Spring Awakening After Barneys Fall from Grace

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Sarah Jessica Parker once told Vanity Fair, “If you’re a nice person and you work hard, you get to go shopping at Barneys. It’s the decadent reward.” Or so we thought? Luxury had certainly lost its luster at this designer emporium, when reports of racial profiling surfaced last fall. I flocked to the city with a Carrie Bradshaw complex, living on the Upper East Side while shopping at Barneys and making ends meet as a writer. The fantasy lasted three months. So, when reports surfaced that my beloved department store was discriminating against blacks, I took notice.

There were two major cases of blacks being targeted and accused of identity theft and credit card fraud for using their debit cards. The first case involved Trayon Christian, 19, and $349 Ferragamo belt. His I.D was check; his card was swiped and he was subsequently sent to jail charged with identity theft. After he was wrongly accused, he returned the belt and filed suit against the retailer.

It happened again.  Kayla Phillips, 21, purchased a $2,500 Céline bag. She was then surrounded by four plainclothes police officers after using her debit card. Barneys Ceo Mark Lee released an apologetic statement to the two shoppers who were racially profiled with a caveat saying that no one from Barneys was to blame. It resulted from an internal investigation within Barneys. Yes, Barneys cleared Barneys of any wrongdoing.

People were outraged. The message was to boycott Barneys, looking to Jay-Z to lead the way by withdrawing himself from his upcoming capsule collection. He didn’t, and it sold out.  Continue reading

A Gay Man’s Right to Shoes

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Gay bashings, a mutant strain of hatred causing malaise in any milieu—made its return to Russia most recently. A minefield for gays, who were identified and targeted based on what they wore. Lest we forget in New York City, America’s symbolic city for hope, liberty and the pursuit of what’s happening, was overwhelmed with violence towards gays just last summer. Some same-gender-loving men tended to blend in when in chaotic environments for survival, while the brave chose to standup to discrimination by wearing things that stood out. I wondered if the slaves never sought freedom, where would Blacks be today.

From Moscow to Manhattan—murder, she wrote. Marc Carson was murdered in front of Gray’s Papaya on west 8th street and Sixth Ave in the West Village. It was shocking to hear that these hate crimes were being committed in our gayest neighborhoods. These casual criminals were as bad as the knock-offs on Canal Street, getting caught within minutes of committing their crimes. Homophobic losers stuck in the ’90s where oversized jeans, jerseys and jewelry were de rigor. In a status quo that set us back two decades, will it be safe again for gays to don there most daring fashion choices?

Carson was singled out as being gay, because he wore shorts and boots. This news was disturbing, since I strutted in the shortest shorts of the season. Such violence was expected in the Bronx, which I like to call the “Borough of Broken Dreams,” where high crime and poverty were considered highlights. Yet, this happened in the movie making, celebrity-filled Manhattan. Why the sudden change in a post Sandy world?

Religion and fashion went together like strangers giving out candy. I came to the City That Never Sleeps to practice my fashion choices in peace. What we wore shaped and defined our lives. It was as essential as breakfast in the morning. I had no intentions to revert back to the political style of our nation’s conservatively dressed Capitol, where khakis and polo shirts wreaked havoc on the city like STI’s in the porn industry. A gay man’s right to shoes should be protected as well as his choice to wear skirts, kilts, and dresses.

Shoes Continue reading

Spring Has Sprung: Andrew Nowell Menswear

Photography by Don Harris

Photography by Don Harris

Our nation’s capitol has been known for a lot of things lately:  assault charges for Chris Brown, government shutdowns, and a mass shooting downtown. From furloughs to food stamps, Washington, DC received the spotlight for fashion as well. As a Washingtonian, who sashayed down the street, long before Olivia Pope popularized the white Burberry trench, I can appreciate that Andrew Nowell has been cultivating a clientele with his captivating menswear for several years.

Not just any humdrum urban designer but a bespoke tailor, with prowess in made to measure suiting within a collection that used the best fabrics like cashmere, leather and fur. He was also featured in a plethora of publications:  The Washington Post, Washingtonian, Jet Magazine, Krave Magazine, Source Magazine and many others.

Nowell was born and raised in the Boogie Down Bronx before moving to Washington, DC to pursue his career. He made his mark after a short stint with the U.S.A Navy, by “simply making clothes and putting on local shows,” he said. Before every high school graduate runs off to their nearest Mood, modesty will not equipped you with the expertise to make clothes that stand out. You can’t be a good designer without a strong foundation, that’s like being a prostitute with no pimp. It’s dangerous and not recommended. He molded his skills in the melting pot by studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology, majoring in Menswear.

Photography by Don Harris

Photography by Don Harris

Continue reading

Cover Boy Uncovered: Introducing Demarco Majors

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Demarco Majors is so major that he was featured by Out Magazine for their OUT100 list of “most compelling people” in 2008. Born and raised in Evansville, Indiana, “I spent my days trying to smile on the inside, living as a young black male, figuring out his place in the world,” he said. He turned his poor past from a funny looking kid to a bonafide sex symbol with a rich future.

Demarco made his mark as an international basketball player, in Argentina, Brazil and Australia.  He was out the closet long before Jason Collins, who just revealed his sexuality publicly at the end of his basketball career last spring. “I never came out of anything,” he said. “If you are accepting of yourself, you share it with other people.” However, his team members weren’t as receptive. “People began to back away from me,” He said.

Professional sports and other alpha male fields like rap spawned plenty of undercover homosexuals. Every gay kid could imagine the struggle and fear whenever you had to go to gym or to the locker room, where your crush will no doubt crush you, if he caught you staring at him. Oh how the memories from the past decade could still haunt you.

Being a gay athlete made him a gay sex object, objectified freely by fellow gays and fag hags.  He starred in Logo’s TV series Shirts & Skins, showcasing his talents on and off court. He led his team, Rock Dogs, all the way to the gold at the Gay Games. Continue reading

Couture Fashion Week Spring 2014: A Celebration of Exhibition and Excess

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COUTURE FASHION WEEK kicked off in Paris last week. Some consider couture as Paris’ greatest showing long before Paris was burning, where the supreme designers showcase their most extravagant designs—often good, bad or indifferent. Oh the agony and ecstasy of creating couture, where towering prices collocated with euphoric expectations. At GBM News, we took a closer look at the collections and ultimate confections.

Atelier Versace was the opening act for the week, which erupted in a bang because Donatella Versace designed a fabulous collection, and enlisted her gal-pal Lady Gaga, the current face of Versace, who wore a look from the show before it debuted on the runway:  a dramatic black satin number with a hood and train that was an ode to the legendary Grace Jones. “She left a sign as a strong power woman goddess.” Versace said.

“Donatella”, the song off Gaga’s latest offering, ARTPOP, was on repeat. By the third time around, it wasn’t a charm. Gorgeous gowns and fluffy furs were very Versace. There were a plethora of red carpet ready dresses in pastel hues, like a handful of designer jewels passed out like candy to couture babies.

Karl Lagerfeld’s cotton candy couture at Chanel had all of the ingredients of a posh Powerpuff girl: sugar, spice and everything nice. The set was a celebration of glorious excess, a white on white wonderland where magic awaited. It reminded me of the Fay Club on True Blood, the hit show on HBO. “It’s an ice palace, a night club on another planet.” Lagerfeld said. Behind the white tube, was Sebastian Tellier, a French electronic artist, dressed like a coterie of Jelly Belly. The fairy tale setting was the perfect backdrop for the models, who skipped spritely down the stairs like fay in couture sneakers designed by Massaro, laced in lace, pearl, python and tweed.

The clothes were less sporty than sporty spice—short skirts, crop tops and corsets were the main silhouette. Seeing so many corsets were almost illicit, considering Coco Chanel believed them to be the antithesis of modernity. She released women from the constraints of corsetry a century ago. A homogenous sea of mostly white faces, skirts and tops as matching sets, accessorized with arm pads, knee pads and fanny packs reminded me of an athletic Barbie:  perfection boxed up, individuality sized, and sold like cigarettes.

“Break a leg!” Viktor & Rolf’s ballet presentation, masquerading as a couture show, was an advertisement for their upcoming fragrance, Bon Bon, They traded in the world’s best models for the world’s best dancers, the Dutch National Ballet, and dressed them in latex ballerina costumes. “We wanted to treat latex as something soft, which it isn’t.” Rolf Snoeren said. The pale palette pleased no one, and the frizzy hair added insult to injury.

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli designed ostentatious Opera-inspired looks to be worn at the Opera or Oscars for Valentino. The opening look delineated from La Traviata, which was composed by Giuseppe Verdi—the sheet music was emblazoned on the sheer tulle gown, worn by Katy Perry at this year’s Grammy’s. Luckily, unlike Viktor & Rolf it was less ballet and more Black Swan. Other sheer tulle dresses in the collection was nothing short of poufy perfection.   Continue reading

Chanel Haute Couture: Buoyant Barbie

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COUTURE FASHION WEEK SPRING 2014:  Karl Lagerfeld’s cotton candy couture at Chanel had all of the ingredients of a posh Powerpuff girl: sugar, spice and everything nice. The set was a celebration of glorious excess, a white on white wonderland where magic awaited. It reminded me of the Fay Club on True Blood, the hit show on HBO. “It’s an ice palace, a night club on another planet.” Lagerfeld said. Behind the white tube, was Sebastian Tellier, a French electronic artist, dressed like a coterie of Jelly Belly. The fairy tale setting was the perfect backdrop for the models, who skipped spritely down the stairs like fay in couture sneakers designed by Massaro, laced in lace, pearl, python and tweed.

The clothes were less sporty than Sporty Spice—short skirts, crop tops and corsets were the main silhouette. Seeing so many corsets were almost illicit, considering Coco Chanel believed them to be the antithesis of modernity. She released women from the constraints of corsetry a century ago. A homogenous sea of mostly white faces, skirts and tops as matching sets, accessorized with arm pads, knee pads and fanny packs reminded me of an athletic Barbie:  perfection boxed up, individuality sized, and sold like cigarettes.

Atelier Versace: Going Gaga Over Grace Jones

AtelierVersace

COUTURE FASHION WEEK kicked off with Atelier Versace and Lady Gaga, who wore a look from the show before it debuted on the runway.  A dramatic black satin number with a hood and train that was an ode to the legendary Grace Jones. “She left a sign as a strong power woman goddess.” Donatella Versace said.

“Donatella”, the song off Lady Gaga’s latest offering, ARTPOP which was named after the designer, was on repeat. By the second time around, I considered muting my computer. Gorgeous gowns and fluffy furs were very Versace. There were a plethora of red carpet ready dresses in pastel hues, like a handful of designer jewels passed out like candy to couture babies.