Fashion

“The Strongest”: HFR x LeBron 16 Championing the Beautiful Strength of Black Women

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“I believe that African-American women are some of the strongest people on earth. I grew up around incredibly strong women and continue to be inspired by the female strength I see around me, mainly in my mom, wife, and daughter. I thought it was important to recognize that strength through this shoe.”

-LeBron James

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“African-American women are the most powerful women in the world.” It was this post game remark said by LeBron James that began the journey of a historical fashion & sports collaboration never done before. Not one for mincing his words on and off the court, LeBron James is no stranger to advocating for the overlooked and underrepresented communities of our time, but he has always held a special space for the women in his life who are responsible for the evolution of the man we see today.  

On Friday, September 7, 2018 at 10:05am LeBron James unveiled his 16th Limited Edition women’s sneaker which sold out in a remarkable 5 minutes. The sneaker is the first James shoe designed by an all woman collective. The HFR x LeBron 16 develops from the LeBron 15 Flyknit design, but instead is cleverly adorned with gold accents and a 3D-sculpted lion head on the back with laces that ties up the ankle to compliment the main ivory colorway. The interior of the sneaker is also inscribed with each woman designers’ signature and motivating words loyalty, dignity, strength, and courage alongside leather buckles that double as both a choker or bracelet.

Spearheaded by Harlem’s Fashion Row CEO, Brandice Daniel the sneaker collaboration with James and Nike was produced to honor Black womanhood and culture as well as their organic essence of fearlessness, power, and resilience. Daniel, created her organization Harlem’s Fashion Row 11-years ago to champion the visibility of underrepresented Black designers and create equal opportunities for them just like their counterparts.  Just last year, Brandice received a phone call from a colleague who reached out to her in search of Black women designers to partner with for a great project, but never revealed the brand that was in need of the collaboration.

The very next day, Brandice received a call from Nike exec Melanie Auguste who revealed LeBron James had done and interview where he expressed wanting to develop a shoe for women by women in honor of the strong women in his life.  The designers Undra Duncan, Fe Noel, and Kimberly Goldson had all worked with Brandice on different projects for Harlem’s Fashion Row with such great integrity and innovation that Brandice decided to include the three Brooklyn-based women designers along for the major collaboration opportunity. “I sent three designers to Nike, and they were supposed to pick one to handle the design. But they asked for all three to collaborate on the shoe,” said Daniel. For over a year the 3 designers, Brandice, the Nike team and LeBron partnered on the design to capture the perfect aesthetic. Inspired by James’ mother, wife, and daughter the collaboration invoked the bonding of sisterhood as Goldson, Duncan, and Noel developed the shoe.

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“This was LeBron’s ode to woman. The shoe is about how much he respects and loves us.” said Noel about the design experience.  

HFR kept the big reveal for their bi-annual fashion and style gala set at New York’s Capitale in partnership with Nike and King James himself last week. With the dress code of black tie and Nikes Daniel opened the night addressing the guests on the importance of being a catalyst for change by elevating Black designers and demand inclusivity as a wide-accepted standard throughout the fashion industry. “...It may have started with a sole fashion show, but its importance and significance has grown way past its runway productions: It’s a community of like-minded people steadfast in their mission to prove there is no shortage of Black creatives.” Daniels said. The annual style awards and fashion presentation kicked off in a packed house of celebs, taste-makers, and industry notables culminating with 4 fashion presentations, a 2-course dinner, and 4 award presentations.  This years prolific honorees were Jason Rembert recipient of “Stylist of the Year”, Bethann Hardison recipient of “The Trailblazer Award”, Dapper Dan recipient of “The Lifetime Maverick Award” and LeBron James recipient “Icon 360 Award”.


“I thought it was important to lend that platform to a group of people that I believe are undervalued,” he says. “I want women to know that they are recognized, that there are people who appreciate them and know that they are facing odds that others are not having to face. In spite of those odds, I want them to know that they can succeed and create the positive change that we need more of right now.”

-LeBron James


The entire evening was filled with surprise celebrations like the video highlight that featured Floyd Mayweather and LL Cool J  paying homage to Harlem phenom designer Dapper Dan before his acceptance of the “Lifetime Maverick Award”. In a pair of diamond-encrusted sunglasses with dress shoes lined in silver for his Black Tie & Nike dress-code, Dan expressed his immense gratitude for HFR on the red carpet before the ceremony stating, “When I first came out to the underground after 20 years when nobody knew about me or where I was at, they were the first ones to reach out and ask me to be apart of a panel of young designers coming up. That was the most exciting thing of my life.  The outpouring of gratitude culminated on an emotional high for the night when founder Brandice Daniel pausing through a wave of happy tears presented LeBron James his “Icon 360 Award”, “This one,.... This is probably one of the most amazing things to ever happen to me in my life.” In true admiration James carrying daughter Zhuri in his arms and wearing Moscot sunglasses, dressed in a Thom Browne shorts suit with the new Nike Element React 87 sneakers took the stage to accept his award thanking all the women in his life — his mother Gloria who had him at 16 years old, his wife Savannah who has been by his side both on and off the court literally and his daughter Zhuri who is responsible for making the 250 pound small forward a stronger more sensitive man. James humbly thanked the women in his life — for being examples of how African-American women are the most powerful in the world. He concluded his speech giving his personal thoughts on Nike’s latest campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick stating, “Last but not least, I stand for anybody that believes in change. I stand for anybody who believes in a positive attitude and positive manner, and I believe in and stand with Nike everyday, all day.


This historical campaign partnership between Nike, HFR, & LeBron James is a ground breaking accomplishment that is aligned with mission to control and share the full authentic narrative of the Black experience while changing the marginalized status quo.  HFR’s mission has always been centered around creating a robust community of change makers who are focused on the creation of inclusive and equal opportunities for Black designers and creatives. With 11 years of experience amidst the industry of fashion it is abundantly clear that organization HFR is making international progress amongst the fabric of the industry dismantling the old ways of selective business practices and awakening corporate commercial brands to the valued inclusivity of Black creatives. The inner workings of their progress as an organization has been relatively low key until now and with Nike as their newest corporate campaign collaboration and their success has only just begun.


Here’s a peek into the creative process collaboration with designers Undra Duncan, Fe Noel, Kimberly Goldson, and Brandice Daniel


Checkout the Red Carpet Lineup of Celebs Who Attended the Magical Night


The Unapologetic Comedic Brilliance of Issa Rae at the 2018 CFDA Awards

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“When I am left to my own devices, I am about as fashionable as Kanye is Black - only when its convent. You guys, that joke was my choice, just like slavery,”

-Issa Rae

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Who is the world uses a black belt accessory to hit the red carpet with all eyes on her to make a powerful bold cultural statement? My guess is you would most likely think of a renowned artist or a rapper/singer/musician first before you would think of a Black woman comedian and actress. But Issa Rae has always understood her kinetic wow factor when it comes to the unapologetic celebration of her Blackness.  A modern-day Renaissance woman in her own right within the industries of Black TV, Film, and Comedy but she is also making a whole lot of ‘first-ever’ historic moments to add to her beautiful funny persona and screen-writing brilliance. Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the CFDA described her artistic voice as, “...the leading new generation of performers who use their voice and humor to discuss social topics in a way that is relatable and poignant.” in their press release for the annual Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards last week. The CFDA began in 1981 to celebrate the work of menswear and womenswear designers nationwide but the Insecure actress and comedienne made history by being the first Black entertainer to host the fashion awards in its 37-year history, as well as the first woman to host in nine years.

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To officially commence the historic moment Issa stepped on to the red carpet like a seasoned star in her signature chic fashion boldness wearing a stunning Swarovski-encrusted a one-shouldered jumpsuit gown designed by Black designer Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss. And just when you thought Issa couldn’t be bolder in her cultural pride, her most memorable statement of the night was her jaw-dropping black belt accessory, which cinched her waist in an embroidered white stitching that read "Every N**** Is A Star."   It was that unspoken clever cultural nod that cemented the historic fashion moment like no other on the red carpet appearance before. The iconic raw, statement "Every N**** Is A Star. " originates from Jamaican artist Boris Gardiner's 1973 song and film of the same name. The 1973 song was also re-featured on the soundtrack for Moonlight, the Best Picture winner at the 2017 Oscars and you probably know the phrase most recently from a sample on Kendrick Lamar's 2015 track, "Wesley's Theory."

"If you don't get it, it's not for you. If you don't get it, you weren't supposed to. It's not meant to be political. It's meant to be uplifting."

           Designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond revealed that the belt accessory was actually added at the last minute and was inspired by the cultural phenomena that depicts Black people as just tragic figures. "We never talk about who they love, people with their children and their love for their families. It's always a tragic figure or as firsts—first black man to do this, first black person to do this—but what about just a bus driver?" he says. "We don't have to be Jay-Z, we don't have to be Kerby Jean-Raymond, we don't have to be Issa Rae, we can just be who we are and just exist and we're still superstars in our own rights, no matter what we do." Simply put, Kerby and Issa wanted to champion the phrase and flip the controversial yet poignant phrase on its head and illustrate a new language of beauty. As for the uncomfortableness of the use of the word N**** on the belt,  Jean-Raymond has this to say, "If you don't get it, it's not for you. If you don't get it, you weren't supposed to. It's not meant to be political. It's meant to be uplifting."  There is a necessary grandiose creativity of wordplay and fashion expression needed within the fashion and entertainments industries because of the under-recognized community of American Black designers, despite the direct global and historical influences of the culture for centuries. Ironically, none of the Black designers who were nominated for a 2018 CFDA Award won on that night, but it is for that very reason of underrepresentation that Issa & Kerby would team up for such a powerful and political visual fashion statment, "it’s important to know that being there was already a huge achievement," says Jean Raymond in his elle.com interview.

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Issa made her hosting debut at the Brooklyn Museum with a no holes barred opening monologue addressing the political climate and controversial comments of Kanye West with Mrs. West sitting right in the front row.  Representation was Issa's focal point for the fashionable evening, which is why Rae teamed up with her stylist, Jason Rembert, chose five different looks for the night, all designed by black designers as well as Black accessory designers too.

“When I am left to my own devices, I am about s fashionable as Kanye is Black - only when its convent. You guys, that joke was my choice, just like slavery,”

Issa Rae

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The evening brought A-list celebs that included, Oprah Winfrey, "Black-ish" star Tracee Ellis Ross, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, singer Ciara, model-actress, Comedian & Host Trevor Noah, and more. The Fashion Icon Award went to model-actress Naomi Campbell, and Donatella Versace received the International Award.

Being the face of Insecure has led our beloved Issa to many new opportunities in her career because of her ability to authentically literalize the Black experience and all of its cultural nuances without an explanation even as the modern tv-landscape becomes more inclusive. Coined as the "vanguard of young creators in television" by GQ magazine in their June 2018 edition, it is more than obvious why her charismatic and bold funny has led her to other industry stages that she would have never imagined. Her unapologetic and unwavering comedy content that refuses to bend to the traditional network's expectations is why her career is crossing pollinating amongst so many other creative entertianment spaces. We can only imagine what next for this "It Girl" who made the words "Awkward" and "Insecure" seem cool and hella relatable and championing the complexity of the Black womanhood experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out her funny opening monologue below!!!

Solange Knowles Honored for Owning Her Style at Parsons 2018 Benefit

Solange's Cultured Art and Music Conversation Over the Years...

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It has been her bold fashion choices, her artistic innovative risk-taking, and an overall unapologetic creative expression from entertainment to art that has extended her musical career into a cultural and artistic global hybrid in entertainment.  From her critically acclaimed album, A Seat at the Table, to performing for former President Barack Obama at the White House as well as her performance art shows at the Guggenheim Museum, the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, and an art installation at London’s Tate Modern Museum, Solange has established herself as a visionary leader amongst the entertainment, fashion and visual art spaces.

Her 2016 critically acclaimed album "A Seat at the Table" honored and empowered Black womanhood in all of its beauty and complexities. Her confident and unapologetic foray into the art and fashion world has defined her artistic persona that is so beautifully different from her iconic megastar sister Beyonce. Most importantly, the 31-year old visual artist and singer-songwriter has used her platform to advocate for mental health, representation, and justice. 

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On Monday, May 21, 2018, Solange Knowles was honored by the Parsons School of Design in New York City for her global impact as a pioneering figure that has been committed to supporting future generations of designers by creating opportunities for inclusivity in design, entertainment, and fashion. Arriving with fellow eclectic music artists Kelela and Dev Hynes.  Solange stunned on the red carpet in an all black sleek and sexy jumpsuit with pepping cutouts designed by Parson's alum and current faculty member Shanel Campbell. 

The exciting evening featured special presentations by fellow ground-breaking and renowned music artists Erykah Badu, Missy Elliot, and Pharrell. Powerful newcomer rapper Vince Staples and media personality Lala Anthony kicked off Solange's honoring with an introduction of heartfelt remarks. The Parson's School of Design honoring at its 70th Annual Benefit is the latest accolade in Solange’s notable creative career. This year alone has been an exhilarating tour of recognition as Solange has been awarded a Grammy, the 2017 Glamour’s Woman of the Year Award, Billboard’s Impact Award, and Harvard University’s Artist of the Year Award. 

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 21: (L-R) Raul Lopez, Solange Knowles and Humberto Leon attend the 70th Annual Parsons Benefit on May 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for The New School)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 21: (L-R) Raul Lopez, Solange Knowles and Humberto Leon attend the 70th Annual Parsons Benefit on May 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for The New School)

Solange’s latest art project was featured this past Spring in April at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where she premiered Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube), 2018, an interdisciplinary video and dance performance art piece. The video visual highlights a new sculpture titled, Metatron’s Cube, 2018,  that was conceptualized and created by Solange. This summer the sculpture will be featured at select locations across the United States. 

Somehow Solange has kept her artistic passion burning and maturing with constant new projects in various artistic genres over the years, through the challenges of life. She spoke very candidly about being teased and often compared to others throughout her adolescent years that has not been easy for her during her acceptance speech at Parsons. But their is always a special admiration for the complexities in artist development that allowing them to produce mind blowing conscious work that reflects the times and transcends us in to the future. Art is one of those healing expression that unites us all and Solange has a way with the world when she lends her vision. It's been a pleasure watching her unfolding her beautiful multidimensional imagination.

Check out the photo gallery from Monday’s event.

The All-Star Melenated Magic in Levi's Latest Campaign Collaboration

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Celebrity stylist Karla Welch is best known for her signature look on Hollywood's red carpets worn by A-list celebs such as Lorde, Justin Bieber, Tracee Ellis Ross and more. To pay homage to the 145th anniversary of Levi Strauss & Co. receiving its rivet-pocket patent, which birthed its iconic denim blue jean; Levi released its latest campaign on May 20, 2018, with Welch titled, "Levi & Karl's 501 Day"  

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Welch collaborated with Levi adding her creative modern twist to the timeless aesthetic of Levi's 501 jeans featuring a 9-piece capsule collection.  The black and white campaign video filmed by her husband Matthew Welch featured newcomers and some of our favorite "IT" girls shining their unique and radiant Black Girl Magic all over the screen. Angela Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross, SZA, America Ferrera, Ke'Andra Samone, and  Natalie Manuel Lee were among the impressive roster of celebrities as they starred in the portrait campaign dancing along to Yoko Ono's 1973 song, "Yang Yang".

To find inspiration Welch pulled directly from her own childhood revealing that her collaboration was about reinventing not only what vintage looks like, but re-imagining not only what vintage looks like, but re-imagining what the future of vintage could be. "If people inhabit Mars 200 years from now, what are the kids going to wear? This idea of creating something that would eventually become an iconic piece of vintage clothing is the basis of the whole collection said, Welch in her press release.

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A portion of the profits from the capsule collection will be donated to "Everytown"   an organization committed to ending gun violence through gun safety education. Welch explained, "We're in this superficial business, which I love. I think fashion is an art, but I do look at myself and say, 'What am I doing?' So to be able to partner with the Levi foundation to do social good was everything. That's a new way of consumerism, to use your platform to do something meaningful. And when they agreed to donate to Everytown, I literally cried."

On May 16, 2018, at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lauryn Hill, and SZA performed at the official campaign collection launch event. Each piece in the collection is priced from $150 -$450 available at select Levi stores levis.com, xcarla.com and Dover Street Market in New York. 

Check out the official campaign video below!!!