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September 26, 2009

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I know I wasn’t the only one wondering what Andre Leon’s role in the fashion industry was. Apparently, he is kind of a big deal. So here is his story. He was born down south in North Carolina and raised by his once sharecropping grandmother Benny Davis. He looked up to her because, even with little or no money, she managed to always dress to the nines for church. He credits her with giving him an understanding of luxury, but that is not where his fashion career got started. Andre went to North Carolina Central University ( an HBCU) and then got a Masters degree in French from Brown University (an ivy).

Andre started his social networking while at Brown U., making friends with the locals at Rhode Island School of Design and traveling with them to New York City on the weekends. Upon finishing his Masters degree, he went to work for Andy Warhol ( seriously). There he said he answered phones, ran the stamp machine to the post office, made $50 a week and had to live at the YMCA ( kinda like a homeless shelter, but for non-completely-broke people). But through this job he was introduced to the world. It was this opportunity that led him to meet Vogue editor Carrie Donovan who subsequently introduced him to Diana Vreeland who gave him a job at the Consume Institute at the Met. In 1983, he was able to join Vogue as a fashion news director. He always told his grandmother that he would one day be a Fashion Editor and he was finally attaining that goal. After Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief of Vogue in 1988 he was given the title of creative director.

For a short 3 years he went to Paris as bureau chief of W but he returned back to Vogue in 1998 to claim the title of Editor-at-Large ( which is kind of like an Editor-in-chief with authoritative power but a lot of influence over the magazine).

I feel compelled to point out that Andre, the 6ft8in fashion guru, is the only African American man that has made it to these heights in the fashion industry. I believe it has a lot to do with his open personality, over the top-ness, and his connections, not to mention he has loved fashion and elegance since way-back-when.

It is not uncommon to see him canoodling with Anna Wintour, Oprah, or even P. Diddy. His versatility has gotten him many friends and a whole lot of press, both good and bad.

Andre hasn’t always made national breaking news, but he has had his fair share of media coverage. One of the most disappointing has to be the ordeal with J.Hud and her Oscar attire. You remember what she wore ( I know you do because you hated it, just like the rest of the world), well Andre was behind that outfit. Here’s the deal: J.Hud was sponsored by Vogue (hence her cover, which was just as unflattering as her Oscar Dress) and Andre insisted that she wear that gold python bolero by Oscar de la Renta. She really didn’t want to so another stylist (Jessica Paster) get her a Cavalli dress, custom made. Well, just like you imagined, Andre went crazy and J.Hud had to put on that catastrophe, but she didn’t have to like it. Apparently, in an interview , Andre said it was collective decision, which I am pretty sure is a cover up.

Honestly, him and his team did her a dis-service. I know it’s a huge honor to be on the cover of Vogue but looking like that, I think I would pass. Technically, Andre doesn’t have control over the pictures in the magazines because of his job description, but come on , he could have protested. Then again, he does have some not-so-flattering pictures of himself almost everywhere.

Andre was also given coverage on his decision to forgo front row seats to fashion shows in 2005 for the more spacious 3rd row seats, saying he is tired of people watching him squeeze into the small spaced seats in the front row. I’m not sure how long he stuck with this little protest, but I have seen him front row and center with Anna at almost every show… well except this one …

a Yigal Azrouel show.

Andre has also had positive coverage, such as when he lost a great deal of weight per Anna Wintour’s request. She has absolutely no problem telling her staff to hit the gym, and apparently, they listen.

He went from this ….

To this….

Andre also spoke at the Art Institute of Philadelphia ( my neck of the woods) in Nov. 2008. He gave the group of enthusiastic students 6 tips.

1. Remember where you came from and how important that is, and that will sustain you.
2. Always be curious and do your research.
3. Travel and find beauty and style where you go.
4. Practice good manners.
5. When you get lucky enough to land an internship or get your first job, do not be offended when someone asks you to make a Starbucks Run.
6. Find a mentor.

Andre Leon has a lot of good thoughts and advice. He is also involved in politics. He takes no shame when demonstrating his support for the First family, wearing the family’s pin every chance he gets. He even wrote the interview of Michelle Obama in Vogue, I am sure it was not hard to get her on the cover with him on her team.

Andre has contributed to the fashion world in more ways than one, some ways are more noticeable than others. He mingles among the elite of fashion, politics and entertainment. He was able to bring him self to his position through hard work and determination. He is a true inspiration because of his dedication and his originality. No matter how many people criticize his outfits they will never top his purse collection, Manolo collection ( size 13’s custom made), or suit collection.

P.S. I have to mention that he said he did not like the Devil Wears Prada because he was portrayed as the little, short, bald guy. He says he believes that Merryl Streep did a great job, but it was not the Vogue he knew, not the real Vogue. Sex and the City however, he liked better because of its positivity, or maybe because he was in it?? IDK…I liked both, didn’t you ?

Today I read in New York Magazine that some major labels are cutting back on plus sized lines because it costs 10% more to produce. Anne Taylor stopped carrying size 16 in the store because of the low demand. However, the crazy part of it all is that 56% of women wear plus sizes. Size 14 is the most common size in America. Why would you abandon a ripe market?

I know this, the “plus sized” clothing that is available is trash. I am technically plus size and the options for me are limited. Torrid has nice clothing, but baby phat, apple bottoms, Lane Bryant, and all those lines give plus sized women the most hideous options. I guess they decided to use the cheapest fabric because they thought we won’t care either way, but guess what, I CARE. I refuse to buy your clothing that labels me plus size. I want to wear what my size 2 friend wears. Is that such a crime? Does the industry need to label us as plus size by giving us scraps for clothing, I mean seriously. We know we are larger than your photo shopped models, but goodness give us an opportunity to look nice. Stop forcing us to squeeze and squish into clothes that are too small in order to look presentable.

Especially people like me who can wear anywhere from a 12 to a 16. I don’t want to have to buy the ugly plus sized shirt because I am one size off from the cute shirt I saw in Nordstrom’s. I do not want to wear the plus sized seven jeans that anyone can spot as plus sized from a mile away.

I am (kinda) plus sized and I want equal rights. Give me options or give me death!

Patricia Fields is a fashion designer, costumer designer, and fashion stylist. She is well know for her fabulous work in one of my favorite movies Sex and the City. She brought our favorite New York City girl-friends to life. Her designs on the show have inspired me in so many ways with color and print. She gave these characters a personality through the clothing she chose for them. By only watching a few episodes, you get the vibe that Carrie is a constant Manalo, Christian Louboutin, and other fabulous high heeled designer shoe wearing gal.

Miranda was a professionally dressed woman, not too flashy, with a simple sense of casual style, and could sometimes dressed like your mom when she is trying to dress cool when she goes out to clubs.

Samantha was very flashy, in your face, revealing and sometimes uncomfortable to watch because of the vulgarity of her character. However she was always dressing very nicely, I could assume that her style is a rendition of what Carrie would dress like when she would become Sam’s age.

Finally, Charollete, whoes name escaped me for a few minutes, dresses like a typical upper east side mother. She barely dipped her toe into the waters of creativty and bold color, but that suits her character. She always wanted tradition and her wardrobe was just that, traditional. She had elegant dresses, skirts, and blouses using mainly pastel colors. Her style could be sumed up as “Romantic.”

None the less, Patricia was very good at using her stylist intution to portray the characters of sex and the city through their clothing. It was almost as if she was using clothing to portray things that words can’t explain, like she was writing her own story in the clothing choices for the characters.
I just wanted to use that well known show/movie to demonstrate how Patricia is able to reveal more into a character through their wardrobe, and never without giving it a little touch of Ms.Field’s own personality.

Some of our other favorite fashion-tastic movies/shows that she contributed to are:

Side Note: I can not believe they canceled Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle, I really liked those shows. :-(.

Patricia has a lot of experience in tv and movies and it’s no surprise that her personal clothing line ” House of Field” has been very popular as well. Her website features a lot of electric, rock, and up beat clother that anyone from Mary J. Blidge to Britney Spears would find attractive. Her sizes vary and prices range from about 5$ to about 2 or 3 thousand dollars, so there is something for everyone. Her line is a carbon copy of her personality, fun, crazy, free, and color crazy, and personally I love it. However someone with a more professional or romantic style may not be as interested in her pieces, which is only right because like I have mentioned before, everything isnt for everyone.

I have chosen to highlight Patricia because she is a really interesting woman. As well as she does with fashion she still believes that “its fun and wonderful”, but she also thinks there is more interesting things to talk about. Her personal favorite, Einstein and Socrates. Didn’t see that coming, huh? Well that is the wonderful thing about fashion stylists, their inspiration comes from any and everywhere.

Patricia comes from an immagrant family from Greece and is credited for inventing the modern legging. She got started by meeting with Sarah Jessica Parker on the set of Miami Rhapsody movie in 1995 . Sarah loved her clothing line, brought her to Sex and the City ,and the rest was history. Her story may not be that outstanding, but her journey and acomplishments definitely are. The slew of awards and nominations that she has rightfully earned do not even begin to show her talents. She has a way with clothing that is almost inate and that is something special. Every stylist has that something special but Ms. Fields has something SPECTACULAR.

So today, my inspiration comes from the quarky, weird, amazing, genuis artist Ms. Patricia Fields. Without her, I probably would have never learned the importance of a Manolo!

Au Revoir!