Category Archives: You have did it again!

True Blood – A Study In Character, Fashion,and Blood

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Like millions, I am a fan of True Blood. I love the story lines, the fantasy based characters, and the hot “eye candy” that graces my screen every week. From Eric Northman’s ice cold sex appeal, to Sookie’s “blonde but lovable” endearing habit of skirting death, True Blood is a great show. As a designer, and a native from Louisiana,could not help but think,” what if I could style of dress the characters of True Blood?”. Being a freelance designer, I have the freedom to do just that. I have styled and designed a few key looks for some of this show’s most memorable characters. This is going to be fun!  The mission concerning this project is to design and style each character based on his or her personality . 

Sookie Stackhouse is a human-fairy hybrid, introduced in the first season of True Blood. Sookie is the most prominent main character on the show and is played by Academy Award-winning Canadian Kiwi actress, Anna Paquin, in her Golden Globe-winning television role. Sookie also appears in the The Sookie Stackhouse Novels as the titular character and narrator of the stories. As a designer, I wanted to design looks that were sexy, but

playful”, just like Sookie’s personality.

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Tara Mae Thornton has been Sookie Stackhouse’s best friend since childhood. Tara is the daughter of Lettie Mae Thornton, the cousin of Lafayette Reynolds and the Progeny of Pam. Tara is a strong-willed person who has had to deal with a multitude of abuses in her life. She was made a vampire as a last resort to save her life after she took a bullet.

According to Alan Ball, Tara is the smartest person in Bon Temps, but her cynical nature, born of her abusive background, has made her extremely blunt and often confrontational with others. She is however, fiercely protective of her loved ones (including her best friend Sookie) to a fault, often hating those whom she sees could cause harm to them, including vampires. Since Tara is now a vampire, I thought I would invest in her new status as an immortal with looks that would be appropriate for her new job/home, Fangtasia.

Close up of board A. Screenshots of show, with Tara in a sequined half sleeve blazer and distressed leather skirt with chrome buckle trims. I designed these looks to reflect Tara’s new personage as a vampire, working at Fangtasia, and being Pam’s “child”. One detail, the chrome buckles are added, and I would make them to look like silver. Silver is poisonous to all vampires, and though the buckles are perfectly harmless, they would say a lot about Tara’s view of herself, as a vampire, as well as her other vampire brethren.

Eric Northman (born c. 870 AD, turned c. 900 AD) is the vampiresheriff of Area 5 in Louisiana which encompasses Bon Temps. He is over 1,100 years old as he was born somewhere in Scandinavia during the Viking age. As a child he played by the North Sea, which would mean that he grew up in Denmark or Norway (the two Scandinavian countries which border the North Sea). According to Pam, he has a farm in Öland (Sweden). Eric speaks Swedish and refers to old Swedish music. He owns the vampire bar Fangtasia in Shreveport, Louisiana. Eric is 6’4″ tall, and has blond hair and blue eyes.

For this nordic gorgeous undead stunner, I decided to stay within the frame of his personality. Very dark colors, usually back and greasy, colors that mimic Eric’s ancient, but cynical outlook of the world. I was liberal with fabrication, using luxurious,exotic skins such as crocodile leather, ostrich leather, cashmeres, silks and tropical wools. The end result is a collections that is dark in mood, but  with a very masculine sensuality.

I thought leather as a fabrication is perfect for Eric.So in keeping with the “ancient theme” of Eric’s age, I used distressed, aged fabrications as well. Some of the fabrications I utilized in this small collection are washed, and or distressed in some way, to give an “aged look”, and or hand feel, giving an “ancient theme” referring back to Eric’s extraordinary age.

Lafayette Reynolds is the short order cook at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill, cousin of Tara Thornton, nephew of Lettie Mae Daniels,medium, and also a witch. In these looks, I wanted dress  Lafayette a tad conservatively, but still with a very “cross-over” flair that he is known for in the show. Utilizing eye-catching patterns, sumptuous velvets, corduroys, and wools. I still kept his signature head scarf style, this time in  beautiful patterns in raw silk. The styles are comfortable, very casual, but very chic.

 

Lafayette was a joy to design for, as his style is very much like my own, (though I am a tad “butch”),this aspect of the product line was really fun.

Jason Stackhouse is the older brother of Sookie Stackhouse. Now, I have to admit something,…I hate “jocks”. Individuals like this made my highshool years miserable, (till i discovered the wonderful use of nun-chucks and pepperspray), but Jason is a wonderful character on the show, and I had to include him. Jason Stackhouse is known for his beautiful body and sincere love for his sister and friends.While Jason did not inherit any powers as his sister did, he does carry the blood of his fae ancestors, which makes him more attractive to straight women and gay men. As a former football star Quarterback, Jason is very athletic and keeps up his fitness through an intense workout regimen.ason was born to Mr. andMrs. Stackhouse a few years earlier than his sisterfae ancestors, which makes him more attractive to straight women and gay men. As a former football star Quarterback, Jason is very athletic and keeps up his fitness through an intense workout regimen. The looks that I designed for Jason are a mix of casual and formal, a contemporary sportswear. Jason is a hunk in True Blood, and looks great in just about anything, though much of the time he is naked. Jason wears denim gear most of the time, with an assortment of casual knit and woven shirts. These looks are derived, but slightly more sophisticated, with of soft lambskin leather , accents and brass buckle trims.

I wanted to use techniques,graphics, and fabrications that I feel Jason would not wear normally,but because he is a “ladies man”, he could be convinced to explore.

I wanted Jason’s looks to be reminiscent of his personality, sexy, carefree, but confident. The graphic printed tux is a silk/wool pigment printed two piece tux. The graphic is of a orchid and blood splatter, appropriate for a night out at Fangtasia,…not that Jason would ever be caught dead ( pun intended ) in such an establishment , unless to rescue Sookie.

Overall, this was a fun project, and will be continued, as True Blood continues to add more and more interesting characters to this “visual cocktail of sex and fantasy”.
Stay Tuned

Linked In, the “Mean Girls” of Online Professional Networking?

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When I think of Linked In, my thoughts are usually muddled with frustration and hopefulness. Supposedly a way for world wide professionals to network, Linked In has MILLIONS of followers from just about every country on this green planet. Then why do I have such mixed emotions about the “holy grail of online professional connectivity”? Because Linked In has become obsolete. Now Linked In is NOT obsolete in actuality , ofcourse not , but Linked In  is crammed with “attitudes and corporate snootiness”, which is not good for a struggling fashion designer like myself. I once knew an individual that received a great corporate position, while networking on Linked In.  They also had a golden horn growing out their head, and sprinkled fairy dust every where they went, that is about how often Linked In ACTUALLY helps people acquire much needed jobs. This  is not just my experience, but others as well. Lets be honest, Linked In is ONLY useful for those that are ALL READY well connected in their chosen professions. As we “professional underlings” read their crisp convos in groups, chats, we often wonder, “How did you get that job”? My experiences with Linked In can range from sheer euphoria, hoping that I make a much needed “link”, to sheer horror, as I read a blog of a self righteous employer that had to fire a person cause he had a “drug problem”, ( I mean really,….why are you blogging about such unfortunate circumstances?) In this situation, are we supposed to give you a cookie for being a “good boss”? Are you expecting for others to chime in on how wonderfully responsible you are to your company? I think not . It just shows that you are an insensitive ass that seems to feel you are too important for your own saliva. Blogs like this run amuck on Linked In , reeking of self importance and  privilege.  Linked In sometimes reminds me of a famous quote in “Mean Girls”,Regina responding to the haplessly unstylish main character, “Get in loser, we are going shopping”. Linked In promises networking opportunities with some of the most powerful people  in their chosen professions, and delivers, if only these people did not feel that they were the akin to the second coming. To say that this site is full of megalomaniacs, people with egos so big, I am sure their feet never touch the ground is an understatement. I have watched as promising designers attempt to connect to design professionals, with no avail, and sometimes are bashed with rather snarky, debasing responses. One of my colleagues let me read one of her emails that she had received from a rather famous New York design house. The email was two sentences, basically telling her to drop dead,..but in a snarky, very professional manner. Understand, she  is one of the best in the New York industry, and like myself, she is having a hard time finding even basic CAD work. As a fashion design professional in NYC, I am constantly reminded how mediocre talent seems to rise high in the industry,reaching corporate positions and salaries  that many of us “worker bees” could only dream of, while the TRUE talent of this industry decide what flavor of ramon noodle we are going to have with our “tofu surprise” that night. Which brings me back to Linked In, supposedly giving us “roman noodled unfortunates” an opportunity to shine and connect with opportunities that are not available to our “professional caste system”.  Not so, Linked In reeks of self important professional “cliques” that only log on once a month to see how the “others” are faring. It’s disheartening to say the least , but I will press on. Hoping that one fine day, when the sun is shining  bright, the birds are chirping,and rainbows are in every horizon, some fabulous employer or client will notice me, granting ME my “ticket” into fashion professional excellence. Of course there is a brighter side to this scenario, I have learned to make ANYTHING with Ramen Noodles,  I am currently thinking of hosting my own Youtube show, I think I will call it ,”Fabulously Ramen, Great Eats On The Cheap”, Ill probably have a lot of hits from Link In, thats for sure.

Speaking of job-hunting, here is my own online design presentation, click below to see examples of my work done for clients/and yes, I am looking for full-time employment, (if the company/ opportunity is right) Thanks again

http://freelancefashiondesignernyc.moonfruit.com/

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Day Trip In Paris / Style 101 Volume 6# Two Smashing Looks to Grab

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My imaginary meeting with the First Lady Michelle Obama is in Washington D.C., Its a balmy 82 degrees outside  and I am meeting one of the most interesting women in the world. The eatery, The Source, located at 575 Pennsylvania Avenue, is wonderful. We are meeting on the patio at our table that is being bathed by the beautiful sunlight. A gentle breeze whisk by my up-kept dreadlocks, in their usual ornate design, adorned with gold and brass beaded jewelry. I love to adorn all of my body, tastefully, and today is not an exception. I am wearing a Canali classic two button wool suit in black that’s easy to wear and basic enough for everyday. Coupled with a Hugo Boss red silk , and John Lobb Riviera suede loafers that are super soft and oh so luscious. I look up from my Blackberry playbook, and there is a smart dressed male, darting up to the table, asking my name. I address him, as a second comes to my side to frisk me. This IS the First Lady, so I am going to let this “slight inconvenience” slide. I sit back down, and the second “man in black”, relays that Mrs Obama will be up in a few minutes. I notice that his voice is almost robotic, I turn away, and continue to sip on my martini to steady my nerves. My nose notices a gentle whiff of  Creed’s “Love is White”, and I began to straighten my posture, as the First Lady is nearby, since that is her favorite fragrance. the First Lady walks up the stairs to the patio, flanked by several Secret Service men.As so much activity is bustling around her every move, she seem s as cool and effortlessly graceful as a lilly in a spring breeze. She reaches to shake my hands, and as I shake her’s, I notice her skin is silky smooth, ( I am a designer and stylist folks, I notice EVERYTHING!). Her handshake is self assured, strong, but feminine. She orders a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, me,….no more alcohol for me I need my “game face”.

Mrs Obama needs 2 looks for a day trip visit to Paris, and here is my presentation, courtesy of Net-A-Porta.

For this small selection, I maintained a light palette with colors that would compliment the First Lady’s delicious,chocolate brown skin. Teals, beiges w/ undertone of pink and orange, and light simmering emerald  greens seemed perfect to me.

A. For the day, I would imagine the First Lady will be attending a few functions during her day in Paris, and since this a day trip, a dress that is stylish and simple is essential. Etro Printed stretch silk-chiffon dress is perfect. The silhouette is perfect with a stylish cowl-neck, in case of last minute accessory choices.

B. Though I would love to see the First Lady in a pair of louboutin, towering over other dowdy first ladies,  she MUST be image conscience and NOT been seen towering over the president. Besides high-heels are too “riske'” for image reason, so I decided on a pair of Lizzy Patent – leather pumps by Jimmy Choo

C. It maybe ‘nippy’ that afternoon in Paris, so a blue teal sweater shrug can be added ( not shown), but I added a “cocktail shrug” to have this look transition well into lunch meetings-mid evening, I have added  Temperley  London Rosine Printed Silk Shrug. This was a controversial choice, and maybe on the “chopping-block”, but I can always replace it with a conservative,but stylish jacket.

D. A Quilted clutch to match the shoes, ( though im told that First Ladies rarely have any type of handbags on outings, I still included on.)Marc Jacobs Baroque Large Eugenie Quilted Leather clutch (item sold out, will be back in stock soon)

E. The First lady needs an accessory that highlights her wonderful complection, and a brush gold, chunky necklace is perfect. I choose LANVIN Swarovski crystal and cord chain necklace

Evening

As with the day looks, the evening look was very simple, an off he shoulder  eye-catching dress, some sassy peep-toes, and a chunky , textural cuff.

F. This is the tie for a little sexyness, so I gave the First Lady a sexy pump, peep toe, with a fabulous python texture and look, Miu-Mui snake-effect leather pumps fit the bill.

G. I wanted a simple accessory, something that said “power, but very regal”, I chose a YVES SAINT LAURENT Arty gold-plated glass cuff

H. Now for the dress. the First Lady has a beautifully toned body, with shoulders that are fit and beautiful, so why not show them off with a dress that has a daring asymmetrical neckline, baring one shoulder! I chose  a RALPH LAUREN COLLECTION Larisa one-shoulder silk gown

There you have it, 2 simple but elegant looks for a day trip to the “city of lights”, I hope the First Lady would approve as she now boards Airforce 1, back to the country that loves her effortless style and grace.

Politics – Why is Ted Nugent Not Getting the “Dixie Chicks” Treatment, Is This A TRUE Warning For Obama’s Safety In The Near Future?

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Keep in mind, Im not a political person. If it does revolve around this season fashion trends, my career, or what looks good on my body, I usually leave it for the political “talking-heads” that I listen to will working. With that being said, (my PC disclaimer ),Ted Nugent ruffled some ‘washington feathers’  at the National Rifle Association convention April 14 in St. Louis, Mo.

“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year,” Nugent said, according to a video posted on YouTube by the NRA. “If you can’t go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don’t even know what you’re made out of.”

I remember hearing the sound-bite on CNN, and I stopped in my tracks, and listened in, It was one of those moments where I will always remember where I was, ordering a few delicious tops for spring on Amazon. I stood  gob-smacked, and said to my self, “Obama secret service-ATTACK THIS IDIOT!”. I respect Ted Nugent ‘s political views, its his right to feel they way that he does. But I draw the line when you threatened the life of our Commander-In-Chief,  he is OUR president, the leader of MY country, America, (Yes , I am VERY patriotic, have been all over this world in my business travels, and America is simply fabulous!). It has now been reported that Ted Nugent is paying that cost for his reckless comments at our sitting president.

The aging musician who was to play July 23 at Ft. Knox in Kentucky with co-headliners REO Speedwagon and Styx at a concert celebrating the U.S. military, was scratched from the lineup.

“After learning of opening act Ted Nugent’s recent public comments about the president of the United States, Ft. Knox leadership decided to cancel his performance,”read a post made to the U.S. Army’s Ft. Knox Facebook page.

To add another hot poker to this PR disaster for Ted Nugent, the longtime shock rocker met with two “fine, professional” agents in Oklahoma, where he’s scheduled for an evening gig, he said in a statement Thursday afternoon. Mr. Nugent did not barricade himself in his dressing room. The Feds did not haul him away in handcuffs.

Instead they all had a nice chat about Nugent’s recent harsh statements, such as his assertion at last weekend’s National Rifle Association convention that if President Obama is reelected “I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” The Secret Service apparently came away convinced that Nugent is only a threat to decorum, not the chief executive of the US.

“The issue has been resolved” and the agency “does not anticipate any further action,” Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary told the Washington Post.

Ok, Now lets rewind to  March 2003,

Music superstars the Dixie Chicks where finding out that criticizing President Bush’s plans for war in Iraq can cost you air play, big time,( can I remind you that years later,…..THEY WHERE RIGHT,…)

Country stations across the United States pulled the Chicks from playlists following reports that lead singer Natalie Maines said in a concert in London earlier that week that she was “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”

Station managers said their decisions were prompted by calls from irate listeners who thought criticism of the president was unpatriotic.

The group, which got its start in Texas, was one of the darlings of this year’s Grammy Awards. The three-woman band that blends blue grass and pop hooks has spawned legions of fans who embrace the ideals of strong women celebrated in some of the trio’s songs.

One station in Kansas City, Missouri held a Dixie “chicken toss” party Friday morning, where Chick critics were encouraged to dump the group’s tapes, CDs and concert tickets into trash cans.

Houston country station KILT pulled the band’s records from its playlist — at least temporarily — after 77 percent of people polled on its Web site said they supported the move.

“We’ve got them off the air for right now,” said Jeff Garrison, program director at KILT, which is owned by Viacom’s Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

“People are shocked. They cannot believe Texas’ own have attacked the state and the president,” Garrison said.

Lead singer Maines said in a statement she felt the president was ignoring the opinions of many in the United States and alienating the rest of the world by pushing for war with Iraq, ( can I remind you,..THAT THEY WERE RIGHT!).

“We’ve been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government’s position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding,” Maines said.

One of the country stations in Dallas that helped champion the Chicks when they were scraping by in that city playing gigs on street corners for tips, “99.5 The Wolf,” said they are listening to the listener’s views but do not think it is right to immediately jump on the bandwagon and stop playing the Chicks, said program director Paul Williams.

Williams then said it is too early to tell how strong a backlash may develop against the Chicks. He said the comments touched a deep nerve in Texas because they came from one of the biggest country groups to come out of the state and were directed at a president who calls Texas home.

“The listener outlash is probably bigger here than anywhere else,” William said.

The Chicks had the number one country album in the United States on the Billboard charts called “Home” and the No. 1 single with “Travelin’ Soldier”, which was about a U.S. soldier who fought in Vietnam. Now let me get this right, The Dixie Chicks simply said that they were “ashamed that President Bush was from their state”= MAJOR backlash,..while Ted Nugent THREATENS the life of the our sitting Commander-and-Chief = a few dates pulled, NO backlash, (as of yet, I remember that backlash for the Dixie Chicks was IMMEDIATE),..uh,..America,..Hypocrisy much? The ” The Ted Nugent Fiasco” only comes a few days after the Secret Service “sexual escapades” that is all over international news. Now, I dont like conspiracy theorist, I think these “drama junkies”  usually are drinking from the same ‘well of insanity and ego’, but indulge my suspicions please, I wont take long. President threat+Secret Service found to be inadequate+ world wide media showing potential security gaps in Presidential security detail= President assassinate attempts while the “powers-that-be” sit back and blame the Secret Service, with a “I told you so” smirk. I feel that all of these circumstances maybe a ‘lead-up’ to something MAJOR, (I hope not!!!and Secret Service, If you view this entry, I am just theorizing, don’t come and hog-tie me,…please:) But seriously, what is REALLY going on? My nana always told me that world events ALWAYS where predictable, and “happened in three’s-perfect sequential order, and she was the one in our family that predicted the murder of then sitting president, Robert Kennedy! There it is, I know I  must seem outlandish, but just a little something to make you think. With all that is going on around the world, these events seem to stand out to me because of their apparent hypocrisy and deadly rhetoric.It  has been a crime to threaten the life of the president since 1917, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report on the Secret Service and its mission, so what was Ted Nugent real motives? To incite deadly violence , or just being the “Shock Rocker-gun totting-hunter-wacko” that has garnered him world wide fame?

We live in a wonderful country that protects our rights, most of them, most of the time, but is it too much to ask for famous people that have a wide forum of admires,fans,etc. to be responsible for their actions and rhetoric, even more so than non-famous people? Further more, I want to know where these “events” will lead, as we enter a presidential race that is “messy and ugly” to say the least. I do not agree with some of Obama’s politics, but I voted for him, and if you disrespect my president, then you are disrespecting my vote, my rights to vote, and  finally my country.”Second-guessing” our democracy  with angry, potentially violent rhetoric is an insult to every American citizen, in this country and around the world. 

The Rise Of The Fashion Reality Show – Fashion Design For The Masses

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Let’s keep it Funky and Fresh, I love fashion based reality shows. Seeing the process that I go through to create product for my clients (minus the catty drama) on the big screen, can be fun. Being a consultant for a few upcoming shows, knowing a few contestants of past fashion reality shows, I always get the “background drama”, and even that aspect is fun. But when I have some civilian in a bar, over cocktails, explain to me that the design process is “easy , not very difficult at all”, (this is when I have to screech and pump the brakes). Most of my life has been dedicated to my craft, honing my product design skills, computer skills, fashion illustration skills, technical design skins,etc, and this has taken YEARS and HARD work. I graduated from Parsons when Marc Jacob was still slumming it on couches in the East Village, (yes I am old), did not finish paying off my student loans until 5 years into my professional career, and have paid some tremendous dues in this industry.

From being discriminated against, to working on several product lines, basically doing my bosses job at that time, I can name numerous rotten situations that have put me ‘against the wall’, but I love my craft so much, till NOTHING really matters. The design process can be  exhausting,long,and “drawn-out”, but as a designer, my reward is seeing my product in the retail market, or on a civilian, that makes me happy,( sometimes I bring out the camera and snap away, people  usually love this, especially here in NYC). I am still in love with reality-based  fashion shows, I just hope that these new forms of entertainment, DO NOT demote the hard-work and struggle that  goes into making my career choice,…..my life work. The design process is fun, and yes, we as designers make it look easy, but that is because we are skilled artisans that have spent years developing our craft.

Fashion Looks That Are Hot – “Album Release Party”

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It’s evening in NYC and our fashionable gal is going out on the town, to a friends album release party.  Our continental  socialite is going to this wonderful gathering in  her Christian Louboutin Metal-tip ankle boots. Right on trend with her psychedelic Black Herringbone Foxy Crop Jacket (faux fur ofcourse cause our gal likes glamor, without the guilt), with a Isabel Marant fine knit scarf. A Kaufman Franco Belted Alpaca Draped Cardigan adds a very feminine look, when combined with very sexy Helmut Lang stretch leather skinny jeans.  She will no doubt be sipping champagne and canoodling with other celebs, carrying her Marcello De Cartier bag. This sophisticated “rock chic” look is balanced with accessories that are sure to start an interesting convo. On her wrist she is wearing a Kelly Wearstler Devonian Fossil Arrowhead cuff, coupled with one single sterling silver ring of a genuine Cephalopod Fossil, ( these creatures are said to have lived some 165 million years ago,wow), To top off her look, are Chloe’ Round-Frame Sunglasses, (she may want to wear these as there are so many superstars hovering around her, each hovering for her attention). The over all look is very fashion forward, but sophisticated. Leather has a tendency, if worn in more than one piece, to be very stark, hard, and sometimes masculine in energy. I decided to taper that masculine energy with a beautiful draped belted cardigan that is so ultra feminine. See the list below to buy these items, and have fun:)

Buy List below:

Black Herringbone Foxy Crop Jacket  – Buy Here 

Isabel Marant fine knit scarf – Buy Here

Helmut Lang stretch leather skinny jeans – Buy Here

Marcello De Cartier bag – Buy Here

Custom sterling silver ring of a genuine Cephalopod Fossil – Buy Here 

Chloe’ Round-Frame Sunglasses – Buy Here

Kelly Wearstler Devonian Fossil Arrowhead cuff – Buy Here 

Christian Louboutin Metal-tip ankle boots – Buy Here

Fashion Business – Branding / Marketing ‘Magic’, What Does Your Company Have To Say?

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Today’s customers think of branding and marketing as that creative thing companies do with the name of a product or service. It is the packaging of a product which includes the visual impression, logo, the jingle or tune that your customer’s mind conjures up when they hear your product name, and the identifiable phrase that keeps your product’s name in front of the buying public. Branding can be as simple as designing a new wrapper or it can be an exciting long-term media campaign for print and television that communicates the brand message.

Today’s customers use their instincts to determine the worth of a product or service, and it is based on visual impressions. Potential customers make the subconscious decision of whether or not they want to do business within the first few seconds of exposure to your company or product. This visual impression comes from the packaging of your product, the impression they have of your web site, and presentation information, such as brochures or business cards. A successful image is the foundation of every successful company. The image of your brand determines your credibility in the mind of new clients, and establishes the value of your products and services.  Customers are increasingly more progressive and sophisticated, so  branding strategies have to evolve as well. The branding of your company is like the “heartbeat” of your product line, having the  consumer ‘understand’ your product, even on a sub-conscience level. Here are a few strategies that I utilize for my design clients.

  • Understand your product. Many young companies create branding programs that actually have nothing to do with the core product. Choosing a logo for aesthetic reasons is great, but what function does it serve concerning  the product that it represents?  Get to know all capabilities of your product(s), subjectively view your product, from a consumer’s point of view, and most of all , assess if your product is has any essential value within the perspective market. Understanding these simple rules, should give you a guideline on how to market your brand.
  • Understand your core demographic and product interaction with this particular demographic. Creating a branding program should henge specifically on what your potential consumer needs, and successfully anticipating those needs (product trends). The branding program you choose should ‘speak’ to the potential consumer, their desires pertaining to any anticipated product (including yours).
  • Understand the ‘lifestyle’ of your potential consumer. You’re branding program  is a ‘visual attempt’ to have the consumer involve your product into their lifestyle (purchase).
  • Access the competition. How successful has your competition been with their brands? Studying competition can often save time and money. Learn from their failures, why they failed, and what would you do different.  I tell my clients all the time, “There is only one Nike, successful as they are, study their branding/ marketing, and I am sure you will see apparent creative and lifestyle associative ‘loop-holes’ that are as big as a football fields, your job is to fill those ‘loop-holes’, thats how you will gain the trust of their consumer”.
  • Diversify is the key product to successfully ‘cross pollinate’ into other unintended markets/ demographics. This is the most important step. So many small/large companies ‘pigeon -hole’ themselves into a targeted demographic (s), then when that trend dries up, product stops selling. Learn to broaden your demographic to include a primary consumer , and an alternative consumer. This simply means, not only diversify your branding and marketing program, but diversification, even on a design level, so that it has a solid foundation in at least 3 different markets. This not only means more money for your brand, but a chance that your brand can build a strong foundation, continuing to sell and prosper for years to come.

For more info, contact me for a free consultation concerning your product line.

Designer Spotlight – Seaki Ache, Designer/Consultant to Watch

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Having your blog is a blessing, and a curse. A curse because it becomes an “incessant responsibility” along with everything else. But a blog can be a blessing, as it can be a great way to get YOUR message about who you are, as well as others. I did an interview a while back with a fledgling magazine out of LA. The magazine is no longer online, but I still have the transcripts. So in an act of “self-induced nepotism” I am going to tell my story,and how I began as a designer, then design consultant. So here we go.

Interviewer: How did you start as a designer?

Seaki: When I was young, I wanted to be an archeologist. I would dig up chicken bones, try to find fossils around the neighborhood. It would horrify my mom, as she thought I was going to become a serial killer, cause of all the animal bones under my bed. (laugh) I have always had a talent for drawing, from a very early age, but being a fashion designer was decided by me and my dad.

Interviewer: You and your father, so it was a collaborative effort?

Seaki: Not really, I was making sunday dresses and suits for my mother to wear to morning service for for sometime. My father was from Sao Paulo, so his son sitting in front of a sewing machine, or hand sewing was too much for his machismo. I will never forget, we were all sitting at the breakfast table, it was a Sunday. The Louisiana Chronicle/ Houston Chronicle would have a huge fashion section, like “Life and Style”. I remember pointing out to dad that year Emmanuel Ungaro had made 235 Million dollars for his business because of licensees, fashion product,ect. I NEVER  heard an ill word from my dad about my sewing ever again, in fact he became even more supportive.

Interviewer: So after you father saw the potential for wealth, he changed his mind?

Seaki: He did a 360, even got me interested in Parson’s in New York.

Interviewer: Tell me about your time at Parson’s

Seaki: I originally wanted to go to Otis Parsons in Los Angeles, since I had family out there. My father got my an application and I completed the “home test” ( I believe it was a collage thing), and sent it in. I received and admission letter a few moths later telling me that I had gotten accepted into their foundation program. When I attended  Parson’s, I believe Marc Jacobs had just graduated, and it was a big deal cause Marc was causing a stir at Perry Ellis, he had hired this guy as Creative Director, RIGHT OUT OF COLLEGE. It was a big deal. When I was going to college, Patrick Henry was causing a rukus in Paris, Steven Sprouse was redefining New York fashion in the East Village. It was a wonderful time to be a young designer. Parsons was so expensive, and I modeled with Boss Models to make end meet.

Interviewer: So you were a model in college ?

Seaki: Only in Europe, I got a great book going will making the rounds in Europe, but the States would not touch me, they did not know what to do with me. The only black models that were working, were ofcourse african american men that were brown skinned. I was a mutt, so they passed on me constantly.

Interviewer : Why did you stop modeling?

Seaki: I was unhappy, and did not want to live on lettuce, crackers and tuna fish for the rest of my life in order to be slender. Besides , as I gained experience, the novelty of being a model was wearing off. I got tired of creative directors telling me “your perfect but your ears are too big, or your thighs are too big, or your skin color is wrong,etc” It got to be bit much. I remember cursing one VERY FAMOUS  american photographer out caused he said I was a “back water bayou negro hybrid”, I will NEVER forget that (chuckle).

Interviewer : Wow , what is the photographer name?

Seaki: (chuckling) Its all water under the bridge now, thats been ages ago. But I will say his name starts with “S” and ends with “M”. I don’t think he meant to insult me, it was meant to be a joke, everyone was laughing, but me. I came back to the States that week, and never modeled again.

Interviewer : Who were some of the people that you knew during this time?

Seaki: As a black model, we all were very close knit. Me being gay, more so with the black female models. I remember Veronica Webb, Roshumba, Beverly Peele , Naomi was on the scene, but hung out with a different crowd. But we all knew of each other, sometimes partied together. Makeup artist Way Brandy was my very best friend.

Interviewer : So You came back to the States?,….

Seaki: Came back to the States, I had already graduated, so I sent out resume’s and got my first design job, with Pierro DiMitri on Fifth Avenue, he was such a big deal back in the day.

Interviewer: How long have you been in the industry?

Seaki: Almost 21 years, (chuckle) Good Black Don’t Crack huh (chuckle)

Interviewer: What was it like in the industry when you started?

Seaki: It was a different industry, so much talent, and fabulous people. I made many connections, but sadly AIDS took away so many of my friends and collegues. After the “AIDS Scare”, which lasted  many years, the industry changed, it became more about money, than artistry.It became VERY political. Office politics was the rule of the day. I often avoided politics by keeping my nose to the grind-stone, but it always hits you some how,some way. I was in the industry when all work done by the designer was hand done, none of these computer programs. Cads, sketches, fashion illustrations,mood /trend boards, all done by hand, and with love. I had to learn computer skills in order to compete.

Interviewer : So you had to evolve?

Seaki : Yes, or become unemployed, and that was not about to happen.

Interviewer : Fast forward, when did you start Seaki Creative Services Consulting?

Seaki: SCS was started out of frustration and unemployment. I had just resigned my last Design Director  position after my boss called me a “Fruity faggot”, jokingly. And back then, there was no such thing as or sexual orientation discrimination. And if I would have sued, I would have been “black-listed” in the industry, as he was a very powerful man in the New York City apparel industry, or so I thought he was. It was a known fact that I was unhappy, so I started my own consultant company, designing product lines for small businesses. A few large accounts that were behind me when I worked in corporate, then came onboard. There is a very large gap in the consulting market, concerning real fashion design / product consulting. Very few of the companies that I have come in contact with really understand apparel design as a business. I think that is my strength, I understand the creative, and business aspects of design. When I am designing a product line, in the back of my mind, I am viewing the line subjectively, piece-by-peice, I ask my self these questions, “would I buy this line”, “what is my demographic?”, “what is my competition?”, and most of all, “have I assessed my competition correctly , “filling in the gaps” where they have left off or neglected. Its a whole process, but it serves me and my clients well.

Interviewer: What are your strengths as a consultant, that maybe your competitors do not have?

Seaki: Plain and simple, talent and knowledge. Being a black designer and working in a few executive positions concerning the apparel industry, I would always have to work harder, be smarter,and more versatile concerning my white collegues. I know it sounds awful, but I come from the old school of fashion business, where there were simply not that many of us in the industry period. So the few of us that had climbed the corporate ladder in the apparel industry, had to learn how to out maneuver, out shine the rest. I rarely have to out-source projects, and that is because during my corporate years, or our bosses would usually pile so many responsibilities on our plate, till we HAD to “wear many hats” in the business in order to survive.

Interviewer: Was this experience unique only to Black fashion designers?

Seaki: Not only was it unique to black fashion designers, it was expected. I remember trend shopping in Europe for a few weeks. My white collegues had assistants to make their jobs easier. I had another black collegue with me, and it then dawned on us, after a few conversations with other white designers of our corporate level and experience, that their was a slight,but powerful bias in the industry. They were shocked. (chuckled) I remember one time I was in Italy, and ofcourse we have a company credit card in our name for the purchases for the company. I remember being chewed out for buying myself meals and drink, while one of my collegues, it was rumored that he hired 2 prostitutes and, and they said nothing to him. I later found out ,much later, that personal expenses ( to a certain degree) should be taken care of, as long as you provide RECEIPTS.

Interviewer : Were you angry after finding this out?

Seaki: For a few minutes, then you get back to work. I mean, I am in Europe, traveling on someones else’s dime. Shopping and  researching  trends. It was a fabulous lifestyle, hard work, but fabulous. So you get upset, look a round you, and count your blessings to be given the opportunity. It just made me work harder.

Interviewer : Do you think these biases still persist?

Seaki: No way, maybe in some environments, but many of the young designers that came after me, simply will not put up with the treatment, they don’t have to. The corporate atmosphere has changed, from what I hear, its more enveloping of all people. As long as your making the company money, your product lines are selling, you can be purple with polka dots, and the big bosses will still adore you.

Designer Spotlight – Miguel Antoinne, A Designer To Watch

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I was introduced to Miguel’s style will “fashion-surfing”. Thats when you are at home, bon-bon’s and carmel at hand, and happily surfing for the next big thing to put on your back. Lets start off with my fashion taste. I am a “Birkenstock/Tee/Ratty jeans” kind of guy, but when I clean up, I turn heads, ( I guess cause people are actually shocked to see me in something other than dirty jeans and birkenstocks, who knows). This designer is spot on. His looks are modern, yet very stylish. The looks are masculine, but with an edge that is rarely seen in Menswear, and that I love. Take a look at a few of his more recent styles that I adore. If this guy can make me leave the comfort of my “birkies”, than he truly has talent.

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Pop Culture – My New “TeleFascination” Love and Hip-Hop

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“Love and Hip-hop” is a reality  show that revolves around the lives of   5 women that are dating men in the hip-hop industry. Hip-hop artist such as Jim Jones, Fabulous are only a few of the rap stars that have cameos on the show, as their women let us experience what it is to be a woman, in love with a rap star. At first I did not like the show, and did not take it very seriously. Anything about hip-hop, simply turns my stomach, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This view point comes from personal experience as a gay man, and a fashion designer , working in NYC, and dealing with a few rap artist in person. These personal experiences differed greatly, from wonderful to horrible, when dealing with these people, but ALWAYS  a learning experience. I do not watch television, at all, hence no cable. But after “netflixing”, I surfed the web, and came across an article writing about this new show. I clicked on to VH-1, and was hooked,…..somewhat. These women are REAL, can be HARSH, but seem to be loving to their men. My favorite character, ofcourse, is Chrissy. She seems to be a loud-mouth, crazy,overly-aggressive, but is loyal to her friends (and would be a chick that I would love to call a friend as well). Needless to say, take a look at the show. It can get a “bit much”, but I live in NYC, and see people like this all the time, and they happen to be people that I care about deeply. Big mouths, Harsh attitudes, but all of it is based on Tough Love. I will be writing more on this show, as there is so much to talk about . Tell me who your favorite people are, and why?

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