

CHANEL – in the last several months, i’ve discussed the merging of suit and sport. since that time, i’ve consistently highlighted and documented collections that support that theory. in areas of menswear, and womenswear- i’ve remained vigilant in observing various elements from magazine covers, to the silhouettes within pre-season collections. chanel haute couture goes on to further lends themselves in show of support of my theory even further. chanel is king with their crown being lagerfeld, himself. this season, they threw versatility high into the sky with their couture collection. opening the show was model it girl, cara delevingne, strutting rhythmically with a metallic accented eye onto the runway that was described by karl as, ”an ice palace, a nightclub from another planet.” the future? i completely agree. the collection began rather tame, taking casual looks and elevating them with couture detailing. a focus on silhouettes brought the eye to the torso, which was narrowed by hidden corsets that were only visible as the models walked away from the front row and back up the two-way stair case. the models walked the show with the greatest of ease, slightly galloping to the runway beat down the stairs in, and what could be more chic; chanel couture sneakers! there was no greater element to support my theory of suit and sport than the couture sneaker this season. as the collection progressed, the looks evolved smartly into formal looks that leaned more heavily into the essence of couture through to the end. the collection held a palette of iced tones, lending the idea that karl understands the vein of consistent and well executed vision. one of the strongest collections this season, and a tried and true mark of defense for chanel being held in regard as the greatest fashion house in fashion history. knee pads as well, the sport theme was in full effect and lagerfeld continues to prove why he is, very much so, the crown atop the head of chanel as king.

CHRISTIAN DIOR – dior has since been altered in aesthetics since raf simons has stepped in as the replacement for john galliano. though the discussion of galliano is now stale, the conversation of the brands transformation is not. i’ve been watching the collections, recognizing improvements and being mindful that change is a process. simons’ approach to design is very psychological. it’s almost as if it’s overanalyzed design, in my opinion. im all about clean lines, thorough inspiration and design abstraction. this couture collection’s strong suit was cut. whether it was strategic placement of cut-outs, or the shortened hemlines that brought about a spring feel- the only cut i noticed severely enough was couture. the collection seemed to lack design intricacy that is most commonly associated with couture, as an art form. here, i felt none of that in these clothes. though psychological and interesting in design, there seemed to lack a defining line between these clothes and that of ready-to-wear. the clothes were more closely aligned with simons’ aesthetic with jil sander, i felt, and didn’t particularly resonate with the brand DNA of christian dior. silhouette was destroyed, and widened in a way that seemed to deface the signature of dior in design. aside from the casting of grace mahary, a model who also appeared for both chanel and valentino on the couture runways this season, the collection was otherwise boring and seemed to lack beauty. simplicity is key, and overindulgence can be vulgar, but here there was no balance of theatricality, and no stretching of the imagination in a way that felt exciting. though not the worst collection of the season, i find it necessary to contrast ideas of excitement with those of wonder in curiosity. as historic as the dior label has been in fashion, i have a greater expectation than what was delivered here. for me, it’s simply not enough.

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