On Writing Fashion

 How to wear a DKNY cozy

One of the first writers that I was ever drawn to, fashion-wise, was Zandile Blay. She was the market editor at Paper magazine, Style & Culture columnist for the Huffington Post and then became the fashion editor at Essence.com before leaving for Nigeria to become Editor-in-Chief at Hello! Nigeria. She’s back stateside now, working as a fashion/beauty journalism professor at Syracuse University and Editor-at-Large of Scene magazine.

I say all that to say, I was taken with her. The way that her words came alive on my screen. She starred in a Coach campaign. The way her clothing was so magnetic. Her jumbo quilted Chanel. She was brown and fashion writer. Most importantly, she was accessible. 23-year-old me was a goner.

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5 Style Lessons Courtesy of Carine Roitfeld

5 Style Lessons Courtesy of Carine Roitfeld

Here on The City, we are all about cultivating personal style, luckily, we can look to some of our favorite celebrities for a few style lessons.

I need you to know something. I am fully and completely obsessed with Carine Roitfeld. The former French Vogue editor-in-chief has changed my life. So it started when I tried to attend a screening for her documentary following her journey to launch her first issue of CR Fashion Book, Mademoiselle C. It was full, but the lovely PR girl sent me a link to the film online which I promptly sent around to my friends. I didn’t get to watch it right away but when I sat down Indian style on my bed two Saturdays ago with the doc fully loaded on my computer, I knew it was on.

Was. It. Ever.

If I thought that she changed my life online, I was about to come face to face with her during the House of Mercedes Benz Pop-Up during the first official day of New York Fashion Week. I was tasked with interviewing her and Stephen Gan, founder of V magazine, Harper’s Bazaar’s creative director and Ms. Roitfeld’s business partner and design director of her new venture. Carine was the sweetest, most personable and bad*ss grandmother I’ve ever met. So when I got the chance to attend a screening for Mademoiselle C on Tuesday, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve officially overdosed on Carine. So I thought she was perfect person to (once again) re-introduce 5 Style Lessons! Ready?

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1. Get Old. It’s Cool.

Maybe it’s because she’s French, so she is inherently stylish as she gets older but I salute Carine for not falling under the knife. There is something to be said for women who rock their gray hair or don’t try to look like their daughters as they age. You can still be yourself as you age, just look at Ms. Roitfeld.

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2. Make it About the Details

So, my colleague interviewed Mademoiselle C a week before I did. When I asked her the best thing that she–Angel–said that Carine said that in France, details are more important than just being seen. In the United States, being flashy is almost celebrated,  where in France, Carine said that true style lies in the details. The material, the way things fit, the silhouette it gives you, these things make a difference.

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3. Embrace Change

Carine Roitfeld left French Vogue after 10 years and was nervous to start over, but she did it. She said in her documentary that the more established she’s become the harder it is to be innovative. I asked her the last thing she did that she considered innovative. Her answer? Putting Kim Kardashian on the cover of CR Fashion Book (on newsstands September 13th). Change isn’t always bad, as long as is it’s classy–which is how Carine considers her cover since Kim, the fame whore’s, name is not on it. I can already how my wardrobe is embracing change moving to a new city. What about you?

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4. Create a Signature

This is something that I struggle with quite honestly. I like too many things to stay loyal to one. Too many nail polishes, fragrances, and lipsticks to try before I can choose one to spend the rest of my life with. Same with my style. Carine has a definite aesthetic, edgy cool, no? In the film, the camera follows her as she gets her signature smoky eyes done by Tom Pecheux and then sprays her signature mix of perfume in preparation for last year’s Met Ball. I won’t tell you what, though. What’s your signature? Do you have a definite aesthetic? 

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5. Fashion Should Make You Dream

My last question to Carine was who was the one person that she deemed the most stylish. “The most stylish,” she repeated the question back to me. “It’s never about style for me. It’s about people who make me dream.” Can you even?? That is about to be my goal for everything I put on. I want to inspire dreams. Don’t you?

Now can you see why everyone is obsessed with Carine? Tom Ford’s muse is something special in that she isn’t afraid to be herself. She’s inspiring and literally has changed the way that I think about style. Mademoiselle C hit theaters on the 11th with cameos from Karl Lagerfeld, Kanye West, Beyoncè and fashion’s model of the moment Cara Delevingne. I promise, you’ll leave the theater and want to sit with just a notebook and write all of the ways you want to create something inspiring. I know I did.

I loved seeing her twice during New York Fashion Week–which I can’t wait to tell you all about. Next week, though. Right now, I need a nap like something serious.

Don’t Wanna Miss a Thang

Don’t Wanna Miss a Thang

The past week has been one big instance of ‘is this my life?’

I went to a country concert. And I danced a little bit. But mostly, I sipped my beer. I held the can with a napkin and drank it with a straw and tried not to burp too much. But I stayed and had a good time with my co-worker.

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Wearing: Zara Lace Top (similar), Forever 21 Pants, J.Crew Studded Sandals, Tibi Clutch, YSL Provocative Pink lipstick

That was Thursday. The following Tuesday, I went to a rooftop party that Fox was throwing, with every single intention of making a once around, holding a drink and then be out. Instead I found myself laughing and talking with the entertainment editor of Mashable. He came up to me because he loved my pants and he and his friend chatted me up until I forget I was ready to go be a grandma in my worn sweatpants.

My co-worker, who happens to be my job’s entertainment editor, comes in and the four of us continue to shoot the breeze–literally–on the breezy Jimmy rooftop. We head out when this man, I swear, he finds me at every single tech thing I go, starts talking to me about missing the sunset spending so much time in my phone.

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“Time ta GO,” I text my co-worker. She has tickets to some barbeque that Hot 97 is throwing, this was my partner-in-crime that got us on the set of the “Picasso Baby” shoot, so I can always expect a good time with her. Except this is a ratchet hot mess and my feet hurt.

I peace out when there is trouble at the door. My feet are killing me and to be honest, I just want to come home and blog. Lord knows, I haven’t written anything for myself and this is the closest thing to a journal for me.

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I’m just scared I’m going to miss something. And as Aerosmith so eloquently put it, I don’t wanna miss a thannnng.

On the Green Carpet

On the Green Carpet

Y’all. June Ambrose complimented me. I almost wanted to fall out. And Donna Karan stopped to let me interview her when I called her name. I felt like a legit journalist.

I woke up on a Saturday at 6:00am to shower, get dressed and make it to Penn Station to board the 7:45am train to Montauk, making stops in Southampton where I worked my very first green carpet, my very first time in the Hamptons. I dragged my Brooklyn Boy with me to document all of this of all this as I did my best to interview the list of celebrities my boss asked me to get. No pressure, right?

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We got there super early, which was good, I was able to secure a good spot on the carpet. Y’all, can we talk for a minute. I can’t wait until I walk into an event knowing that I am there to do a job and not let more seasoned people knock me out the way. I mosied into the section where the print journalists (we were divided into three: photographers/TV journalists, digital journalists and then print) were supposed to stand–Women’s Wear Daily, Vanity Fair, Hamptons–I was in good company.

Except…there were these two older ladies, who legit, talked over every single question I asked. Here’s another thing about working a carpet, no one talks after a question is asked, that way you get a clean sound bite and not random bits of someone one else’s convo when it’s time to transcribe the interview (which might literally be one of the WORST things about being a writer).

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These lovely ladies, are you catching my sarcasm, did this during my interview with Aida Turturro, James Gandolfini’s TV sister on The Sopranos, she noticed and shut that down quick.

“Did you get everything you need, pretty?” You sort of got interrupted,” she said before launching into a the perfect quote (unrelated to them but not really): “Cool out with all the selfishness. Chill out, it’s not all about you! I think there is a lot of selfishness in the world and everyone is like me, me, me, they don’t think about anyone else, whether they are on the line, or driving, and that’s driving me crazy. Slow down and think of the person next to you. That’s in life I think.”

Suuuure is! What now?! Ha!

After that, I just moved up and down the row of journalists when it suited me so I didn’t have those women talking in all of my interviews. I’m starting to get the hang of this. And then the best thing happens. June Ambrose comes up to me and my new friend at Life & Style and tells us that we have great smiles (and compliments my outfit!) and answers every single question we asked. Even my Brooklyn Boy was impressed, “She’s so cool! Like, someone’s aunt!”

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You know who else is cool?

Donna Karan, she was one of the event’s hosts and walked the green carpet with her family: daughter Gabby and a whole slew of grandchildren. She too answered all of my questions. She was my last interview before having–at this point–a much needed sit down. My phone was dead and my feet were starting to ache from standing so long, but I can’t lie, I was excited that when my boss emailed me later that day asking how everything went that I could report a job well done.

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Now, to transcribe everything…

Fake It Until You Make It

Fake It Until You Make It

“Thank you for calling the New York Times, please say the name of the person you are calling,” a deep voice said on the other end of the phone. I said the name before realizing that I wasn’t taking to a real person but a machine. I felt like such a legit journalist. Mind you, I was calling about a fashion scoop, but a fashion journalist all the same.

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In college, we were taught that the smartest writers (perhaps, better connected?) end up published in the Times. To know that I could possibly speak to one because my boss demanded I do so, was just, wow.

Am I qualified to even dial this number? Should I still be speaking with this person? Are you even allowed to just ring the phone on his desk? I immediately consult my friend in GChat and tell her my assignment.

“That’s kind of huge if she trusts you to do that,” she typed back right away.

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In this instance, I’m not going to lie, I had a fake it till you make it moment. I told myself that I would act as if I was an important fashion writer and just calling to get a quote for a story. Afterward, I told my friend that I felt like a real writer.

“You’re are, silly,” she told me.

Yall, when someone believes in you, for whatever reason, I think you kind-of owe it to them to deliver, even if you have to fake it ’till you make it.

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Lord know I feel like I am most of the time. When was the last time you faked it?