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Fashion No Man’s Land

12 Jun

We’re between spring and fall fashion weeks. So I thought I would do a little fashion puck me up. This is also from Write Around the World. Jamaica hosts two annual fashion events: Style Week and Caribbean Fashion Week. Get a load of Style Week

Fashionistas and Gliterrati descended upon Kingston in May, and for a few days, everybody  flocked to shows and parties. Several models almost broke their wafer-thin faces on the bricks at Fort Charles at Port Royal , but fortunately, or should I say unfortunately, the night was trip-free. I do not have pics of that lovely ANTM finale-esque runway, however, I do have some choice pics from the mega stage on Knutsford Blvd for the last night of stylish events. However did Deiwght Peters do it? That’s pronounced “Dwight”, by the way.

The buns on this one……all they needed was some frosting.

You’re a tiger! You’re ferocious, eat the meat! Now run with the carcass! Drag it across the field! Excellent. Next model!

The Doctor made an appearance and all his future baby mammas in the crowd just lost it. I think some of them actually got pregnant that night by osmosis.

Product placement is everywhere. Even in the Third World.

She could stand to lose 15-20 pounds, easily. I don’t even know how she got this job. I need to raise this at the next meeting. That’s it, from now on, no one over 95 lbs. This thing has gone to the dogs.

My favourite male model. You could slice cheese with his cheekbones. I actually went backstage and tried. Best cheddar I ever had.


Long Live the (Mc)Queen

11 Feb

“Beauty can come from the strangest of places, even the most disgusting places.”— Alexander McQueen

It’s February 11th, the 2-year anniversary of the death of Alexander ‘Lee’ McQueen. I was fortunate enough to be in New York at the time of his Savage Beauty exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the above is the only remnant of the pictures I tried to sneak, and has been the background pic on my phone ever since). I’ve never had the fortune to see an Alexander McQueen show, but I can only imagine how marvelous and visceral it must be. McQueen has said that he didn’t care if people liked his work, he just wanted them to leave his shows feeling something. I couldn’t leave the Savage Beauty exhibit not feeling something. As someone also in the arts (the creative writing grad programme at Hunter College), I do understand something about the process of inspiration and the subsequent translation of that inspiration into creation. It is arguable that no one, in fashion at least, did it better than McQueen.

Like all artists, he started with the autobiographical, the place that birthed him (Scotland) — but not so singularly that he forgot the place that raised him (England) — and then branched out into timeless muses: nature, other art (namely Literature), the cultures of the world, particularly their national dress. Yet, McQueen dove to dark depths with each collection and story, making clothes that told macabre tales of opposites, light and dark, tyrant and subject, destruction and redemption, the marginalized and the mainstream. That dark romanticism permeated all of the work produced in his epic 19-year career, and the exhibit at the Met was a journey through a fiercely driven and constantly-constructing creative mind. McQueen was an unyielding promoter of freedom of expression, and throughout the whole exhibit, there seemed to be a consistently underlying theme of struggle against the confines of what fashion can be.

Accessories like armour and bondage, rigid corsets, horns protruding from jackets, and who could ever forget the incredible “armadillo boots”; it’s as if McQueen was equipping his designs with the weaponry to fight against any attack. It should come as no surprise that he was inspired by Darwin, and the final collection in the exhibit, pieces from Plato’s Atlantis (spring/summer 2010), drew directly from On the Origin of the Species. It reflected McQueen’s thoughts on nature’s devolution with the prospect of the melting ice caps. It was a reptilian cornucopia, with scales (and who else but McQueen could channel that into armadillo boots!), kaleidoscopic prints, metallic textures, all while remaining true to the romantic ideal of the Sublime. After all, when you get swept up in a rushing hundreds-of-feet-high wave of hypothermic ice-cap water, I have to imagine that a certain calm will come over you as you are crushed in a muted death. But hey, that’s just me.

By the time the exhibit closed on August 7th, it was the most visited in the Met’s history. I waited in line for 2 hours, and of course it hurt my heart to have to spend that much time listening to some jock-infested family from the Midwest, or somewhere, with two 20-something boys, the father and the mother, with the latter being the only one who wanted to see the exhibit, though she didn’t know why. Assuredly, the men were going on about the wait and the only thing the mother could say was, “Everyone says it’s something to see.” And worse, they were in front of me! But I guess, if some knuckleheads can see such beauty and imagination and leave with more inspiration and knowledge than they had before, then I can let that one slide.

I’ll leave you with a quote by McQueen: “I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people would perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.” I’m grateful he had that ability, as he gave the world a pure outpouring of all that he was, and it was truly beautiful.

To Beauty,


P.S. Check out a review of a Fall 2011 Alexander McQueen show from Paris Fashion Week that I did for Fashion Pulse Daily.

The Denim Doctor: Dean Singh Is a ‘Tykoon’ in the Making

20 Sep

Dean Singh, getting his egg chair on at the Tykoon Holdings showroom

It should come as no surprise that it took me about three weeks to pin down Dean Singh for an interview. The fashion world has never been a dormant one, and with me trying to sit him down during the eve of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, I was actually impressed we found the time. So drenched, laden with bags (we met on one of those rainy thunderstorm days we had earlier in September), and about 15 minutes to spare, I sat with Dean to hear all about his trajectory into the slick, all-white cocoon of luxury and craftsmanship that was the Tykoon Holdings showroom. I caught him on at the elevator heading for a much-needed cigarette break, and as soon as we hit the flooding streets, I quickly learned why Dean had risen to brand manager of Tykoon Holdings. His easy swagger belied the organized chaos I knew was his world. On the street, he was like the mayor, shaking hands and holding babies, doling out the ubiquitous “Hey” and “What up” and cracking jokes. With three very distinct and varied brands to manage under the Tykoon umbrella, all of which run with the big dogs in their respective fashion niches, he made it look easy.

As much as he has been in the US since the age of one, Dean’s Caribbean heritage is unmistakable. First off, his first name is Denesh. Can anyone say ‘second-generation only son to traditional Guyanese Indian parents’? Second, it suddenly made sense why it took him so long to get into fashion. The older generation of course didn’t see a future in it. Yet, like the West Indians lampooned in so many In Living Color sketches, he demonstrated the drive and determination to succeed (his parents are now totally cool with his job, by the way); it seems tenacity is the new elbow grease.

At Pace University, he had the foresight to major in business management and minor in business law, preparing for the kind of career he wanted. “A business degree made sense for me,” he confesses. “I knew I wanted to get into management or owning. I figured business management and law would cover anything I could possibly get into.” More Caribbean instincts. The practical approach came first: get the degree and then do whatever you want. After a six-month internship at Salomon Smith Barney [now Morgan Stanley Smith Barney], Dean stopped kidding himself and started focusing on getting to where he really wanted to be. “Growing up I was always into fashion, but I never knew I could make a career out of it.” He made friends with his then girlfriend’s boss and when he ran into her at a party, he boldly did what anybody with no experience would. He told her, “’I want a job in fashion, and I’ll bring coffee if I have to.’ And lo and behold, I was really bringing coffee (he laughs).” He took a nearly $50,000 pay cut, but he got in.

So now that he’s fetched and ran, what does a day look like for Denesh Dean Singh? Oh just making sure everything in the three brands of Tykoon Holdings, from fabric selection to who gets hired in stores, is going just right. There’s 8732, a collaboration with Young Jeezy’s deeply urban line, a denim partnership with Italian designer Domenico Vacca, Domenico Vacca Denim, and Tykoon’s newest line, Private Stock Denim Company, which debuted in 2011. Yet, don’t be fooled by all that denim. The suits in Domenico Vacca’s collections go for about $3000 and he’s not only been mentioned in the Robb Report, he’s clothed just about everyone who’s been on the red carpet. So a collaboration with Vacca isn’t just going to produce some jeans, it’s going to produce the Ferrari of jeans, retailing for anywhere from $565 to $680.

[above, Domenico Vacca runway looks flank Forest Whitaker in a custom DV suit]

Young Jeezy’s 8732 label reads like a tribute to the streets, unifying hustlers everywhere, and catering to a tough world with surprisingly soft touches.

[from an 8732 Fall ad campaign featuring Young Jeezy]

Private Stock falls right in the middle, urban cool meets impeccable tailoring.

Now imagine having to focus on all the details at all times for all three brands, from marketing, to making sure the numbers add up, to working on product due a year and a half from now. Essentially, Dean has to be three different people for the three brands: the urban streetster, the Italian dude who hangs out on a yacht, and the young, edgy partier who rolled out of bed looking that cool.

Nevertheless, a pack a day habit and the unpredictability of his schedule are non-issues considering how much Dean loves what he does. He’s involved in all aspects of management, as well as a significant bit of the creative end, inspecting swatches, researching trends and projections, and coming up with concepts and colours for finished products. He’s not just some smooth talker hocking suits to department stores, he’s as much a collaborator as the designers. He just has to make sure the books are in the black too.

As my 15 minutes came to a close, I had to ask about the perks. Obviously, there’s the travel, which covers the globe, from Vacca stores in Dubai and Bal Harbour, to distributors and suppliers in Asia and Europe. Then there’s the people he meets, from Japanese fabric salesmen to buyers who have seen it all, to other designers and CEOs. And who could forget the parties! Everyone knows that’s where the real divine creations come out; but models and mini bottles of Moët aside, Dean says this business isn’t just for anyone who wants to sift through pretty clothes and schmooze. His has parting words for anyone thinking about boldly offering to fetch coffee: “Before you get involved, know that this is what you want to do. If you don’t have the drive and passion for it, it will eat you alive.”

[If you’re feeling the Caribbean happenings love, visit, they’ve got this and more Caribbean awesomeness like it. ]

My Coverage of Fashion Week

20 Sep

I missed the fabulous, fashion-filled tents this year. I never even made it near Lincoln Centre, and I must admit, I am woebegone at the thought of what I missed:  the overly accessorized interns, the harried bloggers, the effortlessly gliding stylists, the circus acts, the demure celebs, and the skillfully multitasking ushers and attendants controlling what should easily be absolute chaos.

My week was nevertheless not without some sartorially savvy sightings. I had time and place to catch only one on camera, when I ran into AJ (right) and Christopher  on an L train platform.  They were heading in the 8th ave direction, assuredly to another decadent display of style, and were gracious enough to pose. Now, I don’t know what AJ and Christopher do, but that’s not the point now is it. It’s how they look, which is damn foine! From the glasses, or lack thereof, to the matching pocket squares and neck accessories, to the socks, or again, lack thereof, it’s all just enough without being too much.

Now, if you’ll join me in raising a glass to style, I think my work here will be done.

Happy Dressing!


















My FASHION PULSE DAILY Reviews, Part III: Duckie Brown, Global Glam, Irina Shabayeva, and Buckler NYFW 2011

7 Mar
This is the first batch of shows I covered for Fashion Week and will be the end of the guest posting. *sniff*
In the mean time, enjoy the guest post from none other than Fashion Pulse Daily

[Images via]

Duckie Brown

When the first model turned the corner at Duckie Brown, it was clear that designers Steven Cox and Daniel Silver were up to something. Present were the usual immaculate manoeuvrings of fabrics like tweed and wool; and the ”bespoke” elements that turn a sweater into a chic straightjacket and a pair of pants into much-improved harem trousers. I say bespoke here because Duckie Brown has a specific client, and they want that specificity from Duckie Brown. What was new was the unmistakable minimalism: muted tones, almost no accessories. But as I said before on FPD, I like less, a lot.

[Images via Kaci Hamilton]

W Hotels Global Glam

For a hotel group synonymous with inimitable style, and locations on just about every continent, it was only a matter of time before W Hotels translated that combination into a global fashion melting pot. For the second time, W presented its Global Glam collection, a gathering of some of the hottest international designers, curated by fashion authority and W Hotels Worldwide Global Fashion Director, Amanda Ross. This year’s presentation featured Mara Hoffman, Eugenia Kim, Paolo Hernandez, Andrea Possé, Shaesby, Twinkle by Wenlan, Catherine Nicole, Fernanda Sibilia, Myne, Contego, iLuck, and Deepa Gurnani. The folks at W had the idea that instead of just having a lounge backstage, they could get closer to the public, with a display of tastes from around the world. Now that’s the kind of thinking we can get behind.

[Images via]

Irina Shabayeva

Since winning Season 6 of Project Runway, Irina Shabayeva has continued to show the world that she is still that force to be reckoned with. Fall 2011 was all about lux contrasts, and embodied a statement Irina herself made: “For me, designing is an expression of who I am as a woman.” On-point minidresses were paired with chunky knits (very reminiscent of her winning look from the Michael Kors “Aspen Challenge”), ballooning gowns were amped up with crystal beading, and laser cut chrysanthemum petal appliqué and cut outs conjured thoughts of her PR alum Christian Siriano. It seems the Irina Shabayeva woman is a lot like the designer herself: focused, self-assured and, of course, chic.

[Images via]


No offense Lincoln Center, we love the tents and all, but when Andrew Bucklerblocked off his stretch of Grand St to create his Fall 2011 runway, we knew that’s where the action was. The gesture was just another step in Buckler’s homage to urban street art and the artists who create it. The collection was about the refined ruggedness of the craft, of the anonymity that comes with being a street artist, and a revamping of utilitarian staples – overalls, parkas, cargo pants. These are pieces that express individuality, simplicity, and a willingness to evolve, much like their inspiration.

Stay tuned for details of the time I met George Wayne. And I don’t mean Batman’s brother…


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