Category Archives: Radically Fabulous Stories

Socially Acceptable: MARQUIS BARNETT

Marquis Barnett: The Second Half

By Tracee Loran

 

Tip-Off

Marquis Barnett

If life were played in two halves like the game of basketball, Marquis Barnett’s first half was short in minutes and long in suffering. The 19-year old Queens, NY native has endured more heartache and pain than most people three times his age.  Homelessness: Along with his Mom and two siblings, Marquis has lived in four shelters in four different boroughs throughout New York City. Tragedy: Marquis’ brother Tavon, who was autistic, died in a fire that the young boy accidentally started when left unsupervised. Violence: Nearly four years ago, Marquis had to rescue his Mom from the claws of an abusive boyfriend who was choking the breath and life out of her.

Fortunately, Marquis’ story does have a second half – one filled with hope, love, and redemption.  And in his second half, he is surrounded by amazing people who have shown what compassion truly means such as his long-time girlfriend, Shalyce Blue; his UWANTGAME mentor, Rodrick Seay; and his Cardozo High School basketball coach, Ron Naclerio, who championed for Marquis to play ball on the collegiate level. Now a freshman at Quinnipiac University – light years away from previous strife – the 6 foot 8 forward is crashing boards for the Division-I squad on a full ride.

I caught up with Barnett at a recent QU game against St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY.  What I discovered was not a young man who was scarred and angered by his harrowing past. (One might expect that and could possibly understand.)  Instead, who stood before me was a mature young man with a commanding presence and a gentle spirit. His words were brief, but profound and showed that Marquis refrains from looking back and dwelling on negative circumstances. He’d much rather spend his time looking toward a more promising future. Continue reading

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There’s No Place Like…HSN*

POINT ONE:

Humans are not perfect. Won’t you agree?  No one, except my Mom, is perfect.  Ok, she’s not perfect either, but she IS perfect when it comes to maintaining an immaculate & beautiful home. She doesn’t even have a junk drawer. Good grief, Charlie Brown! That woman is Monk live and in person.  But I digress. Continue reading

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Socially Acceptable: KEISHER “FIRE” McLEOD-WELLS

“Boxing helps me to calm myself. Not as angry as I used to be.”

-Keisher “Fire” McLeod-Wells

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Socially Acceptable: BOOKER T. MATTISON

PROLOGUE

Hey Hey Hey! The Socialite Design is expanding! Our newest feature, “Socially Acceptable”, spotlights some of the world’s most talented artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, professionals, and humanitarians. The inaugural installment of “Socially Acceptable” is somewhat of a hybrid creation – blog post-magazine article-novel-screenplay.  It’s the first time that something like this has ever been attempted in the history of blogs…we think.   Though it is a hybrid, it’s not intended to be green, improve the environment, preserve petro, or anything of the sort. However, the producer(s) of this hybrid believe that after reading it you will be smarter and more conscious. There is no guarantee how much more because everyone matriculates and absorbs information at a different pace. This hybrid blog post-magazine article-novel-screenplay is pretty epic because the protagonist has a lot of profound ish to say (and none of them are swear words…we swear).

Unlike lauded Hollywood movies, e.g. The Blind Side or The Pursuit of Happyness,  it’s not based on a true story, it IS a true story. If your lunch break is over before you’re able to reach the end, DVR it (yes we realize that you can’t DVR the written word, but just go with it).

Without further adieu… Continue reading

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I Am. I Can. I Do.

Every year a different workout hits the market with new promises that the old promises failed to keep.  Lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks.  Get a six-pack in 6 days. Lift that booty, tone those thighs, have arms like the First Lady.  Promises. Promises. Promises.  But what if someone told you that all you have to do is love and respect the body you have, keep your promises to it and it will return the favor by doing what you want it to do?

Celebrity Fitness Trainer Kacy Duke

Celebrity Fitness Trainer (and my friend) Kacy Duke says that’s all you have to do.  Well, it’s not exactly all you have to do, but it’s a significant part of the deal. Kacy believes in her philosophy so much that she wrote a book –Show It Love – that promotes maintaining an amorous relationship between you and your body.  The popular workout tome helped women (and men) all around the globe love the skin they’re in and craft a new silhouette to adore.

Kacy has followed up Show It Love with a new workout DVD, I Am. I Can. I Do., which takes all the movement principles from the book and puts them into action. Last Thursday night I, along with talented Photographer Leila Jacue, skipped on down to La Pomme in the Flatiron District to help celebrate the release of the soon-to-be smash hit.

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Die Free

“I could have become a prostitute and a crackhead or I could have become Cheryl Wills that’s on TV.”

Cheryl Wills

Actor LeVar Burton as "Kunta Kinte"

Kunta Kinte, Kizzy, Chicken George…these names are legendary in the African-American community.

Many of us were too young to understand these complex “characters” and many more were born decades after they marched into homes across America.  For folks old enough to know there seemed to be two sides – those who felt a sense of kinship and those who felt that while slavery may have occurred, Kunta, Kizzy, Chicken George and the events surrounding their lives were mere fabrications of a brilliant mind.  Did it really go down like that?

For the late great Alex Haley it did go down like that. And, Kunta, Kizzy, Chicken George and ‘nem were not “characters “at all, but were branches of his own family tree.  They were, in fact, his Roots.

Ostensibly Haley – though he long ago became an ancestor – has been

Author Alex Haley - Photo Credit: Mickey Adair (1984)

alone in the quest to learn what happened to his people before, during and after the Middle Passage.   It’s taken a while but there’s a new crop of prominent root diggers popping up.  With the creation of Ancestry.com as well as TV programs like Who Do You Think You Are? and the PBS miniseries African American Lives a fresh batch of Haleyites are noseying around in the fields of their ancestors.  Who are these renegades, these revolutionaries that dare unearth the truth about their history, which is inextricably Africa and America’s history?  Who are they?

They are those who refuse to sit in the dark any longer. And, luckily for me, I’ve been crossing their lighted paths.

Last month I (re)introduced you to Isaiah Washington, the activist and actor formerly known as “Dr. Preston Burke,” who successfully traced his roots all the way back to Sierra Leone.

Recently I had the immense pleasure to meet NY1 Anchor Cheryl Wills at her booksigning event in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  Like many New York denizens I’ve watched her eloquently deliver breaking stories and current events just as most newscasters do.  But I discovered, as you soon will, Cheryl is more than a talking head.  She is a ball of fire!  Cheryl and I sat down to converse about her new tome, Die Free: A Heroic Family History. I initially intended to make this a two-parter.  But I changed my mind and decided to give it to you like Cheryl gave it me – straight, no chaser!

♦♦♦

TL: What was the impetus, the one event that led to your writing this book?

CW: I was on Ancestry.com like a lot of people do.  Didn’t know what I would find.  And Tracee, I put in my last name  – Wills.  I put in the town where my father was born – Haywood County, Tennessee. Up pops the name “Sandy Wills.”  That is such an unusual name for a Black man in the 1860s.  And it keeps coming up – “1870 – Sandy Wills.”  And I’m like, “Who is this?”

United States Colored Troops - USCT

So I start digging and it says, “Sandy Wills – USCT.”  And I went, “Oh my God; he served in the Civil War!”  That’s [USCT] United States Colored Troops. You know you can just spiritually feel when you touch something and you know you’ve touched something special?

So I said,  “I have to hire a genealogist to make sure –to find out if there is a relation.”  Sure enough, Tracee, [the] genealogist comes back and says, “Sandy Wills is your great great great grandfather.”  I almost fainted.  And then he went to the national archives in Washington and got all of his records – that of Sandy and his widow – pulled them up and told me the whole story of a family I never knew.

The short version is Sandy was purchased by Edmond Wills.  That was the first shock to know that I am Cheryl Wills because Edmond bought him when he was 10 years old on an auction block!

TL: Did they say who Edmond Was?

CW: I know all about Edmond.

TL: Of course.

 

CW: He was a white man who had a family and was living fat off the backs of African slaves as his parents did and as his

Bill of Sale – 1769

grandparents did coming from Virginia.  Came to Tennessee to start a new life.  Some family business, huh?  Buying Africans.

So he purchased my grandpa three generations removed on an auction block and Sandy was removed from his mother – never to see her again – his father, his familiar environment and shuttled to the Wills Plantation in Haywood County, TN.  While he was there, he bonded with 5 boys – James, Richard, Dick, Mack and Andy.  These boys were all 7, 6 years old.  Sandy was the oldest.

[In] 1863 when the slaves were allowed to fight, he rounded up all those younger boys and they all went and fought in the Fourth Heavy Field Artillery in the Civil War.  Only one died (Cheryl later told me that Richard was the lone Wills soldier to lose his life in battle).  My grandpa lived and the revelations that I found were mind-blowing and it defied all the things that you think you know about that era. Tracee, I found something all together different.

For example, when the slaves enlisted in the War the white officers would fill out an enlistment form.  Now remember the slaves were kept illiterate – government imposed illiteracy.  And it would say name, age, occupation, where were you born? And for occupation they would put “slave.”   But for my grandpa, he told them “farmer.”

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Hip. Cool. Free.

There are clear advantages to living in a hip, cool neighborhood – there is always something hip and cool to do.  Tuesday night I took full advantage of the coolness when I dropped by the super cute Brooklyn Stone Boutique in Fort Greene, Brooklyn for NY1 Anchor Cheryl Wills’ booksigning soiree.   First let’s talk about the where. Did I say super cute?!  Opened last September, Brooklyn Stone Boutique features hot, trendy, fashions that are mostly imported from the UK and Australia.

Boutique Owner Regina Stone & Tracee Loran

Wearing MusicaWear Rockstar Zippered Shirt & Cropped Jacket from Brooklyn Stone Boutique

Store owner Regina Stone never orders more than seven pieces of any single clothing item and typically carries a mere three. And many of the super baaad pumps are custom made (I’m in love with the black & white numbers with the red bow accent on the heel), which means often only one pair of specialty

footwear is available.  So what’s the big deal about that, Tracee? The chances of attending a party and spotting 3 chix wearing your “limited edition” dress are very low.  Don’t you hate when that happens?  You spend the evening trying to pretend like you don’t see each other or worst yet, you have to leave early due to an “emergency.” Very few items at BSB are over $200 & you can find many things for under a hundred bucks, so you can look like brand new money without spending a lot of it. Needless to say  Brooklyn Stone Boutique is definitely the place to get your fashion fix on. And it’s the new hot spot for radically fabulous events.

News Anchor/Author Cheryl Wills

In walks Award-winning NY1 Anchor Cheryl Wills who held a booksigning for her new powerful tomeDie Free: A Heroic Family History, which chronicles the story of Wills’ great great great grandfather Sandy Wills, a runaway slave and fearless Civil War veteran. Die Free also explores the life of Wills’ dad, Clarence Douglas Wills, the first black firefighter to desegregate Engine 1 Ladder 24 in New York City.  He tragically died in a motorcycle accident on the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn at the tender age of 38, and according to Cheryl, lived a very enigmatic & reckless life during his last few years on this planet.

Tracee Loran & Cheryl Wills

Cheryl is one of the most dynamic people I’ve met in New York City. Hands down! We had an engaging conversation about history, slavery, and knowing your roots.  The full interview will be available next week, but here’s a juicy sample:

I asked Cheryl what was the impetus, the one event that led her to write Die Free.  This excerpt is extracted from her response.

CW: The short version is Sandy was purchased by Edmond Wills.  That was the first shock to know that I am Cheryl Wills because Edmond bought him when he was 10-years old on an auction block.

TL: Did they say who Edmond Was?

CW: I know all about Edmond.

TL: Of course.

CW: He was a white man who had a family and was living fat off the backs of African slaves as his parents did and as his grandparents did coming from Virginia.  Came to Tennessee to start a new life.  Some family business, huh?  Buying Africans.

♦♦♦

Yes, Cheryl is that honest and forthright; she’s a powerful speaker with an inspiring ball of fire in her belly ignited by learning the truth about her family.  You’ll get the full version next week; believe me regardless of race, creed, or religious affiliation you will be moved by her story. If you just can’t wait to hear it from me, you can stop by St. Philips Church in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn this Sunday, March 20 at 11:00 am. Cheryl’s reading excerpts from Die Free: A Heroic Family History.  This won’t be an ordinary book-reading as she’ll be accompanied by a full gospel choir.  I can’t wait! (Click on flyer for more details.)

♦♦♦

MUA Karen Swaby & Tracee Loran

You know I never pull off these events solo; beside every socialite is a talented crew of artists. Since its Woman’s History Month its befitting that the ladies represented. Fresh off of a snazzy fashion spectacular for PR Whiz Lawrence Blake Harvey, Makeup Artist Karen Swaby carved out some time to paint beautiful hues on my face.  Dame Swaby has skills because she convinced me to go with smoky eyes for a more edgy look and pink lips. Yes, pink lips!  Designer Raquel Alfred of MusicaWear provided me with her really adorable signature item – the RockStar Zippered T-Shirt.  News flash – it’s  pink! In the immortal words of Whitney Houston, me and pink “are not friends!” These sly foxes must have slipped a mickey in my Shirley Temple! 😉

Documenting the event was gifted Photographer Tamara Edme of Urban Exposure Images. Miss Tamara is all about unique angles and interesting shots. She often uses graffiti’d walls & other urban backdrops to capture subjects in their purest, most uninhibited form. Love it!

This event was definitely fun and enlightening. I look forward to sharing the full Cheryl Wills interview & reports of what I hear is an incredible book-reading presentation.

Time is running out on the Radically Fabulous My PeepStakes; don’t forget to enter to win a prize package worth $125!  It is the easiest open book quiz you’ll ever take! 🙂

Until the next time, stay radically fabulous….

Anchor/Author Cheryl Wills & Sports Agent Martin Gover

Tracee Loran & Sports Agent Martin Gover

Tracee Loran & Cheryl Wills Share a Laugh

Martin Gover & McArthur St. Juste

McArthur St. Juste & Cheryl Wills

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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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