Archive | April, 2010

Nichole Alabi S/S 2010: Nikkole Dress

29 Apr

Nikkole Dress

This dress is a part of my Spring/Summer collection for 2010. I know most designers show their stuff a season ahead but I’m a new kid on the block so we’re doing things a little differently. Anywho…I’ve decided that as I finish a piece from the collection I’ll share it here. I plan to have a showcase this summer so look out for updates!

The Nikkole dress is a stretch cotton jersey and the epitome of my aesthetic. The Nichole Alabi girl has a tribal instinct with a feminine charm and this dress is all of that. The one-shoulder design has the traditionally feminine detail of ruffles done in a warrior princess way. The ruffles serve as armor for a budding fashionista. Enjoy!


Black Listed

28 Apr

Last week I watched the finale of this season’s Project Runway. I have commitment issues so its rare that I watch a whole season of any show, but this season was really good. From the first episode I knew this Dominican-American designer Emilio Sosa was going to be a front-runner. He won the first challenge with an immaculately tailored dress that served as a foreshadowing for his place in the finale at Bryant Park for New York Fashion Week.

After showing an amazing collection at Fashion Week as a part of the final three,  Emilio received the best critique however he did not win. Emilio left a bridesmaid and not a bride. This isn’t the first time this has happened…what has happened you ask? Ok I’ll say it…this is the fourth time a black designer made it to Bryant Park and didn’t win. Why can’t Black designers win Project Runway?

I’m not talking Black designers like Mychael Knight who showed at Bryant Park during Season 3 when he sent an overworked and over-styled collection down the runway that likened to a Baby Phat collection. I’m talking a designer with a strong aesthetic and advanced technique. It all began Season 1…The finale came down to Kara Saun and Jay McCarroll.  Kara, a celebrated Hollywood costume designer, won most of the challenges throughout the season which led her to the finale at Fashion Week. Jay who never won a challenge but received high praises also made it to the finale. The two presented very different collections; Jay’s being a collection of mainly separates inspired by urban commuters while Kara’s was inspired by the movie “The Aviator” and made up of decadent gowns with furs and leather. Kara who seemed to be the front-runner all season lost to Jay and I was shocked. I thought to myself “What are the judges seeing that I am not?“. With the same budget as the other designers Kara presented a collection that looked like it cost ten times as much.

Season 5 runner-up Korto Momolu said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly’s

“You get that far, and you want to win. You feel like you’re gonna win. With all the judging, what they said, I feel like I got the best critique. It’s almost like they played me.”

Korto also suffered the same fate as Kara Saun four seasons earlier. She received awesome critiques, won more challenges than the season winner Leanne Marshall, presented a stellar collection at Bryant Park, and lost. I’ll admit, I did thoroughly enjoy Leanne’s finale collection; it was right up my alley. But when it came down to the judging Korto was getting the best critiques. So why is it that even with the best critiques Korto didn’t win?

It seems like Black people cannot win on this show. All season long they win the challenges, become the forerunners of their season, show at Bryant Park, and don’t ever win. From the start of this most recent season Emilio was the star of the show. Like Kara Saun he won more challenges that any other competitor, and like Korto Momolu he constantly received the best praise compared to any other competitor; and still he lost. By this point I was outraged! I had to tun the television off! I couldn’t believe it. How could another Black designer lose the show? How could another designer who won more challenges, produce greater work than any other competitor, and receive the best critiques lose the show?

If Projet Runway is around in a few years I would like to tryout for the show but I cant help but feel like no matter what I produce I can’t win the show as it isn’t designed for Black people to win. I have this fear of making it to the show and being added to the long black list of Black designers who compete, compete well, and go home losers. Or then again…maybe I can be the first. Maybe I can be the first Black person to win Project Runway and do it for those who would’ve come before me.

Style Over Substance.

19 Apr

I am not a Rihanna fan. It’s not hate; I just don’t understand the popularity surrounding her. She is a mediocre singer and a mediocre performer. She cannot dance and she has a limited vocal range. She’s all style with no substance.  I hate to bash on the Barbadian beauty but it sucks to say that in this society all you need is a fly haircut and sexy outfits coupled with equally sexy lyrics to rise to the top.

It seems that nowadays where you lack in substance you just wow the crowd with a little style and you’re in like Flynn. Think about Kimora Lee Simmons; every season at the end of a Baby Phat show she walks down the runway to standing ovations knowing full well that she did not lift pen to paper to sketch a doggone thing. But Kimora is style. She personifies the Baby Phat brand and serves as its figurehead. it doesn’t matter that she can’t stitch in an invisible zipper or bag a lining. Where she lacks in substance she makes up in style. She was even able to write a bestselling book about this substance-substituting style she calls “Fabulosity”. Would you believe it? Not only does this crisis have a word but it has a handbook. But I digress…

The style over substance fallacy is a rhetorical technique where someone embellishes their argument with compelling language and various terms of art in order to silence dissent or to distract from detraction. Rihanna’s new “Rude Boy” video is the perfect example of that. We know she can’t sing, we know she can’t dance, but put her in front of a green screen with Technicolor island images blaring in the background and you have a visual element able to catapult Rihanna back to number one single status.

I’m all about style but I need it to go hand-in-hand with the substance. I’ll admit it…I was voted “Best Dressed” in high school but I knew that was not enough to start a clothing line and build a brand. It is important to me to attain the skills the will lend some authenticity my work. Clothing construction and pattern making and concepts that I struggle with daily as I create but it is important for me to master them. From reading books, to taking classes, to your everyday trial and error; I toil tirelessly for my work to speak for itself.

But I’ll admit…I was enticed by the razzle dazzle of Rihanna’s new video. For about four minutes I  totally forgot that she was singing one note for the whole song. I completely didn’t notice that she repeated one dance move throughout the whole video. But I did notice the explosion of color and graphic patterns infused in the background. The day after I saw the video I went to the fabric store and saw a fabric that was the physical manifestation of the video and I created my own Rude Boy dress. The dress is fully lined with clean seam finishes. The perfect mix of style and substance!

Rude Boy Dress: African Wax Cloth

Exposed zipper down the back

Puff Sleeves