New York International Bridal Week: Fall 2019 Pre-coverage

Photo courtesy of

With New York International Bridal Week being so close to New York Fashion Week: The Show (NYFWS)—they are practically three weeks apart—one would think that there would be some carryover of photographers, editors, and other industry professionals. Not so!! Well, kind of not so.

Unfortunately, NYFWS has become a shadow of what it once was with fashion industry professionals barely attending the shows, replaced by social media influencers and party revelers. Thankfully, this is not the case with Bridal Week. Industry professionals, bridal boutique owners, buyers, and event planners still attend en masse. And where NYFWS has become the province of club kids, wannabees and transient fashion gawkers, Bridal Week has stayed true to its original premise, providing information and access to the bridal market.

Photo courtesy of

All thanks should go to The Bridal Council. (Fashion Reverie is a member.) Season after season, The Bridal Council has sought to expand and give a critical eye to the ever-evolving bridal market. Keeping in mind, that fashion is both now and next, The Bridal Council uniquely understands how important industry professionals are to its market and that following transitory trends will only help to diminish its core audience. For the fall 2019 bridal season, The Bridal Council in collaboration with the Chambord House has established a respite location where industry professionals have rest, socialize, and get a pick-me-up between the hectic bridal schedule. They are even providing transportation from the Chambord House to some of the runway/presentations.

With the bridal shows being almost as spread out as NYFWS, this rest and relaxation spot is a welcomed addition. This season The Bridal Council is also providing digital sneak peaks into the upcoming fall 2019 bridal collections.

Showing again this season are the usual cast of New York International Bridal Week players—THEIA, Ines di Santo, Reem Acra, Pronovias, Amsale, Lela Rose, Naeem Khan, Inbal Dror, Anne Barge, Carol Hannah, Justin Alexander, Rivini, and others. That said; many household name bridal brands have opted for private appointments, namely Vera Wang, Viktor & Rolf, Kelly Faetanini, Mira Zwillinger, Badley Mischka, just to name a few.

Photo courtesy of

Still, Fashion Reverie will be front and center, providing great coverage of the fall 2019 bridal season. And we may have some special surprises for our viewers. Stay tuned!!

—William S. Gooch

Fashion Tea with Kristopher: September 2018

Image courtesy of

Hey you style mavens, it’s Fashion Month with spring 2019 collections being shown in New York City, London, Milan, and Paris. Of course that means that Fashion Reverie’s tea is full of fashion truths, in other words, the inside gossip. Join us at Fashion Reverie as we show you all our new flavors for the season. Get it while it’s piping hot!Fashion Tea item #1

Rumor has it that Anna Wintour is in talks to hand over the Met Gala to another top fashion editor. (Is Andre Leon Talley at the top of the list to replace Wintour at the Met Gala?) While the event has been her baby since the 90s, and Bob Sauerberg has made it clear she isn’t stepping down from Vogue, she appears to be reducing her duties. Wintour has also been making less public appearances this year amidst rumors of her departure from Vogue. Perhaps, she is just waiting for Edward Enninful to pay his dues at British Vogue before she names him her successor?

Fashion Tea item #2

A top fashion designer has been selling off his summer homes because his hard partying summer habits were proofing detrimental to his currently struggling fashion line. Hopefully, a break from the summer vacation towns will help him get his act together and get his fashion brand back on track. It’s never fun to watch a fashion icon fall from grace!!

Image courtesy of

Fashion Tea item #3 Karl Lagerfeld, the grand maestro of Chanel, was front row for Celine’s runway show at Paris Fashion Week, and rumor has it new designer Hedi Slimane is being looked at as Lagerfeld’s heir to Chanel. Slimane has quite the fan base, and wherever he goes, they will go. Slimane also has worked at major Parisian labels, including Dior and Saint Laurent, so he’s no stranger to the French luxury game. Lagerfeld is getting up there in age—he is in his 80s—so, it might not be too much longer before he names a successor.

Fashion Tea item #4

A top women’s magazine is currently gone out of sorts with their fashion department since their fashion and style director took a leave of absence. Their editors have had trouble securing tickets to fashion shows, and their ad dollars have been in a slump. In this competitive market of digital media with publications closing left and right, they better get it together and fast!!

—Kristopher Fraser


Models to Look Out for during New Fashion Week: The Shows Spring 2019

As we are in the last days of summer vacations and planning Labor Day weekend, all eyes and efforts at Fashion Reverie are turned toward end of summer and pre-fall 2018 articles. The editors at Fashion Reverie are very much looking forward to the beginning of September because September is one out of two holy fashion months. As calendars get filled up and designers are prepping new collections, it is time to get in the loop with what’s new and trending not only for the spring 2019 season, but also the goings-on in the modeling industry. Fashion Reverie has picked six top models you might want to pay attention to as their careers continue to evolve.

Images courtesy of,, and, respectively

Grace ElizabethGrace Elizabeth hails from Lake City, Florida. She was first noticed as a “Guess Girl”. Today she is known as a spoke model for PINK and has already been on the covers of many of the industry’s most prominent fashion magazines. Grace is the face of Estée Lauder and recently opened the runway show for Karl Lagerfeld, and has also walked for Fendi, Chanel, Balmain, Versace, Sonia Rykiel, Off-White, and Isabel Marant. Fashion Reverie certainly hopes to see her on the runway at New York Fashion Week: The Shows.

Images courtesy of,, and, respectively

Chiara ScelsiItalian Brazilian model Chiara Scelsi is hot right now. This former pole vaulter has walked for Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Alberta Ferretti, Wanda Nylon, and many others. This gorgeous young model loves sports, dance and travel. At first her agent wanted Chiara to get into acting because she is not tall (5`7.5); however, Chiara seemed destined for the runway. She loves working with Dolce & Gabbana and currently lives in between her hometown of Milan and New York City, so we do expect to see her wear some NYC–based designers during NYFW: The Shows.

Images courtesy of,, and, respectively

Anok YaiDiscovered by a photographer while she was a student at Howard University, Anok Yai is only the second black model to open a Prada show.The other model was Naomi Campbell who opened for Prada 20 years ago. Anok has walked for Prada and Louis Vuitton shows. Anok is currently a spokesmodel for Estée Lauder. She has been featured in British Vogue, Vogue ItaliaI-D magazine, Dazed magazine, V magazine, and The New York Times Style magazine. 

Images courtesy of,, and, respectively

Jon KortajarenaThis 6’2 tall, green-eyed Spaniard is a real treat to look at. His effortless charm comes through even looking at a campaign. No wonder he has already landed campaigns for major European brands like Just Cavalli, Versace, Giorgio Armani, Bally, Etro, Trussardi, Diesel etc. Although he has been around for several seasons, the editors at Fashion Reverie are convinced that Jon is a dream come true? Running into him at one of the fashion week parties, would manifest the dream!

    Images courtesy of,, and, respectively

Nadine LeopoldThis blonde Austrian beauty currently resides in New York City. Victoria’s Secret kicked off her career and she is currently one of the models of “Model Squad.” The show premieres on September 4th on E! Network and it will take us to the competitive world of modeling as well behind the scenes of fashion week. Are we going to see her walk the runway or sit front row as one of the reality TV stars? She has walked for Philip Plein, Jacquemus, Elisabetta Franchi, Genny, Roland Mouret, Max Marra, and Alberta Ferreti, We shall see….

     Images courtesy of,, and, respectively

Ping HuePing is a Chinese fashion model on the rise. Though some know her as an actress, it obvious from all the fashion shows she has walked in that she is a top model. Ping Hue has walked for LaQuan Smith, Banana Republic, Yohji Yamamoto, Desigual, Nonoo, Polo Ralph Lauren, Elizabeth and James, Zimmerman, and Greg Lauren . Represented by IMG Models, this model has worked with numerous designers and graced many covers; however, her joining Model Squad reality show as well might boost up her fame. Fashion Reverie wishes her best of luck and we will be looking for her during New York fashion week.

—Tijana Ibrahimovic


New York Fashion Week: The Shows Spring 2019 Pre-coverage

Will this be a turnaround season for New York Fashion Week: The Shows (NYFWS)? It just might be. Several fashion designers/brands are returning to NYFWS after experimenting with only showing across the Big Pond. Returning to NYFWS for the spring 2019 season includes, but is not limited to, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, Altazurra, Opening Ceremony, Escada, and surprisingly Norma Kamali, who is returning to the fashion calendar after not showing during NYFW for some time.

These returns to NYFWs may portend a new direction and energy for NYFWS. For several seasons, NYFWS has been in the doldrums, particularly after the exit from Lincoln Center in late 2014 and its choice of venues that fell way below the standard for international fashion weeks. With the loss of Skylight Clarkson and Milk Studios as fashion week venues, WME-IMG, the governing body for NYFWS, and the CFDA have resorted to using Pier 59, Industria Superstudio, and Spring Studios for the majority of the main runway shows and presentations. Additionally, with the elimination of credential registration for fashion editors last fashion season, WME_IMG and the CFDA has placed NYFWS in a perilous position.

        Image courtesy of

In recent years many top brands defected to European fashion weeks or opted out of showing their collections at fashion week altogether. And the inclusion of social media influencers as preferred attendees to top shows over seasoned fashion editors and stylists has alienated lots of fashion industry professionals.That said; NYFWS soldiers on. Additions to the NYFWS calendar this season is Vivienne Westwood (only appointments for buyers), Longchamp, Kozaburo Akasaka (LVMH special prize winner), Studio 189 (Rosario Dawson’s sustainable brand), Hunting Season, Gauntlett Cheng, Rebecca de Ravenel, Lou Dallas, Nanushka, and others

          Images courtesy of

Though there are many new additions to the fashion calendar this season, the numbers pale in comparison to those designers/brands that once use to present at NYFWS. (In years past over 500 designer/brands presented at NYFWS.) And maybe that is a good thing, maybe not. Only time will tell.Still, NYFWS is not the same and like things that evolve so has NYFWS. Gone are the days of endless fashion shows; a front row stocked full of celebrities; leggy glamazons ruling the runway, and endless swag/gift bags. Even Anna Wintour is edging toward the end of her market influence.

         Image courtesy of

Perhaps, we are standing on the precipice of something that is more relevant, more tangible and ultimately more real. And if fashion humbly and openly embraces this new evolution, we will all be better for it.—William S. Gooch

How Will Generation Z Change the Future of Fashion?

       Image courtesy of

It’s no secret that shopping trends have changed in the US, and not in a good way. Long gone are the days of buying your entire wardrobe a season in advance or putting clothes for the upcoming season on layaway.Each generation approaches fashion differently. For Baby Boomers, rules for what was considered appropriate attire were still solidly in place, as Baby Boomers became adult consumers. In the 1980s and 90s, there was a new Americana sportswear thanks to brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan. Currently, fashion trends lean toward lean to revisiting 80s street wear.

         Image courtesy of

However, as attitudes around fashion and shopping trends have evolved, so have attitudes about fashion shows changed. Initially, American fashion shows were strictly for the press to review designer collections. Originally coined, Press Week by the great fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert, fashion shows in the US tended to be small and intimate. These events would later move on to expand to include other industry professionals.Decades later, fashion shows slowly evolved to include celebrities, under the workings of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour helped bring a more expansive celebrity culture to the fashion industry. The mid to late ‘00s saw the rise of bloggers and social media influencers, who would eventually become the dominant crowd at New York Fashion Week, replacing the seats once occupied by editors and the old industry guard.

Image courtesy

While the current attendees of Fashion Week are still adjusting to some designers employing the ‘see-now-buy-now’ business model, as Generation Z edging toward adulthood, jobs, and slightly more spending power than their millennial predecessors—sorry, Generation Z inherited a better economy minus a seven-year recession—fashion companies are reconsidering their approach to how best to get their attention.

Albeit, there are a select few who are still deeply invested in the culture of Instagram and want to be the influencers sitting front row at these shows, but the traditional runway show format is just not how Gen Z fashionistos want to be marketed to. Though most fashion designers are still using the season ahead model, Generation Z, even more than Millennials, impatiently want immediate access to their favorite brands/designers.

             Images courtesy of and

The way Supreme releases their collections could be the new gold standard for how Generation Z wants their designer clothes. Generation Z also places more value on experiential things over possessions. Having a new Louis Vuitton is no big deal to them, but having that Supreme x Louis Vuitton collaboration bag that was part of that limited-edition drop and only available at so many stores and pop-up shops around the world, that’s something to write home about.There’s a reason that Louis Vuitton selected Virgil Abloh to head up their menswear. He’s a man who knows how to create an experience, as well as promoting exclusivity. Another big success of this current fashion generation of fashion designers/creative directors is Demna Gvasalia, artistic director of Balenciaga and Vetements. Vetements is one of the priciest luxury brands in the business, and is known for doing a very limited edition garments. This business model of acquiring limited edition turns Vetements into an experience, as the inventory is so limited. Even if you have the cash to blow, acquiring Vetements is still reserved for the select few who were lucky enough to get there before the product runs out.

Even e-commerce websites have turned to doing exclusive drops, and they are proving extremely successful. Resale e-commerce site Grailed, known for having the best of the menswear premium brands from Thom Browne to Balenciaga, has made drops a part of their business. For summer 2018, Grailed has employed a Heatwave campaign, where they did eight weeks of eight drops every Thursday. The most notable was their Raf Simons archive sale, with the pieces going live and selling out within a matter of minutes.

  Images courtesy of and, respectively

Public School, the brainchild of designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, announced earlier this year they would no longer be showing at New York Fashion Week, and instead would be releasing their collection with a series of drops throughout the year. Alexander Wang, one of the almighty headliners of New York Fashion Week, even moved off the Fashion Week calendar this year and instead showed in June, and will now be showing again in December, again taking more of a drop format to his collections.If the designers and brands today hope to capture that market share of Generation Z, the old school runway approach needs to be re-examined. The times have already changed, and a combination of what has worked in the past and new business models could spell success for the industry.

—Kristopher Fraser

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

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, and will be available in Neiman Marcus andmCoach stores globally, starting on August 31.


Has Instagram Killed Traditional Runway Casting?

         Image courtesy of

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 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

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

In 2016, 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 “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 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

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

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

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 and at

—William S. Gooch

Copyright © 2012-2019 | Fashion Reverie Publications, LLC - All Rights Reserved