Monday, November 9, 2009

On The Path

As part of my new and improved mission to help beautify AND heal the world, I'm working with this amazing live, organic, and vegan company called Organic Avenue. With two retail locations in Manhattan, the Lower East Side and West Village, and an Alkaline Elixir Bar/ Live Food Lounge opening this week, Organic Avenue is providing a tremendous service to New Yorkers. Featuring 100% organic, fresh pressed juices, live food entrees, desserts and high quality supplements, we have everything you need to support a lifestyle brimming with nutrition! We also specialize in several Cleanse programs,to help you detoxify and heal your body, get more energy and transition to healthier foods in a nourishing and balanced way. There are 5 different, 5 day programs that incorporate a synergistic menu of juices and/or food/soup depending on your needs and current diet. We deliver fresh daily from our kitchen to your home or work to make it even easier...

The juices are made with a Norwalk Press, which is known for producing the highest quality of juice, and sealed instantly in these super cool recycled glass bottles. My favorites so far are the Young Love (spinach, celery and cucumber), the best tasting Coconut Water and Mylk (from young Thai coconuts) and the sweet, creamy Carrot.

The all-live entrees include a Sunflower Falafel, Burrito, Lasagna, Coconut Cerviche and many more. Even salads make a truly delicious and satisfying meal with special ingredients like nut cheese, pine nuts and savory dressings. And the desserts...oh my! Currently in L.O.V.E with the Chocolate Macaroons, which use the real deal-raw cacao-and are virtually guilt free.YUM! I am so grateful to experience these delightful treats on the regular and can really go on for awhile about how awesome Organic Avenue is... but I will save that for my up and coming blog, featuring my experiences on The Path. Or even better, try it for yourself! Just wanted to give you a taste of beauty for the mind, body and spirit.
More info at

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Introducing a Rising Star

Photo by John Russo Jeffrey Casciano, aka my beloved brother, in case you didn't know! An international model of 8 years and now an emerging Hollywood actor, Jeffrey's been a "natural" since we were kids. His fateful debut transpired a bit later, when he was scouted by a global model management company, then quickly sent off to work in South Africa, Germany, Spain and Italy. It was in Milan that he connected with an accomplished acting instructor based in Los Angeles and decided to make the natural transition. I've always been impressed with my baby bro's tenacity, passion and focus but Jeff has applied this to his acting career with unparalleled dedication! His professionally honed skills and deep respect for the business have already landed him roles in theatre productions, music videos, short and feature films, creating quite an impressive resume and earning him accolades from both his peers and mentors.
The image above is from About Face, a powerful book of 100 portraits by renowned celebrity photographer John Russo. Jeff had the honor of being featured amongst Hollywood's hottest actors such as Jason Lewis, Jesse Williams, Chase Crawford, Antonio Sabato Jr., Michael Ealy and many more. This beautiful hard-cover
book by Pixie Press is due out February 2010 and looks like a must-have!

Some of Jeffrey's latest editorial, shot by Reed Decker

Check out cool stuff.

I love the graphic, cinematic quality and how you can just see him getting into character!

Obviously, I'm SO proud of my bro and look forward to MAJOR things to come from him... and so should you! Enjoy the pics xoxo

DEX New York

I finally had a chance to visit DEX New York during Fashion's Night Out, for my friend Myrdith's celebration of her natural nail care line, m2m ( I had come across Dex's site awhile back during some internet surfing and was very curious about a beauty studio and makeup line that was new to me (I consider myself in the know on these things ;) First off, I was totally impressed with the space, which is very clean, modern and airy. The front door opens to a retail shop and beauty atrium, with stations for makeup and hair services. Down the hall, I was excited to find full service photography, makeup and hair studios. Now I knew I had to meet the creator, Dexter Phillips, to learn more about this unique spot. A stylist and image consultant, Dex had a good 20 years in the business when he decided to open the location a few years ago. Later he developed and introduced his signature line of modern mineral makeup, with the inspiration to offer women a healthier,eco-friendly, yet camera-ready, alternative. Dex wanted to use beneficial ingredients like minerals and peptides, while incorporating vibrant colors and finishes that could be used professionally. The other cool thing is that all DEX powders come sans packaging, so that each eyeshadow or foundation must be placed in a reusable portfolio. All this awesomeness, accompanied by his fantastic energy, gave me the feeling we would be working together in the near future... stay tuned ;)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Latest Inspiration...

is FOOD! Guess what? I have recently decided to pursue another passion of mine in the field of holistic nutrition. I've been a believer and advocate for 13 years now, beginning with yoga, meditation and spiritual studies in my college years. Soon after, I transitioned to a primarily vegan diet and began to explore holistic methods for my own health concerns. The more I learned, the more sense this lifestyle made, and I have personally experienced and witnessed tremendous healing through its practice. I love introducing people to the benefits of "conscious" eating and hopefully inspiring them to think more about what truly nourishes them.

So after my latest bit of soul searching, I had a revelation and enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I have been interested in their program for awhile but now the time was right for me to make the shift! IIN's curriculum is truly integrative and explores dietary theory, bio-individuality, modern nutrition and the concept of primary food, as illustrated in the circle below. I am currently studying their online Warm Up program (which is awesome), the live classes start in February and I will be a certified Health Counselor (HC) in July 2010... yippee!

Integrative Nutrition's version of the Food Pyramid

In case you couldn't tell, I'm feeling totally empowered by my heightened mission, to help create beauty from the inside out! I will continue to work in makeup (cuz it's my art!) but I'm excited to add nutritional counseling and more to my offerings. I am in the process of creating a new blog where I look forward to sharing healthy, eco-friendly and fabulous finds for mind, body/beauty and spirit!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Dream Team

Oh how I miss blogging! For those who are checking in, my apologies for the lack of new content as of recently... please bear with me! I'm working on an exciting new venture and have some fabulous things to share with you very soon.
In the meantime, enjoy this gorgeous image of model extraordinare Kimberlyn Parris, from our latest shoot. Not only is Kim beautiful and talented but she has aspirations to make the world a better place! This November, she is presenting the 2nd Annual "God's Got a Plan For Me" Youth Talent Show in memory of her dad, Adelbert. The proceeds from the event go towards a scholarship for a young student residing in the Parris's home towns of Barbados and/or Hamilton, Ontario. Please check out her site for more information on participating or donating at

Produced by The Dream Team
Photo by Tracy Toler
Makeup by me
Hair by Jemma
Jewelry by Lorraine West
Fashion by Ashaka Givens

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Good Witches

Photos by Tracy Toler

Peep my latest editorial in Brilliant magazine. I got to make good girls look bad and even dirty (see arms in third image from top...they dug up a bronzed skeleton head)! Ancient bibles, black crows and mysterious keys were also on set...this was a fun day.

Life is Precious

On a serious note, I'm looking forward to seeing this film... please check out the trailer here. Very powerful!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Be Jeweled

Just found out the cute Japanese makeup/hair artist who has assisted me a couple of times, is a majorly talented nail artist! Check out Tadahiro "Max" Iwasaka's intricate and inventive nail designs, using rhinestones, pearls and metallic beads as adornment. The detailing is exquisite!

You can contact Tadahiro at

All You Need Is Love

Flashback to the beginning of New York Fashion Week... my girls' (jeweler/illustrator Lorraine West and designer Ashaka Givens) and I set out to enjoy the city-wide party, Fashion's Night Out. We decided to hit Barney's for some festivities and serendipitously ran into Ruben and Isabel Toledo signing copies of Isabel's new book, Fashion From The Inside Out. When we discovered Ruben was also doing quick portraits with each purchase, we grabbed books and jumped in line! Needless to say, this dynamic duo is a huge inspiration for each of us, so we were super excited to meet them. The Toledo's were amazingly warm, down to earth and gracious. We all hit it off so well that within a few minutes of chatting, Ruben invited us to a walk thru of Isabel's FIT exhibit the following week!

Lorraine, Isabel, Ruben, Me and Ashaka having fun at Barney's

So not only did we get to meet and talk with these tremendous icons, but we received the unique opportunity to join them for an intimate session! Arranged by urban fashionista/writer Michaela Angela Davis, a small group of young artists and designers were invited to this very exclusive event at The FIT Museum. It was quite an honor to be personally escorted through the works of Isabel and Ruben, circa 1980's to present, as they openly shared their history, both as a couple and in their respective art forms.

They even stayed for a Q&A, where we talked in detail about their relationship, building the Toledo brand together and staying true to their passions and beliefs. They encouraged all of us to do the same, assuring us that you don't have to conform to succeed as an artist.

Together for 25 years now, the Toledo's are the epitome of "soul mates". They love, support and inspire each other in every way. When Isabel thinks about a new design, she tells Ruben about it and he draws it out for her. Usually this process is done by the designer herself, so this is just one example of how in sync they are. They way they spoke about each others talents, with such a mutual respect and love, captured all of our hearts! Everyone in that room left feeling enlivened and hopeful...

Isabel & Ruben are going on my new "vision board"

London Cool

ELLE UK commissioned 25 fabulous fashion people to create these images for London Fashion Week's 25th birthday. The posters were then displayed throughout London's Underground cool are they?'Love London...

My obvious favorite, by brilliant makeup maven Pat McGrath
(Thanks for the inspiration Ashaka!!!)

Gorgeous as always...

The lil lip clutches by Lulu Guiness that I love

The abstract hanger design by Paul Smith mimics the Underground map

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Isabel Toledo

While fashion designer Isabel Toledo is greatly admired and respected within the industry and those "in the know", her name has only recently reached the masses. Isabel received international acclaim when her design was worn by Michelle Obama on the Inauguration Day of our new President. The First Lady had long been a fan of Isabel's unique and wearable pieces, but even Isabel didn't know she had decided upon the lemongrass lace wool dress and matching jacket until Michelle appeared in the outfit on that historic day. The level of exposure this provided was well deserved and overdue for this tremendous creative force.

Often touted the "designer's designer", Isabel launched her line in 1985 and participated in bi-annual collections for about ten years, before deciding to break the mold. A bit disenchanted with the limiting ideals that had become industry standard, Isabel chose to create and present on her own schedule. Inspired more from emotion and instinct than visual elements or themes, Isabel's unconventional approach to fashion truly comes "From the Inside Out" (also the title of her new book).

The "Cage Dress"... what fun!

A seamstress from a young age, her pieces are works of art from inception to construction. As she gets ideas for designs, Isabel describes them to her husband, artist Ruben Toledo, who then sketches them out for her. A fashion dream team, the couple has managed to maintain their integrity and independence in the world of commercialism. While Isabel had a short stint with Anne Klein, she hopes for another opportunity to dress the everyday woman through her eyes.

A creative piece called "Hermaphrodite" because its shape can represent both sexes

A personal favorite ;)

In the meantime, you can find her beautiful designs at select boutiques, such as Barney's New York and Ikram in Chicago, and on display at The Museum at FIT (through September 26th). This exhibit is a must see for anyone who appreciates the best of fashion and art... Isabel's garments are exquisite and Ruben's brilliant watercolor illustrations complement. I saw this on my own a couple months back, loved it, then had the surprise privilege and honor of walking through with Isabel and Ruben themselves! More on that to come...I'm still trying to catch up!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ruben Toledo

I would like to introduce consummate artist and a major inspiration, Ruben Toledo. Using paint, pencils and just about anything in his reach, Ruben creates distinctive, whimsical illustrations for clients such as Harper's Bazaar, New York Times, Nordstrom's, Barney's and his wife, fashion designer Isabel Toledo. Noted as "The First Couple of Fashion", Ruben and Isabel have been creating together in a most harmonious synergy for 25 years now. Their artistic vision is so in sync that Ruben sketches and paints Isabel's ideas and patterns for garments. Currently, this brilliant collaboration is on exhibit at The Museum at FIT, in conjunction with Isabel's book, Fashion from the Inside Out.

A perfect depiction of their connection! Love his calligraphic style...

Water color painting Isabel's designs with vibrant colors and chic, edgy women.

These dresses are extraordinary!

Born of Cuban decent and raised in New York City, Ruben and Isabel are very much in tune with their multi-cultural roots and the beauty of all people. Their muses are real women and people living their life with passion.

Also from the exhibit...

Shot by Ruven Afanador and painted by Ruben

Editorial work for Bazaar

LOVE, LOVE, LOOOOOVE! Stay tuned for more on the Toledo's- they were the highlight of my Fashion Week!

Very Haute

Somehow, I was unaware of the prestigious Italian American designer Ralph Rucci when I was booked to do his show this season. When I mentioned him to my fashion friends, their enthusiastic response got me excited to do my research and find out how he earned his legendary status. A few key indicators: Ralph trained with Halston and Balenciaga before he launched his line, Chado Ralph Rucci, in 1994. Less than ten years later, he became the first American in 60 years to be invited to show his line in the elite couture shows in Paris. There is actually a commission there that upholds very specific guidelines for use of the term "couture", including the use of expensive fabrics and intricate, hand sewn details. While Rucci hasn't participated in the Parisian shows in the past couple years, the shapes, fabrics and techniques of his latest pieces show a strong connection to his luxurious roots.

The makeup was created by another legendary artist, Tom Pecheux, who has worked with the top photographers, designers and celebrities for many years. He had a wonderful energy and I loved the look he designed. We used a deep grey eyeshadow on the outer corners of the eyes, bringing it straight out to a point. Then we cut and layered two sets of false lashes on the top and bottom lash line to intensify and exaggerate the drama! The look was inspired by the structural feel of the clothing and worked perfectly.

One of my girls, Calvin of Russia

Ah, the hair was soo cooool! Created by Bumble & Bumble, the "melted chignons" also complimented Rucci's shapely collection. Super shiny and slicked with some serious gel, one of my models was complaining about having to run home to wash it all out before a date that evening! I wished her luck ;)

My other girl, Emma just moved here from's her first time in NYC!

Ralph Rucci's line is named Chado, after a Japanese tea ceremony known for it's attention to precision and discipline. His affinity for Japanese style and culture is present throughout his collections.

These funky cuff/gloves were one of my favorite details. Although you can't see this too well in the picture, they were made of a clear plastic and extended from the wrist to the knuckles, with openings for the fingers and thumb.
Now I know all about Ralph!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spring 2010!!!

Yay, New York Fashion Week is here! So far, I've worked a few fun shows, enjoyed some fab parties and met lots of great people. More to come on that... But to start, I kicked off the week bright and early on Day 1 with Vena Cava. The presentation style show was sponsored by the new collaboration of cosmetics giant MAC Cosmetics and the full-service photo studio, Milk (where many major advertising campaigns and fashion editorials are shot).

Messy chignons by Ted Gibson

I assisted key makeup artist Lloyd Simmons in creating a taupey, smokey eye (later covered by the shades ;) and a gorgeous lavender lip. He mixed the unusual shade using white, burgundy, red and blue LipMix by MAC, which is a very opaque and highly pigmented lip product designed for pros. I loved it!

The nails were also an exciting, quirky color, a mixture of two polishes by Butter London. The vibrant hue was said to have been inspired by a Staples flyer and was dubbed "Corporate Blue".

The models did walk a runway, but then perched and posed on ladders for the remainder of the show! It gave the many editors and fashionistas who attended a chance to view the cool threads up close.