The crowd as seen from the balcony at Webster Hall for a Lupe Fiasco show
If you had to choose, what would it be; music or fashion? – Jason Chandler
This question was posed to me the other day by my good friend Jason (@PotentialNY), and my immediate response was not words, but the facial expression of a deer in headlights. Since pursuing these two realms from an academic and professional standpoint, I had NEVER been asked this question, as seen by initial reaction. I really could not imagine choosing between the two, so I told Jason “that’s a really unfair question to ask me”. You like how I got around that one right? I did not do that to avoid the question, but because both spheres are equally a part of who I am. Let’s bring it back to the beginning, starting with my family and upbringing.
In Belize, my uncles (father’s brothers) were/are all musicians, and toured the country in their adolescence, driving all the girls crazy (fo reals). They all came to the United States, and mostly settled down in California in the LA area, and continue to tour with various bands as instrumentalists. My uncle Junie (Rudy Cas) is most active as an instrumentalist and vocalist, and I always see him when he is in town for a show. My touring uncles exposed me to music at a young age, mainly the music that they played that had a heavy reggae/ska influence. The Hip Hop side of me, was first introduced to me via my three older brothers circa 1988 via Video Music Box. Hosted by Ralph McDaniels, Video Music Box was one of the first Hip Hop music video shows that showcased the music of talent in NYC, along with the teachings of culture by Ralph McDaniels. I would watch this show religiously with my brothers, basically since the time I could walk, because it was exciting and we could all connect with the lyrics, and “look” of what Hip Hop was during that time. Any given day in our household, there would be a mix of Hip Hop from my brothers, reggae and funk from my father, and soul and folk being played at a rather high volume. I document my life through music, as I have always been surrounded by it. My love for music led me to performing and singing; I was a part of various choirs in church and school, and was a fixture at holiday festivals and talent shows, but recently decided to move away from performing as I believe I am better at documenting and sharing stories of performers, as opposed to being one.
Fashion is something that lives vicariously through my mother, and her side of the family. In Belize, her father owned a tailor shop, and as a child, my mother learned how to sew at the age of 12, her first creation being a blue cotton dress. With the introduction of “ready to-wear” clothing in the 1960s, my grandfather’s tailoring business suffered, as people were now able to buy work clothes off-the-rack, as opposed to having pieces tailor-made. This decline led my grandparents to New York City to seek out a better life. My grandfather never started a new business here, but worked in the Garment District. My mother continued to use your sewing skills throughout her work as a home economics teacher at her alma mater in Belize City, and as a part-time seamstress in Brooklyn. Between her and my grandfather, I was always surrounded by fabrics and patterns, and took an interest in fashion very young, co-designing special occasion dresses with my mother. I picked the patterns and fabrics for my 8th grade and junior prom in high school, along with special dresses for parties and other holidays. It wasn’t until college that I decided to truly delve into designing, creating my first collection of casual dresses and sportswear in 2007 for a campus event entitled “Epicenter”, which was a fashion show/concert mash-up.
A look from my "World Town" collection circa 2009. All silk with Ikat waist insert
I have created two more collections since, focusing on women’s cocktail dresses that have a clear bold vision in color palette, texture, and motif prints. Eventually, I plan to focus on bridesmaid dresses, as I’ve been asked by numerous indivuals to design looks for their bridal parties. In music, I am the eyes and ears, more so for my friends and family members that are musicians. I help them choose the right songs and wardrobe to best convey who they are. Along with this, I interview artists, and share my experiences of live shows and whatever songs may be on my mind at the moment. So why choose? I think it would be a disservice to you all, and to myself, if I decided to choose between both worlds. I chose to double major in both Music Industry and Fashion in undergrad because I truly believed I can meld both seamlessly. They are both extremely competitive fields, filled with many egos, and at times “fake” personalities, but I do it because I am passionate about it. The love for the madness and excitement pushes me forward. I will carry on.