Drake Puts OVO Imprint on Clarks Desert Boot

Drake seems quite the laid back type, especially in his music. With songs like “Find Your Love” and “Controlla” that make you want to “dutty wine” on the dance floor. He is known for creating feel-good music with a Caribbean vibe, displaying how much he enjoys the good life and with a pretty laid-back approach to everything he does. But what we can all agree with is that the “Jumpman” rapper is serious about his personal style. So it is no surprise that since his career has catapulted, he has made deals with major brands like Jordan to create his own products. Recently, Drake has managed to team up with footwear titan Clarks to pay homage to the classic Desert Boot with his own limited edition OVO x Desert Boot.

If you haven’t heard of the iconic Desert Boot, either you must have been under a rock or you really must have been under a rock. Clarks has been a mainstay in the footwear industry for more than over a century, while other brands seem to have gone as quickly as they have come, or could not withstand the test of time or footwear evolution. Whatever the case may be, it really is a major deal (pun seriously intended) for such a classic company to join forces with a pop culture icon.

Now back to the Desert Boot.

Its rich history began in 1941, in England where Clarks co-founder Nathan Clark designed a boot that allowed his fellow soldiers, also called “desert rags” who had to acclimatize into society post-war but needed a comfortable boot style they could wear at home. Additionally, the desert boot was suitable for those fighting in the desert, hence the name.  Since then, men, women and children from the streets of Somerset to New England have been wearing the timeless yet versatile boot, that shows no signs of retirement any time soon, especially with such creative partnerships as with Drake.

What also makes this collaboration pretty special is that Drake is not shy about his tribute and love for all people, places, and “tings” Caribbean. The Desert Boot became the epitome of cool by the “rude boys”, a Jamaican term coined for men who exude the bad boy persona. And if you knew better, you wouldn’t dare leave home without a pair on your feet. They understood that the desert boot has a ” je ne sais pas quoi” that makes a t-shirt and jeans look so polished and refined.  Jamaicans have embraced the desert boot into their culture to the extent that even a Clarks song was even created! So how befitting of Drake to give the classic footwear an update!

The collection has all the wonderful things that make the desert boot imitated, but never duplicated: the notable crepe sole, sleek design that’s virtually unchanged since the boot’s inception, and the hand crafted textiles by Clarks elite footwear engineers. What makes the OVO edition so distinctive is Drake’s October’s Very Own or OVO owl eyes-and-beak logo is embossed onto the suede, a golden owl on the lust-worthy Originals tag that comes with every desert boot designed, and mantra “Know Yourself” is also embossed on the inside of the tongue, so as the wearer is slipping them on, there is a gentle reminder to be a fearless individual. The collection comes in three colors: oakwood suede and black (which are already key colors in Clarks Original’s Collection), and a stunning purple.

Golden owl? Purple suede? Both are symbolic to Drake’s branding success. Is is also foretelling of his reign as prince of hip hop? Hmmmm. You decide while you hurry to grab a pair of these boots. If they aren’t soled out already. Yes, soled out.

Note: my original post is also on Level 21 Magazine’s website.

Missy Graces Elle’s Women in Music Issue

Missy Elliot, rapper/singer/songwriter/producer and fashion maven is the latest celebrity to feature the cover of Elle Magazine for their Women in Music issue. She wore eclectic fashions from Marc Jacob’s AW17 Hip-Hop inspired collection. Always one to push the limits of fashion, Missy wore her signature bucket hat, created by milliner Stephen Jones for Marc Jacobs but with a twist. The hat is made of chunky wool, hovering over her long, cascading tresses, and square oversized frames with her electric blue lips and hoop earrings.

This is not the first time she has worked with Jacobs. In 2016, he recreated her now infamous plastic bag look adorned with feathers across her back, for a campaign that featured other A-list stars. In her interview, Missy discusses not succumbing to pressures to fit in. “One thing I won’t do is compromise. I will never do something based on what everyone is telling me to do. I’ve been through so many stumbling blocks to build a legacy, so I wouldn’t want to do something just to fit in. Because I never fit in. So…”

The hip hop influencer also discusses the process involved with creating her iconic plastic bag look for her “The Rain” (Supa Dupa Fly) video. “To me, the outfit was a way to mask my shyness behind all the chaos of the look. Although I am shy, I was never afraid to be a provocative woman. The outfit was a symbol of power,” Elliott told the magazine. “I loved the idea of feeling like a hip-hop Michelin woman. I knew I could have on a blow-up suit and still have people talking. It was bold and different. I’ve always seen myself as an innovator and a creative unlike any other.”

It is refreshing to see Missy as the face of women in music, because she’s helped pave the way for other women to freely and confidently express themselves. We cannot wait to see what upcoming projects Missy is working on!

Read my original story for Level 21 Magazine here.

Ipsy Glambag Product Review: Meg Twin Nail Polish in Lovey Dovey (Limited Edition)

I enjoy experimenting with various nail colors. While I equally love just about every color on the spectrum, oftentimes I find myself gravitating towards nude colors. I like their versatility and simplicity. While I have a preference for brands like OPI, Orly and Essie, I am still open to trying other brands. Meg’s Twin Nail in Lovey Dovey came in my Ipsy Glambag this month which I was excited about. I Love the packaging, and how each tiny color snapped easily into one top.

The clear, twist off caps underneath are travel-friendly spill proof. Also, getting two colors (nude & grey) is a treat!  The brushes allowed easy application, so for those who aren’t really skilled at polishing his or her own nails, this is for you! The nude color suited my skin tone perfectly. Two coats of polish are sufficient and gave full coverage on my nails. The color dried quickly to a slightly glossy finish.

The nude color looks even more beautiful with a shiny top coat. I used Ciate London Gelology top coat which was in my February Glambag! I am sure any top coat would do. However,  the grey color wasn’t my favorite, just a bit harsh on my skin tone. But at $10 for two nail colors,  I’d definitely try the others. Worn alone or mixing and matching the colors is also fun because the colors are complementary. This is a limited edition, so hurry while they last!

Ipsy Glambag Product Review: Elizabeth Mott Show Me Your Glow Highlighter

Lately, no one seems to get enough of highlighters. They are a staple to nearly everyone’s make up collection, and its shimmering effects can be added onto a full beat, or applied to a fresh face sans make up. So when it comes to highlighters, I am willing to try just about any brand. Of course, whenever Ipsy sends me a highlighter, I am just as excited about it as any of the others I currently use.

Before I received my Glambag, I did a little research on Elizabeth Mott’s Show Me Your Glow Highlighter. As soon as I discovered that it was sold out and on backorder, I knew I was in for a treat! Once I opened my Glambag, fishing for the pan I so desperately longed to try, I was slightly disappointed. It came in a minuscule plastic pan, which was hard to open at first. I get it, what should I expect from a sample, but geez! However, I must say that at least I didn’t have to worry about losing any products as it did come in a safely sealed container…

On the other hand, I love the formula of the Highlighter! It is highly pigmented, whether I wore it alone or over my foundation. I got the product out using my pinky finger or the tip of a blending brush. I could gradually apply more for that out-of-this world scintillating effect, or apply less for those conservative days at the office. Show Me Your Glow is also versatile, and can be worn as an eyeshadow. The full size version comes in a round compact, which retails for about $25. It is no longer on backorder (but its status subject to change due to its high demand, so hurry!!) and can now be purchased on Elizabeth Mott’s website. I will be investing in a full size because I also adore a multi-use product. I get more for my dollar. Who doesn’t appreciate that?

Ipsy Glambag Product Review: SKIN&CO Roma Truffle Therapy Face Toner

I am pretty much open to trying out new products, but new facial products make me a tad nervous. I have sensitive skin that can get easily irritated and break out at a moment’s notice. However, I was curious about SKIN&CO Roma’s Truffle Therapy face toner, because its’ something I have struggled with adding to my skincare regimen. I have read many other beauty blogs and articles stating its importance, but I still cannot get myself to be consistent with any particular toner.

Immediately I was excited at the mention of “truffles”.  I love truffle chocolates, truffle butter, and I associate anything truffle-related with luxury and good quality. So I knew this toner was going to do wonders to my skin. The packaging is good quality, something expected of a high end product. The top is gold, along with the lettering on bottle. The bottle is made of a hard plastic, which resembles glass at first glance. It is so important that luxury brands put time and effort into creating quality packaging.

The smell is quite pleasant, reminiscent of roses and citrus, but not overbearing. I applied the toner onto a cotton ball after using a variety of cleansers, from Murad’s Clarifying Cleanser to Pur-lisse’s 4-in1 Cleansing Milk. So it works well with a variety of other brands on the market. It made my skin feel clean and soft, carefully removing any residue and dead skin left behind after cleansing my face. After a week’s use, I felt my skin was noticeably soft, even, and clear. SKIN&CO Roma’s Truffle Therapy face toner retails for about $27 (Ulta & Nordstrom carry the brand), but I think it is worth the price. I am curious as to how effective the toner is when used with the entire SKIN&CO line and would be buying this once I run out.


Ispy Glambag Product Review: TONY MOLY LipCare Stick in Mint Light

TONY MOLY is a popular South Korean cosmetics line full of whimsical imagery and witty packaging. This month, Ipsy sent me a full-sized Liptone Lipcare Stick in Mint Light, which I was excited about. The other flavors are Honey Moisture, and Rose Blossom. The packaging is adorable, and the product was easy to apply. I love lippies and don’t have any one brand preference over others, whether high end, mid priced or discounted. So, of course, I couldn’t wait to try it.

The packaging is similar to Pantone color swatches. Pantone is known as the “global color authority”, dictates “color of the year”, and influences which colors are in trend for the year.  Also, I had high expectations because anytime a brand markets a product as having a “mint” flavor, I expect a minty experience. The lip balm has a slight minty smell overpowered with an oily scent. So, I wasn’t really impressed with that. When I actually applied the balm I noticed I had to constantly reapply, which I found off putting.

I find this unfavorable for a lip balm because reapplication made my lips drier! I’ve tried cheaper lip balms like Bert’s Bees 🐝 that have better quality, and kept my lips moisturized. I don’t believe that the LipCare stick is worth it’s $10 price tag. I wanted to give a through review of this balm anyway, so I continued to try it. I really liked the packaging and I was hoping my experience with it would improve. So, I decided to try it with lipstick. Surprisingly enough, it did work well underneath my lipstick. However, I still wouldn’t buy this. So Mint Light isn’t right for me, although I would be willing to try TONY MOLY’s other products in the future.

Have you tried the TONY MOLY brand? If so, which products have you used?



Beyoncé Announces her Formation Scholars Program

Ok scholars now let’s get in formation.

In lieu of the one-year anniversary of the”Lemonade” album, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has extended her humanitarian efforts on a collegiate capacity. Recently, Beyoncé’s official website  posted news of the newly minted Formation Scholars Program, suitably named after her hit song “Formation”. This program will award four recipients a scholarship to the following colleges or universities: Berklee College of MusicHoward UniversityParsons School of Design and Spelman College. The organization’s mission is to “encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident.” Scholarship candidates must be incoming, current, or graduate students who are studying music, arts, literature or African American Studies at the aforementioned colleges. Also, one recipient will be selected from each institution for the 2017-2018 academic year. Those who wish to apply should contact the participating schools for more details. Good luck to all those who apply!

Visit my original post for Level 21 Magazine’s blog here.

Pharrell Debuts Chanel’s ‘Gabrielle’ in New Campaign

A noticeably unattended, handsome young man enters a large warehouse. His cries of “hello” echo about the markedly empty space. As he scans the area, there are empty cases strewn about and spotlights in the ceiling that cast limited lighting. Suddenly, a drum plays loudly in the background by an unseen hand. The drums get louder and faster as the young man drags a trunk across the floor in haste. He’s a man with a plan, but what is he up to?

He hops onto the trunk as it glides across the floor with ease. No, wait…it has wheels! Using each stacked trunk as a stepping stool he manages to get to the top of the highest one. Now he’s  perilously walking across the rails mounted onto the spotlights! Skillfully yet carefully he uses balances himself across, gently adjusting Chanel’s latest curated shoulder bag across his torso and behind him so he can gather himself. Once he jumps back down, his inner child physically manifests and gives him a standing ovation.

The young Pharrell opens his hand to reveal the word ‘GABRIELLE’ scripted in across his palm. “Gabrielle”? The slightly-older-yet- seemingly-naive Pharrell asked. As anxiously glances around the room, he then turns around and the boy is nowhere in sight. Intuitively, Pharrell looks down at the bag draped across his body and gives an adulterated look at the camera as the any remaining innocence fades from his countenance.Karl Lagerfeld in his absolute brilliance has done it again, but for the first time, his latest creation has a man cast as the main character for Chanel’s campaign video .

Pharrell Williams, aka “Skateboard P”, master producer and artist who has such an eclectic fashion sense, so much so that the gigantic cowboy hat  he wore at the 2014 Grammys landed its own Twitter account. Quite naturally, Williams was the perfect choice for the ad. Although the announcement was made in March, the French Atelier recently launched the video, and of course, every media outlet was abuzz. What is also significant about this ad, is that the bag itself, ‘Gabrielle’, is respectfully named after The Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself. The bag’s design has Chanel’s notable quilting, butter-soft leather, and could not be complete without the double C’ we have grown to admire and envy.

Balenciaga Designs Pricey Ikea Knockoff Tote

Fashion trends are usually inspired by nature, places around the world, or even people. Luxury brands have also been responsible for leading the industry, dictating to the masses what’s hot and what’s not. Additionally, they are notable for pushing the envelope and bending the rules to deliver innovative or fabulous remakes of vintage favorites. Lately, such brands are transforming low end or everyday products as sources for inspiration to recreate more upscale, pricier updates.  But when is it excessive? some are claiming that Balenciaga has chosen discounted furniture giant Ikea as the muse for their new handbag design. Still confused? Well then read on…

Whether window shopping, dining at its restaurants or purchasing some build-it-yourself furniture, snagging one of the Swedish retailer’s bright blue plastic totes is a part of the Ikea shopping experience. Also, if you like, shoppers can even take one home for a low cost of $.99.  However, Balenciaga’s latest creation, The Arena Extra-Large Shopper, is shockingly similar to the neon blue tote,  so much so that it has gone viral on social media and internet sites are buzzing about it. But with a few minor modifications and swapping out plastic for glazed leather makes the Balenciaga version a hefty price of $2145.

The question is, who wants to skip a few mortgage payments to covet a handbag that resembles one that can be found in laundromats or car trunks everywhere? After all, isn’t the point in investing into luxury goods is for the exclusivity? While Balenciaga has yet to comment on the backlash, Ikea is totally unbothered. Matter of fact, they are quite flattered at the high-priced “imitation”. As you know, supply and demand would simply drive sales of the store’s staple shopping bag, since most cannot afford the much pricier knock-off. So this is quite beneficial to Ikea. The thing is with trends, they can go as swiftly as they come.  Does the Balenciaga bag make your must have list? Fab or fug? Sound off below:

Link to my original post for Level 21 Magazine’s blog here.

Steph Curry Displays his Dapper Side in GQ Cover Feature

In an exclusive article for GQ Magazine, Golden State Warrior’s own Steph Curry discusses rebounding from last year’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Championship Finals, prior challenges entering the league and throughout his career, as well as what expectations he has for the future. As much adoration Curry receives now, that was certainly not always the case. Upon his inception into the NBA, many critics doubted whether he had what it takes, much of the criticism based upon his physical appearance. He has heard such blistering remarks attacking his athletic prowess, while also being described as “far below NBA standard in regard to explosiveness and athleticism”. These are some of many other statements that could have potentially shattered his self-esteem or discouraged him from furthering his NBA career. Additionally, Curry even had his own doubts whether he could shatter the proverbial ceiling that loomed above him.

Rightfully so, considering that some of his teammates and opponents alike tend to tower above the 29-year-old Point Guard. With the odds stacked against him, Curry had and still has plenty to prove. His fixed,  yet gentle gaze as he seemly glides in the air over the court is proof that Curry’s moves are graceful and artistic in nature, a skill that is indeed rare even among his peers. While many of his predecessors and other NBA players have this stern, rough demeanor, Curry’s childlike innocence, and gentle disposition which some may deem a weakness has oftentimes worked in his favor. Since The Warrior’s disappointing loss to Cleveland during the NBA Finals, Curry has had time to reflect on what went wrong and what lessons he could take from that into the future.

He remarked during his GQ interview that “I gave it a lot of thought, and it was like a recurring nightmare for a while. But then, you know, you live your life and do your thing.” But will that be enough this time around as the team faces the inevitable meeting with the Cavs this year? His optimism and focus may certainly drive The Warriors to a Championship. His level of dedication and personal responsibility was instilled in him at a young age. With a modest upbringing in quaint Charlotte, North Carolina and NBA veteran Dell Curry as his father, Curry learned the value in being true to himself, and respecting others, especially women.  His religious background has also contributed to him being the disciplined and driven individual Curry is today. After all, he is the first NBA player to historically receive an unanimous vote for 2015-16 Most Valuable Player, which in itself seems divinely orchestrated. Championship loss or not, Steph Curry stays winning.

Read my original post for Level 21 Magazine here.