Zac Posen is preparing us for a Spring where romance conquers all with looks reminiscent of Sixties glamour + ladylike appeal, with a sprinkling of modern flair. Sweetened by floral embellished shoe heels in contrasting colorways, to florals on dresses, further romanticized by embroideries, most pieces could easily make their way from the office to a night out, just by switching up your accessories + maybe adding a strong eye or lip. Sometimes, these floral details appeared as colorful line drawings on top of sheer fabrics, depicting other parts of a flower like large leaves all over the strapless midi dress far below. Other times, you would just find a pattern complete with flowers, bold strokes of color, further enhanced by hints of metallic accents.
There were some dresses that played up a woman’s modesty with its midi skirt + short sleeves with tie detail, while simultaneously, submitting to a woman’s figure with a heavily darted torso, highlighting the waistline + slightly accentuating the bust. Although, a similar dress in white reminded me of a vintage nurse’s uniform, minus the tie detail + wider short sleeves, by undoing a few more buttons on top, would deepen the neckline, to expose the hint of a lacy or mesh bra + adding sexy high heels, would definitely change the mood to effortless sizzle.
But in true Posen form, there were gowns for days, which he always masters. By now, I’m thinking he does this wearing a blindfold. I’m sure with awards season underway, how could he resist? Some reminded me of something that would make us all swoon by seeing actress Shanina Shaik walking down the red carpet or even Amal Clooney with all her elegance. Of course, if a gown is considered to predictable, there’s a perfect long gray column skirt embellished with same colored floral accents, perfect to pair with a voluminous blouse sporting open shoulder detail or a plunging backline.
However, my favorite takeaway from the whole collection had to be the satin T-strap heeled shoes, that had what looked like floral still lifes encrusting the heel in contrasting colors. The floral elements looked like brooches attached to the heel due to how far out they protruded from the shoe.
A few weeks ago, after attending an early morning Saturday dance class at Spec-Chuan Movement & Arts Center (SCMA), I started crushing on Queens in a big way. I took my first ever Bollywood class (part of their World Series classes), taught by Sankalp Sharma. Much to my surprise, not only did my body break a sweat but it also made me regress back to my days back in daycare, running around the dance space, in every direction, to warm up. But you’ve been warned – to be in a room full of strangers, that early in the day and running around like a small kid, is sure to cause giggling + leave you with a huge smile.
Once Sharma began describing the first part of the choreography, I came to appreciate Bollywood dancing that much more, likening it to a form of interpretive dance, where your dance moves become a type of sign language to describe song lyrics. We danced to a love song on how the lead singer was trying to seduce their love interest, re-enacting their every move to ensure he or she would take notice. From waving our hands while walking forward to highlight our swagger, to dipping biscuits in tea, our love was not going unnoticed. A few moves later, we cooled down with deep breathing + quick stretches.
But what made SCMA so special to drag me out of my bed in West Harlem to make it all the way to Queens on a Saturday morning? Quite simply, its founder, Xiao Chuan Xie (a.k.a. Chuan, pronounced ‘Truan’), seen below, + her journey that led to opening such an incredible place.
Chuan started her dancing career in the Nanjing Jingling Arts Organization in China + trained as a ballerina before her 2009 descent into New York to join the Martha Graham Dance Company(a modern dance institution), which led to rave reviews from the New York Times. In 2015, Chuan then made her way to Broadway starring in the Tony award winning production of ‘The King & I’, part of Lincoln Center’s Theater 2015 revival, with critical acclaim. Yet, this newfound success came at a price, which I further explored when interviewing Chuan.
(photo: Paul Kolnik)
From Chuan’s bio, I learned how Chuan’s mind + body disconnect led to her birth of SCMA. According to her, the grueling non-stop eight-hour days of dancing/rehearsal as a professional dancer (with Martha Graham Dance Company) kept chipping away at her body in ways a lot deeper than what lied on the surface. Once on Broadway, while doing intense repetitive movements on autopilot, regardless of her flexibility, led to a hip injury in 2015. During her recovery period, she discovered many ways to connect her body with her mind.
Chuan’s various therapeutic methods included Physical Therapy + Acupuncture, which made her aware of herself where she told me she was experiencing how the body can restore so many of our childhood traumas + memories without the conscious mind knowing it. She added, “ I found out that I would unconsciously lock my arms close to myself as a result of locking my rib cage as well as if I was over-protecting myself. I discovered that my tail bone was always tucked under first because of my ballet training, second I believe it’s because the female protection (I am still studying this fact, which is fascinatingly happening to a lot of females); I also explored that I could connect with my organs, fluids, + nerves when moving so I would be more fully supported.” (See diagram below) So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that other classes taught at SCMA include Pilates, Yoga, Mindfulness Practice, Joy Flow + Evening Stretch.
Of course, being a Certified Movement Analyst from Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies, Chuan deepened her understanding of the human body + how movement relates to our health + mental state, which brings us back to the importance of the mind + body connection. As the diagram above shows, when moving your finger, your toe or hand can affect your brain. This, in turn, is why I should’ve taken my dance class barefoot, to really feel the energy reverberating throughout the bamboo floors up into me.
According to Chuan, Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) is a tool to observe and experience human movement in a detailed + multilateral way. Dance/Movement Therapy’s main observation method is based on LMA. Chuan explained, “I am able to see people’s movement pattern clearly + provide a suitable exercise or class for different people,“ + what better place to celebrate different people than in Queens for SCMA’s location over a spot in Brooklyn, the hub of NYC cool or even Manhattan.
Even in deciding on the name, Spec-Chuan Movement & Arts Center, the inclusion of differences was one of the main components. Originally set to launch in 2016, at the time, Chuan told me how she asked friends to brainstorm ideas for the name. She mentioned to a friend how much she loved the rainbow because of how it always makes people smile + it contains so many colors + that friend suggested the word ‘Spectrum’. Chuan said it sounded like Spec-Chuan. “I didn’t know the meaning of the word at the moment. Then I checked the meaning + I fell in love with it! Especially the Latin word ‘specter’ means ‘vision, apparition’,” said Chuan, whereas Chuan means river in Chinese. Chuan added, “I have this vision of light shining on a body of water, the water reflects the different colors of light back to the sky, + the water is flowing and the colors are changing constantly. The name fits my belief of the inclusiveness in an ever-changing world.”
Now what I found to be so fascinating is Chuan’s timing for such a place. Considering the political climate that we’re living in now, where immigrants have become pariahs of American society, SCMA is a safe place where different cultures are celebrated. With various dance classes offered including Bollywood, African/Caribbean, + Chinese Folk Dance, what better way to check your stress at the door than through dance, the great equalizer where everyone is the same? I even noticed for myself, through a quick neighborhood tour led by Chuan surrounding SCMA, you couldn’t ignore the heavy enclave of Chinese, Indian/Pakistani, Hispanic + Caribbean people that live there. So for as much as these people might pass each other on the street on a daily basis, imagine them coming together to meet one another + shower each other with accolades through their different cultural dances? (Exploring dances from other cultures is in the works for the future.)
But Chuan isn’t the only one that’s noticed the impact wellness has on people’s lives, as immigrants themselves have taken notice, pointing out to me various stops during our tour, of the different fruit markets selling organic, freshly made juices + smoothies. It just seems that SCMA’s presence in this Queens hood has added more synergy to a place already harmonious with the change of the times, even though parts of it have remained untouched for almost thirty years.
So when you think of Queens, don’t just think about all you can eat but rather how much more you can experience + visit Spec-Chuan Movement & Arts Center for a dance class. Not only will you not regret it but you’ll leave relaxed, smiling + maybe make a few friends. Click here to schedule your first class.
Influenced by the exotic, lush landscapes of his childhood years in Hawaii, “Slonem has noted that he first was fascinated by parakeets when he was ten, + at sixteen bought some birds in a market in Nicaragua,” as writer, reporter, + cartoonist Anthony Haden Guest points out. When visiting his New York studio once myself, a work of art on its own, with various rooms completely painted in one singular color, briefly captured in the book, you seem to feel like you’re being transported into another reality, comprised of colorful spaces inhabited not only by Hunt’s variety of parrots, parakeets, macaws + cockatoos, but also by different groupings of the artist’s paintings + sculptures (below).
Repetitive imagery, a motif synonymous with Hunt’s work, would bring to mind Andy Warhol, which Hunt himself once mentioned in an Interview magazine December 2011 interview, by Claire Stein, as an influence saying, “I was influenced by Warhol’s repetition of soup cans + Marilyn,” adding, “But I’m more interested in doing it in the sense of prayer, with repetition… It’s really a form of worship,” which is quite evident in his attention to detail applied to most of his paintings with deep crosshatch marks made throughout. These indentations, a signature of Hunt’s work, further the theory of repetition giving the image a sense of movement, but as mentioned in Guest’s BIRDS essay, ‘You’re In Wonderland’, regarding this repeat technique, “Slonem will usually paint them in profile, as did John James Audubon, + he often arranges them by species + in multiple images, but not so as to emphasize their sameness in the manner of most painters of multiples, but rather to bring out at once their abundant presence + their lively uniqueness.”
(‘TOCOS 1’, 2008 | ‘HERB’S CARDINALS’, 2014 )
Author Jacqueline Bograd Weld describes Hunt’s paintings as “literally a whirl of paint-a thick impasto that Hunt grids or swirls at will. The birds + images appear and reappear in a purely visual space, an all-over style, in which there is no clear beginning or end or edge or corner,” reminding her of his stylistic roots in the recurring imagery of abstract expressionism + in Jackson Pollock’s gestural painting, in the Foreword A Fond Sonore. This clearly sets the tone for every masterpiece he assumes to create, always proving to be triumphant upon applying that last stroke of paint + or that last line cutting through it.
Called the ‘Interchangeable Workwear for the Hybrid Worker’, designer Olivia Le Blanc’s AW 2017 collection not only breaks gender barriers but also repurposes utilitarian looks with futuristic appeal under her brand ØBLANC.
Deconstructed to be worn multiple ways, by using various fasteners, bag straps + zippers, different pieces get to show some skin or distort one’s silhouette, by allowing the user to change the item’s fit every time. Let’s face it, who likes to be seen in the same thing twice, let alone pay more money to own more than one of the same? According to HUNGER magazine, this all ties into ‘ØBLANC’s focus on longevity + multi-purpose fashion, as well as paying homage to the functional + historic styles worn for work.’
If you love really long sleeves, why not just attach longer ones to it with the help of straps, that can later be removed to avoid getting them dirty when you reach for your hot cocoa come Fall? But what would inspire New York’s own to create such beauty with items most dismiss as looking too much like a uniform? Simply, Le Blanc told HUNGER how “the functionality + durability of workwear combined with interchangeability + unconventional materials” inspired this collection. That said, Le Blanc’s sensitivity for the environment is made possible by using recycled materials + giving them that ‘little extra something special’ with her own spin to the final creation. In fact, Le Blanc told HUNGER how she’s been repurposing items dating back to her high school days. Le Blanc said, ” I think it is a great way to eliminate over production + influence DIY creativity for the masses,” adding, “I also think using unconventional materials such as inflatables +d rubber boots are an interesting trend in sustainability.”
Of course, don’t think for one second that Le Blanc is on the gender fluidity bandwagon simply because it is popular + the direction of the future, but it’s part of the founding philosophy for ØBLANC. As she told HUNGER, “The philosophy for ØBLANC is creating iterations of hybrid gender through the clothes. There is a need in American fashion for reducing the divide of femininity + masculinity in fashion. There needs to be more boldness in this realm of style.”
(gif: cause and yvette)
Overall, ØBLANC’s AW 2017 collection is not only interesting, unique + wearable but definitely one to keep watching for seasons to come.
Last Friday, I participated in an art project that was both liberating + exhilarating!
If you happened to be in the Times Square area, you might have seen me naked, along with more than 100 men + women, getting our bodies painted, as part of the free ‘BODY NOTES’ project aimed to promote body positivity. Considered ‘a powerful, positive visual feast’ by Cosmopolitan magazine, participants + on-lookers alike really enjoyed this event of using the naked body as a canvas to highlight different body types in bright colors. Much to my surprise + bewilderment, I found myself amongst their article photos, sporting my ‘resting bitch face’, as my friends often tease me, in all my blue naked glory.
(photo: GETTY | COSMOPOLITAN)
Inspired by the ‘Subway Therapy‘ art project comprised of post-its, creators Andy Golub, producer of NYC Bodypainting Day + Matthew Chavez, street artist behind the subway project, thought it would be a great way for people to express themselves through their words and their bodies + that we did! But don’t you believe for a second, my decision to participate was an easy one to make.
Three weeks prior to the event, after seeing the ad featuring several photos of past models, bearing different sayings across their torsos, I immediately thought of what I would write across mine + the only quote that popped into my head was the Nina Simone quote, “I’ll tell you what Freedom means to me. No fear.” No other words could capture part of my journey or that of most people, better than those when it came to body positivity, however, my artist didn’t think they would all fit on my ‘body note’, so I compromised in shortening it to ‘FREEDOM = NO FEAR” as seen above. After receiving my email confirming my pre-registration, I asked them if a thong was going to be provided, as I’ve often seen body painters use them in their work? They replied, “No – It’s full nude but you’ll be in good company.” Now, I struggled with the idea of not doing it as I had a problem with being fully naked in Times Square, but kept thinking, “I need to step out of my comfort zone.” And as Andy told New York Daily News, “Everyone feels that being naked is such a big thing but in reality that’s just who we are,” adding, “When you experience this, it quickly becomes no big deal,” + indeed it wasn’t, as seen here in one of the newspaper’s photos.
(photo: Shannon Stapleton, Reuters|NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
For the next three weeks I started to work out harder just to look a little better naked for the ‘big reveal’, but let’s face it, not much was expected in such a short period of time. You see, for me, the way my body looked was a major issue for most of my life. As a Dominican-American Latina born + raised in New York City, one of the most fashionable cities in the world + a lover of fashion from such an early age, my body issues started to get distorted as I got older. Growing up, curves were celebrated in my family. I never saw a problem with how my body looked, no matter how big my hips, legs, cheeks or butt was. But as I grew older + got more into fashion, my ideas of beauty changed where I still wanted the curves but with the thinness of the models, I saw in magazines, advertisements + down the runway.
My weight fluctuated through the years, which can be gauged by the strategically placed stretch marks that have ravaged my body. But that didn’t come as a surprise – It’s what happens with sporadic weight gains + loss. So to make amends, I dedicated a poem to my stretch marks + started calling them ‘my friends’, as they became a part of me. And I tell you this when I was standing naked in Times Square, I didn’t care who was keeping count of how many I had or how dimpled my butt or thighs looked, especially in the color of choice. Wanting to channel Mystique from the X-Men, I chose blue for my body + yellow for my ‘body note’ square. The blue, however, turned out to be more Na’vi from Avatar but I still went for it + was quite happy with the outcome, so much so, I rode the subway back home, still all blue, dressed in my clothes + navy shades.
(photo: Anthony Delmundo|NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
That Friday, I was surrounded by orange, blue + yellow naked people, emboldened by their desire to show pride in who they were bearing ‘Body Notes’ of optimism like ‘ALL PEOPLE HAVE WORTH’, ‘INTROVERTS ARE AWESOME’ + ‘LOVE YOUR BODY THE WAY IT IS’, which sweetened the car exhaust filled air by the ensuing traffic of cars stopping intermittently to catch a glimpse of all our realness. You couldn’t help but smile + enjoy the process of being part of something so much needed in a society where we still all struggle with loving ourselves + as RuPaul says at the end of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell you gonna be able to love someone else?”
Had you had the chance to have your naked body painted, what would you have chosen as your ‘Body Note’ + why – color me curious?
As a lover of birds, silk pajama robes + all things OFF-WHITE c/o VIRGIL ABLOH, this piece is one to covet for life!
Besides the impressive colorful bird print in various sizes caught in mid-flight, against a black silk background, this long ‘OFF-WHITE Birds Print Pyjama Robe’ features the classic detail of contrast white piping throughout, a tie waist, a shawl collar + long sleeves. But it’s designer Virgil Abloh’s genius play of juxtapositions is what really makes this so good.
At first, what came to mind was the opulence of Japanese kimonos, often connected to luxury with a heavy price tag, like this one. But when stripped of its original silhouette + substituted for that of the relaxed yukata robe, its less expensive cousin, you have a winner. As usual, this is where Abloh’s genius use of juxtaposition hits high marks.
This robe sports an impressive assortment of colorful birds in various sizes caught in mid-flight, set against a black silk backdrop with contrasting white piping throughout, giving it that pajama feel. And if that weren’t enough, you have the word ‘WOMAN’ in all caps, embroidered across the top of the robe’s back. So what woman wouldn’t want to add this to her arsenal of fashion musts?!
For your very own ‘OFF-WHITE Birds Print Pyjama Robe’ head over to FARFETCH but quick, as they have very few left!
*This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.
Khaki is a color that is both timeless + seasonless, but, for some reason or another, it tends to really jump out at you during the warmer months. Maybe it’s due in part, to the strong ties it shares with a wanderlust for roaming a boundless jungle or rainforest or maybe, swapping personas with that of a carefree nomad with a ‘zero f*ks’ mentality, that makes it a ‘go-to’ neutral for all genders.
Now if you’re afraid of resorting to a boring pair of khaki pants or even a khaki tee to be on trend, don’t worry, as I’ve picked a few key items below, courtesy of *Nordstrom, ranging from beauty to footwear.
What is particularly appealing about this Utility Miniskirt | SELF-PORTRAIT, is how the skirt looks like it was made from a deconstructed khaki trenchcoat, asymmetrical front buttons + the sweet hint of ruffled floral lace peeking in the front. With this piece, you also get to tap into this season’s lace trend.
1-An easy way to tap into a trending color is by just applying it to your nails, like No.204 Khaki | BURBERRY BEAUTY 2-If you have sinful plus-size curves, this Sexy Drape Midi Dress | CITY CHIC, is sure to turn up the heat 3-Floral embellishments can sometimes hurt a shoe’s look, but not in the case of the Lonicera Flower Sandal | JEFFREY CAMPBELL, involving textured khaki Suede flowers with a 4inch heel 4-A tan always looks best when capped off with the right hat like this khaki Safari Fedora | DORFMAN PACIFIC 5-Paint splatters are always fun especially when strategically placed on clothing as seen on these ‘Damiana’ Splatter Paint Stretch Woven Jogger Pants | PRPS, which play up the distressed ‘been in the art studio all day’ look brilliantly
6-This Boy Bowie Off the Shoulder Dress | ONE TEASPOON, shows off just enough leg to keep things interesting for brunch or that ‘first date’ you’ve been so looking forward to or dreading 7-Love this kilt silhouette adapted to this Tulle Skirt | JUNYA WATANABE, with a trio of belted canvas tabs accenting the waist, to give you that street style cred 8-Sometimes, all you need is just a hint of khaki like this Bold Sport Silicone Strap Watch, 43mm | MOVADO, with its black/khaki colorway, to make the right impact 9-In this flirty Crochet Cold Shoulder Top | CITY CHIC, plus size chicks are sure to gain more admirers 10-Tombre Slip-on| LACOSTE can easily become the best shoe for men to just chill, in breezy perforated suede
11-Cortez ’72 Sneaker | Nike, is one of this giant sneaker brand’s most comfortable shoe ever worn by yours truly + when you throw in its distinctively textured leather with this Summery pale gray, khaki + white colorway, you can’t miss 12-You’ll be a total rock star sporting these ‘Super Lunar – Arrowed by Karen’ 52mm Sunglasses | KAREN WALKER, with inset goldtone arrows wrapping your temples 13-Nothing screams comfort when it’s hot out like this mesh Fling 2 Sandal | JEFFREY CAMPBELL, sporting a loafer-inspired notched topline + an 1 ½ inch wedge platform 14-White sneakers might be all the rage but this Air Max 90 Ultra 2.0 Essential Sneaker | NIKE, with its pale gray, white + khaki colorway, have enough white on them to ‘up’ your game just enough while still staying true to your love for khaki 15-Give your look just enough edge with this Dark Khaki ‘Mini Kalifornia’ Leather Satchel | KENZO, with its signature hardware details + Kenzo’s killer logo
*Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a commission when you click on a link to help monetize my blog. However, the opinions expressed herein are my own.❤️
With Lana Del Rey, you’re always promised moody, sweet + sultry vocals as heard here in her new music video for ‘Lust For Life’ featuring The Weeknd. ‘Lust For Life’, the title track of her new album, with no release date in sight yet, beautifully envelopes the listener in a soft whispered kiss of lyrics, sung by both Del Rey + The Weeknd.
Opening with Del Rey singing on set, the camera follows her heels with lace ruffled ankle socks, to the top of the “H” of the Hollywood sign, which is a literal take on her opening lyrics:
Climb up the H of the Hollywood sign, yeah In these stolen moments The world is mine (doo wop, doo wop) There’s nobody here, just us together (shadoop, shadoop) Keepin’ me hot like July forever
Here, Del Rey meets up with The Weeknd who serenades her with his sweet + sexy voice which compliments hers so well during their chorus. They slowly dance into the end, where she slides off the Hollywood “D”, landing in a floral field right next to him.
Here’s to crossing my fingers the remixes are that much better!