PRINCE + THE AFTER LIFE

PRINCE

unrestrained, and in creative control; the life, legacy and career of prince is transcendent. beyond genres, generations and even mere identities, sonically he was just as much of an experience as he was a living breathing artist. a lyricist, and multi-instrumentalist- his career spans over three decades, and much of his influence seems to only scratch the surface of what will come to be many, many years from now. in the league of legends, now passing, prince, i will say; is among the most criminally underrated, and yet his influence knows no bounds or limitations. a legendary original, without compare or compromise.

escapism at it’s finest, the early years of prince, born prince rogers nelson in 1958; seen him honing his skill set and playing multiple instruments with a band in high school. before his record contract signing, record executives often mistook prince as an entire band, since his wide ranged vocal abilities and multiplied use of instrumentation in production appeared almost impossible for one person. signed by warner brothers at 17 years old, and was originally intended to work with maurice white, of earth, wind and fire. since the beginning of his career, prince was adamant about creative control. and always took every effort to be at the forefront of his creative process from start to finish. he excised such passion though full force production of his musical recording sessions and in his stage shows as well. throughout his challenging of culture and reformation of musical genre bending pursuits of expression, prince’s catalog became so intertwined with the musical experience that they were fixtures within our cerebral cortex. it’s the type of influence that is cultivated through several elements, that tie memories, senses and beauty together all in one musical microcosm. as i sit here and write, the more words i pour into this space, it seems unfit for the experience.

among his expansive discography, words do not to the influence of prince much justice. he existed in a world that peaked through sexual exploration, artistic eminence and domination of creativity. what prince did was create music. among his influence and even his many proteges throughout his career and beyond, spawned were many others who were also touched by his influence. a true marker of R&B evolution through use and application of jazz, blues, rock and pop magic- there is no other artist who has or will exist within the purest forms of inspiration like that of prince. notoriously shy, opinionated and strong- prince’s legacy has yet to be revealed. among the many wonders he always left unanswered, with his death, many may recall the speculation of ‘the vault‘; a secured arsenal of music, that has never been heard by the public.

prince, in his early days in minneapolis, was referred to a younger stevie wonder. conceptual in nature, many of the concepts in which housed each of his musical projects, themes were of great importance to him. since the late 70’s the vault reportedly houses upwards of 2,000 unheard and unreleased songs by prince. an actual vault, which is located at his minnesota estate, holds these records; and many fans through the years have wondered when all of this music will be released. notorious for his mystique and desires for privacy continue to keep us wonder up to today. is it possible that prince has planned the posthumous release of all this music? before digital, many have questioned whether the vault and it’s musical treasures will remain preserved or if they are planned for release. time will tell, but it seems as though, even today, with the expansive musical offerings we have, and have heard; production elements were lightyears ahead, innovation at it’s finest. his recording process has reportedly seen him producing one album per week, a process he had already implemented well into the 80’s. his compound, paisley park, houses the vault and was his main residence where he created music.

a revolution of incredible influence, i cannot say this enough- prince crosses all borders of gender, sexuality and artistry. a pioneer for creative control, and an opinion which has shot past many others, in the realm of industry. the story, for me and many others, of prince- is not now, nor will it ever be over. i offer you the opportunity to not read into my interpretation of who this artist was in life, but to think about it, originally, and understand the cultural impact of his work; and to listen to the music, to come to your own opinion of what he has created. of beauty, prince remains untouched in his curation of experience through sound. through sound, his penetrated emotions, and was able to resonate through memories that have always kept him timeless. this will not change in death.

a visual history through prince’s discography
the complete prince album discography

FASHION ON FILM: THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY

first-monday-in-may-lgthe collision of art and commerce, the debate of high art versus high fashion. the study and skill of combining aspects of culture in a high/low sensibility to break barriers has been mastered by anna wintour throughout her legendary tenure at vogue. the first monday in may focuses on the metropolitan museum’s annual costume gala, and explores the ideas and origins of the museum’s past affairs and how it has evolved. more specifically, the film zeroes in on the most recent gala, themed “china: through the looking glass”. director, andrew rossi carefully etched the perfect balance of ideas, planning and process; to give us a true look at what goes into the met gala from cradle to grave. throughout the documentary, the usual vogue crew is in attendance. leader of the pack anna wintour, again, takes center stage. appropriately so, baring in mind the ‘anna wintour costume center‘ was christened with her name in 2014 by michelle obama. the presence of wintour is one that many vogue fans and fashion spectators have come to accept, with any regard to american fashion. much like, the september issue, the real star of the documentary goes to andrew bolton, who is the curator responsible for the alexander mcqueen: savage beauty (2011) exhibition. the film takes you through the history of the met, from it’s high art reference point, and circles down to present day; intricately and delicately de-compartmentalizing the power behind wintour. highlighted is her understanding of power, and influence- thus, celebrity. perhaps the museum’s most prominent and influential figure since diana vreeland; wintour boasts strength in number and is largely to credit for re-branding the met and ushering in a new era for the house of countless art pieces and artifacts in the multi-million dollar range. addressed are the varying issues surrounding awareness and sensitivity of culture, the importance of balance and the existing tensions between high art and high fashion. speaking to the theme of tradition, shown is the chinese art board of directors arguing for modernization; as bolton, wintour and costume institute head, harold koda find themselves having to defend their intent to highlight the historical past and inspiration of china in forms of fashion, and costume. not a documentary you want to miss, if you are a fan of both art or fashion. while many fashion documentaries exist on the scene and in the archives; none are quite as special as this. regarded for it’s use of range, and true recognition of culture through evolution, the documentary was exceptionally well done. from rihanna to galliano this has range and is a must see.

the first monday is may’ is now playing in select cinemas
visit the documentary official website for showtimes

BRAND DNA: YVES SAINT LAURENT

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brands are constantly reinventing themselves in our industry. the first of a new fashion history series i’m rolling out; the ‘brand DNA’ series will see me looking back at the code of each brand, respectively. as a part of this review process we will look at house origins, iconic moments and what lies ahead for the future. with the recent headlines circulating the house of saint laurent, there is no better label to start this series.

last week is was officially announced that hedi slimane was to exit the house; an installment that originally began in 2012. slimane’s history with the house began in 1996 within the menswear division of the label, where he is widely credited for skinny jeans and slim fitting male silhouettes (2000-01) among other style elements which have become staples in the modern male style movement. he parted ways with the brand in 2000, and drifted into the industry as a photographer, working on editorial projects and assorted campaign clients. for the most part he was said to be retired from high fashion design, but when stefano pilati was uninstalled as creative director in 2012, a position he held since 2004, following the departure of tom ford (1999-2004). respectively, each era cannot be discounted for the overall influence of the brand from origination to now.

along the way, each designer has left their own impression and interpretation of the iconic french fashion house. more of a new school forerunner, the house of yves saint laurent rose like a phoenix after yves himself was ousted from he house of christian dior, after he was appointed by dior himself at just 19 years old. his mentorship under dior created a very unique pathway of glamour, and when the house of yves saint laurent was founded, there was a mystique of sexual darkness embedded into the house code. tom ford, who’s legendary gucci era made the house what it is today is synonymous with sleek sex appeal and chic seduction. the relationship between ford and laurent went south when laurent disagreed with the direction ford was taking and spared no time in expressing such feelings. during stefano pilati’s time at the label his intention was to re-unify the house and it’s french heritage. yves saint laurent, who died in 2008 from brain cancer, started the house with his long time business and life partner, pierre bergé  in 1961 after he left dior.

the original code of the house popularized the safari look, debuted by laurent between the 60’s and 70’s, he also created the classic tuxedo suit for women in ’66, affectionately known as le smoking suit. many of the laurent’s muses were iconic or diplomatic women in france, which further allowed for the brand’s name to become etched into french fashion history. the label, yves saint laurent, reflected many aspects of darkness aligned with the personal life of saint laurent the man. he battled addiction as well as depression, on the heels of the tumultuous 70’s glam era of studio 54. amidst the history of the brand, now exists questions of where the future will lead. anthony vaccarello was announced as the new creative director at yves saint laurent and will likely inject his flavoring for sexy lines and powerful presence. vaccarello has his own line, and has also worked with donatella versace, for the versus line; where his level of attention to feminine prowess has been at the forefront. i always like to see how new minds interpret the house code. with a roster of iconic styles and french flavor galore, vaccarello is an interesting choice. slimane and his emo-hipster rocker vibe escalated revenue to $1 billion during his 4-year stint; and rumors are swirling that he will land at dior next or even chanel. i would love to see vaccarello honor the diversity of the brand, especially in representing women of color, which slimane was largely criticized for overlooking. saint laurent is credited as affording naomi campbell the title of being the first black model on the cover of french vogue, after he historically threatened to pull all advertising and uses of the YSL brand if they did not cooperate with his choice to outfit her and feature her. in honor of this series, a campaign image of iman, shot by giampaolo barbieri (1980).

the brand DNA series will recount house heritage
style signatures and cultural influence of selected labels
campaign image colorized for reinterpretation

 

CHAPTER 4. WINDOWS & DOORS

chapter four. opportunities come in as many dimensions as those who guide us to said destinations. the range of such vary from a needed push, a need to sit back, to surrender control and demand it. in life, we can be lead astray by misguided advice, lack of awareness or intuition; and disabled measures of trust in ourselves, and the higher power that lights our pathways. for a while, i kept looking for opportunities in doors, and advanced through many in my life. understanding that the method of navigation was all up to me; i looked down every hall, and walked into every building to find as many doors as i could, as advised by those who wanted to see me win. but as i walked through each door, the decor never seemed right. i felt myself arranging everything, and tailoring each space, through each door way, into the space i envisioned in my mind; but could never find. feeling like i needed air, i began to crave light and air.

dark spaces, with elevated temperature; each door contained bodies and minds, opinions and mindsets that didn’t agree with mine. whenever that would happen, i would exit that door and find the next one. getting progressively agitated, bothered and combating the feeling of being trapped; i took the leap of faith that brought me to new york city. i’ve been here for over a year now. guided by love and my own desire to be understood and connected; to function on a higher level. i dedicate so much time to information, to communicate about development. to connect everyone through beauty, through a common understanding that creates light and power. through each door, i understood more of beauty, more of light, and more of love. in this figurative, and rigorous journey of impasses; i found more of myself, more of others and collected insight through each entry and exit.

i kept looking at the windows; and cracked them for air, eventually closing them. and exiting through the next door. i repeated this pattern for several years, even into this year. and now, i’ve closed all doors, and jumped out the window. leading to a action of flight that i could have taken earlier, but wasn’t quite ready to see or ready to take action to fulfill. purposefully fragmented, something is coming. from meetings and options to my level of awareness and geographic location, i am humbled by the divine support that guides me and the real ones who can see me, in a real way, for my instincts and vision. I’m functioning on a level that is so elevated past bullshit, i am unchained, unrestricted by in a very intentional way that keeps me locked into the vision of it all. it’s about responsibility and unity in flight. togetherness and community being unified by beauty and execution. escaping a painted doorway to jump. not knowing, but trusting.

CHAPTER 3. GOD BLESS THE MODELS

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chapter three. back when i was in school, i would get teased because i would only hang around girls. but in hindsight, my destiny has always been guided by women. powerful women with strong ideas, and powerful presence. who understand their impact of power and the strength found in subtlety. every single aspect of every visual industry is built around the inspiration, beauty and presence of women. let that never be forgotten. it’s such an important level of understanding to have when working in entertainment, when working to develop female talent, when working to provide an elevated sense of awareness in young women. laying the foundation for the future, i have taken every opportunity to tell girls how powerful they are. how important it is to stay aware, to be powerful and to learn how to be poised in such forms.

models are performers, they are the transformers and the most visible. though power in development, and power in proactivity is pumped behind them from an industry standpoint, from the agency prospective- it’s ultimately up to the model to receive the message, to translate these ideas and to come from a place within to raise the bar. not even just for herself, but for those that come after her, with regard to who came before her. to represent the community in which she derives, to be uniquely feminine but draw a familiar relativity, in a way that says, proudly, i am a woman. in my interactions, i have never sat back, never hesitated to push women forward, to speak to girls and get them to see what i see. and while this approach has sometimes been frowned upon, as if i was taking too much time; it is both my professional and personal belief that the development process is one of delicate nature. where frustration should bated. patience should be protected and understanding should be nurtured.

in the future of the industry, girls will exist with greater power because they have been developed in a way that protects and acknowledges their individual presence- where true beauty lives and never dies. this is my most pure belief. it is in these moments that girls become women. when insecurity is peeled back and exposed are formats of individuality. it’s very sensitive work, to speak to women with such a big vision for them, that they, in some forms cannot see for themselves. it simply comes with living, about exposing impressionable minds to what posture, professionalism and opportunity can mean. it’s all based on presence. in my years as a writer, in building a presence, and a brand for myself; i too have grown. so i identify with the women that i work with to develop. to move past potential and to really win. this is for all the models, still looking for contracts and for the one’s who’ve been successful. it’s all about doing it for the team. and at the end of the day, we’re all striving to the same goal- to be beautiful and aware of that beauty. to be successful and for people to see us for who we are, instead of who they want us to be.

this new pathway will see me securing stronger opportunity by protecting my personal philosophy for continually believing in women, and for doing the good for worlds of beauty, and the industry that promotes it. speaking with more experience, realism and a little bit of fire. i believe in those who have believed in me, and every single day i fight for culture. i fight for every shade of skin, for every idea that was thought to be impossible, and for every dream that was too beautiful to fathom as a reality. here’s to us.

IS RUNWAY DEAD?

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“to be honest, i don’t care about shows anymore”, i said. after a whirlwind season. running from venue to venue, with a personal driver and running with two models on each arm. the name of the game in today’s ever changing market is making an undeniable shift. the internet has no doubt impacted visual industries in more ways than one, as consumers expectations for real time products and goods is at an all-time high. with rapid release elements like fast fashion and live streams all being a thing of today- i’ve been feeling, and discussing with those around me; how much of a chore runway appears to be these days. with social media now at the forefront, brands and designers alike have been taking alternative pathways to presentations and showings of collections. with live stream, or runway film replacing the traditional format, is runway over?

talk of in-season collections was reviewed by the french fashion council and denied, but the american fashion council is looking to make alterations to adjust to consumer needs and market behaviors. with fast fashion retailers like zara and H&M churning out trends faster than the speed of light, the content we see on the catwalk seers right past us, as we find ourselves looking for the next thing far too quickly. one has to question whether fashion is over saturating its own market. even the victoria’s secret fashion show, a staple of american runway; though more commercial and conceptual than wearable, reportedly had it’s lowest ratings in 2015. with celebrity soaking up the fashion stratosphere more actively than ever- girls like kendall jenner, gigi hadid and zoe kravitz- audiences are tired.

there are many reports which outline that this trend is rising throughout fashion; tom ford opted out of shows this season, designers like azzedine alia never show, and burberry has even trying to reinvigorate their runway shows with offering selected designs immediately for purchase. options to replace shows have been seen in the form of fashion films, pre-shot look books- and each option is significantly less to fund. shows used to be a focus of attention for fashion insiders- editors and buyers exclusively. shows are a media circus these days, and seating arrangements are more strategy for PR than anything else. in private conversations with editors, producers and model’s as well- everyone rolls their eyes waiting for the madness to be over. as monetarily important as these moments are for all of us during these seasons- the industry is changing.

runway will likely never die, it will just evolve more aggressively. for designers on the come up, the more financially modest options work in their favor. much like people thinking radio would fade with television, or magazines would vanish with websites- all formats are still in existence today. maybe not as successfully as some may have predicted; but this is the name of the game in our modern times. we’re just being given more access to more content, at a much more rapid pace. i’ll be following these developments and can speak to the emotion that shows are boring and redundant, and appear to be losing steam and creativity. this, i’ve spoken on for the past several years. let’s see what the artists of the industry create to redefine what runway means, and how to serve our now accelerated expectations.

view a full study here conducted by the CFDA
regarding the decline in runway popularity

CHAPTER 2. FOR THE LOVE OF INDUSTRY

chapter two. it’s never been about style, not about glamour; and not about beauty. it’s been about truth, opportunity and integrity. it’s been rooted in culture, glazed in emotion and filled with love. part of why my voice is still active, is because this process of communication from me to you is that important. the extension of my voice is not even about me, though from the looks of how many selfies i post- some might disagree. see, i know and understand fully the scope of not only my potential but my power. and to encapsulate such prowess into one period, or one year, or a brief moment of time would not do me justice. there are layers. while some may confuse my confidence for arrogance; to be this self assured and aware is a blessing that i will not back away from.

beginning on the outside, now standing on the inside looking outward; for a way to bring the rest of you inside with me- i speak now conflicted. caught in a strategy of my own doing, with many manifestations blazing in front of my eyes with birth in my own dreams. i often discuss ideas, or beliefs- philosophies and examine my own understanding. i’ve invested time and understanding and people, not because i was told to; but because it’s what i’ve felt was right. it’s been about the industry, but not for selfish reasons- it’s been about connecting people. informing people and encouraging people. it’s been about knowing when to be silent, when to speak; and for the foresight in which i possesses to properly document and speak to the pockets of culture that don’t always have a voice.

in my incubation process, i researched, and gather as much understanding in that process as possible. i had a real job, did regular things- and continue to ground myself in such processes. i’ve come to find that many are intimidated by this. some are inspired, and some are intrigued. it doesn’t take much explaining; and for those who need an explanation- they just don’t get it. i’ve sat in front of the speakers, reading the liner notes. i tallied the album sales, i’ve had the arguments about influence; i’ve seen the clothes, sung the songs and watched year after year. to develop an understanding at the level in which i have is to take over twenty years of field research. this process of mental marination is not something that many can understand, or even something that many would do- but it’s all based on love.

it’s about strength in weaknesses, the ugly truth behind the beauty; and the intelligence found in the trivial and unseen. to represent culture is to become one with culture; to make a difference is to be the difference. to break away from falsification is to be so rooted in facts that can’t nobody fuck wit it. and that’s where i stand. purposefully fragmented, and coded only for those who know what’s coming- this is a process. and to breakdown the existing to provide the foundation for the new is to suffer, to take the pain and make a new way, and sometimes go at it alone. change is upon us, and in an industry that thrives on change and transformation- we are here. it’s about knowing your goals and understanding power in strategy. it’s everything. it’s in ever single space and character- it’s written, and spoken. it’s silently loud and only you can identify it once you peel back the layers. what we’ve built here is at the forefront of the next level.

through experience and emotional connectivity; what i have done as a person is taken you with me- you have listened, responded and felt what i feel in many ways. i tell you now- the times that i’ve sat in silence, with no reaction, i was listening. when i spoke, it was because i understood and when i’ve waited, it’s because it wasn’t the right time. much of the next phase is a culmination of all these elements; of style, of time, and patience. from the exterior to the interior, the real changes begin now. and to be very clear- it’s about culture and the  influence that thrives within those walls, powerfully and undeniably.