Melanin Poppin’ – Afropunk Brooklyn 2017 with My Girls

For those of you who don’t know what Afropunk is, in just a few words, it’s a two-day alternative music festival that incorporates fashion, art, food, activism and other creative expressions of blackness. It originated in Brooklyn but now has festivals in Paris, London, Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa. Afropunk is a huge event that is a convergence of many different interests, but for me, the dress-up aspect is the most exciting part. Just do a Google search for “Afropunk fashion” or “Afropunk street style” to see what I mean. Or better yet, continue reading!

Last year was my first time going to Afropunk, although I had been wanting to go for several years. When I finally made it there, I ended up having so much fun and decided that I would definitely go again next year. This year rolled around and I was able to get my ticket early, thank goodness because the prices go up as it gets closer to the date. This is an issue for some since prior to 2015, the concert was free of charge. But one thing to note, whether you consider it a good or bad thing, once it stopped being free, the acts moved closer and closer to being mainstream. The concert still features alternative acts, but I think one difference is that Black alternative music is becoming more popular, as I mentioned in my post, “Is Alt-R&B a Thing? (What I’m Listening to These Days & a Review of Ravyn Lenae).”

Anyway, I was super excited about this year’s show, which would have, among other acts, a Saint Heron Stage that included performers curated by Solange herself. So I got a group of 6 of my closest friends and family together to go with me. We were going to have a mini girls trip! I even created a What’s App group chat for us to plan. For weeks, the seven of us chatted and laughed about what outfits and hairstyles we would be rocking for the big event. We sent each other Pinterest pictures for inspiration and thought of DIY ideas for accessories and anything else we could think of.

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Winter Fashion: What Every Glam Must Have for 2017

Winter is here and because I hate the cold I usually have to find a silver lining to this change of season. Right now, the silver lining is putting together new outfits to make going outside in the Winter more bearable. I’ve been having some fun combining my Fall pieces with new winter pieces to make weather-appropriate, but stylish outfits. Here are some of my favorite Winter must-have looks!

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Fall is Here, So What to Wear?

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As New York Fashion Week 2016 (showing Spring Summer 2017) comes to a close, I’m reminded that a new season for fashion is here. Though it may still be nice out, you can feel the crisp Fall bite in the air. Time to break out the boots and layers,  but don’t put away the summer dresses and tees just yet.

When I was a teenager I used to live for the extra thick back-to-school fashion issues of all my favorite magazines that came in August, in preparation for September. Now, as an adult, it’s no longer back-to-school shopping time for me, but Fall fashion is no less exciting and I still pore through magazines – and blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest, of course – looking for what pieces to add to my wardrobe for the upcoming season.

All the top fashion and lifestyle magazines, and their corresponding social media, never fail to deliver the latest trend forecasts and the masses happily follow them – sometimes without even realizing it. The only thing is, many times the examples of these trends are just a bit out of the average person’s price range since many of the looks are ripped from the runway and haven’t trickled down to mainstream retail yet.

So I decided to put together my own Fall Fashion Trend list, complete with shopping options for any budget. This list is largely based on looks that were displayed in some of the most popular designers’ Fall Winter 2016 collections, as well as all the fashion content I could get my hands on this month. Enjoy!

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Mickalene Thomas: Layers of Black Womanhood through an Artist’s Eyes

 

La leçon d’amour, 2008

La leçon d’amour, 2008

I first came across Mickalene Thomas’ work on – where else? Pinterest. Because I’m obsessed. Anyway, besides her work being gorgeous and the fact that it focuses on black female identity and sexuality, I was drawn to find out more about her when I discovered that not only is she an openly gay black artist, but she is also from Camden, NJ, where I was born. To top it off, she is now based out of Brooklyn, NY, just as I am.

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Solange – True (limited edition EP art)

Thomas’ work is a cross between that of Romare Bearden, Henri Matisse’s fauvism, and pop art. She often uses mixed-media, a technique in which she incorporates acrylic paint along with glitter, rhinestones, and other materials. She also utilizes photography and multi-textured collages filled with patterns and bright colors. On her use of patterns, Thomas says in a 2011 interview with PMC Mag that, “Pattern has been an important part of my work for a very long time–I use it to create rhythm and dissonance in the work as well as to reference an array of influences and sources.”

Thomas also creates amazing installations, which are works of three-dimensional creation, often used to transform a space into a representation of a certain concept or theme. Below is Thomas’ “Better Days” installation, which depicts a childhood memory of when her mother hosted parties and other events to raise money to fight causes that affect the Black community.

Mickalene Thomas’s “Better Days” installation

“Better Days” Installation, 2013

Remarkably, Thomas introduces the Black woman into classical art in a beautiful and poignant way. This is especially apparent in her 2012 exhibition, “The Origin of the Universe,” where, as Huffington Post puts it, she “…trad[es] in Romantic renditions of milky skin and auburn curls for glamorous black women, their nude forms replaced with bold, printed ensembles, playful wigs, and electric makeup…Thomas does far more than insert black women into an artistic narrative from which they were, for so long, excluded.” With each new exhibit, Thomas challenges societal norms of beauty and forces the viewer to come face to face with how she perceives it.

Even as her work evolves, Thomas continues to put the Black woman at the forefront as she does with the many-layered tapestries and landscapes that surround them. She is able to achieve the fine balance between a Black woman’s sexuality, strength, and femininity and by doing so she allows her work to exude a certain truth and sincerity that is often lacking in the one-dimensional portrayal of the Black woman.

In a 2016 Women in the World, New York Times interview, when asked how her work is affected by how the black woman’s experience is often erased in the feminist dialogue, Thomas says, “By selecting women of color [as my subjects], I am quite literally raising their visibility and inserting their presence into the conversation. I like to think of the portraits as mirrors… We are not validated until we see ourselves, and the mirror is a tangible object that works as an evidence to external appearance. Not only are we present, we demand that we be seen, be heard, and be acknowledged.”

In an Interview Magazine feature, Thomas specifically speaks about the importance of representing the Black woman when it comes to ideals of beauty. She says, “Out of necessity, black women have always had to consider others’ perceptions of a certain beauty ideal, just starting with the skin color.” This is where her art comes in; it not only validates the Black woman’s existence, it seeks to educate the rest of the world on just how beautiful and precious a Black woman’s skin, hair, and body are and that these are not to be devalued by any outsider who may not understand their worth.

I Thought You Said You Were Leaving, 2006

I Thought You Said You Were Leaving, 2006

In total recognition of her intersectionality, Thomas’ art also conveys powerful messages about the female body and women’s sexuality. Thomas’ “Origin of the Universe” is an invocation of Gustave Courbet’s “Origin of the World” (1866), where Courbet painted a headless torso of a woman with her legs spread, leaving everything for full view. With her rendition, Thomas strips the power away from such a male-centered, controversial work and turns it into something much more empowering. She uses herself as the model, spread legs and all, and in her signature style, she incorporates glitter into the portrait. Thomas makes it her own in such a way that seems to exclaim, ‘It is my body and I will allow you to view it when and how I please!’

Thomas is also adept at seamlessly featuring intimacy between Black women in her artwork. Another piece in her exhibition, “Origin of the Universe”,  called “Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires” (also an invocation of Courbet’s work), depicts two Black women with limbs intertwined, taking a nap in the midst of a garden full of disjointed colors and shapes.

Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires, 2012

Sleep: Deux Femmes Noires, 2012

Keeping in theme with intimacy between Black women, Thomas is known for using subjects that she has good relationships with, both working and personal. Her most recent work, “Muse”, is based on a book of the same name and is dedicated to her photography of many of the women she works with. The exhibit and book feature several of Thomas’ personal friends and acquaintances with whom she became closer with as she continued to use them as subjects in her pieces. Continue reading

Summer Fashion: Where did the time go?

 

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If you’re anything like me, you don’t have nearly as much fun getting dressed for a regular work day as you do for the weekend or even an after-work outing. I know work clothes can be fun too, but since I’d rather spend my money on trendy or chill clothes, my work attire can be described as, at best, cute business casual. In other words, boring. Work fashion doesn’t excite me as much as everyday fashion does, especially street style, although I may not be brave enough yet to don some of the cool outfits I see and love.

But having to dress for my 9 to 5 for 5 out of 7 days in the week leaves me with the dilemma of not having enough time to experiment with new looks. Now, I’m no fashionista, but I do dabble and at least know what the trends are, even if I don’t wear them every day. In the beginning of each new season, I usually make a list of key pieces I want to get and go on Pinterest and Instagram for looks I want to try. But this summer is going by super fast! So what’s girl to do when it seems there aren’t enough days in the summer for fun, warm weather fashion?

I decided to post some of my favorite looks on here and challenge myself to execute all of them by the end of the season. Challenge accepted.

Here are the particulars:

Blue and White Porcelain Matching Set @ Cupshe

As seems to be the case every season lately, prints are in this summer. In addition, so are matching separates. With this outfit, you get two for one. I love the fringe-y sandals too. Thankfully, I have a pair already!

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More prints; this time, a little bit of mix and match. My favorite part of these looks are the use of the pineapple, which also seems to be big this summer, and the tropical plants in the bold prints. As usual, the Quann sisters are killing it.

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