Fashion Tea with Kristopher: August 2018

August is typically a quiet month for fashion with everyone trying to cash in on vacation time before the new fashion season commences. Still, there is lots of tea to go around. The secrets and scandals that make this industry so delicious are still flowing free. Everyone may be jet setting off to Mykonos, but the teakettle is still on.

First cup of tea

We are starting you off with some sweet tea. A well-known and beloved fashion designer who has been a staple of New York Fashion Week for several seasons has his eyes set on China for business expansion. With his business growing, he’s been M.I.A. lately with plans of announcing his international expansion on the horizon. Chinese luxury designers top target audiences these days, so this move is just a logical next step.

Second cup

A major editor that has been a front row fixture at New York Fashion Week recently could soon be finding himself filling out job applications. With the turnover and cuts at the major magazine where he is currently employed, he’s even admitted he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll last. Like “Project Runway’s” Heidi Klum proclaims, ”one day you’re in, the next day you’re out.”

     Image courtesy of turbosquid.com

Third cupA top fashion designer will soon replace a major media personality on a fashion reality show. While everyone thought this media personality would probably die or retire in this role, only diamonds are forever, darling. It will be sad to see him go, but hopefully will find a new home on another show.

Four cup

A top former supermodel’s son has been caught hitting the sauce a little too hard and has become a very problematic fixture at parties. He’s known to have even broken a door in a drunken stupor at a popular model crowd bar recently. Someone get this enfant terrible a babysitter.

—Kristopher Fraser

Coach x Selena Gomez: The Second Time Around

We have all heard the adage that “three times is the charm.” Whether you believe that or not, for pop icon Selena Gomez, two times appears to be the charm, especially if you consider the collaboration between Coach and Selena Gomez.

For the fall 2017 season, Selena Gomez first collaborated with Coach for an accessories collection that included the ‘Selena Grace’ bag and other key accessories. Well, for this second collaboration with Coach, the Coach x Selena Gomez collaboration will for the first time include ready-to-wear pieces, as well as bags, small leather goods, and other accessories. And true to form, this collaboration will be infused with Selena Gomez’s powerful feminine, but girly spirit.

Pieces styled by Selena feature her unique touches, including an empowering personal motto written in her handwriting—“Not perfect, Always me”—and a bunny motif that speaks to her imagination. The collection is designed to perfectly reflect Selena’s playful sense of style, which contrasts pretty with sporty and elegance with cool. In addition to ready-to-wear, which includes pretty silk slips finished with lace and ultra-soft sweaters and hoodies in retro-inspired pastels, the collection also introduces two new bag silhouettes—the Bond and the Trail Bag—that Selena designed in close collaboration with Vevers. Crafted in smooth leather and finished with antique-inspired crystals and bows, the bags bring a fresh lens to Coach’s legacy of leather craft.

“I love working with Selena because she brings her strong point-of-view to the design process,” said Vevers. “I wanted all of the pieces to reflect her style and her charm—and to feel effortless.”

“I’m so proud of the collection,” said Gomez. “What I love most about working with the Coach team is that they just know how I dress. Everything felt authentic from the beginning.”

        All images courtesy of Lividini

Longtime Coach collaborators makeup artist Pat McGrath, hair stylist Guido Palau, art director Fabien Baron, and famed photographer Steven Meisel worked on the fall 2018 Coach x Selena Gomez collection. This new campaign is shot against the New York City skyline.The Coach x Selena Gomez fall 2018 collection is now available for pre-order online at coach.com, and will be available in Neiman Marcus andmCoach stores globally, starting on August 31.

—Staff

Has Instagram Killed Traditional Runway Casting?

         Image courtesy of marchetoday.it

In just a few weeks, New York City will be host to one of the most glamorous, but hectic events of the season, New York Fashion Week: The Shows. In seasons past, model castings were the most stressful time for fashion models. Models were expected to have picture-perfect portfolios, bodies in peak condition, and runway walks that could bring down the house. However, Instagram has created enormous change in the fashion industry and that also applies to model castings.Recently, Abercrombie & Fitch cast their entire denim campaign from Instagram. That’s right, the brand once known for their shirtless all-American jock models cast 30 men and women right off of Instagram. As highsnobiety.com pointed out in 2016, “New talent is no longer found on the streets of trendy city districts, but via the comments and hashtags of your daily feed.”

              Image courtesy of thelocal.de

In February 2018, Adidas in collaboration with up-and-coming designer Daniëlle Cathari debuted a collection at New York Fashion Week. Rather than requesting model packages from model management companies, Daniëlle Cathari hosted a street casting on social media where followers were encouraged to attend and bring a friend. To fashion traditionalist, the idea of plucking models off of the street or using Instagram to find models was unheard of. However, it was fashion’s old guard that popularized the idea.     In 2015, Marc Jacobs announced a worldwide model call for the new face of his now-defunct Marc by Marc Jacobs campaign. Jacobs Instagram announcement read:

“Want to be the face of Marc by Marc Jacobs FW15? Cast Me Marc is back! Tag a photo of you with your friends (we’re looking for groups!) on Instagram or Twitter with #castmemarc for a chance to star in our #FW15 ad campaign. 📷 Start snapping!”

The days of model management companies ruling the casting roost are long gone. Not to say that there still isn’t a truckload of brands that stick to the traditional route of go-sees; however, that is no longer the absolute rule. As fashion attempts to shed the image of exclusivity, an “unrealistically thin and beautiful people only” club, and something only for a select few, Instagram casting has helped them find more “real people” to use as models and people who are seen as more relatable.

     Coco Baudelle image courtesy of thebusinessinsider.com

In 2016, elle.com published an article about the beautiful and talented New York City–based actress Coco Baudelle. The actress/model sat down for lunch at a Lower Side restaurant where she was photographed. The photo was posted to the restaurant’s Instagram account. Baudelle is petite, and describes her teeth as weird, but she has an on-going love affair with the camera.The photo caught the attention of Glossier founder and CEO Emily Weiss who slid into her DMs on Instagram. “I thought it was a prank because I was a pretty big fan of Into the Gloss [the blog, created by Weiss, that preceded the launch of Glossier],” Baudelle said to elle.com. “She set up a casual meeting, just me and her, and we just talked. By the end of our coffee Emily said, ‘You laugh a lot, I love that.’ A few days later we were shooting Glossier’s first campaign.”

Part of Glossier’s business strategy for finding their campaign girls is through, what executive editor Annie Kreighbaum described to elle.com as “good old-fashion stalking.” Typically, someone on the tier of glossier would be pulling models from some New York-based model management company that had affordable models.

                  Image courtesy of elle.com

Glossier’s been able to build a name for itself based on their authenticity and relatable models, and they are still successfully growing. Clearly the strategy worked for them. What’s also interesting is observing top model management companies using Glossier’s scouting strategy—Instagram—to find new talent.At one time, agents were literally out on the street scouting talent. In December 2014, IMG Models, the home of models ranging from Alex Wek to Ruby Aldridge, launched the Instagram account @weloveyourgenes with the aim of using social media to find new modeling talent around the world. Jeni Rose, VP of IMG Models said that this meant they no longer had to rely on chance to find new models.

                Image courtesy of intothegloss.com

In a 2015 article in The Cut, former fashion news editor Veronique Hyland interviewed Noah Shelley, one of the best known casting directors in New York who spilled all of the tea. In today’s Instagram age, there are interns hired at modeling agencies just to go through Instagram and look for people with large followings to sign. These agencies clients even tell them “We want to make sure [the models] have strong social media followings.”Shelley also discussed the death of street-casting, which was once the standard for scouting models. He says his time is better spent with four or five hours on the internet or Instagram rather than walking around.

             Image courtesy of vogue.com

Say sayonara to the days of asking for model packages from agencies. Now, if a model is getting cast, their Instagram game is top notch. It is a social media lover’s world, and the rest of the fashion industry just living with it.—Kristopher Fraser

Fashion Reverie’s Tribute to Aretha Franklin

What you want

Baby, I got it

What you need

Do you know I got it

All I’m askin

Is for a little respect when you get home

                                           —Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin wanted R-E-S-P-E-C-T, she earned and boy did she get it back!! On August 16, the Queen of Soul transitioned, ending over fifty earthly years of getting respect and displaying the incredible wealth of her vocal brilliance. No other artist of the 20th and 21st centuries has epitomized the range of emotions, lyrical style and spoke to the black experience more exquisitely than Aretha Franklin.

From “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” to “Rose in Spanish Harlem” to “Natural Woman” to “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” to ‘Think” to “Young, Gifted and Black” To “Who’s Zoomin Who” to “Day Dreaming,” Aretha Franklin’s countless hit records spoke to female empowerment, black pride, soulful love, and bluesy melancholy. As one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide and having won 18 Grammy Awards, Franklin’s influence goes way beyond her musical gifts and accolades. Aretha Franklin’s music spoke to the political and cultural shifts in the US, as well as evolving styles of popular music.

Interestingly, because of the wealth of her talent Aretha Franklin was able—even to the last decade of her life—to adjust not only to ever-evolving musical styles, but also embrace, and in most cases, dominate shifting pop genres. In the 1960s, Franklin topped the charts with her masterful musical expression of liberation and black pride. While in the 70s, her melodic interpretations of dreamy love and sensual abandonment established her as an artist of the highest order. Still, in the 1980s Franklin’s rhythmic embrace of house and dance music kept her relevant and at the top of the charts. And in the late 90s and up until her death, Franklin held rock steady with continued chart success that spoke to her musical aplomb and artistry.

Franklin’s fashion style also evolved with the times. From her in-your-face militant Afro and Afrocentric clothing of the late 60s to Franklin’s hip, cool, 70s sexiness to her penchant for couture clothes in the 80s—Arnold Scaasi was one of her favorites to becoming the confident style maven in the 90s and onward, Franklin demonstrated that an artist’s style evolution should be natural and relevant. Though some critics scoffed that some of her style choices did not pair well with her increasing weight, it cannot be denied that Franklin, in her own way, understood that a diva should grab attention.

Fashion Reverie salutes the Queen of Soul and is confident that her voice will never go silent. Long may the Queen’s voice ring loud and strong!!

—William S. Gooch

Shailah Edmonds Unleashes the Rebel Within in “Wild Child to Couture Style”

In the fashion industry, the word legendary incorporates both fashion designers and fashion models. We all know legendary designers—Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Hubert de Givenchy, and many others. And the list of legendary supermodels continues to grow.

Still, there are legendary names that should be added to these hallowed lists. Though some of these superstars are not household names, their contribution to the fashion industry is immeasurable.

Shailah Edmonds is one such fashion luminary. In an era when black models dominated European runways, Shailah Edmonds was a standout member of a core group of African American superstar models. These models of color changed the way the fashion industry perceived runway presentations and the way couture fashion was presented to the press, buyers, and fashion elites.

Though she is an unsung legend in fashion, her story has now come to light in her memoir, Wild Child to Couture Style:The Shailah Edmonds Story. Shailah set down with Fashion Reverie editor-in-chief William S. Gooch and talked about her unlikely ascent in fashion, her love of runway, and that rare, but brief moment when women of color ruled the runway.

Fashion Reverie: Why this memoir at this time?

Shailah Edmonds: I wrote this book because I feel that I have done about everything that I am going to do in the fashion industry and I wanted to expose the industry to a younger audience. I wanted to detail how hard black models worked to get traction in the industry. Back in the day we had to walk the streets and beat on doors and go for our own. 

FR: How did you come up with the title Wild Child to Couture Style?

Shailah Edmonds: The original title of the book with my co-writer was supposed to be black couture because my co-writer was enamored of the fact that I had ended up working in the highest rung of modeling. As I writing the chapter about working in Tokyo, performing in the Wild Child band, it occurred to me that I was a wild child, even as kid growing up in Portland, Oregon. I am a poet at heart so Wild Child to Couture Style from that moment just came me. And I knew that this should be the title of the book.

FR: What do you think early on in your life helped prepare you or gave you the qualities to become a top model?

Shailah Edmonds: Both of my grandmothers were very fashionable, proud ladies. I have pictures of them in their hats and furs, dressed to go to church. My mother was also very fashionable. My entire family was well dressed when we went to church. So, that sense of style informed me early on.

I believe that’s why some black models have been so successful in Europe, we brought that sense of elegance that you can find in the black church. When you put on a fantastic garment it changes your sense of yourself and it can inform your walk.

FR: Why do you think Europe, and in particular Paris, was more open to black models in the late 70s and early 80s?

Shailah Edmonds: Fashion began in Africa. Most folks have witnessed the beautiful fabrics and designs that come from Africa. And if you have ever seen African women walking with a jug of water or a basket of fruit on her head, there is nothing more regal and stately than that!!

Some black people are born with that sense of rhythm and style. The designers in Europe recognized that and it gave the designers energy when they witnessed the way black models reacting positively to their beautiful creations.

FR: In your book you talk about your swirling runway walk, something Pat Cleveland also had. Where did that walk come from?

Shailah Edmonds: When I came to New York City in the mid-1970s, I had the opportunity to watch Pat Cleveland and Billie Blair walk in fashion shows. I thought if I could get my feet to move like they did then I would have a fantastic runway walk. I would go home and practice and practice, and I finally I mastered a very good, signature runway walk.

I knew that if was going to be a fashion model I had to have a distinctive runway walk. My walk was different from Pat Cleveland and Billie Blair because I loved to dance and I added some dance elements to my walk.

FR: Everyone talks about how open Europe was to black models, but in your book you detail that wasn’t always the case. Could you elaborate on that?

Shailah Edmonds: Some European designers would blatantly tell you that they weren’t interested in black models. Some would say they had enough black models and didn’t need any more. There was a lot of rejection.

In one of the chapters in the book, I talk about going on a casting for Guy Laroche. And he flatly told me he was not interested in me. I countered him about his decision not to cast me. I was tired that day and had been rejected from so many designers that particular day and his rejection was the last straw.

I asked him if he would let me try on one garment. He was so taken aback by my determination that he let me try on one of his garments. I modeled the garment beautifully and was cast in his show. And from that moment on almost every fashion designer in Paris wanted to work with me. It takes a lot of determination, even to this day.

As I was having so much success in Europe, many more black models came and started having success. At one point there was an overabundance of black models on runways in Europe. In fact, we were ruling the fashion runways in Europe. Then the backlash came where the European fashion houses in the mid-90s stop using a lot of black models and other models of color in that respect.

FR: And why was that?

Shailah Edmonds: Well, at one time during the 80s, there were just too many black models in Europe. Also, Europe started imitating the US, where there were few models of color working steadily; particularly, when the US fashion market started going global. And lastly, the black models were racking in a lot of the money because we were in such demand. Audiences loved our walk and the designers loved the way we showed off clothes. So, some of the powers-that-be in the industry decided to change all of that and started wanting a simple walk and less extravagant runway shows. All of this took away some of the black models’ dominance in Europe.

FR: In the US black models, at that time, were not getting a lot in fashion campaigns. Was that the experience of black models in Europe?

Shailah Edmonds: In Europe, at that time, there was a real division between runway models and print models. Beverly Johnson and Iman were more print models so they received more campaigns in the US and in Europe. However, runway models like me usually got two or three campaigns a year, and nothing in the US. However, the European campaigns paid very well.

FR: You started your modeling career in New York, then you went to Europe and had great success, and then you came back to NYC and had a better time than the first time around. However, in your book you detail that when you came back stateside, NYC was not as open to you as you had hoped. Why was that?

Shailah Edmonds: I was so excited to come back to New York City. I had European tear sheets in my portfolio. However, booking agents in NYC said my tear sheets were not American enough. I was told that my images didn’t match the American market. They were not excited at all that I had gone to Europe and made a name for myself.

I heard the same stories that I heard before I had originally gone to Europe. It wasn’t until I started walking for the top couture designers in Europe Yves St. Laurent, Valentino, Thierry Mugler, and others that I received better acceptance in the States.

This was like the third time back in NYC. I always wanted to model in NYC but I had to go all the way to Europe and work for top fashion houses there before the top American fashion brands would work with me.

FR: Who were some of your favorite designers?

Shailah Edmonds: Yves Saint Laurent is at the top of the list, as well as Valentino. I was a fit model for both of them so I spent endless hours working with them. I loved working with Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana. Versace and Armani were always great because they used just fine fabrics. Gianfranco Ferrè was also a favorite. No one could make a shirt or blouse better than him.

Hana Morai was wonderful. She took me to Tokyo and Mexico to model her clothes. She was responsible for getting me to come back to NYC. When I finally came back to NYC, the style of modeling was changing and many of the American designers had moved on to the supermodels of that time—Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Tyra Banks, etc. Still, I loved working for Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, and Stephen Burrows, who were so supportive of me.

FR: When you hit your stride in Europe, you were in your late 20s. However, everyone thought you were much younger. How did you pull that off?

Shailah Edmonds: Thank God, there was no Internet at that time. We were not dealing with global terrorism at the time, so it was very easy for me get to fake IDs. I really mastered hiding my age with my identification putting me about ten years younger than my true age.

I even went so far as to pour nail polish on my passport, concealing my age. I got away with that for four or five years. (Hey, I did what I had to do.) And by the time everyone knew my real age, I was making so much money and headlining top fashion shows, my age didn’t matter.

FR: How did you balance modeling with parenting?

Shailah Edmonds: It was very difficult. I had my kids at a very young age, so when I first started modeling, they lived with their father. Later, I brought them to NYC and I had to hire a nanny to take care of them. That was the hardest part, but I had no choice because I was working all the time. With any success, there is sacrifice.

FR: In your book you talk about making the transition from being a top runway model to a showroom model in NYC?

Shailah Edmonds: When the major runway shows stopped happening for me, I was sort of at my wit’s end. I started talking to other seasoned models and I learned they were doing a lot showroom work for designers. After runway season, most major designers/brands have a showroom where they show their current collections to prospective buyers at a private showing at their atelier or showroom.

It is a lot of hard work because I worked for the major showrooms in NYC like Valentino, and you are trying on clothes non-stop for ten to twelve hours a day. But, it was well paid, though seasonal. There were at least three to four months of no showroom work, so in that downtime I coached young models and did some commercial print work. I also worked as an actor.

                                        Images courtesy of Shailah Edmonds

FR: What’s next for you?Shailah Edmonds: I start my book tour in September at the Black Caucus Convention in Washington, DC, and I am continuing to love and embrace life.

Wild Child to Couture Style: The Shailah Edmonds Story is published by Lyons Publishing and is available on amazon.com and at shailahedmonds.com.

—William S. Gooch

Fashion Tea with Kristopher: July 2018

                                Image courtesy of pinterest.com

It’s a hot summer in New York City, and Fashion Reverie has got some tea for you! Fresh off the heels of New York Fashion Week: Men’s spring 2019 season, the tea pot is flowing over. Grab your cup and a plate of scones as we pour up the steamy insider fashion gossip.Item 1 insider tea

A former CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominee is so broke they have switched PR firms because they could no longer afford the retainer at their previous one. They are not in the money, honey!!

Consumers cough up the green backs and buy their clothes, sil vous plait!! Their cash flow is so limited they are even having trouble affording models for their presentations. The shame of it all!!

Item 2 insider tea

A top fashion publication with a storied history has been cutting staff, unbeknownst to the general public. While they are still considered a cornerstone of the fashion industry, the team is currently running on skeleton crew. While it’s been a rough time in media, they always seemed like one of the untouchables. Oh, how the mighty are falling!!

Item 3 insider tea

A notable designer, best known for her outerwear, could be returning to New York Fashion Week. This would be the designer’s first showing in decades, and she’s known as a favorite of top Vogue editors. While nothing has been confirmed yet, it’s sure to be a celebration just to see her back on the calendar. Make New York Fashion Week: The Shows great again!

                            Image courtesy of medium.com

Item 4 insider tea

The trade shows are attempting to go direct-to-consumer. Retail in the US is not what it used to be, and in response, rather than being what was strictly a buyers and press only event, is now looking at going to a consumer-focused model. It’s the see-now-buy-now of trade shows. These people need to make money somehow, and it sure isn’t coming from retailers.

—Kristopher Fraser

Missoni’s Fall 2018 Campaign

For its fall 2018 campaign Missoni Creative Director Angela Missoni and photographer Harley Weir juxtapose Missoni’s crazy quilt patterns and eclectic smorgasbord of color, textures, shapes against vibrant blue skies. This amalgam of texture, color and fabrication is framed on the statuesque bodies of Supermodel Gigi Hadid and French male model Yassine Rahal.

Gigi Hadid is the Supermodel of the moment, scoring campaigns as diverse of American sportswear mega brand Tommy Hilfiger to the 2019 Pirelli calendar to Versus Versace to Balmain. Harley Weir uses Hadid and Yassine Rahal’s long limbs stretched against and ever-expanding skyline. Weir’s full-length portraits in this fall 2018 campaign promote an anthem of freedom and personality.

That said; freedom and personality have always been touchstones of Missoni’s signature DNA. Where can you find more personality and freedom than in Missoni’s mélange and assemblage of color, texture, and fabrications?

This fall 2018 campaign is an invitation to compose, superimpose, and deliberately interpret the extraordinary craftsmanship, finishings, and details of a collection rich in creations and variations; shades and patterns, and weights and textures. This campaign also conjures up images of that unique mix of bohemian culture and current-day coolness. (Imagine the offspring of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, maybe Zoe Kravitz, seen through the lens of modern chicness and inclusivity.)

                                        All images courtesy of C&M Media

Missoni’s fall 2018 collection is a series of patchwork designs, mesh fabrics, fringe details, jacquards inspired by the coats of wild animals, and streaked and spotted capes reference multiethnic costumes, urban graffiti, the colors of Africa and Jamaica. And this Missoni fall 2018 campaign emphasizes a style that morphs into an unmistakable expression of energy and singularity against the immense backdrop of clear blue skies.   —William S. Gooch

Model Spotlight: Georgie Badiel and the Georgie Badiel Foundation

Images courtesy of venturesafrica.com, fashionbombdaily.com, and georgiewater.com, respectively

When it comes to top fashion models, no one shines brighter than Georgie Badiel. Having modeling since the age of 15, almost two decades later Georgie Badiel is just as effervescent, sunny, and joyous as when she became a top model and muse for Jean-Paul Gaultier.Georgie Badiel’s infectious personality now extends to giving back to her native country, Burkina Faso. With the Georgie Badiel Foundation, Georgie hopes to help solve the issue of clean drinking water scarcity in her country. And helping she is. In just under three years, the Georgie Badiel Foundation has helped provide clean drinking water to over 100,000 people.

During Fashion Reverie’s “The Nina Sisterhood” editorial shoot, Georgie sat down with Editor-in-chief William S. Gooch and talked about her modeling career, her foundation, and the new love in her life.

                             Image courtesy of the vossfoundation.com

Fashion Reverie: Could you talk about the Georgie Badiel Foundation?

Georgie Badiel: My foundation was founded about three years ago. We fund for clean drinking water, sanitation, and planting trees in Burkina Faso, Africa. As you know, I am a native of Burkina Faso.

FR: Why did you start this organization and could you detail the scarcity of clean drinking water in Burkina Faso?

Georgie Badiel: I started the organization because people in Burkina Faso need clean drinking water that is not readily available. When I was a child I used to walk three hours everyday with my grandmother to fetch clean drinking water.

My grandmother passed away in 2009 and when I went back to my country because of my grandmother’s death I saw that my sister was getting up very early every morning—even earlier in fact than I did—to fetch water just as I had as a child with my grandmother. My sister was very pregnant at time and having to do the same thing I was doing when I was a child, very little had changed.

In Burkina Faso, less than 80% of the population has access to clean drinking water. So, I decided to start a foundation to change this situation.

  Images courtesy of uptownmagazine.com, esssence.com, and pinterest.com, respectively

FR: Why is there not more investment by companies to assist and change the scarcity of clean drinking water in Burkina Faso?

Georgie Badiel: There are a few companies that have and still are trying to change the clean drinking water scarcity. Unfortunately, many of these companies are not investing in ways that help the people of Burkina Faso. For example, there are over 5,000 broken wells in my country. A lot of organizations helped people dig and build these wells. Once the wells were working, the organizations left, thinking they had done enough. However, many of the people did not know how to maintain the wells. So, many of the wells went into disrepair.

With the Georgie Badiel Foundation, we not only train people to build wells for clean drinking water, we teach them how to maintain the wells, also. The women of the villages are doing most of this work.

In less than three years, we have provided access to clean drinking water to over 100,000 people. This year our main goal is to reach over 1 million people with clean drinking water. I know that the people of my country are hard-working people and having access to clean drinking water will give them a much better life.

FR: Talk about Georgie Water.

Georgie Badiel: Voss Water who also has a foundation that inspired me to launch Georgie Water. I started Georgie Water so that when consumers by one bottle of Georgie Water they are also giving to the Georgie Badiel Foundation.

          Image courtesy of Amazon.com

FR: You have a book out, The Water Princess. Could you talk about that?

Georgie Badiel: The Water Princess is a children’s book related to my childhood story. This book is about me walking with my grandmother from my village to get water from the only well that had clean drinking water. My grandmother would wake me up at 6am to get water. I really didn’t want to get up so early to get water before I had to go to school, but in Africa, and particularly in Burkina Faso, it is the duty of the women to get clean drinking water. Sometimes, I went to school with a dusty throat because of the lack of clean drinking water.

FR: Was there clean drinking water to drink at your school?

Georgie Badiel: I was lucky that I went to a private school where we had a well. However, doing the dry season the school cut off the water. Still, there was a woman who sold water to the people during the dry season outside of the school. Sometimes, I didn’t have money to buy water, so I would go back inside the school dusty with a dry throat.

How can consumers purchase your book?

Georgie Badiel: They can go on Amazon.com and purchase it. Penguin Books is the publisher and Scholastic has made an animated cartoon about The Water Princess.

FR: We know that you are a top model and that you are still modeling; however, you have found ways to diversify your talent. Looking back on your modeling career, who was your favorite designers to work for?

Georgie Badiel: There have been so many great designers that were a joy to work with. I loved working with Ralph Rucci, Zang Toi, Rick Owens, and of course, Jean-Paul Gaultier.

FR: You are currently working a lot with Diane von Furstenberg. Could you talk about that?

Georgie Badiel: I do most of Diane von Furstenberg’s (DVF) showroom, which I love doing. Nathan Jenden is the fashion director of DVF, and last fashion week I walked in DVF’s presentation.

        Images courtesy of popsugar.com, thestylehg.com, and twitter.com, respectively

FR: What other designers/brands are you currently working with?

Georgie Badiel: My model management company, Major Models, only sends me to designers/brands that I really want to work with because as you can see I am super busy with my foundation, my future children’s books and I am getting married later this year. So, I am extremely busy.

FR: Talk about your fiancé.

Georgie Badiel: My fiancé is from Liberia and a friend of mine introduced us. And we very quickly fell in love. I come from a big family, 10 siblings, so I want to have lots of kids.

—William S. Gooch

 

Patti + Ricky: Curating Fashion for the Disabled

                                              Image courtesy of mashable.com

As the fashion global market continues to expand and fashion saturation reaches a breaking point, there is much talk bandied around in fashion circles about inclusivity and the new democratization of fashion. Where once great fashion was only for the wealthy and the slender, fashion is now making attempts to provide affordable fashion for the masses, as well as embracing plus-sized consumers, consumers of color, and even gender, non-specific consumers.Unfortunately, one population that has been left out of this fashion democratization is the disabled community. Probably, because the fashion industry and retailers don’t consider that people with disabilities care about fashion or that some consumers with special needs have deep pockets. (Tommy Hifiger being one exception.) However, there is lots of hope for this community on the horizon.

Patti + Ricky is looking to change all that. As an online shopping experience that caters to people with disabilities, Alexandra Connell, the founder of the site, has curated great fashionable; quality product for this often ignored population.

Alexandra Connell with great passion and joy spoke with Fashion Reverie about her journey to establish this great service for this special needs community. 

 Wheelchair raincoat image courtesy of Patti + Ricky

Fashion Reverie: Both of your parents worked in luxury retail in the 80s and 90s, yet you thought you would never work in fashion or had no interest in the industry, why?

Alexandra Connell: Both my parents worked for SWATCH watches in the 1980s, and in the 90s my mom was the president of Kenneth Cole belt division. Later in 2000 my mom started her own company, Spreadology. And at one time my father was the president of Christian Dior jewelry.

I always wanted to work with people and help people. I was drawn to helping people with disabilities because of my ADHD disability. I was also caretaker for my mother when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. So, when my mom got really ill and was asking for specific clothing items to wear, I couldn’t find things for her. When I finally was able to find the things that she wanted, my mom was so happy. Additionally, my cousin Ricky has been confined to a wheelchair his entire life so finding clothing and fashionable things for a person who was wheelchair bound was a huge challenge. So, all these things infused and informed me when I started my online shopping store, Patty + Ricky.

FR: You have called yourself a fashion disruptor, why?

Alexandra Connell: I guess I am a fashion disruptor because there was no place in the fashion market to get fashionable clothes for people with disabilities. So I guess in some sense with Patti + Ricky I am disrupting old patterns of leaving disabled people out or not providing great fashion for people with disabilities.

With Patti + Ricky, I wanted to bring designers together who create garments and products for people with disabilities and create a beautiful shopping experience. 

FR: Why the name Patti + Ricky?

Alexandra Connell: Every product that we curate I am always thinking of my mother and my cousin Ricky and the disabilities that they had. I really wanted to pay homage to them and I know that if my mom and my cousin like the products that I have curated, a lot of other people will like these products as well. So I am always thinking about them as I am curating products that are finely crafted with good quality. And of course their names are the names of the site.

                                              Images courtesy of Patti + Ricky

FR: Could you explain adaptive fashion?

Alexandra Connell: Adaptive fashion is fashion that has different functions and works for communities that have a variety of needs. A lot of the product we curate and offer is universally designed so it can work for many different people that have many different needs. For example, our shirts with magnetic buttons are very adaptable and useful for people who have arthritis or someone having difficulty buttoning their shirts. Laura Horton makes our magnetic shirts, and she initially designed these shirts for her husband who has Parkinson’s disease. So, these shirts are for people that have dexterity issues.

FR: How do people with disabilities suffer from style discrimination? 

Alexandra Connell: I discovered that when my mom got ill with brain cancer there was nothing on the market for her that was both fashionable and functional. I really searched and I couldn’t find much. Now, ten years later that is starting to change. We work with over 40 designers on our site that offer product for people with disabilities in an environment that mimics a virtual department store.

FR: You have some interesting items that you offer like wheelchair bags crutch accessories. How do you curate the items you offer on the site? 

Alexandra Connell: From the beginning I really wanted to find things for people with a lot of different needs. I knew I wanted bags for people who used wheelchairs. Now we have a suggestion section on our website and consumers write us and tell us the about things they want that are stylish, as well as accessible product they are looking for. And we try to find it for them.

FR: What are your price points and the range of products?

Alexandra Connell: All of our product is high quality and mostly made in the US. The range is price is from moderate to higher priced items because our product for the most part is made stateside. We also have great customer service that works with consumers individually to meet their shopping needs.

                                         Images courtesy of Patti + Ricky

FR: What are some of your best selling items?

Alexandra Connell: Our best selling products go across the board because we offer a wide range of products for specific needs. Our decorative arm slings for people who have suffered strokes or have a broken arm sell extremely well; particularly, for those people who are going to galas and special events. Our braille jewelry is very popular because you can personalize a message on the jewelry. And our wheelchair bags also sell very well.

FR: Are there are any disabilities that you have not been able to provide fashionable product for?

Alexandra Connell: We are currently searching for a lot of different things to meet specific needs. We are looking colostomy bag covers so we hope to be meeting that need soon because we get a lot of requests for that.

FR: How are you looking to grow and expand your business?

Alexandra Connell: We are always looking to grow and partner with designers who can meet our customers’ needs. We are doing a pop-up shop in NYC for people with disabilities that should launch in the early fall. This will be one of the first stores for people with disabilities. It will be specifically designed for people with disabilities with large aisles for people in wheelchairs and braille on the hangers for folks with sight disabilities. This pop-up shop will be inclusive, beautiful. We hope this will lead to other pop-up shops around the country, maybe even in department stores.

—William S. Gooch

New York Fashion Week: Men’s Spring 2019 Pre-coverage

               Todd Snyder spring 2018 images courtesy of fashionbytherules.com

It is that time again. Well, it will soon be. New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) spring 2019 is just around the corner and New York City gets ready for the onslaught of fashion industry professionals and fashionistos who anticipate the collections from some of the best menswear designers in the industry.Interestingly, with all the excitement there is one hitch. Similar to last season, many well-known American menswear designers will be absent from the roster for the spring 2019 season. NYFWM, in this iteration, was created to attract top American menswear designers to fashion week in New York City. And it worked for the first couple of seasons. Tommy Hilfiger showed, Michael Bastian, John Varvatos, and Calvin Klein followed suit. Add to that Nautica, Perry Ellis, and Hugo Boss.

Unfortunately, it was a brief shining moment, and in recent seasons the major menswear designers have all defected or in some cases returned to the European shows where there is better press, venues, and better markets. The CFDA has tried to make up for the lack of household names by inviting designers from the West Coast, and even China, but without major corporate sponsorship, NYFWM continues to flounder.

                  Todd Snyder spring 2018 images courtesy of fashionbytherules.com

Still, there is some hope. And Fashion Reverie is loyal. There are some American designers that have stayed the course—Parke and Ronen, Carlos Campos, Willy Chavarria, Nick Graham, Landlord, David Hart, DYNE, and Todd Snyder, to name a few—and Fashion Reverie celebrates them. Newcomers this season include HBNS, Limitato, Alessandro Trincone, Sundae School, NIHL, Swonne, and Reconstruct. New York Fashion Week: Men’s spring 2019 takes place July 9-11.

—William S. Gooch

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