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Closet Envy: The Fiercest Black Fashion Bloggers

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In the last couple of years the fashion landscape has changed drastically with the influx of fashion blogs. Once the sole gatekeepers of all things fashion, editors, stylists and designers are now making room for this growing, new influential voice. Bloggers have democratized fashion proving to the industry that you don't have to be an insider or have access to a closet full of designer pieces to look stylish. Whether it's showcasing their everyday wears, sharing their recent purchases, musings on the latest collections, fashion bloggers are offering up to the minute fashion content. There's a slew of fashion bloggers on the web with creative personal styles, but we think these three ladies, Jessie of Our Delusional Mind, Karen of Where Did You Get That and Samantha of Omo Writes, have what it takes to be deemed independent spirits. Their eclectic fashion choices boast enough saucy numbers, vintage treasures, high/low, trendy pieces and D.I.Y. creations to have us experience serious closet envy. It's no wonder that a bevy of readers flock to their blogs daily for inspiration. Jessie, Karen and Samantha talk to ESSENCE.com about their blogs, their passion for fashion and, of course, clothes. Samantha Smikle, 24 Location: New York City Occupation: Assistant at a textile design and manufacturing company. Jewelry designer   Jessie Norton, 27 Location: Running back and forth between Toronto and Detroit Occupation: Real Estate Research Analyst by day and personal stylist   Karen Blanchard, 29 Location:  New York (from London) Occupation: Sales assistant   ESSENCE.com: What inspired you to launch your blog? JESSIE NORTON: I love that fashion is a way to express yourself. I love the process of bringing different elements together and finding a combination that is beautiful in its own way. I started the blog as an outlet for my interest in fashion. My friends are not obsessed like I am so I needed a way to get some ideas out of my head. I started posting regularly a little over a year ago. The blog has grown quite a bit, I have a number of regular followers and because of the blog, I've also started personal styling and opened an eBay store where I sell vintage and gently used items. SAMANTHA SMIKLE: I started O.M.O. Writes in June 2007, right after I graduated from Boston. O.M.O. actually stands for On My Own [like Norma Kamali, who I later found out has the same meaning for her omo norma kamali line]. I needed a creative outlet to express my love of clothes, shopping and fashion. The blog has grown so much in content and aesthetic. I put a lot into the graphic and web design of it as well as developing the coverage beyond trends to fashion news, street style, my style, influential editorials and shopping suggestions.  My point was just to make a public record of the trends I spotted. I really see fashion as more than just clothes but as an art and a statement. It's power as a social and political force can even be seen with Dior's "New Look" in the late 1940's. His reaction to the rationing of fabric during World War II with a collection that used fabric in excess and high glamour was a move that remains influential and went down in history. KAREN BLANCHARD: I just wanted to put myself out there. I didn't really have a goal per se and maybe one day I'd like to land a job in the fashion industry. That's still an ongoing dream for me. I think people can relate to normal everyday people like themselves. It's like looking into someone's daily diary. Looking at magazines full of models is inspiring but also can be intimidating and somewhat dated. Blogging is instant daily satisfaction from someone who you understand. It's a hundred times more personal. Fashion is just something that I love. Being chosen by fashion designer Rachel Roy to model for her new diffusion line last year was such an amazing experience. ESSENCE.com: What would you say was your earliest memory of fashion? BLANCHARD: Going to London street markets with my Mum. NORTON: It would have to be watching my mother getting dressed. I would sit and watch in awe as she would try on different outfits. I always thought she looked so beautiful. Of course, I would try to imitate her creating my own little fashion shows and trying to put my feet into her heels. SMIKLE: My earliest memory of fashion is probably of my favorite dress in kindergarten. I wore it for my school picture and any other appropriate event for as long as I could fit into it. It was a white, floral, sweetheart neckline dress. Other than that, I wasn't really obsessed with fashion until college where I coordinated the annual Black student union fashion show. And I also majored in journalism with intentions to work at a fashion magazine.   ESSENCE.com: How would you describe your style? NORTON: My style is ever evolving, but right now I would say that it is an experiment in texture, proportion and color. I draw inspiration from things around me. Right now I'm very inspired by the muted colors outside due to the cold. Such as the sage green and soft yellow of the dead grass, the ashy grays on the trees. BLANCHARD: I can't. A mix of downtown, casual rock chick? SMIKLE: It's a mash up of influences. It's a bit "Dynasty," a bit "Blossom," a bit dandy gentleman. ESSENCE.com: Favorite items in your closet right now? NORTON: Ooh, it's a tie between a vintage Haori (coat worn over a kimono) and my BCBG Mendel booties.   SMIKLE: My laced up Steve Madden boots and my studded shoulder coat from H&M. Those are the most important pieces in the wintertime: a coat and a solid pair of boots. BLANCHARD: Hmmm. I love my All Saints fringe ankle boots, my black Zara leather jacket and all my fedora and floppy hats.  ESSENCE.com: What's on your wish list? BLANCHARD: Wish list items are a great pair of platform wood sandals for spring and I would sooo love a pair of Givenchy's black and white tribal print leggings. OMG, I reeeeeally want those. NORTON: A Rick Owens Palais Royal fur coat (a girl can dream, right?). SMIKLE: Black leather high-waisted short, a white silk vintage button down blouse and platform Miu Miu-esque pumps. ESSENCE.com: Who are your style muses? NORTON: They constantly change but right now Carine Roitfeld, Emmanuelle Alt, Kate Lanphear and Taylor Tomasi to name a few. BLANCHARD: Lenny and Zoe Kravitz, and Alexa Chung. SMIKLE: Mary Kate Olsen, Brenda Walsh ("Beverly Hills 90210") and Diana Ross.   ESSENCE.com: What will you be wearing for spring? NORTON: Sky-high platforms, vintage capes, worn in tees, and high waist shorts in leather. SMIKLE: Platform wedges and eyeliner on the top and bottom lid. Hopefully, I'll be wearing the perfect silk blend trench coat, which I have yet to find--maybe that should be on my wish list too! BLANCHARD: I'll switch between short mini and floor sweeping semi transparent dresses, I think. Shoes will either be fringed sandals, wood platforms or metallic, thong sandals.   ESSENCE.com: If you could own a complete collection from any season, what would it be? NORTON: Balenciaga S/S 07. That collection is still one of my all-time favorites! SMIKLE: Ah...Stella McCartney Spring/Summer 2009. She had my two favorite things in soft color and fabrics: blazers and jumpers plus the right amount of animal print and sequins! BLANCHARD: Wow, there's a few. The ones that spring to mind include Anna Sui F/W 09, William Rast F/W09, and BCBG Max Azria S/S 2010.  Ok, so I'm cheating--sorry! Read more:
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