Category Archives: Fashion

L’AFRICANA NIGHT


Isaiah Washington and Tracee Loran

What’s better than a good cause, good food, good music, good fashion and good conversation?  Having it all on the same night! That’s exactly what I experienced Friday evening when I, along with Michelle Stoddart and Nadia Vassell, attended L’Africana™ Night New York Fashion Week Finale Party.  L’Africana™ Night, sponsored by Segal Family Foundation and Greylock Capital Partners, is the brainchild of MacDella Cooper, whom you met last week via my compelling two-part interview. The event was created to showcase African culture, artists, designers, cuisine and musicians while raising funds for the MacDella Cooper Foundation Academy, Liberia’s first free boarding school.

Patrick Brassard, my brilliant photographer for the evening, arrived ahead of me and was already holding court on the Red Carpet. If Patrick is not shooting covers for Vogue soon, something is seriously wrong!

L'Africana Night Creator MacDella Cooper & Tracee Loran

As soon as I stepped foot in the New York Society for Ethical Culture I saw MacDella; we hugged and chatted it up for a second.  I then spotted Isaiah Washington and made a beeline.  Through a friend, the prolific actor and activist had already agreed to an interview with me.  Isaiah was as debonair, cool and intelligent in person as he is on TV. Read more about this “Man From Another Land” here.

After snapping a few red carpet photos and making new friends, I headed upstairs to grab some African cuisine.  Apparently everyone beat me to the dining hall because all of the goodies were practically gone. I did manage to cop two pieces of this extra yummy banana bread from Taste of Africa; I’m still thinking about it.

Fela! Actress Saycon Sengbloh

Isaiah was our Master of Ceremonies for the evening, guiding us through award presentations for honorees Barry Segal, Basila Bokoko and Anna Schilawski as well as performances by many gifted artists like former C + C Music Factory chanteuse Zelma Davis, Fela! Star Saycon Sengbloh (if you haven’t seen Fela! run, run as fast as you can!), Rachel Fine and Liberian Pop singer 2C.

The highlight of the event was the L’Africana™ fashion show. Catwalk Vixens Millen Magese – the first Black female model signed to do a campaign for Ralph Lauren, Georgie Badiel, Danijela Lazarevic, Brianna Michelle, Former America’s Next Top Model contestant Aminat Ayinde, and Former “Face of Africa” Kate Aba Tachie-Menson were just a few of the models who strutted down the runway in stunning fashions by a collective of designers including Farai  SimoyiSelma Berisalic Starfinger, Taylor Forrest, and Korto Momolu, who previewed a snippet of her Fall 2011 Collection.

Tracee Loran & Designer Korto Momolu

You remember Korto?  She was the designer who was robbed of first place on season 5 of Project Runway.  Korto’s PR finale collection was hot and deserving of a victory; her new collection is even hotter! It contains a mix of dramatic, sweeping pieces that will surely command attention for any woman wearing them. I wanted everything! I caught up with the talented Liberian couturier after the show for a little girl talk.

What was your inspiration for this line?

One of the places that we had when I was home – we would go on weekend trips with my family – is this beach. But to get there you’d have to go through all of this bush, had to go and cut down the trees and everything. I was inspired by telling that story. You know, going through all of that darkness then you get to the sand and the water. You have to go through some stuff sometimes to get to paradise. And that’s pretty much my life story; I’m still going through it, but I know its [paradise] there because I’ve seen it.

Kate Aba Tachie-Menson Wearing Korto Momolu

What is your creative process from inception to finished product?

I like buying the fabrics first and sitting there and looking at everything and then start thinking, “How can I tell my story?  When you see the full collection, I’m actually going to show one in Nigeria at the Arise [Magazine] Show, I want you to see that story so when I explain it later you can say “Oh yeah I get it.”  Or you might just see it without it. But how can I show this turmoil, this darkness using the color palettes and use of the shapes to create texture?

How important is it for you to participate in an event like L’Africana™ Night?

It’s almost like you have to. I met MacDella years ago before the school was even [built],

Millen Magese Wearing Korto Momolu

so to be a part of it…And one day when I go and show my daughter and say, “This is what you do…you give back what you can.  It doesn’t mean you have to have thousands of dollars, you can give back your talent, you can give back your time.” And that’s why I’m doing it. It’s definitely important.

What’s your big vision?

To have a legacy.  I don’t want to just always be about clothes. I lend my voice to a lot of charities and they’re all Liberian-based because charity starts at home.  That’s where I’m from. And I see so many people there who would trade places with me in a minute even though I may think that my life is not where I want it to be, but so many people would trade for that. So giving back to them and helping them get the main thing, which is education, helps for me.  But just having one day where I can look back at my legacy and say, “You know what I did fashion but also through my fashion I did that and that and that and helped other people to hopefully pursue their dreams.”

What is the one thing you can’t leave the house without?

My PR hair.  (Laughs) Even if you don’t have make-up, the hair will cover it.

♥♥♥

Don’t mess with a Black woman’s hair! 😉 Korto Momolu might not have gotten her just desserts on Project Runway, but she’s surely getting the recognition that she deserves now.

The Godfather of African Fashion

After our conversation, Nadia and I headed to the after party at Nikki Beach.  There I had a chance to meet and converse with a fashion icon, Alphadi, who is known as the “Godfather of African Fashion.”  He’s such a sweet man and his designs are regal!

Tracee Loran: Wardrobe Provided by Raif Atelier (Gown) and Kiini Ibura (Jewels)

Speaking of regal, I felt like an absolute African Queen the entire evening.  Makeup Artist Extraordinaire Sherry Singleton did it again! She had my face glowing radiantly and she even convinced me to step outside of my cosmetic comfort zone. Now that’s real skill cuz I likez what I like. My beautiful floor-length Tie-Dye Mesh Gown was provided by African designer Raif Atelier of Brooklyn; Haby is a sweetheart for tailoring the dress to fit me perfectly!  Melody Burns of Kiini Ibura Jewelry had me sparkling with blue pearl earrings and a dazzling necklace made of Ghanian glass, blue quartz, fresh water pearls and Austrian crystal. Miss Melody also supplied a reversible silk and velvet wrist purse; she is a master craftswoman! To finish my look, I wore a pair of “Blue Suede Shoes.” Elvis would be proud. A Queen needs a chariot, so hugs to Dalton Burke of Queens Care Auto Repair for keeping my vintage Beemer running smoothly allowing me to make it to my events!

Necklace by Melody Burns of Kiini Ibura Jewelry

The evening was all that I expected it to be – meaningful, glitzy and fun! The MacDella Cooper Foundation is a wonderful organization. And the future of Liberia looks a lot brighter because of it. Even though you might have missed L’Africana™ Night, its not too late to help educate the MCF Academy children or any child in need!

If you want to support any of the artists, companies or organizations featured on The Socialite Design, just drop by their websites and tell ’em Tracee Loran sent you!

♥♥ Special thanks to my Gurl Jodi Smith for being a staunch advocate for youth and quality education. Despite the fact that she’s in my Sweet Home Chicago she still supported the MCF cause by sponsoring a ticket purchase so someone else could enjoy the event. Kudos, Jodi!

Until next time…stay radically fabulous!

Georgie Badiel Wearing Korto Momolu

Leila Rahji Wearing Korto Momolu

Aminat Ayinde Wearing Tedd Ion

Bianca Warren Wearing Frank Osodi

Georgie Badiel Wearing Sunhee Hwang

Danijela Lazarevic Wearing Taylor Forrest

Brianna Michelle Wearing L'Africana Collection-African Queen by MacDella Cooper; Styled by Sergio Alain Barrios, Georgie Badiel & Millen Magese

Kaya Wilkins Wearing L'Africana Collection-African Queen by MacDella Cooper: Styled by Sergio Alain Barrios, Georgie Bandiel & Millen Magese

Kate Aba Tachie-Menson Wearing L'Africana Collection-African Queen by MacDella Cooper; Styled by Sergio Alain Barrios, Georgie Badiel & Millen Magese

Pop Diva Zelma Davis

Philanthropist & MCF Honoree Barry Segal

Isaiah Presents Plaque to Honoree Bisilia Bokoko

Greylock Capital CFO Alsion Roach

L-R: Michelle Stoddart, Nadia Vassell, Tracee Loran

Nadia Vassell & Tracee Loran at Nikki Beach

Tracee Loran & Miss Sierra Leone Marie Mansaray

Tracee Loran & Fela! Dancer Lauren DeVeaux

Tracee Loran & MCF Chief Marketing Officer Thomas Tafuto

Tracee Loran & Model Brianna Michelle

Celebrity Hairstylist Nadia Vassell at Nikki Beach

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BETEL NUT BEAUTIES

I’m going to let you in on a little secret; New York City is bubbling with talent. I’m talking about pure, raw, unrefined, bona fide TALENT!  What are you going on about, Tracee? Well, my latest “discovery” is architectural and landscape photographer Magda Biernat and believe me she’s more than worthy of the conversation.

Tracee Loran & Magda Biernat

Originally from Poland, Biernat now calls New York City home. Lucky us. With her she brings a cornucopia of prestigious awards like the TMC/Kodak Grant, a Lucie Award, a Magenta Foundation Flash Forward/Emerging Photographers, and Photographic Center Northwest Photo-Op.

Biernat’s work has been praised by The New York Times and has nestled between the pages of Metropolis Magazine, Afar Magazine, and ELLE Décor. And, she’s been the subject of many solo shows in New York City, Seattle, Belgium and Poland.

Thursday night, I trotted over to my new hot spot, the Clic Gallery, to check out Magda’s latest work of art, Betel Nut Beauties.  In Taiwan betel nut beauties are young scantily clad women who sell betel nuts (or paan) and cigarettes along the roadside from brightly lit encased huts.  As you can imagine, the Beauties cater to a mostly male clientele with transient occupations.

A Betel Nut Beauty

Picturing these women being imprisoned behind glass and put on display immediately conjured up thoughts of loneliness and drear. In my mind’s eye, I saw smoky gray hues and splotches of black.  But Magda shoots with a different eye.  She managed to find beauty in the Beauties.  The result is bold, lively photographs that somehow dance and capture the humanness.  The colors are really striking – green grass sprouting in front of one betel hut or the pretty pink tint used to paint another (my favorite).  Vibrant, rich colors that really draw you in.

Adrian Adaramoye & Tracee Loran

Perhaps one would argue that by making the photographs so pretty, Biernat is attempting to hide the seedy ugliness of the profession.  To those people I would say, life is heavy and often burdensome. And every human deserves to be seen through rose-colored glasses even if for just a fleeting moment (chalk it up to my romantic idealism).

Although those women are in reality still scantily clad and still hawking cigarettes and paan and still very lonely, with her lens Magda Biernat gave them a different story. One that’s pretty in pink…and rose.

Don’t take my word for it; stop by the Clic Gallery to see the Betel Nut Beauties for yourself!  The exhibition runs through March 6, 2011.

Thanks to Nicholas Small of N-Scene Photography for using his great skills to help capture this wonderful event!

PR Director, Angharad Coates & Tracee Loran

Tracee Loran & Thane Wright

Christian Ducharme & Tracee Loran

Wearing Cotton Biker Jacket, Skinnys w/Black Ankle ANA Boots, Red Zara Clutch

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SOPHISTICATED LADY

The Kimberly Taylor Fall 2011 Collection

Wednesday night I dropped by the Dop Dop Salon in Soho for the Kimberly Taylor Fashion Week Fall 2011 Presentation.  Bearing the name of its 25-year old founder, the womenswear label launched in Spring 2009 to rapid success and buzz-worthy reviews.  And why not?   It features fun, classic silhouettes and timeless garments that will undoubtedly transcend many eras of fashion.

L-R: Tracee Loran & Model Greta Sundquist

Using a predominantly black color palate with splashes of vibrant hues in the new collection, Kimberly remains true to her love of versatility as she pays homage to an inspirational London excursion. A long flowy maxi-dress and striking red gown that can double as formal wear or really snazzy night-on-the-town attire make strong, elegant statements while short playful cocktail dresses with animal prints speak to the flirty girl who desires to be trendy yet chic.  Also incorporated in the collection are boyfriend pieces like an over-sized vest and ankle-length trousers that are smart and stylish.

Tracee Loran

Knowing that KT runs a cute & classy operation, I knew that being cute & classy myself was a must!  I enlisted a talented squad of artists to help put my look together. Makeup Artist Sherry Singleton airbrushed my face to perfection.  Her work is flawless and she’s a real sweetheart!

Once again Queens, NY-based jewelry designers Robin and Rachel Adler of Mockfrog helped me accessorize with a lovely Bakelite Bib Necklace that perfectly complemented my Bisou Bisou Scarf Dress, black lace tights and Rampage Pumps.

L-R: Tracee Loran & Celebrity Hairstylist Nadia Vassell

Nadia Vassell, Celebrity Hairstylist and urban fashionista, was my P.I.C. for the evening. She was super hot in a cream DKNY mini and smoldering studded Sam Edelman Peeptoe Pumps that literally stopped traffic!

L-R: Model Kelly Gervais & Tracee Loran

Photographer and Graphic Designer Hideki Aono came along to document the evening. He most definitely worked the room snapping great shots of us with the models, event guests as well as Designer Kimberly Taylor.  Amid all of the hoopla Kimberly took a few minutes to chat with me about her line and vision.  Check out the interview below:

What was the inspiration for this collection?

My inspiration for this collection was a trip to London.  I saw some really sophisticated women dressing more classic than they were trendy. You couldn’t tell what pieces were old and what pieces were new because they were so put together.

L-R: Tracee Loran & Designer Kimberly Taylor

What adjective would you use to describe your line?

I would hope versatility would come to mind.  I would hope pieces with enough detail, but not overdone.  Simple.  Less is more.

What celebrity do you think embodies the Kimberly Taylor label?

That’s a good question…A modern girl; someone with a unique sense of style from a Sarah Jessica Parker to a Kate Bosworth.

If you could dress any historical figure who would it be?

I get to dream?  [Yes.] Jackie Kennedy.  She was elegant.  Elegance is something you can’t buy.

What motivated you to become a designer?

It’s a creative outlet.  My family’s in fashion.  I was always looking for what to wear…  How I would find my own points of view, personally.  Just a way for me to show that [POV] to everybody.

Fill in the blank. When I’m not wearing Kimberly Taylor, I’m wearing_______________.

Underwear. (Laughs)

♦♦♦

Designer Kimberly Taylor

Kimberly is cute as a button and she’s imbued with impeccable fashion sense.  Did I mention that she has no formal training (or appearances on reality shows) and she started her label at an age when many people are still trying to find themselves? I’m willing to bet KT designs will line the racks of chic boutiques and high-end department stores for many years to come.  If you want to learn more about Kimberly Taylor or own one of her beautiful pieces, click here.

Fashion Week continues and there’s so much more to share. Until we meet again, stay radically fabulous…

L-R: Model Deanna Thomas & Tracee Loran

L-R: Sunday Wright, Roman Sipe & Tracee Loran

Got Style?

L-R: Greta Sunquist, Nadia Vassell & Kelly Gervais

Fashion Forward

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GIVE ME BODY

Unconventional. Eccentric. Creative. The three words that come to mind when describing the Young&ng Fall Presentation held Tuesday night at BODIES: The Exhibition.  Launched in Spring/Summer 2010, the haute couture jewelry line was founded by New Zealand born Designer Michelle Ng; it features exquisite wearable art like embellished headpieces and beautifully crafted cuffs that would  instantly transform Wonder Woman from superhero to Queen B.

It was pure genius and quite befitting to hold the presentation at the Bodies Exhibit, which extensively celebrates and explores the

Bodies @BODIES

human body. The anatomical setting provided a haunting backdrop as I, along with other event guests, walked around the Exhibit gawking at displays of real human bodies that have been prepared through a process called Polymer Preservation.

For about 45 minutes we acted as museum spectators wondering where the fashion show would actually take place.  Would it occur by the halogrammed fats cells or digestive system?  Would naked models mysteriously appear from the belly of the beast, so to speak?  Would Frankenstein or Vincent Price rise like a phoenix to announce the show’s commencement?  These were the questions buzzing in my head.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the anticipation was delightful.

L-R: Models Aleksandra Semechkina, Kelly Brown and Alyssa Young

At long last the fashion show began with a haunting musical prelude by Cellist Meaghan Burke. After several minutes of the eerily enchanting serenade, bikini-clad models unceremoniously started their march down the ‘run-way.’  Covered from head to toe in chalky white body paint, the live-action mannequins put on an arresting performance as they each methodically sauntered along the catwalk before striking a pose.  The svelte posers would hold those positions (in 4-inch wedge heels) for the duration of the presentation while we ogled them, admired the Young&ng jewelry that adorned their bodies and relentlessly snapped photos.  Who said modeling was easy?

Antique Gold Window Cuff & Antique Gold w/Red Swavorski Blood Cell Cuff

To put on an incredible spectacle, it takes an incredible team.  Young&ng Designer Michelle Ng laid the foundation with her dynamic vision and distinctive works of art. Also on board were Makeup Artist and Creative Director for the show, Justin Tyme (Yep, say the name rapidly and it will bring a smile to your face);  The Warren-Tricomi Hairstyling Team on Mad Ave; Young&ng Staff including Sales Coordinator Annie Yaker; show sponsor Ramy Gafni of Ramy Cosmetics and the stellar PR firm LERPR.

Tracee Loran, YN Model Alyssa Young and YN Designer Michelle Ng

Like the Young&ng show, I too had help putting my look together.  The very talented Makeup Artist Karen Swaby dropped by to accentuate my face with nice golden hues.  As an ensemble I decided on a slinky purple mosaic dress with smokey gray wool pumps, plum-colored tights and a super cute Lucky Wang clutch.

Tracee Loran & Model Aleksandra Semechkina

Tracee Loran & Ramy Gafni

Mother/daughter duo Robin & Rachel Adler provided my jewelry for the evening.  Their Queens, NY-based company Mockfrog features handcrafted pieces designed with bingo chips and rare bakelite materials.  So cool!

Snapping photos was gifted emerging Fashion Photographer and Graphic Designer Breezy Conner, who perfectly immortalized the “spirit” of the show.

My New York Fashion Week experience started off with a bang.  Next stop – the Kimberly Taylor Fall Presentation and you know I’ll be here to tell you all about it! Until then, stay radically fabulous…

MUA Justin Tyme & Tracee Loran

P.S. You can purchase designs from or hire any of the artists/companies featured on The Socialite Design by simply clicking on their names and visiting their respective websites.

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