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

Fashion Reverie’s Fall 2020 Television Shows and Series Roundup

Image courtesy of cravetv.com

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.”

—Robert Frost

The juggernaut that is 2020 continues slouching toward oblivion as people bounce from dire emergency to dire emergency like a tennis ball in the dryer from hell.  While so many things have been canceled, one tradition that will remain is the fall television season, but it will be significantly altered.  Many premiere dates are TBA and all are subject to change. A considerable number of series coming to mainstream television are originally Canadian or BBC productions as networks are trying to pad their autumn schedules. With a desperate need for new programming, it’s time to step out of your comfort zones and try something new.

Image courtesy of nytimes.com

Star Trek Lower Decks” – CBS All Access

Considering the sheer volume of Star Trek spinoffs, it’s surprising that this is the first animation series borne from the Gene Roddenberry classic.  The show focuses on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, the USS Cerritos, in the year 2380. The first episode is available for free on YouTube.

Image courtesy of nytimes.com

LoveCraft Country” – HBO

With this summer seeing race relations in America reaching a boiling point, this JJ Abrams and Jorden Peele produced series couldn’t come at a better time. Based on the Matt Ruff novel, Lovecraft Country, the series follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he meets up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America.  The series puts a supernatural spin on the very real horrors that African Americans faced at that time (and many will argue never went away). This is going to be a wild, exciting, terrifying and eye-opening ride into America’s past (and current) racial scars.

Image courtesy of imdb.com

Woke” – Hulu

In another shockingly timely series addressing racism in America–hmm, maybe these issues have been reaching a critical momentum since before George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’ murders–“Woke” tells the story of Keef (Lamorne Morris), a black cartoonist set to break into mainstream success. After his life is shaken to the core, due to a misunderstanding borne out of an abuse of power and systematic racism, Keef suddenly sees inanimate objects coming to life and cracking wise.  This show addresses many of the same issues as “Lovecraft Country,” but with an absurdist comedic tone.

Image courtesy of imdb.com

The Undoing” – HBO

Were you underwhelmed by the 2nd season of “Big Little Lies”? You and everyone else.  Get ready for “The Undoing.” Written and produced by David E Kelly, it’s a new mini-series starring Nicole Kidman based on the 2014 novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz  set to premiere on HBO this fall. Joyfully living the life of wealthy elite New Yorker, Grace Fraser’s world is rocked due to a violent death and the fallout that threatens to consume her.

image courtesy of filmdaily.com

Mr. Mayor” – NBC

Have you been missing Ted Danson since “Good Place” ended? Never fear, he will return in this upcoming series created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. (The powerhouses behind such shows as “30 Rock” and “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”.) The crux of the show is a wealthy businessman runs for office and becomes the mayor of Los Angeles.  It is a story inspired by a New York politician whose name rhymes with Schloomberg.

Image courtesy of nextepisode.com

Big Sky” – ABC

Visionary storyteller David E. Kelly (“Big Little Lies”) has created this thriller based on a series of books by CJ Box.  The show builds around two private detectives search for two missing teenage girls along a stretch of Montana highway. They promptly discover the mystery goes far deeper than anyone could have imagined. Ryan Phillipe stars as Cody Hoyt.

Image courtesy of denofgeek.com

Clarice” – CBS

Hannibal Lecter has been portrayed in multiple movies and TV series (many say it peaked with Mad Mikkelsen performance) but are we forgetting someone? Juliana Moore portrayed Clarice Starling in 2001 but that was almost 20 years ago! It’s time to bring her back. Set in 1993, a year after the events of “The Silence of the Lambs” (when Agent Starling was played by Jodie Foster), the series takes a hard look at the FBI agent as she traverses the murky waters of investigating murderers and sexual predators amid the landscape of Washington DC politics.

Image courtesy of blackfilm.com

The Equalizer” – CBS

The 1980 TV show has already inspired two theatrical films and now yet another reboot, but with a fabulous twist. This CBS series will feature none other than Queen Latifah! The Grammy-winning performer stars as an enigmatic figure who uses her extensive skills to help those with nowhere else to turn. Created by Andrew Marlowe who also helmed ABC’s long-running “Castle.”

Image courtesy of FOX

Bob’s Burgers” – Fox

With COVID-19 messing with so many production schedules, we are likely to see more animation because it can be produced while safely social distancing. With a firm start date of Sept 27th, viewers will once again greet the Belcher clan at their seaside restaurant with their burger of the day puns (“She’s a super leek burger,” “Hit me with your best shallot burger,” “The Roquefort Files Burger”) and bizarre but delightful musical numbers for their 11th season! Seasons 1-10 are available on Hulu.

With COVID making safe production of shows difficult, if not impossible, many TV series are being pushed back. A lot of shows have premiere dates that are yet to be announced. Here is a quick list of streaming shows you may have missed to help you pass the time.

Search Party” – HBO Max

Bored Millennials get overly involved in the search for a missing college classmate with horrifying results.

At Home with Amy Sedaris” – HBO Max

Part crafting DIY, part sketch comedy with a hefty dash of wildly inappropriate humor thrown in, featuring the deliciously charming Amy Sedaris.

The Floor is Lava” – Netflix
Fun game show where contestants get a cash prize if they can make their way across a room w/o touching the floor.  This frequently results in them getting beaten up badly.

Get Even” – Netflix

Teen girls at an elite British school form a squad to get revenge on bullies only to find themselves framed for murder.

Pushing Daisies” – CW Seed
This forensic fairytale of a show is filled with brutal murders while bursting with color, humor, music, and heart.

Alias Grace” – Netflix

Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, it tells the true story of a murderous maid in 19th century Canada.

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell” – Netflix

Ever wondered what a cooking show written by Tim Burton and directed by David Lynch would be like? This is your chance to find out.

—Cameron Grey Rose

Summer 2020 East Coast Resorts for that Quick Getaway Vacation

Image courtesy of timeout.com

Summer 2020 will surely be a summer to remember. 2020 has been, to say the least, a very unpredictable year. Given the positive outcome of social distancing in New York and surrounding states, there is hope and opportunity to get out of the city in July and August. True, it might not be a trip to Europe, but this is an opportunity to explore some places that are a couple of hours car ride away. You can still feel safe sharing the ride with your family or friends you have already been exposed to and avoid crowded planes that have been an incubus of the COVID-19 virus.

Here are five  East Coast beautiful places you can visit without quarantine requirements upon your return.

Image courtesy of cvent.com

Mystic Seaport

The largest maritime museum in the US is in Connecticut. The perfect place for a little excursion for those that enjoy beautiful views and collections of sailing ships and boats. Mystic Seaport, founded in 1929, consists of more than 60 historic buildings. The Museum is home to four National Historic Landmark vessels, including the Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship and the last wooden whaleship in the world. Mystic Seaport is in Mystic, CT, which is a great place for an overnight stay. By the way; don’t forget to try Mystic Pizza.

Image courtesy of vrbo.com

The Pocono Mountains

Nature. Lakes. Valleys. All in Pennsylvania. There are many options in the Poconos. It all depends whether you are taking kids, a romantic date or you are group of friends just looking to spend some time in nature. This is a place each member of your family could have a day of fun. Golfing, hiking, dining and various adventures await along with many accommodation options. The Poconos are known for great resorts, but renting a house sounds like a great idea, too.

Image courtsy of newportbuzz.com

Newport

Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in the New England state of Rhode Island. Its harbor is full of expensive yachts also known for the annual sailing regatta and some clam chowder famous spots. However, for some biggest attraction in Newport are the Gilded Age mansions on Bellevue Avenue. One of the most famous is The Breakers, an 1895 mansion built to resemble a Renaissance palace.

Image courtesy of newsday.com

Nantucket

Nantucket is a small island 30 miles out to sea. It is also a super popular tourist destination. This beautiful island is known for whaling, Nantucket bay scallops, fog, their three lighthouses, charming Main Street, and quite a few signature activities. The iconic cobbled Main Street extends from the waterfront at Straight Wharf to their iconic brick Pacific National Bank. There are many shops and restaurants, so Nantucket sounds like a dynamic vacation! 

Image courtesy of viator.com

Martha’s Vineyards

Martha’s Vineyards is a bucket list place to visit this summer. Located South of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard is a popular summer colony. You can access the Vineyard visit by water or air. There are very charming towns and lighthouses, sandy beaches, and great restaurants. That said; Martha’s Vineyard is rather expensive, so if you don’t have deep pockets a short weekend vacation there is ideal and will not break your bank.

Tijana Ibrahimovic

 

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

Club Quarantine, The Hottest Summer 2020 Party

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As the globe adjusts to a new reality, the summer music festival season is officially canceled. In its place, the world has been invited to the biggest party on the planet, virtually. The COVID-19 pandemic has given birth to a new type of party, born on social media. “A new temporary way to bond with fans until a return to normal,” says Billboard Magazine. Who knew the power of music and dance could bring people together in times of need? It brings hope as an expressive relief to change the world. With venues and bars shut down from coast to coast, Fashion Reverie helps you jam out to all the hottest live streams and virtual parties during the coronavirus crisis. Without a cover charge, dress code, or drink minimum, feel free to tune in to the ultimate social-distancing dance party.

“I’m excited to see what artists will do following this pandemic,” stated Khyran Shank, a Los Angeles-based artist. It’s safe to say this current pandemic is pushing for not only change in society, but pushing our creativity as well. Integration is nothing new to the fashion world, constantly blurring lines with industry crossovers and brand collaborations. As fashion presentations have started to take place on digital platforms, we recall past fashion shows that utilized influencers, social media, and celebrity guest appearances to their advantage for promoting their seasonal collections. One might ask, how can the fashion industry continue to push the status quo while paving the way for new beginnings during trying times?

Image courtesy of bt.com

Increasing popularity by breaking the internet, social media platforms give brands access to millions of active users worldwide. Finding creative ways to engage their fan base, fashion brands are prioritizing engagement over sales as an extension of their brand personality and voice. In a branded opportunity for retailers, fashion houses are partnering with music streaming services as a way to remind listeners of in-store experiences. Companies, such as H&M, Forever 21, and Starbucks are shifting social media strategies, using musical platforms to offer more of a lifestyle approach to their marketing.

As one of the favorite music streaming platforms and social networks, Spotify is slowly becoming the music hub for fashion accounts. “People don’t just listen to Spotify, they live it,” says Spotify. As brands have become more receptive to the growing influence of social media, technology, and digital apps, the fashion industry has become hyper-connected with new audiences. Dominated by millennial consumers, Spotify speaks to a magnitude of the fashion-conscious target audience. In collaboration with brands such as H&M, Pull&Bear, and Victoria Secret, companies identify Spotify as a promotional tool for a content strategy to reach and engage with their community.

Image courtesy of wnycstudios.com

Other platforms have gotten in on the action as well. Making stay-at-home a little more bearable, Mashable notes “Instagram has announced a series of features. Co-watching allows users to view Instagram posts together with their friends over video chat. Yes, a watch party for Instagram posts.” Whether you’re working from home, seeking daily motivation, or taking a mental break, many creatives such as designer Timo Weiland, Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director Virgil Abloh, entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman, and even Ellen DeGeneres are hosting weekly breakout sessions on Instagram Live. Stuck indoors, live-streaming digital parties promotes social distancing while eliminating the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus and endangering anyone’s health. Described by Refinery 29 as “the creative genius responsible for the international experience that is Club Quarantine,” DJ D-Nice told The New York Times,“Musically we found a way to use tech to unite people, that’s a beautiful thing.”

Be sure to head to The Roots’ YouTube channel on Saturday, June 27 for The Roots Picnic 2020. In its 13th year, the concert is partnering with Michelle Obama to urge voters to use their voices at the ballots this year. Performers include The Roots, H.E.R., Roddy Ricch, Lil Baby, G Herbo and many others. The event will also feature appearances by the former first lady, Janelle Monae, Kerry Washington, Tom Hanks, and more. The Picnic will be streamed here

Also, tune in on July 4th, as PBS will livestream “A Capitol Fourth” at 8 p.m EST, hosted by John Stamos and Vanessa Williams, and featuring performances by Patti LaBelle, John Fogerty, Renée Fleming, The Temptations, Yolanda Adams, and more.

Fashion Reverie’s Curated List of Who’s Who to Follow on Spotify:

Chanel

Marc Jacobs Mixtape Mondays

Alexander McQueen

Reebok

Victoria’s Secret

Glossier

Prada

Kenzo

D-Nice’s Homeschool Playlist on Spotify

Questlove

Jean Touitou

Telfar

Pyer Moss

Paris Fashion Week

—Courtney Wilkins

2020 Books for the Beach, Summer Outings, and Your Summer Downtime

Image courtesy of pentoday.com

It’s summertime and the living is, well, it’s not easy. But as COVID-19 restrictions are being eased, you may find yourself wanting to head to a park or a beach to relax, catch some rays, and lose yourself in a book.  Fashion Reverie has curated a list of new and exciting books that you won’t be able to put down. Make sure you bring some SPF lotion, water, and masks. Because we’re not out of the COVID-19 woods just yet, wash your hands, social distance, and wear that mask! Just make sure you put SPF on your face. You thought tan lines on your shoulders was unseemly, mask lines on your face will be really embarrassing.  

Image courtesy of amazon.com

Chiffon Trenches by Andre Leon Talley

The larger than life former creative director of American Vogue details his career from working with Diana Vreeland at the Costume Institute to stints at Ebony, Interview, WWD and finally working with and developing an unlikely an intimate friendship with Anna Wintour.  Talley pulls no punches in describing the backbreaking work that goes into producing a magazine whose subscribers’ number in the millions. He also broaches the delicate subject of race and how he not only survived but thrived as a black man in the cutthroat world of fashion. There is an entire chapter on Eunice Johnson, and her groundbreaking Ebony Fashion Fair which made it possible for black communities to see haute couture fashion. This man has stories to tell and he is a skilled and talented wordsmith. Fashion Reverie cannot recommend this book enough.

Image courtesy of bustle.com

 The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh

Award-winning writer Laura McHugh returns with another compelling mystery novel set in rural Kansas.  As the town of Blackwater is overrun by the opioid crisis and rampant crime, the local police can’t even fake interest in the death of Sadie Keller’s brother. But Sadie is determined to find out how her brother died, even if no one else thinks it’s worth investigating. Long-buried secrets boil over as the danger intensifies and Sadie comes closer to discovering the truth.

Image courtesy of hypable.com

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters unable to be in the same room together. Their community is rocked when a 9-year-old goes missing. When Dara disappears, Nick is determined to find her sister and reconnect, but uncovers far more than she bargained for.

Image courtesy of changinglaines.com

#MurderTrending and #MurderFunding by Gretchen McNeil

While these books were written a few years ago, their themes of police corruption and false convictions seems painfully timely. Welcome to an America where a reality star is the President and good citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0. The book cuts back and forth between the POV of the falsely convicted Dee Guerrera and the message boards where she, her fellow convicts, and their wildly creative executioners, aka Painiacs, are discussed. Action-packed and surprisingly funny, #MurderTrending and its sequel #MurderFunding are engrossing reads. The third book #NoEscape is due out in September.

Image courtesy of epicurious.com

Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from my African American Kitchen by Alexander Smalls

Celebrated chef and world-renowned opera singer Alexander Smalls combine his two passions”—food and music”—in Meals, Music, and Muses. Smalls takes his readers on a mouthwatering tour through the South, exploring the recipes that have shaped the area. Each chapter is named for a type of music, guiding readers into the heart and soul of these delicious foods.

This book contains many classic Southern recipes as well as twists on old favorites, including Hoppin’ John Cakes with Sweet Pepper Remoulade, Carolina Bourbon BBQ Shrimp, Okra Skewers and main dishes like Roast Quail in Bourbon Cream Sauce, and Prime Rib Roast with Crawfish Onion Gravy.

Image courtesy of kobo.com

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios is excited for the summer when her father will visit her in the Dominican Republic. But when she goes to meet his plane, she finds crowds of people weeping. Meanwhile, in New York City, Yahaira Rios is summoned to the principal’s office, her mother is waiting to give her the bad news that her father, her hero, has died. Separated by miles and their father’s secrets, the two girls try to adjust to a new reality only to find out they have a sister.

Image courtesy of amazon.com

What We Inherit by Jessica Pearce Rotondi

This stunning nonfiction book centers around a real-life mystery. When her mother passes away, among her belongings Jessica finds, letters, declassified CIA reports, and newspaper clippings shedding light on a family ghost; her uncle Jack who disappeared in 1972.  A memoir, a spy novel, a travelogue, and an investigative report that moves with the energy of a thriller, this haunting true story will stay with you.

Image courtesy of goodreads.com

The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

With restrictions on international travel pretty much killing all of our summer plans, why not take a literary trip through Athens and Rome?  When Charlotte Perkins wins a family cruise, she decides to use the time to reunite with her estranged children. Delicious and smart, this book was chosen by Reese Witherspoon for her book club.

Image courtesy of tomandlorenzo.com

Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life by Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez

Tom and Lorenzo, of the eponymous enthralling fashion blog and deliciously sassy podcast, have written a fascinating tome that looks at last century of queer history through the prism of the gayest show on television, “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Like settling in to hear stories from your favorite bitchy uncles, this delightful book takes you through the queer history that has been left out the mainstream academia. It’s not a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” book. It uses the show as a jumping-off point and a connection to the mainstream—as arguably it’s the largest connection to queer culture. Really though this is a history book full of color, life, and determination in the 20th century.

—Cameron Grey Rose

Fashion Reverie’s Summer 2020 Movie Guide

Image courtesy of NY EATER

Well, it’s almost summer!  What better way to take a break from the heat than by settling into a dark air-conditioned theater and take in a show? Well, this year, things may be a bit different. As the curve of infections from the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to flatten, plans are being made to re-open movie theaters with reduced capacity perhaps as soon as July.

In the meantime, some films that were meant to be released in theaters might be moved to VOD or postponed. Fashion Reverie has curated a list of fantastic summer movies, their release dates and the platforms they’ll be released on.

One of the surprising side effects of the pandemic is that drive-ins are coming back. For any of our readers under 35, a drive-in is a giant iPhone screen you watch through your cars’ windshield.  In previous summers, Shakespeare in the Park was the hot ticket for New Yorkers, but it’s canceled this year. This summer’s hot ticket is the drive-in at the Bel Aire Diner in Queens, which saw tickets sell out in minutes. Drive-ins are the only way to see a movie in a large audience while still social distancing. Check your local area and you may find drive-ins popping up all over, and not just for movies!

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The Vast of Night – Available on Amazon Prime

It’s unlikely you’ve heard of this inventive sci-fi film. This movie was passed on by most major film festivals due to its microbudget and complete lack of stars. But don’t let it pass you by. Unable to afford high-end special effects, director Andrew Patterson focuses on mood, lighting, and dialogue to tell the story of a fictional 1950s New Mexico town called Cayuga. While the majority of the town is taking in a high school basketball game, a local DJ and phone operator begin to suspect something might be out there.

Image courtesy of rollingstone.com

Da 5 Bloods – Available on Netflix June 12th

Just months after receiving an Academy Award for “BlackkKlansmen,” Spike Lee will debut his first Netflix feature “Da 5 Bloods.” Centering on a group of aging African American vets, they return to Vietnam to retrieve the body of their fallen squad leader (played by Chadwick Boseman) along with some treasure they buried in the jungle during the Vietnam War. Cutting back and forth in time, the film explores the bond of brotherhood that brought the former warriors together and the lingering scars that threaten to pull them all apart.

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Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga – Available on Netflix June 26th

Eurovision, the epic European song contest, has been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But if you’re desperate for some good songs set to some mind-blowing staging, check out this parody starring Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell as Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir competing with their pop tune “Volcano man.” In an odd twist, filming in Iceland ended just days before a nearby volcano actually erupted.

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The King of Staten Island – VOD starting July 12th

Pete Davidson stars as Scott, a man in his twenties still living with his mother on Staten Island and caught in a state of arrested development ever since his firefighter father was killed on 9/11. As his younger sister heads off to college and his mother begins dating a firefighter, he’s forced to find direction in his life.

Image courtesy of liveforfilms.com

Relic – In theatres and VOD starting July 10th

Looking for some psychological horror in the vein of “Hereditary”? When Edna, the elderly and widowed matriarch of the family, goes missing, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam travel to their remote family home to find her. They find more than they bargained for.

Image courtesy of ew.com

Sometimes Always Rarely Never – VOD July 10th

This film festival darling was going into wide release in March but was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is available on Amazon and on VOD July 10th.  It tells the harrowing story of a fragile teenager being forced to cross state lines to seek an abortion. Director Eliza Hittman hits all the right notes in her directorial debut.

Image courtesy of theverge.com

Tenet – in theaters July 17th

Unfortunately, Fashion Reverie doesn’t know much about this film, but that is only making us more excited to see it. Cast and crew have been sworn to secrecy and there have been no critic screenings. Here’s what we do know: John David Washington and Robert Pattison star as spies tasked with preventing World War III from being started by villain Kenneth Branagh. (Is he the villain? Branagh recently admitted in an interview, he’s not sure.) How does time travel factor in? It’s anybody guess, but clearly from the trailer and the whopping 200-million budget, this will be action-packed thinkfest. See it in IMAX if you can. Director Christopher Nolan is optimistic he can keep the July 17th opening date.

Image courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: Sponge on the Run – in theaters August 7th

Looking for some family-friendly fare? It’s the return of SpongeBob to the big screen!  SpongeBob and Patrick travel to the lost town of Atlantic City to solve the mysterious kidnapping of Gary the snail.

Image courtesy of indiewire.com

Wonder Woman 1984 – in theaters August 14th

Get ready for kick-ass action and some new wave hits! Director Patty Jenkins follows up her 2017 blockbuster with a new story set in, you guessed it, 1984. During the Cold War, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) comes into conflict with two formidable foes—media businessman Maxwell Lord and friend-turned-enemy Barbara Ann Minerva/Cheetah—while reuniting with her love interest Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine.

Image courtesy of denofgeek.com

Antebellum – in theaters August 21st

With its original release date delayed, this film directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, stars Janelle Monae as a modern-day successful author magicked back into the 19th century as a slave on a Louisiana plantation coming face-to-face with her ancestors.

Image courtesy of NME

Quiet Place 2 – in theaters Sept 2nd

John Krasinski scored a critical and commercial hit with his directorial debut “Quiet Place,” starring his wife Emily Blunt. He returns with “Quiet Place 2” which follows his family as they continue to battle aliens. Flashbacks tells how the attack began.

—Cameron Rose

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

Bingeable Fashion Documentaries, Film, and Television Series

As this stay-at-home quarantine wears on, we’re all getting awfully restless. Are you looking for a way to pass the time? Fashion Reverie has put together another list of fashion friendly bingeable content to keep you sane as we wait for this madness to end. NeYC

Amazon Prime

Image courtesy of indiewire.com

Making the Cut

Ever see something on “Project Runway” that you wanted to buy? Except for a few tie-ins with Macy’s, almost none of the looks were mass produced. However, on “Making the Cut” produced by Amazon, each week the winning look will be available in limited quantities. While the format is nearly identical to “Project Runway,” Amazon clearly provided the show with a big budget–the runway shows are spectacular!and a lot of freedom. The real star is Naomi Campbell as a judge, who clearly has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and a biting razor sharp wit.

Image courtesyof amazon.com

McQueen

This 2017 documentary tackles the dark genius of troubled designer Alexander McQueen. The film explores his extraordinary and deeply controversial collections that made headlines with every showing. Interviews with close friends and family create a rounded portrait of this tortured fashion visionary who took his own life in 2010.

Image courtesy of Amazon Prime

First Monday in May

The Met Gala will not be taking place this year; cancelled because of COVID-19 concerns. Referred to as “The Superbowl of Fashion” this 2016 documentary goes behind the scenes, taking a hard look at how this complicated night comes together, and how tightly Anna Wintour controls it. Don’t take it too hard if you never get in, Wintour personally reviews each invite and reserves the right to revoke them for any reason.

Netflix

Image courtesy of netflix.com

Next in Fashion

On the surface this seems like just another “Project Runway” clone but hosts Tan France and Alexa Chung make it fun and interesting. The contestants are skilled professionals who have already made a name for themselves in fashion but are looking to take it to the next level. So, no tacky home craft fashion here.  

Image courtesy of netflix.com

Styling Hollywood

Meet Jason Bolden and his husband, interior designer Adair Curtis as they create looks for Hollywood stars. This series, which charts an awards season in the life of the stylist Jason Bolden, carefully outlines the serious craft of costuming a star for a red-carpet performance. In passing asides and straight-to-camera testimonies, Jason shares his strategies for flattering clients’ figures and playing to their personalities.

Image courtesy of tvguide.com

Pose

Ryan Murphy explores New York City’s African American and Latino LGBTQ and gender-non-conforming ballroom culture scene of the 1980s. From episode one, where a daring heist “liberates” several priceless royal gowns from a museum–Murphy insists it’s based on a true story–you’ll see some eye-popping fashion as well as some the best music from the 1980s. Make sure you have tissues handy, the AIDS epidemic rears its ugly head more than once.

Image courtesy of youtube.com

Gossip Girl

Remember this soapy drama from the aughts? It featured rich Upper Eastside teens –played by actors in their 20’s–who thanks to their parents’ deep pockets wore some of the best fashion of the decade.  Has there ever been a better time to dive into six seasons of escapist fun? Make sure to read the Netflix synopsis. Whoever wrote them was clearly having a good time.

Image courtesy of adweek.com

Schitt’s Creek

This heartwarming show just ended its six-year run (Season 6 is not yet on Netflix.) But despite the odd title, “Schitt’s Creek” is wonderfully funny and features some of the best fashion on television. It tells the story of the Rose family, once home video titans, but thanks to a corrupt business manager the Rose family find themselves bankrupt. Creator Dan Levy said it was important to him that the Roses hung onto their high-end clothes to symbolize their past. Levy insisted on purchasing genuine designer garments for the cast.   An entire episode revolves around Moira Rose ordering a $3700 Pamela Rolland dress.  

Cameron Grey Rose

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