The Come-Up



· Inspiration, The Come-Up · , , , ,

text by Paul Pastore

All photos courtesy BCALLA

Even if you’re even the most casual follower of pop culture, you have probably seen BCALLA’s clothes. Brad Callahan, the labels namesake, has designed custom pieces and tour outfits for GAGA and Azealia Banks. He also designed the costumes for Miley Cyrus’ iconic performance that closed the 2015 VMA’s. But BCALLA’s genesis was in the New York’s Queer underground, costuming Brooklyn superstars like Juliana Huxtable, Luke Neocamp, Cakes Da Killa, and Pearl. Bcalla’s success has been driven by Callahan’s couture creations, which transform their wearers into otherworldly beings with spikes, fur, and airbrushed monster faces. He continues to dress queer icons like gay porn star Colby Keller in tandem with pop divas, positioning him at the vanguard of fashion. Phosphenes sat down with Callahan in his studio to discuss his relationship with Americana, the future of fashion, and his own inspiration.

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· The Come-Up · , , ,

For spring/summer 2016, emerging talent Evin Tison takes us on an intergalactic, seductive journey through the complexity of the modern woman. Predominantly white with bursts of pastels, the garments make use of futuristic, space-age materials; semi-transparent latex coexists with iridescent PVC, while Tison creates one-of-a-kind fabrics by applying plastic to three-dimensional neoprene. The end result is an architectural, extraterrestrial aesthetic unlike anything on Earth, making a promising proposition for this new vision.

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Maria Borges and Ajak Deng photographed by Ed Singleton and styled by Solange Franklin for "Africa Rising"

The Big Break

· The Come-Up, Thoughts, Travel & Culture · , , , ,

While many were upset by Valentino’s questionable attempt at a tribute to Africa, we can wonder how the intended “cultural exchange” would look if carried out by authentic African designers; there’s no denying the fact that coverage of the continent’s fashion scene has been pretty minimal. Well things are changing, as the global fashion map is broadening more and more each day.

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Orange Culture

The Labels to Watch

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Sure, we all know about Dior, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, and more. Even newer labels like Hood By Air and Telfar are on their way to becoming household names. But what about the many lesser-known brands out there? Whether based in fashion capitals like New York or London or in less-commonly explored locations like Nigeria, here’s a handful of designers and labels to keep an eye on.

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The Skins

· Music, The Come-Up · , , , ,


*Note: This story originally appears in the Fall 2014 issue of VRLX Mag. Find out more and get your copy here!


Sometimes it feels like we’re drowning in the sea of today’s music, and we could really use a breath of fresh air. Cue The Skins, the Brooklyn-based rock band that’s giving us some tunes to get hyped about.

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Denim Couture

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Denim is always everywhere, but it’s been especially big lately. A major trend at the spring 2015 menswear shows, and revolutionized by up-and-coming labels like Ximon Lee and Marques’ Almeida (who’s work can currently be seen on FKA twigs’ tour), the fabric has been getting a whole new twist lately, too. But now denim’s getting elevated even more thanks to London-based newcomer Faustine Steinmetz.

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On Our Radar: Aya Jones

· Models, The Come-Up · , , , , , ,


Casting at the spring 2015 ready-to-wear shows was beyond atrocious, with too many whitewashed lineups of forgettable faces. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few standouts. Take, for example, Aya Jones N’Guessan.

Aya first grabbed our attention when she walked exclusively for Prada in Milan. Surprisingly one of the more impressive casts of the season (see Gemma, Malaika, Stam, Lara, Issa, and more), it would be easy for any new face to get lost in the mix. But that’s the thing: Aya’s not just another new face. With a virtually immaculate appearance, reminiscent of early 90s Naomi and a touch of FKA Twigs, this stunner is bringing real beauty back to the runways; no shade to any other models of the moment, but how often do we see a human being this beautiful?

Not surprisingly, her turn at Prada got a lot of other designers’ attention when Paris Fashion Week rolled around. The world was blessed to see Aya Jones at Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Sacai, Giambattista Valli, Sonia Rykiel, Valentino, and Miu Miu (did we miss any?). To debut halfway through the show circuit and garner so much buzz is pretty impressive, so we can hope that big things are ahead for this gorgeous rookie.

Check out some more photos of Aya Jones N’Guessan below, and let us know what you think of this new face!

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· Men's, The Come-Up · , , ,

Sometimes it’s a lot harder than you’d think to find the perfect accessories, especially when it comes to menswear. Over-the-top styles make for great statement pieces, but what happened to a traditionally good bag?

Cue Oppermann, the London-based label that fuses luxury and practicality to create undeniably beautiful leather goods. Launched in 2012 by two Swedish brothers, Niklas and Mattis Oppermann, the brand shows the perfect combination of sleek Scandinavian minimalism and cutting-edge London style. And just when it seemed as if the perfect shapes, high-quality materials, and couture-like craftsmanship couldn’t get any better, Oppermann is also using a refreshing new retail model.

Launching this fall, set to make waves through 2015 and beyond, Oppermann will be one of Europe’s first online-only menswear labels. Retailers often mark up the cost of items by at least three times, and by distributing directly from the source, Oppermann offers their pristine products at astonishing prices. But don’t think a reasonable expense means lower quality; the brand is still all about getting better and better with each piece.

As with typical minimalism, the details are what truly make Oppermann’s items stand out. From bags to wallets to leather sleeves and document cases, everything is handmade in Italy, while all materials come from some of the finest European manufacturers. Take the brand’s latest collection, “Surfaces.” Featuring tumbled leather from Tärnsjö Garveri in Sweden, Italian vegetable-tanned leather trims, and zippers from Raccagni, Italy, the items are handcrafted in Naples, Italy to produce duality and versatility. In a nutshell, Oppermann is proving that the pricetag doesn’t have to match the elevated quality, putting the brand in line to be one of the hottest men’s luxury accessories labels.

Get in on the label’s Kickstarter campaign here, and check out some of the awesome items below!:

Oppermann-Core-Goswell Oppermann-Core-Islington Oppermann-Core-Palissy-1 oppermann-palissy-black-2 Oppermann-Surfaces-Collection

All photos courtesy Oppermann London


On Our Radar: Bhumika Arora

· Models, The Come-Up · , , , , ,



When you get discovered based on your selfies, it’s safe to say you’ve got something special going on. That’s definitely the case when it comes to 22-year-old Delhi, India native, Bhumika Arora. A photographer discovered her social media photos and offered to help her develop her portfolio for free, which ultimately catapulted her onto some of Paris’ most prestigious runways; in case you missed her, Bhumika walked for names like Maxime Simoëns, Viktor & Rolf, and Dries Van Noten, putting her astonishingly beautiful face on the map.

We hope to see Bhumika Arora’s runway and editorial bookings quickly increase in the near future, as her look is different from that of the majority of her contemporaries. What’s even more exciting is seeing another stunning South Asian woman being represented in the fashion industry; with the push towards diversifying fashion, it’s important to finally recognize multifaceted beauty. Here’s to a successful career to Bhumika Arora!

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All photos via

Designs by Ximon Lee, showcased in an editorial for Fucking Young! Online

The Come Up

· Inspiration, The Come-Up · , , , , , ,
Designs by Ximon Lee, showcased in an editorial for Fucking Young! Online

Designs by Ximon Lee, showcased in an editorial for Fucking Young! Online

We’ve all got our favorite designers, and there are a few names that are basically ubiquitous. But as much as we love Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy, Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton, and all of the other fashion superstars, there’s an abundance of lesser known talents who deserve some mention.

Take the Pratt Institute’s graduate students, who presented their collections a few weeks ago in hopes of receiving the Liz Claiborne Concept to Product Award and $25,000 from the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation. The winner, Julia Wollner presented more than just an impressive selection of looks, but also a powerful message that puts her at the forefront of a new generation of skilled designers. Wollner’s inspiration for her collection came from her two-year battle with Bell’s Palsy, a nerve disorder that paralyzes half of the patient’s face. Her experience was most directly reflected through the prints, which channeled facial exercises that Wollner did in physical therapy. With many of said prints done on laminated organza, an extra dose of space-age color and shine was juxtaposed with otherwise minimal white pieces. Meanwhile, other silhouettes were defined by exaggerated, oversized shapes. By enhancing such striking innovation and experimentation with a moving story, it’s no surprise that Wollner’s work won her the grand prize, which she intends to use to further expand her line.

While we anxiously await Julia Wollner’s promising design advances, we can also recognize Ximon Lee, a BA/BFA graduating menswear student at Parsons. Inspired by what he witnessed during a recent trip to Russia, Lee also experimented with materials and textures in the creation of his final thesis collection, “Children of Leningradsky.” Near suburban Moscow, street children are often seen in ill-fitting, heavily layered ensembles in order to survive the brutal winter. Yet Lee’s interpretation was not merely about homelessness, but instead the protective shield surrounding these children, symbolic of strength and power. The young designer deconstructed and re-patterned clothes from the Salvation Army, bonding fabrics and incorporating materials like trash bags and cardboard in his development of new shapes and multilayered ensembles. The end result presented another reflection of a profound topic into unique garments, while Ximon Lee’s work certainly stands out from the often one-note menswear archetypes.

And Ximon Lee isn’t the only one pushing the boundaries. Benji WZW comes from Benji Wong Zhen Wang, who is currently in pursuit of a BA in fashion design from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In a prestigious school that boasts alumni such as Dries Van Noten, Kris Van Assche, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Martin Margiela, and other fashion icons, it’s no surprise that Benji WZW has already shown some exceptionally impressive work. And it’s certainly nothing like any other range. Instead of strongly identifiable elements of inspiration, the designer shares austere pieces such as a long shirts and outerwear with optical prints, embellishments like angel wings and micro-flowers, or a provocative vocabulary that consists of words like “love,” “fall,” “fast,” and “fuck.” Sure, a little more explanation would probably help, but it’s hard not to be impressed either way.

The world of fashion has and will always be a beacon of creativity. Although many elements of today’s industry can seem often commercial or commonly commonplace, it’s the inspiration, creativity, and unique vitality that comes from these fresh artists that truly drives this niche. There’s plenty more where that came from in terms of impressive new designers, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for these few and the rest of the young talents out there.

Check out a gallery of work from Julia Wollner, Ximon Lee, and Benji WZW and share your thoughts below!