First Look: Bronx Fashion Week “Couture Cuisine & More” and “Mommy & Me”

I love how fashion has given me opportunities to meet new people and explore new places. I’m super excited looking forward to my first visit to the Bronx in May when we attend two Bronx Fashion Week events on May 6th and 13th.

On Saturday, May 6, BXFW presents Couture Cuisine & More at Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10457), followed up the next Saturday by Mommy & Me at Bay Plaza New Mall.

I’m a Mets fan, so I know the Bronx as the home of that other baseball team. I wanted to know more about what makes Bronx fashion worth watching, so I spoke with the founder of Bronx Fashion Week, Flora Montes, and asked what excites her about fashion in her favorite borough.

“Exciting things are always happening in the Bronx,” Flora told me. “However, if I had to name one it would be the “fashion revolution” that is evolving in the borough. Many fashion retail stores are opening up. In addition, many new and up-and-coming designers are returning to showcase their fashion lines.

“I am proud of the fact that Bronx Fashion Week has re-awakened the fashion industry. There is nothing more rewarding than to have models who have never walked the runway trained under Bronx Fashion workshops accomplish many great things under our Creative Director, Andres Chulisi. I am inspired daily by young designers who reach out to showcase their designs. Many who otherwise would not be able to [are] now are able to showcase in their hometown of the Bronx.”

That sounds wonderful. I have my tickets to attend the two BXFW events in May 2017. What can I look forward to?

“On May 6, 2017, at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Couture Cuisine & More is a fashion networking event announcing the Exclusive Partnership of Affinity Health Plan with Bronx Fashion Week. We are showcasing some amazing fashion designers, in addition to raising money through a silent auction to benefit the American Cancer Society.

“Partnering with Affinity Health, a community-based health plan, Affinity Health Plan is focused on supporting efforts towards having a healthy, mind, body & spirit. Affinity has built one of the area’s largest physician networks, which includes 30,000 providers and more than 85 of the top hospitals in the Greater New York Region. Affinity offers a variety of programs under Medicare, Medicaid, Child Health Plus, Essential Plan and Qualified Health Plans on the New York State of Health Marketplace for members in New York City boroughs and Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties. Affinity is dedicated to continuously supporting its community partners and we are pleased to announce our partnership in an event that combines our love of health, fashion, food and networking.”

“Our next showcase following the May 6th event is ‘’Mommy & Me’’ on May 13. It is a celebration of fashion and the beauty of motherhood and all that it entails in being a woman, whether you are a working mom in the office or a stay-at-home mom running a household of six children. Mommy & Me will highlight the beauty in every woman across the world.”

Bronx Fashion Week will be hosted by Caridad De La Luz, known as LaBruja, who’s considered one of America’s leading spoken word poets and recently appeared on Broadway in “I Like It Like That”.

Featured designers showcasing at BXFW will include Baqash Wilson, Bronx-born international fashion designer and co-editor of Rare Fashion Magazine; fashion designer & cover model – and my amazing friend! – Avadora Mimouni, the absolutely fabulous Queen of Fashion Sofia Davis, Editor-in-Chief of Fashion Avenue News, Michi Walden, Kevin Carlyle SmithStefania David, Klosetique Designs, Bharati Kemraj, and seven-year-old accessory designer Miracle. Bay Plaza Mall retail stores such as GAP, Old Navy, Monsoon and more will also be represented.

I’m sure that both of these Saturday events will be fun, fabulous and fashionable! Get your tickets now at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bronx-fashion-week-48-hour-ticket-sale-save-20-on-general-admission-tickets-30989751180

and I’ll see you in the Bronx!

First Look: Shop. Sell. Strut! Benefiting Autism New Jersey

One of the misconceptions about fashion is that it’s shallow. People who aren’t in the fashion world often see it as over-priced clothes, worn by too-perfect models. At its best, though, the fashion world can help people be more confident, feel better about themselves and use their talents to raise awareness and be a force for good.

On Saturday, April 29, I will be attending the Shop. Sell. Strut! event in Lakewood, NJ. This special event is notable not just for the exciting concept, but for the impressive young women who created it and the incredibly important mission it is focusing on.

Shop. Sell. Strut! is going to be a high-profile event, combining a fashion marketplace – featuring racks of pageant & prom gowns – with an exciting runway show. The afternoon will benefit Autism New Jersey, the largest statewide network of parents and dedicated to improving lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Alyssa Lego, Founder of Shop. Sell. Strut!

The founders of Shop. Sell. Strut! are Alyssa Lego and Amanda Witkowski. Alyssa began her charitable work when she founded My Name Is, which is dedicated to removing labels and negative stereotypes for children with special needs. I had an opportunity to interview Alyssa and Amanda about the upcoming show, and started by asking Alyssa why she felt compelled to create My Name Is.

“I believe there are three main reasons that make it challenging to remove negative labeling. The first is the fear of the unknown. Children with special needs may act differently. And when that behavior is not as predictable as a typically developing young person, there may be an immediate fear (fear of being uncomfortable, fear of danger) which then controls perception and leads to judgement. It’s easier to just say, “He’s weird,” and walk away to a more comfortable place as opposed face the fear and work through it.

“Another reason for the challenge is the lack of integrated programs. Sadly, children with special needs and their families live a very isolated life. There does not exist sufficient opportunities for the two worlds, differently-abled and typically-abled, to co-mingle. There’s value and reward in having a typically-abled child to work/play closely with the differently-abled. But education on the value and on the disability as a whole is lacking, leaving programs sparse.

“The third challenge that I see is how fast we move as a society. The pace with almost everything is get it done yesterday. We move fast, and we’re very competitive. The community with special needs requires patience, tolerance, understanding – all things that are typically slower paced. The two rhythms just do not jive.”

I am so impressed by Alyssa’s maturity and understanding of these issues. Her family has a deep personal connection, since her younger brother Michael has special needs himself. I asked her what are some of the biggest misconceptions children like Michael face.

“I can name two profound misconceptions that may be helpful to people reading this blog. Sometimes children with special needs have a behavior that seems peculiar or socially unacceptable. But the behavior may actually be something else. That child may be trying to seek or avoid sensory which ultimately regulates them in society. They could be coping with an uncomfortable social situation, or they could be communicating in their own way. Therefore, a behavior does not mean that the child is being difficult. It could mean they may need sensory input or for their peer or caregiver to take the time to understand and resolve the situation.

“The other misconception that comes to mind is an individual with special needs does not understand. My younger brother is a good example. He is non verbal. But he is very smart, very aware, very keen and understands most things. We try very hard to never talk about him when in front of him. We address my brother like we do with anyone else. And I would encourage people to do the same. Just because a child with special needs does not respond or express him/herself as you and I do, does not mean he/she does not understand. They understand much more than you know. And remember, they have feelings just like you and I.”

How has she worked to help kids deals with those misconceptions?

“Appreciation starts with two things. Understanding yourself and how you are different and understanding that being different is OK. In my Kindergarten Tour, “Friends Who Are Different,” one of the first questions I ask young students is “Name three ways you are different.” Then we talk about why those differences are special and how it’s OK. We’re so busy trying to be the same that we forget to celebrate the difference. When we touch on the delicate subject of being ridiculed about being different and ask the tough question, “If being different is special and important, then why would you make fun of it?” and “How does it feel to be poked fun of?,” there’s a new understanding. Once this realization comes to light, it becomes easier to take the concept and apply to more profound differences such as disabilities.”

With so many important issues to address and having already created a successful program, why is Shop. Sell. Strut! the next step in your mission?

“If you know my Mom, I’ve been raised with “Go Big or Go Bigger!” It was the right time for me to take my non-profit work into a fundraising direction so that I could have more impact. But I wanted to be successful in a big way. Both my parents are very creative and I am fortunate to have inherited that gene. As most conversations start in my house, it was a thought after dinner when we relax and unwind as a family. My mom was suggesting we needed a better avenue to resell my pageant wardrobe. I mentioned a fashion show. The three S words were like a light bulb and the next thing I knew I was in logo maker creating the current Shop. Sell. Strut! logo. So my “why” is the desire to do more coupled with a great idea at the right time – I just seized the moment. I want to make a difference. I want to inspire change. I can’t do that unless I take action, leverage what I know and love, and keep going bigger.”

Amanda Witkowski and Alyssa Lego, Creators of Shop. Sell. Strut!

Amanda, how did you become involved?

“I’ve known Alyssa and her mother Dawn for a few years through pageantry. Last spring I went to a fashion event to support Alyssa, and she and her mom helped select my wardrobe for a pageant I was going in to. During the summer we were talking about pageants, appearances, clothes, and gowns and Alyssa started on the idea of selling what we had to get new things. It started out as more of a resale event. We have both tried pageant resale sites and that has worked a little. But we like to try things on, walk in them, and really consider the fit. Somehow we got to the idea that if a group of girls got together it might be more exciting, some swapping, some selling, etc. We toyed a little with the idea of putting our own things on the runway, but our ideas started to grow and evolve. The idea went through a few permutations, but always had some form of community service attached to it because that is what we do best. Each of us has done and continues to do other work in support to the autistic community. That was always the assumed community we would support. I don’t think we ever considered any alternatives.”

And the fashion show?

“I mentioned pageantry,” Amanda continued, “but another interest and big part of my life is figure skating. I had an idea a number of years ago about doing a fashion show but changed that to a skate-thon, because that was more in my comfort zone to organize, plan and host. I did two events, Autism Skates 2014 and Autism Skates 2016. But always thought that a fashion show at some point would be fun. Once Alyssa raised it again, I knew it was time to move forward. Together we’ve been able to do the project I had always dreamed of just bigger and better than I had ever imagined.”

Ok, I’m excited! What can we expect?

Amanda: “Participants can expect vendors, boutiques, an amazing gift auction, a live pearl party, photoshoots, step and repeats, our original idea of a resale shop, and then a couture runway show! We are stating it much like one would find at a New York Fashion Week Event with lighting, and a great DJ!”

Alyssa: “I can hardly believe how Shop. Sell. Strut! has evolved and grown in such a short time. I’m grateful to my mom, Dawn Lego, my partner, Amanda Witkowski and her mom, Maria Witkowski, and our event committee and media director. It seems that every day a new idea pops up. Fortunately we are very forward thinking and open minded. Being that this is our inaugural year, we trying it all. I’m so pleased that we’ve executed on most all of our wish list items.

Shop. Sell. Strut! is offering a vendor market place, couture fashion show, auction gift raffle, awards program, pearl party. press conference, runway pit, swag, mini photo shoots, sessions with Matt Boyd Photography, theme song, growing tree, 50/50 raffle, birthday board… I hope I did not leave anything out.

“I’m looking forward to the press conference for obvious reasons – it will help spread our message and mission to a wider audience through media channels. But I am especially looking forward to the runway show where we are showcasing an autism-inspired, custom-made gown designed, created and donated by Talisha White. Talisha made the gown in three different sizes and we selected models in our castings. We plan to play a inspirational song as the models hit the runway. I’m sure it will be a touching and emotional moment.”

Thank you Alyssa and Amanda for giving us so much information about Shop. Sell. Strut! and educating us on the special mission that you are so dedicated to. I cannot wait to attend and hope that lots of people who read this will purchase tickets and be involved!

Here are the details one more time. I hope to see many of you there!

Click here to purchase your tickets!

Shop. Sell. Strut!
April 29, 2017, 11am-4pm
Lake Terrace
1690 Oak Street
Lakewood, NJ

Burning Guitars at Philadelphia Fashion Week 2017

We first witnessed Burning Guitars on the runway at Atlantic City Fashion Week a few years back, and immediately knew they are something special. The brand that lets you ‘Live Life Like A Rockstar’ draws inspiration from music, art and pop culture to create a unique image. I bought one of their amazing jackets for my husband and whenever he wears it, there are constant comments and photos taken by people who are impressed by it.

The Burning Guitars team is lead by their CEO and founder Smiley Jonez, designer Saiyd Muhammed, and executive Kenneth Jackson. They are supported by a wonderful team of models who bring their vision to life on runways around the world.

We’ve been fortunate to see their collection evolve since then, but they truly took things to a new level at their February runway show for Philadelphia Fashion Week. From an innovative use of sports jerseys, to some of their most beautiful evening gowns, their collection has become stunningly diverse, ranging from dope street wear to high-end couture.

I asked Smiley about the philosophy underlying the Burning Guitars brand.

“My philosophy is simple. Burning Guitars is for everybody. So each show I try to take the onlooker thru a journey of fashion and subliminal messages. Whether it’s dealing with political issues or just displaying a trendsetting collection, my overall goal is for our runway to never look like any other runway. I believe in breaking the rules respectfully.”

Music is a constant presence in all of their work. Smiley is a talented performer and MC, who sometimes performs on the runway as the models do their thing. They talk in terms of touring, travelling the world like a rock band playing the hits at packed arenas.

“Music is energy in the form of sound and sound sends waves,” Jonez continued. “Those waves can be energy of positivity or energy of negativity. Either way you look at it, sound waves create a feeling. I like to make sure that my collection matches the music so that the onlooker is having a fashion/listening experience as well as viewing experience.”

The hard work is paying off with increasing visibility for their label, a growing list of celebrity fans, including Yazz The Greatest, Tyson Beckford and CeeLo Green, and their first show in Paris coming up later this year. I asked Smiley what such high-profile support has meant to him.

“Celebrity attention means nothing to me if true friendship isn’t attached to it. I am inspired by love and friendships. I truly genuinely want for others what I want for myself. I display that in every gesture. When I meet a celebrity I treat them how they yearn to be treated, which is like ordinary people. The moment I connect with them on that level we automatically become friends.

“In reference to what it means to me for the brand I would have to say it means everything. It wasn’t until celebrities like B.O.B., Yazz and now CeeLo Green started wearing the B.G. brand that everything really began to take off. To go from everybody laughing at me and calling me Mr. Brown to now everybody wanting to wear the clothes is kind of different and scary, but I embrace it and I am thrilled that everybody is starting to represent the brand. It makes me feel like “I’M NOT CRAZY AFTER ALL!”

“My overall goal for B.G. is to change the world through fashion one needle and thread at a time and give everybody in the world the feeling of what it means to ‘Live Life As A Rockstar’.”

Catch the tour when it hits a runway in your town, join their 43.5k followers on Instagram @burningguitars and let’s all watch them change the world!

DJ Siaani Love rocked this special custom Sixers jersey.

Model Elona Hope Mitchell-Strong Nlm is an amazing presence and practically floats down the runway.

Model John Alex Gaines III.

Model Tiffani D. McLoyd absolutely slays every time she walks.

The man himself takes the finale walk.

First Look: John Ablaza 30 Years Behind the Seams NY 2017

Seasonal weather is finally showing up. Today was an almost spring-like 63 degrees, so it’s time to start looking forward to all of the wonderful fashion events that fill the warmer months. One of the events I’m most looking forward to is “John Ablaza 30 Years Behind the Seams NY 2017” in Stony Point, NY on May 20, 2017.

I’m excited to see John’s designs in person for the first time. He had a very successful Couture & Culture NYC 2016 show in December, and he’s hosting this special event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his work.

His stunning collections have been shown around the world, from Hong Kong to Bahrain. What may be most notable about this international designer is his long-standing dedication to “eco-fashion,” and his amazing garments are often fabricated using sustainable, local materials, like seeds, bark reeds and coconut shells. A native of the Philippines, John has worked with the local Mangyan Tribe to use native sustainable materials, which has not only enhanced what he is able to do with his designs, but also given the members of the tribe the opportunity to build better futures for their families.

Miss Philippines USA 2014 Hannah Angelica Ilao Marte in a Red Serpentine with bodice embellished with coco beads, wood & glass beads by John Ablaza – International Fashion Designer. With a long red Illusion tulle veil over an African head piece called “ghele” flown all the way from Zimbabwe. Opening piece for John C. Ablaza Couture & Culture in New York 2016. Photography: Jhenny Evans Morales / MUA: Make-up and Hair Classes by Nina Mua.

The gala event on May 20 will continue Ablaza’s long commitment to social and charitable causes. Beneficiaries from the show will include the Toto Love Orphanage, Kenya and Make-A-Wish Foundation. This socially-conscious fashion icon has also been an active supporter of local designers from around the world, most notably artisans in the Philippines and Zimbawbe, where he spent time conducting workshops and mentoring some of the talented designers he met there.

The evening will feature his masterful eco-couture gowns and bow-tie design creations. It will be amazing to see how he presents the story of his career and experience how such an accomplished designer still at the height of his creative energy tells the story of his journey so far. I’m told that the show will include both legacy work, as well as an all-new collection, and feature his John Ablaza Couture Pour Homme Collection.

John Ablaza Couture Pour Homme Collection
International Models: Drew Hanley and Angela Wong
Photography: Darren Lee
MUA: Jodian Forrester

“John Ablaza 30 Years Behind the Seams NY 2017” is being held at the spectacular Amar Estate (8 Sgt Schwarz Court, Stony Point, NY) and is expected to draw an exclusive crowd. I am thrilled that we’re attending to be part of his vision to bring fashion and culture together.

Tickets are available if you would like to be part of what will be an amazing and memorable event:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/john-ablaza-30-years-behind-the-seams-ny-2017-tickets-32451238528

Purchase yours today and I hope to see you there!

I Got My Sofia Davis Bling Darling Sunglasses!

I had such a great time this afternoon at Catherine Schuller’s Runway The Real Way Fashion Brunch Mad Hatter Tea Party at Super Nova Novotel in Times Square. I’ll be posting more about the event, but I had to do a quick blog about a great surprise I had.

So I’m watching one of the great runway shows and I see the models wearing these amazing blinged-out sunglasses. Hmmm… I think to myself, those look like the sunglasses Sofia Davis wears. Sure enough, when the show is over, Catherine brings out Sofia to talk about her glasses that were featured in the show.

If you spend time around the New York/New Jersey fashion scene, you know the legendary Sofia Davis, Editor-in-Chief of Fashion Avenue News, a luxury brand best known for its namesake magazine. The fabulous Ms. Davis is often found sitting front row center at many of the best fashion events in the area and is known as a major taste maker on the scene. Her trademark bling sunglasses are as fabulous and distinctive as she is.

And now she’s selling her own collection! After seeing them on the runway I spoke with her after the show and was able to buy one of her sunglasses on the spot! Here’s an amazing photo of me with Sofia and supermodel Avadora Mimouni. Is this photo fabulous?! Yaaaaasssssssss!

Sofia said, “I’m so excited to be showing my Bling Darling Couture Sunglass collection at Catherine’s event. People have really taken to the Bling and I’m honored to be invited to participate in so many shows, with fabulous couture designers such as Conrad Booker.”

Yes, Conrad is one of my favorites as well!

Want your own Bling Darling Couture Sunglasses by Sofia Davis? Watch for them on the runway this spring and summer, and you can buy them online now at www.etsy.com/shop/BlingDarling!

Catherine Schuller’s Fashion Brunches are becoming amazing showcases to discover talented new designers, so check them out monthly and join us!

Conrad Booker Debut at Philadelphia Fashion Week 2017

I loved attending my first Philly Fashion Week in February. It was an amazing event that the producers did an incredible job at putting together. The show started off on a high-note by exciting the crowd, which included the legendary creator of New York Fashion Week, Fern Mallis, by opening up with the innovative and unique creations of designer Conrad Booker.

As you’ll see from the gallery below, Booker offers a fresh and challenging view of fashion, from what it should look like, how it should fit, and even what it’s made of. It was my first time seeing his designs, and I’ve since learned that he works in several different fields, including architecture and interior design. He also works as a muralist, and even his window displays have won awards.

His pieces are so big and bold on the runway, so I asked him about how be selects the materials that he uses.

“I started using alternative materials and methods based on affordability,” he told me. “Francesca Reveitti, the owner of Follicle Studios, approached me after seeing a show of mine about creating clothes for a hair competition she was entering. During our meeting, I pointed to a lamp I had made from skewers in regard to what might be an interesting material to use for a bodice. I soon started going to Loews to source materials for my projects. Now it is the first place I go when I start designing.”

I also asked him about how he constructs his unique styles.

“Many of the methods I use for construction are methods I’ve developed in working with many of the different materials. Over time, you develop techniques that you are familiar with and you adapt them based on which one best fits the situation. I desire to use ordinary materials and elevate them so they are perceived as couture. The end product is very refined, yet monumental.”

Philly Fashion Week featured so many incredible designers and a host of remarkable and memorable styles. It takes a truly special collection to make an impression on the audience, especially at the beginning of a three-hour show.

“Yes, my design style is very bold and fearless. I attribute it to two things, my training as an architect and living in a loft for many years. As an architect, I was trained at how to put a building together using different materials and how structure can affect the shape and style of a building. These principals I apply to my fashion designs.

“Many people ask me: was it difficult to go from being an architect to a designer. My response is ‘no.’ I truly believe that the “greatest piece of architecture is the human body”. After graduating from Temple University, I lived for many years in a loft at 13th and Callowhill Streets that had extremely high ceilings. Creating art for my walls, I discovered that I needed to make the pieces very large. As a result, I became accustomed to working this way. Plus, the women I imagine wearing my clothes and bags are powerful women who are strong and desire attention.”

Wearing any of Conrad Booker’s pieces would be a definite attention-grabber. He presented a lot of looks during this show and I only wanted to see more and more. I asked Conrad if he enjoyed his PFW experience and what was coming up for him.

“The response to my first Philly Fashion Week collection has been incredible and positive. I look forward to next February 2018 as I showcase my second collection, which is in development as we speak.”

I can’t wait to see it! Follow Conrad Booker on Instagram @conrad_booker and we’ll all be seeing a lot of his work in the months ahead.

My girl Samantha Grandy shines as one of the twins in this stunning presentation.

The highlight and finale of his collection. According to Conrad’s Instagram, this piece was his winning submission in the Costume Drama’s Plastic Category in Asheville, North Carolina. The dress is made with about 35,000 black plastic straws and topped with Plexiglass that’s been heated, cut and bent.

Watch Conrad Booker’s finale walk to close out his memorable collection.

John Leon 2017 Bridal Collection at Atlantic City Fashion Week

Atlantic City Fashion Week Season 10, you saved the best for last! I have watched John Leon’s amazing work for a couple of years, and I had been eagerly anticipating my first chance to see one of his collections on the runway, and these spectacular bridals did not disappoint. His breathtaking 2017 Bridal Collection was the finale of the couture show and it was an absolute show-stopper.

After the show, I had an opportunity to ask him about why now is the right time to launch his bridal collection.

“I believe in taking your time and releasing your art work when you naturally feel it’s the right time,” John told me. “It’s been three years since the last time I showcased a new collection. I did not want to release a collection because I had to, I wanted to release a collection I feel strong about. I need to emotionally feel a connection with a collection. A purpose.”

And what were some of his goals and inspirations behind the new collection?

“This process started a few months ago when I began sketching a few designs here and there. Not enough designs for a full collection, just a few. The full collection came to me when I went to last year’s Philadelphia Flower Show at The Convention Center. I saw this beautiful presentation of lavender hydrangea and chrysanthemum, ivory peony and ivory roses with black tips, black vines and twigs and white orchids behind this soft gray mountain-like texture background. It was absolutely stunning! I took some pictures, went home and designed the entire 10-piece collection in just a few hours.

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to take this collection into a more modern direction. Bridal wear for the modern bride. The cuts are new, it’s a little more relaxed. Not so traditional. I believe that the modern bride wants to look elegant, sophisticated, confident and weightless on her big day, and not feel heavy in a big Cinderella-like gown. I wanted to break the boundaries by making bridal soft, elegant, modern and sexy. That’s the JNL Woman.”

Why did he want to debut his new collection for the modern bride at Atlantic City Fashion Week?

“I decided to do it at ACFW because I’ve been doing it for years. I first started showcasing at their shows when they were doing Pink Fashion Week for breast cancer a few years back. Because I’ve been showcasing for ACFW for so long, Lamont and Jeana Bowling have become close friends. I’ve also designed many looks for Jeana throughout the years and because of it, I’ve designed custom for many more.”

I asked John how he wants his clients to feel when wearing his clothes.

“Many things I’ve heard my clients say are “I’ve never felt so beautiful,” “This is the best dress I have ever worn,” “It’s fitted and comfortable.” Cut is very important in a garment of any size. You can easily give someone shape, a waist, transform their body. I want my clients to feel confident and happy.”

And is there something different that goes into dressing a bride?

“As far as brides go, it’s a whole different story. For brides, you need to bring it! My goal as a designer for the bridal client is to make them feel light and weightless on their special day. I want to take away all the tulle and corsets, complicated closers and make it comfortable, flirty, sophisticated and timeless. I made a lace jumpsuit with a five-yard train attached to the shoulders. It’s sexy, but at the same time it’s daring and fresh! You never think jumpsuit for bridal but that’s the new modern bride. Traditional is boring! Out with the old and in with the new!”

I wish I knew John when I was looking for my wedding dress six years ago. Then again, John told me he could do these in any color, so maybe it’s time for a second wedding! Your work is absolutely amazing, John, and I have no doubt that you’re going to be a major player in the bridal space in the years to come.

Here are some of the looks from this breathtaking collection on the ACFW runway. You can learn more at John Leon Fashion Designs www.johnjnlleon.com.

Model Andrea Graham.

Model Samantha Grandy is looks magical this magnificent piece, one of the highlights of the show and a crowd favorite.

John and I all smiles after the show!

Watch the full collection!

Samuel Wong Asian-Inspired Collection at SMGlobal Catwalk NYFW

One of the shows I was looking most forward to this season at New York Fashion Week was Season Three of SMGlobal Catwalk, especially the return of one of my favorite designers, Samuel Wong. Held in midtown Manhattan on February 11, the show, produced by the amazing Samina Mughal, did not disappoint, and neither did Samuel’s new collection.

In the spring, he left the room breathless, so I was highly anticipating his new Asian-inspired collection. The incredible quality of his craftsmanship, the elegance of his designs and the sheer beauty of his creations left an indelible mark on the evening.

I talked with Samuel after he returned to Dallas after the show and asked about the inspiration for this collection.

“My roots are Hispanic and Asian, and, of course, I have a lot of influence from Orient. I love the mystery, the handwork from Chinese culture. I think it’s so elegant, and chic, and my designs always are inspired by these details. At the same time, I love to catch the people’s attention, make them feel like they are in another world. I don’t like to be just ‘another designer doing clothes.'”

Part of what I love about all of his work is the amazing selection of fabrics, the patterns and textures, he chooses for his clothes. The colors in this collection are no exception.

“Red, gold, and black are basic colors in Asian culture,” Samuel explained. “And I really love brocade fabrics. They were so heavy and a little difficult to work with, but the results are beautiful. It was exactly what I was looking for.”

The results are a tribute to your roots and truly transported me to another time and place. This is another triumph and I am excited to see where he goes next!

Tirusha Dave’s Debut Couture Collection – Atlantic City Fashion Week

This past weekend was Atlantic City Fashion Week (ACFW), and that event continues to be one of my favorites each spring and fall. The number of amazing designers featured each season keeps getting better, and Jeana and Lamont Bowling do an amazing job and take such good care of us.

One of the highlights of this season was the debut couture collection from designer Tirusha Dave (Designs by Tirusha). Tirusha, who people may know as editor of Bravura Magazine, has done other collections in the past, but this was her first time working in high-end couture and the results are amazing.

After the show, I asked Tirusha why she chose to debut the new couture line at ACFW, and she said it was because that was where she showed her very first collection as a designer. “It just felt like a complete circle!” she said.

And what inspired this stunning collection?

“To be quite honest, for the past few years, my magazine’s team has been heavily involved in the pageant world, especially with the Miss America Organization, and working alongside different state title-holders. So my pieces this time were inspired by the beautifully talented women I have been working with, such as Miss New Jersey.”

“Bravura Magazine’s tagline is “be yourself…be exceptional…be bravura.” And that is how I want a woman to feel when they are wearing one of my pieces. I want each women to feel exceptional because they are in their own ways. And that deserves to be showcased to the entire world!”

You absolutely accomplished this and more, Tirusha. The models look incredible and any of these looks would look just as good on the pageant stage as on the runway!









Samuel Wong Collection at SMGlobal Catwalk New York Fashion Week

I love runway shows for different reasons. Some designers have amazing skills in what they can create. Others have amazing uses of color or fabrics. Other shows are an stunning sensory experience, the music, lights and costumes creating a movie on the runway. But the greatest surprise for me from this year’s New York Fashion Week was my first look at the work of designer Samuel Wong. It made me cry.

I’m not even sure why. It was just so beautiful and unique and wonderful that I was emotional as I watched the models in these beautiful clothes as part of SMGlobal Catwalk’s Season 2 (held on September 10, 2016 in Midtown). When hostess Nicole Coley Cole (who’s amazing!) interviewed Wong after the show, he said that he’s been creating for over 20 years. To see such an amazing designer at the height of his abilities, and still working to get even better, is a thrill and I so hope that he’ll return next year. These photos are only a taste of the magic of this event that those who were in the room will never forget.

Thank you to the wonderful Samina Mughal for making it happen! Don’t miss SMGlobal Catwalk Season 3, coming in February 2017, and grab any chance you can to experience Samuel Wong’s collection around the country.

img_3354

img_3355

img_3356

img_3357

img_3358

Model: Margosha Kr.

14380086_10154087230020345_669186756976149102_o

Model: Savannah Rae Collins.

img_3360

One of my favorite models, the beautiful Dira Ve.

img_3361

img_3362

img_3363

Model: Midori Amae.

img_3365

img_3367

img_3368

The show’s signature piece was just stunning. Model: Justyna Olivia Ruszczyk.

img_3369

This bridal piece earned a standing ovation from the crowd. Nicole Cole said that she wanted to get married just so she could wear this dress. Me too!

Model: Layne Lampley.

img_3370

Thank you, Samuel Wong. See you next year!

img_3371