A Mere Mortal Bostonian Was At The Alexander Wang Show, For NYFW 2017

A Mere Mortal Bostonian Was At The Alexander Wang Show, For NYFW 2017

by C. “Shae” J.

“With the fashion industry in a state of flux, there’s something comforting about the familiar. Thankfully, we can always count on Alexander Wang to show us a good time, which is why very few editors batted an eye when the designer directed them to an unlisted address in Harlem on Saturday night for his Fall 2017 show — an invitation that explicitly came with the warning “no after-party.” 

That blurb was courtesy of Fashionista.com, the kind of place that embodies The Devil Wears Prada quote: “People would kill for this [fashion] job.” As stoked as fashion editors and writers seem in attending fashion week shows every February and September, there is a sense of entitlement to their presence while observing what designers will offer in the coming months. (If not immediately available after the runway show, as it is sometimes in a now social media world).

On Saturday, February 11, I had come a long way from standing outside of Richie Rich‘s, formerly of Heatherette, solo fashion show at Lincoln Center. Despite my strong familiarities with New York City based on past childhood visits, I was as green as a fresh transplant to the city could be. I swayed my body left to right in my own personal space, desperate to get a better glance from Lincoln’s open plaza. I could see the screen projecting Rich’s show, but I wasn’t in. I and about five other anxious onlookers just couldn’t resist.

That Saturday, I viewed Alexander Wang‘s Autumn/Winter 2017 collection live in person, my first fashion show. Fashionista claimed that it was an unlisted” address, but it had a number and a name: 3560 Broadway at 146 Street. When I walked from my friend’s home by 138th, also in Harlem, I simply used Google as a guide. This was as far into Harlem’s west side I was going to be in (Hamilton Heights), and nothing was recognizable until 145th Street, where the 1 train has a stop. The same 1 train I used to ride to and back when I lived in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. I enjoyed the walk that was slightly uphill and in weather that was surprisingly kind in the still offset days of February. I liked seeing real New Yorkers going about their lives in their habitat. To everybody else, as I contained my thirst, it was just another Saturday night.

By 145th, I was across the street from where a crowd had gathered by a dark building the took up the end of a block. That had to be it. I didn’t know it then, but the show was going to be held inside a somewhat half-abandoned RKO Hamilton Theater. Half because a part of it is used for purposes like becoming a Halloween costume superstore every October. But the theater itself is crumbling, decayed, and with a fabulous and resourceful past that includes being a discotheque and grocery store.

Metro Boomin provided the opening act of a DJ set, a playlist of club trap hip-hop. The runway show was scheduled to start at 8 PM, but more guests piled in and the media already in a frenzy, as there was another corner to them on the side of Boomin. It was around approximately 8:20 that the lights went down for the second time. Boomin switched to a more industrial soundtrack, and finally, the first model appeared.

I got to say it was amazing to see the models strut one by one, with glamorously sour puss expressions, enhanced by not too matte smoky eyes. I demonstrated the fangirl ways of a Kylie Jenner stan (who was present, and nearby Teyana Taylor) when I witnessed Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Both were frustratingly impressive in their model behavior than I imagined. The actual fashion of the show was classic Wang. If I had to come up with a kitschy name for it, it would be grunge chic. It was very rock. Almost a kind of Catholic school girl goes rock. Lots of black, a little gray. I definitely saw items I liked. The clothes of the runway matched the aesthetic of the guests, many of whom were likely Wang fans anyway. We were all wearing dark colors and the best our wardrobes had to give in the name of designer fashion. I had on Zara boots, a Kenzo x H&M coat and a beanie from years back that comically read: Feline, in reference to the French brand Celine. Color me in with the “in-crowd” (I guess).

RKO 2

RKO


The show itself was a good ten minutes long which was hilarious. After all that, the show was the same time frame of a Rugrats or Doug episode in a half hour. Then all them models came out strutting one by one and I wanted to scream with delight, I admit. For the designer finale, Wang excitedly jumped and jogged on the runway and that was it for 2017 from him until September to show off Spring/Summer 2018. (Oh gosh, are we already thinking of 2018?!)

rko

Guests dispersed without any drama and the Peroni open bar was still open. It was a warehouse set up with barrels of presumably Peroni beer on top of each other. Only Wang could make this Home Depot shit look cool. I can’t recall ever having Peroni but it tasted good. Soon in passing, as selfies were being taken, I recognized some faces, such as the Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth in a Moschino varsity jacket.

RKO selfie

This whole stand in a dimly lit room affair was in place of an official after-party, the crowning piece of a Wang show for years. Wang’s after parties were always the talk of fashion week for their over the top, fun displays and scenes such as a carnival, and the addition of small concerts, like Nicki Minaj in 2013, and at the Seaport Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan. (The biggest #NYFW after-party I’ve attended was for Jeremy Scott at the Hudson Hotel in 2013. Members of A$AP Mob performed, turning the dancefloor into a hip-hop mosh pit of hype beast nation). For whatever reason, Wang chose to not do a big spectacle post-show and made “No After Party” into a tagline for A/W 2017. The catchphrase is currently on tights and shirts. (Marketing, people. Bring it on).

RKO

I insisted that I finished my one cup of Peroni and then was disgruntedly ready to leave. I walked past Zoe Kravitz who was near the doorway with a friend, and outside were kids and paparazzi waiting for any remaining famous people to come out. One kid, who took it upon himself to chat with me, was desperate to see Metro Boomin or new rapper 21 Savage, who was reportedly inside. I gave him some hope in saying that I believed Boomin was still in there. His eyes lit up with dreams that could become reality. I was amazed by the confirmation of how much these kids really looked up to the new class of rappers such as 21, Lil Uzi Vert, Migos, and Lil Yachty. Who am I to judge? I wanted to leap on the runway and take on-site lessons on walking when I saw Hadid.

After dream town was initiated for a new generation, a flurry of shouts of “Zoe! Zoe!” took over, cameras flashed and I, of course, was in the middle of paparazzi and fans trying to catch a shot of Kravitz. As cool as beautiful, celeb offspring ice,  smoothly she went into her car and it drove away with her.

When I finally began my journey back to  138th, my elated self, still high off of witnessing the Wang show, went to Rite Aid for some candy and ice cream. As I placed my copies of Daily Front Row and WWD under my arm, just like that, my New York Fashion Week became just another Saturday night in the city where the “good life” could be experienced in a still-standing relic of oldfangled Harlem.

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Why I Used To Love Wearing My Scarf, Hijab Style

Why I Used To Love Wearing My Scarf, Hijab Style

by C. Shardae “Shae” Jobson

On February 1, next to the first day of Black History Month and National Freedom Day was also, unbeknownst to me, the fifth annual World Hijab Day. Initiated by Nazma Khan, a Bangladesh-born Muslim who’s lived in New York since age eleven and raised in the knockabout Bronx, the purpose of World Hijab Day is to foster understanding for Muslim women that wear the cultural veil. Non-practicing Muslims are encouraged to try on the well-known head wrap style for size, experience, and as a sign of solidarity for these women that happen to pray and dress differently.

hijab

The hijab is of course more than just a head-wrap (that’s looks effortlessly glamorous in the process). It is perpetually linked to girls and women of Islam faith in demonstrating Muslim identity. They wear the veil-like scarves in the name of modesty and acknowledgment of being a God-fearing and God-loving woman. For decades, misconceptions ran wild that the hijab was just a delicate chain for women indebted to their culture’s (archaic) view of them as property. (Meant to be seen, not heard). These assumptions were marshaled by the reality that in a lot of Muslim-heavy countries, women were treated as subordinate.

Muslim women and Hijab-wearers have passionately decimated such notions, especially Islam millennial women now coming of age. They have voiced respect, seeing it as an extension of their roots. A warm testament that is true of those born American citizens. There is too the agonizing reality for hijab wearers in that wearing an accessory so emphatic of culture and religion makes them a walking hotbed for political representation and discussion. Similar to wearing a bindi, Jewish men and kippahs, traditional African garb, and sad to say it, just about everybody’s skin tone.

hijab

For research, I found photos online of women who participated in World Hijab Day. It was pretty great seeing women of all shades, and from Nigeria to Spain taking part as they used the hashtags #IStand4Hijab and #World HijabDay. The occasion can appear hokey for some viewing it as a non-Muslim. Wearing the scarf (for a day) by no means makes you an expert or fully comprehend the weight of being an actual Muslim woman. Keep in mind, World Hijab Day’s intent is to educate, not merely suggest dress-up. So what does one learn in wearing a hijab in a public space, knowing they are not Muslim underneath? I can attest that even wearing one for a few hours can be a memorable experience. For whatever reason, when my then new life began in New York City six years ago, I steadily adapted the hijab-style into my own wardrobe and comfort zone.

I don’t know about other American cities, but in New York, you can easily buy a silky smooth pashmina for an amazing $5 from a street vendor. During spring and fall seasons, such vendors, often with kind salesman behind them, are as ubiquitous as halal food. I bought pashmina one day in jet black. The first time I wore it, instead of wrapping it around my neck, to hang loose like an infinity scarf, I instinctively rose my arms above my head, with a handle on both ends, estimated the middle, and placed the middle atop of head, slowly covering my neck and decolletage. I felt regal. As a New York transplant, I felt lavishly protected.

hijab

I would continue this hijab look for months, and well into the following year off and on. It was really an adult version of a security blanket. Thankfully, I never got questioned by my scarf or harassed for it either.

I even once wore my pashmina, hijab style, during a job interview to be a hostess at a since-closed hole in the wall, but their plates were just as expensive as six pieces of Nobu sushi, restaurant. I remember this not just for the outrageous reality that I had forgotten to take it off, but for the moment that occurred right as I agreed to do a trial hosting night later that week.

The manager asked, as he held the door for me on my way out, if I had to wear my scarf for religious reasons. Writing that, it reads obnoxious, but it wasn’t at all in real life. His tone was sensitive and inquisitive. I froze for a bit but I was able to muster a relaxed chuckle and admit that it wasn’t. He laughed it off too and we agreed again on my trial run. Regarding that potential hostess gig, I knew within an hour of being in that incredibly infinitesimal space that I wouldn’t like it and volunteered myself to head home. That day was also the last time I wore my eyebrow ring as I definitely couldn’t wear that while on the floor. I took it off and that was the end of our days together and my twenty-something body art experimentation. (For a month, I also had a Monroe piercing that I impulsively got done in hellcat zone, otherwise known as St. Marks. My lips unleashed major Lana Del Rey vibes).

Another incident of my hijab wearing days was a random one. It involved getting on or off the train. Ah, I recall it now. I had already gotten off the N, Q, or R and was above the system on Broadway. An older gentleman, of seemingly Middle Eastern or Indian descent, approached me. He was gingerly in movement, so I came to an agreement to entertain what he might have to say in my head. He was also quite beautiful, obtaining that silver screen, old Hollywood kind of handsome. I had a minute or two to spare him.

He asked if I was of Middle Eastern descent because of my head scarf. I grinned sheepishly and said no, but disclosed that I liked the style a lot. He smiled and said I wore it well. And I can’t recite verbatim how he said what he said next but he included that as a man of the culture, he didn’t find I wearing it disrespectful. I was touched by his approval because it was never my intention to appropriate the hijab. I really did, and still do, find it pretty, akin to a Native American headdress. The women that wear them are subtle glamazons. I rarely view them as victims and recognize an alternate kind of freedom in donning a hijab or burka.

I slowly stopped wearing my hijab style scarf after awhile. It must be similar to when I chose not to put my eyebrow ring back in my right brow. But I miss my hijab tribute. I’m not sure if I grew out of it or just felt like I was being a poser. I’m not Muslim, but I support my Muslim sisters. For the latter argument, I think that’s why I haven’t worn one in so long. I want them to reign in their own culture. I admire them not from afar but next to them. I am thankful for the days of those hijab style scarves when I was semi party-girl and anxious editorial intern in New York that also laid her head at night in the Bronx. I needed some kind of reminder that I was indeed my own keeper.

What Is Pastel Goth?

What Is Pastel Goth?

by Shae

In Tumblr-land, “pastel goth” is a niche oasis within the bigger, general, more identifiable culture of modern day (20th century) goths. (Not the vintage kind of Gothicism, that was centered on the pride of Scandinavian ancestry during the Roman Empire. The “gothic” we think of today, e.g. an all-black outfit, maybe a surly expression, abstractly takes from the architectural Gothicism of the medieval age and Renaissance era. This lead to Gothic literature, a genre steeped in horror, aberrant romance, and frankly, depression, and so on to fashion).

pastel goth

 

In exchange for black, black-blue, and blood red, for pastel goth, there is more than a smattering of not just slightly bright, but stark baby pinks, baby blues, marigold, and teal. Accents such as grommets, multiple straps, ripped denim remain staples on gothic-approved attire such as a standard black jacket and ballerina inspired skirts. Pastel goth could be viewed as the antithesis of looking pensive and in almost all-black and instead, a wistful countenance and at least a visible unicorn patch. Cotton candy cornflower blue hair over jet black stick strand hair. A black cat eyeliner look is challenged by the appearance of a happy-go-lucky true pink lipstick like “Candy Yum Yum” and not “Diva.” It’s gothic but with an, it’s okay to say it, girlier edge.

Pastel goth has gathered a coven of loyalists since the early days of Tumblr’s popularity. As a sort of nexus for where gothic and seapunk fraternize, it’s back in our social consciousness–if you’re into cosmetics–thanks to Kat Von D‘s latest palette named after the triage. (Von D knows how to drop a coveted eyeshadow palette. Pastel Goth arrives after the lounge glam of Metal Matte and the gorgeous, multi-faceted shimmer of her years in the making Alchemist highlighter quad).

Von D’s summarization of pastel goth greatly intrigued makeup lovers on Instagram ahead of its January 2017 debut. The eight rectangle pan set appropriately represented the faded rainbow and while amusement was high, potential consumers also secreted their bewilderment. The colors were extremely dematerialized and for those with brown skin and deeper, there was a worry on whether “Pastel Goth” would work. For the pale and fairer skinned, they had substantial concerns of looking washed out.

pastel goth

The palette ignited minor discourse on whether it was fair of Von D to capitalize on a marginalized movement. Others defended the popular tattoo artist cum respected makeup mogul in that pastel goth wasn’t exactly exclusive and that no other brand had attempted to embody the lifestyle in makeup beforehand. Whether “yay” or somewhat “nay” about the palette, the anticipation was leveraged by conversation and curiosity. Two necessary ingredients for a successful launch and hopefully successful run.

In person, available at Sephora stores nationwide, the palette is much smaller than imagined. While it’s typical for products to be gassed up for promotional purposes in photos (details, details), this was the first product in a long time shocked me by its size in comparison to Instagram.

After the five second delay, I opened the palette and the easter egg shades were reassuringly and frustratingly pale yet bright. From swatches, the texture was absolutely chalky. When judging “Star” (yellow) and “Clementine” (orange creamsicle), impressed I was not. Determined to have at least one shade work for me, I will say that “Gloom” (forest green) is unexpectedly gorgeous. The smooth run of fresh cut green will make you consider buying all eight for $38. The white hue of “Skull” will freeze frame your senses, it’s pretty blinding, and “Dope” (violet) and “Meow” (rose-pink) pass, but need meticulous build-up when applying.

So this was Pastel Goth in makeup form, huh? Chalky, and unsure of if it wants to be bright or inconspicuous? Sounds very much like goths themselves.