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.

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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.

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.

Coachella 2017

As the ink from Coachella 2017 dries in the history books, performers showcased their music all week as Lady Gaga headlined and closed the show last night with her energetic performance, pounding the MainStage just before midnight. But, what I truly live for are the fashions worn during the week-long cultural and musical event. Usually celebrities are fixtures throughout the festivities, while fans and foes alike take to social media (unless lucky enough to attend) to see what ensembles and trends we should look for in the upcoming season.

Cowboy boots, ripped denim and floral prints are repeated staples worn to Coachella, while most women tend to trade in stiletto heels for Chucks and gladiator sandals so they can comfortably cover the grounds. Here are some of the notable trendsetters seen about Coachella who tend to never disappoint: Actress Yara Shahidi, more popularly known for her role on Blackish, donned a flowing, off-the-shoulder- floral frock with comfy flats and off course wild, beautiful curls being as free as can be.  Slum dog Millionaire actress Freida Pinto wore high-waisted olive pants barely hugging her rock-hard abs and a cropped blue top with a black hat covering her tousled hair and flat ankle strap sandals.

Socialite and Boss Babe Paris Hilton who dares to defy fashion limits whether you like her or not, was seen at Coachella with her whimsical, rainbow striped maxi dress complete with matching cat ears, soft pink ballet flats and signature long mane. Style maven and talented singer Solange Knowles, who can never do any wrong in my eyes when it comes to fashion, replete in a head-to-toe lace coral pantsuit and hair that defies gravity.

With a freshly cut pixie, Singer Katy Perry takes the athleisure approach with a sports bra, track pants and an eye-catching, technicolor fur, complete with lime green sunnies. Another trendsetting queen, Amber Rose arrives with NFL baller Odell Beckham Jr. wearing a form fitting bodysuit with larger-than-life accessories splashed strategically against a black background, with her trademark buzz cut blond tresses and pink glossy lips. Beckham Jr.’s distressed denim, blond curls and mix-and-match neon laces paired well with Rose’s outfit.

Rihanna’s style was my absolutely favorite. I believe that she has established herself as a young fashion icon who continues to add elements of surprise as we could never figure out what the singer, actress and designer dares to wear next. This year, the Bajan beauty wears an outfit none like any other Coachella attendee. Gucci’s latest creation: a crystal cat suit radiantly glistening  underneath denim cut off shorts revealing the pockets, and her killer long legs. She effortlessly is draped in an off the shoulder Gucci tank, wearing an ebony black razor cut bob haircut with her hazel eyes concealed behind dark shades. Of course she wore a pair of platform leather sneakers from her SS17 FENTY x Puma Collection. Combining cool with couture, Rihanna has set the fashion standard quite high.

FENTY x Puma SS17 Review

Rihanna made her Paris Fashion Week debut last year with her highly anticipated SS17  FENTY x PUMA Fashion show set in Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. The collection is full of luxury athleisure styles from baseball caps to hoodies. Models wore the coveted Creeper sneakers from her debut collection. Her furry flip flops the masses has grown to love, and other brands have begun to copy, are updated with satin bows. Pink ruffles, money green hooded sweatsuits, corsets, and FENTY fans paid an edgy and sporty homage to Marie Antoinette, an 18th century Bad Girl who definitely didn’t play by the rules.

Rihanna was inspired by imagery during previous visits to Versailles in France where she shot a campaign for Christian Dior, and discovered that Marie Antoinette graced those same hallways. Describing her collection as “regal with a perfect mix of street & sportswear”, Rihanna is quickly establishing herself as a style icon and influencer in the fashion world. It is refreshing to see someone like her push the envelop and defy whatever rules people tend to think are fashionable.

Fashion is an art form, and creativity is the key to successfully expressing it. She recently unveiled her PUMA SS17 footwear, featuring a stiletto-sneaker, flip flops and booties with silk bows, with a slightly softer approach than her more gothic collection from 2016. Footwear is now on sale at Neiman Marcus, Champs Sports, Asos and Six02.

Payless is Rebooting its Brand

Bargain footwear titan Payless ShoesSource recently announced that it will be shutting down 400 of its US stores, 378 of which are U.S. & Puerto Rico locations. Payless is the latest addition to the growing list of retailers that have already filed bankruptcy this year. (Read story on Wetseal). On Tuesday, the retailer filed a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, in a US Bankruptcy court in Missouri. Don’t fret, Payless fans, the purpose of the bankruptcy filing is to protect its current assets while reorganizing the brand, since it claims to have more liabilities than assets ($1 billion in assets vs $10 billion in liabilities). Since that is the case, it is definitely a clever strategy to eliminate the stores that are no longer profitable and replace them with other sources of revenue.

Although many of the stores may be closing, Payless still plans to “continue business in the ordinary course in terns of customers, vendors, partners and associates.” For those who wonder whether stores may close in their area, Payless still has an ecommerce presence where goods can be purchased online. With the store closing across the nation, one thing to look forward to is the huge closeout sales with a lot of merchandise marked down for low, low prices. And who doesn’t like a deal? Payless plans to rebuild their brand and make it better. That says a lot about a company, that can admit when things must change and improve to not only increase sales, but to also appease their customer. This also determines the successfulness of a brand, whether it can show resiliency amid financial turmoil. It will be exciting to see what the Payless has in store for the future.

For store closings in your area, click here.

Read my original post on Level 21 Magazine’s Blog here.

Victoria Beckham VB x Target Collaboration Hits Stores 4/9!!

International pop star, style maven, designer, and author Victoria Beckham is joining forces with Target to launch a limited edition, 200-piece collection. Scheduled to hit stores on April 9, the pieces pay homage to her Victoria by Victoria Beckham Line. Sleek, colorful, pantsuits, mod dresses and tailored, cuffed shirts are more affordable versions of Victoria’s signature style. What is also la-di-da about this collaboration is that the entire line, which ranges from petite to plus-sizes, has a modest price point of $70 or less.

Although Beckham’s own closet is the envy of all women, full of luxurious ensembles including those of her own design, she still has a practical approach to fashion, and her reasons for choosing to work with Target. “I wanted to work with a retailer that could enable me to reach out to women all around America no matter what their budget, I was really excited because I am often in Target stores with the kids.”

Another notably historical moment for Beckham is the fact that this is her first time tapping into the children’s clothing market. “I have so much fun dressing (daughter) Harper and can take what I’ve learned from having a daughter and really use that when designing this collection for little girls. I know what they like, I know what’s comfortable for girls, and Harper was really involved in the whole process and she has her collection and she loves wearing it.” Beckham is making it posh for mother and daughter to dress alike, so it is quite natural to expect that the entire collection will fly out of the stores and into closets everywhere.

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

Ellie Saab SS17 Show

Stars. Literally. Everywhere.

I could literally go on and on about why Ellie Saab is one of my favorite couture designers, ever.

He literally transforms evening gowns to where they appear as heavenly bodies that exist on our earthly plane.

Think I am exaggerating? Well maybe I am….

For example, watch The Ellie Saab SS17 Fashion Show. It was liken to attending an intergalactic disco party. The fashion show exposes us to a mystical world that everyone should dare be a part of. The overall theme is reminiscent of 60’s glamour. Waists are snatched, legs are tawny and bare, and eyes concealed behind shiny, golden sunnies. Per usual, Saab gives us flowing, layered gowns, but with a starry motif.

Grommet leather skirts, Lame’ pant and short suits all pair well with stacked heels. Bell-bottomed pants, embroidered baseball-style caps and fringe vests compels us all to to throw up the peace sign. Although these looks aren’t typical of the designer, Saab didn’t disappoint as he stays near and dear to the voluminous and colorful gowns he is quite notable for. Also, crystal-clear bodysuits and dresses that still leave plenty to the imagination.

Tuxedo pantsuits in angelic whites and mysterious blacks teamed with golden accents. As the show climaxed, more dreamy gowns with bold stripes and gravity-defying necklines are otherworldly. Saab’s play with color, silhouettes, prints and textures makes his designs literally a cut above the rest.