All Posts By Livia Caligor

The Lab Founder Alexandra Sherman on Summer Skincare

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Alexandra Sherman, Founder of The Lab. Photo Credits: Cara Robbins


Born and raised in Miami, Cuban-American entrepreneur Alexandra Sherman is the founder of bespoke skincare studio The Lab. Situated in Las Vegas, The Lab offers customized facials and esthetic services, including scalp micropigmentation and permanent makeup. Sherman founded The Lab because she identified a market space in the skincare experience that could capitalize upon cutting-edge technology to offer clients customized services. At the heart of the intersection between science, aesthetics, and business, The Lab offers state-of-the-art treatments to celebrity clients all over the globe. We were so excited to speak with Sherman about her career in wellness and her skincare secrets for the summer.
 
What made you go from criminal justice to the wellness industry? 
 
When I moved from Florida to Las Vegas I couldn’t transfer my Private Investigator license as easily as I would have liked to. I started researching my options and decided I would love to go into skincare and become an esthetician, so I followed that path. 
 
What inspired you to found The Lab, and what services do you offer?  
 
I was inspired by quality products and high luxury facials that I felt the Vegas market had a need for. I always felt like I had to travel for an advanced facial treatment and wanted to do something different here. We offer specialized Biologique Recherche facial treatments, custom Lab facial treatments including some of the best high-tech equipment available to estheticians, along with Gentleman’s facial treatments. Additionally, I am a trained permanent makeup and scalp micropigmentation artist and will be offering those services closer to the end of the year. 
 
What is your morning skincare routine? What everyday staples do you use to start off the day? 

The Lab x Biologique Recherche Collaboration. Photo credits: https://www.thelabssp.com/biologique-recherche

 
My morning skincare routine usually includes: A milky cleanser (Lait VIP O2 for oxygenation and brightness), a good exfoliant (for chemical, I choose Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, and for manual exfoliation, I opt for Valmont’s Face Exfoliant), a brightening and/or hydrating mask (my favorite go-to combination is Masque Visolastine + and Masque VIP O2), rhe appropriate serums I select for the day (I usually do a cocktail of Biologique Recherche’s Amniotique for hydration with Elastine for smoothing wrinkles). I follow these serums with my Vitamin A (AVST Moisturizer by Environ) and Vitamin C by Environ. I moisturize depending on my skin that morning. If I am more prone to break out, then I will use Biologique Recherche Demopurifiante, but otherwise, my go-to is generally Creme VIP O2. I ALWAYS finish with Fluide VIP O2 to protect from external aggressions and pollutants along with an SPF 50 (I like Glow by ColoreScience) 
 
What about your nighttime skincare routine?
 
My nighttime skincare routine is generally the same as morning, except I switch the products out based on my needs. I also skip the SPF and Vitamin C and just do the Vitamin A. This is the time I’ll add a purifying mask after my chemical or manual exfoliant if I feel like my skin was stressed throughout the day. 
 

Sherman’s Favorite Biologique Recherche Products. Photo credits: https://www.biologique-recherche.com/en-us/skin-care/cosmetic-preparation/Leauxygenante/


What are the most important protective measures you would suggest to take care of your skin? (i.e., sunscreen, diet, hydration, sleep, exercising) 
 
All of the above are important, but I would say applying and making sure to consistently re-eapply sunscreen is the most important thing you can do. If you are particularly prone to hyperpigmentation, wearing sunglasses is especially important, as the eyes are the main point of entry to where the sun can enter the body and cause damage. Being hydrated is also extremely important; many first signs of aging can be confused for dehydration or excess sugar intake. 
 
Are there on-the-go products you keep in your purse to touch up your skin throughout the day? 
 
Yes, I always keep brush-on shield by ColoreScience for sunscreen re-application throughout the day. If I’m working out, I keep Eau Micellaire Biosensible by Biologique Recherche for a quick cleanse and L’Eauxygenante as a refreshing mist with AHA’s to balance my skin. 
 
What advice would you give on proper skin protection during the summer? 
 
Please make sure to wear and RE-APPLY SPF. Hats and sunglasses are an effective way to keep the sun from damaging your skin. 
 
Do you have any beauty tips for creating a lightweight, water-resistant makeup look by the pool or beach?
 
Finding a makeup line that is non-comodogenic and doubles as an SPF is a great way to achieve a flawless look while protecting yourself. Using a primer and foundation that have sunscreen and a light-to-medium tint is a great excuse to wear makeup by the pool or beach. There are so many lip glosses that also have SPF: choose one make sure you are protecting your lips as well.

Masque Visolatine+ Photo Credits: https://www.shoprescuespa.com/masque-visolastine-plus.html

 
What are the top beauty trends of the summer?
Thanks to Hailey Bieber, hydrating masque Visolastine+ for has really been a huge hit with skincare lovers. I find that people are really gravitating more towards natural makeup and adding vitamin C to their regimen, which is exciting to see. 
 
What summer foods would you recommend for hydrating and nourishing your skin? 
 
Fruits and vegetables– those particularly with high water content are ideal. Adding cucumbers and lemons to your water is a nice way to hydrate, while adding a refreshing taste to your water. 
 
Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo Credits: The Lab, Shop Rescue Spa

Q&A with Photographer Thomas Holton: The Artist Behind “The Lams of Ludlow Street”

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Thomas Holton is a New York-based photographer who is most renown for “The Lams of Ludlow Street,” a series documenting the life of a Chinese family in NYC for the past 18 years. A moving story about family, culture, and change, the narrative offers an intimate look inside their Chinatown apartment, following the challenges and unscripted reality the family has endured.

Holton has received global accolades for this project, exhibiting at venues including The Museum of the City of New York, The New York Public Library, The China-Lishui International Photography Festival, Sasha Wolf Gallery, and most recently, the Home Gallery. A pioneer of Asian American representation in the arts, Holton has been featured three times in The New York Times (2008, 2012, and 2016) in the past two decades, as well as a variety of other publications, including National Geographic and Buzzfeed. In 2016, Holton published his first book, The Lams of Ludlow Street. He also works as a teacher at Trinity School NYC, where he teaches both film and digital photography.  

It was an incredible honor to interview Mr. Holton, who taught me photography in high school and greatly influences my work to this day. I am especially excited to share more about the inspiration behind his moving series, which remains all the more relevant amidst the recent rise in anti-AAPI hate. As the need for empathy toward and space for Asian American stories is more crucial than ever, “The Lams of Ludlow Street” succeeds in deconstructing racial stereotypes and complicates the question of what it means to be Chinese. Though there is no singular Asian American experience, “The Lams of Ludlow Street” depicts one family’s story with unbridled authenticity, vulnerability, and sophistication.

 

Holton, Thomas. “Family Portrait.” The Lams of Ludlow Street I.

When was the first time you used a camera? When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?

My father was a photographer, so I grew up surrounded by his images. After he died, I began to play with his cameras at around 16 years old. I started taking it a bit more seriously in college and signed up for classes during summer breaks. After college, I knew I wanted to pursue photography, so I assisted local NYC photographers for about 10 years before enrolling in graduate school at SVA (The School of Visual Arts) and earning my MFA in 2005.

 

Who are your primary sources of inspiration as a photographer?

I absolutely fell in love with Cartier-Bresson’s work when I first started to truly study photo history (like many aspiring photographers do). When I began to focus on the Lams and photographing their life, I then devoured the work of Sally Mann, Larry Sultan, and the FSA work of Walker Evans.

 

How has your interest in your Chinese culture shaped your perspective as a photographer?

Holton, Thomas. “Bath Time.” The Lams of Ludlow Street I.

Even though I am half-Chinese and had relatives living in NYC’s Chinatown neighborhood, I never felt like I belonged and was always regarded as a visitor. So a major reason that I began photographing around Chinatown was to address this disconnect in my own identity and to try to understand what life was like in this neighborhood. I studied the Chinatown work of Corky Lee and Chien-Chi Chang to better understand how they approached photographing the area. The humanity of their work made me move beyond the surface of my early Chinatown images and pushed me as a photographer to better understand the lives behind closed doors. It’s made me really value the emotional content of photography.

 

When and how did you begin working on “The Lams of Ludlow Street?”

I first met the Lams in 2003 when I was accompanying a local housing advocate from The University Settlement, who took me along on her weekly visits to her clients to check in on them. I met maybe around 10 families through her and one luckily was the Lams.

Holton, Thomas. “Quarantine Lunch.” The Lams of Ludlow Street IV.

 

How has the series evolved over the course of the past two decades?

The earlier work was really focused on their small space and the constant activity of their home. As I got to know them better, the work shifted to trying to capture the emotional tone of the moment. I evolved as a photographer as our relationship grew over time.

 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from the project, and why?

I am a big believer in the long form narrative. None of our lives are easily scripted, so I have to believe that whenever I visit the Lams, there is a photograph to be made reflecting the present moment. This does not always translate into a new image that I love, but that does not stop me from visiting them or trying to make new work. Because of this, I do not think this project has a definitive end, and as long as they open the door for me, I will continue to visit since we’re basically family now.

 

What is your favorite photo you’ve taken, and why?

Holton, Thomas. “Supergirl.” The Lams of Ludlow Street III.

I adore the image “Supergirl” because Cindy had a challenging adolescence and was constantly living between a few apartments in the neighborhood, as her mom switched jobs and the parents divorced.  So this image of her with a “Supergirl” shirt just seems very appropriate because she was able to overcome some unusual circumstances and is now a thriving college student.

What’s been the best and worst part of your journey as a photographer? 

The best part has been by far the experiences I have had because I choose to explore a new place with my camera. If I was never curious about my Chinese half, I never would’ve wandered the streets of Chinatown and felt the need to meet people behind all those windows. The worst part is the fear of never making a new photograph that works while pushing myself creatively…I don’t want to constantly repeat myself over and over.

What is your next biggest project? 

Holton, Thomas. “Chinatown Surface #5.”

Right now, I am mostly working on seeing the Lams as much as I can until I find some new ideas to explore. I will always photograph the Lams, but I do feel the need to cleanse the palette every once in a while. So I have been making abstractions in Chinatown during the winters as a way to use my eyes in a new way and practice different ways of seeing.

 

How has your work as a photography teacher impacted your experience as a photographer?

Thomas Holton in front of “The Fence” (2018), which displayed photos from The Lams of Ludlow Street II.

I would have to say watching students fall in love with image making helps remind me why I began photographing years and years ago. The sheer joy a student experiences when they make a photograph they absolutely adore is at the core of what we do as artists. For me, photography is an emotional act and a way to capture and memorialize the shared experience between me and the present moment. I love it when a student discovers that photography is more than iPhone images for Instagram and immediate satisfaction. 

 

What is the one biggest piece of advice you would give to a young photographer?

I would advise to make your work as personal as possible and to foster an emotional connection to your “subject matter” because if you do not care about what you are photographing, your work will reflect this. The emotional need to make work is what will drive you to continue, even when your work isn’t strong or fully developed yet because you know “something” is there and you need to figure it out.

How do you think our culture can work to preserve the art of photography when social media and iPhones make the taking and sharing of photos so easy and pervasive? 

Wow…major question. Photography is as easy as it has ever been because of phones and automatic cameras, but I think the work that will last 5 days, 5 weeks and 5 years from now are the projects that come from an honest, personal, and authentic place. Images with heartfelt intent will always outlast selfies and glamorous vacation photos on Instagram.

Holton, Thomas. “Mother’s Lap.” The Lams of Ludlow Street II.

How has the pandemic influenced your practice and what it means to be a photographer?

As for teaching, the photo lab was entirely shut down, but so much of the class is about being in the dark room, using the machines, and seeing what other students are making. The good thing that came out of it is that I found new ways to teach —looking at more books, blogs, and Ted talks, constantly finding photographers I’d never looked at before.

The pandemic taught us to cherish our loved ones and that the time we have, ultimately, can be pretty short. The need to memorialize experiences with loved ones became more important to me than ever. Life is a series of experiences, and photography translates them into art. As a teacher and a photographer, I tried to emphasize the importance of making meaningful work that will resonate 5 or 10 years from now. If you find a photo you took 10 years ago, a rush of emotion will come back, and that’s the point of photography — it’s a memorial, a way to relive an experience.

Read more lifestyle articles at Clichemag.com
Photo credits: Thomas Holton Photography, Thomas Holton Photography Instagram

Q&A with Alexa Leigh: The Story Behind Her Jewelry Line

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Alexa Leigh, founder of eponymous line

Born in California and raised in Colorado, Alexa Leigh Meyer founded her jewelry line in 2010 with the notion of creating sentimental value behind every piece. Alexa’s vision was to cultivate a jewelry line that could be worn everyday and look good at any occasion. The collection started with double pendant necklaces that are worn with one pendant in front and one at the nape of your neck and has expanded to cuffs, rings, bracelets, and anklets, all of which manifest Alexa Leigh’s vision. The line expanded into ball bracelets and necklaces that could be customized with unique charms to create something one of a kind. Each piece can be worn separately or layered together and add the perfect touch to any outfit.

Alexa Leigh “Snake Necklace” and “Huggie Hoops.” Modeled by Livia Caligor. Photographed by Erica Skylar.

How did you get into jewelry design? What motivated you to found your eponymous line?

I had lost an old necklace, and my father casually suggested I make it. I was naive enough to try, and that set me down a path of creating an entire jewelry line of delicate necklaces and bracelets. I’ve never looked back. While it was first started as a creative outlet, it quickly became my passion.

What are the differentiating characteristics of your jewelry?

It can be worn day to night and withstand the wear and tear of your everyday life. It’s the perfect compliment to an outfit whether you’re wearing a sweat set or a nice dress.

How did your home state of California impact your design aesthetic?I was born in California and raised in Aspen Colorado but I don’t think either place really impacted my design aesthetic. I created the line while I was living in New York but regardless of where I am living, I’ve always dressed for comfort first. I wanted to create a jewelry line that could be worn day to night and would last through the wear and tear of life, while also being comfortable enough to sleep in. That second skin jewelry line that you forget is on but looks effortlessly cool with everything!

Alexa Leigh “Star Huggie Hoop” and “Gold Ear Cuff.” Photo credits: Alexa Leigh

What are 3 words you’d use to describe the Alexa Leigh woman? 

Chic, timeless, effortless.

What was the hardest part of founding your own line? The most rewarding part?

I think the hardest part is to have the perseverance to keep going. Most brands aren’t an overnight success. You have to be willing to to keep your head down and never give up. There are really no days off. It’s so rewarding to have something that’s your own though and you’re able to do things in your own way. It’s an expression of my spirit and incredibly gratifying.

Alexa Leigh “Snake Necklace” and “Huggie Hoops.” Modeled by Livia Caligor. Photographed by Erica Skylar.

How do you think the jewelry industry has changed over the course of your career?

Social media has changed our industry just like it has any other. Having access to a platform that you can display your brand and help tell your story is priceless.

What is your design process like? Where are your products produced?

I make the majority of the first samples myself. There’s a headspace that I occasionally get into where the ideas just flow. I don’t know where they come from but they can pour out. In some cases I’ll sketch my ideas and other times I’ll get right to trying to make a sample. Some pieces we leave as limited edition to keep the site fresh and ever evolving but others we love too much to let go of and we make them part of the core line. Styles are made overseas, in Miami or New York. 

Alexa Leigh “Huggie Hoops” and “Gold Ball Necklace.” Photo credits: Alexa Leigh

What is your favorite piece of jewelry, or which piece do you think best embodies the ethos of the Alexa Leigh vision

Hard to pick a favorite child but I never take off my comfort rings and love the way a snake necklace catches the light. I also love a 2mm or 3mm ball necklace, bracelet or anklet because it can be layered or worn alone. They are all the perfect touches to any outfit. 

Alexa Leigh “Ball Bracelets.” Photo credits: Alexa Leigh

Where do you find inspiration as a designer?

I envy the people that can point to one place of inspiration. If I had that, I’d make sure to use it all the time. For me, the ideas often come right before I fall asleep or when I am in the right zone mentally during the day. I can totally tell the difference between when I am being right or left brained. I make items I would want to wear myself and hope other people feel the same.

What’s next for you?

I don’t pretend to know that! I am constantly thrown curveballs and surprises that I would have never predicted. Whatever comes I let come, and whatever goes I let go. I’m just gonna continue to ride the wave! 

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo Credits: Erica Skylar Photography, TBD PR, Alexa Leigh

Q&A with Alex Jackson, Branding Genius & Advocate for Racial Equality in the Influencer World

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Media Girls LA Founder Alex Jackson. Photo Credits: https://enspiremag.com/2021/03/media-girls-la-founder-alex-jackson-on-marketing-and-wage-differences/

On-camera media personality, SHEEN Correspondent, and founder of Media Girls LA, Alex Jackson is a pioneer of strategic marketing and a champion of equal representation in the influencer world. Fusing her talent for and experiences in event curation, influencer branding and marketing, and publicity, she founded her own agency, Media Girls LA, in 2018 to help connect influencers with established brands across the country. As her monthly flow of brand deals became increasingly prolific, she learned that her white counterparts were paid significantly higher. The stark pay gap between Black and white content creators with the same following was jarring, and she committed to focusing her work on promoting and advising influencers of color. When the pandemic hit, both brands and content creators experienced insurmountable barriers, which created few opportunities for promotions and sponsorships. Rather than giving up, however, Jackson broadened her approach to strategic brand deals to include a more diverse array of influencers and tactics. With a rapidly expanding network, ultimately, in 2020, she closed the highest number of brand deals since the launch of her company, securing $100 thousand in brand deals for Black content creators. Working with influencers such as Mehgan James, Romeo Miller, Master P, and Miracle Watts, Jackson hopes to continue expanding her network and advocating for equal pay and representation for Black influencers. In this interview, Jackson shares more about the genesis of and mission behind her company, her aspirations moving forward, and the lasting impact of her work on racial equality in the media. 

Please tell us about your career path, leading up to the launch of your company, Media Girls LA. What inspired you to found this company?

Most people don’t know the planning of MGL initially started with 4 ladies working within the media industry.  The initial idea of the organization spawned from a thought on the Soul Train Awards’ red carpet, where we decided to host our first event as a women’s media brunch. What can I say, the strong survive. But seriously, although the event was a success, it was clear the collaboration was not going to work, so after the first event I continued MGL in 2018 as a solo endeavor.

Beauty Meetup with Macy’s. Photo Credits: https://www.mediagirlsla.com/gallery

How did the pandemic affect your work and change the trajectory of your career?

At the beginning of the pandemic, it was very rocky being that all my speaking engagements were canceled, along with my MGL scheduled events. In addition, I was in the midst of launching my t-shirt business, and my media junkets out of town were all placed on pause, as well as all the branding collaborations engagements I had solidified for the upcoming months. Literally, everything I do to make money was at a complete halt, but what’s crazy, I still wasn’t worried. I knew God was going to see me through it; I didn’t know how, but I knew it would be okay. That’s when I went in complete hustle mode. I started to make and sell  E-books, webinar replays, and virtual events and come up with different strategic plans to broaden my reach when it came to influencers and brands.

What is your central goal as a content creator, and how do you work to make space for more influencers of color in the media?

Once finding out that Caucasians influencers were making more money in the industry, my mission has been solely to make sure they get the money they deserve. My primary goal started with me recruiting influencers that look like me and that I knew had  great content to help them run up a bag! I’m very picky as to who I take on my roster now compared to the past. I teach them how they should stand their ground on their pay request and help them with understanding how much they should be charging for their services as well.

Compton’s School District Girl Empowerment Symposium. Photo Credits: https://www.mediagirlsla.com/gallery

What was the biggest challenge you encountered in obtaining sponsorships and brand partnerships? 

I would say for brand partnerships, it has been finding the contacts, and sponsorships would probably be about the same. Either way, I don’t give up easily and quitting is not an option. As I have learned to do more, I’ve become creative in my approach to discovering different ways to find contacts.

In addition to racial equity and representation, what are some of the central issues you see in influencer culture? In your experience, how has the influencer business impacted body image and mental health among millennials? 

It’s definitely a wage gap between races without a doubt, and everyone knows it. It’s really unfair especially being that in a lot of instances those black influencers have more engagement and followers. I have had to give a few pep talks to my content creators when some of them have felt like giving up on YouTube because they feel like they play favorites. It discourages them and leads them to think their content isn’t good enough. A lot of influencers I’m friends with feel like they need to have surgery to keep up their looks, or women who want to be influencers feel like they need surgery to be noticed as an influencer, but none of that is true at all.

Alex Jackson, Champion of Equality for Black Influencers. Photo Credits: https://enspiremag.com/2021/03/media-girls-la-founder-alex-jackson-on-marketing-and-wage-differences/

What are some ways media consumers can contribute to a more equitable and healthy space in the media industry? 

Just like any other industry, we have to let it be known that this behavior exists. For many people,  all this is still new, although it has been around for over a decade. The more consumers understand the dynamics behind what we do and the work involved, they will be able to contribute on a great scale toward equitable measures. In the mean, influencers and content creators need to shed light on this issue to make consumers aware. 

What do you think will be the lasting impact of your work, even in the post-covid era? What’s next for you? 

I think the lasting impact of my work will be the footprints that I have left for those who are interested in getting into the industry. The foundational vision of MGL derived from being a beacon to help others starting out in the business, and it has continued to be our foundation to this day. 

I plan on doing in-person events post-COVD to teach influencers how to make a bag from social media. I’m also releasing two E-books, “How To Make A Bag From The Gram,” and one about how to obtain sponsorships for events, as well as building my tee shirt business “Statement  Tees” @statementtees_    . Media Girls LA is already on track to supersede our number of brand deals from last year and to increase our network. 

Read more lifestyle articles at Clichemag.com
Photo Credit: EnspireMag,  Media Girls LA

Top 21 Red Carpet Looks at the 2021 Grammy Awards

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Music’s most highly-anticipated night of the year, the Grammy’s, was a little different this year. Delayed from an earlier date, the 2021 Grammy Awards persisted through numerous challenges, from a new production team and host to its socially distant venues throughout Los Angeles. Despite these hurdles, the Grammy’s red carpet did not disappoint. A virtual runway of outré staples and memorable customs, the 63rd annual Grammy Awards’ presented some of the most legendary fashion moments of the year. Let’s take a look at our 21 top looks of the night. 

21. Taylor Swift: Oscar de la Renta, Christian Louboutin, Cathy Waterman jewelry

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

20. Bad Bunny: Burberry ensemble

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

19. Megan Thee Stallion: Dolce & Gabbana, Chopard jewelry

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

18. H.E.R. : Dundas 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

17. Billie Eilish: Gucci 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

16. Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars: Gucci and Ricky Regal 

Photo credits: https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2021-03-14/2021-grammys-fashion-from-the-red-carpet

15. Jhené Aiko: Monsoori, Sydney Evan jewelry 

Photo credits: https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2021-03-14/2021-grammys-fashion-from-the-red-carpet

14. Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada: Dior Men and Art Comes First 

Photo credits: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/03/grammys-2021-red-carpet

13. Chika: Nike 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

12. Brandi Carlile: Wolk Morais suit, Fallon chain, Chloe boots 

Photo credits: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/03/grammys-2021-red-carpet

11. Trevor Noah: Gucci

Photo credits: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/03/grammys-2021-red-carpet

10. Harry Connick Jr.: John Varvatos 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

9. FINNEAS: Gucci 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

8. Ingrid Andress: Giorgio Armani Privé, Chopard jewelry 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

7. Dua Lipa: Atelier Versace, BVLGARI jewelry

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

6. Lizzo: Balmain, BVLGARI Serpenti jewelry, Stuart Weitzman shoes 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

5. BTS: Louis Vuitton 

Photo credit: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

4. DaBaby: Gucci

Photo credits: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/03/grammys-2021-red-carpet

3. Harry Styles: Gucci 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

2. Beyoncé: Schiaparelli Haute Couture

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

1. Cynthia Erivo: Louis Vuitton 

Photo credits: https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/grammys-2021-red-carpet-celebrity-fashion

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo Credits: Vogue, LA Times, Vanity Fair 

 

Q&A with Malia Mills: On Inclusivity, Innovation, and Empowerment in Women’s Swimwear

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Designer and Founder of Eponymous Label, Malia Mills. Photo credits: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/malia-mills-swimwear-inspiration-guide/all

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, a mecca for swim and beachwear, Malia Mills graduated from Cornell University where she was initially enrolled in Design & Environmental Awareness. After spending a semester at La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris, she discovered that her passion was fashion, and more specifically, swimwear design. She finished her undergraduate degree with a major in the Department of Textiles & Apparel, known today as the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design (FSAD). In 1991, after working in San Francisco as an assistant designer for Jessica McClintock, Mills moved to New York City, where she soon founded her eponymous swimwear label. A waitress at the Odeon — a trendy downtown hotspot — by day, and a designer by night, Mills turned her apartment into a studio and production center, where she cut and sewed swimwear samples with the fit of lingerie. Malia Mills swimwear, which celebrates body inclusivity and empowerment with its attention to fit, comfort and high-fashion aesthetic, pioneered an untapped market and galvanized industry attention, and has since expanded to cover-ups, draped dresses and rompers, blouses and trousers, in addition to swimwear. Within just a few years, Malia Mill swimwear was available through wholesale distribution at over 125 specialty stores across the globe, from Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus to Aman Resorts. From Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to The New York Times and Women’s Wear Daily, Malia Mills has been featured in numerous publications and is now sold exclusively at three Malia Mills in New and four in California. Renowned for its edgy, luxurious styles, local, women-focused production and “Love Thy Differences” as the brand motto, Malia Mills has opened an inspiring dialogue on inclusivity and fit innovation in swimwear. 

I was so thrilled to chat with Malia, an alumna of my program at Cornell, about her cutting-edge label and lasting impact on the swimwear industry. 

How did you first get into swimwear? 

When I was at Cornell, I did a project on swim during spring break. I grew up in Hawaii so swimwear had always been a huge part of my life. A bikini was a huge right of passage. It’s something I wore when I wanted to feel like a grown up. Upon graduating, my friend and roommate from college was working at Sports Illustrated — she remembered the project I did in school and said I should design some swimsuits for the magazine. That was really the impetus for my first collection. 

 

Malia Mills “Charlize Top.” Available at: https://www.maliamills.com/collections/all-swimwear/products/charlize-top

Where did the idea for bra-sized swimwear come to fruition?

I was in San Francisco at the time when my friend called — I left my job that day, and on my way home, I went to every store that sold swimwear. 8000 light bulbs went off. The same top and bottom on one hanger seemed so bizarre to me. It seemed odd that lingerie was so fit-specific, but in the swim department everything was one size. When I told people I was making swimwear, the first thing everyone would say is “Ugh, I hate swimwear, I’m too fat, I need to lose weight,” but really swimwear is about getting out there with your friends, celebrating a day off, having fun. Swimwear is transformative, it’s sunshine, it’s water, it’s freedom — but that’s not what I was hearing when I heard people talking about swimwear. That was really the inspiration for me to make swimwear that made women feel liberated out there without many clothes.

 

Please tell us a little bit about the process behind starting your own company. How did you build your initial collection into a whole business?

I was working out of my apartment, making patterns and sewing samples, and was working as a waitress at night. I found factories in New Jersey, where I still produce today. It was a source of inspiration for me to really go out into the marketplace, talk to factories, build connections with the families behind the production. We work with domestic family-run factories: these family run factories are truly incredible places, as well as a tremendous source of pride.

Malia Mills Body Revolution. Photo Credits: maliamills.com

We are so lucky to have this amazing team and to go on this extraordinary journey together.

it’s been very special to grow up with them. Parents pass their factories down to their kids, or sometimes the parents are still running the factories after their kids grow up. It’s really incredible to grow up with this amazing family dynamic — there’s such a commitment to expertise and artistry and so much love goes into their work. There are negative connotations associated with the word factory in the media today, but factories come in all shapes and sizes, and these family run factories are truly incredible places. What we’re making is what we call 99 hands. There are so many people involved, from the screenprinter, to the grater, to the cutter, to the UPS guys. You really rely on an orchestra of people to meet deadlines and get garments to consumers. We are so lucky to have this amazing team we went on a journey together

Have you seen change over the course of your career when it comes to women in the workplace? 

I do, change is always happening. Sometimes it’s three steps forward and eighteen steps back, but it’s change nonetheless. And sometimes the steps backwards encourage us to double down on what we’re driving towards. It’s the fuel that makes us work even harder to initiate change. 

Malia Mills “Summer of Love” bottom. Available at https://www.maliamills.com/products/pant-size-swimwear-bottom-summer-of-love

Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process as a designer? 

My design process is very chaotic. When you’re running a small business, you’re wearing many hats, constantly jumping between your left brain and your right brain, between critical and creative thinking. My professor, taught me that design is fundamentally about all the senses we have. I feel very lucky to have been introduced to her. I try to use all five of my senses all day so that I can get in tune with how I feel. Design is much more than how the object will look — it’s so multidimensional, and when you hone your senses, you have this ability to find these free moments where all these different ideas you’ve had over time come together. 

How do you hone your senses? 

When I want to design a new swimsuit top, I don’t necessarily sketch or drape it every time. My process is a combination of so many little things and experiences. Design is a process: you’ll go down some roads and come to a dead end very quickly. For me, design involves reading a lot and writing a lot and trying to listen and see things. For example, I met one designer who always turns her garments backwards, and that informs a new understanding of its comfort, design idea, concept, how it could be better. Using all your senses means you turn things inside out, upside down. Design is not just a linear process. It’s messy and complicated, and you need to be unafraid to be wrong in order to get it right. 

What are your defining values when it comes to craftsmanship and production? Could you tell us about your

Course of Trade trains newcomers at Malia Mills. Photo credits: https://wwd.com/business-news/markets/course-of-trade-trains-newcomers-in-industrial-apparel-sewing-1202778480/

Course of Trade nonprofit initiatives? 

We’ve been incredibly fortunate throughout our journey, so we feel that it’s important to give back as much as we can. It’s not just money — it’s also time and expertise and all these different factors, so over the years we’ve been focused on various mostly women-focused initiatives, from Girls Inc. to supporting local chapters of school events. It’s been very joyous to participate in small but powerful ways. About five years ago, our Production Director Libby, who is also a Cornellian, came to us and said she wanted to start a factory — we had just moved to BK and had an incredible new space. She founded Course of Trade, which is dedicated to teaching women in New York how to sew. We produced and sold bags, which paid for the scholarships of the next students down the line. It’s been an amazing experience to empower our students economically, and we are grateful to have a teammate like Libby who tells us what she wanted to do and how we could make it happen. 

What other prominent gaps in the swimwear industry do you hope to tackle?

Guiding brand mantra: “Love thy Differences.” Photo credits: maliamills.com

I believe it is important to use your senses to get a feel for everything out there and address them as you experience them — to listen to and understand other people’s experiences. The swimwear industry has tremendous opportunities to think about how we define sustainability — it goes far beyond the types of textiles you use. The industry is an incredible tapestry of people with an incredibly diverse skill set and there needs to be the utmost respect for every person along the way. The industry is often presented as the designer or the brand and then the business as a separate entity, which is a disrespectful way of looking at it. With all the transparency available nowadays, it is important to see that you can’t create a garment without the contributions of everyone. You can’t have a designer without a salesperson in a retail location who creates a warm and inviting place for the garments, or all the hands creating each piece. It’s time for people to see the humanity in fashion — it’s a force that is really coming to light these days. By virtue of that, we have a lot of great creative minds coming to the surface with opportunities to express themselves. This will continue to yield more movements in how a swimsuit should feel, how it should look, why we should invest in it. The notion of sustainability is actually a catch-all because it’s a little bit shoehorned into a circular idea, but it’s deeper and broader: understanding the complexity and depth of that alone will yield not just new businesses but also some very interesting roads to travel down in the future. 

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com

Photo Credit: All New American, Oprah, Malia Mills, WWD

Beneath Rhinestones & Rainbow Buttons: Patrick Kelly, A Pioneer of Intersectional Fashion in the 1980s

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1980s Fashion Designer Patrick Kelly in his “Paris” baseball hat. Photo credits: https://www.mcnayart.org/blog/fashion-nirvana-patrick-kelly

Oversized bows, rainbow button embroidery, rhinestone Eiffel Tower motifs: American designer Patrick Kelly was an iconoclastic visionary in the 1980s fashion scene. Born in Mississippi in 1954, Kelly’s exuberant aesthetic especially shaped Parisian and New York nightlife culture, offering young men and women a novel form of self-expression. Inspired by his own cultural heritage and an exploration of his sexuality, Kelly’s work served as powerful racial statements in his time, albeit conveyed with humor. Though short-lived, Kelly’s decade-long career was prolific; a catalyst for audacious new forms of dress, his legacy is manifested in the wide range of intersectional celebration in the fashion industry today. 

Raised by his mom and grandma, who introduced him to the world of fashion magazines, Kelly cultivated an interest in fashion at an early age. By his early 20’s, Kelly had become an independent couturier. His designs paid homage to Parisian culture through humorous references to French fashion and art history. For instance, his silhouettes emulated iconic styles of Parisian namesake labels, such as CoCo Chanel’s slinky black dresses and the gender-bending silhouettes of YSL’s suits. At the same time, many of these ensembles were accessorized with overt references to his dream hometown such as berets and avant-garde headdresses and decorated with ironic embellishments, such as rhinestones in the shape of The Eiffel Tower, red lipstick patterns, or a framed Mona Lisa motif placed sporadically across the fabric. This playful approach to celebrating Parisian culture was unprecedented at its time; Kelly articulated to the press at a runway show in the late 80s that his central goal as a designer was for “his clothes to make you smile.” 

Patrick Kelly “Love” gowns, which represented his love for art, fashion, and expression, 1988. Photo credits: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579533602198595352

Kelly moved to Paris in 1979, where his avant-garde aesthetic attracted instant media coverage. The publicity from his widely-admired 1985 spread in Elle France precipitated the establishment of his own commercial business, and, by the end of the 1980s, he was a namesake label in the New York and Parisian nightlife scene. As Dilys Blu, curator of The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 2014 exhibition Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love wrote, his work was greatly influenced by the “the heady, inventive, and often-subversive urban milieu” of New York and Paris’ subcultures namely, queer and African American communities. His ensembles featured overt references to queer pride, such as rainbow buttons embroidered in the motif of a large heart, a “I Love Patrick Kelly” pattern swooping across the front of a gown, and rainbow tulle and pinwheels as accessories.

Kelly’s designs grew increasingly adventurous and complex over the course of his career trajectory. Though his work was predominantly recognized for its aesthetic novelty, it also served as a tangible manifestation of his cultural identity. For instance, his most seminal pieces were inspired by African American folklore and his Southern roots. The influence of his heritage and cultural identity were evident in the poofy skirts, voluminous silhouettes, usage of denim, and overalls featured in the collection.  

Patrick Kelly SS89 Collection, photographed by Oliviero Toscani. Photo credits: https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/19678/1/the-secret-history-of-patrick-kelly

Patrick Kelly SS89 Collection, photographed by Oliviero Toscani. Photo credits: https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/19678/1/the-secret-history-of-patrick-kelly

Kelly’s runway shows brought his racial and cultural pride to life, as they celebrated racial diversity and body inclusivity. Some of his models’ walks were also inspired by drag culture; they danced down the stage and performed gender-bending acts such as removing a traditionally-female wig while wearing extravagant makeup during their walk. This could be due in part to Kelly’s involvement in and creative inspiration from the gay nightlife scene in Paris and New York. Additionally, many of the collection’s most striking details  such as the Golliwog logo, Aunt Jemima bandana dresses, and black baby-doll brooches — served as satirical yet playful racial statements. For instance, the Golliwog logo, which became a part of Patrick Kelly’s brand logo, was prevalent throughout many of his designs. In his 1988 runway show, the motif is scattered across one white, body-con gown from 1988. On the black version of the gown, its placement seemed more intentional, as it sat on the bust and backside of the model. Another design, a pair of denim overalls with colorful buttons, was embroidered with a large Golliwogo motif; it was styled with a white t-shirt printed with red hearts and the silhouette of a woman in a crinoline skirt and a baseball hat embroidered with the word “PARIS.” Modeled by an African American male, this multifaceted and dynamic piece opened a dialogue about the intersection of race, sexuality, and cultural identity present in his work. 

A young prodigy, Kelly passed away from AIDS on January 1, 1990, but his influence on New York and Parisian culture are long-lasting. He was not only the first African American designer who rose to fame in France but also the first American designer who was invited to join the Chambre Syndicale, an exclusive body of professionals within the French ready-to-wear community. His legacy in the fashion industry is also manifested in the designs of several contemporary designers, such as the whimsical New York-based streetwear label, Gerlan Jeans. Founded by fashion designer and graphic artist Gerlan Marcel, Gerlan Jeans pays homage to Kelly’s unapologetically loud and vibrant aesthetic; featuring reinterpretations of Kelly’s iconic oversized bows, colorful buttons, and quirky embellishments, the label strives to dress those who are fearless in the way they dress. What is perhaps most powerful about Kelly’s impact on the industry was his commitment to diversity and cultural pride. In addition to offering new, avant-garde forms of self expression, his work opened a dialogue about the intersection of identity, sexuality, and fashion, as it challenged racial and cultural boundaries within the fashion industry.

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo Credits: Brooklyn Museum, Dazed Magazine, Wall Street Journal, McNay

The D’Ambrosio Twins: A Q&A With Disney’s Iconic Twin Stars Bianca & Chiara

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D’Amrosio Twins. Photo credits: LastingLegacy PR

Disney’s iconic twin stars, The D’Ambrosio Twins, have been acting alongside one another for as long as they can remember. As actresses, singers, and and best friends, Bianca and Chiara D’Ambrosio have extensive experience in television, film, and music, and are most well-known for their roles as Frankie and Reagan on 19-time Emmy Award-winning series “The Bay” and for starring in its spinoff series “yA.” Additionally, they have been recognized for their performances in “See Dad Run,” “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, & Dawn,” “Diary of a Future President,” and, most recently, Disney Plus’ new film, “To the Beat!: Back 2 School,” the sequel to the hit teen comedy, “To the Beat!” 

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with the twins about their prolific career paths and numerous professional milestones at such a young age. In this candid conversation, the twins reflect upon their journey to stardom as both independent actresses and partners in crime and share their most memorable experiences and lessons with their fans. 

You’ve both been acting since the age of 3, when you were cast in the role of Summer Newman on CBS’ The Young and Restless. Please tell us about your experiences on a mainstream television channel at such a young age. Do you have any distinct or formative memories? 

BIANCA: I was three years old when I started working on “the Young and the Restless.” I can’t remember much, but I do have memories of bonding with my on-screen parents playing Disney cards and eating candy!

CHIARA: Because I was so young on “the Young and the Restless,” I can’t remember a lot. I do remember fond memories of Michelle Stafford coming to our dressing room to see us before going to set. She would hold my hand and walk me to set sometimes.  

On both The Young and Restless in 2008 and Parks and Recreation in 2009, you shared the role of Summer Newman and Lennon Parham’s daughter, respectively. What was it like to take turns playing the role? 

BIANCA: It was fun! Chiara and I got to work together and experience everything at the same time. 

CHIARA: Switching places with my sister while on set was super fun because we always got to hang out with each other and practice our lines with each other.  

What was the best part of being cast together as twins from an early age? Did it ever cause confusion on set, or did it ever create any tension between you as independent actresses? 

BIANCA: It never caused tension between us. We have always loved being cast together because we get to do what we love together. A lot of people got us confused on set, so we would just have fun with it. 

CHIARA: Being cast together as twins has always been a blast. We get to work together in scenes and make life-long memories together. I don’t think that us being known as twins caused tension for us to book projects independently. I was lucky to work on Disney Plus’ show “Diary of a Future President” last year while Bianca worked on a film. We are happy for each other! 

When did you start making music? Please tell us about your breakthrough song “Let Your Light Shine.”

Bianca & Chiara D’Ambrosio. Photo credits: LastingLegacy PR

BIANCA: We started making original music when we were seven. I love to play instruments and wanted to try singing for a change. I ended up loving it and combined my love for playing instruments with singing to create “Let Your Light Shine.” I knew that I wanted our first song to touch on the topic of bullying since we experienced that back in school, so after talking with our parents, we created the song!

CHIARA: We started making music by releasing our debut song “Let Your Light Shine.” We had been bullied at school when we were younger, so we wanted to create music to encourage others to tell someone when they are experiencing bullying. Our song reached a lot of people, and that’s when we realized how our music can inspire others.

Please tell us about the process of creating your first album, “Got You Covered.” What was the source of inspiration behind your album?

BIANCA: “Got You Covered” was a cover album we did to music hits from the 80s, 90s, and even 70s. My parents raised me listening to older music, and I developed a love for songs created in those eras. My sister and I wanted to do something fun with our music and decided to use our parents influence’ on us to create “Got You Covered.”

What is the best part of being twin actresses? 

BIANCA: For me, working with my sister is an amazing experience. She is my best friend and I love that we get to work and do what we love together. Having those memories together on set is something I will remember forever.

CHIARA: I think the best part of being twin actresses is that I have someone who can experience the highs and lows of the entertainment industry with me, and I always have someone to talk to.

How do you differ as actresses and singers? 

CHIARA: We differ as actresses because Bianca enjoys drama and single-camera comedy roles, while I love comedic roles. We differ as singers because Bianca’s voice is higher than mine. Bianca loves the piano and guitar, while I love the drums.

Photo credits: LastingLegacy PR

What is your single favorite memory from your career thus far, independently or as twins? 

BIANCA: There are so many incredible memories that it’s hard to choose just one. I would have to say one of my fondest memories was back in early March of this year when we got to see ourselves on the big screen! We got to watch ourselves surrounded by our family, friends, and the rest of the cast and crew. It was a memory I will never forget. 

CHIARA   I have many favorite memories from my career as an independent actress and as a twin actress. My favorite memory so far in my career was when we wrapped filming yA and I shared a moment of celebration with my sister that has stuck with me since last year. We were so proud of each other and it was a magical experience.

You’ve both had quite a diverse array of experiences as actresses. What is your favorite character you’ve played?

BIANCA: That’s a tough one! I’m so grateful for every experience I’ve had, and It’s so hard to choose one. I would have to say it’s a tie between my character on “yA,” Frankie Sanders, and Donna from the upcoming film, “Slapface.” Donna and Frankie are two completely different characters who I loved equally. Frankie is the spunky twin who hides her feelings and puts her sister before herself. Donna is a mean girl who only cares for her sister and her best friend, Moriah. It’s a tie between those two!

CHIARA: Any opportunity I get to play someone else is surreal. My favorite character I’ve played so far is Regan Sanders from yA. Playing Regan was a wild ride. She is so similar yet so different from me as a person, so it was amazing to step into her shoes.

What’s the one biggest piece of advice you’d give to a fan looking to pursue acting and music? 

BIANCA: To never give up. I know it sounds cliché, but it is so true! Giving up just puts you one step further away from achieving your dream. 

CHIARA: My advice to a fan looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry is to never give up hope. Sign up for classes or audition for school plays so that you get an experience of working on set. If this is something you really want to do, then go for it and don’t let anyone stop you

What’s next for you both?

Photo credits: Everett Wise

BIANCA: Right before quarantine, I had the chance to work with Justin Long, Judy Greer, and Melanie Lynskey on a comedy movie called “Lady of The Manor” which will be premiering next year. Chiara’s and my new show called “yA”, which is a spinoff of “The Bay,” will also premiere next year. 

CHIARA: We finished filming yA last fall and are looking forward to the release. We are also going to be in a few episodes of “The Bay” coming up, so stay tuned if you want to see a little bit of our characters Frankie and Regan Sanders.

BIANCA AND CHIARA: Thank you so much for the interview. Happy Holidays!  

xoxo, B & C 

Read more celebrity interviews at ClichéMag.com
Images provided by LastingLegacy PR

A Conversation with Ava Cantrell: Her Journey to Stardom

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This week, I was so thrilled to interview Ava Cantrell, a 19-year-old actress, dancer, director, and philanthropist. Born and raised in San Diego, Cantrell began her acting career in 2008 and was recognized for her breakthrough performance of Penelope from the Nickelodeon sitcom The Haunted Hathaways in 2013. In the past decade, Cantrell has received numerous accolades for her proliferating portfolio of performances, including feature films One Under the Sun and Lights Out, CBS show young Sheldon,  and numerous TV commercials, music videos, and short films. Additionally, Cantrell is a nationally-recognized competitive dancer and has directed her own short film, published a comic book, and spearheaded a variety of philanthropic endeavors. 

I was so excited to speak with Cantrell about her journey to stardom, her experiences as a performer, and her upcoming endeavors. 

Q: How did you first break into the television and film industry? 

A: I was a dancer when I was little. At the recitals, I would always catch everyone’s eye and I stood out when performed. I was not the best dancer, but I loved to get on stage. My dad was a child actor and recognized the love of the art in me. My parents submitted to the top three agents, and they were interested! My career began at age 7, and I am still with my awesome agents Nicole and Milton. 

Q: Nickelodeon’s Haunted Hathaways was your big break— please tell us about how this opportunity came to fruition and what your first experience on a major television channel was like. 

A: I had been working on lots of commercials, music videos, and short films but hadn’t hit TV yet. I had auditioned, but nothing clicked. When the role of Penelope Pritchard came along, I genuinely thought it was just my role. I went in to audition WAY over the top. I dressed exactly as a young, rich, bratty little girl would dress. The role was meant to be mine. 

It was my first time on a big set, and I needed a bit of extra direction to adapt to the fast pace of Nickelodeon. Fortunately, I had great coaching and picked it up fast. It was pretty amazing to book a guest star role, and even more exciting that turned into a recurring role. You never know in the business what’s going to happen. When you go on set for the first time it is super easy to get overwhelmed, but even as a young girl I knew that I needed to be professional and it was my job. During lunch and after I clocked out, I would just walk around Paramount in complete wonder and excitement! That lot has so much history and I feel lucky to be a part of it now. 

Q: What was the single most challenging part of your career thus part? And what about the most rewarding?

Ava Cantrell

Photo credits: Stage18 Productions

A: The most challenging part of my career is staying motivated and not getting burnt out. I have a career spanning over a decade. I have had some close calls to major roles and then not get them and that is hard. What has helped me is to have a super fulfilling life outside the industry life. I always did well in school. I graduated high school as valedictorian with a 4.4 GPA, I am in community college now, I surf often, and have a great boyfriend. The most rewarding is booking jobs. I feel incredibly grateful for each one, no matter how big or small, they have helped pave the way for my career. 

Q: Is there a specific type of character you usually play? How do you connect with your characters as an actress?

A: The interesting thing about me is there is no specific role I play. I have worked on almost all genres and played all types of roles. I was the killer in Warner brothers “Lights Out,” a girl with terminal cancer in “One Under the Sun,” a bratty super doll fan in Nickelodeon “Haunted Hathaway’s,” and most recently, a drama student in “Young Sheldon” I want to work on roles that are outside of my comfort zone. I am willing to go way out on a limb for a role, and the more challenging the better. My coach and manager Sharon do character development for each of my auditions and if I am hired, I think that work helps. I love working with Sharon and bouncing around ideas and why and how. It is one of my favorite parts of acting. 

Q: What is your favorite character you’ve played thus far? 

A: I get asked that a lot but because I have played so many great roles, I can’t call it. I would like to think my favorite character is still in a role out there in the universe. 

Q:  Please share a little bit more about your experience as a dancer, director, entrepreneur, and comic book writer. How do these disparate art forms shape and inform your role as an actress? 

A: All those things as well as my surfing and photography all tie together. Dance led me to act, acting led me to direct and to create a comic book. I wrote the comic book “Amulet of Lilith” with my Dad. I would love to play Lilith in a movie or on TV one day. She survived the holocaust, and her story is an interesting fast-paced one. It is amazing how many people do not know what the Holocaust is anymore, and I hope that my comic brings awareness. Being an entrepreneur runs in my family so that was a given, but I was more motivated to get my brand ZOOMe up and running because while acting is my passion but not my plan to support myself in the future. If we all stay open and don’t force things, it is amazing in which the universe can guide you. I am part of a family that taught me that the road less traveled is a beautiful one. 

Ava Cantrell

Photo credits: Stage18 Productions

Q: Please tell us a little more about your philanthropic endeavors and your passion for animal rights and anti-bullying activism. 

A: I have been involved in charity since I was a little girl. I think it is especially important to give back. I spend my time now doing charity work and giving back over the many things people my age do. I was bullied as a young girl by people I had known my whole life. It was one of the hardest things I went through, but it made me stronger. I must tell my story even if it helps just one person. I am deeply passionate about animal rights, rescue, spay, and neuter. I lend myself to so many charities especially now over the pandemic. I have recently hosted virtual danced parties for Angel City Sports and Urban Surf Kids as well as “Acting with Ava” on Facebook live to raise money for Starlight Foundation. I love helping out! 

Q:  What is the one biggest piece of advice Ava Cantrell would give to young, aspiring actresses? What is one lesson you’ve learned that you wish you knew at the beginning of your career path?

Photo credits: Stage18 Productions

A: Do the work and know that slow and steady wins the race. I don’t want to be famous; I want to work for a long time in the business. Don’t go into acting for fame. Right now, you will get more famous on Tik Tok anyways, so act because it is in your blood, you are passionate about it and would do it for zero dollars. What I wish I knew is that the industry keeps changing every year in who it hires, what looks are booking, if it wants a serious actor or an influencer. If you do you, and stop looking around and comparing, you will go far in this industry. I know I have a long career because I am staying true to who I am and taking my time with the journey. 

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I have projects!!! Yeah! I had three on the calendar for March that all got canceled. I am going to star in an indie short called “Mission 22” with a powerful message for veterans. I am working with Brandon TV and we have a few projects in the works. Timing is everything and the timing is still a bit off. But I am here, and I am ready for the next wave of work. It will be super exciting to get back on set. 

Read more celebrity interviews at ClichéMag.com
Images provided by Stage18 Productions

From Le Smoking to Pantsuit Nation: The Legacy of the Power Suit

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Gabriela Hearst Spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear Pantsuit at NYFW. Photo credits: https://www.tag-walk.com/en/look/124918

In September, 2018, Grabriela Hearst’s lux pantsuit was greeted with an uproar of applause during her Spring 2019 Ready-to-Wear NYFW presentation. Sleek, architectural, and minimal, yet elevated, the silk ensemble pays homage to the notion of the “feminine mode” in everyday reality. It pairs a single-breasted blazer with tailored trousers, straddling the line between everyday workwear and high-end luxury. In fact, just one out of many that took the runway by storm these past two years, the pantsuit has become one of the most powerful trends of the decade.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement and a cultural shift towards greater female representation in the political realm, a resurgence in feminist tropes have become ubiquitous in the fashion industry. The “power suit,”in particular, heralded by Harper’s BAZAAR as a staple trend of the year, has become a pervasive motif for women’s empowerment in both the workplace and popular culture. It has trickled across various consumer demographics and price points, a staple on both the red carpet and in the millennial closet. 

While the pantsuit might seem like an established garment category today, it was practically perceived as a crime just one century ago. Mere pants did not emerge as a trend for women until the early 1900s, when French designer Paul Poiret designed womenswear pants that were inspired by a harem costume. Few women in Europe and the US wore them, however, as they were viewed as outrageous and inappropriate. In Puerto Rico in 1919, social labor organizer Luisa Capetillo was even sent to jail for being the first woman to wear pants in public. As Marjorie Jolles, a women’s studies professor at Roosevelt University, articulated, “It was just top-to-bottom sex. And that, I think, can be traced to the fact that for at least some of our recent Western history, a divided crotch—so pants as opposed separately encased in fabric—was thought to be the height of immodesty.”

Following the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, women began to harness new agency in not just the political realm but also the social sphere. As able-bodied men left for World War I, women took their places in the workforce, which offered new opportunities in terms of dress. In 1918, for instance, Levi Strauss introduced the “Freedom-Alls,” a women’s trouser-style cotton tunic over balloon pants. Similarly, in the luxury sector, French couturier Coco Chanel launched her 1923 “signature suit,” a two-piece set inspired by menswear and designed for post-war women to enter the workforce. A symbol for women’s growing agency in the workplace, the bottoms consisted of a knee-length skirt instead of pants but laid the groundwork for the modern pantsuit.

As the film scene skyrocketed in the 1940s, many Hollywood stars — most notably, Audrey Hepburn — began to adopt fitted tuxedo-esque jackets with wide-leg trousers. Menswear-inspired apparel did not become ubiquitous in the womenswear market until World War II, however, when the percentage of women in the workplace rose from 27% to 37%. Levi’s womenswear finally gained consumer appeal, and women’s workwear began to emerge as a segment of the industry.

Le Smoking, 1967. Photo credits: https://www.wmagazine.com/gallery/yves-saint-laurent-le-smoking-couture/

In the 1960s, a decade of great political upheaval and particularly huge strides in women’s rights, French designer Yves Saint Laurent pioneered the modern day pantsuit in 1966. Known as Le Smoking, this first tuxedo-suit for women consisted of a dinner jacket, trousers, a white shirt, a black bowtie, and a cummerbund. It received mixed responses, as YSL was the first couturier to present pants as a form of women’s evening wear. Many women who ventured wearing this bold look were denied entrance at restaurants and conferences. When New York socialite Nan Kempner was refused entry at restaurant Le Côte Basque in New York, she removed her pants, donning her blazer as a mini dress. Heralded as the epitome of the YSL woman, she received widespread praise, helping to popularize Le Smoking and challenging regulations against antiquated gendered dress codes. 

Throughout the 1970s, Le Smoking became an increasingly ubiquitous evening-wear staple, especially when actress Bianca Jagger adopted the look on her wedding day in 1971. Four years later, the look was shot by photographer Helmut Newton, personifying the power and modernity of the YSL image in a captivating editorial for Vogue Magazine. As Saint Laurent himself articulated, “For a woman, Le Smoking is an indispensable garment with which she finds herself continually in fashion, because it is about style, not fashion. Fashions come and go, but style is forever.”

While in the 1930s, actress Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrick dismissed the pantsuit as “mannish” and inappropriate, its widespread appeal in Hollywood trickled down into contemporary culture in the 1970s. It became a workwear staple in upper-middle class America. Many Italian and French ateliers, in particular, became renowned for their sophisticated, form-fitting, and professional attire. It was really in the 80s that the pantsuit became a lucrative garment category in the fashion industry; between 1980 and 1987, annual sales of women’s pantsuits rose by 60 million units. The 80s also catalyzed a wave of women pursuing higher education, and the pantsuit became a symbolic uniform for the movement. Designers such as Giorgio Armani popularized pantsuits with oversized lapels, sharp cuts, and broad shoulder pads, which blurred traditional gender roles and emulated power and authority. 

Hillary Clinton at North Carolina State University for the last campaign stop before election day on November 7, 2016. Photo credits: https://www.bustle.com/articles/194023-hillary-clinton-wrote-pantsuit-nation-a-heartfelt-thank-you-note-it-sets-the-tone-for-her

In 1993, Senators Babara Mikulski wore pants in the Senate in defiance of the rule forbidding women from wearing pants. Later that year, Sergeant-at-Arms Martha Pope amended the rule, allowing women to wear pants on the floor as long it was paired with a jacket; thus, the tradition of pantsuits in the political realm was born. In the 2016 Presidential election cycle, Hillary Clinton’s well-known pantsuit became a battle cry among her supporters, many of whom wore pantsuits to the polls in her support. After referring to her campaign team as “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits” at the Democratic National Convention, “Pantsuit Nation,” a Facebook group that was eventually composed of 2.9 million Clinton supporters, was formed. 

In the wake of the election, the pantsuit became a feminist rally cry, infiltrating both the runway and the mass market. It has come a long way since the groundbreaking invention of Le Smoking, when an androgynous uniform symbolizing power and authority was perceived as outrageous for women to wear. Reigning as one of the top trends these past three years, the pantsuit has become a powerful motif for women’s empowerment in both the workplace and on the runway.

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo credits: Tagwalk, InsiderW Magazine, Bustle

RBG’s 8 Most Historic Supreme Court Decisions & Dissents

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On September 18th, 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away from pancreatic cancer at 87 years old. An early litigator for women’s rights and ardent champion of progressive causes, Ginsburg founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU and brought cases to the Supreme Court that consequently affirmed protections against gender discrimination. Her pronouncements of gender inequality and commitment to liberal jurisprudence continued throughout her trailblazing career. Appointed in 1993, Ginsburg spent 27 years on the bench as the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Reverently nicknamed “The Notorious RBG,” Ginsburg played a pivotal role in a number of Supreme Court rulings over the course of her tenure; as the high court grew increasingly conservative in her later years, she became especially recognized for her dissents, a driving force that shaped the lives of women, minorities, the LGBTQIA community, immigrants, and countless other Americans. As we mourn the loss of Justice Ginsburg and honor her legacy, here is a look at some of her most notable dissents and decisions.

 

Upon graduating from Cornell University in 1954, RBG went on to study law at Columbia University, where she later became the first female professor to be hired with tenure. During this time, she also served as a counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. Photo credits: https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/gallery/ruth-bader-ginsburg/index.html

United States v. Virginia, 1996

In United States v. Virginia (1996), a landmark ruling for equal access to education, Justice Ginsburg’s majority decision struck down the Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admissions policy. Earlier in the year, the United States had sued the Institute the last publicly-funded all-male university in the country for its gender-based discrimination. When the case reached the Supreme Court, Virginia contested that women were not equipped to attend VMI and that a separate women’s-only military program at Mary Baldwin University would suffice. A 7-1 ruling determined that Virginia’s gender-based discrimination violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, with Ginsburg writing that “generalizations about ‘the way women are,’ estimates of what is appropriate for most women, no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description.”

 

Olmstead v. LC, 1999

In 1999, Olmstead v. LC ruled 6-3 that people with mental disabilities had the right to live in community-based housing under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Supreme Court voted in favor of Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson two women who were held in isolation at the psychiatric unit of a state-run hospital arguing that Georgia had violated the ADA’s integration mandate. Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion, asserting that the “unjustified isolation” of Curt and Wilson “reflects two evident judgments. First, institutional placement of persons who can handle and benefit from community settings perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that persons so isolated are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life…. Second, confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals, including family relations, social contacts, work options, economic independence, educational advancement, and cultural enrichment.”

Bush v. Gore, 2000

In Bush v. Gore, one of the most controversial and notable dissents of her tenure, Ginsburg dissented the court’s abrupt 5-4 decision to halt a manual recount of Florida’s ballots. Following the highly contentious race in Florida during the 2000 election cycle, George W. Bush’s campaign requested to suspend a vote recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. Ginsburg criticized the court’s violation of judicial restraintnamely, respecting the mandates of state Supreme Courts and apparent bias towards Bush. As she famously wrote, “The Court assumes that time will not permit ‘orderly judicial review of any disputed matters that might arise.’ But no one has doubted the good faith and diligence with which Florida election officials, attorneys for all sides of this controversy, and the courts of law have performed their duties. Notably, the Florida Supreme Court has produced two substantial opinions within 29 hours of oral argument. In sum, the Court’s conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court’s own judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not decide the Presidency of the United States. I dissent.”

Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003

President Jimmy Carter nominated RBG to serve as a judge for the US Court of Appeals’ District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. Photo credits: https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/gallery/ruth-bader-ginsburg/index.html

In this landmark ruling regarding affirmative action, the Supreme Court contended that race should be considered as a factor in college admissions. The case arose when Barbara Grutter, who applied to Michigan Law School and was allegedly denied admissions due to the admission office’s preference for other racial groups.  The university admitted to favoring certain minority races when making admissions decisions because it serves a “compelling interest in achieving diversity among its student body.” The court voted 5-4 that racial diversity is a valid reason for permitting affirmative action. Ginsburg wrote a long-term forecast, writing, “From today’s vantage point, one may hope, but not firmly forecast, that over the next generation’s span, progress toward nondiscrimination and genuinely equal opportunity will make it safe to sunset affirmative action.”

Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 2007

In 2007, Ginsburg dissented the court’s 5-4 ruling that denied Lilly Ledbetter’s right to sue Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company for unequal pay due to the amount of time that had passed since the violation. After 19 years of employment, Ledbetter had sued the company after discovering that she was paid less than her male counterparts. She argued that it was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but the company countered that discrimination-based charges had to be filed within 180 days following the violation. When the Supreme Court voted in favor of Goodyear, Ginsburg argued Ledbetter had not known about her unequal pay earlier. She galvanized public attention towards the gender pay gap by publicly reading about the case on the bench and pressing Congress to amend the clause. As she wrote, “Our precedent suggests, and lower courts have overwhelmingly held, that the unlawful practice is the current payment of salaries infected by gender-based (or race-based) discrimination – a practice that occurs whenever a paycheck delivers less to a woman than to a similarly situated man.”

Gonzales v. Carhart, 2007

In Gonzales v. Carhart, one of the most significant rulings on reproductive justice since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold Congress’ Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Though opponents of the ban asserted that the procedure was the safest way to end a late-term pregnancy, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that “Respondents have not demonstrated that the Act, as a facial matter, is void for vagueness, or that it imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion based on its overbreadth or lack of a health exception.” Ginsburg, who was the only woman on the court, responded that “the Act, and the Court’s defense of it, cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court — and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women’s lives.” Though uncommon at the time, she stood up to read her dissent, adding that “The court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety. This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited.”

Shelby County v. Holder, 2013

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed RBG to the US Supreme Court. Photo credits: https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/gallery/ruth-bader-ginsburg/index.html

In 2013, the Supreme Court nullified a central provision of the Voting Rights Act with a 5-4 vote, freeing nine predominantly Southern states to revise voting requirements without preclearance. Shelby County, Alabama had challenged Section 4B of the historic legislation, which prohibited discriminatory practices in voting at the state level. Claimed that the antiquated restrictions violated state rights, the court agreed and struck down the provision as unconstitutional. In a scathing dissent, Ginsburg wrote that “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes… is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

 

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby

In 2012, Ginsburg dissented the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that for-profit companies should not be required to pay for insurance coverage of contraception. Hobby Lobby Stores, a family-owned arts and crafts chain that had organized its business around Biblical principles, claimed that being required to pay for employees’ access to contraception violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. When the court rejected the contraceptive mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Ginsburg wrote that Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.” Additionally, she noted the cost barrier of birth control for many women, writing that “the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.” 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

RBG in her infamous “dissent collar,” which has become a pervasive feminist motif and source of style inspiration in pop culture today. Photo credits: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/2016-election-day/justice-ginsburg-wears-dissent-collar-following-contentious-election-n681571

As we look back upon a mere handful of Ginsburg’s pivotal contributions to modern-day feminism and human rights, her legacy lives on in countless ways, from equal access to education and protection against workplace discrimination to access to contraception and reproductive justice. Though her career was riddled with adversity, Ginsburg persevered, fighting time after time for social progress with tenacity, grit, and bravery. A pioneer of gender equality, a ceaseless driving force for change, and, most recently, a pop culture icon, her lifelong battle for equality among all Americans paved the way for the paths countless citizens live today.

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Photo credits: NBC , NYT, CNN

Desertion of the Feminine: How Rudi Gernreich Reshaped 1960s Womenswear

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Peggy Moffitt in Gernreich’s Monokini, WWD, 1964. Photo credits: https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/peggy-moffitt-venturing-into-licensing-1203226028/

When readers flipped through their issues of ​Women’s Wear Daily​ on June 3, 1964, they were shocked to find images of model Peggy Moffitt in a topless swimsuit. Austrian-American anti-establishment designer Rudi Gernreich had designed this waist-high bikini bottom with suspenders running between Moffitt’s breasts. Avant-garde and controversial, this “monokini” galvanized public opinion. It received an enormous amount of press coverage, which contributed to the acceptance of his more “modest” designs such as tank dresses, mini skirts, and the bikini. ​Only three thousand suits were sold, as few dared to wear it. Nonetheless, Gernreich’s design catalyzed the 1960s cultural shift toward new forms of sexual expression.

Born in 1922, Austrian designer Rudi Gernreich immigrated to the United States in 1938 to escape anti-Semitic violence. A talented artist, dancer, and performer, he spent his first few years in Los Angeles as a costume designer and dancer for Lester Horton Modern Dance Troupe, whose performances revolved around racial justice and anti-fascist activism.

Duotard by Gernreich for Lewitsky Dance Co. in 1976. Photo credits: https://www.latimes.com/fashion/la-ig-rudi-gernreich-exhibition-skirball-fashion-exhibit-20190517-story.html

Gernreich’s early designs in the US were already imbued with political undertones, as Gernreich subverted heteronormative expectations of dress through gender non-conforming silhouettes.

Throughout the 1940s, he designed for various swimwear manufacturers and collaborated with LA and New York-based designers on knitwear micro-collections; they featured interchangeable sets, such as a matching tube top and mini skirt. Allowing wearers to mix and match their garments, Gernreich’s sets brought a sense of lighthearted fun, as well as versatility, to women’s wardrobes. 

In 1950, he befriended American activist Harry Hay, who was a member of the California communist party and an activist union organizer. Together, they co-founded the Mattachine Society, one of the first organizations dedicated to lobbying for queer rights. His passion for non-heteronormative and iconoclast expression became an increasingly frequent theme in his work.

Moffitt in Gernreich’s Signature Stockings. Photo credits: http://silverscreenmodes.com/60s-a-go-go/60speggymoffittrudigernreich2/

In 1960, after gaining national notoriety for his avant-garde knitwear, he founded his eponymous LLC., Rudi Gernreich Inc. Gernreich believed fashion could promote sexual equality, and the central goal of his brand was to free women from the bonds of traditional, patriarchal fashion. He sought to challenge binding fashions that concealed women’s natural curves. For instance, he fused sportswear and designer by creating tube dresses out of tech jersey and printing nylon in bold colors and patterns for tights. By utilizing synthetic sportswear materials for Ready-to-Wear designs, he offered women the opportunity to wear form-fitting and often provocative apparel outside of the athletic sphere. As his business grew, his staple designs included transparent tops, mini skirts, nylon tube dresses, invisible undergarments, the thong, and most notoriously, the monokini. Though initially perceived as a joke at women’s expense, the monokini offered women an unprecedented form of sexual empowerment. 

In her 1965 report on the monokini, Gloria Steinem named him “the

Gernreich with model Peggy Moffitt. Source: https://www.latimes.com/fashion/la-ig-rudi-gernreich-exhibition-skirball-fashion-exhibit-20190517-story.html

American designer responsible for the desertion of the feminine.” Especially in the post-war era, Gernreich’s designs were entirely unprecedented in their audacity, sexual appeal, and purpose. Though many of his designs did not become pervasive on the market until the Sexual Revolution in the 1970s, his head-turning work initiated the womenswear industry’s transition from concealing to revealing. His designs were politically charged statements just as much as they were novel in aestheticas he subverted heteronormative double standards of dress and facilitated societal acceptance of sexually-empowering womenswear. 

Read more fashion articles at Clichemag.com
Photo credits: WWD, LA Times, and Silver Screen Modes.