Born and raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles, fashion influencer, Francis Kenneth, is bold, creative and doesn’t always play by the rules. Francis has had an affinity for fashion for as long as he can remember. Over time he has definitely learned a thing or two about style.He shares his knowledge of everything from fashion, travel, food and music with the world through his blog, ‘Francis Kenneth.’ Francis shows us that style is much more than what you wear.
“Style is reflected in the way you live.”
“My lifestyle is a reflection of all the people, places, and things I’ve encountered, and I’d like to think that shows in how I present myself (both in the real and digital world).” Being raised in such a diverse city and having the opportunity to travel in the military, Francis has been exposed to a multitude of cultures to pull inspiration from. Francis pulls from those cultural experiences and pieces them together in any way he likes!
Setting trends doesn’t come naturally to most. It takes a unique outlook, a personalized vision. You sort of have to think ahead of everyone. You have to live in a manner that’s beyond the time of your peers. “I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in any area of style or fashion, but I do have a knack for forecasting trends.” When it comes to creating trends, the number one rule seems to be, you shouldn’t always play by the rule book. This especially applies to the world of fashion.
“Forget the rules, it can’t be calculated into percentages. Personal style will come naturally once you decide who you want to be and start living the lifestyle that you want, for better or worse,” Francis says.
Defiance is written all over Francis’ style! From his funky hats to the blending of formal and street-ware. Francis definitely dresses by his own rule! “I’ll let you in on a little secret: 90% of the time I wear hats is because I’m too lazy to do my hair. I prefer earth-toned wide-brimmed fedoras that aren’t flimsy. Stick to that, and you’ll find the right piece of headwear.” Besides hats, it’s not uncommon for you to catch Francis rocking ripped jeans with a buttoned down shirt and you can’t forget his infamous ties. His style has a certain spunk to it that gives his personal style his own stamp.
His rebelliousness goes beyond just his choices fashion. Rebellion to the status quo is a part of his lifestyle. Francis invest time and passion into a variety of area. Besides his love for fashion, Francis has an interest in music too. “Im working on putting out some new music and a video. I love both music and video, but have yet to really do anything with either.” Francis has also taken interest in tattoos and piercings. His arms and chest are dressed with amazing art work. Tattoos are yet another form of Francis’ expression of creativity.
In fact, Francis feels that it is important you let your style shine through in all aspects of life. “Sure, your outfit speaks volumes about you, but it will only get your foot in the door…After all, the impression you make on the world has more to do with who you are as a person and what you’ve accomplished. First impressions are overrated,” Francis explains. According to Francis, no one exemplifies this better than his idol, Pharrel Williams. “He’s a good example of iconic style on the inside and out.” It’s important to remember style is much more than just how you dress. “Figure out who you want to be. Look and sound the part.”
A familiar face on Project Runway, the super talented Merline has a good yearning for success. The designer has the disposition to navigate the intersection of architecture, fashion design, and business. It is why she’s the foremost expert in futurist and non-traditional fashion. In addition, Merline reconciles her work ethic with her Haitian heritage- she’s just resiliently ambitious. She longs to have the exact scale of influence as the great art and design movements: “Personally, I want to have the same impact, I don’t want to just design…”
Merline feels she has a responsibility to help in her capacity as a leading voice in the industry: “For me no matter how many awards I receive, no matter how many TV shows I’m in- it’s nothing more just to see the next generation dream and continue to grow”. As such, she launched Provoke Style Fashion Camp, a non-profit that offers fashion education to inner-city students.
The 36-year-old fashion entrepreneur has a habit of writing journals at her favorite coffee shop. She’s mostly free on weekends and she could take a whole day to be by herself at the beach.
I love to design! My brand is about designing for the modern woman in the business world. I design for her daily wear as she goes on to take the world through business, in meetings, and in her interaction with the world. I also design for her special days like her wedding day.
I started at a really young age. I’m Haitian-American; my first language is Haitian-Creole. I was always different. My parents will send me with church dress and tennis shoes and I’ll have huge ribbons in my hair. When I look at many pictures in the 80s from Haiti, those were so cool. There was one where I had the big berets. I’ll go to school and didn’t even speak English. At that time also, the kids that were born in America had Nike and all that. They were so cool. I stood out like a soft bum and they’ll pick on me then I’ll come home crying. It really impacts me. I’ll be in my room and say “if I had all the money in the world how will I dress?”
So I started designing in my head. It was in the 7th or 8th grade when my parents were giving me money to pick my clothes up that I was creative with my choices. Even with that, I got these shoes with different colors and the kids at school were calling it clown shoes and I was like “what?!” So I’m always sticking out like a soft bum**laughs** I think as a person and designer I’ve evolved over the years and been refined.
Right before Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) I self-taught myself how to sew wedding dresses and I was into prom dresses right before college. When I went to SCAD it refined me. I put in perspective what I was doing on my own and now I’m obsessed with fashion and I love it. I started my first company when I was into set and graphics design at 24-years-old and right after college in 2011, I started my brand, officially. I got incorporated and ever since it’s been baby steps to get to where I am. I think I’ve evolved and made it like a solid company right after college but I’m obsessed now with everything fashion- the brand and the visual of the brand. That’s how I got serious.Personal Style
My personal style is very different sometimes from the person I am actually designing for, in my head. My personal style is very cocky, vintage, colorful, and bright because it matches my personality. It influences my modern girl when I design for her. I love vintage stuff (pleated pockets, jackets that align et al) – I feel like they are classics. I’m obsessed with vintage. My personal style is fun, free, almost sliding to Bohemian. So I feel like going back and forth with a Bohemian girl; very like tiny hole movement, shipping container to like very sophisticated pencil dresses and pumps when I have to go to meetings. I try always to balance those two girls but I think my personal style is very Bohemian ish. **laughs**
I have always been a designer from a very early age. I started crushing in early on in middle and in high school where I actually started selling my crushing. I will make these purses and sell them. I remember one of my counselors actually found one and was like “hey remember the one I bought from you? I think it’s super cool”.
However, I haven’t always been a designer. I have been in drama, and done housing design for a couple of years in high school in my early 20s. It was in my first company where I did graphic design, branding, costume, self-design. So though fashion has really evolved over the years, designing has always been in my DNA. I have loved fashion since elementary school- I remember a girl who used to be next to me, she was drawing one time and I was curious about that. That was the first time I fell in love with fashion and I’ve never looked back.
Over the years, I have gotten better but right after high school, I really wanted to do fashion but I went to the direction of architecture because I grew up in a strict environment. They wanted something where I could make money to support myself, so I went to SCAD. That was the time I really pursued fashion. Before that, I did prom dresses- it was self-taught- for fashion design. Being a fashion designer and an architect, I see myself more as a designer than label myself a fashion designer.
Childhood and today’s success stories
I am the first generation and my Mum came here on a boat which is insane. To get on a boat from Haiti in the middle of the ocean and some make it some don’t to come to America. I think she’s the biggest entrepreneur ever. We’re first generation while growing up we didn’t really have much but my family worked super hard. This is why I’m a workaholic also partly because I love the American dream, as a first generation I look around and I see my friend and they’ll say they’re born in America and I’m like “you can accomplish anything you want because this is America”. So I think that drive is in me.
We didn’t really have much when I was a child so I strived to have a lot and I’m really different from a lot of people in my family. Being an artist, collected, outgoing, out there- I think my personal attributes inspire me and I think this is why I personally love to wear color. My Haitian culture just really impacts how I see color, how I view color, and I’m not really afraid to tackle prints, I even design my own prints which is insane. So I think a lot from my Haitian heritage impact me. Just working hard, you know, when you grow up you hear your Mum came here from a boat you’re just like, I have to work hard.
We accomplish so much with that mentality. Going to school with those church dresses, imagine 80s Tees, the bow tie in your hair, and being picked on for being different, I had to rise above all that. I think my childhood really impact me. My Mum was also serious about education, being successful, how that looks like and having that opportunity really had an impact on my story today.
I got accepted admitted to my favorite college, I graduated at the Associate of Arts in Architecture, Miami Dade College and I got admitted into my dream school which was Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) that was a huge accomplishment. It was a private art school in Savannah Georgia. Also, I went on to graduate. That was huge because a lot of people didn’t have the opportunity to graduate. That’s another milestone.
Another milestone is going self-employed- my first studio in downtown Savannah was huge. It was a leap of faith and a couple of months after that I featured in Savannah magazine. That was cool to be the cover girl and be honored by the magazine. And being on Project Runway and even having the opportunity to go back to Project Runway and fast forward to right now I feel like I’m at my biggest accomplishment. I say that because this is the first time my company is structured (business plan, cash flow sheet et al). I’m literally transitioning to 100% fashion designer and 100% businesswoman. For me having that business plan and understanding profit margins, knowing my products and five-year projection as a designer, I think I’m at my biggest accomplishment.
One of my biggest rewarding starting my non-profit, I teach fashion and it’s called Provoke Style Fashion Camp. Just seeing the next generation eye lit up when they know how to sew, when they see their work up for the first time, even at the fashion show watching their faces and their family’s eye lit up- For me no matter how many awards I receive, no matter how many TV shows I’m in- it’s nothing more just to see the next generation (those that never had the opportunity to sew) dream and continue to grow. Personally, that’s the most rewarding part of my journey so far.
On discovering new styles
As a designer new collections are all about discovering different styles and different ways of looking at fashion so that we incorporate it. One thing that I always do in my collection is to merge architecture and fashion and I also love to look at the 1900s especially men tailoring (I love it). So I’m always incorporating men tailoring or sport wear into new collections.
As an individual, finding the balance between being an entrepreneur, designer, and human (balance between work and life) is a goal for me. I want to make sure I’m enjoying life and I have time for my soul and do the things that I really love. What’s next for my company right now is structuring it. I’m obsessed with that. I’ll tell you I’m obsessed with my spreadsheet, my cash flow sheet, my business plan just making sure my finances and everything are in order so I can dream bigger and have more financial room to explore in the design field.
I think that will give my company a platform to grow and have a team where I bring the designers and we can grow the business together. That’s next for me and for my non-profit, I want to partner up with organizations where I can bring in the tools to teach the next generation all the things that I’ve learned.
Favorite style and fashion accessory
I’m obsessed with my hat. I made my first beaded hat recently so my hat is my signature look and I love it. I’m not a shoe person, I love accessories but my hat is like number 1.
Preferred area of expertise
As a fashion designer and a creative entrepreneur, I’m constantly juggling many hats. I don’t know if I’m an expert but I think as an entrepreneur fashion designer, I have to do it all but if I have to be an expert in an area I think it would be mass production. I want to be an expert in producing garments really fast. Can one be an expert in designing? **laughs** But I think manufacturing, I’m obsessed now with how things are been created and what speed they can be created in.
The first advice I’m going to tell you is to be you! Don’t compromise; don’t try to be something you’re not. The second thing is learning what’s good on your body. I do that and usually keep that template and just tweak it a little. So for a lot of us, we don’t look at ourselves and say “wow this jacket makes my hips look skinnier or this jacket makes me this”. We all have our favorite jacket, we all have our favorite pant but sometimes we need to ask why it is our favorite. It’s important we know our body and style. I think there’s a quote that says “fashion change but style is eternal”. So having your own swag is important. Perhaps you like purses or you’re a shoe person, having that look work set you apart from any other thing. Be you. Don’t change because fashion says you have to change. Be you and then do it in different seasons in different ways.
Understanding market demands
I went to fashion school and I felt the market was missing something. I felt fashion is supposed to be simple so I was like it had no style or simple clothes. I thought I didn’t see a lot of clothes that are really cool, dope, and different but still has that sophistication- I’m talking about amazing garments that are out of the box and creative. When I look in the market, I thought that was missing when it comes to my ready-to-wear style.
I design for the average woman like me, so sometimes even for my size, I think I’m a size 6 or 8, probably a 10 in the market **laughs** but I felt like there weren’t cool clothes for even my size. That pushed me to do ready-to-wear for body sizes like mine.
I started doing wedding (garments) the last couple year and a half now and I’ve been loving it. I didn’t think it was something I’ll love but I’m really in love with the wedding industry. For a while I also did custom and a lot of my customers will come and say “hey can you make me this? I’ve been looking for it in the market and I haven’t seen it”. So for me, over the last year and a half, I’ve got to talk to the clients one on one to see how the market is especially the wedding industry. When it comes to design and price point, the wedding industry is still catching up in terms of what they’re offering. I feel like I need to have a voice in there.Responses and Reactions
I’m super lucky that I always have feedback. I think feedback always helps me understand the market. From one of my studio at Savannah Georgia I’ll create garment and women will come into my studio and give me positive feedback. I remember when I first opened my pop up shop right before I auditioned for my Project Runway the third time, I had it where people could leave feedback in a big container. There was a lot of positivity. I feel OK as a designer because I think I’m always growing and changing. I’m always in the position where I invite feedback. I did a project, Scatter to the Air program where I had women come in. I’ll interview them and ask to bring their favorite things in their closet and ask them why. For me, I love that kind of connection with these women. And I’ll give cloth to them and tell them to give me feedback: “tell me what you like about it, did you want the arm bigger?”
Another thing I’ve also done is I started to wear all my collection because I need to know as a designer how comfortable the garment is (I’m so creative, I can really go out of the box) and sometimes it doesn’t make sense on the average woman on their day today. So I made a decision a couple of years ago to wear all that I design because I want to experience everything I’m putting out there in the market.
Project Runway experience and behind the scenes
It is really hard. Imagine school final every day. I think people don’t know that. We would wake up that morning we would go to mood and harp about 8 hours to put it all together but that’s literally it, like 8 hours! For me, it’ll blow my mind, whenever I create. Sometimes people get to see a glimpse of the show, it’s TV, they condense it to about 30 minutes to shop and 8 hours to make something. I think that’s insane. So sometimes I don’t think people understand how hard the show is and it is super stressing as its like finals every day.
Project Runway takeaway
I can genuinely do anything! If someone came up to me right now and they’re like ‘I need a wedding dress by Friday’ and I’ll be like OK, I got this! Project Runway made me fierce because it was the scariest thing to do- you leave home, you’re stressed, and scared. I doubted myself, I really wasn’t sure. I think I needed that. I knew the world was watching but I didn’t know they’ll like my work. There were competitions where I was in the bottom and I got criticized on social media but they never questioned my creativity and I feel that was pretty.
Project Runway story
Many people don’t know that was my third try to apply on the show. The first time was when I was doing my architecture at Miami Dade College and at that time I self-taught myself how to sew. I never even went to the school for fashion sewing but I will look at a garment and just sew it together. That’s how I was making a garment. I remember being in line, I think it was about 4 am, in downtown Miami. I remember interviewing with people. I think Tim Gunn was there at that time and they basically said I’m super talented and they love my personality but I won’t make it to the show because I don’t know what a pattern was. That got my feelings hurt **laughs**.
I actually went to college because of that, so I told myself I was going to be better because that was great feedback. So I went to college to learn fashion design and I graduated. At that time someone sent me a link to try it out and I did. I remember driving to Atlanta for a fashion show before my presentation and I felt it was a big mistake because I brought my fashion show clothes because it was so recent but they wanted to see my portfolio so I brought one dress from that- a new beaded garment collection. They gave me a maybe. S o I had to stay in Atlanta for the outcome but they said they love me but I needed to work on my craft. The third time, I longed for people to look at my work and just give me feedback, I was meeting with my teachers- that’s when I got my first studio in Savannah Georgia downtown and it was amazing. They still gave me a maybe but they wanted me. I think that was super cool because I wasn’t really into it the third time. I remember being at the audition and one of the designers on the panel was like “wow I love it and I think if you tweet this you’ll make a lot of money” and that’s how I got it! I just wanted feedback. Three is a charm. It was a great experience.
I want to have a successful company with a whole team in place. I also want to focus on ready-to-wear, the bridal wear, and also creating spaces because I have an architecture background I really love to transform spaces even if it’s a wedding or an installation where I’m all about redesigning spaces and not just creating garments but creating those spaces with the garments interacting with them. In the next five years, I’ll love to have those 3 elements in my company.
Success for Juanita is about her audience reaching and embracing your Style DNA in a world where originality has become a rarity. This idea is a connection between an individual’s personality and fashion style. For her, being true is the real style! As a fashion stylist, she doesn’t treat clients as means to an end, but an end themselves. It is why she bonds with them and learn a great deal too. This has been possible given her disposition that trust is the most essential component of the stylist-client relationship.
For many celebrities in LA and New York, Juanita’s showroom is the go-to destination for any time of styling. Her CV boasts of names like Karla Souza, Christina Aguilera, and Sofia Vergara.
Juanita enjoys what she does especially traveling shopper styling for her clients. She is in LA or New York mostly; and you might find her at fashion shows where she discusses refreshing ideas with industry bright minds.
Her website is a useful resource where she connects and educates her audience.
My main purpose of fashion styling has always been to tell people that they have to love and understand who they are and identify what their style is
I have been doing this for about 7 years. When I stopped blogging and tried to be more like an influencer because the showroom that I was working with encouraged me to do it. I have worked so hard for my career that I don’t want things to fall apart. I wanted everything to align so I started out by working hard for both styling and influencing.
The Real Style
My main purpose of fashion styling has always been to tell people that they have to love and understand who they are and identify what their style is. A style is not a trend. When it comes to a style, we always cherish other people’s outfit and ideas. Nevertheless, I always ask my clients, “Do you love it?” I think it is about the connection between an individual’s personality and their fashion style- the DNA style. You should love styles, not because they are trendy but that you genuinely love them. It is important you feel that.
So when I started blogging that was my main purpose- to help people go beyond their boundaries by understanding themselves before trying trends. But most of all, they should be true to themselves because that’s the real style.
It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.
I’ve always been into fashion since I was little. I used to play with my Mom’s closet since I was 4 years old. I’ll always wear her outfits from her closet and she’ll laugh and love them. Then when I came to the USA, in high school, I did this style show that took me to New York and LA. Then I was “Wow! I’ve always wanted to be in fashion”. I wanted to go to school, go to interviews, and get to know more about the industry. I decided to study Product Development because when I did my interview at school they told me to go for something that integrates everything in the industry. The idea is that you can always decide where to go to- in the middle of a career even if you need to decide to be a fashion designer.
When I was in school, I interned at JBrand. I started working with them very early(at my first year in school) and living in New York City, I understood the industry better. So I was able to see all the areas of the industry, the kind of life there, designs, the pre-productions, and I had the chance to work with stylists. In my stint with them, I was sure it was where my heart belonged. Essentially, I knew the part of styling I wanted to do and I worked with them for about 8 months. While working with the showroom, I did a lot of back and forth from LA and Miami.
“I’ve always wanted to be in fashion”
From there I started working with many clients hand in hand- from doing their wardrobe to cleaning their closet to go shopping. They were my biggest support- the sort of people that come into your life to make you better. The stylists I was working with also helped me get a lot of clientele. Later it got to the point of doing so much of personal shopper. I had to start doing my own as a stylist.
A year after that I opened my own showroom in LA, I had it for like 2 years, and from there I got to work with a music director from my country. He came to my showroom and told me he wanted to do a music video and I told him I’ve never explored a music video but of course, I love music. I felt at that moment that I was ready. That was my first music video and it had Christina Aguilera and Alejandro Hernandez in it. It was the best experience ever.
Since then I started styling for a music video, commercials, and of course personal shopping, which is my focus because that’s how I got off in my career.
My Mom used to tell me, if you’re going to be something in life, do it well, do your best always and no matter what you go through, make it! That’s how I’ve always felt about my career. I’ve always wanted to create more and do my best, and keep going no matter what because I love what I’m doing. I ask myself, “What’s next?” I ask because the world is changing daily on the heels of new technologies. I’m more interested in how well technology will impact my profession and how we can develop the next step. Overall, I’m grateful to my parents for my background because they’re supportive.
I have so many people. I’ll say, God. **laughs** for me He has been my support, though many people that have helped me. In good and bad moments, I’ll always pray to Him for direction. He’s really blessing me and I’m grateful for that. God has also open doors for things I never really expect. For example, I got a job that my family’s connection cannot get me. I had to work hard and really make it happen. I never thought I was going to be able to go to LA as I used to live in Miami. I went to LA with nothing and I worked hard and the door opened. It is definitely Him.
Hard work and multitasking
Like I said before, in styling people think when we stylists get into the industry, everything is glamorous and would be perfect. However, you have to work hard. You have to do many things at once when you’re styling. You have to think not only like the pretty dressing and like what to get that amazing dress the client want. You must plan along the budget and time.
Right now, I’m heading to one of my biggest clients. I do their closet most of the time I have to work with some clients now. They’re going to Europe right now, I’m heading to their house, and I’m going to do their buy. I love this because I get to spend time with people, help with their event dresses, and when they travel, they teach me a lot. That is my typical day most of the time for personal shopping. I’ve helped clients do their red carpet styling too.
For commercial styling gigs, they come and go. In addition, we’re trying blogs, getting Ads, YouTube videos, getting more readers et al. It’s been quite a challenge but everything has worked pretty well.
Power of Confidence
Confidence relates to my line of work a lot because you give security to people when you’re styling them. People doubt themselves a lot, so it is necessary to be confident. I’ve read a lot of books like The Power of Now, the Bible, and of course, I work constantly on myself to perform extraordinarily. As a stylist let people feel powerful and confident, then they can trust you. Be true-no matter what. Be true to what you feel and what you’ll tell the client. Never tell them something because it’s going to be better for you. The truth will always set you free. They trust you. Build that trust with them no matter what.
I get told many times by clients that I give them the confidence to rock their dress before they find me truthful. I’ll like “oh that’s amazing”.
Honestly, I love colors. I always try to be positive because I believe if you wear a color, you will always act that light. I’m very colorful. I like basic stuff as well. While I consider comfort, I tend to go chic and classic most of the time too. I love sunglasses and cool bag as accessories too. They will make a whole outfit.
The Brussels stylist who came from nothing is building a fashion empire.
3 words aptly describe Ruxandra’s story- tribulation turn triumph. Behind the insightful styling posts on Instagram and her blog is a smart hard working person whose motto is “grit, regardless”. Proud of her humble beginning, she’s learned a lot that’s helping her maintain her spot as a respectable voice in the ever-dynamic European fashion space. When asked about aspirations, she seems to have a matured approach to life, “it’s because at a certain age, you have other expectations from life and we need to start living more in quality than in quantity.” Ruxandra takes great mirth in uplifting people through her blog, for her “it’s like having an alternative reality, a completely different life. No financial or material compensation would ever replace that!”
It could be a tough ask to have free time with a stylist and beauty expert in today’s digital world. If Ruxandra isn’t sharing her experience and creativity on her blog and on her social media channels, you’ll probably catch her at the Royal Park of Brussels busy in her workout sessions.
You might see her adoring the poignant arts at the Marolles/Sablon area. Rux is a woman with the in-built eye for quality and style. She also frequents the Kaffabar for their hot chocolate- a Brussels girl through and through! Let’s have you know Ms. Rux!
Personal Style, Fashion, and Influence
It’s true that my style has changed a lot over the years and I would most probably “blame” the fact that I moved to another country, learned to be more organized with what I buy, how I follow trends; in a way growing in what I call today my style. Even though I don’t have a specific style, I do let myself influenced by my mood, music, art, other stylists/celebrities and of course, the latest statement pieces and trends from the runway.
Passion for Fashion
I think I have always been passionate about fashion and style; it’s just that it was a bit suppressed inside of me due to my current situation at the time. I would not say I had a role model growing up, but I was always fascinated how I could pull out so many “outfits” with a simple big scarf from my grandmother’s closet back when I was like 5 years old. I guess that, in a way, her closet was my inspiration.
Style should be Dynamic
I would say – complex and always changing. It’s like why have just pie for the rest of your life when there are so many other amazing sweets out there?
I would say celebrities’ outfits (I follow Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, etc.), magazines of course (Vogue is the most current one and ELLE too), and then you have really beautiful items that just inspire me to create outfits and share them with my readers.
To be completely honest, I enrolled myself in college and wanted to create clothes, but when that didn’t work out, I started the blog because I was following a popular blogger from the US, Dulce Candy, that inspired me to start this journey and express myself through photos and thoughts.
Childhood and Inspiration
Except for my grandmother’s closet and the fact that I used to go through my auntie’s jewelry box, I don’t think that my family helped otherwise to cultivate this passion. I am 100% self-made. I didn’t have much growing up, no clothes, and no finances so it was mainly just survival mode for me. I remember that I used to lend clothes from my friends when going out and when I went to the shops in Belgium for the very first time, I remember coming home crying cause I couldn’t afford anything.
I am proud of everything that I have done until now, my blog is the biggest accomplishment ever and I’m proud that I made something from nothing- I didn’t have rich parents, rich husband, rich relatives and at first, everyone was quite skeptical of what I was doing and since they didn’t understand, no one encouraged or helped me. After a while, things changed and now I have more support of course.
The fact that people know my blog and they like what I’m doing; a lot of them have been with me from the beginning and were there for me whenever I was sad or happy. It’s like having an alternative reality, a completely different life. No financial or material compensation would ever replace that!
I spend a lot of time reading and documenting myself about the latest trends, designers and their legacy, searching new garments, statement pieces, investing in myself, my knowledge and so I can come up with a great outfit, tips& tricks, etc.
I am a fan of changing styles as I don’t have one that represents me. Now that I am approaching 30, I’m not wearing some styles anymore as they don’t fit my age.
There was a time when Rihanna was always making statement looks, but not so much anymore. I used to look up to her a lot. I’m noticing also a twist in the fashion industry as the beauty/make-up industry is taking so much more notoriety. Nowadays people just want to have a fab make-up and dress minimalistic. But I do also take inspiration from platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and fashion magazines like Vogue.
I intend to try to tap more on the beauty niche and matching make-up with my outfits more.
I want to start vlogging. I want to start buying fewer items that are more in value and doing a closet detox more often. It’s because at a certain age, you have other expectations from life and we need to start living more in quality than in quantity.
Favorite Fashion Accessory
I have a lot of favorites, but I am currently seeking the iconic YSL logo drop earrings (they’re vintage and hard to find) so let’s say that would be my favorite for now ;).
Area of Fashion Expertise
I think the styling is my thing. I also work as a stylist for that matter.
How the Best Stylist and Fashionistas Imitate
Most of them take inspiration from the outfit posts. A lot of people ask me how the things fit, but other than that, they try to “copy” the look that they see created. Also, I see people saving the outfits for future inspiration.
Confident, fierce, and artistic. Sandhya’s idea of self-empowerment embodies an approach in fashion. For her, having one’s self-styled and dressed to look powerful makes all the difference. To create textiles and clothing, she draws inspiration and research street styles to have a well-informed perspective. The London College of Fashion graduate has learned a wide range of crafts and techniques, from hand embroidery to vintage knitting-lace making. This has made delving into the scarce niche of making gorgeous conversational prints easier.
Sandhya was featured in the Project Runway Season 13 where she caught world attention. She refined her skills at International design studios at Alexander McQueen, Alice Temperley, and Izmaylova, learning the essentials of the industry. Consequently, her fashion is about glamour and unique personal style. She loves seeing the museum and walking the park with her toddler son. You can catch all her latest women fashion tips on her website where she also shares her experience and creativity.
I basically design dresses for vacation or traveling and they also transcend into special occasion dresses that you could wear to a wedding or to a baby shower or a party. And of course my clothing is inspired by travels to these exotic locations; it could be Caribbean or Mexican so it’s about encapsulating magic that itself, is contained within itself in terms of art, architecture, folklore. I also make my own textiles. So all the prints you see are my own. We work with custom embroideries, custom embellishment, and a lot of hand-maid stuff. I make my stuff in India, it’s all ethically produced by small factories. There’s a lot to the brand and I’m happy to answer any specific questions with regards to that.
In terms of being print-based fashion more result brand, I’ll say that there are a brands out there but no one is doing prints the way I do it at my price point. There is this need to do gorgeous conversational prints that have these stories behind them, these beautiful bold colors- there’s no one doing them and if someone is doing this pretty prints it’s a Dolce & Gabbana or Alexander McQueen where it’s a $2,000-$4,000 dress. Another thing is that, still people are scared of doing bold prints. They’ll put it on a scarf but no one is willing to put it on a dress and I know people who, like me, will love to wear a bold conversational print.
I spoke to a lot of people and in conversations with people into these bold conversation prints, but they say it’s so hard to find anything like this out there and that’s how I knew this is what people wanted because I was doing a lot of different things when I started. So that’s how came to print. It’s when I got the feedback from my customers.
My products have been received very well. I do sell a lot of products in my events and through my websites and people love the clothing, the feel, the fabric. It’s all designed after getting feedback and every time, it’s more refined to what the customer is looking for and what they want.
How it started
The very first time that I got interested in and passionate about fashion and style was when I was 10 years old. I always designed and stitched clothes for my dolls and when I saw a cousin work on her textile design project I was fascinated and knew this is what I wanted to do for life.
On personal style
My personal style is very casual for everyday living but for dressy occasions, I am a bit of a maximalist in terms of wearing a pattern and I love to include bold color accents with accessories if I am wearing a neutral toned dress. I love to dress up and look powerful in the way I style myself.
I grew up in New Delhi, India. India has probably one of the largest and most complex textile histories in the world. We have so many weaves, regional crafts, embroideries, fiber techniques, dyeing techniques- the list goes on. It’s hard not to be inspired by the rich cultural craft history of being in India. My mother also inspired my life as she would knit, crochet and fascinatingly talk about textiles, silks, embroideries and heritage craft knitting of these drawstrings that truly stuck with me.
I am most proud of my design internship at Alexander McQueen studio, my stint on Project Runway season 13 and my journey of creating my namesake resort wear label in the US.
The most rewarding part of the journey
The most rewarding part of my journey so far has been connecting with people and being able to talk to women about their concerns and what speaks to them in terms of fashion, travel, and style.
I’ll say in terms of expressing my personal style I’m very passionate and artistic about my work the way I talk to people and tell them about it. When they listen to me they feel the energy of the story, the kind of magic- it really connects with them. I recently drew inspiration from Amalfi coast Austin and there were people had visited Amalfi coast Austin and they really couldn’t capture the magic of the travel with just buying souvenirs but through my print and dresses, they could wear what they merched to them. So I think the 20% is the inspiration and design, reaching out on social media which gives me the 80% impact and of course me talking about it and expressing the whole inspirational.
I do a lot of research and look at street styles too. It’s how I discover new styles for each of my new collections.
Project Runway behind the scenes
I think what people don’t know about the Runway experience is that at the end of the day even we (contestants) don’t know what they’re going to show on TV. And sometimes a lot of it looks heavily edited even to us because in our heads there’s a different scenario so they basically cut, copy, edit, mix videos, and show clips that are probably not related to what the current show is going about. Say we say something we in the first episode, they’ll use that edited clip in the sixth episode. You know, there’s a lot of editing and they kind of create this whole story that sometimes the contestants aren’t even aware of.
Getting on the Project Runway show
It is not an easy process, to be honest. I was very confident when I applied that I was going to in, so I gave it a try because I felt I had nothing to lose and in my application I got a mail to move on to the next stage. All through the process, my idea was just to have a lot of fun and I was very honest of who I was. I had watched a few episodes of Project Runway but to be honest I didn’t follow it religiously season after season. So I was very unaware and I think that helped in being very authentic, and being who I was on the show and not being scared or intimidated by the gravity of how big the show is.
It’s like a 7-10 steps process of getting on the show and it’s not easy but if you have fun with it and if you’re the right applicant, all the best.
Project Runway lessons
I’d say you cannot take an opportunity for granted. I knew Project Runway, it’s such a huge opportunity and I gave it my best. Never take an opportunity for granted because Project Runway changed my life in a good way so I’ll say that the most valuable thing to not undermine the value of making strong connections or your fellow participants and judges. In addition, you should always create strong connections as a fashion designer.
I have my own special result boutique. There’s a massive experience when you enter to shop and having a great online presence and building this whole business. You can wear different dresses inside the hanger. That’s where I see myself.
Icons in the Fashion Industry
They are many! The industry is changing everywhere but what has remained constant is the impact that emerging fashion designers have on the industry. They bring in the fresh stuff. I would say that in terms of fashion, Alexander McQueen still has a lot of impacts and all other big brands. They are the icons, they’ve been in the business for so long and they have a strong identity. It takes a lot of decades to create a big brand and the fact that you can identify these brands with your eyes closed is the true mark of being a fashion design industry icon.
What are your Area/s of expertise?
I’d say I’m an expert on creating conversational fashion prints that make dresses stand out and incredibly unique.
Incorporating Color and Patterns
Life is too boring to wear dull clothes. I consider myself an expert in wearing color as well so I’d say I could give you a tutorial on how you could best incorporate color and pattern in your life. I know a lot of people who do not do a pattern or color because they think it’s too loud. For such people, you can start with a scarf around your shoulder or around the neck in a beautiful color. From there you can do a top and then do a jacket on top. Touch those areas and slowly build your confidence towards wearing colors and patterns so you don’t have to bold colors in big size, you can do a grey trouser and a grey or a black top and do a small colorful scarf or an accessory and that’s you can incorporate color and pattern in your every day style.
Jeremy Mitchell is a fashion photographer that has turned the camera back on himself and shone a light on his own unique and wonderfully curated style. His look is one that has a lot of vintage inspiration but is so cleverly timeless that it looks suave and stylish no matter what the year on the calendar is.
Like so many fashion industry pros, Jeremy lives in and is based out of New York City. The city provides innumerable opportunities for contextual backdrops and lively sceneries.
“I love how every corner in NY gives you something different. It can be anything from food to culture, even the energy.”
– Jeremy Mitchell
When you follow Jeremy you can see that he isn’t pigeon-holing himself into any specific menswear category like suits, streetwear, casual, etc…
His style is one that flexes from casual to what would be suitable for a boardroom but always with a little something extra that makes you take a second look.
Steven Onoja is a style influencer and visual storyteller that uses his keen style eye and aesthetic to tell visual stories. Starting out as a mission to elevate the IG menswear fashion to another level with timeless looks and classic styles… Of course in today’s world of big brand social media influencers, Steven is telling a lot of brand stories through his personal style expression.
Born in Nigeria and moving to NYC, Steven says “It was difficult to leave the place where I grew up and considered my home, but I felt ready for a new challenge. New York in America was the right place and I moved to Brooklyn. Here I learned a lot because I understood that I needed to adapt to be competitive in a new country. Switching mentality was fundamental to keep expressing myself and New York helped me to do exactly that.”
If you follow Steven you’ll see a very restrained but beautifully minimal style palate that emphasizes timeless colors like black, white, and grey tones.
Style, travel, and motorcycles, Rachael Dickhute’s blog is definitely not one to go unnoticed. Rachael combines her years in the fashion industry along with her passion for travel and motorcycles in her successful blog, ‘Everything Hauler.’ Rachael has been running this blog for four years and as a pretty large following. Her unique combination of fashion and motorcycles not only makes this blog pretty badass, but it also makes it intriguing to a variety of audiences. “I worked in the fashion industry for years in the creative marketing fields. The blogging spun from that and evolves each year as I grow personally. Whether it’s my interests or style that expands, so does the site almost as if it were a living extension of myself,” Rachael says.
From a very young age, Rachael loved to explore and had loads of creativity. “ My father raised me on vinyl and my mother is an artist and avid reader. My family traveled often, military family, all over the world. I was exposed to culture early on which fed my thirst for education and mental expansion,” Rachael says. You can definitely see the inspiration from her childhood in her present style.
Rachael’s style is so eclectic yet so well put together at the same time. You get a vintage vibe with bohemian flare with a moto twist. She can also clean up nicely as well taking classiness to new levels.
“My style evolves over time as my interests change. When I travel, I pick up on styles in the areas I visit. My favorite genre of music is classic rock, so depending on which songs put me into which moods, that’s what mostly fosters my style evolution,” Rachael says.
Rachael has an eye for fashion and a passion for motorcycles. “I believe the obsession with motorcycles came from listening to classic rock (ACDC, CCR, etc) my whole life. I decided I wanted to ride and reached out to a local Moto Club, the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club. They have organized group rides every third Sunday out of Venice beach, which I found on Facebook. I had already purchased my own gear so I just showed up and literally hopped on the back of one of their bikes,” Rachael explains. Now, a year later, Rachael owns her own vintage Harley Sportster. She also rides with two local clubs and have made lifelong friends. “The style side of riding motorcycles is really just a perk! Can’t go wrong with denim and leather.”
Previously, Rachael worked in the marketing field of the fashion industry. Her years of doing that left her with an extensive network. “I am the type of person that can have a lasting relationship with a brick wall if I wanted to. So I think with my social personality and eagerness to meet people, I have really fallen into some amazing opportunities,” Rachael says. Her personality and drive is what brings success to her blog. “I never falter with my ‘personal brand voice’, if you will. I noticed an increase in engagement the more genuine my writing is.” Her personalization has been key to keeping viewers intrigued. She adds her personal touches to each post by allowing her audience to gain insight on the things that inspire her the most. “I started to embed which song inspired my posts into the post themselves using Spotify. I was more interested in giving the music, art and inspiration behind my writing rather than telling people what was ‘in style’. I also noticed that the people that were engaging were actually reading the site, versus just peeking at the pictures. They would comment personal things like ‘I felt the same way when I listened to that song!’ or ‘I love that quote from Kerouac!’ That really made me love what I do,” Rachael says.
As for the future of Rachael’s brand, who knows what may be in store. “I am more the type of person that lives day to day. Hopefully, I will be still riding my Harley and empowering women all over to do what they love and share it with the world,” Rachael says. She would love to incorporate more of an empowerment movement along the way. “I feel with social media, existing body image issues and self-worth beginning to slide down a dangerous path of measuring self-worth. I would love to team up with others with an influence like myself and do something powerful toward good. It seems like a massive undertaking but I feel we have the platform, we’ve established a voice, now we need to do something greater with it,” Rachael says.
Rachael also wants to continue her travels around the world. “I’ve got tons of travel in my future and I am constantly brainstorming on how I can deliver higher quality collaborations with my efforts while working with brands.”
“ Buy the ticket, take the ride.”
What style/fashion accessory is your favorite?
Cross body bags have come in very handy now that I am riding motorcycles. They are the perfect size and won’t fall off my shoulder when riding. My Herschel backpack is also a key accessory. It’s my personal Mary Poppins bag, it fits everything!
If you can/could consider yourself an expert in one area of style/fashion, what would it be?
Music. I can identify a song just two notes in. I memorize lyrics easily and go to live shows and concerts often.
Can you give me a tutorial on how people can best incorporate that style/fashion advice in their life?
The best way to incorporate style/trends into their life if the make it their own. Get inspired by others and then adjust it to fit your custom flare. I find myself getting outfit inspiration from other bloggers and then I change it to fit my personality and preference. That way I am comfortable and being unique and forward at the same time.
Growing up in Barlett, a suburb in the north of Chicago, Degraffinreaidt was much more into fashion than the average school girl. She solidified the relationship with clothes by attending Chicago’s International Academy of Design and was awarded her BA in Fashion Merchandising Management four years ago. The goal-digger wasted no time in establishing French Vedette.
Miss Erika has style, and she didn’t buy it over the years. It was something she was born with, thank you very much. She also attended Parson’s The New School for Design, and has had clients on both coasts. She is known for giving attention to the slightest bit of detail.
In a not-so-traditional interview, we let Erika pour her heart out over the phone. Check out what she had to say below:
How did you initially get interested in fashion, and styling?
I’ve always had an interest in fashion…for as long as I can remember I’ve been opinionated about what someone should wear. I don’t see clothes and accessories the way most people do—or so my mom tells me. I see proportion and color and layers. It’s because of this that I’m able to tell if an outfit is making a person feel confident and beautiful or if it’s totally overwhelming or not right.
Who taught Erika how to dress?
No one… everyone…I don’t really read fashion magazines, but I do love style.com. It’s cool to see what the designers are doing each season, but that’s where following current fashion trends ends for me. Style, in my opinion, is much more personal than wearing whatever’s current. It’s a great skill to be able to integrate what’s happening in the industry with whatever makes you feel confident, beautiful, and unique
You have a Bachelor’s Degree from Emory University. Do you think that going to business school really improved your business acumen?
Business school teaches a lot of things. Not only do you learn basic business—numbers, finance, left brain stuff—you learn about competition, responsibility, and sure, a little about how to run a business too. But in my opinion the only thing that really improves your business acumen is experience…especially the tough kind.
What’s your absolute favorite color? What do you like about it?
My absolute favorite color is pink. Not to be cliché, but it really is uber-feminine and playful. Light pink can make even the edgiest of outfits look soft. And hot pink can turn something buttoned up and stuffy into something pretty sexy.
How much interning should someone do before taking a full leap in the fashion arena?
Interning is a good thing. Learning all about what speaks to you and inspires you is a great idea before choosing a career path. Many times we fantasize about something and think a job is one way when the reality is really very different.
Are there certain things that you strive for each time a client calls on you to work on a styling project?
I do a lot of personal styling. So each time a client reaches out and wants a style makeover or to be styled for an event, I try to get a sense of whom I’m working with. Working with “real” people is very different than crafting beautiful photos. With people, you want to know what makes ‘em tick, what makes ‘em feel confident and beautiful. Learning to listen to what a client doesn’t say, what a clients gravitates to, says a lot more than words. It’s my job to make someone look and feel good, inside and out.
A lot of your clients look to you to do their personal shopping. How do you get your clients to have so much confidence in you?
A personal shopper or fashion stylist should be someone you connect with. You should trust that a shopper isn’t trying to make you into her version of what you “should” look like. Instead, she should be bringing out the best, most confident version of you. Once you meet someone you trust, stick with that person. That’s my secret. Just because a client might look good in something doesn’t mean it’s right for them. My clients know that.
Street style covers a broad spectrum. From putting a unique twist on runway trends to going against any trend just to prove a point. It embodies a style that is only pulled off with the appropriate culture or attitude backing it up. You won’t see captivating street style items at your local shopping mall, but rather some bits and pieces, that are then combined with unusual combinations to make a statement of expression and loyalty to the culture that it supports.
The more socially unacceptable the culture is, the louder the street style speaks. So it only makes sense that the two cultures of skating and hip-hop that have been struggling to be accepted socially have spoken loud and clear in their styles. But, how is it that they’re now intertwined styles although their cultures are still vastly different – music and skate.
The real question is how different are the cultures, really?
Before we get into the parallels and differences between skater style and hip-hop style, we must first define them both. Although their origins are different, we paint the picture of the typical skater and hip-hop enthusiast, only to find that we may have a hard time distinguishing who is who on the streets.
What is Skater Style?
We’ve all seen it and envied it, whether we’d like to admit it or not. That skater guy/ girl who actually pulls off dirty vans, socks pulled up to mid-calf with Cheetos on them, baggy shorts and a graphic tee with a unicorn on it, styled over a long white sleeved shirt, and of course, a Supreme bucket hat. This look doesn’t exactly scream high fashion, but the reality is au contraire.
Well, it all started back in the 60’s and 70’s when the skate scene and style was born. It emerged as wearing clothes that were solely functional for skating. This included flat bottom shoes, such as vans to be able to skate properly and nail that flip-kick. Of course, any tight pants would limit your movement, so that’s why cargo pants and shorts became the base of the style.
The same went for shirts and hoodies. Loose fitting and functional was what it was all about. Although, funny thing is that it wasn’t until the 90’s that this style blew up. Why? Before the 90’s, skating was a sport that was only done by a few. Professional skaters, such as Rodney Mullen, Danny Way and of course, the iconic Tony Hawk made this sport really come to life with their daredevil stunts in skating and relaxed surfer/skater attitude. These skater’s (along with many other skaters) careers boombed in the 90’s and 2000’s resulting in the birth of skate brands. As per usual, many of these skaters became celebrities, thus encouraging them to start clothing lines, brands, and even video games to spread the legacy.
That’s where the skater style is thriving today – solely in the skate brands people are repping, whether they skate or not. Brand such as Plan B, Element, Zero, Birdhouse, Girl, Almost, Darkstar, Blind, Vans, DC, and Hurley are the some of the top brands where you can find head-to-toe skate style. What exactly does this look like?
Skater shoes with flat bottoms with the choice between high-tops and low-tops. Oh, and don’t forget to pull up your socks high to show off your shoes.
Baggy cargo(or chino) shorts and pants. Quite the opposite of short-shorts, these finish off at your knees and have a loose fit. As for pants, try a cropped (just above the ankle), wide-leg design such as the trusted brand Dickies pants.
Graphic tees and long-sleeved shirts to show a statement. The more branding and attention grabbing prints the better to show off the “skate-style”. Layering also is a great option to capture the aesthetic of a day at the skate park.
Hoodies and crew-necks are great options for colder days, and they follow the same rules as graphic tees. Remember, we’re making a statement here, so don’t be afraid of prints and bold colors.
I’m sure you’ve got an image in your head now of the skater style. So now let’s take a jab at hip-hop style.
When it comes to hip-hop style, your style is your voice. It’s your rap. Considering we’re talking about the working-class, low-price tag items were a reality. Dickies became popular due to their functionality and durability, in addition to the fact that you could wear them nearly anywhere. Of course, baggy t-shirts blew up considering there were cheap and played as a blank canvas. mRemoving the logos, tagging gang names or customizing the shirt to be uniquely theirs was what it was all about. We’re talking about non-conformity here.
In this culture, wearing a suit is saying that you conform to the corporate life and you’ve allowed them to take your freedom. With hip-hop on the rise, successful rappers were spotted more and more with brand names such as Timberland, Lees, Addidas (back in the day) and now more recently, brands like Stussy and Supreme. Sporting these brands paired with gold grills and chains was a symbol to show that they’ve made it. But, now they aren’t exactly walking into high-end stores and buying racks of clothing. Only select brands were willing to work with hip-hop artists, who could be drug-dealers or have criminal records. Although, as the culture becomes more popular, mega brands are asking hip-hop artists to sport their brands, compared to back when hip-hop started they would refuse this subculture to even enter the doorways of their stores.
Where They Meet
Although the origins of hip-hop originated on the East Coast, while skating has made its breakthrough from the West Coast, it’s clear that putting two marginalized subcultures side by side, you’re bound to find some parallels – no matter their geographical location. In terms of style, it’s not a coincidence that low-price-tag Dickies and basic tees are prominent in both styles. It’s not a coincidence that both styles started out with unbranded items to reflect the “unacceptable” cultures to society.
The concept of making it through another day on the streets spoke loudly to both cultures as the 70’s turned into the 80’s and the 80’s to the 90’s. Through this progression of the cultures over the decades, the popularity has increased at the same rate as the marginalization. Segregation was becoming more and more between the streets and the high society. As segregation became prominent, so did the voice behind the segregated.
So much that currently, the skater and hip-hop style is not so much composed of cheap un-branded t-shirts and inexpensive Dickies. The opposite is actually the reality. Top skater and hip-hop brands are now taking over, and kids, teens and adults everywhere are repping them to stay on trend. Although, the history of these styles are brought from the bottom up – they are now intertwined from the top, dripping down to every type of consumer collectively merging the styles, and cultures attempting to mend the societal gaps.