October 22, 2010

It has been said that "a picture is worth a thousand words" and I do believe that this statement is oh so true, yet as I reflect over Celebrity Photographer Derek Blanks photos the pictures seem to be worth so much more. His photos are so stunning words can't even come to mind because you are simply speechless.
I recently caught up Mr. Blanks to get to know a little bit about the man behind the lens and share with my readers. It was interesting that I discovered that Derek actually has a background in illustration. "I used my photography for reference when I would do my illustrations for paintings", explains Derek. Graduating Magna Cum Laude from Maryland Institute College of Art implicates that Derek is as intelligent as he is talented and was going to take the world of photography and art completely by storm!
It was his move to Atlanta where his photographer work would take center stage. "I started being creative, doing my shoots with models", Derek says. People started taking notice of his creativeness and Derek immediately began to blossom. Jazza Pha, owner of Sho Nuff Records, took notice........."They really just wanted somebody different and creative that was based in Atlanta", he explains. This landed him the opportunity to work with recording artist such as Cherish and Lloyd. It was meeting a author where even more doors would began to open for him. "I also met a young lady by the name of Rachel Vassel who was at the time starting a book entitled "Daughters of Men", Derek begins to explain. "Its a coffee table book about successful African American women and their fathers", he states. The book started of as local project until a publisher became involved. The publisher felt that the book needed a celebrity influence....."I didn't think anything of it", Derek states. It was only a week later that several celebrities were confirmed....recording artist Brandy Norwood, Selena Williams, Tracy Edmonds, Yolonda Adams, Tisha Campbell, and Lisa Raye just to name a few were among the selected women. This is were Derek learned how to get "the shot" quickly, which is something that he is now known for. "Each interview was set in 30 minute intervals, so it got me shooting fast and getting the shot quickly. Celebrities shoot all the time so they don't really enjoy drawn out shoots", Derek explains. As I stated this is what became his signature and help elevate him up because he is able to secure a great shot in a reasonable amount of time. It was also his involvement with the book, which became a photo essay book, that expanded his clientele. Many of the women reached out to Derek to take there own personal photos. "The relationships kinda grew and grew and I reached back out to these same clients about doing alter egos", Derek says. Alter Egos would also grow into what would become his signature.
Of Course anybody that is a fan of Derek Blanks is very familiar with his alter ego photos. These photos are simply AMAZING and some have very deep meanings behind them. His celebrity clients on every project become works of PHOTOGRAPHIC ART. Clients have included..........Blair Underwood, Cast of Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta", Chaka Khan, Eva Pigford, Taraji P. Henson, Hill Harper, and Melanie Fiona just name a few.
My favorite, by far, is the one that features recording artist Michelle Williams.

This shows that Mr. Blanks is truly a genius!!!!

So with Derek being so known for his Alter Ego's it was only fitting that I found out what his Alter Ego would be! "I think my Alter Ego would be Over-the-Top, not easy to work with, a "Divo" or whatever, demanding where everything has to be his way", Derek says. He explains how on set he is easy to work with and easy to get along which is a personality trait that was conveyed through our conversation. "That would be interesting. We need to see that, the world needs to see that really soon", I explain.  Just as interesting as his own Alter Ego is his inspiration behind these photographs. "I thought about the old episodes of Top Model where Eva and Toccara were on there and their competition was an Alter Ego and thinking of a creative way to make it my own. Make it more interactive where its not so cookie cutter, one person on the left and one person on the right, where the interaction is between the subject.....its like how did he do that", Derek explains. "Celebrities are kinda two dimensional in most peoples eyes, where if we made them three dimensional and actually you could see a piece of that celebrity as far as what they consider to be their alter ego. Their fans would love to see something like that. So I kinda ran with that concept", Derek continues. A concept that has created a mass following among leading names in the entertainment industry and the likes.

Currently Derek is working on merging his foundation in arts (illustration and paintings) with his photography to create one-of-kind personal pieces, which I'm sure will yield it's own cult following and be another great success. In the near future we can see Derek collab with artists like T-Pain and Nikki Minaj and continue to build his brand!
Derek Blanks describes his personal style as "Fashionable Casual" and with his incredible talent, mellow attitude, and trendsetting work, like fashion, I'm sure this pace will definitely take him to the highest level in his career.

Check Derek Blanks out at:

PS. Hopefully you will get to see a Alter Ego of RyanChristopher done by Derek Blanks in the near future, now that would be SICK!!

October 21, 2010

Fashion Triumph or Fashion Failure?

Grammy Award Winning Recording Artist Rihanna has always been known to the world as a "trendsetter". She has transformed her looks according to the growth in her music, so now with the release of her new single "Only Girl (In the World)" her look has transformed yet again!
As I was browsing the net I came across the video for her new single release. I do have to admit......I like the song but was taken back a little with the video!!! I am a stickler for understanding concepts behind videos as well as the wardrobe conception........it really goes hand and hand. I quite frankly didn't get it!
I want all my style maven readers to see this, not to bash Rihanna (she is a phenomenal recording artist), but to get my readers Fashion Thoughts on this video.............

So to all my readers, as well as visitors, is this a Fashion Triumph or Fashion Failure? Why or Why Not?

October 12, 2010

Fashion Icon: Carolina Herrera

"I Love the idea of elegance and intricacy, but whether it is in a piece of clothing or a fragrance, the intricacy must appear as simplicity."  

For all of that are fans of Carolina Herrera we know that she truly lives by her quote above; therefore, she truly practices what she preach. I have always admired Herrera's personal style, she is always so clean, chic, and simplistic. Her aura, just from studying her, gives off so much class and sophistication, she can nearly be iconic on that alone but its her hard ,yet breathtaking, work of nearly 17 years in the Fashion Industry that makes her an Icon and a force that will never be reckoned with.
Herrera was born in Caracas, Venezuela and grew up around women who wore nothing but couture. At the mere age of thirteen she attended her first show (Balenciaga) with her grandma, of course with this type of upbringing fashion was bound to be embedded into her soul and it definitely was. So in 1980 she decided she would create a "test" Fashion Collection which received a response that was very positive. The very next year Herrera formed Carolina Herrera, Ltd and relocated to the United States to make her home in New York. Carolina became an instant success and became much of  a high demand among speciality stores and women who exuded chicness and sophistication, which she implements to a T!
She not only has a much successful brand in clothing but in fragrances as well. Herrera has quite a few fragrances being distributed right now in stores worldwide, including one for men!! Herrera has definitely become one of my favorite luxury brands and the styles of her designs are truly IMMACULATE!!

I leave you with Carolina Herrera's F/W 2010-11 Ad Campaign that features her daughter! The Ad, in my opinion, is very stunning........only Carolina Herrera can make a zebra look sophisticated and chic!
In the words of Rachel Zoe, "I Die."
October 04, 2010

Just as this dress she is wearing (pictured above),Celebrity Stylist Crystal Streets (The B. Lynn Group) is simply FABULOUS!! I recently was afforded the opportunity to have a interview with Crystal that I found to be very insightful and genuine. Crystal knows style and  the styling industry. She is willing to share her knowledge, which says alot about who she is.

Crystal has an AMAZING portfolio that includes celebrities such as Rihanna, Ciara, Nia Long, Jamie Foxx, Jay-Z and a host of others.
Of Course working with big names as these, I had to start off by asking, "Crystal how did you get your start?"
"It was definitely a grind.", Crystal explains.

A grind that was well worth it! She begins to explain to how at first she wanted to be a Video Editor, but begin taking classes in Costume Design while attending Clark University in Atlanta, Ga. It's in these classes were she began to see what she was called to do and that was Fashion. She then took a high interest into Fashion........."I used to get these books from my professor", Crystal says. These were books that gave insight to major stylists in New York. Crystal reached out to some of the stylist...."I began stalking them", Crystal says jokingly. She definitely networked the right way because it landed her an assisting styling gig with multi-platinum recording artist Monica. From that gig on she knew that Styling is what she wanted to do. So upon her graduating from Clark and landing an internship with Essence Magazine, Crystal moved to New York. "I graduated on Wednesday and moved that Friday", she explains.

When it comes to personal style, Crystal certainly owns hers. Her favorite designer is Vivienne Westwood, so I asked, "What do her designs embody for you?"
"I love Vivienne Westwood because it does mix the vintage and modern, but I like her more because of her structure, structure in her garments." Crystal says.
She explains how in her personal style she is structured yet feminine. Crystal likes clean hard lines, but will add a feminine color or have an extenuated waist. Crystal begins telling me about a Vivienne Westwood boot that she loves....."I have like four pair of them, I call them my work boots", she explains. The boot, as described, buckle all the way up the shin and are flat, definitely sounds interesting (in a good way). I'm sure she owns whatever she wears because its her. "My style has definitely evolved over the years, like anybody else", she explains. Crystal has always been very driven when it comes to her personal style and tries to make things her own. "Make it your own or you don't need to be wearing it", she explains. Something she goes by herself and also expresses to her clients.
I asked Crystal to finish the sentence....A stylish man should never go without........ "a well tailored suit", she says. This is something that I totally agree on, so fellas go grab a suit, no matter the brand, and get it tailored; however, when you tailor it and wear you better

Crystal has been doing Fabulous things behind the scenes and now she is being placed in the spotlight, as part of the cast of reality/documentary show "HOUSE OF GLAM" premiering on Oxygen!! What can we expect from the show? "Fire", she says. "You get to see the different medians of work. You get to see a photoshoot, you get to see a video, you get to see a runway Fashion Week show, its just so much!! Its a nice mix of hair, makeup, and wardrobe. You just get to see it all!", Crystal explains.
As it relates to her own experience of being a part of this reality/documentary show, she explains how time consuming it was for her. I'm sure time that was well spent. "Whatever took an hour to do, took three hours to do", she says. "I'm so use to going and moving at my own past that once you have cameras in all that involved it becomes a Movie", Crystal also explains. Despite it all ,including the competition within the other stylist, which is sure to add a little drama to the show, it was an experience that she wouldn't take back. This is an experience that we all get to be a part of by watching the show.
"I heard you're affectionately called "The Diva" on the show, why is that", I asked. "I have no idea Ryan, no idea why they would tag me that. I'm so sweet!", she says as we both are in laughter! Crystal explains that people can misunderstand that term and put that term/label on women who are aggressive, know exactly what they want, and have high standards. "I have been aggressive and a go-getter. I just have very high standards on myself, on my clients, on my assistants, on my agency-mates and agent. I have very high standards on people that I love and work with and I usually always rock the boat somehow", she says. That's very powerful people and is a standard that most people should embody. I jokingly say "Well at least your not a self proclaim Diva, we all know they aren't Divas at all." We both laughed on that very true statement. "I'm Fluffy, I think  Fluffy should be my label for the show", Crystal says. I didn't get a sense of either of those terms, I just got a sense of a strong woman who has worked hard, not settling for less, and headed for the height of her career!!

So whats next for Crystal Streets you may ask. "I have alot of things in the works", she says. I wont give any of those things away but I will say that Crystal has a jewelery line, Lyralovestar, that is launching very soon and I cant wait to personally see it! The line is named after her daughter and is an inspirational line for young women encouraging them to pursue their dreams. Crystal is really focused on branding Lyralovestar which is sure to be a Fashion Must Have. "What advice can you give people who may want to follow in your career footsteps and pursue their dreams", I asked.
"Try to assist. I spent two years assisting, I think people lose sight of that. Younger people today want everything right now and that's not how I got it. That's not how most people who are really successful has gotten to where they are. I think that's because we live in this whole American Idol, where you receive the reward faster but assisting is so essential", Crystal says. Y'all may need to read that again.....that's powerful!!! So to everyone out there, don't be afraid to assist and learn the business. Crystal made an excellent point so take heed, I sure have!!!

Check Crystal Out:

Be sure to catch Crystal Streets on "HOUSE OF GLAM" premiering Oct. 5th on Oxygen 11pm/10c.
October 01, 2010
RyanChristopher interviews Celebrity Stylist Crystal Streets Star of New Reality Show "HOUSE OF GLAM" premiering on Oxygen Oct. 5th!! Crystal Streets list of clients include Jay-Z, Ciara, Jamie Fox, Keri Hilson, Rihanna, and a host of others.

Interview will virtually air Monday, Oct. 4th