Bebe’s New Manhattan Store Grand Opening Party

Anyone who’s followed my social media for a while knows that I love Bebe. I was so sad when they announced last year that they were closing all of their stores and going online only. I actually worked for Bebe a while back, and have lots of friends there, not to mention closets full of their clothes!

I was super excited when my new friend Christine told me she was working at the new Bebe location in Manhattan and invited me to the exclusive grand opening party! New Bebe stores! I’m told they are going to have fewer stores in more upscale, exclusive locations and will be rolling them out slowly across the country. The store at 34th and 5th (1 West 34th Street, New York, NY) is wonderful and I’m so happy that I can shop at Bebe stores again! I hope this flagship store is huge hit and leads to great things for the new Bebe brand! Stop by and say hi to Christine!

The invite-only grand opening party was held on March 15, and featured a dope DJ, lots of bling, new Bebe styles, photographers, videographers, VIP guests, drinks by Sparkling Nuvo, and lots of fashionable people hanging out and having fun.

Loved the beats laid down by DJ Vashtie Kola, who kept things moving all night on the 1s and 2s. Downtown’s Sweetheart is not only a musician, but a director, designer, and model. It was a pleasure to meet her and everyone should follow her on Instagram @vashtie.

The very special guest for the night was Jasmine Sanders (a/k/a Golden Barbie), the face of Bebe’s latest campaign. She’s an accomplished model and actor, who’s become a viral Instagram star with over 2.8 million followers. I loved meeting her and her photos for Bebe are amazing. It was also fun standing and talking with her while her video was playing on the big screen. Go follow her on Instagram at @golden_barbie.

I want this jacket so bad!

Me and Christine at the party!

I’m a #bebebabe!

Kicking Off Shop. Sell. Strut! Season 2 at Breaking Grounds Coffee and Cafe

This past weekend, I attended the first committee meeting for Shop. Sell. Strut! Season 2, which is scheduled for Saturday, June 9. It was a wonderful afternoon, and the event is on its way to being a tremendous success.

Shop. Sell. Strut! is the fundraising arm for the Morgan Marie Michael Foundation (Tax ID: 82-1496694), a 501(c)3 supporting individuals on the autism spectrum with programming, appliances, and resources for enhanced living and development. The event in June is their primary annual fundraiser, featuring a fashion forward runway show. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit the Morgan Marie Michael Foundation.

I’ve been honored to be asked to serve as the Honorary Model for Season 2, as well as an honorary member of the event committee. Seeing what is being put together, and all the energy and effort everyone is dedicating to the cause, has been so inspirational.

The meeting was held at Breaking Grounds Coffee & Cafe in Mt. Holly, NJ. It is the perfect space, and truly symbolic, due to its mission to provide inclusion, diversity and opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities. They took such amazing care of us, and the space is so comfortable. The entire town is quaint and beautiful, so be sure to stop in if you’re in the area. If you happen to have children or family members with autism, it’s the perfect spot for them to enjoy. Oh, and the bagels and pastries are delicious! www.breakgroundscoffee.com

Over the next few months, I’m going to share a lot about Shop. Sell. Strut! and these amazing women putting the event together. Part of Saturday’s meeting was a photo shoot, to give our team promotional shots to use. What a fun opportunity to get everyone together, dressed up and modeling for the camera. All of these photos were taken by Naomi Rivera at Looking Glass Photography. Thank you, Naomi!

If you’d like to support Shop. Sell. Strut!, tickets for the June 9th event are now on sale at one.bidpal.net/shopsellstrut/ticketing. We’re working on a great selection of items for the silent auction, and there will be other opportunities to donate and support. You can even support the Morgan Marie Foundation on Amazon Smile. Get in touch if you’d like to be involved or if you have questions.

We started off by going on Facebook Live to give away this autism-inspired bracelet to one of our Facebook followers. This was done in celebration of our 500th Facebook follower. Congratulations Marco Panting for being the winner!

Here are Shop. Sell. Strut! and Morgan Marie Michael Foundation co-founders Amanda Witkowski and Alyssa Lego.

Our Event Committee Members Brooke Niemiec, Cameren Berry, and Laura Singer. It was great meeting all of you, and going on this journey together!

Think I was having fun?

# I Strut For Autism, Do You?

Committee member Brooke Niemiec.

Committee member Laura Singer.

Co-founder Alyssa Lego.

Co-founder Amanda Witkowski.

Committee member Cameren Berry.

I had to show off my pink custom couture dress from the amazing designer John Leon (www.johnjnlleon.com). Thank you so much, John, for your amazing creation, and for staying up until one in the morning to have it ready for me, at the last minute! We’re hoping to include this one-of-a-kind piece on the runway in June. I’m going to do a whole blog on it soon. I love it!

Most importantly, we’re a family coming together to support an important cause that affects millions of families. We want to raise awareness of the needs that exist, as well as money to support the cause and make positive things happen. Everyone who is involved is committed to positive change, and we all hope our contributions will make a huge difference.

Elona Mitchell at Atlantic City Fashion Week Season 12

I admit, I’m a total Elona Mitchell fangirl. I’ve seen her work as a model, where she always kills it with a true natural presence on the runway. However, her modeling work is only a precursor for where she really shines. She’s an accomplished visual artist, and she brings her talent to the runway, as a fashion designer showcasing a diverse range of looks.

When she kicked off the Saturday night show for Atlantic City Fashion Week Season 12 at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City on Saturday, February 17, they couldn’t have picked a better collection to start things off in a big way. Her hand-painted work, unique way of cutting fabrics, and the edgy vibe she brings to everything she does, is always memorable. In her third collection, she mixes both cute urban styles for young kids, along with gritty, hardcore takes on music, comics and pop culture. She’s so creative and has an amazing energy that’s great to be around. I always love it when I see her, and she picks me up two feet in the air!

I’m especially excited to now have my own Elona Mitchell original! She took one of my denim jackets, and designed the most perfect teddy bear holding a heart, to transform it into a work of art that I’ll treasure forever. Now I need to figure out the best place to wear it so I can take photos, photos, photos! Thank you, Elona!

Here are some of my photos from this collection. The work is amazing and it was a pleasure seeing it live!

My one-of-a-kind Elona Mitchell teddy bear jacket!

I told you she picks me up when she sees me. She can hold me up there forever!

Robert Greco Collection at Small Boutique Fashion Week Season 13

It’s no secret that Robert Greco is one of my favorite designers. I was super fortunate that he was the top name at the first “fashion week” I ever attended. At the time, it was wild just to be able to talk with a real fashion designer and see their work up close and personal. He was incredibly friendly and made me feel welcome in the fashion world. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t had such a positive experience at that first runway show.

I began to visit Robert at his wonderful Montclair boutique (which has now partnered with That Little Black Dress), and am proud to now call this brilliant designer a good friend. I’ve worn his styles on and off the runway, and it’s still a thrill to see his collections when they are showcased. He is a regular at Small Boutique Fashion Week, and his latest collection, which includes pieces from designer Carmen Bury, was part of Season 13, held at Studio 450 (450 West 31st Street) on Sunday, February 11.

There are several qualities that mark Robert’s work, such as the use of vintage and reclaimed fabrics, the sculptural quality of many of his pieces, as well as his ability to combine the classic with the wholly original. As you’ll see from the photos below, there are diverse styles that manage to still work well together.

I absolutely love this full-length coat. I’ve seen it on a mannequin in his studio, where you can really admire the fine details.

This is Robert Greco’s most popular and well-known piece. The silhouette is so distinctly his.

I’ve heard so many stories about how Robert helps models, other designers, and anyone else in the business who wants to learn and become part of this crazy industry. This blog probably wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t met him. Definitely check out one of his shows when you can, especially if he returns to Small Boutique Fashion Week next season.

www.smallboutiquefw.com

Small Boutique Fashion Week New York City Season 13

I had so much fun returning to Small Boutique Fashion Week in New York City on Sunday, February 11. Billed as Fashion’s Top Event for Indie Brands, Season 13 of SBFW took place at Studio 450 (450 West 31st Street). This season’s event had a full schedule of three shows that drew packed crowds to the spacious 12th floor event space. We attended the 8pm show that headlined the event.

I hadn’t been able to attend many shows last season, so it was such fun to catch up with members of my fashion family before the show. It’s thrilling when interesting and creative people get together to share their love of fashion.

Seen in the crowd: “Fashion Avenue News” publisher Sofia Davis, one of the few people on the scene who can out-bling me. Lord Logan creative director Logan Hendricks and her husband Quincy with their new baby! Design prodigy Egypt Ufele and her amazing mommager Reba Renee Perry-Ufele, who had us rolling with stories of filming their successful commercial for Ford. Super diva and fashion coordinator Andrene Ladydoves Williams. Mwah! Pop singer Aaron Paul, who was a great host for the evening, and told us about his soon-to-be-released book and CD. Author and host Delvon Johnson, with copies of his new book “Mirror, Mirror”. Super publicist and host Yvonne Forbes, who always produces wonderful events. Legendary model and fashion curator Catherine Schuller, who ended the show dancing down the runway for the photographers. So wonderful to see them all having a perfectly fashionable evening in SoHo.

The designers who showcased their collections included: Preston Walker, Joy Echo, Vinyett Clothing, Doein, Planet Zero MotorSports, Perfect Population, Afrika Umuri, Meredith Gill, Studio by Alexandria, Omari’s Closet, Crystal Robinson, Lord Logan, and Robert Greco. I’m going to feature collections from some of my favorite designers in future blogs, but here is a taste of some runway highlights. On with the show!

Watch for upcoming Small Boutique Fashion Week shows in Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, New York City, and Philadelphia throughout 2018.

www.smallboutiquefw.com

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Times Square

OMG! Look at me! I am in the heart of the City.

When I use to work in the City, especially around the holidays, I couldn’t wait to get out of Manhattan and be back home in Brooklyn.

Now, I absolutely can’t get enough of the City. When they say the City never sleeps, it’s true.

I had an amazing opportunity to be in Times Square, New Year City to see the famous ball drop to welcome 2018. What a feeling to be around a million people. Did I mention it was 7 degrees? You’ve got to love NYC!

I love New York! I cannot wait to do it again next year.

Starduster New Year’s Eve Styles

This past year, Ellen’s Stardust Diner in New York City has becomes one of our favorite spots in midtown. Ellen’s is located on Broadway, a few blocks away from Times Square. What makes this place special is its famous singing waitstaff, known as Stardusters. The servers are all talented aspiring performers, many of whom take time away from Ellen’s to join national tours, cruises, and even Broadway shows.

We decided to spend our New Year’s Eve at Ellen’s, and loved the entire experience! The singers were entertaining and amazing as always. Because it was New Year’s Eve, they were all dressed up and stylish to welcome 2018! I wanted to share some of my favorite Starduster styles.

I don’t have all of these wonderful performers’ names, so please let me know so I can update and tag everyone properly.

Here’s the famous Ellen’s Stardust Diner marquee.

Our server (and, therefore, the star of the evening), was the wonderful Liz Davies (@lizdaviez). She has a great voice that’s perfect for jazz or smokey blues.

Courtney has a great cool and retro style. He brought a lot of energy to his performances.

Yes, bling! My favorite dress of the evening. Singer, dancer and actor Kayleigh Brennan (@misskayleighmarie) looks stunning, and agreed with me that you can never have enough bling!

Actor Zach Snyder (@zachallensnyder) had the coolest silver bling bow tie. He has a great stage presence puts everything into his performances.

Zach Snyder

Liz looks cute and festive. I love her ankle boots and flair skirt.

It was quite a party! Everyone was dancing and having a great time. The show lasted about four hours.

Here’s actor and writer Marrick Smith (@marricksmith) looking suave and sophisticated.

For more about Ellen’s Stardust Diner, visit www.ellensstardustdiner.com, or look for the long queue on 51st Street and Broadway!

SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Pop-Up Store in New York City

Sarah Jessica Parker is a fashion icon. Her Carrie Bradshaw on “Sex and the City,” is the embodiment of a New York fashionista. When I heard about the new pop-up store for her SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker line, I knew I had to check it out. On Saturday, I made the trip to 52nd Street and was immediately struck by the bright, colorful space. The warm feel of the store drew me in. Then I saw the shoes, which are amazing. Sarah Jessica Parker loves bling!

I spoke with one of the sales associates, who told me that Sarah Jessica has been in the store almost every day it’s been open. The line was originally launched in 2014, but this is the first store dedicated to SJP in New York City. The pop-up is scheduled to be open for about 10 days, but hopefully it will lead to a permanent location in the city.

I love this wallpaper. Everything about the store is so cool and distinctive. I was told that Sarah Jessica is very hands-on with everything and the attention to detail really shows.

I love bling! All SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker shoes are handmade in Italy. Holding these shoes, I am impressed by the quality of the craftsmanship. Sarah Jessica designs all of the shoes herself. Beautiful style, high-quality construction, and they are so comfortable! I was pleasantly surprised by the prices as well.

I love the fact that these shoes don’t feel like a celebrity line, but a really high-end designer brand. One of the sales associates told me that since she launched the line, Sarah Jessica has been very active in soliciting feedback about what her customers want. I really wasn’t expecting to buy something when I visited the store, but after a few minutes I wanted everything!

I tried on these bling boots, and was thrilled that they sell Size 5! Since they are Italian made, they are sized perfectly, which is difficult for me to find. It just keeps getting better and better!

In addition to shoes, SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker also includes these super cute clutches.

When I walked into the pop-up store for #SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker, I was greeted by Jake. I was looking at a pair of bling booties that were on the shelves. I asked him if you have a size 5. He said, sorry I have a 5.5. I was bummed. Then, the magic happened! He showed me another pair of bling booties that were on the shelves. Eureka! They were a size #5. I told him “I want them!” This must have been the fastest sale he ever had.

SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker also features fragrances.

Here is another look at the clutches. I just love the bright, bold colors. These are products that will make you feel good when you are wearing them. When fashion can brighten your day, you know it’s special.

I love that the collection has bold, stylish bling shoes that aren’t only stiletto heels. These are shoes that any woman can wear, dressed up, or when in jeans. They are adaptable to any look, and really flexible so they can work in lots of different situations.

More bling! I still can’t get over how high quality everything is.

SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker

I’m thrilled to have discovered the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker line! I have some new favorite shoes. Being in the store and having her retail experience, I can feel how much she loves what she does. When a designer puts their passion and personality into their work, it reflects on the person who wears it.

The pop-up is scheduled to close on Sunday, December 3. My visit was extremely memorable, and I can only hope that this experiment is a huge success. If I can have a Christmas wish, I’ll be attending the grand opening of a brand new SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker store somewhere in midtown Manhattan in 2018!

L’il Girls Strut For Autism at the Shop. Sell. Strut! Tea Party October 22

Do you have a little princess at home? Would she like to have tea with Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Anna, Elsa, Ariel, and Moana? Would she like to become more confident, and learn how to handle herself on the runway, or while doing an interview? She can do all of this in a friendly, fun atmosphere while raising money for an important cause at the Shop. Sell. Strut! Tea Party this Sunday, October 22, in Manasquan, NJ.

You may recall last April I attended the Shop. Sell. Strut! Fashion Marketplace and Runway Show Benefiting Autism New Jersey. That was a memorable event where a wonderful crowd at the Lake Terrace in Lakewood shopped, watched several fashion shows, participated in silent auctions, and had an overall good time, all to benefit Autism New Jersey.

Shop. Sell. Strut! was founded by two amazing young women, Alyssa Lego and Amanda Witkowski. They are very socially-conscious people who have been using their time and talents to raise awareness and money. Their event in April was a tremendous success. I had so much fun being involved!

After their success with Shop. Sell. Strut! Season One, Alyssa and Amanda have turned their attention to a new cause, The Morgan Marie Michael Foundation.

“Our mission is to create awareness and encourage respect for children with special needs,” Alyssa told me. “We have developed programs such as the iCan iPad Gifting program and PURPOSE – Life after 21. Our Shop. Sell. Strut! event series serve as fundraisers to support the foundation and its clients.”

“A simple iPad can make the difference for an individual on the autism spectrum,” adds Amanda.

Sunday, October 22

Their next event, which will take place at the beautiful Atlantic Club in Manasquan, NJ, will be the Shop. Sell. Strut! Tea Party, on Sunday, October 22. Little girls ages 4-12 who attend will take part in a high tea with seven Disney-inspired princesses. They can get all dressed up in formal attire, and they’ll be involved with photo shoots, a personal animation video, as well as runway and interview coaching, plus a dance party. Guests will also be included in the Shop. Sell. Strut! 2018 calendar.

Tickets to this fun event are available now, and each ticket for your little one includes admission for a parent or guest. Tickets for additional guests are also available.

I’m so honored to have been invited to be a social media ambassador for the afternoon, so I’ll be there! Who doesn’t want to meet princesses? I hope the Morgan Marie Michael Foundation will raise a lot of money. I’ll be following their programs and continue to support!

Get more information at the Facebook event here.

L'il Girls Strut For Autism at the Shop. Sell. Strut! Tea Party October 22

L'il Girls Strut For Autism at the Shop. Sell. Strut! Tea Party October 22

A Cinderella Story by John JNL Leon

Sit down and listen to a story of a fashion blogger who went to the ball. Oh, goodness, there is a very special event taking place in New York City. It’s the Pinoy Weave Fashion Show and Gala, honoring three amazing designers from the Philippines. It’s a formal event! Whatever will I wear?!

I know! I’ll find an amazing designer to make me a beautiful gown. So I went off to a wonderful and magical land, called Philadelphia, to meet with John Leon. I had met John and seen his work at Atlantic City Fashion Week and love the flowing quality of his designs. I asked if he’d like to make me a gown, and a few Facebook messages later, we were invited to his studio to make our own magical ball gown.

I knew I had made the right choice when I saw the first sketch he came up with, just based on his initial ideas. It was beautiful!

It was time to take some measurements.

… and more measurements.

What color should the gown be? Would you like a train? How high are the shoes? Questions and decisions! I told John to run with it! Pick the colors, find an amazing fabric and be sure that the magic will last until midnight!

We left the studio filled with excitement. A few days later, John said he was ready for the first fitting. The gown was coming to life! We rushed back to Philly and …

… it was amazing!

Such a beautiful royal purple color, fit for a princess. It flows, it glides, it was everything I was hoping for.

More fittings. It has to be just right.

It’s almost ready.

It’s amazing what a skilled designer can do, transforming a roll of cloth into something so elegant and beautiful. With the final fittings complete, we left John to finish his work. When he was done, we picked up his wonderful creation. Then it was time to get ready!

Hair is done.

And makeup.

Nails, of course.

A quick preview while driving into the city. Then…

Ta-Dah! Don’t you love it? I truly feel like a princess.

I think one of the best things a designer can do is make the person they are styling feel special. That’s what fashion at its best can achieve. It takes more than just skill with a sewing machine, or an artistic touch, it’s understanding what makes someone feel a certain way.

After the fashion show, which was an amazing event I’ll cover in another blog, it was time to hit the town! Here I am at one of our favorite spots, at Supernova NYC (www.supernovany.com) above Times Square.

A few drinks and time to hit the streets, with some New York attitude!

I just love how the gown flows. When I first saw the fabric, it looked stiff, but amazingly it is really smooth and caught the breeze perfectly while walking through Manhattan.

This Brooklyn girl had to take a photo in front of Junior’s!

Finally, we reached the heart of Times Square! There is such energy here, a million people all around me.

But, it’s almost midnight! The carriage will turn back into a pumpkin soon. Will the magic last?

Quick, off to bed!

But, this gown is so amazing, and so comfortable, that I never want to take it off.

Thank you for sharing my fairy tale with me, and thank you so much to John Leon of John JNL Leon Fashion Designs for his special vision and incredible talent, making my Cinderella dreams come true. With John Leon, it’s not just a gown, it’s a fairy tale.

Remember that black and white sketch that started it all? Here’s the finished color drawing that John prepared, and I’m honored to share it with you here.

Want your own fairy tale? Follow John JNL Leon on Facebook at www.facebook.com/johnJNLleon/ and Instagram @johnjnlleon.

I’m excited to announce that John Leon will also be showing his Spring/Summer 2018 Bridal Showcase at Philly Fashion Week on Saturday, September 23! More information and tickets are available at www.phillyfashionweek.org.