Omar Wilson on his Way to Legendary Status in “Living Legends”

One thing that can be said of R&B artist Omar Wilson is that he is in love with life. And who wouldn’t be if you had been recently nominated for an NAACP Image Award and on tour with your highly acclaimed new album “Living Legends.”

Omar Wilson’s love of life is infectious. And even more attractive and charming is his soul-stirring vocal style. Reminiscent of Otis Redding mixed in with a little James Brown and Wilson Pickett for good measure, Omar Wilson conjures up these R&B greats while infusing his distinct qualities into his stage performances and recordings.

“This project [“Living Legends”] was a year in the making and I wanted to make certain that this album embodied organic truisms of music from the greats of yesterday, while keeping it real for the listeners of today. I wanted this album to showcase the remarkable vocal prowess that Omar is quite unique in delivering. Living Legend will stand the test of time,” says Lou Humphrey, CEO of BSE Recordings.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Omar Wilson keeps his eyes on the prize, the prize being R&B mega stardom with a legacy that can inspire others. Fashion Reverie thinks he is going to do it!!

Fashion Reverie: How would you describe your vocal style?

Omar Wilson: My vocal style is emotional, and intense, precise and above all, it is honest.

FR: You have a raspy quality to your voice which harkens back to some of the old school R&B singers of the 1960s and 70s. Is that raspy quality natural or have you worked to achieve that effect in your voice?

Omar Wilson: The raspy quality in my voice is a gift from God. I have had that quality since I was 16 or 17 years of age. My father’s voice is even bigger than mine and has a similar quality.

FR: Who are your musical influences?

Omar Wilson: Initially, I was inspired by the many things I was experiencing in life. So, if I heard music that was about what I was experiencing at that time, I would be inspired by that. After I had the experience of winning the Apollo Amateur contest, my musical influences started to change and evolve. The tutelage I got from winning at the Apollo caused me to research great singers that had left a legacy.

From this research, I discovered that there were great R&B singers from the past that sang about the same things I was feeling and experiencing. Some of these experiences and feeling were embedded in love songs. Before I started doing my research, I wasn’t that interested in love songs. But I found that R&B greats like Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Otis Redding were singing about the things I was feeling, and they also had great voices.

I realized that I could sing about love but still maintain the intensity and power of my vocal style. I describe myself as a lion in a tuxedo.

FR: You are a three-time Apollo winner. What was it like singing on that iconic stage?

Omar Wilson: It was one of the most intense moments of my life because you are in an arena where the audience can tell you what they think about in the first 20 seconds of your act. Also, performing at the Apollo inspired me to acquire the soul music education so that I could begin to understand what my purpose was and where I stood in the music industry.

I was inspired to work hard and aspired to achieve what the great R&B legends like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, James Brown and others had achieved. The Apollo helped create living legends. And that greatness was made and is still at the Apollo. And I am honored to have performed there.

FR: What are the essential qualities that’s needed to be successful as an R&B artist that goes beyond talent and working hard?

Omar Wilson: Talent and hard work is important; however, a lot of talented artists work hard and get no where fast. You also need a team around you, and you especially need good fortune, or what I call, God’s favor.

You must be willing to go on a journey to get to where you want to go even when it doesn’t seem to be working out. But even, when it doesn’t seem to be working out, it is because you are growing and evolving. And you must be prepared for every opportunity.

You must believe God gave you the talent for a reason, and with his help you will exceed expectation. I have been working for almost two decades to get to where I am, and I believe this is my harvest season. And my new album “Living Legends” and my NAACP Image Award nomination speaks to that.

FR: I love the song “The Sh*t, one of my favorites, how did that song come about?

Omar Wilson: “The Sh*t” was written by Mike City and myself in 2001. The song is about a young bougie girl who gets mixed up in the wrong crowd and ended up on the stroll. I recorded that song in LA with Mike City, and later I found out that Nate Dogg liked the song and did his own version of “The Sh*t.”

We are in the process of working out the legalities of “The Sh*t,” so that we can re-release it as a single.

FR: Let’s talk about your new album “Living Legends.” Why an album that conjures some of the greatest soul singers of time?

Omar Wilson: This album has been a part of my journey. It is not something I just conjured up. The making of “Living Legends” was an organic evolution of everything I am becoming and paying homage to great R&B artists. I wanted to inject into this album the energy that is sometimes missing from R&B, and make goose bumps stand up on the neck of listeners. Right now, R&B is about moving audiences. It is more than singing well. Remember, the great R&B legends always moved folks.

FR: One of my favorites is the James Brown Classic “It’s a Man’s World.” In that we are living in the “Me Too Movement” generation, why did pick that song for the album when we are living in an era of women’s empowerment and calling out sexual aggression against women?

Omar Wilson: “It’s a Man’s World” was recorded almost fifty years before the “Me Too” Movement. When I was to perform the song on a few television shows, it was requested that I perform another track from the new album. I reminded the television networks that the lyrics of the song detailed that a man’s world would be nothing without a woman or a girl.

Anyway, I went through that storm with that song, but when I perform it and get to the line about women, the women in the audience go crazy. Women at my concerts understand that the song does not demean them, but that the song gives them equality and empowerment.

FR: How would you describe your personal fashion style?

Omar Wilson: I would describe my personal style as a kind of calm intensity. My call myself the “Black Sinatra.” Back in the day Frank Sinatra had a great sense of style. He was smooth and moved like the Boss. Sinatra was buddy to the biggest gangsters and to President John Kennedy. He was also was involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Now, I may not be in a suit every time I am out and about, but even when I am dressed down, there is a sophistication and gentility about the way I have put myself together. There are a lot of great R&B singers on the market; however, there is no one with a 007 or “Ocean’s Eleven” style. I really do attempt to bring back that kind of style to R&B.

FR: Who are some of your favorite designers?

Omar Wilson: I just wore Calvin Klein to the NAACP Image Awards’ Brunch. I love Tom Ford, Fendi, Prada; hey if it looks good on you, it probably feels good on you.

Images courtesy of 2R Entertainment PR

FR: On your albums, you always have on a great jacket. Could you talk about your love of jackets”?Omar Wilson: I always feel that when I guy puts on a great blazer, he is transformed. A great jacket or blazer gives a man a certain kind of sophistication that deems respect. A great blazer is just a part of wardrobe and reflects my personal style.

FR: What’s next for you?

Omar Wilson: I am currently on tour with my new album “Living Legends’ which comes out on March 22. I am currently nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding New Artist. The sky is limit!!

—William S. Gooch

Fashion News Alert: Jason Wu Pairs with Eloquii, Gucci Invests Millions in Diversity, Tom Ford Takes Over at the CFDA, and Lacoste Celebrates Keith Haring

Image courtesy of formoptic.com

OK, it has all come to past. Tom Ford has been named chairman of the Council Federation of Fashion Designers (CFDA). His new job goes into effect on January 1, 2020.Tom Ford takes over the role of chairman from Diane von Furstenberg, who helmed the CFDA for thirteen years. Ford has been a member of the CFDA since 2000 and has won seven CFDA awards, winning the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year in 2015.

One of the many challenges that Tom Ford will face in taking over the chairmanship of CFDA is New York Fashion Week (NYFW). NYFW is rumored to be moving to The Shed at the newly opened Hudson Yards for the spring 2020 season.

Ford will continue to helm his eponymous fashion label while he serves as chairman of the CFDA. Ford launched his namesake label in 2005.

Image courtesy of harpersbazaar.com

Gucci’s remedy for diversity issues

In response to the clap backs and the backlash around Gucci’s racially insensitive black jumpsuit with a collar image that evoked images of black minstrels, Gucci has launched the “Gucci Changemakers” program. The “Gucci Changemakers” initiative was created to have a “lasting social impact in our communities and within the fashion industry,” Gucci explained through its social media platforms.

Coincidentally, the black turtleneck jumpsuit in question was immediately pulled from stores as a result of the controversy. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond,” said the house in an official statement published at the time, as reported in fashionnetwork.com.

Gucci will invest $10 million dollars into the “Gucci Changemakers.” “I believe in dialogue, building bridges and taking quick action. This is why, we started working immediately on the long-term infrastructure at Gucci to address our shortcomings,” said Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri in a press release. “And now through our Changemakers program, we will invest important resources to unify and strengthen our communities across North America, with a focus on programs that will impact youth and the African-American community.”

Hmm, time will tell!!

Image courtesy of authenticallyemmie.com

Jason Wu x Eloquii

Spring 2019 promises to be another season of fashion collaborations. Jason Wu is partnered with plus-size brand Eloquii. This collaborative effort will focus on women from size 14 and up. Jason Wu previously partnered with Eloquii for a Holiday 2018 capsule collection.

“I was so happy to work with Eloquii again on a spring capsule collection that is beautifully feminine and refined,” Wu said of the collaboration. “I especially love the freshness of the floral pieces that are perfect for the warmer season.”

The 26-piece Jason Wu x Eloquii Spring 2019 series includes dresses, tees, blouses, blazers, trousers and skirts, with special attention given to colorful motifs such as pinstripes and florals in a cheerful palette that riffs on blues, greens, yellows, and whites. Prices points range between $59.95 to$149.95.

Image courtesy of viacom.it

Lacoste looks to Keith Haring

Fashion collaborations continue to florish, from Tommy Hilfiger partnering with Zendaya and Gigi Hadid, Reebok teams up with Cardi B, Alexander Wang and Uniqlo, and the list goes on and on and Lacoste collaborating with a brand that will make fashion fans’ hearts quiver.

Lacoste, in collaboration with Artestar, is primed to launch a ready-to-wear and accessories collection celebrating the art of Keith Haring. The collaborative collection pays tribute to Keith Harings’ expressions of bold color, patterns, and pop art of the 1980s. Two of the most recognizable motifs from the collection will be Harings’ “Barking Dog” and “Heart” motif.

The Keith Haring x Lacoste capsule includes the brand’s iconic polo shirts—finished with various motifs—s well as shirts, sweaters, dresses, jackets, swimwear, sneakers, a reversible tote bag and even watches. The Keith Haring x Lacoste capsule collection launches on March 27 on the Lacoste e-commerce store and select Lacoste stores.

—William S. Gooch

Thomas Bradshaw Causes Fevers to Rise in “Southern Promise”

It’s a huge challenge to produce and mount plays that tackle the difficult subjects of slavery and/or race relations. There is always the problem of theatrical voice, sensitivity, and racial currency. Race relations and slavery are very sensitive subjects for the theatre to take on. And even though slavery in the US ended over 150 years ago, racial discrimination and inequity continues for African Americans.

Thomas Bradshaw in his 2008 play “Southern Promises” re-examines slavery and the residual effects of such a brutal social and economic system of oppression. In this production of “Southern Promises,” The Bats, the resident acting company at the Flea, boldly revisits slavery with an interracial cast that contains people color playing both the servants and the dominant class.

“Southern Promises” centers on a promise made by the dying plantation owner that his slaves be set free after his death. Though the plantation owner wills manumission of his slaves in his will, the patriarch’s wife goes against his will, literally, and keeps the slaves in bondage, contributing her dead husband’s desire for manumission to his fevered dementia at the end of his life.

There are many things in this production that serves this incendiary subject in a great way. Though the utilitarian set is almost stark with a plantation backdrop, it is surprisingly functional and serves the production adequately.

The Bats acting company takes on all the characters and though some of the black actors play white antebellum roles, the non-traditional casting does not detract from the incendiary nature and forcefulness of the script. One wonders if Bradshaw was inspired or drew reference from Jean Genet’s iconic play “The Blacks,” where the blacks actors took on the roles of the black and white characters. Whether Bradshaw borrowed from Genet’s “The Blacks,” the non-traditional castings works in this production.

If Bradshaw’s goal in “Southern Promises” was to demonstrate the historical legacy of slavery, Bradshaw skillfully proved that the remnants of slavery are still with us. Consider the white’s description of slaves as childlike, sexually immoral, and intellectually inferior. Black folks are still described as having these character flaws. Bradshaw also brilliantly inserted biblical scripture and references in the script, demonstrating how slave owners used the Bible to justify slavery and their white privilege. Hmm, doesn’t too far removed from what some white supremicists currently do.

Where this production of “Southern Promises” did have some challenges were in the southern, antebellum accents, which unfortunately most of the cast was not able to pull off. And some of the simulated, sexually explicit scenes didn’t really move the story forward and seemed gratuitous in nature.

Standouts in the cast was Brittany Zaken as Elizabeth, mistress of the plantation, who expertly distilled the chilly, cruel nature of plantation mistresses while being aware that their power was limited by their gender. Shakur Tolliver was very good as the docile slave Benjamin. And special acknowledgement goes to Marcus Jones as David, the brother preacher of Elizabeth. Jones really knows how to conjure up the spirit of evangelical, revivalist preachers of that day.

Photos courtesy of Joan Marcus/ Spin Cycle NYC

Though “Southern Promises” is an incendiary drama with racially sensitive language and scenes, Thomas Bradshaw should be congratulated for telling it like it was, causing us to understand that though many things have changed, the memory of and the toxic shrapnel of slavery lives on. Will we ever be delivered from this scourge on our history? Well, only if we tell the truth!! “Southern Promises” runs through April 14 at the Flea Theater. For more information, go to theflea.org.

—William S. Gooch

Wednesday Sample Sale: Week of March 11, 2019

Fashion Reverie seeks to keep its loyal readers informed of great samples sales. Just remember, product disappears quickly, so it is important to get there early. 

Photo courtesy of lyst.com

BRAND:  James Perse Sample Sale

WHEN: 3/13–3/16; Wed.–Sat. (11am–6pm)

WHY: 40-60% off men’s and women’s apparel and footwear

WHERE: 361 Bleecker Street

 

BRAND:  Theory Men’s Sample Sale

WHEN: 3/13–3/16; Daily (10am–7pm)

WHY: Theory creates styles lauded for modern wardrobe essentials with an impeccable fit and modern point of view. Office professionals in need of well-fitting work clothes have their pick of tailored blazers, dress shirts, and the ever-popular Theory suits, while the casual-minded make out with the NYC brand’s consistent supply of understated polo shirts, sweaters, pants, and tees. All sizes in stock. Fitting rooms available.

WHERE: 133 Greenwich Street (Couryard by Marriot)

Photo courtesy of denimjeanobserver.com

BRAND:  Nicholas K Archive Sample Sale

WHEN: 3/13–3/31: Mon.–Sat. (11am–7pm), Sunday (noon–6pm)

WHY: One of a kind pieces and up to 80% off apparel and accessories

WHERE: 435 Broome Street

 

Photo courtesy of fashionista.com

BRAND:  Mode PR Sample Sale

WHEN: 3/16–3/17; Saturday–Sunday (10am.–7pm)

WHY: Up to 80% off on the latest collections, scarves, and one of a kind pieces.

Designers participating include A Peace Treaty, Bande Noir, Baserange, Collina Strada, Electric Feathers, KES, Lindsey Thornburg, Open House Jewelry, and Oroboro.

WHERE: 547 Broadway, #2

BRAND:  Nili Lotan Sample Sale

WHEN: 3/19–3/23; Tues. –Sat. (11am–7pm)

WHY: Shop women’s apparel and accessories at up to 70% off retail

WHERE: 150 Greene Street

—Staff

 

Fashion News Alert: Diane von Furstenberg Steps Down, Virgil Abloh and Michael Jackson, John Varvatos Teams with “Games of Thrones,” and Neiman Marcus in NYC

Photo courtesy of yahoo.com

Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear, drew inspiration from Michael Jackson’s pop culture legacy for the brand’s fall 2019 collection. “My intention for this show was to refer to Michael Jackson as a pop culture artist. It referred only to his public life that we all know and to his legacy that has influenced a whole generation of artists and designers,” Abloh said in a recent statement.In the wake of HBO’s documentary “Leaving Neverland,” that details the alleged sexual abuse of two young men by Michael Jackson, Louis Vuitton has vehemently denied the brand’s deep relationship to Michael Jackson. The brand has stated that there were several inspirations for the men’s fall 2019 collection with the Michael Jackson inspiration being one small part of many inspirations.

“I am aware that in light of this documentary the show has caused emotional reactions. I strictly condemn any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights,” Virgil Abloh, men’s artistic director at Vuitton, said in a statement released exclusively to WWD.

Abloh referenced Michael Jackson in men’s fall 2019 collection by injecting a tee-shirt printed with an image of his loafer-clad feet and white socks paid homage to his famous dance moves. There were also some sequin-embellished jackets that referenced Jackson’s stage costumes.

In a press release Louis Vuitton explained, “that directly features Michael Jackson elements” and assured that the collection, which had multiple inspirations and that will ultimately reach stores, would “purely reflect the true values of the brand and of our artistic director.” Louis Vuitton also explained that any garments that directly referenced Michael Jackson would not be produced.

Photo courtesy of runwaymagazine.com

Bye, bye Diane

Diane von Furstenberg has been at the helm of the CFDA for 13 years. But the inside word is that she is ready to step down. Rumor is that Tom Ford is primed to take over Diane von Furstenberg’s position. The CFDA and Tom Ford have not commented on the shifts at the organization.

As chairman of the CFDA, Diane von Furstenberg witnessed unprecedented growth in the US fashion market, with international media coverage reaching its peak during her tenure. But in the second decade of her reign things have shifted. Currently, the American fashion market is experiencing a seismic shift full of uncertainty and a shrinking retail market.

The truth is that we are in a moment of everything moving…”von Furstenberg told WWD in the fall of 2018. “It’s a very unsettling moment.” 

Photo courtesy of menshealth.com

John Varvatos’ medieval fantasy

Collaborations or partnerships continue to be a motivating factor in fashion. Acclaimed luxury menswear designer John Varvatos has recently jumped into the partnership pool by teaming with HBO mega hit “Game of Thrones” for a men’s luxury capsule collection based on the show.

One month before the final season of “Game of Thrones,” John Varvatos launches his 11-piece collection. The collection is a take on the fantasy medieval world of “Game of Thrones.” Varvatos includes the shows throne motif throughout the capsule collection with tee shirts, pants, a cross-body bag, and a showstopper hand-dyed leather jacket.

Price points range from $98 to $2,698. The capsule collection launches on March 14 in selected John Varvatos stores, at Bloomingdale’s in the USA, Harry Rosen in Canada, El Palacio in Mexico, and online at www.johnvarvatos.com.

Photo of fortune.com

Neiman Marcus comes to NYC

Neiman Marcus in Manhattan, who would’ve thought? Well, it is about to come true.

Since 1907, Neiman Marcus has expanded to many cities in the US, but never in New York City. New York City has been the stomping ground of Saks, Macy’s, and Bergdorf Goodman. (Other NYC-associated stores have bit the dust, namely Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller, Alexander’s, and Gimbel’s.) Finally, Neiman Marcus is coming to New York City with a location at the newly opened Hudson Yards.

“We’re thrilled to be introducing Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards as a continuation of our strategy to transform the Neiman Marcus brand into a digital luxury platform,” said Geoffroy van Raemdonck, CEO of Neiman Marcus Group in a fashionnetwork.com article. “This store recognizes our brand’s history and heritage while adapting to how the next generation of luxury customers shop. Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards will be all about providing physical and digital experiences in a way not seen at other stores, creating a personal customer experience that is seamless and magical.”

The Neiman Marcus store at Hudson Yards will also include Neiman Marcus Travel Shop, an area dedicated to men’s and women’s travel apparel and accessories; the Cook & Merchant’s Kitchen, where shoppers can participate in demonstrations, tastings, and mixology classes; and Neiman Marcus Live, a performance stage offering live activations and concerts. Additionally, there will also be a BLVD beauty salon available to offer blowouts, manicures, pedicures, nail art, lash extensions, laser hair removal, waxing, brow shaping and peel services, as well as, a brow shaping lab and nail art station in the Beauty department.

The Manhattan-based Neiman Marcus is set to open this Friday.

—William S. Gooch

Editors’ Pick: Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya Spring 2019 Capsule Collection Campaign

Do you love retrospective or vintage-inspired garments? If you do, look no further than the Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya spring 2019 capsule collection.

Inspired by the Battle of Versailles fashion show that took place in Paris in 1973, Tommy Hilfiger and Zendaya incorporated some classic 70s silhouettes into their spring 2019  capsule collection. Hold on to your horses because there are lots of flared pants, psychedelic prints, and shiny satin materials. Can anyone say, “More, More, More”?

“Zendaya has become a global icon, using fashion to make bold statements while always staying true to herself. Our capsule collection fuses her eclectic style with the Americana spirit of our brand,” said Hilfiger about the capsule collection.

And there is nothing more Americana than a look back at vintage 70s fashion. This 70s capsule collection conjures up images of Battle of Versailles, which was a charity fundraiser runway show to restore Louis XIV’s colossal residence. The Battle of Versailles highlighted the brilliance of black models—Pat Cleveland, Alva Chinn, Norma Jean Darden, Billie Blair, Bethann Hardison, China Macado, and others—with those iconic models showing the mostly French audience how versatile and important the American sportswear aesthetic of Stephen Burrows, Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein, and Bill Blass could be.

Images courtesy of lesfacons.com

The collection, which ranged from high-waisted, wide-leg denim and easy suiting to curve-hugging jumpsuits and flirty, glittery dresses for a night out dancing, will surely appeal to any customer enamored with ’70s style. Posing against a backdrop of wood paneling, Zendaya models wide-leg pants, tailored suiting and chic dresses with looks that are casual, yet elegant. 

The Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya spring 2019 collection is now available at usa.tommy.com.

—Staff

 

For Fashion Stylist Tracy Shapoff Taking Risks Pays Off in a Big Way

Image courtesy of realitytvworld.com

A career in fashion is a risky venture. Unlike more traditional 9 to 5 jobs, most jobs in fashion don’t have set hours and often you go from gig to gig. If stability and job security is what you are looking for, then fashion may not be for you. Well, not at first!!Risk-taking is a natural state of being for Tracy Shapoff. After achieving as a fashion designer and trend forecaster, Tracy took a huge leap in career trajectory, moving from New York City to Los Angeles in pursuit new career as a fashion stylist. And all the risk-taking and hard work is starting to pay off. And her current appearance on this season of “The Bachelor” is sure to make her rising star shine even brighter.

Tracy Shapoff knows what wants and she’s is willing to do what it takes to get there. Not frightened by the risks and adversities of a creative career, Tracy meets challenges head on with tenacity and perseverance.

Tracy Shapoff sat down with Fashion Reverie and graciously spoke about her life, her passion and her bravery.

Image courtesy of life&style.com

Fashion Reverie: How did you first become interested in fashion?Tracy Shapoff: My grandmother was an incredible designer and seamstress. I learned how to sew from her and there are lots of creative people in my family. I very quickly realized that I had a strong passion for fashion.

FR: How would you describe your personal style? 

Tracy Shapoff: I would say my personal style is clean eclectic. I am kind all over the place. I love being trend forward and taking risks; but that all depends on my personality on a given day. Sometimes, I might wear very clean, crisp clothing that is monochromatic in scope. Other days, I could dress down, and other days I could be really trend. It just depends on what mood I am in. I am also a big theme dresser.

FR: So, you went to Kent State and majored in fashion, why Kent State, and what was that experience like?

Tracy Shapoff: I looked and considered some fashion schools in New York City—FIT and Parsons. However, my grandparents live in Cleveland and my mother had worked for a woman whose daughter attended Kent State. I knew that Kent was an amazing school. And at that time Kent was ranked in the top five when it came to fashion schools.

I wanted to have a complete college experience and I fell in love with Kent State at my first visit to the campus. I knew I would eventually move to NYC to work in fashion.

Kent State is very much a part of a college town, lots of partying, of course. I immersed myself in college life and activities. I joined a sorority while I was at Kent. I was able to study abroad in Florence, Italy because Kent has a campus in Florence. I had so many amazing experiences at Kent State.

Image courtesy of heavy.com

FR: How did the job at Sam Edelman come about?Tracy Shapoff: Prior to working at Sam Edelman, I had done trend forecasting for Kohls in New York City. My first job in NYC was designing for a private licensing company which didn’t pay well. Later, I got the opportunity at Kohls to do trend forecasting. I was there for three years.

I found the opportunity at Sam Edelman online. When I went in for the job interview the job was in retail, which I wasn’t interested in. The interview went so well that I was offered a trial job designing for Sam Edelman.

After only being there a few days, I realized Sam Edelman didn’t really have a fashion design department. I presented a proposal to the company about me creating a design/trend department. They bought the idea, and I ended up being at Sam Edelman for three years.

FR: You switched careers and became a wardrobe stylist. How did that all come about?  

Tracy Shapoff: While working at Sam Edelman I got to go on lots of editorial and magazine shoots that were using the footwear in editorials. I found out how much I loved styling from those opportunities. I knew that I had reached a ceiling at Sam Edelman, and it was time to move on.

I went out to Los Angeles for about a month to figure out if I would like to live there and to see if I could launch my styling career in LA. I researched a bunch of stylists that I loved and reached out to them about working with them as a styling assistant. I got a lot of positive feedback and started my new career from there.

FR: How did you sustain yourself in fashion as you are pursuing this new career in LA?

Tracy Shapoff: I have always been able to fall back on bartending to sustain myself between jobs or to supplement my income. I work a lot of hours between styling fashion jobs and bartending, when I need to. Sometimes, there is a long layover between styling jobs, so I have always been able to supplement my income with other work. Recently, I have had a lot of styling work, so I haven’t had to look outside of fashion for more income. 

Image courtesy of realitytvworld.com

FR: How did you navigate this big career move?Tracy Shapoff: When I first moved to LA I thought I wanted to be a wardrobe stylist in film and television. Once I got to LA, I didn’t have the contacts to land styling work in film and television. So, I reached out to celebrity stylists for assisting work and quickly got work as a styling assistant for celebrities and over time I have acquired my own clients.

I am in a place in my career where I am still building as a fashion stylist, so I take on jobs that pay well and some that don’t pay so well. I am very fortunate to have a great relationship with showrooms and fashion PR firms where I can pull clothes from some of the best designers and brands in Los Angeles.

FR: What shows have you work on as a wardrobe stylist, and which celebrities have you dressed?

Tracy Shapoff: I have worked mainly on reality television as a wardrobe stylist with such shows as MTV’s “Undressed”—which was a dating show—“The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Champions,” and “Baker’s America.” I have dressed Channing Tatum, Gillian Jacobs, Octavia Spencer, Constance Wu, Toni Trucks, Claire Holt, Elizabeth Banks, and Jermaine Fowler, just to name a few.

FR: What has been your best experience as a stylist?

Tracy Shapoff: My best experience was working on the 2018 Golden Globes and getting to dress Dany Garcia whose company, The Garcia Companies produced the “Baywatch,” “Jumangi,” and “Rampage” movies. I was also to witness the Golden Globes red carpet up close and personal. 

Image courtesy of usweekly.cov

FR: How did “The Bachelor” come about?Tracy Shapoff: I was randomly looking at information on reality television shows and I noticed that “The Bachelor” had an online application for contestants. And I thought, “why not, give this a shot.” I didn’t think anything would come it. I got a call to come in for casting and the rest is history.

FR: Now you have worked mostly behind the scenes, but on “The Bachelor” you are in front of the camera. How was that different? What was that experience like?

Tracy Shapoff: I didn’t think I would like being in front of the camera, but I have to say, I had so much fun on the show. I really enjoyed staying in the house in Los Angeles for the first four episodes. Then I went with Colton to Singapore, and after that I was eliminated.

FR: What was Colton Underwood like, what was your experience of him? 

Tracy Shapoff: He is a sincere and genuine person. I was very comfortable around him from the first time I met him. I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, but I had watched him on his season of “Bachelorette.” He went beyond my expectations. We talked a lot with each other, which you don’t get to see on the show because most of it is edited out. We had a lot of fun together. 

FR: Did Colton pull your heart strings.

Tracy Shapoff: Yes, he did pull a couple of strings.

Image courtesy of realitytvworld.com

FR: What were your expectations of being on” The Bachelor,” and did the show come up to your expectations? Tracy Shapoff: I wasn’t sure what to expect because you could get sent home from the first episode or you could become engaged. I was completely open to whatever happened. I am very ready to be in a long-term, stable relationship. 

Honestly, I had only watched one season of “The Bachelor” and when watching the show, you think that the premise of the show is kind of crazy; however, once you are there is a very different experience. You are spending so much time with each other—which mostly gets edited out—that you really get to know the other person and that is your main motivation. Remember, there is next to no outside stimulation because you are in a cloistered environment and what is actually a few weeks feels like a much longer time span.

FR: Did you get what you wanted or expected?

Tracy Shapoff: I am not sure what I was expecting. That said; I learned things about myself that I did not realize I needed to know. The show opened me up to areas about relationships that I didn’t know I was closed off to. Of course, I would have loved to end up with Colton, but it didn’t happen. But I think “The Bachelor” got me one stop closer to meeting the right guy because I know now what I want and don’t want.

FR: Did being on “The Bachelor” ignite something in you that made you want to be in front of the camera more?

Tracy Shapoff: Not necessarily. I did like being on camera; however, I am very committed to my styling career. I would be open to hosting a fashion television show or being on a show about fashion and style or doing fashion commentary.

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FR: What’s next for you? Tracy Shapoff: Well, “Women Tell All” already premiered. The finale of “The Bachelor” airs on Monday and Tuesday. I would be open to do another “The Bachelor.” Other than that, continuing to work hard as a stylist. I would love to collaborate with a fashion brand, helping to build that brand.

—William S. Gooch

What’s Happening with “Project Runway” Alumni?

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“Project Runway” is returning home to where it all started. The fashion competition reality television series is being rebooted on its original home network, Bravo, with a new cast of judges that includes Christian Siriano, media personality and former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth, Supermodel Karlie Gloss, and fashion designer Brandon Maxwell. Elle editor-in-chief Nina Garcia will continue as a judge on the show.As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Bravo acquired “Project Runway” again through an agreement with Bravo Media LLC and Lantern Entertainment LLC, whose bid to acquire the assets of The Weinstein Co. was approved by Delaware bankruptcy court on May 8. From 2004 until the present season, a plethora of contestants have appeared on the sixteen seasons of the show. While some found fashion design success, others have moved on to other things.

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Christian Siriano

Siriano is easily the greatest success story of all Project Runway contestants. The Season 4 winner has gone on to become a red-carpet favorite at awards show from the Golden Globes to the Academy Awards. His roster of star-studded clients has included Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie, Angela Bassett, Billy Porter, Leslie Jones, Alicia Silverstone, Kathy Bates, and Meg Ryan. The designer’s runway show is one of the most coveted seats at New York Fashion Week: The Shows, and his front row is known to feature his A-list Hollywood clientele. His fashion star will continue to burn bright.

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Leanne Marshall

The Season 5 winner of “Project Runway” had a tough act to follow with Season 4 Christian Siriano’s win and market saturation, but she’s managed to make a name for herself as both a ready-to-wear and bridal designer. She’s the founder of her own eponymous label that has shown consistently at New York Fashion Week, with her bridal collection currently carried in over 18 boutiques internationally.

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Alexandra Vidal

Vidal came to “Project Runway” Season 1, well known for her swimwear and Miami causal wear aesthetic, but oh, how she has evolved from that. The designer is now best known for her cocktail dresses and evening wear, which has been worn by Naomi Watts, Joan Small, Faith Hill, and Coco Rocha. The collection is currently carried at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.

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Carol Hanna Whitfield

The Season six “Project Runway” contestant now has a studio in the heart of the garment district where she sells wedding gowns, wedding accessories, and dresses with a modern twist. Her pieces are also available on her Etsy shop. Dubbed “The People’s Designer” on her season, Carol Hanna Whitfield is a favorite in the bridal market.

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Austin Scarlett

The flamboyant fashionista is one of the most memorable and biggest fan-favorite in “Project Runway” history. Audiences couldn’t get enough of him, and he returned to “Project Runway” for “Project Runway: All Stars,” and his own series with Santino Rice, “On the Road with “Austin & Santino.” His bridal collections are sold at Neiman Marcus and other retail stores globally.

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Chloe Dao

Chloe Dao was the dark horse on “Project Runway” Season 2, where she was up against fan favorite Santino Rice and Daniel Vosovic. Since her “Project Runway” days, she has a very popular boutique in Houston, Texas, finding a local following in the city.

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Jay McCarroll

Jay McCarroll was the winner of the first season of “Project Runway but became even more famous for notorious turning down the $100,000 cash prize due to all the stipulations attached to the prize money. Since “Project Runway” Season 1, he was the protagonist of the 2009 documentary, “Eleven Minutes,” which chronicled his first runway show at New York Fashion Week. In 2010 he appeared on “Celebrity Fit Club.” McCarroll has had a clothing line on QVC and is currently an adjunct fashion professor at Philadelphia University.

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Santino Rice

Santino Rice came to the spotlight on Season 2 of “Project Runway,” and was a fan favorite making it all the way to the top three to show at New York Fashion Week “Project Runway” show. He ultimately lost to Chloe Dao, but his charisma and reality star personality helped him eventually land his own television show on Lifetime with fellow Project Runway alumni Austin Scarlett. He was also a judge for seasons 1–6 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” He is now involved in Los Angeles–based restaurant Wild Living Foods where he is the Remedy Bar Captain. Organic plant-based casual food is his new calling.

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Mondo Guerra

Mondo Guerra was a runner-up on season 8 of “Project Runway” and later became the winner of the first season of “Project Runway: All Stars.” After announcing his HIV positive status on the show, Guerra became deeply involved in HIV education and awareness and was the spokesperson for two national HIV campaigns. On season 10 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” contestant Blair St. Clair wore a gown designed by Guerra which set the fashion blogs ablaze. He’s still designing women’s clothing and accessories under his Mondo Guerra label.

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Michael Costello

Costello is also one of the more successful “Project Runway” alumnae with a list of celebrity clients that include Jennifer Lopez, Bebe Rexha, Beyoncé, and Alyssa Milano. The designer, who appeared on season 8 where he finished fourth and on the first season of “Project Runway: All Stars” where he was runner-up, Costello has not only dressed A-list actresses, but has also collaborated with Lou Eyrich to design gowns for Lady Gaga when she appeared on American Horror story. This styling effort resulted in a Primetime Emmy Award win for Outstanding Costume for a Contemporary Series, Limited Series or Movie.

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Emilio Sosa

Following his runner-up status on “Project Runway” Season 7, Emilio Sosa has designed costumes for “Porgy and Bess” (2012), “Motown the Musical” (2013), and most recently, “On Your Feet: the Emilio and Gloria Estefan Story” (2015). For the Off-Broadway production of “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” (2012).a Sosa won a Lucille Lortel Award, awards which recognize excellence in New York Off-Broadway theatre.

—Kristopher Fraser

 

Wednesday Sample Sale: Week of March 4, 2019

Fashion Reverie seeks to keep its loyal readers informed of great samples sales. Just remember, product disappears quickly, so it is important to get there early.

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BRAND:  Vanessa Noel 30-Year Anniversary Sample SaleWHEN: 3/06–until; Mon.–Fri. (10am–6pm), Saturday (11am–6pm)

WHY: Famed shoe designer, Vanessa Noel, is celebrating her 30 years in business and saying thank you to all her loyal customers with a huge blowout sale! Shoes, boots, bridal, handbags and cashmere scarves all marked down to amazing prices! The sale opens to the public on Wednesday, March 6 while supplies last!

WHERE: 158 East 64th Street

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BRAND:  Lilla P Sample Sale

WHEN: 3/08–3/13: Friday (8am–8pm), Sat–Sun (11am–7pm), Mon.­–Tues. (9am­–7pm), Wed. (9am­–2pm)

WHY: Women’s clothing at up to 70% off retail prices

WHERE: 34 Little West 12th Street

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BRAND:  Eileen Fisher Spring Sample Sale

WHEN: 3/9–3/10; Saturday (10am­–6pm), Sunday (11am­­–6pm)

WHY: Heavy Organic Linen shawl collar jacket in undyed natural: was $278 is now $139
Mandarin Collar calf length button down dress in the color chambray: was $298 is now $149
Classic Collar Swing top in soft organic cotton twill in the color graphite: was $188 is now $99. In addition to a great assortment of current samples, which range in fit from extra small to medium, we will have other sale merchandise in a full-size range, starting at 40% off.

WHERE: 314 East 9th Street, bet. 1st and 2nd Avenue

Image courtesy of Patrizia Luca

 

BRAND:  Patrizia Luca Sample Sale

WHEN: 3/09–3/15; Daily (10am–7pm)

WHY: Entire store will be up to 80% off original retail prices.

WHERE: 765 8th Avenue, Ground floor

—Staff

 

 

 

 

Fashion News Alert: Reese Witherspoon Partners with Elizabeth Arden, Billionaire Kylie, Diesel Files for Bankruptcy, and More Retail Store Closings

Image courtesy of Kylie Cosmetics

On Tuesday, Kylie Jenner was named the youngest billionaire of times by Forbes magazine. Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics, which debuted online in 2015, containing lip liner and lipstick kits for $29 has pushed Jenner into the billionaire class.

Kylie Cosmetics, owned 100% by Kylie Jenner, did an estimated $360 million in sales in 2018. Jenner acquired additional income from making personal appearances and appearing on the reality television show “Keeping Up with Kardashians.”

In 2018, Kylie Jenner signed a deal with Ulta Beauty Inc to put her Kylie Cosmetics’ products in all Ulta Beauty’s 1,163 US stores.

Image courtesy of Elizabeth Arden

 

Reese Witherspoon and Elizbeth Arden celebrate women

Many fashion brands are gearing up to celebrate International Women’s Day. Elizabeth Arden is celebrating by partnering with Reese Witherspoon on a new lipstick. According to the brand’s statement the lipstick’s hot pink shade “Pink Punch’ was inspired by the next generation of young female leaders.

The limited-edition lipstick, ‘March on Beautiful Color Lipstick,’ total sales proceeds will be donated to UN Women. The funds raised will continue to fuel the non-profit organization’s ‘Making Every Woman & Girl Count’ gender data initiative.

“It’s an incredible time to be a woman,” said Witherspoon in a statement. “The work we’re doing with Elizabeth Arden and UN Women is igniting real change and increasing possibilities for women globally.”  “I’m in this for all women—for my daughter, my mother, and all the amazing women in my life,” adds Witherspoon.

Elizabeth Arden has a history of working for women’s causes. Back in 1912, Elizabeth Arden provided red lipstick to suffragettes marching on Fifth Avenue. The “March On Beautiful Color Lipstick” is now available at ElizabethArden.com and in department stores globally.
 
“This campaign serves as a symbol of women’s strength and the powerful possibilities when we support one another,” said Ava Huang, General Manager, Elizabeth Arden. “We are grateful for our partnership with UN Women and their dedication and impactful work toward gender equality.”

Image courtesy of designboom.com

Trouble for Diesel USA

On Tuesday, Diesel USA Inc, the denim and accessory brand known for its jeans, filed for bankruptcy. According to the company the cause was sales decline, cypher fraud, and expensive store leasings.

Diesel USA, which is the New York-based unit of Diesel SpA filed for Chapter 11 protection for creditors in US bankruptcy court in Delaware. Diesel USA has been the sole distributor of Diesel products in the US.

Diesel USA has lost money for the past six years, as annual sales decreased by 53%. And over the last three years the company lost $1.2 million dollars due to cypher fraud. Chief Restructuring Officer Mark Samson detailed in court proceedings that Diesel USA has no intention to shutter, but will restructure by closing some 28 stores, improving its product lines and attempting to appeal more to Millennials, Generation Z, and other consumers.

Image courtesy of footwearnews.co

More store closings

2019 is already proving to be a year of lots of store closing. Payless is stacking up to be the number one company to close stores in 2019. It is reported in usatoday.com that Payless is holding liquidating sales in 2,590 stores with many stores expected to close by the end of March.

Next apparel store to close relative to number of stores in The Gap. The Gap is slated to close more than 230 stores over the next two years. Next in line is Victoria’s Secret that is projected to close 53 stores in 2019.

According to global marketing research firm, Coresight Research, more than 6,300 stores are scheduled to shutter in 2019. Though this amount of store closings is lower than occurred in 2017—a high of 8,139–this number of brick and mortar closing is still very high.

—William S. Gooch

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