People & Parties

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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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Chasing Time

· Music · , , ,

Music videos are essential elements for contemporary artists, helping to define an aesthetic and heighten a message. These clips can also serve as vehicles to connect the musician to the realm of style, which tends to be what we’re more focused on.

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Azealia Banks

Broke with Expensive Taste

· Music · , , ,

It was only a couple of years ago that Azealia Banks wowed the world with her painfully catchy, undeniably infectious hit, “212.” With witty lyrics and uncompromising sass, highlighted by “she really went there” expletives, Banks proved her potential as one of the most talented female rappers of all time. We all anxiously awaited the songstress’ full-length album, when she would ideally rise above social media spats and put her money where her mouth is. Well, that day has finally come. And Azealia’s doing more than just justifying her extra dose of confidence; she just about murdered any competition, while she blew critics out of the water.

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The New Musical Fashion Duo

· Music, Style · , , ,

Madonna did it with Jean Paul Gaultier, Kanye collaborated with Margiela, and Rihanna got it in with everyone from Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, Jeremy Scott, and Adam Selman. Let’s face it, a musician/fashion brand relationship is crucial for building an image.

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FKA twigs

Is She the Girl from the Video?

· Music · , , , ,

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Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’d probably know by now that FKA twigs is kind of everything. This is especially relevant in the fashion world, where the industry as become utterly obsessed with the doll-faced crooner with the hauntingly beautiful voice. In fact, the British Fashion Council just nominated twigs for the British Style Award, and she’s already been featured in magazines like Dazed & Confused and V.

But back to the music. Twigs recently directed and starred in a crazily captivating video for Google Glass, which featured snippets of her musically orgasmic track, “Video Girl.” The song is written about twigs herself, which she mentioned in past interviews, as she actually got her start in the music realm as a backup dancer. Her choreographic excellence has been proven countless times since she’s burst on the scene, but it’s especially apparent in her latest. Although the full music video cuts out more of the beautiful song than we’d like, “Video Girl” is full of twigs’ skillful motions, as she dances around the body of a prisoner on death row. Of course, there are some noteworthy fashion moments, too, from the singer’s bandage top and open skirt to the chain mail and cyborg-like facial garnishes. Even twigs’ ring game is on point, though we wouldn’t expect anything less. Always a stunner in every possible way, FKA twigs proves her incredible credibility with her latest single.

 

Watch FKA twigs’ “Video Girl” below, and check out her full album, LP1 now! And as always, share your own thoughts on the song and video!

 

Photo: Gwen Stefani

Just Say Gwen

· Music, News, Uncategorized · , , , ,

 

Photo: Gwen Stefani

Photo: Gwen Stefani

After rumors swirling for months about a third solo album from No Doubt front-woman Gwen Stefani, it looks like we’ve finally got an answer. The singer, songwriterand L.A.M.B. designer (among other things) may still be working with her longtime bandmates on some new projects, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t save herself some “me-time.” Case in point: her new single, “Baby Don’t Lie.”

Following in the footsteps of her past endeavors, Gwen’s first solo track in eight years stays true to irresistibly catchy beats and infectious hooks, throwing her bubbly voice into an endearing loop. The song was co-written by producers Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder, and Noel Zancanella, and it alludes to what we could potentially expect from a full release. Although there hasn’t been much more concrete information about the album yet, rumor has it that Stefani will be working with her go-to partner and fellow coach on The Voice, Pharrell Williams on a lot of the pieces. Meanwhile, if “Baby Don’t Lie” is any indicator, we can expect more depth and prevalence than even some of her most ubiquitous works (we’re looking at you, “Hollaback Girl”).

Another majorly exciting thing about a full-fledged Gwen Stefani comeback is all of the videos that will accompany her viral hits; if Gwen excels at anything (aside from what she’s already got), it’s looking damn good virtually all the time. And let’s not forget about all the magazine covers and spreads, event appearances, performances, and other moments for this style icon to shine through.

But it is all about the music after all, and there’s no doubt that Gwen’s upcoming projects will be just as sick as she’s been for the past 45 years of her existence.

Listen to “Baby Don’t Lie” below, and share your thoughts on the new single!:

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On Our Radar: Aya Jones

· Models, The Come-Up · , , , , , ,

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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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Photo: Tiziana Fabi. Source: AFP

The Casting Catastrophe

· Models, Runway, Thoughts · , , , , , ,
Photo: Tiziana Fabi. Source: AFP

Photo: Tiziana Fabi. Source: AFP

The lights dimmed, and the first statuesque figure turned the corner around the massive purple sand dunes at the spring 2015 Prada show. There she was. After six long years since a runway appearance, and even after she allegedly quit modeling for good, Gemma Ward was back. Many could state that her appearance suggests a restoration of the days when models had recognizable names, faces, and personas. Sure, the era of the supermodel was long-gone by the time Ward and her contemporaries had peaked in the mid-2000s, but memorable, unique, and multifaceted beauty was still in. These days, that’s not the case.

Sure, some other notable industry icons walked the runways this season besides just Gemma Ward. Lara Stone made a rare runway appearance at Prada, too, as did Jessica Stam. Stam also popped up at Public School in New York, Mugler in Paris, and many more shows this season. Meanwhile, Naomi Campbell, Mariacarla Boscono, Natasha Poly, Jourdan Dunn, Karlie Kloss, and other established mannequins counteracted the larger trend of the “blank slate.” But aside from a handful of girls who embody what it means to be a model, this season’s casting was the saddest yet.

Is this really what the fashion industry is coming to? While the idea of a model being a “blank slate” was originally intended to place a higher emphasis on the clothes, all-white casts of – for lack of a better word – strikingly unattractive teenagers has become an even bigger distraction.

Of course, the biggest problem with the casting this season was the lack of diversity. It comes as a major shock that after a couple seasons of mild improvements, casts have been seemingly more whitewashed than ever before. The bad habits reared their ugly heads once again: one or two black models was the norm at most shows, with even less Asian models on the runways, and almost no models of South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Latina descent. Some even thought it would be okay to send all of their models of color down the runway at once.

Did we all forget about Bethann Hardison‘s amazing work in an attempt to diversify the runways less than a year ago? Hardison just received a CFDA award a few months ago for her efforts. Has that just been erased from everyone’s memory? The usual perpetrators were back at it this season. Casts appeared whiter than ever at Calvin Klein, Rodarte, Jil Sander, Céline, John Galliano, Dior, Proenza Schouler, and more. Meanwhile, Simon Porte Jacquemus deleted comments and blocked users on Instagram who criticized his all-white cast, stating offense because of his supposed obsession with women who look like his mother. Sorry, but the Oedipus Complex doesn’t qualify as a valid excuse for racist casting.

Even labels with typically diverse casts fell behind this season. Riccardo Tisci previously mentioned his advocacy of diversity on the runway, but at his latest show for Givenchy, that didn’t translate. Nor did Tom Ford’s penchant for a cast of multiethnic sex bombs; does Natalie Westling’s excruciating hobble really represent this label?

This issue poses an even bigger problem that people might not be conscious of. Again, models aren’t the household names that they once were, save Cara, Karlie, Gisele, and their contemporaries. But models are still everywhere. The girls that walk all of these shows will be the ones to snatch up the advertisements, and these large-scale visions of what is beautiful will perpetuate and even worsen the already twisted beauty standards around the globe. Why would a brand want to be seen as a bastion of white supremacy, represented by a hard-to-look-at 16-year-old nonetheless? And for the casting supposedly “based on socioeconomics,” why would you want to alienate yourself completely from certain groups?

On the bright side, there are still a few brands whose presentations should be commended. Of course, there’s always room to be improved in this department, but labels like Balmain, Burberry Prorsum, Diane von Furstenberg, and Rick Owens showed that it is possible to cast a more diverse range of models, while recognizable faces of all ethnic backgrounds don’t take away from the clothes. Meanwhile, relative newcomers like Malaika Firth, Issa Lish, Binx Walton, Bhumika Arora, Leila Nda, and Aya Jones provided a hopeful view of the multiethnic runways and memorable figures to come. The struggle towards diversifying the runway isn’t about all-black, all-Asian, or all-any other type of show. Instead, it shouldn’t be seen as some type of major surprise if a lineup consists of a proportionate amount of models from various ethnicities. There’s a time and a place for Harleth Kuusik, and there’s no reason why she can’t walk the runway alongside girls like Dylan Xue and Emely Montero.

Of course, there is so much more to this issue; we haven’t even touched menswear, and we could get way more in-depth from a sociological and historical framework. To the people getting annoyed by the incessant discussion of this topic in the fashion sphere: it’s just as annoying to have to keep bringing it up. This piece isn’t meant to call out a bunch of designers, cyber-bully models, or cause unnecessary Internet drama within the industry. None of the designers’ immense talent is in question, as even some of the most disappointing casts carried some insanely beautiful work. But it’s time to wake up. If calling out racist actions causes a stir, then maybe that’s what the industry needs. This isn’t the 1950s (not that racism was ever okay), and it’s time for the fashion industry to catch up to the rest of the world. And while this type of change won’t happen overnight, we could at least start seeing more unique beauties like in years past. Let’s hope that Gemma Ward’s return will usher in a resurgence of inspiring, immensely beautiful fashion models, and let’s hope that diversity comes along with it.

 

Tell us how you feel about the current climate of the modeling industry, and don’t hesitate to repost and share this article.

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Rihanna, Inc.

· Celebrities, News · , , , ,

Is it just us, or has badgalriri been a little less ubiquitous since receiving the CFDA Style Icon Award back in June? But let’s be real, homegirl could never stay out of the spotlight for too long. This time, the news doesn’t come from a hairstyle change or a new single or a barely-there ensemble or any other typical thing you’d expect. Instead, Rihanna’s been making business moves; rumor has it that the iconic songstress recently filed trademark documents under her official last name, Fenty (yes, Rihanna has a last name). This could mean apparel, lingerie, cosmetics, swimwear, and more.

This shouldn’t be surprising, as Rihanna’s definitely grown into quite the fashionista over the years (hence the CFDA award). And let’s not forget about how she killed it at Paris Fashion Week, her role as the face of Balmain, her multiple collaborations with MAC, and her collections for River Island last year. Sure, these rumors aren’t really indicative of anything just yet. But Rihanna as a designer? Into it. We’re thinking lots of cutouts, oversized menswear-inspired outerwear, sexy strappy sandals, urban accessories, and plenty of the other things that Riri does best. Plus, with the probable help of stylist Mel Ottenberg, all of these elements would be perfectly meshed together in a cohesive, super stylish fashion.

Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While we could hope that this would end up like Gwen Stefani and Victoria Beckham’s impressive design endeavors, there’s always the possibility that things could go a little JLo. And again, nothing’s really set in stone.

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Back in Action

· Music · , , ,

With her breakout hit, “212” and plenty of other killer tracks off her “Fantasea” mixtape, it seemed like one of fashion’s recent it-girls, Azealia Banks was poised to be an iconic MC. She recently cleared up a series of public feuds with fellow celebs, and the songstress subsequently went into overdrive in the production of her full-length album, “Broke With Expensive Taste.” Though the release date has been repeatedly pushed back (it was previously scheduled for March of this year), we’re finally starting to here some fresh new jams from Ms. Banks.

In case you could ever forget Azealia’s supreme flow and clever lyrics, she just reminded us why we initially fell in love with her latest, “Heavy Metal & Reflective.” Produced by Lil Internet, who also worked on “Yung Rapunxel,” the track features a contagiously catchy, space-age sound that plays behind the perfectly monotone rap. And within 24 hours of its release, “Heavy Metal & Reflective” already rose to number one on the Twitter Trending 140. The music video is set to release soon, too; if it’s anything like her other videos, it’s bound to be perfection. It’s safe to say that Azealia Banks is back in the game and here to stay.

Listen to “Heavy Metal & Reflective” by Azealia Banks below!

 

 

 

Feature photo courtesy MTV