Thursday, February 18, 2010

Closet We Envy: Monique Péan

Monique Péan by Alexandra Phanor-Faury Monique Péan may have kicked off her career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, but a love for the arts and design led her to her current flourishing career as a fine jewelry designer. After spending three years in finance, Péan began to take design courses on her time off. It didn’t take long for Péan to realize that fashion was her true calling and she subsequently left her gig to launch a successful namesake line of jewelry in 2006. In addition to making her mark in the fashion world, Péan, who strives to be socially responsible, made a decision to keep her line eco-friendly in addition to being innovative and über-stylish. A word traveler since she was a little girl, Péan’s Haitian father worked for the UN, the D.C. native was drawn by the art and cultures of the many countries she’s visited like Haiti, Egypt, Bali, Malawi and Russia. Her American Jewish mother was also instrumental in encouraging Péan’s interest in the arts. “I aim to create wearable pieces of art that enhance the individual and raise awareness of Native art and culture,” says Péan. The first designs she created were inspired by Mali’s Tuareg tribe. The results were woolly mammoth and walrus ivory pieces sourced by Alaska natives. Péan's Bering Collection uses the remains of fossilized walrus, caribou, conflict-free diamonds and recycled gold. 10% of the proceeds benefit the Alaskan Native Arts foundation. Péan’s mix of vintage, modern materials and semi-precious and precious stones has the fashion world at attention. Just last year she was awarded with two prestigious awards. Péan was a winner of the Eco Domani Fashion Foundation and a runner-up at the CDFDA Vogue Fashion Fund where she was awarded $50,000 by fashion’s most influential players to continue to build and grow her independent business. At the CFDA ceremony the ecstatic designer vowed that “she will not disappoint.” While her fine jewelry isn’t easy on the wallet, it does help to know that every piece Péan sells promotes ethical trade and raises awareness of indigenous people and environmental issues. Péan collaborated with Charity: Water, a non-profit that works to provide clean water to third-world countries, to design a line of jewelry inspired by water. 50% of the proceeds from the sales of her pieces provide clean drinking water and sanitation for 10 people for up to 20 years. As she’s steadily climbing up the fashion ladder, her tireless efforts to clean up the planet are only getting bigger and bolder. In an industry where doing good often takes a back seat to looking good, Péan is a one-of-kind independent spirit that adds new meaning to fashionably giving back. And she’s looking great doing it. Check out some our favorite Monique Péan looks.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Closet We Envy: Socialite Genevieve Jones

Lots has been written and assumed about Genevieve Jones’s background over the years. Tongues have been wagging since she broke into the elite New York social scene with a vengeance. Armed with a jaw-dropping wardrobe of designer wears and a crew of famous fashion friends to boot, Jones immediately became the center of attention with the paparazzi capturing her nightly excursions and outfits. With no apparent occupation, it was inevitable that the haters would come running with flamed torches in hand ready to crucify Jones for being a pretty face with influential friends. The backlash got so bad after a 2006 Teri Agins’s profile on Jones’ that the petite “It Girl” returned home to Baton Rouge until all the drama died down. Today, Jones is still one of the most photographed women, but she’s put to bed the debates over her lack of talent by launching a glam jewelry and bag collection that has, like herself, become a hit seemingly overnight. Her intricate pieces and bags have adorned the likes of Rihanna, Kate Moss and Kim Kardashian. We’re glad all the hoopla and speculations about our favorite stylista are pretty much dead, so now we can turn our focus back to the reason Jones’s caught our eye in the first place and that’s her amazing personal style. Blessed with the kind of lithe frame that is made for designer frocks, Jones, who has been a muse to designers like Zac Posen, hardly ever plays it safe when it comes to fashion. She draws inspiration from a myriad of styles like lady-like chic, retro vintage, minimalism and femme fatale to infuse lots of individualistic charm into her revered ensembles. With no one style to call her own, it’s not surprising that Jones’s closet is made up of diverse designers with contrasting aesthetics. Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, Rodarte, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang, Thakoon and YSL all share a space in her closet. One thing you’ll most likely never find are jeans. Jones is a perpetual dressed-up kind of gal, so anything as casual as denim doesn’t register with her. Instead, Jones clearly gravitates to off-beat dresses in dizzying prints, high-waisted shorts, and skirts all in sky-high hemlines to show off her game. No matter how sexy her silhouettes may be, Jones quirky approach to fashion always adds a dose of whimsy to her looks. Take for instance when she paired a shrunken, leather varsity jacket with an opulent brocade mini for a playful take on luxury or her affinity for wearing ankle socks with her sandals. There are few women who can pull off Jones’s looks. While mini’s are in constant rotation in her wardrobe, recently we’ve been spotting Jones looking effortlessly elegant in floor-sweeping, maxi skirts. No matter what the details of Jones’s past are, one thing’s for sure we’re completely infatuated with this style maven.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Closet Envy: Choreographer Fatima Robinson

When it comes to living a fashionable life, choreographer and creative director Fatima Robinson is in her own lane, all styled up in designer outfits and glammed-up vintage finds. The Arkansas born LA-bred tastemaker has created moves for almost every artist that matters--including Aaliyah, Rihanna, Mary J Blige and Jennifer Hudson. But she is best known for choreographing Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time" video and the movie, "Dreamgirls." Last year she became the second African American woman to choreograph the Oscars (Debbie Allen was the first) and she recently wrapped up creating moves for Sade's "Soldier of Love" video. Her mantelpiece may be full of accolades, but ESSENCE.com would like to add one more for stunning personal style.  Read More: Making Sade's "Soldier of Love." Closet We Envy: Nicola VassellCloset We Envy: Bonnie Morrison

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Closet Envy: Gallerina Nicola Vassell

Besides the red-hot artists she represents, former model turned gallerina, Nicola Vassell is one of the most exciting figures in the art world. Known for her impeccable taste both as a director at Deitch Projects--an art gallery on the forefront of the art universe--and her carefully curated wardrobe choices, the Jamaican native has long been a poster girl for downtown New York style. Now luxury brand Cole Haan has tapped her as one of the faces of it's "Inspired Life" ad campaign which features the coolest kids in New York.  After years spent working for the likes of Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, Vassell hung up her modeling gloves for the glamorous grind of the art world. But she didn't leave her eclectic fashion sense behind, which is why she's constantly on our radar of need-to-know style arbiters... Read More: Closet We Envy: Bonnie Morrison Closet We Envy: Shala MonroqueKehinde Wiley's Michael Jackson painting sells for $175K10 Female Artists you Should Know

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Independent Spirit: Bonnie Morrison

Bonnie Morrison by Alexandra Phanor-Faury Here at Essence.com, we’re always on the lookout for exceptionally dressed ladies with great individualistic style to fawn over and fashion PR maven Bonnie Morrison fits the bill to a T. Deemed “one of the most socially connected fashion publicists in New York” by Fashion Week Daily, Morrison, who currently represents fashion designer Chris Benz, has an impressive resume to prove it. Morrison has worked as a publicity director at the renowned fashion PR firm KCD (reps the who’s who in fashion) , PR consultant for Proenza Schouler, Dries van Noten, Phi and magazine editor for the now defunct Men’s Vogue. Rubbing shoulders with fashion’s distinguished set at industry cocktail parties or store openings is all in a day’s work for this New York City nightlife fixture, as is looking sharp. Although Morrison’s life revolves around all things fashion and current, you’ll never catch her piling on every one of the season’s trends. Morrison’s personal style leans towards a classic aesthetic which includes a mix of high and low designer wears and vintage styles. She’s that cool girl who always looks so enviably chic and comfortable without having to try so hard. She makes pinstripe blue shirts, navy wool peacoats, cardigans, shift dresses and a trench look anything but basic. While she tends to stick to a color palette of mostly grey, beige and black, Morrison doesn’t shy away from prints. And judging from the number of pretty, printed shift dresses we’ve seen her donning around town ,courtesy of The Sartorialist and the many other fashion street photogs who capture her looks during fashion week , Morrison must house a sweet collection of vibrant party frocks in her closet. We love how she’ll throw on a leather jacket or tie a long cardigan with a belt over these feminine dresses. We admire her ability to mix textures and play with proportions to infuse some polished charm to an ensemble. Like when she paired a black sequins cardi with a yellow flower print voluminous skirt. Another signature of Morrison’s style is her penchant for bejeweled bib necklaces to lend some glitz to her looks. She’s been quoted as saying she favors heirloom costume jewelry from the 50’s and 60’s. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite Morrison looks that best express her one of a kind style pedigree.

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