DIY, ReMake, Sustainable Style

ReMake: Sandal Boots Refashion

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My favorite time has always been Autumn. The fall always meant going back to school, new beginnings, and time for layers, sweaters, coats and boots! While thrifting I found some Ralph Lauren ankle boots they were a bit too small in the heel but I was determined to make it work as they were a great quality leather boot and I had found the style of boot I was after! I opted to convert them into sandal boots with an open heel and peep toe. Living in Cali this is a year round option but a great transitional piece for summer into fall and of course spring as well. This post also introduces my new feature ReMake, my take on DIY refashioning. Think, Eco-Glam.

First, a little inspiration! My style has been bordering on bohemian and school marm, aptly named Cool School Marm Boho. I wanted something that would work with dresses and leggings both of which I have been wearing to death.

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The supplies I used were:

Heavy Duty Fabric scissors
Seam Ripper (To remove the hardware)
Nail Polish Remover and a arag
Sandpaper or a metal industrial file
Craft Paints (Metallic or Otherwise)
Craft Paint Brush
Optional Leather Punch

Don’t forget to protect your hands and surfaces while painting. I prefer to use magazines or scrap fabric that can be reused again.

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I hope my pictorial above is self explanatory, but just in case, I modified the boots shape  by cutting out the heel and the tow first. Then using my leather punching tool, (I found on ebay for about $20) I punched different size holes in the boots. I prepped the boots with nail polish remover to remove any protective coating and then painted them a metallic black. I’m ecstatic with the results and have already gotten many wears out of them. I hope this inspires you to get creative and shop your closet before you hit the shops!  If you do, please share your refashion with me!  Look forward to more Sustainable Style features on how to ReMake your wardrobe dolls!

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Music, Noted

Noted: Mz007

She’s no Bond Girl, She’s MZ007. Thank you Ms. Harriet for introducing me.

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OId School Hip Hop will always have a place in my heart. I think anyone’s life framed by the soundtrack of Style Wars would be cinematic and improved by 1,000 percent. Few artists have really pulled me into rap since. Nikki Manaj and Iggy Azalea may be on top right now, but Mz007 is my kinda up and comer.

Five years in the game and self described #FatFlyChick she had me at Hello.

Being a woman in rap is all about being fierce and I’m all about fierce. Mz007 is fierce, fat and a bombshell to be reckoned with. I recognize and I like it. Mz007’s Wake Up introduces us, “I ain’t no barbie I’m a princess hoe,” but its her song Important that breaks it down. “I’m coming through bitch, I’m gorgeous.”  “I’m Important, bitch I’m Important.  Mz007, what she looks like, her presence on the scene and her attitude is Important.

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Beauty, Body Image

Inspired: Yoga for EVERYBODY!

So in the last couple of months I have been engaging in some serious Instagram time. In the last couple of weeks I have been engaging in some seriousl Instagram community building. You see, I’ve discovered yoga, not just yoga, but yoga challenges on instagram and it’s pretty exciting. I have been dabbling in yoga for limited brief periods of time over the years when I came across a new favorite youtube video, but these yoga challenges have really inspired me. The images of women in yoga poses or asanas have inspired me. What has inspired me the most to actually participate in a yoga challenge are the many large, fat, cuvy and round bodied women and men, participating in and often adept in the practice of yoga!

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It started with @Jessamyn who is a Black Fat Femme lesbian, beautiful and tall and clearly strong in her clean and simple images. She and her bestie @yoga_davina initiated a yoga challenge hashtagged #sizedoesntmatter encouraging all body types to try the challenge. Seeking out other fat and curvy yogis, I came across many participating in a #balancebasics challenge and joined that too.

I accepted these open invitations nervously. There may have been nothing harder than posting that first picture. My big round protruding belly, short chubby arms and legs and never noticed before pudgy faced profile center stage for all to see in the most odd positions were a bit of a shock. But I was hooked. Hooked on the yoga, on concentrating on the practice in my attempts to get that image worth posting and feeling and seeing my own progress while doing so. But even more amazing to me was the idea of transforming how I felt about seeing myself and putting myself on “display”. Transforming my awkward self concious horror of what the world tells me body should be to finding piece in mindful movement and strength and sharing that with the world. Ultimately celebrating my body in its ability and purpose and innately beginning to truly love it as it is. By participating in this challenge I have actually tested the limits of my mind moreso than my body.  I have been catapulted into a journey of BodyLOVE!

I wanted to share with you some instagram goodness from the women who ultimately inspired me to begin this journey. Jessamyn Stanley of @mynameisjessamyn, Valarie of @biggalyoga on instagram and tumblr and Brittany Daniel of @crazycurvy_yoga. Below are beautiful images of some wonderfully strong and empowering yogis. I love their power and that they are so diverse.

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Oh and let’s not forget my newest favorite fat fabulous yogi, me!

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My Instagram account is @sweetvanessaleigh and you can find my yoga posts under the following hashtags, not to mention so many more amazing women! #curvyyogasistas #yogaforeverybody #yogaforeveryone #yogisofcolor #bodyacceptance #BodyPositivity #bodypositive #curvyyoga #yogabodyproject #fatyoga #bodylove

Namaste!

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Art, Beauty, Cinematic, film

CinePhile: Review of Only Lovers Left Alive

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Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is the tale of Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton). Two vampires, centuries old, on a mini break in their relationship of about 5 years. The film opens with the most delicious music, a record spinning and our two lovers in their respective abodes in a moment of ecstasy it seems.

Eve surrounded by books, a voracious reader seems completely at ease with herself and the world, she has seen it all before. She spends her time reading and visits with her darling friend Christopher Marlowe (AKA William Shakespear played by John Hurt) at the local cafe. Of course all of humanity’s greatest artists are vampires. Adam makes music underground and has no interest in any rise to notoriety, his existence is solitary, save Ian (Anton Yelchin). The devoted “zombie” (aka human) who procures his every obscure desire from Gibson guitars of the 20th century to wooden bullets, no questions asked.

Eve of Tangiers calls Adam of Detroit from her iphone while Adam, an analog kind of guy, receives the call on his corded phone. When she wants to see him, he puts his phone into some a diy rigged up converter to see his lovers face on his mid 20th century tube television. I am iwon.

Adam is not doing well and Eve, sensing this, travels from Tangiers to Detroit to reunite with her love. You get the sense that this has all happened before. Reunited the lovers are languid, lustful and a delicious to watch. Also delicious is the complexity of a diseased world and how that affects the feeding of our two heroes. Safe feeding is serious business. Zenful Eve is the Ying to,  cranky ‘old man,’ Adam’s Yang. A visit from Eve’s wildchild little sister (from L.A., no less), Ava (Mia Waskiowska and Adam’s late night visits to the local hospital’s Hematology lab tech (Jeffrey Wright) provide much comic delight. All of which leads to the lover’s return to Tangiers for unbeknownst to them, something perhaps, new.

Thank you for bringing the Vampire, not to mention Lovers back to adult fare Mr. Jarmusch. Lush and witty and deeply romantic is this film of a mature adult relationship. It is a tale of two lovers at a crossroads and the languid moments getting there. Sigh, I must see it again.

Oh did I forget to mention that I actually saw the film at an Academy screening at the LA County Museum which incuded discussion between Tilda Swinton and Henry Rollins in Mr. Jarmusch’s absence. Anton Yelchin joined them on stage. Henry was delightfully awkward, Tilda absolutely brilliant and Mr. Yelchin sweet and basking in her glory. I swooned the entire time. Did I mention how delicious it all was?

 

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Art, Cinematic, Costumerie

singin-in-the-rain-the-endI saw Singin’ In The Rain Friday night on the big screen for the very first time at American Ceinematheque’s Aero theater. I consider myself a musical lover and am somehow astonished that it took me this long to finally see this gem. The perfect holiday rainy weeked event I must say.

The story of Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), silent film star, and his attempt to join the talkie revolution after the Jazz Singer becomes a huge success. Lockwood’s screen partner Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) is an obstacle to this effort with her Brooklyn Screeching. Aided by his very talented pianist/best friend Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) and his newly found lady love Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) he finds a way to turn their latest silent movie into a Talkie Hit with a little singin’ a lot of extraordinary dancin’ and a bit of dubbin’!

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Of course Singin’ In The Rain is co-directed and choreographed by Gene Kelly. I have fallen in love! I loved the Artist, but had no idea that it was essentially a dramatic reenvisioning of Singin’ In the Rain, until now! As a film lover its hard to fight the urge to call this musical on the foils, farce and fabulousness that is the movies and its industry making it my new all time favorite dancing musical.

A smart, witty, hilarious movie that parodies fame and the movie industry itself while delivering one of the most entertaining love stories of all time. Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds love affair comes second only to our love hate relationship with the movies and the business of making movies. The best and the worst of it is all here.

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Debbie Reynolds’ feet bled after the Good Morning Number. Donald O’Connor’ was hospitalized for exhaustion after performing the thrilling continuous one shot Make em’ Laugh number in its entirety twice. And Mr. Gene Kelly, ever the dashing, driven perfectionist performed the iconic Sinin’ In the Rain number with a fever of 103 degrees in one take.

Clearly it was all worth it. The dance numbers are only matched by the perfect comic timing by Kelly, O’Connor and Jean Hagen. It turns out Jean Hagen is actually the singing voice of Kathy Seldon, played by Debbie Reynolds while dubbing the song Would You for Lina Lamont (played by Hagen). Did you catch that? The irony!

Oh and Cyd Charise the fantasy vamp inspired by Clara Bow is everything in her dance sequence. Divine….

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And of course we can’t talk movies without talking costumes! Walter Plunkett was the costume designer responsible for some of the most fabulous and over the top looks throughout the film. From Kelly and O’Connor’s windowpane vaudeville suits to Reynolds’ pink birthday cake ensemble and starlet “Olga Mara,” thought to be a parody of Polish silent screen star Pola Negri, in that fabulous Black widow ensemble…. Swoooooooooon.

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Definitely I die moments. I am still in awe that I have yet to hear of a Burlesque evening devoted to the ladies and gentleman of Singin’ In The Rain. Really Now! I have at least two new costumes to add to my repertoire! See it, and see it again. It will also be playing at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian theater in Hollywood mid December, if you are in Los Angles. You’ll be tap dancing out of your seats. Cheers dolls. source1 source2 source3

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CineStyle: Singin’ In The Rain

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Art, Culture

Inspired: Invisible Cities

IMG_3442Two years ago in the formerly fabulous and now defunct Royal T gallery in Culver City the Industry launched their first show. The Industry presents experimental productions merging “music, visual arts and performance to expand the traditional definition of Opera and create a paradigm for interdisciplinary collaboration.” Yes, I say! The last time I went to the Opera I had a 3 show subscription with Los Angeles Opera company 5 years ago.

At the time Woody Allen, and David Cronenberg had created operas for the 2008 summer season. Allen’s production received rave reviews. Sadly I opted for  the David Cronenberg directed production of The Fly instead. Little did I know how UNfabulous the production could be, involving continuous dry humping nude love scenes, and the worst lyrics I have ever heard in my life. “And his arms and his limbs started to fall off……” My humiliation FOR the cast was all encompassing. Even when I later saw Carmen, which was staged beautifully with gorgeous costumes I wasn’t very excited about it.

About 4 weeks ago: I am riding my daily commute via L.A. Metro bus and “transit tv” features a profile on The Industry’s latest production Invisible Cities. Almost immediately I am sold. I was fortunate and entirely grateful to be able to attend a free performance this Sunday after I took too long to buy tickets and the 3week run quicklysold out quickly. 
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IMG_3453The production of Invisible Cities takes place entirely in the very beautiful Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, while the station is in use by commuters and travelers. The station is the stage and the commuters are the background players for a drama based on the novel by Italo Calvino and music and libretto performed by Christopher Cerrone.

In director, Yuval Sharon’s introduction to the performance he informs us that there is “no right way to view this performance.” He asks us to allow everyone who is using the space to let it meet their needs, whether it is transit, or warmth and shelter. He also encourages us to share our headphones with passerbys and those who were not able to procure some for that very performance. He asks us to journey together and just experience Invisible Cities, without concern of missing something somewhere else in the station because this is by design a unique and fleeting experience. I find this divine. IMG_3454 IMG_3461

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You will be able to see exactly what is so magical about this Opera, thanks to KCET‘s Artbound series when they air a feature on the making of Invisible Cities in early December. The show closes November 8th.

For me the performance was a joy. The joy of a beautiful public space becoming even more alive with music and dance to many’s surprise as people passed through the station. The faces of my fellow audience members with intent as a dancer’s kinetic energy was all of a sudden beside them and or all around them. The excitement of being in the middle of a scene as a singer is emoting and singing while staring into my eyes walking toward me. Me on the verge of tears.

I am endlessly in love with Invisible Cities.  I have a renewed interest in classical music and opera in particular thanks to the creative infusion of The Industry. Thank you kindly, I am feeling inspired for years to come. XXO

KCET and Artbound Feature on the Industry Clip

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Art, Beauty, Cinematic, Costumerie, couture, fashion, glamourous, Icon

Icon: Edith Head, The Living End.

Edith-without-specs-832x1024Legendary costume designer, Edith Head or the “Dress Doctor” is the living end.  Her distinct individual style and her glamourous hand in creating some of Hollywood’s most iconic fashion design is stunning.   Edith is known for her signature costuming of Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday and Grace Kelly in to Catch a Thief, but there is so so so much more.

Ms. Head started her career in 1924 as an uncredited textile designer on a production of Peter Pan and ended in 1982.he is esponsible for “It” girl Clara Bow’s charming closet,  Mae West’s Vampy style in She Done Him Wrong ,while also the woman behind my favorite Cleopatra, Claudette Colbert’s costumes to her last film, Steve Marin’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.  Edith Head is Genius.

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Ms. Head won eight Oscars, nominated for an 34, and worked on over four hundred other films. Most of which she admitted never seeing.

‘Fashion is a language,’’ legendary Hollywood costumer Edith Head wrote in her 1959 biography, “The Dress Doctor.’’ “Some know it, some learn it, some never will – like an instinct.’’

Ms. Head once described Old Hollywood as a “Barnum & Bailey World,” filled with gold bathtubs, ermine bathrobes, and film actresses draped in satins and minks. Clearly that would make her something of a ringmaster.  Her imagination and execution of beautifully clothed women in film play a huge role in my own aesthetics. As competent in fantastic fantasy costumes as divine daywear she is a huge inspiration to me. 

Not only is her costume design sublime, but her personal style is also fabulous. My favorite note of knowledge from Edith Head? “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” Happy 116th Birthday to Ms. Head. Forever Inspiring.

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According to a profile of Edith Head on Turner Classic Movie’s website  :The eulogy at Ms. Head’s funeral was given by Bette Davis, who said, “A queen has left us, the queen of her profession. She will never be replaced. Her contribution to our industry in her field of design, her contribution to the taste of our town of Hollywood, her elegance as a person, her charms as a woman – none of us who worked with her will ever forgot. Goodbye, dear Edith. There will never be another you.” Like Ms. Chanel and all great designers before and after her, Ms. Head let the woman, the man or the character take the lead. Touche darling Bette, touche. XXO

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