Sy Smith’s “Perfect Love” Takes You to that Perfect Place

This is a time of deep reflection and acknowledgement of things accomplished and things not yet down. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to reconsider what is important to us and look at the things that really brings us joy and fulfillment.

In this time of reflection, music can take us back to a time that was joyful, peaceful, and loving. Particularly music that speaks to the heart, music that arouses in us that need to connect, that need to share, that need to love. Sy Smith’s music does just that!!

Known as the Queen of Underground, Sy Smith always infuses her music with lyrics that speak to the best in all of us, that love that passes all understanding, that love supreme. And with her new song, “Perfect Love,” in collaboration with Rachel Eckroth, Sy Smith speaks about a “Perfect Love,” a love that takes you to a place of euphoric peace and contentment.

Fashion Reverie was granted the privilege to speak to Sy Smith about her life, her endeavors, and her “Perfect Love.”

Fashion Reverie: What is your musical background?

Sy Smith: I started playing piano as a kid. And then I did the chorus thing, county and state choruses. After I finished high school, my mom let me play keyboards for an all-girl, go-go band. While I was at Howard University, I joined an acapella group called In Time.

I was exploring lots of musical genres and expressions. And it wasn’t until I came to Los Angeles and started singing background for whole lot of top musical artists did I begin to discover what my musical path would be.

FR: Who are your musical influences?

Sy Smith: Easily Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and for people who know my music, you can hear a lot of brass instrumental influences. Growing up I loved bands that had a strong horn section—Cameo, Earth, Wind and Fire. I was also influenced by Patrice Rushen.

FR: How would you describe your musical style?

Sy Smith: My musical style is all those things that kind of make up black music. Lyrically, I am a person who loves language and vernacular. If someone sits down and listens to my lyrics, you can tell that I am a writer at heart. And that might mean that my music is influenced by Toni Morrison or Octavia Butler, and any of the writers that I love.

FR: When I listen to your sound it is a fusion of many things, a musical hybrid. For me, your sound is reminiscent of Minnie Riperton.

Sy Smith: You are right, my musical style does harken back to some of the female singers of the late 1960s and early 70s that fused their music with a lot of different influences. I do try to remain true to myself because I also have a story to tell.

FR: Sy Smith, you have been described as the “Queen of Underground Soul. How did you acquire that moniker?

Sy Smith: About twelve years ago at a conference someone use that name to describe me. The person was referring to the fact that at the time I was one of the few musical artists that was doing everything myself—booking my own gigs, running my own label—and doing everything well. I was making a solid living from my music and didn’t need to have a day job.

Folks were kind of shocked that I could create underground music, make a living from it without a machine behind me. I was landing my videos on “BET Soul” without having a major financial backer. So, when I was called the “Queen of Underground Soul,” I felt like I could answer to that.

FR: How were you able to accomplish all the things that you’ve accomplished without major financial backing?

Sy Smith: A lot of times it’s about learning how to do a lot of things by yourself. I had to learn how to do graphic design and run my website 15 years ago when I didn’t have anyone or could afford anyone do those things for me. That said; I did have  people in my life that showed me how to do things.  I had to rely on my friends and use the resources around me.

FR: What was the genesis of “Perfect Love”?

Sy Smith: My friend Rachel Eckroth is a keyboarder and producer. We used to tour together. A few years back on the road she asked me to help her finish a song that she was writing. Things happened in both of our lives and we never got around to completing the writing of the song. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were in quarantine, so we went back to completing the song because there was really nothing else going on.

Anyway, I finished writing the lyrics at home and I recorded the vocals, thinking I was just completing a demo for Rachel. Rachel liked what I had done so much that she felt we should release the song. The next thing I knew, Rachel has the song remixed and mastered. So, we put the song out.

We released the song and then we decided to do a video. Rachel came up with the video concept, and I shot the video at home with my husband. Later Rachel found an animator. So, “Perfect Love” was basically art made during a time of quarantine.

FR: Why the title “Perfect Love”?

Sy Smith: The title came from the hook in the song. Rachel had penned that already, and I felt it was a great title. We could have chosen another title, but I felt “Perfect Love” is what the song is about.  It is about feeling that sensation that puts you in a perfect place, finding that love utopia in your heart.

Rachel Eckroth and Sy Smith

FR: How are you keeping busy during this COVID-19 pandemic with touring on hold?

Sy Smith: In this things-on-hold-time I am doing a lot of recording sessions at home. My husband and I have been recording old school variety shows.  We do them live on Facebook.

FR: You mean singing, dancing, acting, juggling?

Sy Smith: Yes. My husband is a classically trained musician and he sings a little bit. We have a couple of skits that we do, some pre-recorded skits that we will put in the show. My husband is also a filmmaker, so this fits right up his alley.  He is turning these Facebook variety shows into elaborate short films.

FR: Do you expect touring to pick up any time soon?

Sy Smith: Right now, I am speaking to you from the sound check at my show in Charlotte, NC. I have a three-night stint. They had done everything they can do to social distance the customers, reducing capacity drastically, and checking everyone’s temperature.

I have also been doing livestreams where people by tickets for those events. This is done from my house, using a platform called ‘Stages.’ That said; I don’t think we are going to see regular touring resume any time soon or until 2021.

 

 

FR: This is a fashion site, so I must ask you who are your favorite designers?

Sy Smith: Everyone who knows me knows I have a deep love relationship with Gucci. I really like the brand Hanifa and I what she is doing. I love the whole3-D virtual model thing that she is doing. Normally, I go into small boutiques and see what catches my eye.

FR: If you had a wish and could musically collaborate with someone dead or alive who would that be and why?

Sy Smith: I would to collaborate with Prince, particularly the last part of his career where he was getting back into some conscious writing where he was standing up for black people, especially black women.

I would love to get down with Quincy Jones, Greg Phillinganes, and Sting.

Images courtesy of 2R’s Entertainment & Media PR

FR: What’s next for you?

 Sy Smith: I haven’t been able to think about what is next because the COVID-19  pandemic forces you to live in the moment. There is no worry about the future right now. For so many artists right now the immediate is all about how the rent and other living expense are going to be met. My plans for recording in album have been put on the back burner.

I will say this, I have a meeting with an acting agent, so, I may get back into that. When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I did a lot of commercials and was on “Ally McBeal” a few times. All these skits that we are doing live on Facebook has stimulated the acting bug. Despite the pandemic, I am keeping busy and pursuing life and love!!

—William S. Gooch

Danny Santiago and Carol Cutshall Bring Their Exquisite Styling Skills to “Filthy Rich”

Carol Cutshall and Danny Santiago

Can wealth, be tainted, almost filthy? Well, it will be in Fox’s new television series, “Filthy Rich.”

Coming September 21, “Filthy Rich,” starring Kim Cattrall and Gerald McRane,y spins an elaborate tale of wealth, faith, and fashion all rolled into one. McRaney plays Eugene Monreaux, a mega-rich TV minister who owns a Christian TV network, and Cattrall plays Margaret Monreaux, his Oprah-like southern belle wife. The show focuses on the death of McRaney’s character  and the drama of Monreaux’s estate, as he wrote three illegitimate children in his will.

“Filthy Rich” was created by Tate Taylor, the acclaimed director behind “The Help,” “Get on Up,” and “The Girl on the Train.” A show about money and power is not complete without a great wardrobe.

 Noted costume designer Carol Cutshall was employed to bring a distinct fashion sense—with the exception of lead Kim Cattrall, who had her own fashion team—to the characters on “Filthy Rich.” Cutshall is no stranger to the world of costume design having worked on six seasons of The WB’s hit TV series “One Tree Hill.”

Carol Cutshall spoke with Fashion Reverie about how she managed to bring style to Filthy Rich.

Fashion Reverie: Was this your first project you worked on in New Orleans?

Carol Cutshall: I’ve done a few projects in New Orleans, but this was the first thing I’ve done here that wasn’t an independent film. For the first time, I got to work on a television series in New Orleans.

FR: How did you get involved with the project?

Carol Cutshall: I got a call from my agent that Tate Taylor wanted to speak with me, and that was the moment. I said, ‘I would love to work with Tate Taylor.’ At the time, the network had already shot the pilot, so I came to work from the second episode on. It was an amazing coincidence that I am based in New Orleans. I was in between jobs, and I had nothing slated.

Both Tate, I, and the show’s premise are southern. Tate was familiar my work. We have a lot of people we really admire in common.

FR: What’s it like creating looks for characters of such various socioeconomic backgrounds?

Carol Cutshall: For the three children outside of the marriage, you have an MMA fighter, a Pacific Northwest guy who’s a little indie rock, and you have a Vegas webcam business owner, and you have to bring them into the southern world of khakis, chinos, and seersucker. The southern world is preppy. It’s a world of Brooks Brothers, white bucks, and country clubs.

You see very little denim in that world. You also see no animal print in this world, until Ginger from Las Vegas walks in. Imagine the three children walking into a country club. I had to set up a real tone for the whole of the show so when these outsiders walked in the audience felt it. I had to edit fabrics and color palettes we weren’t going to use with the southern characters versus the other characters.

FR: How did you create the characters looks post-pilot?

Carol Cutshall: I went and looked at these characters and put in dynamic tension when they all come together in a room. There are so many different characters coming from different places into this wealthy southern environment.

There’s the character Ginger, one of the daughters outside of the marriage, who’s coming from Vegas, and she runs a webcam girl business. She was a perfect mix of all things Vegas. She is tenor meets baroque and venetian casino. There are characters you think would be so diametrically opposed that somehow came together.

FR: What references did you use for character inspiration?

Carol Cutshall: I looked at issues of Garden & Gun and Town & Country magazines. For the legitimate son, Eric, I looked for a lot of incredible southern designers that would be youthful and have slim-cut silhouettes. I used a lot of Billy Reid on him. I used this suiting brand, Strong Suit, which is an incredible brand out of Arkansas. They have incredible blazers and suits. I also used a lot of Theory suits for Eric, along with Theory polos paired with Bonobos chinos. I did use a little bit of J. Crew. There was a lot of Club Monaco. When you see him at the family country house, he’s wearing plaid flannels from Billy Reid and L.L. Bean duck boots. Eric’s look had to have the look of someone that had an Ivy League education: casual with the “Dead Poets Society” vibe.

I was really invested in dressing the character Ginger, but I also loved dressing the character Rose, the legitimate daughter. She’s such a pivotal and rich character. You sense that Rose is not really with her people. She’s creative and a free spirit. She’s a fashion designer. I modeled her after Jane Aldridge, the fashion blogger well known for her blog Sea of Shoes. Aldridge is known for mixing her mom’s old designer clothes with thrift store finds and new stuff she shopped. Aldridge’s style was a huge inspiration for the character of Rose. A lot of times I would find a piece that might’ve been nice, but it wasn’t quite there. Luckily, here in New Orleans we have this amazing couture fabric store called Promenade Fine Fabrics. If I found a pencil skirt, I would take it there and have incredible French laces put on it.

 I created a lot of pieces for Rose that were custom. One of my favorite looks on Rose is a vintage white blouse with crystals on the collar, paired with overalls, and a big old Chanel overcoat that looks like it came from her mother.

FR: Let’s talk more about how your sourced clothing.

Carol Cutshall: I literally looked everywhere! I shopped for clothes, I got custom clothes, I went thrift shopping. It’s important to show viewers you can get incredible looks and it doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. Sometimes, I got so many incredible things from consignment stores.

One of the things that was limiting was the color palettes that are current. Trends can also make it look like everything is cut from the same cloth. When you go shop at a consignment store that opens up your color palette options.

FR: Who was your favorite character to dress?

Carol Cutshall: I could say absolutely any one of them, but I will say Ginger and Rose were fun to dress. The actresses were so fun to work with and the characters in the script were delightful. When Aubrey Dollar, who plays Rose, and Melia Kreiling, who plays Ginger, would come in for a fitting, we had so much fun.

I also really loved dressing Franklin, who was the character of Margaret’s attorney. He wore a lot of Brooks Brothers, Zegna, and Billy Reid suits. He had all the fashion details of being an HBCU graduate. The details for his fashion were meticulous down to the pocket squares and his ties. When you look at all his fashion layers, he was the character who could wear a windowpane double-breasted suit, a striped shirt, medallion print tie and floral pocket square. He always looked like someone who had the answer.

Danny Santiago has spent over two decades as one of the most highly respected stylists in the fashion industry. His work has appeared in Vogue Italia, Vogue Russia, Vogue Spain, Vogue Mexico, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, W, and other publications. He’s costumed the television show Burn Notice, and has costumed films Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sex and the City, and Sex and the City 2.

 Santiago found his way into the film industry via famed stylist and costume designer/designer Patricia Field. His past experiences working with Golden Globe-winning actress Kim Cattrall brought him onto her new project “Filthy Rich.” Santiago spoke with Fashion Reverie about how he created a glamorous wardrobe for a character for which money was no object

FR: What’s your background in the fashion industry?

Danny Santiago: I started in the fashion industry doing photoshoots for fashion and lifestyle magazines. I was brought into television and film by Patricia Field. Pat and I had known each other for a few years. I knew her from her store she had had on Bowery. We ended up working on a few print jobs together, and she always told me I’d be great for costuming television and film. She got a call for a job that was in Miami and I was lucky to be in Miami at the time, so she referred me.

FR: How did you become part of Kim Cattrall’s fashion team?

Danny Santiago: I knew Kim from working on the “Sex and the City” films. Pat was the one who started working with her on “Filthy Rich.” Pat came up with the overall look for Kim, and then handed over costuming duties to me because Pat went to work on another project.

FR: What was your reaction when you learned about Kim’s involvement with this project?

Danny Santiago: I thought it was a great project for Kim. I think she’s perfect for the role. It’s a very interesting story. Kim has a great sense of the role and her character, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to work with her on this project. Her character is very over the top, so there’s a lot of room to play with fashion.

FR: What type of references did you use to create the wardrobe for Kim’s character?

Danny Santiago: One of the things we talked about and something we wanted to have throughout the wardrobe was a sense of luxury. We worked with certain fabrics and textures that would typically be more fit for eveningwear, like metallics and sequins, but with a special tailoring we were able to transition these fabrications to daytime looks. It was day looks with a glamorous luxury evening feel. Bold jewelry would also come into play. It really gave her character a truly unique look for the show.

FR: Were there any brands that you sourced for the series?

Danny Santiago: Alexander McQueen, Lanvin, Badgley Mischka, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Akris, and other luxury brands on that level. We also focused on pieces with beautiful tailoring and suiting.

FR: What was your favorite look?

Danny Santiago: I found this beautiful vintage fur. It was a one-of-a-kind piece and it had this netting that made these beautiful unique stripes. It was one of the more special pieces worn by Kim in the series. I got it from a rental house in Los Angeles called Replica Vintage. It’s a showroom in Los Angeles with a lot of designer and one-of-a-kind pieces.

FR: Kim plays this wealthy Southern belle. How would you describe the quintessential rich Southern Belle look?

Danny Santiago: I don’t feel like her character has the quintessential Southern belle look. It’s not just a Southern look. She is very regal in what she wears. She has all this control. She runs the family. She has such a voice with the show and everything that she has.

FR: How were you able to dress Kim’s character to contrast with some of the other characters?

Danny Santiago: We kept the color palettes very different with what we were working with. We tended to use colors that weren’t being used so much on other characters. That’s where the metallics, silks, and satins also came into play because we had to separate her from the rest of the characters on the show.

FR: The billionaire’s wives look is one-of-a-kind and not easy to create. What challenges were there in dressing a character who had to look filthy rich?

Danny Santiago: The challenges were more in how we built her costumes. I was between New York and Florida while Kim was in Louisiana. I worked remotely with putting all the outfits together. I would do my outfit look combinations, photograph everything on my phone, then send it to the costuming department in New Orleans. Then, Kim would have her fittings which I was there for remotely. This was before that was this “new normal,” now everyone is working this way due to COVID-19 pandemic.

All images courtesy of FOXFR: How did costuming Kim Cattrall’s character Margaret compare to costuming her iconic character on “Sex and the City”?

Danny Santiago: Margaret is more conservative than Samantha. There are still beautiful silhouettes that have a sexiness to it, but in “Sex and the City” Kim was sexier. Samantha wore more lowcut dresses, clothing was more fitted, skirts were shorter and had higher slits. With Margaret, she is more elegant and there was more focus on the silhouette of clothing rather than exposing the skin.

Filthy Rich will premiere on Monday, September 21 at 9/8c on FOX. The show stars Kim Cattrall, Gerald McRaney, Aubrey Dollar, Corey Cott, Benjamin Levy, Mark L. Young, Melia Kreiling, Steve Harris, Aaron Lazar, and Olivia Macklin.

—Kristopher Fraser

Rhyan LaMarr: Speaking Truth to Power and Encouraging Others to Do So

We are just a few days from Independence Day, America’s declaration of freedom from colonial rule. July 4 marks that historic day of liberation. Still, that historic day left so many folks behind. On July 4, 1776, women had not achieved the right to vote, Native Americans were not considered first-class citizens of the US, only white male, property owners could vote, and African Americans were at the bottom of the rung, only considered three-fifths of a man, with most in bondage.

Much has changed since July 4, 1776, but there is still so much to accomplish. These last two months, the US has experienced a consistent round of social protests. The cacophony of voices demanding an end to police brutality, expanded access to capital and social programs for the underserved, and the defunding and a reordering of the police state is an astounding move of solidarity among many marginalized communities.

On the heels of this resurgence of social activism, filmmaker and Christian Hip Hop artist Rhyan LaMarr has produced a protest anthem, “Fight Another Day,” that aptly expresses this historic moment. In an example of his unique prescient skills, Lamarr wrote “Fight Another Day” a year ago, foretelling the recent social protests.

Fashion Reverie had the great privilege of speaking with Rhyann LaMarr about his protest anthem, his filmmaking career, and his love of the people.

Fashion Reverie: What is your musical background?

Rhyan LaMarr: I have been involved in music since grade school. I grew up in the city of Chicago and my musical influences range from Da Brat, Twista, Bone Thugs N Harmony to Michael Jackson, and Quincy Jones. I have always gravitated to telling stories. I have found my niche in creating stories, be it through music or film.

FR: Where did you study music?

Rhyan LaMarr: I studied music on the Southside of Chicago in the backseat of my Dad’s car.

FR: How would you describe your musical style?

Rhyan LaMarr: When it comes music, I am very eclectic, you could say I am a sponge. I grew up listening to everything from Michael Jackson to Adam Levine to Smashing Pumpkins to Outcast, I just love good music. There are different mediums to tell good stories. Sometimes, I want to move and groove, sometimes I want to chill, and sometimes I want to bring my story ideas to life through music and film. And literally that is how aPerfectmess came about. If you listen to the album you hear different style and influences.

FR: Could you define the album aPERFECTmess?

Rhyan LaMarr: I have been a mess my entire life and through the grace of God, God is perfecting this perfect mess called Rhyan Lamarr. That is my testimony.

When you consider your life, you think about the world as it is right now, and right now, the world is a perfect mess. It couldn’t have been designed to be more of a mess. I hope people will look and listen to the album, aPerfectmess and equate it to situations in their own life.

FR: What was your motivation behind “Fight Another Day”?

Rhyan LaMarr: There are songs like Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Going to Come” that’s so iconic and timely. When I wrote “Fight Another Day” I was writing about a moment that was a year ago. In fact, the song was written a year ago. “Fight Another Day” was based from a year ago. Strangely, a year later, we are still living with social injustice and police brutality. “Fight Another Day” is about how we are conditioned to live with adversity, but also how we are going to move past that reality.

Shirley Murdock, Ta’Ronda Jones, Angie Rose, and other artists are all on this song. And some of them wrote their own verses. We wanted to create something that would move the people and move the needle of justice.

FR: How did you assemble these incredible artists on “Fight Another Day”?

  Rhyan LaMarr: Shout out to Shirley Murdock’s husband and manager, Darryl and Michael Wayne, who had a hit song out called “Instant Replay.” I was so fortunate to work with them in the studio and they taught me how to stack a song.

FR: What is stacking?

Rhyan LaMarr: Stacking is a technical moniker. Kendrick Lamar does a lot of stacking on his songs. So, does Drake. Stacking is when you digitally amplify your voice to make it sound fuller. You layer your voice on top of your voice. You can also stack your background vocals to make them sound textured and rich. I have a small voice, so I often stack my voice on songs.

FR: So, let’s go back to you getting these great artists on “Fight Another Day.”

Rhyan LaMarr: I wrote the lyrics to “Fight Another Day” with Shirley Murdock in mind. I contacted her, explaining what I wanted to do with the song. I sent her the lyric I wanted her sing. She loved it and sent back her vocals with the lyric.

I also reached out to Destorm Power. We have worked on a couple of projects previously. I knew Destorm to be a great artist and lyricist. He has seen a lot, experienced a lot, so I knew he was going to bring a unique approach to the theme of the song.

I knew Ta’Ronda Jones through Bryshere Grey from “Empire.” I was introduced to them by Jussie Smollet. I knew Ta’Ronda more as a spoken-word artist, but she came into the studio and slayed her verse in the song.

I included Angie Rose also on “Fight Another Day.” Angie is a prolific minister and Christian hip hop (CHH) artist. She has done a lot of volunteer relief work in Puerto Rico. I knew I needed someone that had Angie’s passion and dedication to working class and poor people on this song. Additionally, on the song, there is Mod G and Jack Red who brought incredible musicianship to the entire album.

FR: “Fight Another Day” was conceived before the recent protests, but it is so timely. What were you connected to in your head that you understood how relevant this song would be?

Rhyan LaMarr: I have been African American my entire life which means I have been forced to get over stuff. At the time I conceived “Fight Another Day,” there were lots of school shootings happening. However, the schools that were getting media coverage were schools that had a majority white student body as opposed to schools where the student body was mostly kids of color. And there was a host of other things going on that I was able to pull from.

I was observing folks experiencing discrimination based on their race, sexuality, and gender. I wanted to create a song that would touch on all these things and be universal. I wanted to create a song that champion the everyday fighters and warriors who everyday fight injustice and inequality.

FR: The lyrics to “Fight Another Day” are so powerful. Particularly, the lyric “our lawyers they shoot, our doctors they shoot them.” Who wrote the lyrics and what process did you use to plumb so deeply to get to the core of what is going on right now?

Rhyan LaMarr: That particular lyric at the end of the song was written by Ta’Ronda Jones. I told her I wanted to write about what was going on and keep it real, and she did. I wanted her to have a very militant stance.

FR: Were there other lyricists for “Fight Another Day”?

Rhyan LaMarr: Yes. Everyone wrote their own verses. I told everyone on the song to come from their perspective.

FR: In the video you curated a lot of images and videos that detail the protests and police brutality. What was your process to be able to get the rights to use some of the footage in the video and what process did you use to select the footage?

Rhyan LaMarr: I have an amazing team that has worked with me on some of my films, so we have an incredible synergy. And they understand how important it is to select the right stock footage. We shot the video and then went back and injected and modernized some things because we recorded and shot most of the video over a year ago.

It is sad that very little has changed, and in some instances, things have gotten worse since we recorded and shot the initial video. It is disturbing that you could replace images of police killings from a year ago with current police killings. It is incredible that the footage is not outdated.

FR: What do you hope “Fight Another Day” inspires?

Rhyan LaMarr: I hope the song inspires folks to educate themselves and use their voice and platform wisely. Whether you are talking to two people or a million people, you have a platform.

We want people to feel uplifted and encouraged from “Fight Another Day.” We want this song to encourage folks to use the gift that God gave them to help facilitate change, be the change that you want to see. If you are protesting, understand why you are protesting and what you are fighting for.

FR: You are also a filmmaker, could you talk about that?

Rhyan LaMarr: I am a storyteller. I have been a filmmaker for the better part of 17 years. I believe that art should imitate life, so I probe real stories. My production company is Reel Stories. I became a filmmaker to change the landscape. I was tired of seeing voices and stories that were misinterpreted.

So much has changed in the time I have been a filmmaker. We are now starting to see filmmakers like Donald Glover, Lisa Raye, and a whole range of black filmmakers that are telling stories that speak to the black experience in nuanced ways.

My feature film Canal Street come out in 2019 on Martin Luther King Day. It is doing very well in the market, and it is currently streaming.

FR: You are making a film about Sean Bell, the young African American that was murdered by NYC Police in 2006. Could you talk about that?

Rhyan LaMarr: Sean Bell was an unarmed African American male that was gunned down by the NYPD in 2006, a day before his wedding. We are telling a lot of the backstory behind this tragedy. Most folks don’t know that Sean had been drafted by the LA Dodgers. We delve into what was going on in the minds of the police that murdered Sean.

Images courtesy of 2Rs & Entertainment Media PR

FR: What’s next for you?

Rhyan LaMarr: I have a couple of videos coming out from the album aPerfectmess. Of course, “The Sean Bell Story.” There are some phenomenal voices on the soundtrack of “The Sean Bell Story,” I cannot reveal who is singing on the soundtrack just yet. Lastly, I have a comedy coming out, “North of the 10.”

— William S. Gooch

Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood” Is a Gold Mine of Period Fashion

“Everybody comes to Hollywood, they want to make it in the neighborhood,” sings Madonna in her 2003 single “Hollywood.” Last year, Ryan Murphy, the famed television producer behind numerous acclaimed TV series including “Glee,” “Nip/Tuck,” and “American Horror Story,” inked a 9-figure deal with Netflix to create original projects. The latest in Murphy’s pantheon of TV shows is “Hollywood,” a retelling of Tinseltown’s golden era in post-WWII America.

One of the best parts of any period piece is the fashion. Seeing how people dressed in different eras always adds an extra layer to production value beyond that of the actors’ performances and the set design. Fashion Reverie spoke with “Hollywood” costume designers Lou Eyrich and Sarah Evelyn about working with Murphy and recreating 1940s fashion for this new series.

Fashion Reverie: How many Ryan Murphy shows have you costumed so far?

Sarah Evelyn: Lou and I worked on two seasons of “American Horror Story” together, specifically “American Horror Story: Hotel” and “American Horror Story: Cult.” Lou usually works with the co-designers of the TV shows, so Ryan only has one main costume designer he’s working with.

FR: How was the team effort for both of you?

Lou Eyrich: I’ve been with Ryan for 20 years since “Popular.” I have costumed “Niptuck,” “Glee,” and “American Horror Story.” I hitched onto his star early on and did not let go. Ryan’s really made my career, so I’m forever grateful to him. I just love his genius mind, it’s exciting to work with him. When we started working on three to four shows at a time, it was becoming too much for me to handle by myself. So, we decided I’d start costuming the show from the beginning, get the designers up and running, and move onto the next project. At the time, we were taking assistant designers and promoting them to lead designers to keep the flow going. It got to the point where there were so many shows being produced, we were running out of assistants.

Sarah came in, and she had been a stylist for the promotional posters, advertisements, and video clips for “American Horror Story.” I brought her on “American Horror Story: Hotel” to help costume Lady Gaga’s character. I loved her style and work ethic and it mixed in well with our TV world. When we needed a designer for “American Horror Story: Cult,” she did a fantastic job. When I asked her about “Hollywood,” she had just finished “Fast and the Furious: Hobbs and Shaw,” and wanted to stay in town to try working on a period piece. It was perfect timing.

Sarah started working on the costumes for “Hollywood” and we worked together to get the tone of the show right. We met with Ryan and he had a very strong view of each character—the color palette, the set, the locations, and even a list of movies to watch, books to get, and fashion designers from the ‘40s for inspiration.

Sarah Evelyn: Ryan and Lou meet, and they refined the vision for the show. They have a language between them, and it’s great, because then Lou gets the co-designer involved. You have her wealth of 20 years’ experience with Ryan. She knows what he likes, and it seems like sometimes they don’t even need words. Getting to work with Ryan is incredible; getting to work with Lou via Ryan is also incredible. Creativity and the look of the show are always a number one priority. Everything it set up so you can maximize the visual level of the show. You have to build trust with someone. Lou and I are very like-minded and getting to create with Lou is super special. If you have a problem, Lou is the person that gets to help you think through how to solve it, and that’s so important.

FR: What types of references did you use to stay true to the period of the 1940’s?

Sarah Evelyn: Ryan came to us and said, “The Golden Age of Hollywood.” He had some movies he really liked. We watched so many movies. We put photos of the ‘40s images and fabulous outfits we loved all over our office space. We wanted to have like a 1940s Instagram feed office. We also looked for behind the scenes material.

We looked at this great book called Jean Howard’s Hollywood which showed the behind the scenes of Hollywood back then. We hired a fashion historian in New York who brought written resources to us. Back in the ‘40s, so many of things weren’t photographed or were photographed in black and white, so she helped us figure out how those things should look.

FR: What movies did you all watch for inspiration?

Lou Eyrich: I have watched “Woman of the Year,”, “Laura” “The Fleet’s In,” and “His Girl Friday.” There were also an endless number of movies with great fashion.

FR: Were there particular people you modeled any of the actors looks after?

Sarah Evelyn: Patti LuPone was very Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck. With her and her character we did a lot of the risky, glamorous stuff. Holland Taylor was very Marlene Dietrich with the restrained, tailored, menswear-inspired pieces. Holland also brought us a picture of her mom who had very fabulous style, so her mother became an inspiration for her character’s style. Laura Harrier was very Lauren Bacall. Samara Weaving was a young Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner type. Jake Picking, who played Rock Hudson, was obviously Rock Hudson. Jeremy Pope was our jazz baby who had his own style. David Corenswet was a young James Dean. Michelle Krusiec who played Anna Mae Wong was obviously Anna Mae Wong, and we were inspired by her 1930s style. Mira Sorvino was more of a Lana Turner type. Dylan McDermott was our Cary Grant and Fred Astaire.

FR: How do you dress characters who are a rewrite of history?

Sarah Evelyn: For me, it really starts with the character. I ask myself where would this person hang out, what would they have seen? Jeremy Pope’s character Archie is a good example. He’s an African American in the 1940s who’s a writer. He’s an artist who’s going to blaze his own path. Laura Harrier’s character Camille is the ‘It Girl.’ She would’ve been blazing her own path. She would’ve been doing things differently, including her fashion sense. That’s why she wears pants.

Lou Eyrich: Ian Brennan, Janet Mock, and Ryan Murphy were the writers. Often in the script there would be a description of how the character should present themselves. 

FR: Did you source actual vintage garments or recreate garments?

Sarah Evelyn: We did both. We created a lot of pieces, and we definitely sourced from vintage vendors and went to costume houses. There aren’t that many ‘40s clothes, and men didn’t work out in the forties, so that didn’t leave us with many vintage options. During production of the show there were so many other period productions happening at the time, so we were competing with Europe for clothing. Lou has a special relationship with a lot of vintage and costume vendors, so we were able to call in favors. We probably ended up making 50 to 60 percent of the costumes for the principal characters.

FR: What were the challenges of dressing the series’ actors in 1940s clothing?

Sarah Evelyn: The cast was amazing. They were so generous and giving and so excited about the costumes. However, 1940s clothes were made for 1940s bodies. People were smaller in the 1940s. This is one reason we needed to create a lot of costumes versus shopping vintage. To make David Corenswet look like a young James Dean, his suit had to hang like he was young James Dean. With the punk jockey uniforms, we had to figure out how to make high-waist, high-leg pants fit the guys and look sexy. We had a whole series of waist and body proportion fittings .

Lou Eyrich: None of the shirts and pants were long enough. The average shoe size in the 1940s was a 6, now average the average women is a 9. We couldn’t use any vintage shoes, they were too small and narrow, plus by now the shoes were in a decayed state. Those were the most basic challenges. The hair department did a fantastic job with the wigs, but sometimes the female casts wigs didn’t fit with the hats, which was something we didn’t think of.

FR: Who was your favorite character to dress?

Sarah Evelyn: Not fair; that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. Dressing Patti LuPone’s character was a once-in-a-lifetime dream. Working with Patti LuPone was a bucket list dream for me. That said, I don’t really have a favorite.

FR: What costume piece was your favorite?

Lou Eyrich: The pump jockey uniforms that were worn at the gas station with the character of Ernie played by Dylan McDermott were my favorite. When Sarah and I were working during prep we met with Matthew Ferguson, who was the production designer for “Hollywood.” Matthew Ferguson had worked on getting the right feel for the gas station and had gotten Ryan’s approval on the gas station. Together, we decided on white uniforms that had this super clean vibe.

Fitting all the pump jockey uniforms was fun, particularly sourcing the fabrics, buttons, tie chains, and belt buckles and see everything come together. That whole process was fun as opposed to just having one favorite outfit.

Images courtesy of Netflix

FR: What was the greatest challenge in costuming this film?

Sarah Evelyn: One of the challenges of working on a television season with high production value is timing and turnaround, and creating beautiful, cinematic garments on that tight turnaround schedule. You can get any custom-made piece done right if you have two weeks to do it, but two days is tough.

We are lucky to have had had an incredible team. This system with Lou works so well because as a member of the Lou and Ryan Murphy team, you can access the best resources and call in favors.

FR: How close do you all work with Ryan Murphy for final selection of costumes?

Lou Eyrich: Ryan has a 200% final say in the costumes. If a character is cast at 4 pm one day, Sarah is fitting them the next morning. Then, the tailor will fit the actor while they are in the hair and makeup chair, then pictures of the looks are sent to Ryan.

You can binge season one of “Hollywood” currently on Netflix. More of Lou Eyrich’s costuming work can be seen later this year in Ryan Murphy’s upcoming projects “Ratched” and “Boys in the Band.”

—Kristopher Fraser

PORCELAN Sets the Record Straight in “Act Out”

While you are home sequestering or self-isolating, this is a good time to listen to some self-empowering and life-affirming music. Staying informed about the coronavirus is essential, but you cannot spend your day only listening to health updates. Relax, enjoy some good music from some up-and-coming musical artists.

One of those artists is PORCELAN. Based in Tennessee, PORCELAN’s parents were musicians and exposed her to music early in life. An elementary teacher recognized her talent, spurring PORCELAN to perform in school musicals. PORCELAN also discovered that she was good at writing poetry which gave her the impetus to combine songwriting with her vocal talents.

In keeping with that momentum, PORCELAN focused on building her reputation in music circles, doing everything from appearing on BET’s “106th & Park,” collaborating on material with super-producer Timbaland, opening for Tank and gaining invaluable performance experience via a three-month tour of China with a cover band. “Doing show bands is totally different from being an original artist, so I had to learn how to entertain in that realm. Even though I was new to it, I started being around a lot of seasoned people who showed me the ropes,” explained PORCELAN.

Images courtesy of 2R Entertainment and Media PR

PORCELAN’s single “Lois Lane” landed her single in Billboard R&B chart’s top 15. Her new follow-up single “Act Out” speaks to a woman’s frustration with her man’s infidelity. “I wanted to capture the intensity of how broken she was from her past and how he came along and made her think he was different, all while he was playing games the entire time,” PORCELAN adds.

Fashion Reverie was fortunate to speak with PORCELAN before “ACT OUT’s” release on February 28. See video interview below:

J. Brown Conjures up Classic R&B in “Forever Yours”

Do you love R& B crooners? If you do, iconic R&B crooners like Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Peabo Bryson, and Jon B come to mind. You can now add J. Brown to that list.

Though is not yet legendary, with his musical chops, it is only a matter of time that J. Brown will be in that constellation of iconic male R&B songbirds. With his new CD “Forever Yours,” J. Brown sings about love, relationships, and honesty. Something that is solely missing in the current roster of top-charting songs.

And when it comes to chart-topping, Brown has charted at #16 on Billboard and according to MEDIABASE is the 34th top-played artist on urban radio. J. Brown graciously spoke with Fashion Reverie as he was on tour with Elle Varner’s “Evolution” tour.

Fashion Reverie: What is your musical background?

Brown: My musical background is Christian music and gospel music. I started singing in the church. From there I transitioned to singing in youth theatre and stage plays.

FR: You are from Detroit, correct?

Brown: Yes, I am.

FR: Your mother was a background singer working with Smokey Robinson. Could you talk a little about that?

Brown: My mother and my aunt had a singing group. Where my family lived there were a lot of Motown artists that lived in that vicinity. And new groups were popping up all the time and there were lots of school talents shows to hone your craft.

My mother and aunt’s singing group got signed by Smokey Robinson for Motown, but their careers were short-lived because my mother became pregnant with my oldest brother and that ended the singing group. My father was a pastor, so my mother continued to sing, mostly in church.

FR: What inspires you musically?

Brown: I would say my children and my overall love of music.

FR: Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

Brown: Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Gerald Lavert, Next, Silk, and  Ted Riley. As you can tell, I love R&B crooners. I also love Sting and Bon Jovi. My taste is rather eclectic.

FR: How would you describe your sound and music styling?

Brown: My sound is rather unique because I tend to combine different music genres. And I don’t think I sound like anyone else.

FR: To prepare for this interview, I listened to several tracks from your new CD and your sound is very heartfelt.

Brown: That is an important part of my music. I want my music to really touch the soul. I want my music to be sincere and have substance.

FR: You are from Detroit so how does the musical stylings that comes out of the Motor City influence your sound and musical stylings?

Brown: Considering that a lot of R&B greats came from Detroit, I wanted to be a part of that old school sound and have that sound as a strong base of my musical style. And because that is so much of my inspiration, it is not a huge jump to understand that you find that Motown sound reflected in my music.

FR: Let’s talk about your current CD “Forever Yours.” What was the evolution behind this project?

Brown: This project was based on me wanting to put a sound I always wanted to have in my music. I wanted to talk about things that inspire me like love and relationships. Old school music is full of those musical conversations and I wanted to go back to that with love being the primary focus.

I wanted my music to detail how a woman should be treated. And the man who is not afraid to be transparent. Sometimes, the current music is all about a catchy beat with no real message. I wanted to bring back that R&B feel.

FR: Who is your audience?

Brown: I would say my demographic is early 30s to 60s.

FR: That’s what you think?

Brown: Yea, from shows that perform in that is who I see in the audience.

FR: I listened intently to three tracks on your CD and I think your demographic is much wider.

Brown: I think my listening audience and demographic should be and is much wider. But, at the end of day it is all our promotion and marketing. The music needs to be heard by a larger audience. The first track, “Allison” on the CD is for a younger audience. I have something on “Forever Yours” for everyone.

FR: You are currently on tour with Elle Varner’s “Elevation” tour. Could you talk a little about that?

Brown: The tour has been a phenomenal blessing, considering that I have always been a big fan of Elle Varner. Basically, this is a love tour. I am man, she is woman, and we are both singing about love and relationships.

The tour came about through connections and the overall respect that Elle and I have for each other. And it has gelled and here we are.

FR: How would you describe your personal fashion style?

Brown: I have a Euro style in that I like my clothes well-fitted, not too tight, but comfortably fitted. I am simple with my style, not too all over the place.

FR: Who are some of your favorite fashion designers?

Brown: I love Moschino, Lagerfeld, Gucci, and Fendi. I like some of things of Kanye West is doing.

FR: Wow, you have expensive tastes.

Brown: I do. Now, that doesn’t mean I can afford the clothes I like. However, I do have a lot of Lagerfeld shoes and boots.

FR: The music industry has changed so much with everything being digitized and consumers can download music for free or at a very low cost. That said; how are you managing to financially continue to create music and perform your art?

Brown: It can be a real financial struggle, especially when you have a family to support. What keeps me going is my love of music and my belief in my talent. You may have to grind and grind, but at the end of the day its about your belief system.

Images courtesy of 2R Entertainment & Media

FR: What’s next for you?

Brown: What’s next is getting more airplay and recognition with my new CD, “Forever Yours,” which is available on I-Tunes. I also trying to get my social media following up. I can be found at Jbrownmusiconly on Twitter and Instagram.

William S. Gooch

 

 

 

 

Day Kornegay in “Automatic” Brings Back New Jack Swing

 

Image courtesy of 2Rs Entertainment & Media PR

If you haven’t notice, vintage is all the rage in fashion. From collections that conjure up images from the disco era—lots of glam and glitter—to collections that are find new ways to interpret 80s street style. It’s all good because in fashion, everything old can be new again.

The same applies to music. There is nothing new under the sun, as was so eloquently put in Ecclesiastes. For music, it is not always about creating something new, but how you put familiar musical elements together in ways not experienced before.

Day Kornegay is one such artist, an artist that combines the familiar together in ways that will keep music lovers humming his tune but also in ways that advance music genres. As his debut five-song forthcoming album can attest, Day’s done his homework while developing a sound that’s fresh, vibrant, and accessible. Day himself refers to it as “Urban Intellectual.” “I can be edgy, but in a subtle way,” he says.

And with the late summer release of “Automatic,” Day has scored a top 40 R&B hit and is on his way. Day Kornegay took time from his very busy schedule to speak to Fashion Reverie about “Automatic,” his love of music and how he is bringing back that late 80s/early 90s ‘New Jack Swing’ style.

Image courtesy of 2Rs Entertainment & Media PR

FR: What is your musical background?

Day Kornegay: I grew up in Brooklyn and raised in the church. My parents have decent voices and they had in my church. I got the musical bug singing in the choir. I went to high school at Music and Art or as it is better known as LaGuardia High School, the famous school from the 1980s iconic film “Fame.”

FR: What is your musical training?

Day Kornegay: At LaGuardia the curriculum is very serious. You spend half of the day training in your art. You learn orchestral composition, all the Italian, German, and French classical artist. You really get your music foundation at LaGuardia.

You literally have a full arts curriculum and that doesn’t include your academic classes. It like going to high school for music.

FR: After college, you became a backup singer/vocalist.

Day Kornegay: That’s correct. For a long time, I toured for Atlantic Records that would pair me with different artists. I graced the stage with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Common, J.P. Taylor from Kool and the Gang, and other great artists.

Image courtesy of 2Rs Entertainment & Media PR

FR: What were the motivations behind you breaking out and becoming a solo artist?

Day Kornegay: I really love music and I believe music can change the world. Music can transform people. There are folks who cannot speak a word of English but know all the lyrics to Michael Jackson songs. It is the closest thing we have to a love emotion, and people get energy from music.

Being a vocal musician is my way of sharing love with people. I love seeing people happy. That is my gift and that is how I share love with people.

FR: What do you prefer and why, singing/performing or songwriting?

Day Kornegay: As a performer you literally get to touch people with your music. You can see from performing on stage how your music can change, transform, and bring up all kinds of emotions in the audience.

With songwriting you get to consider how your words and music can affect people. Songwriting is more long term. Hopefully, people will hear your work again and again, and get to process it. Singing is in the moment. It is hard to choose between the two. They are both equally gratifying.

“Automatic” image courtesy of vimeo.com

FR: Let’s talk about your top 40 hit, “Automatic,” that was released at the end of August. Your sound harkens back to late 1980s R&B crooners—Bobby Brown, Keith Sweat, Alexander O’Neal. How did “Automatic” come to be and be infused with that 80s/90s R&B sound?

Day Kornegay: The 1990s is where I started to form by thoughts and opinions about music. That was a huge influence on me. I love all eras of music. However, the 90s was special; there were so many talented artists. There was such a creation of new sounds; sounds that we hadn’t exactly heard before.

Think about it, look where hip hop went in the 90s; it exploded. Then, there was ‘New Jack Swing’ and Teddy Riley. My mom was a huge Keith Sweat, and Guy fan. She played their music continuously. So, that sound was drummed into my head.

We now have artists that are tapping into that 90s R&B/hip hop sound. Bruno touches on; Lizzo has her take on it. Still, there is a bit of gap of that live band sound. So, I decided with “Automatic” to give a bit of that in the song.

FR: And your “Automatic” video is so much fun. It reminds me of a male version of a 90s Brandi video for 2019.

Day Kornegay: There we go again, Brandi, a huge 90s R&B artist.

Image courtesy of vimeo.com

FR: What are trying to say in “Automatic”?

Day Kornegay: “Automatic” is about having fun!! Certain people you click or connect with automatically. This song it is about that fun, flirty romance that happens between two people who like and love the same things in life. As the guy in the song travels around the world, the girl he has this connection with always pops up because she likes the same places he likes, globally.

The world is so much smaller now thanks to technology and social media. We were thinking about that and “Automatic” came to me and my producer Rick Steele.

FR: Aside from being a very fun song, “Automatic” is a very family-friendly tune; no profanity or nudity. That might not have been your intention, but it is somewhat refreshing. Did that happen organically, or did you plan for a family-friendly song?

Day Kornegay: I have young nieces and nephews and they send me little videos of them singing “Automatic,” and it is so nice that there’s no lewdness or profanity because that is not a part of the song. We did not intentionally design the song that way, and I have nothing against strong language in music; however, in “Automatic” there was no need for strong language or lots of booty shaking.

FR: Now you refer to your sound as urban intellectual, could you speak about

that?

Day Kornegay: I am from New York City which is a huge melting pot of everything from fashion, entertainment, nightlife, finance, you name it. You can literally find everything in New York City. As someone who comes from an urban city and is comfortable using my mind my musical style is defined by the urban intellectual vibe as it relates to New York City.

FR: Fashion Reverie is a fashion magazine, so some fashion questions are a must. Who are some of your favorite fashion designers?

Day Kornegay: I am a fan of local New York City-based fashion designers. I have a lot of friends who are amazing fashion designers. ME, which is a NYC-based fashion brand, is one of the menswear brands that I love. I wear a lot of the brand’s clothing. The clothing is top notch, everything down to the stitching and the fabrication. The brand is about self- expression and sometimes has messaging about love or defining oneself.

That said; I will also go shop at Zara and find some great clothes there. I try to stay with boutique brands from anywhere in my travels. I love to support indie brands.

Image courtesy of 2Rs Entertainment & Media PR

FR: How would you describe your personal style?

Day Kornegay: My personal style is urban chic, urban intellectual. I am not afraid to throw some sneakers on with some skinny jeans and a blazer. I am also comfortable with suiting it up. I love bold colors, but I also love minimalist style incorporating neutral colors and tones. Fashion for me all depends on my mood, and my mood is generally fun and adventurous.

FR: What’s next for you?

Day Kornegay: We are working on the release of my EP; however, we are waiting for the single “Automatic” to get more traction and sit with people. I would love to get “Automatic” in a commercial. And there is a world tour in the works, on the heels of my current national tour.

William S. Gooch

Fashion Reverie Exclusive: Air Culinaire Worldwide CEO Cliff Smith

 

Image courtesy of Fred J. DeVito

Since 2000, business and private aviation operators have relied on Air Culinaire Worldwide to serve their onboard dining experience. Celebrity chefs, as well as fourteen international aviation trained chefs gathered at 15 Hudson Yards to celebrate the arrival of Air Culinaire Worldwide’s New York Lifestyle Menu and the future opening of their largest US flight kitchen. The event was sponsored by luxury watch company A. Lange & Söhne and Gama Aviation Signature. Select VIP and media attendees had the privilege of attending a tasting of the menu.

Featured dishes included Air Culinaire Worldwide’s chef Sal Lano’s cajun scallops, chef Todd English (Plaza Hotel)  shaved wagyu shabu shabu tacos, and chef John Doherty’s (Black Barn Hotel) butter-poached Maine lobster and butternut squash ravioli. For dessert Lano provided lemon tarts and Doherty provided bread pudding. Moët & Chandon served as the champagne sponsor, Sazerac served as the cocktail sponsor, and Vias Imports served as the wine sponsor for the festivities.

Image courtesy of Fred J. DeVito

The interior décor was designed by Aman & Meeks. Hampton Bishop, the owner of HK Ballons, created exquisite balloon art that was donated to the grand ballroom at 15 Hudson Yards. There was a wonderful selection of modern and post-modern artwork curated by Vanita Gallery and E.D. Enterprises.

 After the celebration, Fashion Reverie got a chance to speak with Air Culinaire Worldwide’s CEO, Cliff Smith, on the future of the company, why they decided to launch a newly curated New York menu, and how to best serve A-list clients’ food needs.

Air Culinaire Worldwide CEO Cliff Smith

Fashion Reverie: What inspired you to create a newly curated New York lifestyle menu and open your largest US flight kitchen?

Cliff Smith: Our company has grown holistically through the years. We have global locations and we are continuously trying to evolve the company. We decided that it was time to evolve the food into more farm-to-table and adapt to current food trends. Basically, I handed off the idea to the chefs, then the chefs created their lifestyle menu for New York. We did this same type of event in Paris, and the response was phenomenal. We also did this in London six months ago

FR: Who are your clients?

Cliff Smith: We have a variety of clients from international businessman to celebrities, and other elite celebrities. We also service rock concerts, as well as FedEx crews throughout the world.  We also service elite Middle Eastern clients, as well as heads of state.  Our business is a very niche business, and we are the largest food supplier in that niche.

Image courtesy of Fred J. DeVito

FR: Why are you looking to take these airline meals to the next level?

Cliff Smith: In the private aviation business we have an open menu, so customers can have whatever they want. In the food business, it’s very hard to produce everything well. People ask for global cuisine ranging from Halal food to cuisine from Paris. We have a very diverse group of culinary workers throughout the country, but it’s hard to actually make sure we are supplying the top shelf product with all of these different recipes. What we’ve done is channel the best food we can possibly produce into this menu. This gives customers a wide variety and we get a product we source and produce ourselves in house.

FR: What was the greatest challenge in making this happen? This does not sound like an overnight endeavor.

Cliff Smith: This has been a year-and-a-half in the making.

FR: When did Air Culinaire Worldwide launch?

Cliff Smith: Air Culinaire Worldwide launched 19 years ago. I have been the CEO for 13 years. We continue to grow every year, and continue to be successful because we evolve service, quality, our product, and food presentation.  Our clientele is the richest 1 percent of the world. They’ve eaten the best of the best food. We are just trying to give them elements of that kind of that quality food they are accustomed to.

FR: What’s been the biggest change in the business that you evidenced as CEO?

Cliff Smith: The growth of the private jet market has been huge. Back in 2008,  during the beginning of the recession , we had a slowdown, but then there was an increase and it’s continuously grown. Private aviation is morphing into so many things, and I believe it is going to grow incrementally in the next ten years. It’s becoming more accessible to people thanks to technology and apps.

There are companies now that facilitate consumers purchasing an airline seat for $5000, which was unheard of five years ago. Previously, that same seat would’ve been $25,000.

Image courtesy of Michael Ostuni

FR: How did you come to get know with all of these chefs?

Cliff Smith: I’ve been in the food business my whole life. I was the former CEO of Balducci’s in New York City. Air Culinaire Worldwide approached me when it was still a small company. I had run markets in Dallas, Texas, Connecticut, and Washington.  Air Culinaire Worldwide was going through some growing pains, and I came on board.

FR: What’s the biggest global market for Air Culinaire Worldwide?

Cliff Smith: The biggest private aviation market is right here in the United States.  So, it seemed appropriate to launch this new lifestyle menu in the US, and more specially in the New York City.

FR: So, what’s next Air Culinaire?

Cliff Smith: We are continuing to look at growth areas around the world. The last three years we built a facility in Paris, France. We’re looking at a facility in Asia. We are pretty built out in the United States. We’ve got facilities in every major market in the U.S. where we need to be. We’re going worldwide.

Kristopher Fraser

Fashion Reverie’s Fall 2019 TV Preview Roundup

Images courtesy of tvguide.com

When Hulu and Netflix began dipping their toes into the world of scripted television many predicted the end of the fall television season. Years later, fall TV is still going strong! These are the shows that has Fashion Reverie throwing the popcorn in the microwave and getting excited for quiet night at home in front of the tube!!

Image courtesy of cwtv.com

Katy Keene (The CW)

This Riverdale spinoff features Lucy Hale as the titular Katy and three other creatives as they pursue their dreams in New York City. Katy dreams of becoming a legendary fashion designer, so expect some fantastic clothes. It’s the CW so expect amazing production values and fun soapy twists.

Image courtesy of Alan Markfield / FOX.

Filthy Rich (Fox)

While Sarah Jessica Parker was hailed as the style icon of “Sex and the City,” eagle-eyed viewers knew it was Kim Cattrell’s Samantha who had style and attitude to make insane outfits work. She returns to TV as the widow of high-powered TV preacher, shocked to discover he has three children outside their marriage. Set in the Texas church community, the budget for hats alone will be through the roof.

Image courtesy of tvline.com

Bluff City Law (NBC)

It has been decades since he appeared on “LA Law,” but Jimmy Smits is back as a Memphis lawyer fighting alongside his daughter to hold big business and corrupt institutions accountable. The fall 2019 season sees a glut of legal show, but this one stands out.

Image courtesy of hollywoodreporter.com

Tommy (CBS)

Four-time Emmy-winner Edie Falco returns as Tommy the first female police chief of Los Angeles when the city is forced by a federal judge to hire a woman. Equal parts political, procedural, and family drama, this show was created by Paul Attanasio, the mind behind “Bull” and “House MD.”

Image courtesy of ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Mixedish (ABC)

The producers of “Blackish” and “Grownish” are back with “Mixedish.” “Mixedish” tells the story of Bo, the matriarch of the “Blackish” clan, and her life growing up in the 80’s. After the government breaks up the commune she lives on with her family, a tweener Bo heads to the suburbs and a mainstream school with her two siblings. Set in the 80’s, this will feature a lot of neon, giant hair, and new wave music.

Image courtesy of tvline.com

Nancy Drew (The CW)

“Veronica Mars’” fans, disappointed with the recent reboot on Hulu, will be thrilled to learn a new “Nancy Drew” will be coming to the CW this fall.  Played by Kennedy McMann, the teen swears off detective life until she finds herself accused of murder. Still reeling from the death of her mother, she’s forced, along with several other teens, to find the real killer and clear their names.

Image courtesy of tvguide.com

Sunnyside (NBC)

Ready for a break from the tragedy of current immigrant life in America?  Check out this bright, lively comedy from the creators of “Brooklyn 99.”  Kal Penn stars as a former New York City councilman who after losing career, finds a new job helping some residents of Sunnyside, Queens become US citizens.

Image courtesy of monsterandcritics.com

The Good Place (NBC)

OK, Fashion Reverie is cheating a bit. This is a returning show, but it’s a favorite. Coming back for its fourth and final season, this fantasy tells the hilarious story of four humans navigating the afterlife. It also features clotheshorse Tahani Al Jamil (played by Jameela Jamil )who upon dying on earth and being plunged into a void, screams for help when she realizes she’s wearing a VEST!

—Cameron Grey Rose

 

 

The Moulin Rouge: 130 Years of Brilliance

Moulin Rouge can-can

OK, you probably have seen “Moulin Rouge!,” the 2001 jukebox musical that starred Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, and John Leguizamo. You may even be aware that the musical version of the film opened on Broadway on July 25.

What you may not know is that the film and the Broadway musical are based on a French music hall theatre, of the same name. And the famous can-can dance took root in the Moulin Rouge from its inception in 1889.

After 130 years, the Moulin Rouge is still going strong. And though many of its traditions are still in place, there have been some upgrades and modernizations.

Fashion Reverie spoke with the Moulin Rouge’s principal dancer Claudine van der Bergh Cook and Moulin Rouge press agent Fanny Rabasse about this Paris landmark, its history, and why after 130 years the Moulin Rouge is still attracting large audiences.

Claudine van der Bergh Cook

Fashion Reverie: Claudine van der Bergh Cook, could you discuss your dance background?

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: I am from Dublin, Ireland. My mother was a classical dance teacher, so I started taking dance lessons at a very young age. I moved to London when I was fifteen and studied full time at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. I did my degree in ballet and contemporary dance and after graduation I auditioned for the Moulin Rouge.

FR: Was dancing for the Moulin Rouge something you always wanted to do or did the opportunity just happen?

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: It was a bit of both. I explored lots of option when it came to auditioning and perspective dance jobs. I thought because of my height—5`10.5—I would be well suited as a dancer at the Moulin Rouge. (The height requirement at the Moulin Rouge for female dancers is 5`7 for females and 6`3 for males.) Though my training and my aspiration was to be a ballet dancer, at 5`10.5 and over 6`2 on pointe, I was very tall, perhaps too tall, for a ballet dancer.

I danced for five years in the chorus at the Moulin Rouge and I also served as a replacement dancer for solos. Two years ago, I was promoted to a principal dancer of the Moulin Rouge and I am very happy in the role.

FR: What is your day like dancing with the Moulin Rouge?

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: The Moulin Rouge is open 365 days a year and we work six days a week. My day is kind of backward because we work at night. We have two shows, one at 9pm and the other at 11pm. The Moulin Rouge is true French music hall which ties into the history of the Moulin Rouge. We don’t just have dancing, we have acrobatic acts, jugglers, ventriloquists, and lots of other types of acts. All the acts give the audience a break between all the tableaus and set changes.

I go to bed around 4am because I have a lot of adrenaline after the show and it takes me a while to wind down. I get up around 12 noon the next day. I must keep my dance training in check with classes provided by the Moulin Rouge. Classes could be dance classes, yoga, or pilates which is great for stretching and core building which is so necessary for being able to dance with the headdresses with giant plumes.

I also must eat well throughout the day so that I can perform well two shows, six days a week. I eat about five small meals throughout the day.

FR: How did you train to be able to move and dance in the Moulin Rouge’s elaborate headdresses and costumes?

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: The classical ballet training did help with knowing how to pull up and support my body, particularly my neck. We also these back packs which are a part of the costumes that help us support the large plumage that extends out the back of the costumes.

We have a month of training to learn how to move and work with the big headdresses and feathered backpacks. There are 60 dancers in the show and there is a lot of traffic backstage, so we must learn how to get around each other and not slow the show down.

Fanny Rabasse: There are 23 dressers backstage to assist with the 1000 costumes in the show. Each dancer has 12 changes in the show and because Claudine is the lead dancer, she has her own dresser and dressing room.

FR: Do you do your own makeup and hair?

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: We take a special makeup class when we get hired at the Moulin Rouge. And after that we are responsible for our own makeup. I can do my makeup now in about 20 minutes.

We do our hair at the Moulin Rouge and our wigs are looked after by the Moulin Rouge staff. We are not allowed to change our hair color because then all the wigs would have to change. At the Moulin Rouge we only use real human hair and hairpieces because it is easier to style.

FR: The costumes at the Moulin Rouge must require a lot of maintenance. Could you please talk about what goes into their maintenance?

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: Our costumes are maintained by the Moulin Rouge staff. The staff also looks after our feathered headdresses and backpacks, as well as our shoes. Our shoes are made by the Maison de Claire Foy.

Fanny Rabasse: The Maison de Claire Foy was established in 1945 and the Moulin Rouge bought the footwear company in 2007. The Moulin Rouge also own the feather company that creates all our headdresses and backpacks. Maison de Claire Foy is the only company that makes the secret fabrication for our can-can boots. With our can-can boots you can perform 2,500 can-cans.

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: Our can-can boots are very important because the dancers jump high in the air and land in splits and the boots must support all these acrobatic movements. I no longer perform the can-can; but I did in the beginning of my career at the Moulin Rouge. I now open the can-can by portraying the character of La Galoue, who was a famous can-can dancer, and star of the Moulin Rouge. She is immortalized in the can-can painting by Toulouse Lautrec.

FR: Is there topless dancing at the Moulin Rouge?

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: We have beautiful costumes in the show, all beaded, using Swarovski crystals. In a very elegant way, there is a little exposure, but not in a way that children cannot come to the show. Children, as young as six years of age, can come to the Moulin Rouge. We are a family show.

Fanny Rabasse: When a dancer is first employed at the Moulin Rouge there is one month of training required. You are dancing the can-can and other chorus roles where there is no nudity or topless exposure. Can-can dancers are never topless in the show. Then after one or two years, you can dance with more topless exposure. It is totally up to the dancer and the ballet mistress. Our topless exposure is not covert, but very tasteful. And when we tour, there is no topless exposure at all.

FR: Has the Moulin Rouge ever been closed?

Fanny Rabasse: The only time the Moulin Rouge has been closed since it opened in 1889 was in 1985 for a special performance for Queen Elizabeth in London. The Moulin Rouge only closes for five weeks when we have a new show. The show that is currently running has been on stage for 19 years. We try to keep the show fresh and interesting, so some aspects of the current show have been updated.

FR: The Moulin Rouge is one of the oldest cabaret houses in Paris and famous for the can-can. How has the Moulin Rouge’s shows changed over the years?

Fanny Rabasse: We had a new artistic team arriving in the 1960s. Jacki Clerico took control of the Moulin Rouge in 1962. The new artistic team of Ruggero Angeletti and Doriss Haug have created 10 shows for the Moulin Rouge since the 1960s. The current show at the Moulin Rouge was created by that artistic team. The investment for the current show was $10 million dollars.

The Moulin Rouge has lots of traditions and one the things that has stayed the same since the time of Mistinguett is lots of people on stage and lots of beautiful costumes and sets, beautiful music, and of course the can-can. What has changed is the technical aspects to the show. The Moulin Rouge is going green. Our lights are now solar powered.

FR: Why is the Moulin Rouge, after 130 years, still appealing to tourists and consumers?

Fanny Rabasse: We give people what they want to see. The Moulin Rouge is famous around the world, and it is one of the places you must go and see when you come to Paris. The venue is amazing, the atmosphere is very warm. For an hour and forty-five minutes you forget everything and experience the excitement and the beauty of the Moulin Rouge. It is the pure tradition of French music hall and people want to see and experience that. 

FR: How much would an evening at the Moulin Rouge cost?

Fanny Rabasse: If you come only for the show, the cost is $150 euro which includes champagne. If you want dinner to accompany the show it costs more. There are many famous people that have performed at the Moulin Rouge from Mistinguett, Edith Piaf, Lena Horne to Josephine Baker, Frank Sinatra, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

La Galoue as characterized by Toulouse Latrec and in photos

FR: Let’s talk about the origins of the can-can.

Fanny Rabasse: Most people don’t know this, but the can-can was a dance of protest. Originally, the can-can was called a quadrille—which is a traditional French dance style. However, in 1862 Charles Moulton renamed the dance the can-can because the dancers make noise with their boots, clap, and scream. Can-can means to make noise.

In the 19th century the can-can was a way for women to mock the government, the army, and the church. We have a step in the can-can called the cathedrale. Two dancers hold hands and put their legs together so that it looks like the spire of a church. This step mocked the church. The heel stretch step was a way of mocking the army because it looked like a soldier carrying a gun.

The can-can was a dance of freedom women, symbolizing that they were free and didn’t need anyone.  La Galoue, who danced at the Moulin Rouge in 1889, didn’t need a man to support her because she was a dancer and made her own money. La Galoue was the first woman in Paris to have her own carriage. At the time of Mistinguett in 1910, we had the first topless dancers at the Moulin Rouge, while in the rest of France, women could not go topless at the beach until the 1970s.

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: Overtime, the can-can has become more acrobatic. Currently, our can-can lasts six minutes and dancers are doing lots of splits, kicks, walkovers, and somersaults. The timing of the can-can kicks must be very precise or you will accidentally kick another dancer.

Could you talk a little bit about the couture costumes?

Fanny Rabasse: All our costumes are made in our workshop and they are designed by Claude de la Bonucci. The show has been running for 19 years so sometimes we have to remake the costumes. When we do remake a costume, we remake the costumes exactly as it originally was made. The costumes are the expensive part of the show. Some of our costumes can cost up to $12,000 for each costume.

Images courtesy of Moulin Rouge/Fanny Rabasse

FR: What’s next for you?

Claudine van der Bergh Cook: I am constantly trying to grow as a performer. I am two years in my roles of ‘nostalgie,’ ‘red,’ and ‘Medusa.’ So, I am trying to grow more in these roles which are so different from each other.

—William S. Gooch

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