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.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beauty is Healing is Beauty

Aldys, Sheila, Theresa, Me, Linh and Teresa

Trace beautifying...

Sheila with grateful client

Teresa's healing power

With Director of Therapeutic Recreation, Ron Becker

Volunteering my makeup services to those with disabilities and/or major challenges is something I've wanted to do for quite some time. However as many of us tend to get absorbed in our daily lives, I hadn't taken the time to seek out the opportunity. In that magical way that life gives you exactly what you need, the chance to give back came to me unexpectedly, through a family friend that I hadn't seen in many years. When I talked with Ron at a recent family function, he told me of his work as the Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Coler Goldwater Hospital. This facility provides long term rehabilitative and medical care for residents who suffer from various conditions such as strokes, cerebal palsy, muscular dystrophy and accidental injuries. Many of them are paraplegic and quadriplegic and will reside in the hospital for extended periods, some for the rest of their lives. Ron helps to bring a higher quality of life to the residents and empowers them to take more initiative in their daily lives. When I expressed my desire to volunteer with them, Ron took me up on it right away, explaining that he was planning a Spa Day with the residents very soon.

I am happy to say I was a part of the 1st Beauty and Spa Day at Coler Goldwater and it was the most rewarding experience! I was able to organize an amazing team of colleagues and friends who gave their time, energy and talents selflessly. We offered makeup application, brow grooming, hair styling and reiki, in addition to the manicures, massages and fruit smoothies provided for this special day. Many of the residents had never or scarcely received these treatments and their appreciation was shown in so many ways. Their perpetual smiles, sincere words of gratitude and uplifted energy was a priceless gift we will always remember. We left the facility that day with a deep sense of peace and satisfaction, knowing that we truly touched the lives of these strong and beautiful people.

This event and many, many others at Coler Goldwater would not be possible without the Angelica Patient Assistance Program. This awesome organization was founded by volunteers and is dedicated to providing recreational, cultural, educational, social programs and much more to the residents. Through their love and charitable efforts, the hospital has also received an aquarium, a horticulture center and meditation garden. You can imagine how much of an impact these gifts have on the people that live there!

To learn more, volunteer or donate to Angelica, visit their site at

MANY THANKS to the TEAM- makeup artists Sheila McKenna/Kett Cosmetics, Trace Byers, Georgi Sandev, Aldys Minaya and Theresa Francine, hair stylist Linh Nguyen and reiki energy healer Teresa Benoit and the staff at Coler Goldwater

To Joe Lombardo at Artists & Creatives and Ted Rubin at eyeslipsface/e.l.f., who so generously donated cases of french manicure kits for the event.

And of course, to my friend and inspiration Ron Becker and the people of the Angelica, who work each day to make a difference.