I was ecstatic to join the Barneys flagship team. I even posted the news to my Insta. If you didn’t post it to Instagram, did it really happen? (So cliche and update I’m learning that I don’t need to post everything on social media) So as I relished in my new found glory getting the job as women’s private label brand ambassador, poor Barney’s was slowly falling to its fate. I just didn’t want to believe it to be true. As a fashion graduate, I had a special place in my heart for Barney’s. I read an amazing book about the Pressmans who were entrepreneurs just like a lot of us today. They started their business on selling men’s discounted suiting around to building it up to one of the worlds top luxury retailers. Many notable fashion events happened at Barney’s and we all know Barney’s was known for inclusivity, and supporting new fashion talent. If that isn’t an impressive, inspiring , commendable entrepreneur story then I don’t know what is.
I didn’t aspire to work in retail, but I did feel it was a vital part of gaining the skills I needed to be able to eventually start my own business. I was happy to take ownership and do whatever I could strategically, creatively and beyond to drive business and profit. Not to mention we had a fantastic team on the women’s designer fourth floor. I felt like my skills were valued and directly effective in driving a vital part of the Barney’s business as a whole. About 6 months in, my world turned upside down. Barneys was sold to the earliest and highest bidder after all, ABG Group, who actually have a strong portfolio. Those who followed along, know this is not who we the people wanted to win because ultimately, ABG group would close all Barney’s stores and then go to license out the Barney’s name with their first venture a shop in shop inside of Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store.
Fast forward! The remaining flagship store on Madison Avenue is going through liquidation currently at 90% off. There isn’t much Barney’s inventory left but the liquidators hired by ABG group have brought in a number of brands that they work with to drive sales as much as possible. The situation is pretty bad at this point.
I am grateful for the experience to have worked at Barney’s with amazing and talented people, some who even opened the flagship store on Madison Avenue some 20 odd years ago, still working today until the end. The last day is set to be the 23rd. It will be bittersweet. Barney’s is an iconic fashion institution and also a representation to the end of an era.
Everyone is waiting to see if ABG group will have the abilities to revive such a landmark name. We will just have to wait and watch since the liquidation process hasn’t been pretty at all.
Shopping with friends is fun, but supporting your friends who have their own businesses is an even more fulfilling act. I am thankful for the connections I’ve made with so many different talented people while living here in New York. The (5 closest people in your circle rule) well let’s just say, I have a solid number that I can count on my hand whom are phenomenal bad ass boss women (and men) in their own right. Whether it be their career, their hustle, or just their beautiful and genuine soul; I am super rich in friends.
(Left Tancee @eventsbytancee, Center Ashley @ashleydezarai)
My latest obsession has been shopping with my friends. My girl Skye has Jessie’s Vintage which is a curated shop of vintage finds. I’m not too fond of retail places with a lot of scattered goods but I do love a good find. Her shop always has something that catches my eye and that one piece that somehow I need in my life. It doesn’t make it any better that her prices are super reasonable and budget friendly for my budget.
(Accessories : Jessie’s Vintage Closet )
Lilith and Mary is another retail shop that I recently purchased from. I love the beautiful colors and intricate details of these nippies. I would say these nippies are not just a fashion statement but also a way to honor and celebrate your nipples. My girl Kennie runs the online shop and she is also an amazing writer who’s erotica stories always take me back to high school days sneaking and reading my moms Zane books. Yes she’s that good.
Lilith&Mary nipple covers
T.U.L.I.C hand painted art. My good friend Tahjay is a publicist for new talent and I came across this brand because her boyfriend is the founder. He has amazing talent and can customize any article of clothing you want. The options are endless and it’s a lovely unique one of a kind shopping experience. They work together as a family unit and I love watching them grow more and more their successes.
Support small businesses and even more important support your friends, people you know and can relate to you. It means so much more. The light you give out is also the light you shall receive in turn.
Fashion is an artistic space. It’s very existence depends on creatives and intelligent people who want to share their message through the art they create. Fashion is an expressive thing and like art translates different meanings to different people. It is important to have diversity and individuality in fashion.
With more and more people interested in fashion, it can become difficult to keep up with the latest trends but what about classics and individuality. Has the true art of fashion died? Is everyone just trying to be someone else? Has it become too complicated and watered down with theories and opinions from people who attend the most prestigious schools and were lectured about the greats and think only their opinions matter? Is the pressure of a volatile retail business trickling up to designers and forcing them to sacrifice their creative ingenuity? Is playing it safe the new fashion? Or has it just become one superficial bubble of social media influencer and celebrity bullshit?
(Sb. I love a classic look but hate sacrificing comfort. This classic midi Delora dress from Alice and Olivia by Stacy Bendet is a must have. It’s a classic style by the philanthropic designer and I now know why. It is the most comfortable dress you could imagine. There’s so many fun prints, colors, and even fabrications to choose from in this dress each season. It makes getting dressed a no brainer! XOXO)
A client exclaimed to me one day that she read an article in The NY Times about tights and that they were for women who took the train and couldn’t afford a driver or a car. Since when? I reassured her that whomever wrote that article was completely outside of the fashion world and was clearly just trying to gain an audience but they would gain none.
Let’s see Wang, Gucci and Wolford to name a few fashion retailers including tights in their assortment. My favorite are fishnet tights decked out in rhinestones. I believe Area produced a fabulous pair but if you are savvy and creative this is a total DIY opportunity.
It dawned on me. Fashion was not only becoming more popular to the masses but even those who had no clue about style and creativity had an opinion. Its not that I don’t think fashion is for everyone. I don’t think fashion should be exclusive. The problem arises when fashion becomes a standard or a theory that people use to try and divide people. Fashion is one of those things that should bring people together like an exhibit at the MET, or NYFW at a cool location, or a benefit dinner that celebrates an icon. Fashion is art and art is for everyone. It is a free space but should also respected as such.
To me fashion has always been therapeutic and somewhat reviving. All the hard work put into creating something so beautiful and the end result making it all the more worth it. Someone scrolling through Instagram at style influencers cannot really tell me much. I guess I’m a more traditional passionate creative.
Cinched tailored waists hit the runway hard this Fall/Winter season 2018. With women’s health awareness at a high, waist trainers get ditched for something less permanent and stylish to wear! Guys can even rock the trend too! Yes that’s right. See Dior double breasted sport coat below.
Designers like Jil Sander, Roberto Cavalli, Michael Kors, and Altuzarra showcased tailored waisted garments on the runway in power suit silhouettes to make their woman feel all the more feminine. It was the perfect juxtaposition of masculinity and femininity for the current trend of increasing percent of women starting their own businesses. This is a look for you boss lady!
This F/W season you can mostly find this trend on sport coats. A piece borrowed from the boys and chiseled away at the waistline. I adore this Cavalli leopard print blazer. It’s super chic and fun with a refined and structured shape. Based on your body type you can rock the trend with cigarette pants and skirts or a fluid trouser.
Any great fashion will speak to the zeitgeist. I think we are seeing this trend with many women who are finding out they can start their own business. They are no longer confined to the corporate office policies and so they want to dress the part but not sacrifice feeling sexy and feminine. Nothing makes a woman feel sexier than instantly shedding a few inches off your waistline by wearing something. I mean it almost sounds like magic but that is the power of a tailored garment.
Belts are a great idea to DIY your own tailored waist. I recently fell in love with the idea of a belt as an accessory for pretty much any piece. Try your favorite chunky cozy faux fur coat with this Free People leather belt to accentuate the waistline for a completely new feminine look.
How about this beauty from &Other Stories . It’s the perfect pop of color and sprinkle of glam. Pair it with an oversized cardigan to let the belt really shine as a statement piece but to not appear like you’re trying too hard.
Chain belts are another favorite of mine and have been around for years. This one from Asos combines the maximal trend with expressive wording across the belt. It’s a super fun piece and a great addition to any wardrobe.
So you see the cinched waist trend is super easy to wear. You can personalize the trend for your lifestyle and that is super important in fashion. How do you plan to rock the trend this season? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Can’t wait to hear you guys feedback.
A Milwaukee native and New York City implant, a Parsons graduate, a designer, a creative for sustainable fashion, and Virgo among many other admirable benchmarks and fun facts, NYFW designer Elena Velez gives us some insight to her world as if we couldn’t catch her at a more busier time. She was just selected to show her collection at the VFiles runway show presented by Sprite. We find out that sustainability is not a gimmick but the foundation that her brand stands firm on. She has a valuable eye and passes along history and knowledge of how real life tragedies affect us all. The beautiful irony of her collections is that it shows us as a humanity how we can ethically and sustainably recover and evolve.
C$BNYC: Happy 24 years of life! How does it feel to be a year older? What do you plan to do differently or more of to grow yourself now that you have experienced so much from the previous year alone. How do you plan to top that? Congratulations to you!!!
Elena Velez: Thanks! I celebrated a birthday between NYFW and LFW. Growing older has been kind of a scary thing for me. When i was a child i received a lot of attention as a designer for my unprecedented age and i think it’s given me a bit of a complex that I’ve had to work through growing up – that my professional success isn’t directly related to my young age…
C$BNYC: You grew up in a very different environment than where you are now in New York. There’s no place like it. Tell me how has your childhood and upbringing influenced who you are now as a woman, as a designer, and where you want to be short term and long term?
Elena Velez: I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the only child of a single mother who worked as a ship captain. My childhood was spent in spaces that were very industrial and utilitarian – ship yards, docks, engine rooms… I’m sure it has influenced my aesthetic. My mom is a woman who has had to command respect from men as a profession. She also had to assume the role of both mom and dad when I was growing up. Her strength, independence, and unconventional femininity have really inspired me as a person and a designer.
C$BNYC: How has New York changed you if any at all?
Elena Velez: New York has shown me unprecedented opportunity, immense disappointment and instilled me with a very true sense of realism. It’s a place where a walk down the right street or a chance encounter can change your life.
C$BNYC: Tell us about Machine Shop and how that came to be and your intentions for the project?
Elena Velez: Originally my film Machine Shop was to be a short fashion film released with my collection but once i began to cast talent and realized what an amazing group of multidisciplinary artists i had access to, i wanted to widen the scope of the project to allow for their talents to shine through as well. Ideally I’d like to do an extensive project like that in my hometown with the launch of every new collection.
C$BNYC: What made you pursue design and what makes you stick to it?
Elena Velez: I’ve been interested in design as a hobby since childhood. Professional ambition is only a recent development. It’s an outlet for me to develop personal skills like entrepreneurship, self awareness, critical engagement, and storytelling while making something tangible, useful, and potentially corrective in an industry in need of serious rehabilitation.
C$BNYC: What do you think of the influence of social media in society today? What are some pros and cons and how do you think they should be addressed? This sort of virtual vs reality world is very tricky especially for someone who is looking for guidance or inspiration in their own life.
Elena Velez: Content is king. Instagram is probably the ultimate advertisement channel. Everything is manufactured and a production: It takes a team of people to compose an image. Instagram is the LinkedIn for creatives in the visual arts industry and followings and engagements become essentially your professional endorsements. It’s nice to be able to have a curated, accessible, one-stop landing for people to engage with your brand, but it also makes the experience one dimensional, glossy, and formulaic.
C$BNYC: In a world that’s always looking for the new or next best thing, how do you plan to keep this idea and concept of sustainable fashion fresh and new? Right now I think you have really hit the sweet spot because you’ve tapped into history and so people generally want to learn but also you’ve created this sort of real life scenario of how fashion and normal lives are affected by a tragedy like war. So is it a continuation of that or do you have completely other different ideas for where you want to take your brand?
Elena Velez: The sustainability component of my brand is not a sales pitch or a special feature. It’s an essential and non negotiable reality of creating a product in the world today. Treating the conversation on conservation and sustainability like a trend is irresponsible and out of touch with reality. What I’d like to do with my brand is to continue to interpret sustainably ingenious techniques applied during other aftermath industries into design for today and tomorrow. I imagine each collection as a discovery of a new bank of techniques that roll over into the next season and ultimately become the codes of my brand. Each body of work is a progressive culmination of its predecessors, evolving and expanding as my brand grows. It’s important to me to offer something of merit to the industry and not to enjoy a comfortable yet self congratulatory career as someone who simply makes pretty things for rich people. •
VFiles took us back to an era that many of us found joy in. Time traveling back to our fondest memories of going to a concert with friends, screaming your lungs out and swearing that your favorite artists looked right at you when they serenaded the crowd with their latest hits. As we sat in our seats at Barclays center waiting for the show to start, we soon realized this was not just about the clothes. It was also about a culture, a very strong VFiles culture and yes ladies and gentlemen hip hop and music continues to be a huge influence in this mix of fashion.
If not for anything else, I love that Vfiles is a conscious brand connecting with their tribe to sustain the business of fashion. There is an undeniable energy that flows through Vfiles and can be attributed to their sponsorship of new creative talent. Believing in the youth!
All of the designers created sustainable collections, which was a smart thing for VFiles at a time where sustainable processes of a clothing brand is a huge topic for the consumer. Each designer in the line up of the show had a strong message that was loud and clear. The collections felt like something never seen before. It was quite entertaining to watch the production and sad to say that doesn’t happen often in fashion these days.
Key trends from the SS19 shows were shiny fabrics, denim, plaids, and bright saturated colors. Hats and headwear continue to be prevalent since the Gucci X Rihanna ski mask photo-op situation, but I digress.
Singing artists performed in between each of the collections. I’m not sure if the bad sound jobs were intentional or lack thereof. Those who weren’t invited got RSVP tickets to the show through the Eventbrite app. A smart move because the shit went viral. Excuse my French. As a girl who will work for food I love being on set and #nyfwshowsnacks. It was disappointing that there weren’t any hot dogs to go along with the Sprite sodas given at the show. It was the Barclays Center, after all.
My favorite designer of the show was the first to walk but the last to leave my mind. Elena Velez revisited World War II and recreated “iconic style lines in non traditional materials”. The collection was breathtaking. She used rugged raw materials to create something so delicate to the the eye; so feminine! It was a brilliant concept. Her inspiration was bringing war to modern day society and literally creating the scenario of how fashion and society would change. Military influence was a major influence in the collection as well. When John Stuart Mill said “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things…”, I understood.
The Barbie pink look was my fav from VFiles Yellow Label designed by Paul Cupo but I must admit the Vfiles brand collection was my least fav. I loved the the technical work displayed by Windowsen even if it didn’t have much ready to wear appeal. Shuting Qiu created this futuristic utopia with her psychedelic collection that was a mix of a lot of I’m not too sure but I loved every bit of it.
The headwear pieces, a collaboration with London bred milliner Leo Carlton, were the perfect accessory to balance the almost dizzying statement pieces. The makeup was also amazing!
Lil Kim finale at Vfiles #nyfw #ss19
My favorite look from a fashionable duo. @Nightspace
Pretty f***** epic if you ask me! I recently went on a rant how big fashion houses are losing their foot to smaller brands who are willing to take a chance on fresh new talent. All in the same breath, it was like the fashion gods heard our cry and delivered. Virgil Abloh appointed menswear designer at Louis Vuitton, an LVMH brand ran by the Arnaults. One of the oldest fashion houses to date getting inspiration from a newcomer. Could it be the secret to staying alive is staying young and new? Only time will tell the verdict for the Parisian fashion house.
Virgil’s keen eye for fashion and witty concepts made him cool kid on the block and we’re all eyes peeled for what he will do next. His first collection as LV’s menswear designer will be at mens’ fashion week in Paris this June. As thrilled as we are, no one seems more deserving in this time. Virgil has proven his artistic talents many times over bringing art and tastefulness into so many different realms that the human experiences. We wonder how he does it?!
Virgil proceeds Kim Jones. Jones will now head as artistic director at Dior Homme.