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.

A Preview to Ipsy’s April ‘SideShow’

As an Ipsy monthly subscriber, I get five sample or full sized cosmetic products for about ten bucks (pre-tax, pre-shipping). While some months, I am pleasantly surprised at the selection, other months I find myself glancing at the products in dismay, then tossing the Glam Bag somewhere (hence no recent reviews about the past couple of bags). That aside, I know that no brand is perfect and since they have wonderful customer service,  I continue to be a loyal customer.

Anyhow, when I got April’s Glambag, I was excited, although I found out what I was getting via the Ipsy App that allows you to pretty much view the products you should expect in your bag instead of waiting until the bag arrives. First, this month’s bag looks like a carnival ticket, which I adore, because novelty bags are so cute and fun! This one I will definitely use. They also allow us to stay in touch with our inner children. We should never lose them. After all, they pretty got us to where we are today!

Secondly, I like the selection of products, which are a variety that I can truly appreciate. I received a full-sized LipTone Care Stick by Tony Moly in Mint Light and Glamour Dolls x Lisa Frank Angle Brush. I also received sample-sizes of the following: Truffle Therapy Face Toner, Elizabeth Mott’s Show Me Your Glow Shimmer Shadow & Highlighter and Meg Twin Nail Colors in Lovey Dovey.

I am really excited about each product (especially the toner, angle brush and nail colors) and will post my reviews soon, so stay tuned!

Also, if you are also an Ipster, please feel free to share what goodies you got in your Glambag this month!

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.

BzzAgent Review: L’Oreal’s Voluminous Mascara in Cobalt Blue + Primer

When I saw that BzzAgent was launching a campaign for L’Oreal’s Voluminous Primer and Mascara in Blue Cobalt, I was immediately excited because blue is my favorite color. Also, having already tried a luxury brand mascara in the same color, I have been longing for the same quality but with a more affordable price point. So I knew I had to try it out. I was throughly impressed with the primer, which serves as a base to prep the lashes and maximizes the impression of the mascara. It was easy to apply, not thick and gooey, which could give your lashes that “tarantula” effect. After all, who wants to look like a hairy spider?

Afterwards I applied the Voluminous Mascara in Cobalt Blue, which I highly recommend even for those who are too shy to wear color mascara. It is very subtle, which I appreciate because I could get away with wearing it during the day and night. The mascara applies well, is not clumpy and dries very quickly. My lashes are still soft after application, which is beneficial because some mascaras I have used in the past made them dry and hard, which I think causes breakage. The color is also suitable for my skin tone. I like the shock factor it gives when people are close to me and they are pleasantly surprised that my lashes have a blue tint!

For those who prefer a natural look when seeking mascara brands, L’Oreal’s Voluminous Mascara does the trick. While my own lashes are long, this mascara gives them noticeably extra volume (as the name states) and length. Although Bzzagent sent me this complimentary mascara set I would definitely buy this when I run out because the wand works well and it is affordable. The cost for both the primer and mascara retails for about $10, and about $6 separately. For the price, the quality of the product is good and it comes off easily with facial cleanser, or with make up wipes. The color is fun, yet easy on the eyes, and I definitely see a difference in volume and length.

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.