Category: fashion features


this fall brought greater effort of diversification to the runways around the globe. of the season, there were a few stand out faces stomping the runway and breaking barriers in the process. with new stars shining onto the runways of marc jacobs, fendi and the ultra exclusive, prada- i wanted to revisit my early days in this space. the days when models assisted in constructing the content seen, thus inspiring the dialogue that has compelled readers to this space, since 2008. selected solely for their presence on the runway; if it’s one thing we’ve learned- it starts with runway. the stars seen here today, have the potential to become stars of tomorrow, and some are even well on their way. listed in alphabetical order, these are the stand out faces i’ve personally selected for the 2015 fall/winter show season. recognize where you seen the spotlight hit first.

AAMITO STACIE LAGUM as the first ever winner of africa’s next top model, representing uganda, aamito lagum had a breakout season on the runway this fall. rivaling runway bookings of even america’s next top model contestants and victor’s, lagum walked a staggering 20 shows this season. represented by DNA models in new york, viva models in paris, london and barcelona; aamito opened at balenciaga in paris this past week and walked for marc by marc jacobs, here in new york. with an international following thanks to her victory on africa’s next top model, ammito is a new face with incredible versatility for both the commercial and luxury markets. i will definitely be checking for aamito on the editorial front.

AMILNA ESTEVÃO represented by the society, new york, amilna amilna estevão won the elite model contest at age 14 in angola brazil in 2013. her debut at new york fashion week seen her hit the catwalk for alexander wang, while she had notable bookings walking for fendi, prada and balenciaga, booking a total of 33. amilan’s doll-like features make her a prime candidate for beauty campaigns and she would fit easily into an array of editorial bookings along with some commercial work as well. at the age of 20 years old, amilna’s promise in europe is that of legend. she is represented by elite models, internationally and her mother agency in luanda is da banda model management. amilna is a young star on the rise.

AYA JONES represented by the lions in new york; aya jones is fast becoming a breakout runway superstar. she debuted as an exclusive for prada last season, returning this season with greater confidence and poise behind her. with her agency pulling a rarity of industry know-how and skill, aya walked in couture shows for valentino and christian dior. and for fall show season, absolutely killed the competition walking 44 shows; including marc jacobs, valentino, prada, christian dior, tom ford, dolce and gabbana, burberry, miu miu, versace and fendi. outside of runway, aya has surfaced in advertising campaigns, being used for marc jacobs’ beauty campaign for 2015. ahead of the pack, aya is the latest face to rival the new set of supers.

GRACE BOL a stunner from sudan, grace bol has one of the strongest looks in fashion today. with severe features that set her apart from many other girls around the world, grace is a go-to face for edgy brands, in the high end circuit.with a fall season show tally of 15 shows, grace walked some of the most high profile style shows including vivienne westwood, kanye west adidas- which seen her being used for their look book, as well as balenciaga, KTZ and hermès. appearing on the cover of interview magazine, russia with editorial features in harper’s bazaar UK for the month of march- grace is fairly established as a working model. elite models in new york, oui management in paris, why not models in milan and storm in london.

IMAAN HAMAAN already a recognized face in the glossies, imaan hamaan has been on the scene since 2013, appearing on the runway for givenchy and gaultier couture. represented by DNA models in new york, why not models in milan, and by viva models in barcelona, paris and london; imaan is from the netherlands. with a modest 7 show bookings this fall, imaan was seen for some of the best labels on the catwalk appearing for ralph lauren in new york, and givenchy for the men’s show in paris. she booked the SS15 givenchy campaign, and has already graced the cover of american vogue last year, with five features outside of that. this year, she continues her editorial dominance, holding it down in the pages of american vogue.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetLEILA NDA runway killer, leila nda was born for the catwalk. with her mother agency in brussels, leila is repped by new york models in new york, women management in paris, fashion model management in milan and models 1 in london. for the 2014 calendar year, leila walked 80 shows, including gucci and marc jacobs. this season sees her runway dominance continue, as she walked nearly 40 shows, killing couture- walking for valentino, dior, giambattista valli and elie saab. during fall show season, she appeared again at marc jacobs, returned as a member of the balmain army, was seen at balenciaga, hermès and yes, dior too. for the month of march, leila appears in the pages of italian, american and teen vogue.

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetLEOMIE ANDERSON in 2011, leomie anderson appeared for the british reality show, ‘the modeling agency’. the reality show followed her career beginnings at her mother agency, premiere models in london. outside of the reality show, imerges a real star. represented by fusion models, new york, oui management in paris, monster in milan and uno in barcelona; anderson walked 12 shows this season, but shows real promise as a stand out face. active in the realm of social media, chronicling her pathway on and off the runway, she actively manages a blog called, “cracked china cup”. in today’s modern day market, leiomie’s unabashed, openness about her modeling career makes her a face and personality to watch.

MARIA BORGES hitting the scene in 2011, maria borges has garnered a juggernaut of powerful bookings which show more quality than quality, over everything else. her second season out, she was featured as a part of the givenchy couture castings, and from there; her involvement with the house brought additional bookings. she was cast for the spring 2014 givenchy campaign and appeared on the cover of vogue portugal last may. for the month of march, borges appears for her own solo cover, in the steven klein shot cover series for l’officiel singapore. for the FW15 show season, maria booked 9 shows. among them, givenchy in paris, moschino in milan and carolina herrera in new york.

RILEY MONTANA last september, riley montana was featured in the unforgettable mert + marcus shot, W magazine cover. before that, she was cast for two givenchy campaigns, two seasons in a row, and and became and editorial regular gracing the glossies by way of vogue in japan, germany, italy and paris. represented by new york models in new york, oui in paris, d’management in milan, premier in london, jill models in antwerp and LA models being her mother agency- riley is a dope girl with expensive features. another girl recruited for the balmain army, riley was also seen for the fall show season, on the runways of marc jacobs, amidst her 14 count show season tally. with vivid luxury appeal, riley is a face to watch this year.

TAMI WILLIAMS last december, a bright new face sprung onto the cover of french elle. represented by elite in new york and paris, as well as why not model management in milan; there is an almost quiet take over from tami. garnering editorial features throughout last year; in 2015, tami has begun circulating the editorial more heavily. for february, she has already appeared for W magazine and the new york times style magazine; and appears twice in the march issue of american vogue. this fall show season; williams booked 40 shows, appearing for marc jacobs, valentino, balmain, dolce & gabbana and calvin klein. she debuted on the catwalk in fall 2014, at marc jacobs, and walked for alexander wang. eyes on the catwalk, tami is here.

all agency representation current at time of reporting
special thanks to for statistics


a post apocalyptic wardrobe showing, without a doubt. in that a symbolization of an end, as well as a beginning. kanye west, as a style icon, has spawned legions of followers across the globe. clamoring for satin bomber jackets or bidding on his limited edition sneaker collaborations with nike; all of those elements combined seem to make up the long awaited collaboration between west and adidas. the brands collaborations with designers like yohji yamamoto and stella mccartney have been amongst the most innovative, and successful as far as design aesthetic. for the brands adidas originals collections, they’ve secured and sold collaborative efforts with designer jeremy scott, while also teaming with musical artist pharrell, and roc nation’s rita ora. of all past collaborations, west is the biggest star. in speaking to the rise of urban luxury, i dove into the trenches of what athleticism and glamourizing of such would mean coming into the near future. no doubt, my own predictions are now coming to fruition right before our very eyes; but that’s not to say we didn’t see this coming. while the creative work as a designer for kanye west are nothing new, the unlikely partnership between him and adidas is where the real surprise lies. in speaking to the defiance and marketability of bigger brands to push presence, west’s collection collaboration has little to no adidas branding. an  odd, but understandable move for the brand, who enticed west with creative freedom for the collection. proudly, west thanks the athletic super brand for their belief in his creativity as a long hauled publicity campaign has ensued in the social media stratosphere. a powerhouse front row secured such a feat as, alexander wang, rihanna, cassie ventura- girlfriend of p. diddy whom she sat next to; was seated by jay-z, beyoncé alongside kim kardashian-west, north west and editor-in-chief of american vogue, anna wintour. with a front row of power players, the press coverage has been in full swing. fashion kids in the forums are quickly spewing criticism of the collection citing stolen concepts from brands like helmut lang, and rick owens. and while the influence references thrown about are visible in the collection; the recycled inspiration is nothing new to the world of fashion as we commonly see archived works by the house of balenciaga and givenchy being used by different labels, each season. if you strip away all the bullshit a clear voice was indicated here. a movement in his own right, from album to street style, to the works of his design collaborations, kanye west is among the most visible on the scene for his bravery. misunderstood at moments, and underrated for his abilities, the collection presents the beginning of his creative endeavors with the brand, as his first pair of shoes with the brand, called the “yeezy boost”, the first of many releases is already unavailable for reservation.


styled by kanye west, images shot by jackie nickerson
click image to view collection gallery


magazine covers are the mask of fashion. they represent a small component, yet a large factor of influence. magazine covers set the headlines, break the barriers and provide a greater dialogue through visual interpretation of how we fuck with aspects of life, love and ultimately happiness. yes, there is always a beauty factor- but magazines and all their glossed glory provide a larger insight into the human race than most would think. this site has housed much of my fascination with editorial, and through that analysis, i’ve developed a stronger stylistic perspective of the world. understanding the cross referencing of culture, design and style all in one shape shifted moment that acts as a freeze frame of time.

20. CHANCE THE RAPPER FOR DAZED & CONFUSED, cracking this years countdown is rap new comer, chance the rapper. from the city of chicago, chance has been hailed as a rapper to watch out for in the music game. following the release of two mixtapes, he developed a cult following. with a stronger presence through media, chance was even featured on pop commander justin beiber’s “confident”. the cover, which is a great photograph represents the potential of what is to come for chance in the new year. accented with the headline, ’93 till infinity’, the august cover also brings to focus the style reinvention of the 90’s. in the same lane of indie-major artists like jhene aiko and childish gambino, chance is a successfully poised singer-songwriter and rapper. the cover is more about potential rather than PR prowess. there is a youthful relevance that is represented through style- the baseball cap, and what appears to be a chicken suit. it’s all very young, and awkward in a way that is both familiar to us as adults and poignant for that just-about-to-graduate-high-school demographic. dazed is the type of publication that covers what bubbles under the surface of mainstream, which i love. as chance puts the final touches on his album, this cover will prove to either be a foretelling or a missed mark in the coming year. for the younger audiences, this represents images of the now generation.

19. MALGOSIA BELA FOR MUSE as one of the most striking female models working in fashion, since the 90’s malgosia bela’s muse cover was one of five covers in a series. muse is one of those publications that showcases models in the light that they should be seen. it’s always about profound talent, they represent diversity, and you always see a range of females with singular skills. shot by david bellemere and styled by melanie huynh, the cover is visually impactful, in that, it spares the expectation that covers should be direct, sharp and clean. malgosia is triplicated for the cover, through use of dual mirrors and the image itself is slightly blurred. the masthead sits perfectly accentuating the image in a way that is supportive while not distracting. malgosia has one of those faces that is instantly recognizable. her piercing eyes have long been a subject i’ve written about for the entire duration of my work, in this space. represented by next models in new york and milan, and elite in paris; malgosia represents the international model statistic in this years countdown as we look back at the year, as a whole. there is something very luxe about malgosia, she feels expensive. she has this timeless appeal that seems to get better with age, not in the way that age is defied either, in a way that showcases the aging process as something much more human. and there’s nothing more beautiful in the world than being human.

18. HELENA BONHAM CARTER FOR BRITISH VOGUE, JULY shot by mert alas and marcus piggott, helena bonam carter is a transformative actress that can take on many shades and attitudes while informing many walks of life. as a style icon, she is an acquired taste. to put is simple, she doesn’t really give a fuck. style is what she wants it to be- it’s about a thrashed idea of glamour or a tousled dress, she is about interesting choices. she’s about celebrating freedom, and in that, her choices of non-style, create a new kind of style. when this cover dropped this past summer, i was completely stunned. while helena is quite the transformer- as is vogue. i love the idea of a vogue image, the idea of branding that is represented through cover models, and all around production. when helena appeared in all her vogue glossed glory, i said aloud, “this. is. a cover!“. the choice to cast her for the cover was one thing, but the execution was on another level. there is this fantasy element that vogue editors have, to give someone this vogue look. and this cover was proof that helena bonham carter can achieve that look, but she makes the conscious decision not to do so. regardless of helena’s style choices when not on covers, she remains a different kind of icon, in that she represents rebellion from typical beauty standards that have long been pinned to silver screen actresses. covers represent a higher caliber of style, and this was by far, the best actress transformation that reached as closely as one can get to supermodel beauty.

17. SASKIA DE BRAU FOR FRENCH VOGUE, SEPTEMBER continuing the dialogue of fashion publication, and how certain aspects have progressed and how others have transgressed, i loved the september cover of french vogue. in years past, i would have an onslaught of french vogue covers or have difficulty narrowing down my selections. but this year, only one stood out for me. i wanted to pick at least one of the french vogue covers from the past year to discuss the ways that the paris based fashion publication has taken a bit of a back seat. following the departure of past editor-in-cheif, carine roitfeld; french vogue began making more commercial choices. since then, the covers have been experiencing a lull of sorts. the cover models that are cast aren’t the problem, i would say, it’s more the direction. it’s too expected, and even this cover- in all it’s new-age grunge minimalist beauty; it’s still only mildly striking in comparison to not only others on this list, but others from the french vogue cover archives. holding it’s rank on this years list for it’s use of almost 90’s re-invention of grunge, i thought that the covers would ramp up after this, but the publication seems to be at a stand still. there is no showcasing or making of new trends, artistically, french vogue covers appear to be a shell of what they used to be. commercial in it’s clean approach, french vogue is now void of that risk factor. there’s no challenge of perception in their covers as there were under the direction of carine roitfeld. as true as that may be, i do like this cover’s clean and direct visual of an old style movement, and it’s translation in a new capacity. saskia murdered this cover though- love.

16. THE PRADA GIRLS FOR VOGUE ITALIA, DECEMBER anna ewers, cindy bruna, gracie van gastel and ophelie guillermand were seen through the lens of steven meisel for the december cover of italian vogue. unbeknownst to the general public, this pairing was unexpected and represented a range of diversity that is not normally adopted by big fashion houses. take prada for example, they are known for rarely picking women of color for their runway shows, not to mention their campaigns. styled by marie-amélie suavé, with hair and make-up by guido palau and pat mcgrath, the cover was striking. many wondered why this pairing, why these four females? when the prada SS14 campaign was revealed, and showcased some familiar faces- four were familiar from this december italian vogue cover. the prada campaign? it hosted a dazzling 19 female models, represented forms of diversity and was comporable to a cool girl clique at some all-girl prep school. steven meisel, always on-point and never without purpose, revealed a preview of the prada campaign a month before it debuted, and we didn’t even know it. killing two birds with one stone, this cover doubled as a teaser for a campaign for prada, one of the largest and most intriguing of the fashion houses in milan. i love that ms. cindy bruna landed this cover, she is a glowing star and one i predict will follow in the same or similar career trajectory as joan smalls. they say that you become a star once viewed through meisel’s lens. this track record, thus far, has proven to be true. also featured in the victoria’s secret fashion show for 2013, the french born bruna is represented by wilhelmina models in new york and was the clear cut stunner of the four models cast for this cover. im always looking at fresh faces, while observing opportunity and star power. i predict that bruna will kill the editorial circuit and eat the runway this coming show season. past predictions of mine include, joan smalls.

15. LADY GAGA FOR V, FALL/WINTER V magazine has long been a supporter of pop ruler, lady gaga. so when it was announced that her third studio album would hit store shelves in the fourth quarter of 2013, PR moves were flexed. of course, V magazine was part of gaga’s promo domination. she served up a four part cover series with the publication, shape shifting in and out of different images for each cover, allowing each to have an independent visual from the last. shot by inez and vinoodh, gaga dawned four different wigs and showcased four different looks, while then appearing nude for her accompanying cover spread in the issue. with make-up artistry by yadim, and styling by brandon maxwell, the cover series signaled gaga’s new era of ARTPOP. of the four part cover series, this cover was the best. the transparent, and safety pinned number that gaga wore was the most striking of the set, and the headline ‘gaga strikes back’ spared no mercy on what could only be described as one of the stronger moments in pop music this year. gaga is an artist who reinvigorates pop performance, as her approach to performance art is what lends an elevated sense of unique grandeur to her place in mainstream music. with the help of the magazine covers, gaga’s ARTPOP debuted at the top spot of billboard’s 200 album chart, moving 258,000 copies in it’s first selling week. while setting out on tour, ARTPOP became the fourth best selling album by a female performer for 2013.

14. JOAN SMALLS & RONALD EPPS FOR I-D, FALL/WINTER  the number one supermodel of today’s fashion industry, ms. joan smalls will continue to dominate the world of style and beauty well into 2014. with the new year already looking up with her three covers as of january, joan booked a stunning fifteen covers in 2013. i love this cover because it took the relatively unknown new face, ronald epps of wilhelmina models into the fashion spotlight. another aspect of creativity i love about I-D is the ways that they create their signature wink. to use two models for this one shot was a genius idea. a celebration for the ways that joan smalls has resurrected the modern day supermodel are why this cover is where it is  on this year’s countdown. joan had many highlighting moments throughout the year, and as we’ve closely followed her career since she began to gain high fashion traction, i am personally very proud of all that she has done for women and individuals of color in high end media. a dominating force who showcases the range of what it takes to truly be hailed as a supermodel, there is no stopping this young lady from further dominance for the next several years. shot by willy vanderperre, joan covered I-D for both cover series’ they ran this year. her editorial and advertising portfolio continues to grow and while this was just a mere glimpse at her year, i’ll continue to showcase her superstardom and take over through 2014.

13. CHRISTY TURLINGTON FOR HARPER’S BAZAAR, JUNE a supermodel poised to continue her reign at the top going into 2014, christy turlington is an icon of both beauty and philanthropy. her subscriber’s edition harper’s bazaar cover for the month of june was a stunner and standout for me this year. never lacking relevance, christy turlington has remained on the scene through her cosmetics contract with maybelline. outside of her long time cosmetic contract, this year alone; christy appeared in ad campaigns for H&M, calvin klein, jason wu, prada and donna karan. 2013 was an especially visible year for christy back on the high fashion front, as she returned as the face of calvin klein underwear. outside of her campaign trail, she landed six magazine covers, and continues to show a strong entrance into 2014 as well. at 44 years of age, christy has become an emblem of the aging process for women all around the world. i love this cover for it’s representation of america- it’s an american model, published on the cover of a leading american fashion publication, and she’s wearing an american designer, tom ford. harper’s bazaar is a publication that still embodies and represents the creative aspects of fashion, as an american fashion publication. the dual subscriber/newsstand edition process that they’ve adopted for the last several years is one that is successful and inspiring. i love the low key, minimal aspects of the subscriber’s editions, and loved the contrast of the headline ‘fashion runs wild’ with the visual of simplicity. the zebra inspired tom ford look was allowed to shine, while christy was beautifully accented. supermodels live forever, and ms. turlington is living proof of resilience.

12. KATE MOSS FOR VISIONAIRE, 63 visionaire is at the highest level of publications. each year they release one issue and create all aspects of that one issue while tying them into a theme. published in limited quantities, issue 63 titled, forever, was only limited to 1500 numbered copies. priced at $350.00, the issue was made entirely of stainless steel and aluminum with a weight of 6.25lbs. progressive in execution and innovative in concept, visionaire broke barriers with this issue. seen on the cover was british supermodel, kate moss. issue 63 was produced through the minds and hands of CGI artists who used 2D photographs which were processed through pounding of metal plates. sponsored by G-shock, the issue is made up of 10 pages, which showcase the work of both artists and fashion photographers of the past and present. photographers featured in the issue are mario testino, inez and vinoodh, karl lagerfeld and craig mcdean. artists featured in the issue are gilbert & george, as well as yoko ono with other contributions by maurizio cattelan, pierpaolo ferrari, solve sundsbø, steven klein and iconic photographer, richard avedon. what i admire of every visionaire issue is their approach to ideas. this cover was included in my top twelve because of it’s relation and transcendence of time. to promote a publication and hold it to the unimaginably idealistic theme of ‘forever’ is bravery. well executed each year, this is the most unconvential cover included in my list, but is definitely one of the most memorable, not even just for the year 2013, but in the history of style, fashion and art publication. kate moss landed this cover and 23 other covers in 2013.

11. NATALIA VODIANOVA FOR W, SEPTEMBER through the lens of mert and marcus, natalia vodianova appeared in a three part cover series with fellow supermodels kate moss and lara stone. the ribbon and floral accented cover shoot was among the most beautiful photographic work of the past year. always serving a stunning visual, mert and marcus created a romanticized and alluring image of vodianova, which was a clear standout in contrast to the other covers, that were also strikingly good. the retouch, the lighting, the styling and the ways that the color really accented natalia’s features was all culminated immaculately. W magazine really developed a stronger fashion angle for themselves over the course of last year, and this year- they have an unusually strong arsenal of cover images. W makes interesting, as well as important, casting choices for who appears on their issues from month to month. always a lover of a beautiful image, natalia vodianova performed exceptionally well, as expected, for september. landing 14 covers in 2013, natalia is one of very few models who holds an untouchable record of visibility in high fashion. she has been long contracted with calvin kelin, being the face of their euphoria women’s fragrance and also holds a contract with guerlain. also a favorite face of designer stella mccartney, she was cast in a campaign for that label this year. not much to say for this cover, but ‘look at it’. natalia’s gaze is piercing and completely unforgettable.

10. RIHANNA FOR ROLLING STONE, FEBRUARY never lacking scene visibility, rihanna has significantly altered the ways in which music is produced at a rapid pace. dropping an album every year, with no stops in between- rihanna is a pop force to be reckoned with and this year she proved that to an even greater extent. the most downloaded artist in history, rihanna was awarded with the icon award at this year’s american music awards, and though this cover was more directly linked to the sensationalism of her public persona than her style choices, she is very much the modern fashion muse for labels like chanel and balmain. in 2013, her campaign for balmain debuted, lending her face to one of the top high end labels in all of fashion. shot by terry richardson, the cover is clean and striking, and rihanna’s hair appears flawlessly colored and simply styled. dawning a white top that accentuates the strategic placement of her tattoos, rihanna is a bad girl for all the right reasons and this cover showcased that persona perfectly. around the time that rihanna reunited with chris brown, both parties garnered a lot of press for their controversial romance. the beyoncé-borrowed-lyrical headline, ‘crazy in love’ which appeared on the cover couldn’t be more poignant. there’s something about her body language, the slightly gaped mouth, the exposed shaved side of her head, the flawlessly retouched skin, and the gold jewelry- it was all done in a way that transcends commercial appeal and crosses over to the representation of ethnic beauty, but in a way that merges relatability to fantasy. this cover lands in the top 10 best of 2013 for it’s cultural relevance, musical accomplishment and range is representation of how the world views women.

9. A$AP ROCKY FOR INTERVIEW, APRIL shot by craig mcdean, gold fronts and a liquified masthead edge us closer to the top of dopest covers of the last year. hip-hop music has remained a corner stone of american musical history for more than a decade. this cover shows that we, as a community of color, are still shattering barriers with our sense of style. our approach and the ways in which we engage our audiences in any and every field of art, serves as inspiration for both high and low end forms of media. with 2013 wins for best collaboration at the BET awards, and an MTV japan VMA for best hip-hop video under his belt, A$AP rocky is a movement of sorts. injecting high fashion into trap laced, new york gritty rap- his debut studio album, “Long.Live.A$AP” was a follow up to the critically acclaimed mixtape, “Live.Love.A$AP” which introduced the harlem born rapper to audiences on the digital music scene. A$AP began his journey to conquer musical media in 2011, when he signed a reported $3 million deal with sony music entertainment. rocky’s funding from that deal went into ASAP worldwide, which supports the creative endeavors of the rapper’s crew, A$AP mob. his involvment with NYC street culture and fashion brands like, hood by air- A$AP’s cover for interview is proof that the musical industry does show hope of creative resurrection in the near future. A$AP’s debut studio album hosted over 20 producers to pull off his progressive vision. the album hit number one on the US billboard 200, as well as the top R&B/hip-hop album’s chart. in the UK & canada, the album also reached #1. with apparel design and product development, as well as a crew following closely behind, with a rack of albums scheduled to hit in 2014, this cover is further indication that hip-hop as a culture will move with heavier influence into the new year and far, far beyond. up next for A$AP? supermodel, joan smalls was cast for A$AP’s next music video for ‘angels’ and he is also currently dating model, chanel iman. in addition to dropping his debut album in 2013, A$AP also appeared on the cover of l’uomo vogue, and made a campaign cameo for T by alexander wang. A$AP also made his runway debut, walking for new york fashion week in the FW13 show for hood by air.

88. KIM KARDASHIAN FOR CR FASHION BOOK as if shot by karl lagerfeld, with fashion editing by carine roitfeld and art direction by ricardo tisci doesn’t sound epic enough. the biggest cultural icon for women since marilyn monroe appeared on the cover of carine roitfeld’s CR fashion book, pregnant and wearing a full gold grill. kim kardashian is a portrait of success, and is an entrepreneurial mascot for women of color living and working in america. the smoke laced cover was a sight to see and made it’s rounds in social media faster than light can travel. in the accompanying editorial, kim was seen wearing a margiela crystal face mask, archival givenchy african tribal inspired diamond earrings and was shot laying in flowers with her mouth slathered in jam. labeled, ‘miss USA’ in the issue, this was probably the most epic cover by what some would call a talentless star. said best by carine roitfeld herself, beauty is a talent. such is the case of kim kardashian, an alarmingly beautiful woman and one of the most dominating figures in media. this year, in addition to landing this cover, she gave birth to her first daughter with artist kanye west, got engaged and continued to dominate the world of television with her media fixture hit reality television show, keeping up with the kardashian’s. everything from her readiness to give birth again, her post-baby weight, trips to the nail salon, her hair color, and whether or not she is wearing make-up are all headline news for this armenian-american icon. for it’s garnering of attention as a media fixture, this cover was the basis of this list and goes on to prove that beauty is most definitely a talent when marketed in the right ways.

7. FEI FEI SUN FOR VOGUE ITALIA through the lens of steven meisel, fei fei sun became the first asian model in history to appear solo on the cover of italian vogue this year. as a major first for women of color in the industry, i absolutely had to include this for my year in review rankings. aside from the photo being stunning, visually, the make-up and all the creative elements that allowed for china machado’s visage to come back to life were astounding. the cover was an homage to the fashion pioneer, as machado was the first asian female to land a major fashion spread, at that time in a 1958 issue of harper’s bazaar. italian vogue is the most brave of all the vogue editions, internationally. they take chances and break barriers year after year, going where no other edition goes. they represent the unrepresented and provide greater visibility for minorities which is both respectable and appreciated. i love this cover, it’s clean and classic- it breaks barriers further by simultaneously acknowledging other pioneer’s in fashion, who paved the way for women still working to set forth greater changes in the world of both style and beauty. italian vogue goes into uncharted territory and allows steven meisel to express an unrestrained level of creativity in a pure way that is showcased through pure emotion. for that very reason, italian vogue will likely continue their path to greatness, and groundbreaking ways of visualizing fashion. this is history, ladies and gentlemen!

6. FERNANDO CABRAL FOR NUMÉRO HOMME, SUMMER/SPRING 2013 shot by jacob sutton, styled by samuel françois, fernando cabral single handedly represented male models of color on the summer/spring cover of numéro homme this year. mesmerizing with his dark skin tone and lean physique- the high fashion angle of media is not one that many understand. this cover, is the best artistically, in this years top 10 covers. as a true fan of visuals and style, as well as model casting and representation of diversity and beauty, this cover is one that deserves to be celebrated. high fashion is the truly challenging aspect of the industry that rarely sees movement or transformation for individuals of color. we are represented in a very narrowed lane, stylistically and photographically, through image, casting and all around visibility. a striking image of angles and a vision of unexpected forms of beauty by high end standards. i am very proud that numéro allowed for this moment to happen this year. vital and necessary to the diversification process of high fashion, a range of ethnicities and shades of such range need to be showcased in order to provide a more realistic view of beauty in our ever changing world. the absolute best male model fashion magazine cover of 2013, there was no competition when this cover hit newsstands. a completely breathtaking image of beauty, the way it should be seen.


5. JAY Z FOR VANITY FAIR, NOVEMBER when shawn carter graced the cover of vanity fair, styled by june ambrose and shot by annie lebovitz, it provided range. while the previous rap starred cover in my countdown shows the current state of where we are in hip-hop, jay z represents the legacy of that work. as one of the most recognized figures in business, globally, jay z has remarkably moved past the marginalization of what is possible not only for rappers, but for artists and individuals of color all together. the cover represents more than just a cover, it represents progress and recognition for the work that we do and continue to do as people. a patriarch of music iconicism in the game of rap, jay has embarked on greater feats of business while blending the streets of brooklyn with the glitter filled fantasy of business on wall street. an entrepreneurial mascot, this cover breaks barriers further- beyond the worlds of music, style, influence and moves the bar even higher for what we are able to achieve through dedication and hustle. jay’s approach to marketing as an artist and his tactful method of branding have provided a blueprint for modern day artists in every genre. with his company roc nation well on the rise with a roster of talent, jay will likely continue his reign in both business and music. for it’s cultural impact, this vanity fair cover opens many doors for us. jay’s twelveth studio album, the grammy nominated magna carta… holy grail has moved 2.5 million units since its july release; making it the most successful release by a rap artist of the year, in 2013.

4. KERRY WASHINGTON FOR VANITY FAIR, AUGUST the biggest female figure on television next to oprah winfrey, this year, was ms. kerry washington. entering homes all across america as the slick talking, scheme plotting, problem fixing star of the political thriller, scandal, washington’s role as olivia pope has provided her with tremendous media attention. similar to what what jay z’s vanity fair cover represents for business in the industry of music; kerri’s cover also represents for actresses of color. one of the only starring roles by a black female on network television, in the new year, washington’s role as olivia pope has earned her screen actors guild and golden globe nominations. also in the new year kerry is expecting her first child. all these happenings are a continued level of success following her hit television show, which is how the actress landed this cover. her role in scandal is both emotional and necessary, as her character provides range for black actresses starring or vying for more serious roles, as serious actors. the series went into syndication on black entertainment television (BET) and airs in over eight countries around the world. all in just three seasons on television. as the star show in ABC’s thursday line up, this cover was a necessary move to commemorate the media frenzy and social media reaction to this television phenomenon. kerry washington will be the star to watch during awards season this year; her acting work on scandal is both riveting and inspiring. the ways that women of color are seen or can be portrayed on television will be forever changed thanks to ms. kerry washington. now all we need is her on the cover of vogue. and don’t play us- have the hair, make-up and styling right when that happens!

3. BEYONCÉ FOR VOGUE, MARCH holding it’s rank toward the top of my list not for it’s photographic appeal, or styling prowess- ms. beyoncé knowles-carter graced the march 2013 cover of american vogue with what none of us suspected to be as true, as it has become now. appearing on the magazine’s annual power issue; i had many conversations about michelle obama being more deserving of the power issue cover. but as the year came to a close beyoncé proved that there was no performer bigger or better than her. looking back at the year that was 2013, you didn’t suspect it in ways that it she had been promoted in the past. but this most definitely was beyoncé’s year. at the top of the year she performed at the inauguration for barack obama’s second term. the following month, she performed at superbowl XLVII where she reunited with past members one of the biggest girl group’s in musical history, destiny’s child, where she started her career. in march this cover hit newsstands, giving you a slight hint that something was coming for the remainder of the year. to much surprise, it was announced that she would embark on a world tour, which she did. many media news outlets questioned the relevance, as no new album or new material had yet to be released. at the back end of 2012, beyoncé made headlines when she signed a $50 million endorsement deal with pepsi. media and press coverage continued until the commercial debuted, in 2013. with her fragrances already generating revenue upwards of $400 million, and a deal with l’oreal in place since the singer was 18. one wondered, where is the new album? she released a self-shot, self directed auto-biographical documentary titled, ‘life is but a dream’ which debuted exclusively on HBO. during the summer of 2013, she was revealed as the face of H&M for the season, which seen her designing swimwear and shooting a music video commercial hybrid with which she debuted the song, ‘standing on the sun’. while she toured the world, there was no sign of an album, and fans began to lose hope. but on december 13th, 2013, beyoncé changed musical history when she released a surprise visual album. with 14 new songs, and 17 new videos, there has never been an album like it before. the album moved 80,000 units in a span of three hours and debuted atop the billboard 200 with sales exceeding 617K, for the first three days. the album debuted at #1 in 90 countries and took six days to reach platinum selling status. oh, and there was no promotion or commercial advertising for the album leading to it’s release. the surprise, self-titled visual album became the highest first week sales of beyoncé’s career and was recorded as having the best selling debut week numbers by any female artist of the year. since it’s release, the album has remained at #1 on the billboard 200 chart, three weeks in a row. power? vogue knows best. the cover read right, “beyoncé rules the world”.

2. NAOMI CAMPBELL FOR INTERVIEW, SEPTEMBER before jay was on the block sellin dope, perfecting his hustler’s mentality. before beyoncé was rehearsing in a girl group and long before kerry washington decided to become an actress- this face on my list of top 20 best covers of 2013 has always represented faces of color in the world of fashion. the single most important female of color in the history of modeling and fashion, naomi campbell has remained relevant, timeless and more visible than any female in every aspect of mass media. shot by mikael jansson, naomi campbell was included in a supermodel cover series captured by interview magazine. among the new and veteran talent- she stood alone. alone as the single most influential female. the only black model to be included in the 7-part cover series. the most iconic black model in history, hands down. there is no name bigger than naomi campbell. her unapologetic approach to business has been spotlighted on her show, which aired this year when she served as the executive producer for the reality show, the face, which teamed supermodels with model hopefuls. airing first in the united states to applause and acclaim, the show was taken to the united kingdom, where it aired a british version to rave reviews. the next stop for the face is australia. naomi’s spare no fucks attitude of domination is one that many emulate and dream of attaining. the epitome of confidence and signature personality, naomi is a living legend who continues to kill television, interviews, cover bookings, runway castings and business contracts. for the year, she booked a staggering 16 covers around the globe. in representing black women powerfully in fashion, she also joined forces with model icons iman and bethann hardison, to commission and campaign for greater diversity, internationally, in the fashion industry. naomi’s career spans 28 years, and her passionate approach with fashion modeling has largely contributed to the image of black women. ms. campbell will forever be included in every countdown that will ever be seen in this space with regard to cultural relevance, representation of individuals of color, beauty and style. she is the greatest supermodel to ever walk this planet.

kimye1. KIM KARDASHIAN & KANYE WEST FOR L’OFFICIEL culminating all aspects of music, beauty, style and culture; this years top cover could not be a more perfect choice for the marriage of all these elements. kim kardashian and kanye west slam into the #1 spot of this years countdown. the biggest media pairing since john f. kennedy and marilyn monroe- kimye dominated all forms of media. since rumors began swirling about their romance kim and kanye have taken the world by storm, not only as a couple but as single entities with their own respectively powerful careers. in 2013, kanye west released yeezus his sixth studio album which blended the worlds of high end and hip-hop further. his nationwide tour was hailed as a musical experience, and as an artist west continues to push the boundaries to move beyond the outter limits of marginalization as a rapper. describing himself as more of a visual artist than a rapper, west signed a collabrative design deal with adidas, which will likely see him making additional headlines well into 2014. kim kardashian is the only female to appear on my list of top covers, twice. her cultural influence in the scope of beauty and style go without proper recognition. this cover was given the top spot this year, because of it’s celebratory take on love. shot by nick knight, the story of kim and kanye is what dreams are made of. complimentary to one another, personally, the two have found love in a place where hope is seemingly lost. the greatest collaboration that these two have made together, is without a doubt their daughter, north west. their daughter was given the name, north, as both feel she represents the highest point. with the acclaimed yeezus album charting at #1 in over 30 countries, and with kim kardashian maintaining global publicity at all times- the cover is striking and passionate. it represents the blending of multiple creative and ethnic cultures and represents the truest form of passion and beauty, on a higher level, than any cover this year. a french publication, sold in europe, the cover was plastered around the streets of paris. the two are engaged to be married, as west asked kardashian on a baseball field at san francisco’s AT&T park, during a stop on his tour. kardashian said yes, amidst torched heating lamps while an orchestra played lana del rey’s “young & beautiful”. west will dominate the year of 2014 as the creative endeavors of his design agency, DONDA are well underway. long live kimye.

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this isn’t about pitting good against evil or right versus wrong. rather, this is a change in perception, a shift of focus on the stories of villains. to understand the root of evil is to have processed thoughts of vulnerability. developed through anguish or hurt, comes evil. in the world of image, the casting of light versus dark is a routine occurrence. i have long found darkness entrancing, and beautiful. never ever allowing the stories of fairy tales to affect the ways that i processed beauty, as an independent idea formed after being informed, of how stories were intended to be told. i was always much more attracted to the idea that the heroes or princesses had a strange fascination, as well as fear, with what is dark. villains are often the unsung heroes, they are the supporting roles that provide contrast to starring roles. without proper support, would these heroes have gone on to maintain these positions, in play? equally as important as heroes, villains provided contrast and complex thoughts. villains are smart, which makes them much more of a threat than the pretty princesses through the kingdom of our perception. in this regard, i’ve always been the villain.

i think about how i grew up, always leading someone. always knowing better, never having to be coached, very rarely taught something. i remember the summer following second grade, i literally came out of the bathroom with the thought that i wanted to read. i sat for the whole day, at my grandma’s and taught myself to read a book called, “happy birthday moon” by frank asche. villains take initiative. those fucking princesses sit and wait to be urged to do something. us villains, we’re the movers, the do-ers that create those urges in the heroes. we provoke thoughts and illustrate execution. for, without the work of villains, would ordinary people be moved to become heroes? who is more important in the story, the aggressor whom is the villain or the hero, who in many cases at first becomes portrayed as a victim before they’re poised in heroic manner.

sitting front row at the show, donning sunglasses without expression to conceal any indication of enthusiasm- modern day villains rule the glossy world of high fashion. moving a million units during an opening week of record sales, engaged to the modern day marilyn monroe, speaking truth in unsuspecting spaces of artificiality- villains dominate in the rap world. it’s all in perception. but what would heroes be without the villains that drove their efforts? who is the real hero, if the villain is the one who provoked such a response? as the catalyst, villains too hold value. in our world, individuals of color have often been portrayed as villains. the dark side is often promoted as a bad place to be. powerful women are labeled bitches because they simply command respect rather than asking for it. in our world, the perception of good versus evil is somewhat skewed. as dynamics shift, the close of the year has brought about these thoughts in my mind. i would rather be painted as a villain for fighting what i believe in, for representing what i know as truth, rather than follow the rules and take the road more often traveled. off kilter, enraged, provoked- all words of evil connotation. what i’ve done in this space is shift perception with words. venturing off kilter to represent truth in un-obvious ways of interpretation. enraged by oppression to make a way for the betterment, by making the necessary sacrifice to demand that change. provoked by lack of recognition, pissed by the absence of acknowledgement- in search of such reward.

these are common threads and plots, but your view of what a villain lends to a story might be a misinterpretation. villains are inverted heroes with better outfits and greater dimension in story telling. there is beauty in darkness, as we’ve seen in our own lives as individuals of color. the darkness in which we derive diversifies our view of the world. the darkness in which we derive is a large factor into the ways that we reveal our passion, the ways we communicate, and the ways that we create. in providing us with range, our own darkness provides contrast to light. without darkness there can be no light. stories of both villains and heroes are just as important to one another. there is no competition in process. especially when comparing yourself to others. a win is a win, however you want to look at it. it can take someone less time to get a hit on billboard, but can take several years for an artist to develop a strong album, filled with multiple tracks, to comprise a powerful body of work. it’s all mindful presence of who you are, what you want and how you get there, through learning and development.

the focus of villains is more attractive than what we often see, in portrayals of heroes. i find myself relating to the villain in the story. the underlying lesson that, villain type casting can happen when one is victimized for too long. it’s a pathway that is often times neglected, or cast aside by easier stories. not to say that villains can’t become heroes in the end- but the point i make is that there is no right or wrong. each story is unique to the person starring in the story. the star of the story, in your story- should always be you. i have found myself to be the hero and the villain. it provides a full scope of accountability, a greater set of balance from both angles. power is power,  when people don’t understand it- they shy away from it and call it evil. my being evil cannot be used as an excuse for your inability to understand my depth. evil to some means superior, direct, without boundary. to me, evil is restraint, imprisonment, control. perception, much like style, is unique to the individual who is perceiving said subject. be who you wanna be- hero or villain. just win.


my little sister sent me a text message on thursday with the question, “why are things that say herringbone always so expensive?”. she has long been inspired by my sense of style, always recognizing my development and then pulling from it to use as recycled inspiration for how she becomes the woman she feels empowered enough to be. knowing off the top of my head what herringbone is, as a textile- i tried my best to explain it in a way that would be easily digestible. in my mind- the inspiration, the visuals, the music, the artists, the ideas, the influence. all of those elements are circulating, brewing like a stew, in my mind at all times, at a constant rate. layers upon layers, thoughts on top of thoughts. conversations with loved ones creating additional layers, much like the fibers that make up herringbone. in my current head space, that’s where i’ve lived. in the fibers of intellectuality, sorting through this big ass idea. somehow trying to find the words, even in this space; for the last several years to come to a place where i can communicate this large, grand scale vision. everything that i do creatively is one huge explanation. a cultivation, of represented taste and style, words and perception- as i see it. this work, the translation of all of these elements has long been my life’s work.

earlier in the week, i seen the above image of christy turlington in the december issue of american vogue. shot by inez and vinoodh, the image was shot for a feature on edun, which is a label that is produced and manufactured in africa, to create jobs in that region. an amazing concept, founded by bono and ali hewson. i hit my girl, leya, up with an iphone shot image from the pages of vogue. i thought about the appropriation of african or tribal aesthetics, wanting to show leya the dope ideas coming from high fashion that represented our culture of color. their basket weaving technique is both timeless and contemporary all in one in the shot. matching my enthusiasm, leya responded. i then offered the suggestion that we have basket weaving in leather done at the bodice of her wedding gown. all in fun, with no actual plans of a wedding in the near or distant future. i entertain these visionary ideas on a regular basis with people im close with. it’s all about connecting and representing a pure form of yourself at all times for me. the idea of her wedding gown, the use of weaving technique done in leather was all just a dope idea that came to mind at the moment, while i waited to get my weekly hair cut at the salon. edun has provided sourcing out of africa as a continent which has promoted trade in that region of the globe since 2005. growth opportunity, infrastructure and community built initiatives- later during the week, i realized the presence of this theme.

in my current pursuits, i’ve been looking to align in the sense of direction. artistically, in order to understand direction, a number of elements must come into play. in this space, i’ve communicated with you openly but understand that the internet, among many other things in our wildly social world, need boundaries. intentionally vague to protect my ideas and trajectory with certain projects, i will say that the content i’ve developed here has etched it’s way into my heart over the last several years. once running in divergence, the creative persona that i have embodied in this space has become parallel with who i actually am. in thought, in process and in development and execution- i am becoming who i have always wanted to be. recognizing though, in this regard, that i have more to pursue throughout this journey. i’ve been searching for the ideas, the signs, the tools and the wisdom all with an elevated sense of awareness. it’s all necessary when communicating through art.

in responding to my sister, i broke herringbone down along the lines of it being a finer grade of textile. that it was made up of multiple fibers, in pattern as a form of twill. i went on further to explain the grade of quality, using chanel as an example; as they are world renowned for their use of tweed, which is in the same textile grouping as twill thus, herringbone. i explained that the number of fibers that makes up herringbone is processed differently, and comes with a higher price tag for that very reason. now circling back for a second, think about process, in general. think about the ways that you interpret shit- the ways you break things down. i’ve spent most of my life trying to explain things to people because they didn’t get “it”. whether i was giving them instructions over the phone on where to find my jeans to check the fit in my bedroom, or explaining to my mom the importance of freedom in not giving a fuck- it’s all directional. while i’ve certainly gotten lost driving around the city i’ve lived in all my life, geography has never been my strong suit, nor have i ever cared to become a world traveler. while lack of travel, lack of education or formal training all say something, my development and expression of such speaks louder. these ideas, these thoughts all have a home. whether here or in my heart, the direction that i’ve chosen to take creatively has allowed me to become well endowed as a man, and artist.

throughout this elongated process of breakdowns, refining and production- i’ve found that everything is relative. with the right vision, in the correct method of translation, anything can be connected. it just takes the right artist, with the right vision to produce or direct these ideas. i started to feel like kanye getting buck with sway at sirius. that line, “you don’t got the answers- you ain’t been doing the education!” moved me to tears, it felt like me. in my disconnected state, in understanding that others were not like me, that i was separate, that i had something that set me apart. an exception. it was all too familiar when kanye started speaking and expressing in that frustrated of a state. again, another theme. in the grand scheme of life, there are no spoilers, but you do have instinct. artistically, as you develop you learn to trust that instinct. in those instinctual moments, thats you aligning with god through a greater purpose of delivering a message that he has allowed you, and only you to see.

that idea of transcendence, of matrimony with leya, of mentorship with my sister, of process of textile as it relates to style- it was there, glowing- right in from of my face. the direction so clear and vivid. sometimes, when you’re in the clutch, you start asking yourself, what the fuck am i doing? who the fuck understands what im trying to say? am i translating this vision thoroughly enough? you feel frustrated at the thought that you don’t have all the tools to deliver this huge vision that is so much greater than you, but seemingly a part of god as an installment in you. while so many of my own dreams remain unfulfilled, my evaluation of such and the timeline necessary to get to that point are different now. my old ideas are still fresh, still fervent with inspiration, dripping in innovation and imagination. the next step feels like it’s close enough to touch, sweet enough to taste. but i’ve been in it enough to know that, i don’t know. to call it would be illogical, because im not yet worthy of knowing what will happen next. i know myself well enough to understand that there is a power greater than me that is driving this force of potential, to a realized state of dreamery that will soon become a greater glimpse of my current reality. it’s about knowing where you stand and being aware enough in that position to launch, to be lifted and to transcend.

like the patterned process of herringbone, at the luxury level of chanel, communicating this extended level of beauty and style- my mind is herringbone personified. the journey and price i have paid throughout my development is the price tag. protagonists, antagonists- it’s all a part of the story. and im trying to make y’all understand what everything means. but if i can’t in these few words, i don’t know that you’ll ever understand. cause where i am is not where i am meant to be, but it’s good enough at this moment, because it’s necessary in leading me to the next step which soon leads to the final step. final, not as in the end, but final as the beginning because that’s where we are, and have been, for quite sometime. while the textile of my mind is still being processed, i know- the more fibers that make it up, the more luxurious it will be, thus impending a heavier price. a price that supersedes monetary value, or financial comfort. instead a price that is paid through recognition of great creative work. that in which has been studied and refined. where someone who has been doing the education is able to assist in finding the answers to the questions that others are dumb enough to ask, but not smart enough to find. intricate yes, but only to those who don’t know the process.



age is inevitable. we know that. but an interesting thing has been happening with women in the media. these forms of media being the fashion and film industry, it appears as though the concept of age has shifted. in they hey day of the 60’s the youth quake brought about the idea that everything needed to be young and carefree. that theme of youth remained in fashion, and has likely always been there. it’s the idea that all models should be young and each girl has a short timeline for the life of her career. in the basis of beauty, even outside of the runway, such maintenance of beauty is seemingly unrealistic. we’ve graduated now to the idea of aging gracefully. one of the first times i seen a celebration of women, of age, was in film with one of my all time favorites, the cult classic, ‘the first wives club’. it was the first time that i seen women, who were not in their pre-teens all coming together to discuss or portray issues that real women face every day. around that time, supermodels were still ruling the world, and in a sense they never really stopped. at present time, the original supers still posses an all powerful grasp on the world of consumerism and fashion. when you see cindy crawford, linda evangelista, christy turlington or the ever ageless, naomi campbell- it’s still a sight to see.

what the supers did for women, was create a realized mascot of beauty. these women were pioneers of cosmetics, genetics and super styled fashion direction. long before the days of botox, and the surge of plastic surgery, those women had females trying out different make-up techniques and playing with silhouettes. while those models very rarely walk the catwalks as they used to, they continue to book campaigns and covers. their visibility is still undeniable. all in their 40’s presently, the girls have created a greater pathway and career trajectory for models. age no longer seems like a boundary, or an unspoken issue. there is a clear focus on imperfections as reality, and thus of beauty. they bring to mind the idea of women and aging.

women in fashion can often surpass the idea of aging, when subscribing to undeniably chic style. if you look at anna wintour, anna dello russo, the eternally chic carine roitfeld or even elle fashion director, kate lanphear- all are women of age. but their incredible minds, in business and style, allow you not to think about their age, but their power through greater forms of mind. beauty is correlated to age, which is closely related to perception. if beauty can change in the minds of those who think of it, age is the same approach. your age, the ways you celebrate or conceal it are all entirely up to you. as we understand the greater complexities of us, as people, only then can we combat industry politics or break the walls that keep many talented individuals out of certain business ventures. with the breakdown of age, beauty and color- we find ourselves inching closer to the cure. the cure for all forms of discrimination that lead us to dead end roads filled with love and understanding. i’ve watched as women of age, age gracefully, becoming more and more powerful through the years of lessons learned and love lost. i wanted to speak to this mindset in my journey of introducing new content that leads you, my reader, to greater awareness. take an understanding of the world around you, to understand how best to strategize to make a better way. perception is everything.


brewing under the surface, the influence of urban lifestyles has gained traction as far as impact in the mainstream market for the past several years. birthing influential figures in the process, the growing popularity of documenting the lifestyles of black americans through reality tv reveals a greater glimpse at this wave of influence. the eruption of programming in the vein of black lifestyles and personalities, began to hit the small screen in 2006 with VH-1’s ‘flavor of love’. though not the best program to represent the culture, people were watching. these were the first glimpses of ratchetivities that we seen on television, and in this vein, many other shows were created in it’s likeness. the evolution of such programming has been a long road that continues to evolve, each year, each season. in the form of the bravo franchise ‘real housewives of atlanta’, this series is among the most popular on television, out of the five variations that the bravo television network has conceptualized and produced. VH-1 seems to continue to hold the torch, having created some of the earlier programs with similar themes, centered around the lives of black celebrities or personalities, with such programs like basketball wives, love and hip-hop new york and atlanta, as well as black ink crew, T.I. & tiny’s: family hustle, and marrying the game. all shows again, are centered around providing a glimpse into the lives of black americans. within these programs, an influence has begun to cultivate even further.

in music, the history of rhythm and blues has been widely regarded as a black sound, representing the anguish and sorrow experienced in the lives of black singers, songwriters and musicians. this history dates back as far as the 1940’s and it’s genre influence still penetrates today. modern contemporary R&B is a combination of rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk and hip-hop musical genres and is still very much an african-american or otherwise black sound. the influence of R&B and it’s post modern sister genre is among the most influential in music. R&B vocal stylings have long been mimicked by many white artists, historically. artists like elvis presley, had been known to have stolen influence from black musical vocal stylings, and this theme of theft or impersonation still continues with some of the most successful artists in the history of music. more recently, adele, who has been the most successful act in recent years, in music- has sold over 32.9 million albums around the world and has widely regarded black artists like beyoncé and etta james as her influences. other pop musical acts like christina aguilera and justin timberlake, have also taken vocal styling queues from soul legends and R&B vocalists, while pop entertainers like britney spears cite other black acts like janet jackson among their most influential figures. i say all this to say, the influence of black people, through talent and personality are not to be ignored. to understand that our method of communicating and telling stories has had a longstanding influence is to say the least. the musical impact of such talents has allowed such persons to garner opportunities such as tv shows, and though these opportunities may not be in equal number what our influence looks like from a panoramic view, it’s progress.

in july of 2008, who could forget when italian vogue brought forth the most impactful form of black influence in the form of their ‘all black issue’. while industry insiders had cited that showcasing and casting of black models made products ‘unsellable’, this issue combated that perception very directly, becoming the ‘most wanted issue’ and best selling in the history of italian vogue. it ran out of print- twice. furthermore, this single issue, which was centered around the promotion and inclusion of black models became the only issue that was ever reprinted in the history of condé nast publishing. since then, there have been greater glimpses of change, as more and more designers continue to showcase models of color on the runway. also being included in campaign castings, though it has been a long tried, and hard road- progress is visible.

with the greater emergence of suit and sport; the combining of athleticism and upper class form of dress; has become that much more pronounced for the SS14 season in high fashion as well. again, this influence stems from the communities of black people; adapted from the styling often associated with hip-hop. referring back to R&B, rap music is one of the strongest influences of black culture that has been able to affect society. many of the modern influences seen in many other exploits of vision and concept are borrowed from that culture. the point i make, is to allow visibility of the influence of black individuals and to provide you with a greater sense of clarity, as far as our boundaries are concerned. with the content that has been developing here, it’s all for the sake of direction. to understand that our approach to style, or personalization does lead to a greater cultural influence, especially here in america. from influences in television, to our long influential reign in the world of music, many adapt to the sounds and styles that our community of color represent and inspire, every day. the rise of urban luxury represents a greater theme of change and evolution to the ways in which our hybrid sensibility as a group will bring fourth a better view of who we are as people, not as separate individuals but as a culture of one. as an individual of color, understand the ways that you represent a greater level of influence, and allow this knowledge and awareness to inspire you to move to your own beat, create what you know as true and to represent all of those elements with pose and dignity. who we are now, is a glimpse into who we were but does not limit us to where we are headed, not as artists or people with voices.