Are you the next Eva Pigford, Jaslene Gonzalez or Saleisha Stowers? Or even the next Toccara or Bre?
America’s Next Top Model – the College Edition – is looking for its Cycle 19 cast! If you are a US citizen between the ages of 18-27 and are at least 5 feet, 7 inches tall, click HERE for eligibility requirements and the application, as well as to see the list of other casting call dates and locations. Be sure you have your passport in order as well; if you are chosen, you may shoot episodes in an international location!
Fashion industry veteran Perry Varner is currently in town for Radar Magazine’s second anniversary party and fashion show this Sunday. He’ll launch Style Experience: Runway Obsessions in Birmingham in July, and has a book in the works; The History of Black Fashion in America will detail the major impact people of color have had on fashion and pop culture. We caught up to talk fashion and his latest projects.
Who are you wearing? “Right now I have on Kenneth Cole from head to toe: I’m wearing a grey sweater and grey pinstriped slacks. I’m stylish but conservative. I’m not that trendy. I believe in a nice tailored shirt, a sports coat and a vest. A sports coat is my signature item.”
“You’re never fully dressed without…”: “Your eyewear. Either some casual eyewear or shades. That’s for me. I wear glasses a lot, fashion lenses and I always have that.”
What would you not be caught dead in? “Probably leather pants. I won’t do that. And I did wear some shorts on vacation last year, but I typically don’t wear shorts.”
What did your parents teach you about style? “Everything! My dad is a minister; he has a church in Montgomery. What I remember the most is he always dressed. My mother, being the first lady, was always impeccably dressed. My greatest influence came from both of them, watching them [step out] tastefully and well-dressed every Sunday.”
What would people be surprised to know about you? “Fashion is not the thing I’m most passionate about; it’s people. And equalizing the playing field for people of color, in whatever opportunity where there is a gap. Fashion gives me a voice, and I use it.”
For more on Perry Varner, click here.
One blistered heel. Ten cramped fingers. Three nights in a 40″ by 140″ tent in make-your-teeth-chatter-and-knees-knock weather.
No, I didn’t spend the past few nights camping; I covered the second annual Birmingham Fashion Week, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Camp Smile-a-Mile and Alabama Forever. It was my first fashion week anywhere, EVER and what I learned in the tent is that next year, I’ll make sure we have seats. I didn’t rock shades a la Anna Wintour, and I wasn’t so much of a rube that I held up numbered cards to rate the designs, but every night I was left breathless by the energy, the generosity, and the sheer creativity I witnessed from members of the beauty industry, the models, the designers, and the audience.
It may not be New York, but then why would we want it to be? Not to get on my soapbox, but I’ve lived here long enough to grow tired of the comparisons between Birmingham and just about every other city. It was nice to see us step up and (literally) strut our stuff for a change.
“It’s hard to show your inner heart and be judged,” BFW co-founder Heidi Elnora admitted before the finale began. Although she was referring to the pieces preparing to march down the runway, she could have been talking about any of the million other dreams people have but never follow through on because they’re afraid. As Hayden High School art teacher Amy Cutcliffe emphasized, “Everybody has something [to share creatively].” BFW gave many – myself included – an opportunity to do that.
Was everything about the event perfect? No. But that’s not the point. The show’s mission – to bring together our community – delivered. There was pageantry, there was drama, and for three nights, people from different ages, backgrounds, aesthetics and perspectives commiserated and celebrated in the name of fashion. Not to be missed: Brandon Wayne giving us FASHION as he emoted down the catwalk, Ashley Davis’ perfected “smize,” and Marcella Bailey’s infectious cheering from the sidelines. I’m no Pollyanna, but I left feeling that some very talented people brought everything they had to give and left it on the catwalk.
I, for one, feel richer for it…and am already marking my calendar for BFW 2013.
Want more coverage of BFW 2012? You know you do:
We are currently in the midst of the second annual Birmingham Fashion Week, a four day fashion explosion underway at Pepper Place which benefits Camp Smile-a-Mile and Alabama Forever. While you can read last night’s runway recap here, I caught up with a local hairstylist who is making sure the models she’s working with are coiffed to perfection before strutting down the catwalk. Camisha Rivers is currently employed at Pampered Salon.
How long have you been a hair stylist? For seven years. First I went off to college [at Alabama State University] but I was doing so much hair in my dorm that I told my mom I wanted to come home and [become a hairstylist]. I returned home and worked for Kevin Kirk [with Pedestals; formerly Images] for about a year and then I [came to] Pampered Salon. (Camisha was formally trained at Bessemer Beauty Institute. Then she worked as an apprentice under Burnetta Crittenden.)
What’s your specialty? I’m really known for my extension and color services. Cutting is also one of my favorites.
How did you get involved with BFW 2012? Actually I was doing a photo shoot with Angela Karen and she [suggested] I audition for BFW. She gave me the contact for the stylists and I auditioned. The audition was a room full of hair stylists and they had the actual BFW models come in; they gave us mood boards and we had to style according to whatever [board we were assigned]. They chose 20 stylists from that group, and then the top 12. I was selected for the Top 12 which was also chosen to design hair for the BFW calendar. My model is [featured during the month of] April and she made the cover.
Which designers are you working with during BFW 2012? I’ll be working with different designers every day. [On Thursday] I worked with SOCA and Laura Kathryn. I also styled for William Bradley and today I’ve worked with Theodora. I also worked with a couple of the emerging designers, including Shannon Warren.
How do you collaborate to create a look? Or is it totally the designer’s vision? It’s totally the designer’s
vision. They bring in a mood board for the looks they want you to achieve and you have to work from that. They want [the hair] to look exactly like the picture, or as close as you can get it.
Have you had to adapt to “make it work”? YES! We’re working out of a tent [not a salon], and it’s freezing cold. Today they [brought in heaters]. Yesterday it was about 30 degrees. It’s also really fast paced, so there’s not [time do] a perfected look. I’m used to perfection, and I’m [adjusting to] having to do the ‘messy’ look. But generally everything has run really smoothly; they did a great job putting everything together.
What’s been the most exciting part of the process? The most exciting part for me is networking and meeting a lot of great people that I didn’t know were in Birmingham. [I've meat a lot of] designers and photographers that I can work with in the future to create my brand, Camisha Rivers Hair.
And what is Camisha Rivers Hair? If I had to break it down, I’d say it’s healthy, sexy, modern hair.
How is hairstyling from the runway different from working with “everyday” clients? For me the everyday client wants more structured looks, more precise looks. For runway it’s more over-the-top creativity. It’s totally different; [the designers] want messy hair and beach waves. But in the salon it’s more precise.
If someone is interested in having you style her hair, where can you be found? I can be found at Pampered Salon/111 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd South Birmingham 35233
All images provided by Camisha Rivers/Birmingham Fashion Week 2012
Darrius Peace, a twelve year veteran of the haircare industry, hopes to redefine beauty and leave a legacy with his latest endeavor: MyHairAintNappy.com, a resource for natural hair-enthusiasts. The brand also features a book, My Hair Ain’t Nappy: A Black Man’s Introspective on Natural Hair, available via the website and on amazon.com
What inspired you to launch the website? MyHairAintNappy.com was inspired by my entire career of doing hair. I wanted to showcase natural hair in a way that it has not been showcased. When I first started styling hair I learned to do relaxed hair. But natural hairstyling came with me experimenting with my Afro-textured hair, which I incorporated into my styling. We weren’t taught that in school. I attracted natural clients because of my own natural hair. As a result of doing both [textures of] hair, my relaxed clients’ hair wasn’t as lustrous and full as my clients who had natural hair. The benefits of wearing natural hair far outweighed that of wearing relaxed hair. I noticed a shift: people with natural hair became more organically confident.
Who will your website appeal to? There’s a new, natural woman in town: she is professional, she’s stylish, she’s sophisticated, she’s polished and she’s refined. She is no longer interested in wearing chemical processes and she’s ready to sport her natural tresses in a conservative, yet edgy way. Because she’s a professional, she’s not interested in being limited to solely braids, twists and locks. She seeks out styles that are somewhat ambiguous and leave you questioning ‘Is her natural?’ or lead people to say ‘I wish my hair did exactly what hers is doing.’ [I'm catering] to that woman, the woman who is interested in learning and loving her natural hair, and in learning beautiful styling techniques that she can do all by herself that give her a salon-quality finish. What sets [my resource] apart from other natural hair websites or blogs is that it’s coming from the perspective of a black male who has over a decade of experience in the natural hair care/beauty industry.
What other developments do you have in the works? I do plan to go on tour speaking about natural hair, working hair shows and appearing at workshops to helppeople learn to do their hair themselves. My purpose is not to take business away from salons, but between visits to the salon I’d like to help people learn how to manipulate their curly textures into beautiful, salon-quality masterpieces.
Some women are hesitant to transition because they think men don’t like it. What’s your reponse to that? I know a lot of naturalistas are curious as to what black men think about their natural hair. To be frank brothers don’t care. It ain’t even about your hair; it’s about YOU. We love confidence, we love beauty, and we love you when YOU love you.
Ultimately, what do you hope to accomplish? At some point I am going to retire from doing hair. When I do that, I want to leave a legacy. I would like for this brand to help redefine what we consider, or what we’ve learned to be ‘beautiful’ and incorporate our organic beauty into that definition, to love and embrace ourselves in our organic form. I don’t want anyone to think I’m opposed to relaxers – I’m not. I prefer that if you’re going to wear anything that isn’t native to your curl pattern, that you don’t wear it because you think your hair is nappy. I hope that black people begin to employ more positive terminology in reference to our hair textures and omit words like “nappy” and all those other words that are antithetical to our being beautiful.
For more information, please contact Darrius Peace - email@example.com
LexintheCity was in the building (yes, fashionably late!) for the NAACP Night of Fashion last Friday night, and what a fabulous night it was! Held at the Birmingam Museum of Art and hosted by Jazze Pha and Miss Alabama 2010 Ashley Davis, the standing room only event featured designs by Alabama A&M alum Nicci Hou, Francisco Azucar, Shaka King, and Piedmont, AL native Borris J. Powell. The evening also included formal recognition for Justice Ralph D. Cook, Sr., who received a crystal gavel courtesy of Bromberg’s. And over$30,ooo was raised for the NAACP!
The catwalk sizzled with some serious looks, but if we had to choose a favorite, it would have to be the taffeta shirtdresses featuring layered or puffed sleeves, nipped waists, popped collars and ballgown silhouettes. These classic looks brought the drama and would up the ante for any after-five social event. We also loved Shaka King’s Spring 2012 preview, with its easy, breezy tribal-inspired resortwear for men. Clothed in textured and printed fabrics, his models looked like they were flown in from some rocking party in Morocco! For more fashion fab, check out the video from Kenny Luk here.
The fashion wasn’t just on the runway however, as Birmingham’s social set turned out in their finest furs and baddest hats. Ashley Davis dazzled in a teal silk satin one shoulder floor-length gown with front slit, and of course, Jazze Pha was in his “uniform”: a red checked dress shirt, navy vest and denim with coordinating baseball cap. We spotted several ladies in red, but our best dressed of the night has to go to the young woman who was spotted wearing a knee-length red chiffon dress with long sleeves, accented with long strands of pearls, black tights, and leopard boots. Trés uptown chic!
Bravo TV’s Real Housewives of Atlanta returns to the airwaves this Sunday, and I recently chatted with Ryan Christopher, who – as assistant to celeb stylist Shun Melson - has worked on set with the Georgia peaches. Mr. Christopher, 27, is a graduate of Miles College and began by producing fashion shows as an undergrad. He has partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue and also created looks for Jennifer Williams, one of the stars of VH1′s Basketball Wives.
The importance of education: [Majoring in] business gave me a broader horizon. My curriculum prepared me to handle MY business, and also – one thing I think up-and-coming stylists may not understand and think it’s just picking out clothes – to understand the connections you have to make. You have to present yourself in the best way so that you can build relationships with others who can help you. My education taught me how to do those things properly. Stylists don’t necessarily have to go to school for fashion; it’s about having an eye, and you either have it or you don’t. But to learn how to properly run a business has been very important for me.
On his decision to remain based in Birmingham: Atlanta is like my second home, but I never wanted to become part of a commodity. I’m only an airport away [from reaching a client], and as long as [that is the case] I’m good. You have thousands of stylists elsewhere, and sometimes I’m looked at as an underdog, but I don’t mind that.
On his biggest break: All my breaks have been big! I consider all my breaks [to have been big ones] and have been very grateful [for the experiences]. If I had to say what was my biggest I’d have to say when I first started interning with Shun. Although I’d done some wonderful things [in the past], my relationship with her has exposed me to a lot in the styling world.
What it’s like behind the scenes of Real Housewives of Atlanta: Oh wow…it’s fun. I’ve met all [the ladies] and they are all very nice. It’s great working with Shon. Kim is really funny and really kind and really sweet. I always look forward to working with her and Nene. Nene is a full personality and she’s full of life, and every time I’m around her she keeps me laughing. Kim is the same way. She’s a sweet soul.
How looks are created: I really like to research a client to see what they like and how they would dress. I don’t push myself on them, but I try to enhance their style. I like to get a sense of my client to be sure their personality shines more, [so that the] the outfit is not wearing him or her. Shun works the same way and I think that’s why we work so well together. We like to really get to know our clients to know who can carry off a certain look. It’s really knowing your client and knowing who you’re working with, whether they like to wear pieces that are classic and safe or those that are edgy and fashion-forward. Again: research, research, research!
On being able to adapt: I say expect the unexpected. I remember shooting in LA once and I took the shirt off my back for someone to wear. A million things can go wrong, so you prepare for two million.
Ryan revealed that he is available to work with anyone who needs styling for any occasion. For more information please contact his publicist, Toni Rousell, at (205) 523-4PUB. She may also be reached at Trou35@gmail.com.
What began as a college graphic design project for Brian Moore has developed into a thriving business featuring tee shirts, polos, hats, and jackets. Anchored by Moore’s strong Christian faith and his desire to be a positive role model for youths, Moore’s inspirational apparel promotes unity and positivity. JamaicaBama celebrates “Southern style with a little Jamaican flavor.” B.Moe’s designs have been worn by Slick Rick and Speech of Arrested Development, and he recently spoke with digitalartshosting.com/urbanham about the importance of faith and his experiences as an entrepreneur. You can meet Brian Moore at Fashiontini on September 21 and purchase his tees at here and here.
On how he got his start:
“I started B.Moe in 1999 and then I stopped to [collaborate] with 205 Flava and Ruben Studdard. We were going to do my stuff when 205 went nationwide. It didn’t pan out that way, but people were still asking about B.Moe so two years ago I started it back up again. The very first design was an oval logo with BMOE in the middle. It said ‘Encouraging youth to BMOE in all you do in life…you got to BMOE.’ I printed about 24 of those up and was walking around Southside selling them for $5 just to get started and get them out.”
On early and current influences:
” What sparked [my design aspirations] would be FUBU. The way they started was a big motivator for me. JamaicaBama came about because I’m a country boy [who] loves reggae music. [I] love the reggae culture. It kind of goes in hand with the food and culture here in the South. [For] my fifteenth wedding anniversary, [my wife and I] are planning a trip to Jamaica. Since I have the line, I want to go there and get some inspiration from the island style and incorporate that, with a Southern twist, of course.
On the one person he wishes he could design for:
“It’s gonna sound kind of cliché but I guess I would say Bob Marley. I love reggae music so much and it reached a wide market. He would be the ideal person because he’s worldwide. He’s right up there with McDonalds and Coca-Cola. His music reached the masses; if they were wearing B.Moe that would take [my line] to the masses as well.”
On changing minds, one tee shirt at a time:
“Being a Christian I wanted to be able to use my talents for God and what better what to outreach than through tee shirts? A lot of people think of Christians as being holier than thou or straight and narrow, but I want people to know they can be hip and still serve God. You can be outgoing and fun and still be a faithful Christian.”
What’s ahead for B.Moe and JamaicaBama?
“I want to [reach out to] the crossover, hip hop market. And at the same time, the gospel hiphop market. I’ll have a booth set up at the A&E Festival in Atlanta September 30 through October 2. It’s hosted by the Greater Atlanta Church for Christians who are in the media and entertainment industry. Speech (of Arrested Development) is putting that together and coordinating it with the church.”
B.Moe’s advice for aspiring designers?
“Research, research, research. There’s tons of advice online. But the first thing though if you’re really serious is [get a] lawyer and an accountant. And you want to get a trademark and copyright before you put things out there. After that, test your designs with friends and family. It’d be a terrible thing to spend a great deal of money on something you’ve had made and no one [wants to buy it] because you didn’t test it out.”
Local designer Patrick Williamson has just launched Born Fresh Apparel, which features hipster tees for men and women with discriminating taste. I caught up with him recently to discuss his entry into the fashion industry and his philosophy on style.
LEXINTHECITY: What prompted you to begin Born Fresh Apparel?
PW: Having a creative mind but not having an outlet to do it. [I needed ]that perfect outlet to express myself, plus being a black man out of work, that was a motivation more than anything to start my own business. I didn’t know I wanted to start a line. This is just something that [grew out of ] a conversation with a friend of mine. I was talking to a good friend in Mobile. She said something along the lines of “I need more haters in my life” and I thought “That would be hot on a t-shirt!” That’s where it all started from – a simple conversation. It’s local now but it’s growing; I’ve gotten a lot of response.
LEXINTHECITY: How did the current economy motivate you to own your own business?
PW: Because the job market here is not stable, you have to think outside the box. Having been out of work for two years, I felt the odds [of finding traditional employment] were against me, because most employers are looking for people who have been out of work for a few months at most. Also, being a minority you have a better chance of doing something on your own than you do trying to make it in corporate America.
LEXINTHECITY: Who would you say your earliest influence was in terms of fashion?
PW: My first fashion influence would have to have been my mom. She always kept us in the best of what she could afford and we always looked nice. I remember going to Macy’s to the Boys 8-20 Department. I knew we were getting good quality clothes and we’d be fashionable at the same time. We didn’t try to keep up with the Joneses but we kept up with what our pockets would allow us to do.
LEXINTHECITY: Who or what has been your biggest influence?
PW: [My] biggest influence would have to be life period. Life’s struggles are a big influence. A lot of people’s struggles are their biggest successes. Talking about their struggles, writing about their struggles. You take life for what it is and you use it to your advantage, and that’s what I did.
LEXINTHECITY: You’re pretty fashionable; what crimes of fashion have you committed that you’ll admit to, if any?
PW: I don’t have any!
LEXINTHECITY: None in your past? Not even in the ’80s?
PW:[Laughs] Oooh, hold on…yeah, I do. I thought I would slide by. I had a mean PURPLE suit. [I] had the lavender shirt to go with it. It was double-breasted, [and I] had my black shoes, [and] a pink and purple abstract tie. If I looked back then compared to now that was a fashion crime at age 14.
LEXINTHECITY: Since everything seems to come back in style at some point, are there any eras you’d like to see return?
PW: If we go back to the foundation of hip hop, [to] the LLCool J big rope chains and Adidas jumpsuits…I would like to see that return. Life seemed simpler in the 1980s. We didn’t have so much to worry about then. Hip hop was fun. Hip hop was adventurous. Styles were adventurous. Even though I was born in 1982 I still saw it. I would love to see that come back.
LEXINTHECITY: What is on your must-have item for this fall?
PW: I’m actually in talks to have a dark denim blazer created. That’s one of my must-haves for fall. I finally found someone who can make it for me.
LEXINTHECITY: Who is the Born Fresh Man or Woman? And why did you decide to launch your line here in Birmingham?
PW: A Born Fresh man or woman is an individual who recognizes style, period. Everybody is not going to like every single design, but I think there’s something for everyone.
Birmingham has been a good place for me to start because when you create something [here] you separate yourself from anyone else. If you go to Atlanta or New York, you’re a drop in the bucket. But in Birmingham you have a lot more room to move, and a lot more opportunities open to you rather than being in New York, ATL or LA.
LEXINTHECITY: Where can shoppers find Born Fresh Apparel?
PW: Born Fresh Apparel is currently for sale online at www.bornfreshapparel.bigcartel.com.
LEXINTHECITY: What’s next? Anything else you care to add?
PW: The world! [Laughs] I live and breathe fashion, and this is something that makes me happy. Having something to call my own makes me happy. I’m looking forward to what the next day brings for Born Fresh Apparel and am just excited about being able to move forward with it.