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On Women’s Marches and Fashion – This is What Democracy Looks Like (Fashion Conscious: A Column)

March 9, 2017

by Dominique Michelle Davis

The recent Woman’s march and the ability of women to organize in a effort to protest misogyny and oppression inspired and saddened my heart to know that in 2016 as far as we’ve come we still haven’t overcame. What was inspiring was the fact that women were united and also embraced the support of males in acknowledging what has been a systemic issue in the United States and especially in the politically arena. The march was and is what democracy should reflect. Women, men, children, LGBTQ people, people of color, young and old all chanting in chorus for basic human rights and speaking truth to power.

How does this relate to fashion, pop culture and beauty? Because the beauty of life is that it comes in all forms, shapes, sizes, cultures and experiences. How we fashion our lives to cope with the struggle and challenges of reality may be only the most outer layer of us expressing ourselves, but who would want to be vulnerable and share more when the mere appearance presents a challenge and barrier toward forming a deeper connection? These are just my thoughts about the power of visual appearance and the symbolism it may represent for individual expression.

During the march a young lady was dressed in what upon first gaze was a bit odd and eccentric. Then it dawned on me, she was dressed as a Suffragist.I remember learning about this in history class, and I can acknowledge and site the names of leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Temperance movement with vague recollection, so I was moved to do some fact checking to jog my memory. The task of researching this bit of history also made me realize how easy it is to forget the suffering and struggle of the past when in present day it appears that equal rights is within reach. One of my favorite signs during the march stated “I still can’t believe that we still have to march for this.” That was my exact sentiment and it felt reassuring to be among a crowd who was just as dismayed and angry with the system who would vote for a reality star with no proven track record of what it takes to move a country toward a future that is accepting and embracing all life and experiences; or for that matter, how to build relationships with other countries to foster global and non-exploitative economic prosperity.

Women’s “dress codes” has evolved since the Temperance Movement. In fact, women’s dress in the 21st century is, as it was during the dress reform movements of the 19th century, a progressive movement in and of itself. Women’s garments were very restrictive in function and style and today, in America, we have the option to choose. Hopefully that will remain unchanged under this new administration. Laughing, but very serious.

Beauty, Fashion, On the Carpet, Pop Culture, WERK!

Dominique’s Oscars 2017 Recap

February 27, 2017

by Dominique Michelle Davis

Jimmy Kimmel’s witty and clever one-liners infusing political commentary with Hollywood elite was right on time and made this Oscars much more fun and funny to watch than in recent years. Though many were understandably not happy with his handling of the cast and crew of “Moonlight ” almost leaving the evening without the award that was rightfully theirs, Kimmel did shine with comic moments like his tweeting President Trump live and referencing the “overrated” Meryl Streep tweet from the petty President. One of my favorite moments of laughter.

The other highlight of the evening was Moonlight receiving awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture. The 2017 Oscar Awards brought a refreshing and much needed perspective in presenting inclusivity. I was in awe and admiration of Mr. Farhadi’s refusal to attend the awards because of the ridiculous and outrageous ban that President Trump has enacted against immigrants – documented and undocumented. It was inspiring to see Hollywood Celebs using this platform as a means to promote human rights and speak in opposition of laws that go against the very nature of the founding principals of the United States of America.

On the fashion front, here are my Best Dressed Looks for Oscar Night 2017:

Tony, Emmy, and now Oscar winner Viola Davis wearing Armani Privé.

 

Janelle Monae wearing Elie Saab Couture.

 

Last year’s Best Actress winner Brie Larson, wearing an Oscar de la Renta gown.

 

Nominee for Best Actress, Ruth Negga of the film “Loving,” in a glorious custom Valentino in the signature “valentino red.”

 

We always love Chrissy Teigen, and we also always love her in Zuhair Murad. A perfect match.

 

The “around the way girl” herself, Taraji P. Hensen, stealing the show as always in a sexy, sophisticated, Alberta Ferretti gown.

Fashion, On the Street

Hat-titude : Our Favorite Fall Accessory

November 22, 2016

By Dominique Michelle Davis (photo credit above: Getty Images)

One accessory that I have always admired most is the woman or man who rocks a hat to complete an ensemble. In thinking about the fall trends for hats this Fall, this piece is giving a little history to the 2016-2017 fall winter hat trend we see on the runways and also on the streets. Brimmed hats: the Fedora, bucket hats, pork pie hats, and british boilers are a few of the hats forecasted for the Fall are officially everywhere.

The Fedora was popular as early as 1891 and was popularized by Sarah Bernhardt in the play titled Fedora where Ms. Bernhardt wore a brimmed hat as a cross dressing heroine. Fedora’s typically have a wider brim while small brimmed hats similar to the Fedora are called Trilbies. Guiseppe Borsalino established Borsalino a hat company in 1857 and is one company that became well known for the manufacturing of the Fedora.

Photo credit: Vogue.com

Photo credit: Vogue.com

Photo credit: Vogue.com

Photo credit: Vogue.com

The bucket hat was originally made from wool felt or tweed cloth and were traditionally worn by Irish farmers and fishermen as protection from the rain.

Photo credit: Style Dumonde

Photo credit: Style Dumonde

Photo credit: Harper's Bazaar

Photo credit: Harper’s Bazaar

And “Pork Pie” hats like those below were first worn by women in the 1830s.

Photo Credit: Hat and Headgear Love (Pinterest)

Photo Credit: Hat and Headgear Love (Pinterest)

Photo Credit: Hat and Headgear Love (Pinterest)

Photo Credit: Hat and Headgear Love (Pinterest)

Fashion, On the Carpet, On the Street

Are Dress Codes No Longer A Thing? (Fashion Conscious: A Column)

June 6, 2016

by Dominique Michelle Davis

In a recent discussion with a close friend the topic of appropriate dress attire was debated. I took personal offense to the attire worn to a business casual event and said as much, which got my gears grinding about the inception of formal dress codes and the purposes behind them. I went to my Emily Post book and scanned a few articles about western and eastern dress codes and the class and social status that dress can portray. There was clear evidence of a haves and the have not’s formation in the writing there, so it imagined people as being either wealthy or poor. Are we seeing a reduction in dress due to a reduction of the middle class? Or is it pure rebellion against restricted social structures that pre-approve style trends?

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Post is the author of the legendary etiquette guide. It is either loved or hated or some combo of both.

As a person who questions all forms of conformity within society I really had to think about why this particular issue bothered me so. I saw my friend as an extension of me, which was something (his attire) and someone I couldn’t control. I took personal umbrage because I knew that he was aware of the rules and chose not to oblige, yet, I choose to break dress code rules as a way to establish individual style and personal preference all the time.The great thing about people pushing back against codes of appropriate dress is that it encourages individuals who choose not to follow traditional and conservative paths of dress to the work of developing cultures and norms off the beaten path, something that could also then extend into their pursuing career fields and environments more accepting of their individual expression (or perhaps even changing the sense of what is and is not appropriate dress in some of those more restricting and conservative fields).

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A glimpse at some perceptions about acceptable and unacceptable work clothes.

The free spirit and conservative conformist within me polarizes my thoughts and led me to a temporary state of confusion and concluded with why do I even care how another person chooses to dress? I know from personal experience that I loathe when people try to dress me in what they deem to be appropriate for the context or setting, but sometimes it’s just easier to get along and go along than to stand my ground on the issue. Some battles just aren’t worth it. Some days I wish I could just go to work in jeans and a t-shirt. It’s not as if my intellectual capacity is in any way affected by my outward appearance. SO again, why was I so bothered?

The answer for me, and for many, is that what has been impressed as acceptable has molded my view for dress codes to be in alignment with venue and social settings. Deep down I admired my friend’s ability not to care about what other people think, yet his choice to choose that setting to make a point to be an individual had me less than pleased. My ability to recognize my conformity to rigid social structures of dress has helped to create a voice that I never knew could coexist with following a set of rules imposed against what some may call free will. It is important to also consider, put simply, that these rules are often in place to create new structures for disciplining people on the basis of their identity – especially gender, sexuality, race, and age – and that this too is reason to be very critical about too while also investigating our individual belief systems about dress codes. That is, what is the underlying statement or implication for statements we make about the dress of others particularly as it relates to systems of oppression, marginalization, and injustice?

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The Patriarchy always got something to say about fashion. These are facts.

In 2016 where the rule stands to be there are no rules, or moving further along those lines, do dress codes even still exist? And when is it ok to make a fashion faux pas? Kanye West’s recent display at the Met Gala speaks to previous writings by Dr. Eric Darnell Pritchard in an essay for Ebony Magazine called “Who Gets to Make a Social Fashion Statement?” In some respect, lending credence to artists who have created a platform have the ability to make socially conscious or unconscious statements with dress is a win for everyone as it disrupts rigid belief systems of propriety that limit who can and cannot transgress in everyday life.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Kanye West attends "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

photo credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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We don’t know about these blue eyes, but I am here for this Balmain Trucker jacket and YSL boots though.

I am in no way in support of the blue eyed contacts Kanye wore to the MET Gala, or even suggesting that Mr. West was making a socially conscious statement, but one does have to question why he chose that venue, that setting and that platform to make a world debut of a clearly statement on representation and race by wearing blue eyed contacts after creating recent songs such as “Black Skinhead” and “Blood of the Leaves,” I’m just saying. I’m really interested in understanding his thoughts with his latest fashion statement and how it, as an example, might inform my larger comment here about social spaces and appropriate dress. Kanye’s introduction to the black skinned blue-eyed West was probably the most appropriate place to display his break. Maybe he actually knows the Bluest Eye and will enlighten us in his new album; title yet unknown.

Dress codes, and a lack thereof, ranging from white tie to grunge all fall within an economic class, and in many cases a performance of race, that has been normed by those included to be an inclusive safe haven. I think about a quote from Emily Post, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” Fashion, personal style and dress codes create an outward outlet for freedom of expression, which also has the ability to offend our delicate sensibilities when it doesn’t align with constructed worldview that we’ve created. In this respect we see how the feelings of others can be both something that liberates, but also in the case if dress codes, can constrain and regulate people across difference and individual as well as communal modes of style for expression. Kudos to those who create their own lane, it takes courage to break the mold. Just maybe give those of us who aren’t prepared a heads up? Even if you do not give a heads up, there always seems to be a code to be included regardless. The code when you are breaking the social norm is you are not to be trusted because here comes trouble. It is worth it to think about what that response to dress code transgressions mean and what effect they have for the transgressors and also the transgressed.

 

Fashion

Uniform Madness? (Fashion Conscious: A Column)

May 2, 2016

(above: Eco-conscious haute couture look by Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel.) 

by Dominique Michelle Davis

Over the past few weeks I’ve begun to read Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul by Dr. Tanisha Ford, and reading Glamourtunist editor Dr. Eric D. Pritchard’s recent post of “Dissonance, Denim and Social Change,” I began to wonder about the origins of uniformed apparel as a sense of belonging to an outfit or organization demonstrating solidarity among its members. This brought my thoughts back to my very first “Fashion Conscious” column, when I learned and wrote about the first known fashion designer to create his own fashion label which was a break from societal norms placing him on the vanguard within the fashion industry.

In thinking about what keeps fashion current and moving forward are the artists that are willing to take risks and break from the traditional molds to present a different view for consumers. This could include incorporating political messages or an affront to societal rules by redefining hemlines, incorporating traditional and cultural ethnic inspired prints, color contrasts and mirroring nature. The Gucci spring/summer 2016 show perfectly exemplified breaking out of the mold and uniformity along multiple lines, especially mixing colors and prints on clothes and accessories in gloriously wacky ways.

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Gucci, Spring/Summer 2016.

I also think about the cliché term that history and fashion repeats itself which brings me to one of the current fashion trends forecast for this spring and summer which is 70s inspired suede and fringe garments. We’ve seen the look presented in the 2016 collections of designers Jonathan Sanders, Alberta Ferretti, Rebecca Minkoff and Olivier Rouesteing. Historic recurrence is thought to be the repetition of similar events in history.

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Rebecca Minkoff, Spring/Summer 2016

Staying in line with what was happening in the 1970s we could draw a few parallels to the current state of affairs in the decade of 2010. In the 1970s films like “Rocky” and “Star Wars” were released and the rise of technological advances saw of the first commercially available game being released. In 2015-2016, “Creed” and “Star Wars VII” were released and we see the advancement of social media networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and Kik.

Reviewing the political climate of the 1970s in comparison to the current state of affairs it is interesting and noteworthy to mention how the people continue to use threads as a method of communication to advance social change.In politics, the second wave of the feminist movement grew celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the 19th amendment to the United Stated Constitution which also saw the Women’s Strike for Equality and other protests as well as Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister in the United Kingdom in 1979, and of course in 1972 Shirley Chisholm became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

shirleychisholm-fashionEBONY

In 2009 the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed and in 2016 Hilary Rodham Clinton is running for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination for President of United States. With this in mind I think of Karl Lagerfeld’s recent eco-conscious haute couture collection for Chanel to be mindful to use repurposed materials and bringing an environmentally conscious collection to the forefront for consumers and fashion elite alike.

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Karl Lagerfield’s recent eco-fashion collection for Chanel.

Dr. Ford and Dr. Pritchard shed light on how apparel was used to help bridge the advancement of blacks across the African diaspora and promote social change. Apparel has long been used to show solidarity in wardrobe uniformity across political structures to showcase party allegiance. The use of colors, and structure and likeness of uniforms creates and promotes cohesion and at the very least the appearance of harmony and conformity. Individual breaks and/or the use of uniformed apparel to break from rigid or traditional norms attempts to cause a disturbance to what has been understood to be acceptable. The ability to have free will and choice of how to appear clothed in public can be liberating and maybe evening therapeutic for a sense self expression. The use of apparel throughout history can be viewed as having multidimensional in its approach to represent a structure, a movement or a creative vision to spark a conversation for change.

Glamourtunist

Sightful Sensation: Style and Visual Culture (‘Fashion Conscious’ Column)

March 28, 2016
(ABOVE photo credit: from eco friend, a brain model made out of recycled denim).

by Dominique M. Davis

Ever wonder what causes your heart to skip a beat as you fight a damn near orgasmic reaction to the flyest pair of pumps, no wait, caged sandals, and the bag… the bag to die for paired with the perfect skirt and a lipstick that screams wear me NOW? The power of visuals is a powerful draw, presenting images that appeal to our senses and ultimately our desires. Marketing and advertising has a lot of influence in consumer purchasing behavior, but why and how? My interest in visual art and fashion as a visual art led me to do a little information gathering on visual art and how it influences or affects the brain and consumer purchasing behavior.

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In my search, I went through some articles on neuroscience and neurobiology that provided insight supporting how visual art has real affects on the brain in both perception and cognition. How does this apply to fashion, beauty and the arts? As we perceive images we assign meaning or interpret data to discern and make informed judgments and/or decisions. Culture and society has a huge influence on norms and customs which can affect consumer tastes preferences and purchasing behavior. Integrate marketing and advertising to appeal to emotional states of mind and the power of visuals can become that much greater in influencing culture.

Fashion and beauty (whatever that may mean to you) has the power to empower and transcend norms and traditional customs by incorporating messages from all walks of life and cultures. In an editorial for Ebony.com   entitled “Who Gets to Make a Social Fashion Statement?” Eric Darnell Pritchard cautions us to be more mindful of the inequality evident in   what politicized fashion statements are readily accepted and celebrated, and which are targeted for dismissal or punishment particularly when they visually disrupt norms.

Fashion is a visual art form that can be a creative outlet of expression in a culture bogged down in norms and customs. The images that we see can trigger a multitude of emotions and sometimes call to action. I think about Karl Lagerfeld’s latest haute couture collection for Chanel during Paris Fashion Week 2016 which focused on eco-conscious couture. This high fashion couture collection focused on environmentally conscious fabrics keeping the integrity of couture and incorporating socially conscious and environmentally friendly messages.

The power of visual art has a huge influential factor on society and culture, fashion as a visual art has the ability to evoke thought, appeal to emotional content, and allow for creative expression while still serving a functional purpose of clothing the body. That’s a lot for one brain to process.

Fashion, Film, On the Carpet, WERK!

Oscar ’16 Glamourtunists of the Night

February 29, 2016

In general we found this year’s Academy Awards red carpet to be quite uninspiring. No one really blew us totally away, and in general many of the people you look forward to seeing on the red carpet weren’t even at the show this year. Also, the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations itself were repeated on the red carpet, as reflected in the fact that there were almost no people of color on the red carpet this year, and certainly none of our fashion faves. No Lupita. No Viola. No Salma Hayek. No J. Lo. It was very sad. We did manage to find some favorite looks from the men and women on the red carpet, and present you our Glamourtunists of the night:

Glamourtunists of the Night – Men

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The always handsome Michael Strahan stunned in a tourqoise tuxedo. He wore a similar such tuxedo in bourdeaux at the 2014 Oscars.

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Eddie Redmayne went for a classic black tuxedo, this one from Alexander McQueen. The texture of the jacket juxtaposed to the lapel and pants looked great, as did the tailoring.

Glamourtunists of the Night – Women

Olivia Munn - Oscars 16

Olivia Munn’s coral stella McCartney gown had us at hello!

soarise ronan - Oscars16

Saorise Ronan’s custom emerald Calvin Klein was a serious show stopper. The color of the garment matched her hair color perfectly, and the plunging neckline and shimmer was definite sexy, hollywood glamour.

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This pleated, ivory dream gown by Valentino made Olivia Wilde a bell of the ball. The high-wasit line and peek-a-boo sides and cleavage baring top of the gown blended sexy and sophistication perfectly. The clutch was a bit too clunky for our taste, but everything else was perfect. Wilde’s hairstyle was also one of our favorite beauty looks of the night.

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Chile’ we are NEVER surprised when mother Charlize Theron comes to shut down the entire red carpet situation, and yet we are always left with our mouth hanging open by how glorious she looks. Her look last night had the same effect. Flawless! Our favorite thing about this look was the beautiful diamond necklace she wore that create the illusion of a cutout panel given where it draped between her skin and the gown.

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And last but not least, Brie Larson, the evening’s Best Actress winner in this cerulean, ruffle Gucci gown. The opulence of her very ornate belt is what elevated this look to such a big night without overwhelming the look itself. Well done, and congratulations Brie.

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW: Derek Lam is Totally My Valentine and…

February 14, 2016

… YES, I confess that I am totally just saying that because I want one of these gorgeous coats he showed in his Fall 2016 collection for New York Fashion Week, I already got a man. As for those extraordinary coats, here are the receipts:

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DerekLam3-Fall16

DerekLam1-Fall16

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On the strength of these looks alone Lam’s show was, by far, among my favorite of today (being edged out just a teeny, weeny bit by Public School because their clothes make me think a lot and I’m a fashion nerd).  But to top off these already phenomenal looks, he also gave us this, and this, and that!:

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DerekLam6-Fall16

DerekLam5-Fall16

Slayed. Annnnnd, scene.

 

-edp

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW Fall ’16: Public School Resists Fashion’s Gender Gazing Problem

February 14, 2016

Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School have a lot on there plate these days. In addition to designing for the label they have successfully built into a must-see, award winning fashion and style brand, the two also now occupy the helm of the legendary DKNY. In a time when many are lamenting the death of creativity in fashion as a result of designer’s being tasked with too much to do, these two clearly still have steam as we saw in their recent Fall 2016 Menswear collection that slayed the runway, and now their Fall 2016 ready-to-wear collection for NYFW.

What I love about Public School is that, even when fashion sticks to basic notions of gender identity and expression in terms of clothes, and the fashion house does play by those old rules in terms of having a separate menswear and womenswear show (which, to be fair, is actually somewhat recent for their company), the fashion house and the clothes they produce do emerge from an aesthetic that is agender. The payoff of this, besides the obvious gender radicalness of it all, is that they can play with color and texture in their garments, but above all with silhouette’s as the form and function of their designs don’t appear to constrain on the basis of rigid rules of gender identity and expression we find in most mainstream fashion houses and others operating at the top levels as Public School. For this show we see large ponchos, oversized trousers and jeans, and layers that work to conceal rather than convey particular attention to any of the markers much of fashion draws the eye to in an effort to distinguish those features that denote men’s clothes and women’s clothes and rigid notions of what femininity and masculinity are and could be in and through fashion and style. In sum, I appreciate the cerebral nature of what Public School does each season and this collection keeps that going.

Here are some of my favorites from the Fall 2016 ready-to-wear line:

 

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-edp