Fashion Reverie’s NYFW Eats Roundup

Image courtesy of hollywoodreporter.com

Overheard at a Zac Posen afterparty

Woman 1: They are giving us all this vodka, but they aren’t giving us any food?

Woman 2: These people think vodka is food.

New York is having an in-person fashion week! Hooray! NYFW: The Shows is going to be smaller than previous weeks but with New York vaccination rates on the rise—all attendees must show proof of vaccination to enter—91 designers are ready to go! One of the best things about New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is it feels like a class reunion. You see people you only communicate with via email and now everyone can safely hug and chat.

We’ve all been stuck at home for too long. So, what if you want to grab old friends and head out for a meal together? NYFW has three basic hubs this year—although shows and events are scattered all over the city—so Fashion Reverie has compiled a list of sit-down restaurants and chic bars for friends to sip and gab. Contact these restaurants to see if they require lunch reservations (most don’t, but it never hurts to check).  Make sure you have your vaccination cards; they are now required for indoor dining. And PLEASE be generous with your tips and be kind to your servers. Their jobs are hard and everyone in the hospitality industry is hurting right now.

 

NYFW Venue 1: 608 5th Avenue

Image courtesy of NYCGO

Fig + Olive, 10 E 52nd St, Between Madison and Fifth
Comfortable and full of light, Fig + Olive is known for their fresh Mediterranean-inspired menu and elegant décor. Perfect for friendly meals or business lunches, the 52nd Street location is a quick four block walk from NYFW: The Shows. The trio of Crostini is a siren song to any foodies’ heart. The pan-seared salmon with your choice of whipped herb feta or lemon oil is a delicious, but not too filling, lunch. There is an extensive wine menu and delicious cocktails. Fashion Reverie recommends the Cucumber Cosmo as a not too sweet refreshing afternoon treat.

Image courtesy of Marriott

Bill’s Bar & Burger, 16 West 51st St
Looking for something a bit more casual? You won’t have any trouble getting a table at Bill’s Bar and Burger. With 400 seats, this fun eatery is the biggest stand-alone burger joint on the globe. You can build your own burger with a large selection of toppings. Their standout side is their disco fries smothered in deliciously rich gravy. They carry a full bar, with signature cocktails and boozy milk shakes. Pretty much everything is deep fried, so this will be your cheat day. Dining with a vegetarian? Bill’s has their own meat free plant based Beyond Burger and, believe it or not, they do have salads.  Extra note: Bill’s Bar & Burger is one of Fashion Reverie’s favorite haunts during NYFW!!

Bar Sixty Five image courtesy of NYMAG

Bar Sixty Five, 30 Rockefeller Plaza
So, when the working day is done, boys and girls just wanna have fun! Just around the corner from The Shows at the Top of the Rock is the elegant and gorgeous Bar Sixty Five.  Perfect for an evening with legendary cocktails, as well as scrumptious bar bites, this iconic lounge is tucked away on the 65th floor of Rockefellar Plaza.  The sweeping views of the city will take your breath away. While not an inexpensive place, the striking art deco décor and delectable menu designed by head chef Matthew Woolf will make your visit worth every penny. While they do accept walk-ins, it’s a wise move to call ahead and to make sure you get a table.

 

NYFW Venue #2: Spring Studios 6 St Johns Lane

Image courtesy of The New Yorker

Frenchette, 214 W Broadway Between Walker and White

This uber popular restaurant, with its expertly designed menu of French classics from celebrity chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson, exploded on the scene in 2018 and had lines around the block! Sadly, due to the pandemic the eatery was forced to temporarily close, but as of August 31st they are open! Get in there before word gets around and lines get long again. You cannot go wrong with anything on the menu, but Fashion Reverie loves their crackly skinned, drippings-soaked Poulet Roti. But pay attention to anything with an egg, as this establishment elevates this simple food to unspeakable heights.

Image courtesy of infautation.com

Bubby’s, 120 Hudson St

Looking for some good old-fashioned American comfort food? Look no further than Bubby’s on Hudson Street with its scrumptious rib sticking staples like blueberry pancakes and fried chicken. It’s all good.  With their traditional appetizing menu, you’ll swear your grandmother is working in the kitchen. Don’t you dare leave without having a piece of pie. You can even buy a full pie to take home. One quick warning—if you have vegetarians in your house, some of the crusts are made with beef lard. It may not be healthy, but it makes crusts moist, flaky and delicious.

Brandy Library image courtesy of NYCGO

Brandy Library, 25 N Moore between Varick and Hudson

There is no better place to catch up with a friend or to impress a business contact than Brandy Library. With a thick bound book featuring a whopping 120 classic cocktails and a huge selection of cognacs including a 1918 Darroze Armagnac that runs $650 for a two-ounce pour, it’s impossible to not find something you’ll like.  There is also a selection of yummy bar bites including sushi and delectable entrees to make sure you don’t drink on an empty stomach.

 

NYFW Venue #3: Gotham Hall 1356 Broadway

Image courtesy of Bryant Park Conservatory

Bryant Park Grill, located in Bryant Park

Take advantage of your proximity to Bryant Park, and mild fall weather, to chow down on the wonderfully fresh and tasty menu at Bryant Park Grill with its stunning nature views and relaxed, yet upscale atmosphere. It’s so hard to find outdoor seating in midtown (and let’s just be real, eating in the bus turn lane is terrifying), but this place has it in spades.  Tuck into the refreshing gazpacho or the excellent wild mushroom ravioli. With a full bar and creative cocktails, you simply can’t go wrong here.

Image courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Izakaya MEW, 53 West 35th St

If you’re looking for a more casual place, new addition Izakaya MEW serves tasty dumplings, hot ramen and satisfying sushi in a relaxing atmosphere. They have jazz at night, but the daytime is more laid back. So laid back they even have beer slushies on the menu. Make sure you get the excellent gyoza dumplings for the table before you tuck into those slushies. The salmon sashimi taco is more of an acquired taste, but it does give you a story to tell.

Image courtesy of rooftopguide.com

Monarch Rooftop, 71 West 35th St

As NYFW draws to a close and your feet are aching, it’s time to head to the rooftop at Monarch.  There’s dancing but of course you may just be in the mood to dent the chairs while noshing on their upscale bar bites washed down with expertly crafted cocktails, while drinking in the sweeping views of city lights. An ideal midtown place to have a relaxing evening while catching up with friends.

Fashion Reverie’s Fall 2021 Movie Roundup

Image courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter

Blue Bayou

The pressing issues of immigration and fate of people brought to the United States as children comes to a head in “Blue Bayou,” a new film by director Justin Chou. With a wife, young stepdaughter and a baby on the way, Antonio LeBlanc struggles to find work in the small Louisiana town he’s lived in since age 3.  He never considered that a run in with police could result in his possible deportation to a country he doesn’t remember and whose language he does not speak. Will they be able to fight ICE to keep Antonio with his family?

Image courtesy of Billboard

Dear Evan Hansen

The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical comes to the big screen with Ben Platt reprising his role as the titular Evan Hansen. Evan is a depressed high school senior suffering from social anxiety and working with a counselor to treat it. Due to a misunderstanding, Evan finds himself cast as the best friend of a classmate, Connor, who recently committed suicide, despite barely knowing the boy. The film stars Academy Award nominee Amy Adams as Connor’s mother and Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore as Evan’s mother.  Directed by Stephen Chbosky, the film keeps the songs from the original musical, so it will be interesting to see how this modern musical is staged on screen.

Image courtesy of CNN

The Many Saints of Newark

Campaigns for a “Sopranos” movie had to be scrapped when James Gandolfini unexpectedly died of heart attack during a trip to Italy in 2013.  Forced to rethink the film, plans were made for a prequel explaining how a young Tony Soprano became involved with the mafia as a teenager, when he was pulled into violent gang wars with the increasingly powerful DiMeo crime family. Caught up in the changing times by the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti, the film explores how Tony will grow up to a powerful mob boss and leader of his own crime family.


James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Paloma (Ana de Armas), Image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios film/Nicola Dove

No Time to Die

Delayed due to COVID-19, this October we will see Daniel Craig’s final appearance as James Bond in this epic film with a mind boggling 250 million-dollar budget. Five years after Bond bids adieu to his job at MI6, he is called back by a CIA agent. A brilliant scientist has been kidnapped and is being used to build a weapon that could kill millions by supervillain Lyutsifer Safin (that name!) played with delicious malice by Oscar winner Rami Malek. The screenplay has 4 authors including the creator and star of “Fleabag,” Phoebe Waller-Bridge, so hopefully we’ll be looking at an amazing story to go with the eye-popping special effects. Daniel Craig will be going out with a bang!

Image courtesy of CNET

Dune

Frank Hubert’s classic science fiction novel last saw the big screen in David Lynch’s 1984 rendition, legendary for its awfulness, the most egregious faults being the effects that no one would ever call ‘special.’ But computer-generated graphics have come a long in the past 25 years. In the distant future, battles rage on the dangerous desert planet called Arrakis for control of its natural deposits of “Spice,” the most valuable substance in the universe.  Timothée Chalamet stars as Paul Atreides, a young man accompanying his father Duke Leto Atreides (played by Oscar Issac) to the planet to fight for control of mining operations. But what about Paul’s prophetic dreams?

Image courtesy of verge.com

Last Night in Soho

Thomasin McKenzie plays Eloise, a shy young woman who has just relocated to London to study fashion.  She finds herself mysteriously able to enter 1960s London using the body of Sandie (Anna Taylor-Joy), a sexy nightclub singer as her avatar. Is she dreaming? Has she found a time portal? Or is she simply losing her mind?

As Eloise finds herself getting more lost in the past, she realizes something dangerous is afoot and neither she nor Sandie might not make it out alive. This sexy psychological horror film from Edgar Wright, the celebrated director of “Baby Driver,” was scheduled to be in theaters last year but had to be postponed due to COVID-19. It will arrive just in time for Halloween!

Image courtesy of cinemabland.com

Spencer

Diana, Princess of Wales, remains the star of the British Royal family despite having the distinct disadvantage of being dead for almost 25 years. It doesn’t matter. The public continues to adore this fascinating woman. Now comes this biopic from Pablo Larraín, the acclaimed director of “Jackie,” dissecting 3 days in 1991 during Christmas holidays with the royal family at Sandringham House. Kristen Stewart stars at the troubled Princess and despite not bearing a strong physical resemblance to the late Diana, critics are praising her performance as nailing the body language and presenting a strong lived in accent. Fashion Reverie will be in line opening day.  

Image courtesy of consequence.com

House of Gucci

If the film wasn’t based on a true story, people would be saying this over-the-top tale of money, fashion and murder is ridiculously unbelievable. Based on the book of the same name by Sara Gay Forden and directed by the legendary Ridley Scott, the film examines the 1995 murder of Maurizio Gucci (played by Academy Award-nominee Adam Driver) orchestrated by his wife Patrizia Reggiani Gucci. Lady Gaga plays Patrizia and while some are saying this is another Oscar bid, despite Gaga being Italian (there is a supercut on Youtube of her saying she’s Italian during interviews that goes for an hour!), more than a few critics have commented that her accent is terrible. Still, this will be a wild, fun ride as Patrizia is as noted in the film is “a real firecracker.” Convicted of the murder in 1998, she would serve 18 years for the crime. Offered an early parole on work release, Patrizia refused saying “I’ve never worked a day in my life, I’m not going to start now.”

Image courtesy of vulture.com

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

A new film from director Michael Showalter will depict the history of controversial televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker from their meteoric rise in the 1970s to their scandal soaked 80’s which ended with Jim Bakker’s conviction on fraud and embezzlement charges. Jessica Chastain (who also produced and does all her own singing in the film) stars as Tammy Faye in all her heavily made-up glory, from dealing with her battle with an addiction to prescription drugs to her controversial support of the LGBT community at the height of the AIDS crisis. When Tammy insisted on having AIDS activist Steve Pieters on her PTL show to dispel myths about the disease, fellow faith leaders were outraged. Vengeful PTL executives destroyed the footage, but thanks to VHS copies it lives on youtube.  

Tammy Faye lost her battle with cancer in July 2007 but Jim Bakker remains active in the televangelist community to this day. He was sued for selling fake COVID-19 cures in 2020.

—Cameron Grey Rose

Stylist Eric Daman Speaks about the Reboot of “Gossip Girl”

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“Gossip Girl,” the popular television series about New York City’s young Upper East Side socialites, has been rebooted for a new generation on HBOMax. This time around, and in the spirit of Gen Z, the show features a more diverse cast of characters in terms of race and sexuality. Fans of the original “Gossip Girl” loved many things about the show, particularly the fashion, with the original “Gossip Girl” characters donning designer threads ranging from Henri Bendel to Gucci.

Fashion played such a huge role in “Gossip Girl,” because it is a challenge to portray a young New York socialite without looking the part. Enter Eric Daman, costume designer of the original “Gossip Girl” series, who was tapped to return and outfit the 2021 reboot. In the decade plus since the show first premiered, the style and fashion trends of the Upper East Side have evolved. Daman knows the who, what, and where of young New York City socialites’ style, and he expertly brings it to the television screen.

Image courtesy of uccexpress.com

FR: You costumed the original series. Tell us about the conversation and process of getting you on board for this reboot of “Gossip Girl.”

Eric Daman: Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who developed the original show, contacted me about the diversity of the new cast, and that the new storylines would show people of different races and sexualities. That was a big factor in me wanting to come back.

I have a legacy factor attached to my name, having costumed the original “Gossip Girl,” so Josh and Stephanie really hoped I’d return for the reboot. I came on board hoping to pioneer some fashion for a new generation.

FR: How did you conceptualize the style of each character?

Eric Daman: My degree is in French literature. I went to school at Paris-Sorbonne University, so it was beat into me to look at all aspects of stories and plot. I carry that attitude into reading scripts and try to peel back each characters’ personality like an onion.

For the character of Julien, I looked at things like how her dad is a music producer and was probably a DJ in late ‘90s and early 2000s. I think about how that would have influenced what Julien grew up with in terms of fashion and what she would have nostalgia for. With her character, I looked at the early 2000s VMAs and red-carpet moments with TLC, Destiny’s Child, and early Rihanna. I thought about how Julien would emulate that for the current day, which brought me to designers like LaQuan Smith and Christopher John Rogers. LaQuan Smith felt so much like a modern-day version of Destiny’s Child at the VMAs.  Instagram was a huge part of my research in developing the character’s style, especially since it’s such an essential plot point in the “Gossip Girl” reboot.

With the character of Zoya, who comes from a different socioeconomic class and is very socio-politically conscious, I had those aspects reflected in her wardrobe. Her tote bags for school are from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) owned bookstores. She wears a lot of vintage graphic tee shirts from the ‘90s. Zoya also has a NAMES Project tee shirt, which is a nod back to the AIDS epidemic era and those who died from AIDS causes. It’s an era that has come up a lot recently as people compare it to the current COVID-19 pandemic. It was exciting to play with sociopolitical messaging through wardrobe.

Image courtesy of crfashionbook.com

FR: The show is set in NYC’s upper crust Upper East Side (UES) neighborhood. How do you think UES style has changed in the decade since the original show?

Eric Daman: There’s been a huge overhaul in style. Upper East Side style has become much more unbuttoned in a way. There’s a more relaxed approach. The advent of athleisure has changed everything we know about how we dress. The show has come a long way from when Blair Waldorf said leggings are not pants. Now, crocs and sweatpants are almost everywhere.

There’s like an alpha and omega of how different the times are right now. We’re reentering the early 2000s in terms of style, and next we’ll be emulating the late 2000s. Fashion is cyclical, so next thing you know we’ll be inspired by the last seasons of the original “Gossip Girl.”

FR: What designers and brand to do you think represent how Upper East Side fashionistas dress now?

Eric Daman: It’s more of an open playing field now. There’s a new interest in thrift and purchasing luxury brands from the past. The Christian Dior Saddle bag is cool right now. People want heritage luxury brands, but they want vintage pieces. They are more conscious about sustainability, and that’s a big part of the fashion conservation.

Thrifting and buying luxury labels second-hand are big right now because it’s sustainable, one-of-a-kind, and not everyone is walking down the street with these pieces. You see people carrying the tiny pink Prada nylon totes again, and those were popular in the early 2000s.

FR: The original “Gossip Girl” debuted in 2007. How have your costume choices reflected the evolution of style in the past 14 years?

Eric Daman: The opulence and ostentatious styling of the old days was heavier handed, candy-coated, layered, and bright. The character Serena on the original show would wear six MCL bracelets and three Steven Dweck necklaces at once. This new generation is more paired back and minimal. Gen Z has a desire to be comfortable and casual, but look incredible and idiosyncratic at the same time.

Those traits of this generation helped me decide how to dress these characters when it came to things like XXL, oversized clothes that harked back to the ‘90s, but done in a modern way. I paired oversized Celine sweatshirts with biker shorts. A lot of old school rules were thrown out of the window for the reboot. The school uniforms were the biggest adjustment we were doing this time around.

New York City is a constant source of inspiration for me. Early in preparation for the show, I was walking downtown, and Grace Church School let out, and there was a flood of four young girls who came out wearing oversized collegiate vibe clothes with biker shorts and Fila sneakers. Hailey Bieber then appeared everywhere in the oversized Princess Diana style sweatshirts with biker shorts. I thought that was the right tone to go with for the school uniforms. School uniforms are so iconic. We all have that nostalgia for the schoolboy and schoolgirl uniform look. It’s a fun vibe to play with.

Image courtesy of Gossip Girls

FR: How did you keep the characters wardrobe choices fresh and current when viewers are so familiar with the characters from the original series?

Eric Daman: These characters are such a different group of kids, and we are in such a different era. It was easy to switch off the idea that we weren’t emulating the original characters, like Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen. That wasn’t the fashion direction at all, which is what made coming back to costume this show exciting.

We threw out the old-world rules. While some of these kids were a bit newer money I’d say, you have someone like Monet, who is the richest girl in school, so she looks more old money. Monet has some Blair Waldorf type, Balmain-inspired moments. Julien has that free spiritedness that Serena van der Woodsen had when it came to fashion, but it’s catered toward more of an Instagram generation and her social media followers.

FR: What brands did you use in the original series that you also used for the reboot?

Eric Daman: A lot of the big fashion houses transitioned with us from the original show for the reboot including Chanel, Valentino, Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga. I had great relationships with these brands from working with them on the later seasons of original “Gossip Girl” and they were thrilled to come on board.

FR: What new brands and designers did you incorporate for the revamp?

Eric Daman: We used Monse quite a bit, and both Julien and the character Monet wear those designers in many episodes. The character Luna likes to wear her Telfar bag a lot. We used more Stella McCartney for the women this season, who isn’t a new designer, but with sustainability being such a big topic in fashion, she was very fitting for this era. Stella McCartney was an early adapter of vegan fashion and faux leather usage.

Christopher John Rogers fashion show in “Gossip Girls” image courtesy of wornontv.net

FR: The Christopher John Rogers fashion show was quite a feat to include in the show. Talk to us about the process of making that happen and costuming that scene.

Eric Daman: That was an incredible coup. Christopher is an amazing designer I’ve had my eye on for a while. Going into costuming “Gossip Girl, I felt he was one of the freshest faces in New York City as far as designers go. His collections felt so linked to the original show with the bright colors, taffeta, tulle, and the debutante vibes, so his clothes felt so cool and current.

When the script came out, an episode called for a fashion show. The producers hadn’t locked in a designer for that. Executives were hoping for a bigger, corporate house to do the fashion show, but after talking with the team we wanted something just cool and downtown chic.

I’m friends with Tyler McCall, editor-in-chief of Fashionista.com, who introduced Christopher and I through Christopher’s public relations team. Christopher was a huge fan of the original “Gossip Girl” and said the show was a huge influence on him becoming a designer. The collection featured in the show no one had really got to see because in-person New York Fashion Week was cancelled due to the pandemic, so the show became his way of debuting the collection.

I worked with Christopher and the director of the specific episode to select the clothes that would fit best within production design. Christopher was very involved and made sure the moment stayed true to his DNA.  We featured models he used in his lookbook and the hair and makeup were inspired by his past runway shows. It was a true communication highway between my team and Christopher to stay true to what would have been his vision.

— Kristopher Fraser

Fashion Reverie’s Fall 2021 TV Picks

Image courtesy of tvline.com

Yipee! Fall TV is back! In 2020, fall TV was extremely limited due to having to work around COVID-19 restrictions. Several production companies simply shut down due to not being able to get insurance.  While studios are not quite back at pre-pandemic levels (and it remains to be seen how the deadly Delta variant will impact show business), we’re getting a good crop of new shows this fall.  There is a huge glut of reality competition shows. Studios love them as they are inexpensive to produce and can be done far more quickly than scripted multi-camera shows.  Fashion Reverie will not be commenting on them, focusing on the dramas, comedies, and dramedies coming to your screens this autumn!  

Image courtesy of Netflix

The Chair 

This limited series from Netflix stars the always likable and engaging Sandra Oh as Jin-Yoon Kim, a dedicated academic who has risen to become the first-ever female chairperson of a prestigious university’s English department.  The show manages to mine laughs from the dry and extremely Caucasian world of academia while addressing serious issues faced by women and people of color in that environment.  

The Wonder Years 

Yes, it’s a “Wonder Years” reboot, which on the surface sounds like a terrible idea. But, instead of simply recreating the classic 80’s show, this version, narrated by Don Cheadle, uses humor and grace to focus on a Black family dealing with the turmoil of the civil rights movement in 1960s Montgomery, Alabama. It stars Elisha “EJ” Williams as 12-year-old Dean Williams and Dulé Hill (of “West Wing” fame) as Dean’s father. The show is executive produced by “Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels, so we can expect the show to confront some of the painful history the South has with racism and a soundtrack peppered with some fabulous music.

Queens 

Speaking of fabulous music, Eve, Brandy, Naturi Naughton, and Nadine Velazquez will be starring in the upcoming ABC drama series “Queens.”  Hip hop group Nasty Bitches were at the top of their game in the 1990s, topping the charts and winning hearts with explicit and empowering lyrics about sexuality. The women, now in their 40’s, have drifted apart but a chance meeting inspires them to consider giving stardom a second chance. Having attracted several top-tier musicians to this project, some excellent tunes will no doubt be forthcoming.  

Image courtesy of Wilmington Star

Welcome to Flatch 

A documentary crew sets out to explore the lives of residents in a small American town; they stumble upon the Midwestern town of Flatch, which is made up of many eccentric personalities. “Welcome to Flatch” is written and executive-produced by Emmy Award winner Jenny Bicks, and directed and executive-produced by Emmy Award nominee Paul Fieg. It stars Sean William Scott as Father Joe, the local spiritual leader, and Aya Cash is the girlfriend he dumped after she followed him to Flatch. 

Image courtesy of tvshowpilot.com

Pivoting 

Four friends from childhood now facing a slide into middle age are taken aback when one of them suddenly dies.  Realizing life is short, the trio decides to take stock and find bliss. While this sort of sounds like an unauthorized reboot of “Desperate Housewives,” it has attracted some real star talent in Ginnifer Goodwin and the effortlessly charming Eliza Coupe.

 

Image courtesy of deadline.com

Big Leap  

Well, this is new—a scripted drama following contestants on a reality show, “The Big Leap”, starring Scott Foley and Teri Polo in the ballet-themed dramedy. The reality show is built on the theme of second chances and follows contestants as they compete to be in a production of “Swan Lake.”  But will the reality show aspect shatter their already fragile spirits?  Already Fox executives are excitedly comparing it to “Glee” and predicting a smash hit. 

(Photo by: Sarah Enticknap/NBC)

La Brea 

When a massive sinkhole opens under Los Angeles, citizens are plunged into a prehistoric world and forced to figure out how to survive. Natalie Zea stars as a mother who falls into the terrifying world with her son.  Meanwhile, her daughter and husband who were left behind struggle to figure out where their loved ones have gone and how to get them back.  For years networks have been desperately trying to recreate the success of “Lost.” Will this be the golden ticket? Fashion Reverie is optimistic.  

Image courtesy of harpersbazaar.com

You 

Saving the best for last, the mega-hit “You” will return for a 3rd season in 2021. Netflix still refuses to release an exact release date and has been stingy with details. What we do know is we will return to Joe (Penn Badgley) as he unhappily settles into suburban life with his pregnant wife Love (Victoria Pedretti). How will fatherhood impact his murderous ways?  But what about Joe’s mysterious neighbor he’s slowly becoming transfixed with? Showrunner and co-creator Sera Gamble did squash one rumor about the woman Joe observed through a fence at the end of Season 3. “She’s definitely not his mom.”

—Cameron Grey Rose

Last-Minute 2021 Summer Vacation Spots

Image courtesy of syracuse.com

Remember last summer? Well it is encouraging to know that the world has improved since we were taken over by the COVID-19 pandemic. We now have COVID vaccines and we can travel and travel abroad!! With these fantastic vaccines we can experience a semi-normal summer; however, make sure you check what requirements are necessary to enter another country because you do not want to be delayed or denied entry. (Always have your COVID-19 vaccination card with or on your Smart phone.)

You still have time to take some last-minute summer trips and make some more 2021 memories. There are some great opportunities since most airlines are offering extra flexibility and there are deals to be taken advantage of. Fashion Reverie picked 5 most convenient options! 

Image courtesy of dreamof italy.com

Italy

This could be your last opportunity to fly Air Italia since the air company has been sold to ITA who is taking over in October. Best is to visit Rome for a few days and then go to your preferred destination. Most people prefer the Amalfi Coast, but we say why don’t you go another more exotic locale visit Sicily, which is still full of tourists, but perhaps just a little less crowded.

 Sicily’s unique culture, fashion, and food would truly be refreshing for any traveler, even those coming from the Northern part of Italy. Taormina is the most popular destination; however, Palermo is a great option, too. Make sure you try Cassata Siciliana, a delicious traditional cake. 

Image courtesy of travelagentcentral.com

Costa Rica

There is no better place to rejuvenate and rest than in this beautiful country known for its beaches, volcanos, and wildlife. There are no over-crowded tourist places but rather hiking, surfing and so many open-air activities. What is great is that this country focuses on eco-tourism, so why not support the effort. Costa Rica’s capital, San José, has some great historical and cultural monuments worth the visit. Spice up your vacation with some local history. 

Image courtesy of placesofjuma.com

Austria

This beautiful country should be on more people’s travel bucket lists. It is a place full of history, diversity, and OMG, the birthplace of Mozart and great chocolates. The capital, Vienna is a breathtaking place; however, Fashion Reverie wants to focus on Styria this time around and beautiful Graz.

About two hours away from the airport the small city, Styria, can offer rich history, beautiful architecture, shopping, and a view of the city from the town’s hill with the centuries’ old clock tower. Eggenberg Palace is a must-see. It is the Baroque jewel of the city.  If you are in the area, make sure you take a tour! 

Image courtesy of planetware.com

Puerto Rico 

Is a beautiful country and for those from the US mainland, Puerto Rico might feel like international travel without needing a passport, if you are an American citizen. Mountains, waterfalls, beaches, and popular hotels and cafe strip in the capital, San Juan, can satisfy all the needs of a family with different interests. We hear local cuisine is amazing, too. So, pair dinners with some salsa and meringue (dancing) and you will have a blast.

Image courtesy of britannica.com

Iceland 

This Nordic island nation’s landscape is full of volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, and lava fields. There are even massive glaciers!

Most of the population lives in the capital, Reykjavik and if you are a spa lover there are some very popular spa junkie spots like The Blue Lagoon. You must experience it to believe it!! If you want to learn more about Viking history, there is no better way but to visit local museums. 

 

Bon Voyage!! 

—Tijana Ibrahimovic

Broadway Returns!!

Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

When the pandemic first began to rear its ugly head in March 2020, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN ,“I don’t want to see Broadway go dark.” Sadly, the nature of the virus made it impossible to avoid shutting down Broadway. But that was 2020.

Now we’re in 2021. We have vaccines! With almost 60% of NYC vaccinated, the town is on its way to herd immunity. The city is slowly opening, but the development that Fashion Reverie is much excited about?  

Broadway is coming back!  Starting in August, shows will be premiering and reopening. Fashion Reverie has curated a list of shows to get ridiculously excited about.

New Shows 

Image courtesy of nytimes.com

Diana the Musical 

Previews November 2 opening night November 17 at Longacre Theater 

Inspired by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, this biographical musical follows the tale of the shy kindergarten teacher who would marry Prince Charles and become the most famous woman on the planet while trapped in a loveless marriage.  If you don’t happen to live in NYC or are unable to get tickets, Netflix will be taping the show and releasing it in December.  

Image courtesy of variety.com

Girl from the North Country 

Opens on October 13 at Belasco Theater  

Technically, this is a returning show. But since it only ran for a few weeks, Fashion Reverie is going to call it new. This musical is set at a guesthouse during the Great Depression.  The show uses the songs of Bob Dylan to illustrate a story of love and family in a struggling America.  

Image courtesy of nytimes.com

Pass Over 

Previews start August 4; opening night on September 12 running through  October 10 at August Wilson Theater (Lincoln Center) 

Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over,” directed by Danya Taymor will be one of the first plays to open with previews starting in August. Inspired by “Waiting for Godot” and the story of Exodus, “Pass Over” centers on a city street corner where two men talk and dream of their “promised land,” when a stranger interrupts their meeting. Chinonye Nwandu says the play is about the reality of loss and tragedy woven into the African American experience.  

Image courtesy of timeout.com

Is This a Room 

September 24 – January 16, 2022 at Lyceum Theatre  

Tina Satter’s “Is This A Room” follows the true story of Reality Winner, a 25-year-old former Air Force linguist who is charged with leaking evidence of Russian interference in U.S. elections. The oddly named woman (recently released on parole IRL) would go to jail for exposing tampering in 2016, despite her actions ensuring a fair and safe presidential election in 2020.  

Image courtesy of hollywoodreporter.com

MJ The Musical 

Previews begin December 6, 2021; opening February 1, 2022 at Neil Simon Theater 

“MJ The Musical” features an original book by Lynn Nottage, with direction and choreography from Christopher Wheeldon.  The musical follows Michael Jackson’s career from the Jackson 5 to his own musical superstardom and features all of his biggest hits like “Billy Jean” and “Thriller.” How will the show address the controversy surrounding allegations of sexual abuse? Producers and cast aren’t breathing a word.  

Returning 

Image courtesy of nytimes.com

Come From Away 

“Come From Away” will reopen at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on September 21. 

This crowd-pleaser tells the story of a plane forced to land in Newfoundland on 9/11. The stranded passengers found themselves taken in by strangers and lifelong friendships would form. This tale of an international community who come together in a time of crisis will soon be coming to the big screen.  

Image courtesy of Playbill

Hamilton 

Returns to Richards Rogers November 12  

The multi-Tony-winning blockbuster phenomenon has been delighting audiences across the globe since it opened in 2015. Do not throw away your shot to see this mega-hit.  

 

Off-Broadway 

Image courtesy of NY Theater Guide

Morning Sun 

Manhattan Theatre Club previews beginning October 12; opening night on November 3  

Blair Brown, Edie Falco, and Marin Ireland are the powerhouse trio telling a story of a woman’s life over the course of 50 years in New York City. A tale of mothers, daughters’ beginnings, endings, and hope in this new play by Simon Stephens.  

Image courtesy of Playbill

The Play That Goes Wrong  

New World Stages opens October 15 

This Broadway favorite begins again. The play introduces The Cornley University Drama Society who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can wrong … does.

—Cameron Grey Rose

Summer Loving: Movies for Romance

Who’s in the mood for love? Set the stage for the perfect date night with a bottle of wine, some candles, and films that inspire romance. From bouncy musicals to tragic tales, you’ll find whatever you’re looking for on Fashion Reverie‘s list of the most romantic movies.  

Upcoming Films

Image courtesy of Cosmopolitan

The Last Letter from Your Lover” – July 23rd Netflix

Jennifer Sterling (played by Shailene Woodley) is an American woman living in 1960s England in a safe but loveless marriage.  She falls into a romance with the mysterious B to whom she shares a passionate romance via love letters. Decades later, Ellie, a London reporter played by Felicity Jones, finds the letters and is determined to find out what happened to the star-crossed lovers.

Image courtesy of David Bloomer/ NETFLIX © 2020

Resort to Love” – July 29th Netflix

With her career hitting a snag, a singer still smarting from her broken engagement a year earlier takes a job performing at a wedding at a swanky tropical resort. It’s only after she arrives that she discovers her ex fiancé is the groom! Starring Christina Milan and produced by Alicia Keys, this is a fun, screwball romantic comedy with a lot of great music.

The Classics

Image courtesy of Vox

The Princess Bride 

This classic from 1987 was directed by Rob Reiner and adapted by William Goldman from his novel of the same name. Buttercup (played by Robin Wright) longs for her lost love Westley, feared dead in a pirate attack. Westley (played by Cary Elwes), who survived, is determined to find his way back to her in this action-adventure romance.  The idea that streaming this film with your honey will lead to anything but a night of steamy romance is INCONCEIVABLE!  

Image courtesy of vogue.com

In the Mood for Love 

Directed by Wong Kar-Wei and set in 1962 Hong Kong, this lush tale of unrequited love will inspire you to snuggle even harder with your better half.  Neighbors find themselves forming a strong bond when they discover their spouses are having an affair. Filled with music and lush jewel tones, this moving film will inspire you to be brave and fight for happiness and fulfillment.  

Image courtesy of Film Ink

Once  

Written and directed by John Carney, this Oscar-winning film tells the story of a street musician who happens upon a young immigrant. They decide to write a song together and find themselves falling in love. Despite a measly $150,000 budget, the film takes full advantage of the beautiful Irish countryside it was filmed in and is stunning to look at. The song they write (actually written by the actors themselves!)  “Falling” would go win an Oscar for Best Original Song and the film would later inspire a Broadway adaption.  

Image courtesy of courtesy of Bitch Media

Portrait of a Lady on Fire  

This quiet and meditative, yet robust film of doomed love was criminally overlooked in 2019. Set in 17th century France, it tells the story of a painter, Marianne, hired to do a portrait of a young woman, Heloise, living on a remote island. To their surprise, the two women find themselves falling passionately in love. Alas, Heloise has been promised to another. Directed by Céline Sciamma, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” was filmed in 8K stock so the movie is bursting with color and such amazing cinematography that every frame is a painting.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is not for everyone. Many will find it slow and tedious, but multiple critics called it the best film of the year. And the ending? Have tissues handy. This tragic tale will remind you to cherish the love you have.  

Image courtesy of Our Culture Mag

It Happened One Night” 

Considered by many to be the original romantic comedy, it features Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert at their height being directed by legend Frank Capra. Runway heiress Ellie meets reporter Peter on a Greyhound bus to New York City only to be forced to find alternate travel when the bus breaks down, resulting in madcap adventures. Many critics call this one of the greatest films ever made.

Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

Loving

This is the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (yes that was their last name). With their interracial marriage illegal in their home state of Virginia, the pair move to Washington D.C. but find themselves longing for home. Upon getting arrested for visiting family, they set into motion events that would end with a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Asked by a reporter what he wants the world to know about him, Richard Loving simply replied “I love my wife.”

Image courtesy of USA Today

Say Anything

Do you remember being a reckless and endlessly optimistic teenager? Go there again with this classic from the ’80s. Directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Ione Skye and John Cusack, it tells the story of two teenagers awkwardly navigating their slide into adult life after graduating from high school while falling in love. Crowe recently indicated he is considering revisiting the character all these years later to see where they ended up.  

Image courtesy of the nytimes.com

The Big Sick” 

This film written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon was inspired by the true story of their courtship. Kumail plays himself, and after dating Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) for a few months, they have a huge fight. Emily runs off. The next day Kumail gets a call that Emily is suffering from a severe infection and is now in a coma. Will their relationship survive? Will Emily?  

Image courtesy of Mental Floss

Singin’ in the Rain” 

Saving the best for last! This fun romantic comedy has been hailed as the greatest musical of all time. Starring Gene Kelly—who also co-directed and choreographed the picture— Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, this film is a celebration of romance and the joy of falling in love set in the film industry during the advent of talking pictures. A pure delight from beginning to end, you’ll be humming the title song for days.  

—Cameron Grey Rose

 

Emerging Songbirds Celebrate Music and Fashion

After a year in lockdown, new singing talent is coming out of the woodwork. With singing competition shows and SoundCloud giving artists access to new platforms, it’s gotten just a little bit easier for young and independent talent to break through the crowd. Fashion Reverie has spotlighted some up-and-coming artists who we’ve deemed ones to watch.

Tamara Jade

You might know her from season 19 of NBC’s “The Voice,” but Tamara Jade was working long and hard to make a name for herself in music before ”The Voice.” Growing up in a musical family, she naturally honed her craft from singing in church to formal vocal training. Tamara has found her heart in the genres of gospel, r&b, soul, and jazz and is continuing to make a name for herself as an independent artist.

Fashion Reverie: How did you find your love of music?

Tamara Jade: I was born into a musical family, so music was just always around me. I grew up singing in church, too. I didn’t really have a choice when it came to music being a part of my life. No one ever forced me to do music, I just loved it. My mother is a singer and was our church music director, one brother is an organist and pianist, and my oldest brother is my manager, co-producer and co-writer, so [he] and I are actively working on music together all of the time.

THE VOICE — “Knockout Rounds” Episode 1909 — Pictured: Tamara Jade — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

FR: I want to hear more about your educational background and how you started formally studying music.

Tamara Jade: My family did not just do music for fun. It was very serious to us. The whole attitude my family had was, if you’re going to do music, do it at the highest level, and the way to do that is to study.

I went to Suitland High School to their visual and performing arts magnet program. After that, I attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Oberlin College. I did the vocal performance program in the conservatory of music and I studied sociology in the college as a double degree student so I could explore my interests outside of music.

As soon as I graduated college, I booked the role of Mimi in Puccini’s “La Boheme” in Italy, but I wasn’t truly happy singing classical music. After that, I did a gospel tour for three months in Europe.

FR: What would you consider the turning point in your career?

Tamara Jade: When I worked with Lizzo for her MTV VMAs performance. Everything changed for me after that. I got to the audition, they gave us the dance routine to learn, and I never felt like something belonged to me more in my life. I made it clear to the casting directors I expect to get a phone call the next day. They called to book me the next day and told me I manifested this and they wanted someone that had the kind of power I have on board.

FR: You were cast on season 19 of “The Voice.” Why did you decide to go the reality TV competition route?

Tamara Jade: I was supposed to be touring with Cory Henry & the Funk Apostles, and we were supposed to open for Lenny Kravitz’s tour in Europe. While I was going through the process of auditioning for “The Voice,” I made it clear that if this show conflicting with the tour, I wasn’t doing it. Then COVID-19 cancelled the tour, so that potential conflict was out of the way.

This was actually my third time auditioning for the show. The producers reached out to me every time, they had wanted me on the show for a long time. Taping for season 19 kept getting pushed back because of COVID-19, but we made it happen, eventually.

FR: On “The Voice” you were coached by the legendary Mr. John Legend himself. Talk to me about that mentorship?

Tamara Jade: John Legend taught me so much exponentially in a short amount of time. From the moment I started working with John Legend, it was like we had known each other for years. There was immediate recognition of who we were outside of who everybody else was. One thing he said to me that they did not air was when he told me I have what church mothers called ‘the anointing.’ This man could look at me singing a Lizzo song and call me anointed. I was sold with him as a mentor from that moment.

THE VOICE — “Live Top 9 Performances” Episode 1913A — Pictured: Tamara Jade — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

FR: Now that you’ve come more into the public spotlight, have you worked to cultivate your fashion and style to build your image?

Tamara Jade: I hired a stylist. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted my fashion sense to be, but I didn’t have the time to go find clothes to create the image I wanted.

Working with a stylist has helped me learn the language of fashion, so that I could communicate my needs accurately to stylists.  

Fashion is an outward representation of who I am. Even if I’m wearing all black, I still want people to feel inspired when they see me, of course. I love mixing prints and patterns. I’ve learned what colors look good on my skin tone.

FR: Who do you want the world to see Tamara Jade as in ten years?

Tamara Jade: Love, light, and power.

Image courtesy of Ella Isaacson

Ella Isaacson

Ella Isaacson has become a major pop star to watch. The young starlet on the rise has over 40 million streams across multiple platforms and is being produced by Norwegian super producers Stargate, making her the first artist to be developed by the duo. She has a trained operatic voice. She might just be on the early leg of her journey, but make no mistake, she isn’t one to be underestimated.

FR: What inspired you to pursue music?

Ella Isaacson: I grew up in New York, and I was driven to start singing at a very young age. My father was an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor, so he treated a lot of singers. I started classically training my voice at age 7. At 16, I was already taking lessons with major opera coaches.

I also had a natural love for writing and poetry. When I was in my teens, I had a cousin that was a music producer and musician. I begged him to help me record and start doing demos.

FR: You came from a more operatic background in terms of your music training. How did you make the transition from that to doing more pop and commercial music?

Ella Isaacson: My writing came from a place of being a lyricist, and I just loved pop music. When I was in the studio, I found that pop music came very naturally to me. That is what I was drawn to versus performing classical music professionally.

FR: You have over 40 million streams of your music. How do you think streaming has been beneficial to developing independent artists?

Ella Isaacson: It’s has become easier for artists to take more power into their own hands. Record labels have questions about what can work. If you have a voice or sound that’s different from what’s being pushed currently, record labels are afraid to take a risk on you.

I met with a lot of people, but there was the question from music executives about my sound being too different. I put my first song out on SoundCloud, and overnight it had 400,000 plays. There’s no guarantees in this industry; you just have to put the music out there and see what people feel.

Image courtesy of Bong Mines Entertainment

FR: How did you come to get produced by the duo Stargate? They are living legends who have produced lots of artists from Sam Smith to Rihanna.

Ella Isaacson: I had been releasing music online, and I came to a point where I felt a bit lost. Travelling and meeting new creators always make me feel inspired. I was living with a friend in England, and then I went to Sweden and got to meet other creators.

I went back to England and my friend I was staying with convinced me to go out for a drink. We went to a hotel bar, and in walked Stargate. My friend had worked for their publisher several years prior. She told Stargate I was a singer and they invited us to have breakfast the next morning. I felt like Stargate were the first people that really saw me for me. I really trusted them, and it was so natural.

FR: How would you describe your fashion style?

Ella Isaacson: My style is very classic and feminine. I love vintage pieces. Most of my wardrobe pieces are vintage, hand-me downs, or consignment. I love things that have a history. I’ll even redesign and alter old things myself so I can keep them longer.

I’m a big thrifter. I love the hunt. Sometimes you have these really beautiful pieces you come across and you can mix them with something more ‘90s or retro..

Zimmermann is one of my favorite designers, so they are one of the few brands I wouldn’t necessarily get on a vintage hunt, but aside from them I love vintage Chloé, Ralph Lauren, and Mugler. Mugler’s vintage cut is gorgeous from the shoulder pads to the cinched waists. I also love vintage Jean Paul Gaultier.  

Alice + Olivia is one of my favorite modern brands. One time I tagged the brand on Instagram and I got a personal message from the designer Stacey Bendet!

Image courtesy of Ella Isaacson

FR: What’s next for you?

Ella Isaacson: I have an EP I’m working on; we’re working on figuring out the release date.

—Kristopher Fraser

Musical Stars Comment on Broadway’s Comeback

Image courtesy of lovingnewyork.com

It’s back, bold, and beautiful! Broadway is set to return after shutting down for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most shows are slated for return this September, just in time for some post-New York Fashion Week theatrical exploits. New York is making a comeback and will leave you nothing short of impressed.

The re-emergence of musical theatre is also being helped by hit musical TV shows like “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” The roaring ‘20s 2.0 is shaping up to be a golden era for musical theatre madness.

As stars return to the stage, they are also returning to the red carpets and public appearances, and of course that means more fashion. Fashion Reverie has interviewed several musical stars on the resurgence of musical theatre, their return to public appearances, and how they cultivate their own style.

Image courtesy of imdb.com

Julia Lester — Ashlyn in TV’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”

Actress and songbird Julia Lester brings Disney’s hit “High School Musical” franchise to an entirely new generation. Growing up in an entertainment family, Lester had long been drawn to the world of performing arts, and her big break came when she was cast as Ashlyn on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” on Disney+, catapulting her to being a highly recognizable face among young television actors. While millennials had the original “High School Musical” movies and Ryan Murphy’s “Glee,” Lester is helping bring the world of musical theatre via television to Generation Z. With the return of the red carpet, she’s also exploring one of her other favorite things aside from performing: playing dress up.

Fashion Reverie: You come from a family where many people work in the entertainment industry. When and why did you pursue acting as a career?

Julia Lester: My entire family is in the industry, so. it was in my nature to be interested in performing since I was a young kid. Had I been naturally interested in pursuing something else, I would have done that, but, from the get-go, I was always into music, dancing, and performing. It was great growing up in a family of performers to nurture the love I had for the arts. I did theatre growing up as well, and that led me to my role on “High Musical: The Musical: The Series.”

FR: Were you a fan “High School Musical” before you were cast in the show?

Julia Lester:  A huge one! I was around seven years old when the first movie came out, and I have two older sisters who are really into musical theatre, so it was the perfect family movie for us to watch. I knew the creators of “High School Musical” were trying to find a way to continue the story in some way, so, when I got the audition for the series, I thought it was the best way to continue “High School Musical” in a way we all love and know so well.

FR: For the past two decades musicals seems to inspire a new generation of fans. Now, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” seems to be building the next generation of musical theatre nerds as one of Disney+’s highest rated shows. How do you think this show is helping propel and inspire a new generation of musical theatre lovers?

Julia Lester: “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is introducing a lot of people to musical theatre who may not have been familiar with that genre of music or got to be in a space where they were introduced to musical theatre. The show also helps introduce so many different genres of music, while still having a plotline that can appeal to a lot of people. The show writers do a incredible job of incorporating musical theatre into the everyday lives of the characters on the show, and it’s done in a way that’s so natural.

Julia Lester

FR: With outside starting to reopen as we emerge from COVID-19, press tours are a thing again, and there’s been tons of press around “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” How do you work on building your individual style as you’re doing more publicity, especially this season now that your role on the show has gotten bigger?

Julia Lester: That is something I really enjoy doing. I’ve been styling myself for most of our press events. It’s been fun for me because I have a huge love of styling and fashion. It’s been great getting to dress up and put on real outfits again, especially after I’ve been wearing sweatpants every single day for almost a year. The fact that we can go out and dress up again has been very exciting.

A few of the cast members from “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” including myself, got to go to the world premiere of the “Cruella” movie. It was the first real movie premiere since the COVID-19 shutdown. That was a great opportunity to play dress up.

FR: What else do we have to look forward to from you in a post-pandemic entertainment industry?

Julia Lester: I produced a film with my sister, Jenny Lester, called “What She Said” with her production company Shallow Graves. It’s a kitchen sink drama that’s so incredible that I’m hoping it will have a firm release date soon.

We’re also hoping for a renewal to do season 3 of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” There’s been no news on that yet, but that’s what I’m most hoping for right now. Fingers crossed!

Image courtesy of thenewyorktimes.com

Jarvis B. Manning — Al Bryant in Broadway’s “Ain’t Too Proud”

Jarvis B. Manning is no stranger to the world of Motown music. The actor grew up in a family that was big on the genre, and he was previously in the ensemble of “Motown the Musical.” Now, he’s ready to dust off his dancing shoes again as he prepares to step back into the role of Al Bryant in “Ain’t Too Proud,” a hit Broadway musical that focuses on the story of famed Motown group The Temptations. As he’s making a name for himself in song and dance, Manning has also found himself thinking more about fashion and his public image now that he’s getting ready to say hello to audiences again.

Fashion Reverie: When did you first find your love of music and theatre?

Jarvis B. Manning: I grew up in the church, so music was so much a part of my life. Anytime “Can’t Touch This” by M.C. Hammer came on, my sister and I would run to the dance floor and we had a whole dance routine going. If you asked my parents if I was a natural at anything, it was song and dance.

I went to the High School for Visual and Performing Arts in Houston. I studied classical voice and jazz. I noticed there was a theatre program in the school, and we also had an all-school Black history program.

My sophomore year, I auditioned to be a dancer in the Black History program because they were short male dancers. I fell in love with dancing and singing at the same time, even though I still didn’t know much about musical theatre. By my senior year, I was tired of singing classical music all the time, so I sang in the jazz group for our young performers showcase where I got to both sing and dance. That was when I realized I had to do musical theatre as a profession.

Jarvis B. Manning

FR: How familiar were you with the music of The Temptations before your current role in “Ain’t Too Proud” and your previous role in “Motown The Musical”?

Jarvis B. Manning: Very familiar. Growing up, we weren’t allowed to listen to anything in the house but gospel, old school blues, and Motown. I knew the music of The Temptations through and through..

I saw “Jersey Boys” on Broadway and wanted to do a Black version, so of course my next thought was The Temptations. I was working on it for a year, and I put it down and kept saying I would come back to it someday. Next thing I knew, Dominique Morriseau was writing the book for this musical. I always joke with her that she stole this musical from me.

FR: Of course, with musical theatre, costuming is a huge part of any production. How do you feel costuming helped you really embody and develop your character?

Jarvis B. Manning: Costuming helps so much.. Once you get on stage, the costume is on your body, and you see the actual set pieces, it puts you in a new land. I have an idea of what my character would be, and once the costume shows up, it’s a whole different situation.

Al’s main costume was a blue stripe shirt, grey pants, and his hair is also pressed. The costumes make you hold yourself in a different way, from the pants coming up to the belly button to the boots hitting a certain part of your ankle. The costumes are truly the last piece of the puzzle that can put you and your mind in a [time] period.

FR: How do you think the reopening of Broadway will spark a new musical theatre renaissance for this decade?

Jarvis B. Manning: I’m hoping it will spark more space for people who are not the ‘norm.’ We have all heard and seen those people’s stories on the Broadway stage, and the rest of us are tired of it. People who are coming to see Broadway shows look like everybody and come from all walks of life.

If the people who have been creating during this lull and silence can speak up when Broadway reopens, it will be a beautiful thing. If Broadway falls back into its old, nasty habits of feeding the same crowd they have always fed, it would be a major let down to old creatives, new creatives, people who have lost their lives, and the future Broadway community.

There’s the opportunity to allow change. It’s crazy that we must think about ‘allowing change,’ but it’s the perfect time. It might be a forced moment at first, where producers feel obligated to do things because that’s what’s expected, but that could open up people’s eyes to show them the rest of us are capable of creating work that will make money.

When Broadway takes a chance on new formulas, we get things like “Hamilton,” which was a hit. The powers that be just need to let people work and let all people work.

FR: Now that Broadway is reopening and there’s press events and public appearance opportunities, how do you cultivate your style and image as an actor now that the spotlight is back on you?

Jarvis B. Manning: Recently, toward the end of 2020, I started doing more film and television auditions, which have been going well. I had a well-known casting agent reach out to me, who happened to be a Black woman. She had ‘the mama’ conversation with me and said, ‘You are great. Your audition was great, but you need to start promoting yourself. I shouldn’t go on your Instagram and see you promoting everyone but yourself.’

I told her that makes me feel weird, but she told me get over it. I don’t like that aspect of the business, but after talking to her she told me learn to treat it as art. I’m also a photographer. She told me I don’t have to be vain about it. She said find some amazing clothes, come up with some ideas, and take photos.

I’m now cultivating what that’s going to be when I return to Instagram. I’ve been off social media since April 2020. I’m getting ready to come back artistically and showcase myself.

A costume designer had reached out to me and gave me a bunch of vintage clothes. She blessed me with all these beautiful free clothes, so be on the lookout for that.

Luba Mason in “Girl from the North Country”

Luba Mason – Mrs. Burke in Broadway’s “Girl from the North Country”

Luba Mason is a veteran of the stage with an extensive list of Broadway credits under her belt including “The Will Rogers Follies,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and “Chicago.” She’s also no stranger to the small screen with guest starring roles on acclaimed television series including “As the World Turns,” “Law & Order,” and “NYPD Blue.” This fall, she’ll be returning to a role that she loves. Mrs. Burke in the Broadway musical “Girl from the North Country.” She’s a true triple threat.

Fashion Reverie: What’s your musical theatre background and describe for me the moment you decided to be a performer?

Luba Mason: My love for music and theatre started very young. I was a classical pianist for thirteen years. There was really the question of whether I was going to pursue being a classical pianist or go into musical theatre. I know I made the right choice. I have much more fun doing musical theatre than sitting in a room practicing scales.

My piano teach was also a choral director in the local church, so I started taking singing lessons with him and progressing in that direction. My older sister was an opera singer who studied at Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard, so I started studying voice with her teachers from those schools when I was in high school. That’s when musical theatre started to pull at my heartstrings.

FR: You have trademarked your own style of music called Mixtura. How did you develop that?

Luba Mason: My musical background is very diverse. I’ve done classical music and I love pop music, folk songs, and showtunes are obviously a huge part of my life. My husband is Ruben Blades, who is a Latin music icon, so, when I married him, Latin music became a huge part of my life. As I’ve matured, jazz has also become a big influence in my musical background as well.

When I went to record my first studio album, I had to ask myself what kind of an album to record, so I recorded an album that was a mix of my various musical influences. I had songs of different genres from pop, to folk, and I even sang a song in Spanish. By the time my third album came around, I said I had to put a label on this and create my own genre, so I trademarked Mixtura, and there you have it.

FR: Tell me about your role in “Girl from the North Country”?

Luba Mason: The casting process was very quick. It wasn’t one of those three or four callback situations. I got great feedback in my first audition, and I had a good feeling about it. I got a response the day after my audition that I got the role of Mrs. Burke. I guess the director knew what he wanted and I happened to be it.

My character, Mrs. Burke, is a rich Southern woman whose husband loses his fortune during The Great Depression in 1932. We have an autistic son who’s about 30 years old. Since we lost our money, we are trying to find a new place to resettle ourselves and find a way to make a living.

All thirteen principal characters in the show have found themselves in a boarding house type situation in Minnesota. Each one of the characters is either running toward something new or away from something, like a problem or secret. My family in the show is running from a secret, but one you’ll have to come watch the show and find out what it is.

FR: After several decades in the business and now surviving a global pandemic, what are your predictions for the next decade of Broadway?

Luba Mason: When Lin Manuel Miranda created “Hamilton,” that changed the trajectory for musical theatre. He helped make Broadway more contemporary. He brought in a whole new audience and skew of musical theatre lovers.

Also, you’re seeing a lot of pop composers creating jukebox musicals to highlight their music. Disney always has their hand in Broadway. If a Disney musical franchise is successful, they’ll create a Broadway musical from it.

I’m hoping revivals will continue and I’m hoping for some more real creative shows from composers like Lin Manuel Miranda. I think our show, “A Girl from North Country,” is one of the contemporary shows because it’s music and lyrics are from Bob Dylan.

FR: Press events are about to start happening again, putting an emphasis on what talent is wearing. How would you say your approach to fashion and style has changed over the course of your career?

Luba Mason: There’s way more of an emphasis on fashion and style with social media, for sure. Whenever I tell people I have a show or concert coming up, the first question I always here is ‘What are you wearing?’ Everyone wants to see your picture and comments on it on social media now.

I recently was watching the Netflix series on the fashion designer Halston, and on my most recent photoshoot, a friend of mine loaned me a vintage Halston halter top. It was this stunning gold lamé top. The same friend of mine also told me go purchase some new jumpsuits for my upcoming public engagements, and that’s on my to-do list.

Luba Mason

FR: What are some other upcoming projects?

Luba Mason: I released my fourth studio album, “Triangle,” during October of 2020. There was a good three months of album promotion before that, and I got rave reviews. The album itself was filmed live. It was a live recording we had filmed in 2019 in front of a live studio audience at the legendary Power Station Studios in New York City.

In 2021, I started getting more auditions for television and film. I recently also did a livestream performance for soapboxgallery.org, and there was a venue in Brooklyn where they livestreamed the performance.

I get ready to go back to rehearsals for Broadway in September. I also have a benefit I’m doing that goes back to my dancing days when I was in “Will Rogers Follies.” We are recreating the choreography from one of director and choreographer Tommy Tune’s numbers he did for the show. This project is through the affiliation of the American Dance Machine who recreates the original choreography of past Broadway shows. They asked some of the original cast dancers to do the recreation along with their younger company of dancers. Now, we’ve got a beautiful collaborative project coming up in July.

I’m about to start campaigning for the Grammy’s with “Triangle.” I’m hoping to leave a few weeks between going back to Broadway and my Grammy’s campaign, to go on vacation.

—Kristopher Fraser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion Reverie’s 2021 Spring/Summer Reading List

Image courtesy of thepioneerwoman.com

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” —Sam Keen

The light at the end tunnel is finally visible! With vaccination rates on the rise, many places are lifting mask restrictions and capacity limits. Time to head to the beach or the park, spread a blanket and tuck into a compelling book. Fashion Reverie has a list of titles we’re excited for our viewers to read. From hilarious essays on mental illness to engrossing thrillers, you won’t be able to put down, you’ll find your next obsession here.

Image courtesy of Amazon

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams 

You may be thinking “Oh, is this a book about the Jan 6th insurrection?” Nope! This is a work of fiction.

Using the pen name Selena Montgomery, Abrams—where else?—in Washington DC. Avery Keene, a brilliant legal mind serving as clerk for Justice Howard Wynn, is dealing with an arduous job with the court while juggling family drama. When the news breaks that Justice Wynn—the swing vote on many current high-profile cases—has slipped into a coma, Avery’s life is plunged into chaos.  Shocked to be told she has been left instructions as his legal guardian, Avery quickly discovers he was on the verge of exposing a conspiracy.  She must unravel it before she’s the next victim.

Image courtesy of Amazon

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lemarr

Disturbingly relatable and startlingly eye-opening, this book tackles modern-day racism with the perfect balance of levity and gravity. Chatting the way sisters do about tales of being mistaken for a prostitute or Harriet Tubman, Amber and Lacey lay out the painful yet sometimes hilarious realities of being in black in modern America and why the system must change.

Image courtesy of Amazon

One Last Stop by Casey Mcquiston
Cynical 23-year-old August is moving to New York City, but she isn’t happy. She has too many roommates and a dull job as a server at a 24-hour pancake diner. She can’t imagine her daily commute will be anything but a sad trudge on a filthy subway. Then one day she meets Jane. Impossibly beautiful, interesting and beguiling is Jane, but August learns she has a terrible secret and desperately needs help. 

Image courtesy of The Tab

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes
Netflix’s popular “You” series will be dropping its third season sometime this year— although infuriatingly they haven’t given a date. But if you simply can’t wait to get more of Killer Joe, check the third in the literary installment the series is based on. 

Joe is determined to start a new life and leave killing behind. He heads to a sleepy Pacific Northwest island town and gets a job at a local library. It’s there he meets Mary Kay and starts to fall for her. But can a leopard ever truly change his spots?

Image courtesy of Amazon

Don’t Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor

Eva is nervous about going away to boarding school and trying to fit in. Off to a rocky start, she is thrilled to be invited to join a secret society. Tasked with completing certain challenges before she will be allowed to join, Eva knows she’s in over her head when she uncovers a decades old secret and realizes certain people will do anything to keep it hidden. 

Image courtesy of Titan Books

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Lynette survived a massacre and is trying to keep her life on track. She leans on the women of the Final Girl support group, a secret club of women who were “Final Girls.” But when one of the women disappears, the remaining members fear that someone has discovered the group and may be looking to tear their lives apart.  This comedy horror gem will keep you guessing until the last second as it meticulously dissects misogynist horror tropes.

Image courtesy of Amazon

The Guncle by Steven Rowley
Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. Their weekends visiting his Palm Springs home are just long enough for him not to get tired of them.  But when tragedy strikes his family, Patrick is forced to step up and become their primary guardian. It’s not long before he realizes he’s way in over his head and will have to make some adjustments if everyone is going to come out of this unscathed. Full of humanity and heart, it’s a tale of what it truly means to be a family.

Image courtesy of Amazon


Broken by Jenny Lawson
 

From the Bloggess herself Broken is a new collection of essays about her constant battle with anxiety, depression, and other aspects of her broken brain. And it’s absolutely hilarious. These laugh-out-loud musings about her bizarre yet wonderful life will keep you in stitches. From her desire to leave letters with her neighbors telling them to pretend she’s invisible to her emails with a scammer promising her immortal life as a vampire, coping with mental health issues is never funnier than when Lawson does it. 

Image courtesy of Penguin Random House

What’s Done in Darkness by Laura McHugh

17-year-old Sarabeth feels stifled living in rural Arkansas. Forced to wear long dresses and follow strict rules, she longs to escape the farm. But she didn’t want to be grabbed by a masked stranger and held captive for a week. Even after she comes home, her family treats her like a fallen woman. Five years later she finds out another girl has been snatched in a case that’s oddly similar to hers. Will Sarabeth be able to face her greatest fear and save a life? 

—Cameron Grey Rose

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