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Nichole Alabi in Nichole Alabi

27 Oct

Friday's Look: Chiffon Maxi with Fur Shawl Collar Vest

The best part about Homecoming, besides showing at the Homecoming Fashion Show, was wearing my fall collection looks out and about. Call me what you want, but what are the perks of being a designer if you can’t wear your own stuff? But I digress…as my brand’s aesthetic evolves I have realized that my customer is less me than someone else. Let me explain: when I first started making clothes I made stuff for me. I literally made clothes for me to wear. But once I began developing “Nichole Alabi” as a brand I realized the mature thing to do would be to develop a point of view.

I’ll never forget the season of “The City” where the show’s main character and budding designer, Whitney Port, was invited to Elle Magazine to show her collection to Fashion news Director Anne Slowey and Creative Director Joe Zee. After looking at her work Slowey asked her who she designed for and Whitney said “myself and my friends”. Anne Slowey looked like Whitney said she designed for the devil! Slowey went on to explain that a designer needs a customer and I totally get that now.

So the pieces in my collection I rocked this past weekend were the few that were all me and I wore them my way. Check out another look below…

Thursdays Look: Kente Top with Black Riding Pants

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Ripped the Runway

26 Oct

1st Look: Kente Drop-Waist Dress with Bubble Skirt and Structured Cap Sleeves

Last week’s fashion show was the best way to kick off my 2011 Homecoming weekend. I’ll keep it all the way real: I was very nervous about showing in the HUHC show. For starters, I didn’t get the pieces finished until the Sunday , I didn’t fit the models until the Monday, and I was supposed to be ready to go by Wednesday! For an easily frazzled girl like me, that timeline had me on edge. Not to mention the whole culture of urban fashion shows…sometimes they can be a little bit too theatric for my aesthetic. All of these things couple with the fact that I’ve never showed on a stage this large in front of a crowd this large had me going nuts!

But to my surprise I was very satisfied with the show and my contribution. With 14 models I showed a revamped version of my fall collection. Starting with Kente that I acquired while in Ghana, I weaved a color story that went from gold to burgundy, to black, and finally to teal culminating in a chiffon gown.

It felt like such a triumph. The music was right. The models were right. The timing was right. And I’ve been on cloud 9 ever since!

Be on the lookout for video from the show… check out the pics from the show.

**Note: Look 11 (a Chiffon Pussy Bow Blouse and Leatherette Tuxedo Shorts) is messing…I’m working on getting a picture for you guys.

2nd Look: Kente Crop Top with Ducktail and Leatherette Boxing Shorts

3rd Look: Gold Half Moon Swing Coat with Kente Lapel

4th Look: Gold Half Moon Dress with Double Sleeve

5th Look: Burgundy Romper with Fishtail Neckline and Satin Tuxedo Stripe

6th Look: African Wax Print Drop-Waist Dress with Bubble Skirt and Structured Cap Sleeve

7th Look: African Wax Print Swing Coat

8th Look: Burgundy Tuxedo Shorts and Black Double Sleeve Blouse

9th Look: Black Double Sleeve Mini Dress and Oversized African Wax Print Bow

10th Look: Crushed Celvet One Sleeve Peplum Top and Crushed Velvet Leggings

12th Look: Teal and Black Long Sleeve Maxi

13th Look: Teal and Black Cap Sleeve Midi Dress

14th Look: Chiffon Pussy Bow Maxi Dress with Double Sleeve

Behind the Scenes

29 Jul

Everyday people ask me where and how they can purchase one of my pieces…well the moment you all have been waiting for has arrived! My new shopping website will be launching MONDAY AUGUST 1st! On Monday you will be able to go directly to the new site or come here and click “SHOP”, select your size, choose your method of payment, and a Nichole Alabi handmade piece will be shipped to you.

For this most auspicious occasion I created a capsule collection based on my trip to Ghana. Using many of the fabrics I acquired while there from my “Family Matters” post, I created a small collection that represents my point of view as a designer. This collection, perfect for the end of the summer, is for the fearless Nichole Alabi girl. Each piece looks awesome with other pieces in the collection as well as styled your own way with pieces from your own wardrobe.

For the website I had a photo shoot with Ray Marshall of ORay Photography and DC based model April Barnes. Check out the pictures below and make sure to shop the site!

Ray Marshall shooting the first look

Ray prepping model April Barnes for the second look

April is all smiles in the third look

Clearly April loves this look!

Showing off the new accessories

San Juan State of Mind

30 Mar

In Old San Juan

One of the best parts about being in law school (if not the only part at this juncture) is spring break. Those of us who took some time off before going back to school banished spring break to the depths of our memory bank never thinking that we would ever get a week off again without having to use vacation time. Now that I’m in law school a girls-gone-wildesque week of debauchery was not on the menu; but I certainly took the week off to take in some sun and fun. Believe it or not most law students don’t take the week of to vacay. Shocked? I know! I was too when I learned of this. Most use it to participate/prepare for write-on competitions for moot courts and law journals, do a week of legal work, or spend their days in the library. Now y’all know me so  you know that mess was out of the question.

My partner-in-crime Revae and I decided to take 5 out of our 10 spring break days (using the later 5 to study…womp womp) and head to San Juan, Puerto Rico. When I vacation I have very few objectives. I have no interest in the little excursions (once you’ve seen one rainforest you’ve seen them all), I just want to sunbathe, eat and drink very well, and meet the locals and kick it at their hangouts. Simple. After 24 hours, objectives one and two were well underway and then we met Juan.

Juan, a cinnamon colored cutie, was our server for breakfast. In or all EXclusive resort we had no idea that breakfast was $25 a day until Juan let us know he was going to comp our breakfast for the week. Later that evening Juan invited us to a neighboring resort (where he also worked) to watch the Mayorga-Cotto fight at the Puerto Rico Open tents (fully stocked with liquor sponsors). The more we talked to Juan the more we learned about him: he was 35 and had been raised in the Bronx, New York. After high school he came back to PR, where he was born, to visit family and never left. According to him life was so much easier there. In PR,  Juan is a server at one resort, a bartender at another up the road, coaches a little league team, dabbles in import/export between PR and the states, and owns his own home free and clear. In his own words his jobs are easy and pay well and the rest of his days are for him to enjoy.

The more Revae and I met San Juan residents the more similar their stories were to Juan’s. We met a guy named Ted from Toronto who visited San Juan as a student and never left and now manages a tapas restaurant. We met Wilson who worked at the resort whose parents emigrated from PR to Chicago. Wilson visited PR 8 years ago… and you guessed it; he never left. Their sentiments were all the same; San Juan is a romantic city where you can get some of the comforts and conveniences of the states but people are just far more laid back and life is easy. “Life is easy”; that was the phrase we heard from everyone everywhere we went.

In San Juan I thought about my life of law school damn near 7 days a week, designing when I can, and squeezing in a few nights of recreation (to the detriment of my study/design time). The trade-off for an “easy life” almost made me want to stay. Juan told me he knew a girl who worked for the government who could hook me up with an “easy” job as a rainforest ranger and he knew another guy who could expedite my gun permit application. As tempting as it sounded I boarded a flight back to DC 5 days later with reveries of San Juan on my mind.

Now that I am back home, I’ve brought a bit of that easy living San Juan mentality  back with me. Though my life here isn’t  easy by any stretch of the imagination I’m going to treat it as such. I’m going to approach things with ease and not stress so much. Lets see how long I can keep with this San Juan state of mind…

Check out the pants I wore as I explored old San Juan. I created the cotton voile cropped harem pants for the trip; they wore with ease and style at the same time.

Cotton Voile Harem Pants

 

 

Black Love

15 Feb

Black Love: On my way to hang out with Antoine & Stacey

Valentine’s Day is my absolute most favorite holiday and it has been since the 2nd grade. If you think this post is going to be me regaling you with a tale of last night’s v-day awesomeness than you are sadly mistaken. Last night I did not have a Valentine’s date. Instead I had a glass of wine and a little hope. Hope for next year’s February 14th, and the one after that, and the one after that.

In 2nd grade I had a boyfriend named Brian and he was my first Valentine. Brian was in 3rd grade even though he was supposed to be in the 4th grade (I always like them older). Before Brian all I knew of Valentine’s Day was having my mom get those little cards from CVS and address them to everyone in my class. But V-day 1994 Brian had his older brother walk him to my house so he could gift me with a ring pop, a teddy bear and some perfume (which my mom confiscated because she thought it was way too grown). Though Brian promptly broke up with me in front of all my friends about a week later, I was forever fascinated by this holiday where people showed each other a little romance. Now, as I’ve gotten older my idea of romance has greatly matured but it still doesn’t change my love for the fact that a calendar date is set aside every year jut for romance.

Since that first V-day with Brian my experiences have varied. One year I got robbed and my valentine’s date was the police officer taking my statement and one year I attended a private concert where my date and I were serenaded by Robin Thicke. Nevertheless, the common denominator in all of my previous Valentine’s Days has been a date (or in the case of this year…a lack thereof). Last month while I was in New York I got to spend time with my friend/classmate Antoine and his fiance Stacey. Seeing the two of them together made me reevaluate my position on my favorite holiday. Their pet names for each other and overall comfort in each other’s presence made me all warm and tingley inside. Last night as I sipped solo I thought about Antoine and Stacey and how they have a lifetime of Valentine’s Days to come where they will always be each others date. So last night as I enjoyed a glass of wine solo, I wasn’t sad for my single V-day…I was happy for all the couples like Antoine and Stacey…and hopeful for all romantics like me.

Antoine & Stacey

Front: Black Chiffon Blouse with Teardrop Sleeve Detail & Black Leatherette Boxing Shorts

Sleeve Detail

Back

I Am

12 Jan


I love the Lord but I don’t go to church. I could be trite and provide countless excuses for why I don’t, but I wont bore you. I could say that I don’t go because I’m not a fan of organized religion, or I don’t wake up in time, or I’m really busy on Sundays but the truth of the matter is…it is very difficult for me to stay awake in a church service. I love the signing and stuff but the second its time to sit down and listen…I am out like a light. While it sounds childish I truly think I suffer from a mild form of narcolepsy. Anything the requires sitting for an extended period of time and doesn’t capture my attention immediately will carry me off to slumber. You don’t believe me? Well…I slept during my college graduation, I slept through all of last semester’s Legal Methods course, and I even slept through the first 30 minutes of a 5 hour exam. Notwithstanding, I do oblige my mother with a visit to her home church whenever I am in Toronto.

The Sunday after Christmas I accompanied my mom to church per usual and after the choir ended their set, I nestled into my seat and prepared for my nap. At this point in my adult life, my mom doesn’t even bother waking me up; she knows the drill. As I waited for the pastor to lull me to sleep he began talking about the phrase “I am”. In the Bible when God commanded Moses to speak to the Israelites, Moses basically asked God, when they ask me your name what should I say? God said to Moses “I am that I am” (If you don’t have a Bible handy you can rent the Ten Commandments).

From there the pastor went on to explain that when ever you say “I am” you are either silently blessing or cursing yourself since you are referencing God. With God being the “I am that I am” when you say I am happy; its like you’re sending up a prayer for happiness. It also works the other way, when you say “I am going to fail this class,” you’re pretty much committing yourself to failure.

This was the first sermon in I-don’t-know-how-long I stayed awake for. I heard the whole thing and was pleased. I have a feeling 2011 is going to be really different; different from any other year of my life thus far. I’m going to be 25 this year and I have a goal filled quarter century planned. This year I am going to fall in love, travel the world, grow my business, and make significant strides in my legal career. With that being said, I made sure my first day of the year outfit reflected my sunny outlook.

For the auspicious occasion I designed a golden-yellow shift dress with a banded hemline, half mon waistline, and a cap sleeve accepting the 3/4 sleeves. Paired with bordeaux sweater tights and brown utility boots I walked in 2011 ready to be/do/achieve/have/experience/inspire all that I am meant to.

 

Front

Half-moon Waistline

Cap Sleeve Detail

Back

Frazzle Rock

11 Jan

New Attitude!

If you know me, you know I am very easily frazzled. Misplacing my house keys when I am on the way out the door can lead me to break out into a sweat. It is very easy for the littlest mishaps in life to send  me into a fit of anxiety. If someone is 5 minutes late to meet me, or if I don’t sew in a zipper right, it could damn near throw my whole day of course.

I promised myself in 2011 I wont let things get to me as easily anymore. Where a situation is out of my control I will do my best to stay in control. We all know how new years resolutions work…we make them, are tested, and then we break them. Those of us who resolved to work out in the new year, or eat better, or save more, usually fall back into old habits before February hits.

I made my resolution right after Christmas and was tested almost immediately. I spent Christmas with my family in Toronto and planned to spend New Years with my friends in New York City. Between Toronto and New York, I had two days in DC to make a New Years Eve dress. I sketched a sequined concoction with a deep v-neck and sheer sleeves, spent a small fortune on the material, and got to work. My partner-in-crime Revae and I were planning to drive up to New York early New Years Eve morning and I finally finished the dress in the middle of the night with enough time to get a good night’s sleep.

When I tried on my new dress…I hated it. I hated the fit, I hated the color, I hated everything about it. There was no way I could ring in the new year in a dress I as not happy in. Nichole of yore would have written herself an invitation to a pity party of one, called all my friends to vent and then get mad at them when they tried to help, and maybe even cried… but I was unfazed. I really was. I don’t know where the wherewithal came from but my mind sprung into action for plan B. It was too late to hit the fabric store, and I was NOT going to buy a dress after spending all that money on material so I went through my scrap fabric bin. In the bin I found some midnight blue material from Javai’s dress from A Break in Tradition, some from Patricia’s dress from TwentyFLY & Fabulous, and from a dress I recently finished for another client.

A sleeve from here, a bodice from here, and a piece of a skirt from there, and in a few hours I pieced together a midnight blue one shoulder creation with a four panel skirt and an empire waistline. I finished the dress in just enough time to take a shower and brush my teeth before Revae arrived so we could head off to the city that never sleeps to ring in 2011.

I started the new year on the right foot by pairing the simple dress with lilac suede platform sandals and lilac tights and counted down to the new year with amazing friends at an intimate shindig. I’m really proud of myself for being not getting frazzled so I could whip up something spectacular. Looks like this new year, new attitude thing is really working for me.

Check out pictures my NYE and the dress below.

 

Revae and I ringing in our 4th year together!

Our NYE party hostess Carmen

Celebrating a new year with a new attitude!

 

 

FRONT: Empire waist, puff sleeve, paneled skirt

BACK

Sleeve and Bodice Detail