Essence Festival 2016- Recap

I think Oprah said it best during her empowerment session when she referred to Essence Fest as a giant family reunion.  You are just as likely to run into someone you sat next to in freshman English class as well Oprah herself. The festival continues to reach next levels of black excellence with a focus on empowerment, education and of course entertainment.  This year the festival added a Beauty and Style Expo which was complete with street-style fashion shows and live demos from some of the most popular YouTube personalities in hair and makeup. The expo also had representation from brands including Carols Daughter, Dark and Lovely and Cantu.

The Superdome was one giant party where the night time entertainment included performances from New Edition, Puff Daddy and Family, crowd favorite Charlie Wilson and Mariah Carey just to name a few.

Although I love the production of the concerts on the main stage, it is the super lounges with there up close and personal intimacy with the artists that always are a personal favorite.

Lalah Hathaway Superlounge

Lalah Hathaway Superlounge

Jidenna

Jidenna

Sunday included a heartfelt tribute to the Clark sisters and felt just like the praise and worship you get at church on Sunday Morning. Keke Wyatt, Ledisi and Chrisette Michele were just a few of the artist who lent their soulful vocals to the tribute.

Chrisette Michele

Chrisette Michele

KeKe Wyatt

KeKe Wyatt

 

Oprah Winfrey, a first time Essence Festival attendee was meant to be a surprise guest of Iyanla Vanzant who could not make it due to medical reasons.  Queen O solidified her place in my mind as my favorite auntie- her wisdom, wit and empowerment had everyone looking for an usher to pass a tissue and we all clearly would have given up coin should a collection plate been passed around.

Oprah Winfre

Oprah Winfrey

Her overall message was what God has for you is part of your own divine destiny with a key focus on the power of intention. She dropped such jewels as:

“You don’t get what you wish for, you don’t even get what you hope for, you get what you believe.”And  “You don’t get celebrated wanting what someone else has.”

She also introduced the cast of her highly anticipated OWN show Queen Sugar and director Ava Duvernay joined her on stage as well.

Essence Eats- Iconic New Orleans Cocktails

During Essence Festival I usually set aside a day to be a complete tourist. This year, I opted to sample some of the iconic New Orleans cocktails.   Initially I was going to try a guided tour but when I saw the $29 price tag only included one drink, I opted to keep my coin and go the self- directed tour route instead.

The first stop on our cocktail tour was the Roosevelt Hotel.  The bartender looked like a 1930’s movie star and I fully expected Ginger Rogers to come waltzing in at any moment. We started with the Sazerac, which also happens to be the name of the bar. Dubbed the official cocktail of New Orleans the Sazerac includes Sazerac 6 year Rie Whiskey, peychauds bitters, sugar in a herbsaint rinsed glass.

The Sazerac bar also made the Ramos Gin Fizz which includes: lemon and lime juice, simple syrup, egg whites, gin, seltzer water and orange flower water. Hands down this was one of my favorite drinks it tasted just like key lime pie and was very refreshing on a hot July day.

Sazerac from the Roosevelt Bar

Sazerac from the Roosevelt Bar

 

Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz

 

Stop #2 was the Bourbon House for Brandy Milk Punch which tastes like Christmas- literally. Imagine the best egg nog you’ve ever had and it may come close to this drink which consists of milk, ice cream and brandy. It’s simple,delicious, full of calories and probably my favorite on this list.

Brandy Milk Punch, Bourbon House

Brandy Milk Punch, Bourbon House

Stop #3 the Carousel Bar, Hotel Monteleon

We veered slightly from the “classic cocktails” and opted for a French 007 which is a take on the classic French 75 curated in 2007 by bartender Marvin Allen and includes: Mathilde de Pear, Pomegranate liqueur and sparking wine. Essentially it reminded me of a cranberry

 

French 007

French 007

Stop# 4 Pat O’Briens which is the home of the infamous hurricane.  I was completely underwhelmed by the hurricane.  I’ve never been a fan of kool-aid and the amount of ice completely watered the drink down. My recommendation would be to skip Pat O’Briens and head for Felix’s instead where you can not only get a great hurricane,  you can fill your belly with some of their chargrilled oysters which are the best in the city.

Recommendations for your self-directed cocktail tour:

  • Eat first- the Sazerac probably would have had me on the floor had I attempted to drink it on an empty stomach.
  • Hydrate!
  • If you’re lucky you will come across a knowledgable bartender who will offer historical context about each of the respective drinks. Our bartender Andrja at the Roosevelt Hotel Was not only knowledgeable about the historical context of the drinks, he also had really good recommendations for other bars we should try for the quintessential New Orleans drinks.

 

Cheers!

photo credit: Brian Hall, Luxe Glam Media 

Harlem’s Fashion Row- Call For Designers

HFR

Are you an aspiring designer interested in presenting during New York Fashion Week?  Harlem’s Fashion Row is seeking designers for  the 9th annual runway presentation in NY.  I am a huge fan of  HFR and their commitment to multicultural designers.  If you are interested in submitting an application, please send email to  HFR2016@harlemsfashionrow.com . The deadline for submission is Thursday, June 9th.

 

 

Good luck!!

Christian Siriano For Lane Bryant Launches Today!

Siriano Circle Skirt Outfit

232109_24169

Christian Siriano is the fourth designer to collaborate with plus-sized retailer Lane Bryant in a collection that launched worldwide today. The Maryland native combines a bit of old school glamour with his unique sense of whimsy to this beautifully executed collection which includes vibrant colors and gorgeous detailing.  Siriano said of the collaboration “In my opinion, fashion should never be defined by size. Regardless if it’s for red carpet or a day at the office, every woman should feel stylish and comfortable in their clothes.  I’m excited about this partnership with Lane Bryant because it allows me the opportunity to showcase my designs on the everyday woman and allow them the opportunity to feel as beautiful and fashionable as possible.”  The price point for the new collection ranges from $48.00 to $198.00.

Orange is the New Black resident curvy fashionista Danielle Brooks models the collection flawlessly in the look book.

The collection debuts worldwide both in stores and  online today!

Asymetrical lace hem dress

Siriano_PinkDress Outfit

When Your Stylist Suggests The Creamy Crack

I have a friend who has had just about every style under the sun: weaves, sister-Locs, braids and most recently natural hair.  During a recent salon  visit to her stylist suggested that she cut her natural hair and relax it in order to “start over.” I can’t quite explain why this particular guidance annoyed me, however  my initial thoughts are with hairstylists relationships it is so important to be equally yoked.  There is much to be said about having the same mission and vision when it comes to your hair. If your stylist somehow finds your abundant natural hair “bothersome” instead of celebrating your waves, kinks or coils run in the opposite direction.  On one hand I can somewhat understand the guidance around the need for a cut, but the relaxer recommendation? Not so much.  The fact that a seasoned stylist would give this advice to my fellow naturalista prompted me to reach out to my friend Cataanda J who serves as both a Carols Daughter ambassador and a member of the L’oreal Pro Team for some guidance on the matter. Her recommendations include:

Amla Combing Cream: It’s a light weight hydrating lotion that will detangle without breakage. You apply to damp/towel dried hair and It promotes a soft, shiny finish; it will define curls for a wash and go style and is also  good for twist outs and blow styles.

Amla Combing Cream

Amla Combing Cream

L’Oréal Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5:  The conditioner detangles on contact and leaves the hair supple and shiny. For extra treatment the mask is recommended as step 2 prior to the conditioner. Leave on for 5 minutes then apply conditioner.

L'oreal Total Repair

L’oreal Total Repair

Carol’s Daughter’s Monoi line: The benefits are anti-breakage and moisture. The anti breakage spray is #1 for sealing the ends. Most in transition experience breakage at the line of demarcation between the relaxed hair and natural hair. 

Carol's Daughter anti-breakage spray

Carol’s Daughter anti-breakage spray

Cataanda J does agree that one of the best ways to transition to natural hair is the big chop, however these product recommendations will help maintain the health of your hair if you’re not quite ready and you want your hair to get to a certain length before cutting it off.

I transitioned my relaxed hair by wearing a weave until I got to a point where I was ready to go “all in” with my natural hair.

Remember to look for a stylist that respects your hair journey and use products that maintain the health of your hair.

 

The Curvy Fashionista’s Brunch Series

Brunch series flyer

Brunch series flyer


 

Plus-size. Curvy. Thick. There are so many expressions that are used to categorize the woman who is size 12 plus and Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista is here to help the plus community navigate everything from the plus size brands you must know to creating a general sense that we all need to get in formation because we slay.

Marie recently hosted the first in a brunch series designed to engage the curvy community in dialogue . In addition to awesome vendors including my fan- girl brand of choice Jibri, there was a panel discussion where the focus was on “Own your beauty, own your style”. I loved each of the panelist which included Maui of Phat Girl fresh, Mimi Johnson, owner of the Glammatory and Patrick Cooper, Stylist who was by far my favorite; Offering up such gems as “You can inspire others just by walking in the room” or “It’s okay to experiment with your style but find what works for you”. Essentially the focus was on getting the women in attendance to understand how curvy women have a unique voice and yes, our curves are something to be honored not shunned.

Marie had a more existential approach to her feedback to the attendees- “If you are constantly delaying your happiness your delaying your growth” was one of the most poignant statements of the afternoon.

Next up in the Curvy Fashionista ‘s brunch series is a focus on the business behind building your personal brand. Panelist include Ty Alexander of Gorgeous In Grey, Chante of Everything Curvy and Chic just to name a few.

This event is sure to sell out so make sure you purchase your tickets asap.
http://tcfstylebrunchbiz.eventbrite.com/

Panelist

Panelist

image

 

 

Me with Frances Michelle

Me with Frances Michelle

 

image

#WCW Aja Naomi King

Aja Naomi King

Aja Naomi King

I have been crushing on Aja Naomi King from the moment I saw her on the Shonda Rhimes hit How To Get Away With Murder.

Here’s how to re-create Kings’ Post-Oscars Vanity Fair look from celebrity stylist Larry Sims:

  • Apply Smooth N’ Shine Instant Hair Polisher throughout the hair
  • Using a 3/4 inch iron curl hair in the same direction (beginning at the nape)
  • Once hair has been curled and set, create a deep side part
  • Brush hair softly to create waves
  • Seal the waves with Smooth N’Shine polisher

All products can be found at Walmart

NYFW-Texture On The Runway-Recap


New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is largely touted as the most recognized and coveted trade show for fashion trends. Editors, buyers and fashionistas flock to the city twice a year in order to select items that will be surely be seen everywhere from the pages of Vogue to the red carpet.

Fashion week has suffered some backlash as a result of its lack of diversity; however this February Texture Media filled a void by introducing Texture on the Runway. The show featured models of every hue boldly rocking natural coils and curls.

Five brands including: Au Naturale by Dark and Lovely, Cantu, Creme of Nature, Design Essentials and Garnier all joined forces to celebrate texture and provide their interpretations of runway looks.

The event was hosted by Michelle Breyer of www.naturallycurly.com and Patrice Yursik of Afrobella.

Breyer indicated “We wanted to create an event that created an exciting counterpoint to what was happening during Fashion Week, where straight hair traditionally dominates the runways,” explains Breyer. “At our show, sexy waves, wild ringlets and luscious ‘fros were everywhere! We were thrilled to bring this event to Fashion Week again, providing top textured brands and their stylists with the opportunity to let the hair dictate the fashion, rather than the other way around.“

I’m looking forward to seeing what for Texture on the Runway brings to future NYFW seasons.

image image

image image

image

Style Item of the Week- Avon Attraction

 

Attraction photo courtesy of Avon

Attraction photo courtesy of Avon

 

The holiday shopping season is in full swing and if you are anything like me you inevitably find yourself doing a bit of shopping for yourself while you’re trying to figure out the ideal gift for your loved ones. I for one fancy myself a perfumista so perfume in any form is a gift that I love to both give and receive. I love a wide range of fragrances- Bond 9 Perfumista is one of my signature fragrances; another one of my current faves is Attraction by Avon. The top notes include blackberry, pink pepper and peach nectar and one of the base notes is rock rose a floral note that tends to be consistent in all of my favorites.  Imagine my delight when purchasing a gift set including shower gel, lotion and fragrance when I realized that Avon was running a BOGO special. For a limited time you can purchase a complete set and get a second one for a total of $50 bucks. With this special you can buy a gift set for you and your bestie or opt to get the men’s gift set which includes after shave conditioner, hair and shower gel and the men’s cologne. If you are a fragrance snob and can’t imagine buying a fragrance from Avon you should know that Avon partners with global perfumers to cultivate its intoxicating line of fragrances. This is not your grandmothers Avon.

Attraction is a great gift for you and the special someone in your life and for the low price of $50 for a gift for you and someone else is virtually a steal.
For more details or to purchase please visit  Avon.

Holiday Staycation: Bingeworthy TV

 

Netflix homescreen

Netflix homescreen

The holidays are upon us and perhaps you have some long overdue stay-cation plans. I for one intend to  make good use of the multiple streaming services I have available including Netflix and Amazon video all while giving new meaning to sofa surfing. Here’s my list of binge-worthy shows to make your season bright.

A Different World-Netflix
Let me just be honest. I chose to attend an HBCU ( historically black college/university) because of the fictional Hilman college- the school featured on this Cosby Show spinoff. Because I came of age during the time the show originally aired, I was completely surprised at the amount of millennials unfamiliar with what I consider to be a classic. Several well-known actors walked the fictional Hilman campus including Halle Berry and Marisa Tomei. I loved everything about the story lines especially the later episodes directed by Debbie Allen as she tackled issues from an HIV positive student to domestic abuse on campus. If you were a fan of the show the holiday season is a great way to revisit it, if you are new to it, be prepared to take a pretty realistic glimpse into life on a black college campus.

Greys Anatomy- Netflix
Shonda Rhimes is a talented goddess who has us hooked on Thursday nights like a sale on Celine bags. There is much attention paid to her show Scandal and though I love Kerry Washington with her lip-quiver and enviable collection of Prada bags, it is Greys Anatomy that continues to win my heart. The show does an amazing job of ripping stories from the headlines and presenting them in such a way that is filled with humanity that I cry just about every episode. Grab your tissue and prepare to be hooked on this series currently in season 11.

flesh and bone- Starz
This show is Black Swan meets Flowers In The Attic with lots of twisted darkness and great choreography thrown in for good measure. The first episode opens with Claire Robbins leaving her Polish Hill, Pittsburg neighborhood to audition for the American Ballet Company In NYC- she wins acceptance into the company and as the first season progresses we learn more about the past of this gorgeous ballerina with a dark past. Follow the adventures of the dancers of ABC as they navigate grueling dance rehearsals, compete for prima and navigate life in the Big City of dreams.

Narcos-Netflix
Narcos quite frankly is one of the best interpretations of the life of Pablo Escobar that I’ve seen. The show follows the infamous drug lord and the DEA agents charged with bringing down his cartel from Medillin to Miami and everywhere in between. The show can be brutal, but alas the graphic nature makes it that much more realistic. The show has just been renewed for a second season so grab the remote, settle in with your popcorn and wine and catch up on this great series.
Entourage- Amazon Video
I was a huge fan of the HBO series which showcases a group of friends from Queens, NY who transplant to Los Angeles after one of them- Vincebt Chase makes it to the big screen after being discovered in of all things a Mentos commercial. Mark Wahlberg serves as one of the executive producers of the show and is loosely based on his career. The series is humorous, with lots of eye candy with Adrien Grenier in the lead. Sit back and relax and watch the boys from Queens make a name for themselves on the Left Coast.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers