A Sustainable Life. Make Magick.

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Sustainable Style: The Joy of Chubby Cartwheels!

chubby joyI Love Shawna Farmer. I kind of loved her on sight! I met her for the first time about two years ago at a Domino Dollhouse event here in Los Angeles! At the time she was rocking siren red hair and her signature frames and I immediately girl crushed. I actually didn’t know until later that she was the designer of the very on point Chubby Cartwheels!

Shawna’s handmade velvet and power mesh bodysuits, skater skirts and leggings in well conceived plus sizes have become well known and amazing staples. Shawna and I did a trade recently, one of my headpieces for one of her bodysuits and above are the pics I texted her after I received my OG bodysuit in the mail. Sheer Joy!
Winter in Chubby Cartwheels Signature piece

So I met up with one of my besties for lunch and finally got around to my first Chubby Cartwheels ensemble! Although it was a chilly day, I had to wear it! The infinity scarf and cardigan were sufficient to make for a cozy ensemble!  Loving this color!

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BodySuit: Chubby Cartwheels
Handmade Infinity Scarf: Made and gifted by Michelle of Glitter In the Dirt
Joggers: Refashioned by Me
Shoes: Thrifted & Refashioned by Me
Cardigan: Ancient
Leather Bag by Unisa: Thrifted

photo 2Thanks Shawna!


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The SweetLeigh Indie Gift Guide!

Sending lots of love and out to some amazing independent women of color owned shops, artists and curators. It may be too late to receive these awesome handmade and hand curated pieces before Christmas, but some of these amazing gifts could be rocked for New Years, and obviously enjoyed year round. Some of my favorite Makers and Curators of 2014. I am obsessed with the pure talent and divine art of these shops so sharing the love!

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The Vintage Black Glamour Book by Nichelle Gainer

When I first discovered the tumblr sight Vintage Black Glamour I went crazy. My best of 2012 Online featured the site. Nichelle Gainer is a meticulous amazing woman for having located, researched, dated and shared vintage photographs of Black American Life in the 20th century that was no where else to be found online or on bookshelves! Since she came on to the scene some of those things have changed!  The site of course took off! And now she celebrates the victory of having the first Vintage Black Glamour Coffee Table Book. Nichelle is totally one of my heroes. Vintage Black Glamour Love.


Brandi is the maker of PurlBKnit. She is so glorious in her techniques, style and if you hadn’t guessed is an amazing photographer as well. I am just in awe of her skill and want everything in her shop. So good! The original design goes on and on and on. Infinite Creative Love.

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Lingua Nigra Jewelry by Alicia Goodwin

My friend Alicia Goodwin is the creator of Lingua Nigra Jewelry. A luxurious line of original handcrafted jewelry made from precious metals, precious stones and other fabulous organics. Her pieces are all unique and stunning. The kind of pieces that you wear forever…. Adorn me.

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Klub Kid Vintage

My boo Ramdasha picture on the right is the brainchild of Klub Kid Vintage. She serves some 90’s RealNESS in alt style. The shops collection of coats is ridiculous! No end to the 90s finds, loud patterns, loud sweaters, mesh tops, sweater dresses styled to perfection. There is some serious inspiration to be had while doing your sustainable shopping!

Whitney Mero Onion Clothing up to size 26-28

Onion Apparel by Whitney Mero

I just discovered Whitney Mero’s clothing line, Onion. Her rayon and jersey draped pieces are instant necessities. Her shop is simple and perfect. If I had to only wear one designer for the rest of my life, she might be it. Capsule Inspo written all over it! I like things easy chic and finished. Whitney is giving me all of that.

Yokoo by Yokoo Gibran

Yokoo by Yokoo Gibran

Y’all Went crazy! when I rocked my first outfit post on the blog in Yokoo Gibran’s Three Ring Chain Scarf. With reason. The woman’s style is divine and taste is impeccable. Her Instagram is a must see too. There is a luxury of simplicity in her work that makes me happy.  So good.

Peace Images Jewelry Vision Studs

Peace Images Jewelry

Peace Images Jewelry is beauteous! There is so much to love. Working in brass, copper some precious metals and wood, Maker and curator Cami is my kind of bohemian.  She has made me a fan for  life with these Vision Studs Pictured above. Giving me Life.

The Pair of Birds on Etsy

Art prints by Tabitha Brown

Finally, Tabitha Brown whose shop The Pair of Birds houses her illustrations. From favor cards, Alt kids of color “Yearbook” studies to her geometric and space illustrations I am in love.

I hope you are too! The next time you want to support some great work by some amazing women, check out these beautiful makers and curators!

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CineStyle: Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra (1934)

Cleopatra-32726_8Earlier this month I enjoyed a great night at one of my favorite theaters, Sid Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood which is one of two theaters run by the American Cinematheque. I adore it for programming classics, contemporary, foreign, blockbusters and indie films alike. Almost as it was when Mr. Grauman built it in 1922, the Egyptian Theater it is a treasure. The Cinematheque celebrated the 85th Anniversary of the film to the day of the premier of Cecile B. DeMille’s Cleopatra! It was a blast! Original playbills from the opening were on display care of the Heritage Museum, a mummy wrap, Cleopatra Eye Makeup Station, Beer and Wine Bar, and the Best Selfie Station EVER! My favorite events there are always anniversary celebrations and retro events, but this combined all that I love!

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My Deco Inspired Selfie at the Event!

DeMille’s Cleopatra holds a place in my heart. If you are looking for historical accuracy on the life of Cleopatra, or serious plot for that matter, move on! If you are looking for one of the lushest most outrageously fantastical produced films ever made, stay right where you are. Cleopatra is pure Excess and I love every second of it.

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Claudette Colbert is Cleopatra, the Last Pharaoh of Egypt. She endeavors and succeeds at seducing Cesar (Warren William) to avoid being enslaved on his arrival to Egypt. Her success at doing so leads to her journeying with him to Rome. As the Romans fear she has converted their fearless leader and fellow statesmen to a self proclaimed Emperor, he is assassinated. Upon his death, Cleopatra returns to Egypt and Marc Antony, Cesar’s successor, follows to finish what Cesar began the conquering of Egypt. But he too falls under Cleopatra’s spell. He is abandoned by his troops who denounce his treason and for a short time takes solace in his new love with Cleopatra. Doomed, they lay in wait for the Romans that follow. The seduction of Antony scene alone is worth watching the film for!cleopatra 89Henry-Wilcoxon-Claudette-Colbert-Cleopatra-1934-by-Cecil-B.-DeMilleThe look of Cleopatra is in the hands of Art Director Hans Drier and Costume Designer Travis Banton. Edith Head was one of his many assistants but it was Banton (his career at Paramount Studios began with the invention of Hollywood in 1894), who created the fabulous image of Cleopatra. First we have to talk about the headpieces! Being a Milliner its a must! He is the only costume designer I have yet found to do a Helmet and it drives me MAD! I have Nothing but love for this man’s vision. I see not one, but three variations of a Pheonix rising from the ashes surrounding the asp. Perhaps Cleopatra is the foxy Phoenix. It is said that Cecil B. DeMilles compared Cleopatra to the everyman/woman rising above their circumstances during the depression. Like every period we masses are sedated in the hardest of times with useless entertainment and fads, but golly gee this one is FAB! GUSH! Otherwise the headpieces are simple and beautiful and are in homage to the period.

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The gowns, are simply wild. There are so many layers of fabulous in the costuming for this film! First of all with dozens of costume changes there simply aren’t enough words for the gowns Colbert rocked in the film. My favorite without a doubt is the gold lame number pictured below in the sketch by Banton. The original gown was sold at auction when Debbie Reynolds parted with her Hollywood Costume collection, in June 2011. In my mind this gown is perfection. So Contemporary to the 30’s but so timeless and regal.

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As much as I adore the Gold Lame and so many others like the crystal embellished nude striped number… I will always love Banton’s “minimal” looks in the film. Cleopatra rides into Rome Topless with a harness of pearls and just her headdress to cover her breasts. The Purely deco skirt with simply Phoenix shaped pasties. Divine. Giving me LIFE Travis! Claudette I do love you so.

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The Art Deco Influence makes this my all time favorite Cleopatra film. BELIEVE, I love them all in the capacity I have been able to see Theda Bara, Liz Taylor, Sofia Loren and Valerie Leon’s renditions, but as far as production, I could love nothing more than this highly stylized celebration of the imaginary life of one of the most mysterious women of all time. This year will be the year of Cleopatra for me. I endeavor to find out more about the actual woman while celebrating all of the lovely interpretations that are out there. In the meantime check out more on Travis Banton’s costume design for the film here and enjoy Cecil B. DeMille’s Cleopatra!




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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 gglamorous 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 responsible 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. clara bowclaudette-colbert-cleopatra EdithWongEdith head margo channing coctail party dress design, All About Eve SweetCharityCS   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 day wear 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. alfred-hitchcock-edith-head-family-plot edithhead0306 edith head with Glioria SwansonDesigner Edith Head holding up material, working on costume for a movie.[4] edith-head EdithHead2 edith-head-surrounded-by-some-of-her-fashion-designs (1)2010-10-30-edithhead

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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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CineStyle: Blade Runner


Image via @Totxomotxo on Tumblr

I am less interested in “Horror” films than Thrillers and smart science fiction. I caved to horror the year Saw came out, which I loved — it was so well done but I had nightmares for days.  When I think of films around halloween, I think Costume and set design and bigger than life characters and gorgeous images. I think Cabaret, Metropolis and Blade Runner.

Rick Deckard, (Harrison Ford) is a Blade Runner, a detective of the future who hunts down and terminates replicants, artificially created humans who have escaped from the Off World, a colony where they are made to be slave labor for the Tyrell Corporation.  Deckard wants to get out of the force, but is drawn back in when 4 “skin jobs”, a slang term for replicants, who have hijacked a ship back to Earth.  Deckard must search for his targets in a huge, sprawling, bleak vision of the future. The film questions what it is to be human and choose humanity in the face of a world corrupted by corporate greed and power. Ever relevant.

A very sophisticated cast  includes Sean Young, Edward James Almos, Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer. 

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Blade Runner (1982) is simply fabulous. A fabulous movie, fabulous set design, fabulous costumes, fabulous story.  Not a hit when released the films popularity and cult following grew out of its fantastic production design. The film is based on a story by writer Phillip K. Dick. Directed by Ridley Scott, Production Design by Lawrence G. Paull and David L. Snyder. Set decoration by Linda DeScenna and Costume Design by Michael Kaplan. 

Utilizing a cluttered urban skyline inspired by Hong Kong and art deco styling it is a perfect blend of science fiction and noir storytelling set in future Los Angeles, 2019.


“After reading the script, we definitely felt that Blade Runner was of that film noir genre, and we looked back to the films of the 1940s for inspiration. Deckard (Harrison Ford’s character) was as much a Gumshoe as Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart). For Rachel’s character, our chief inspirations were the tailored suits that Adrian designed in the late 1930s and early 40s. I liked the idea of combining different shades of suiting fabrics to create patterns – something Adrian did. In this case I used amazing vintage suiting woollens in shades of grey and beige, with metallic threads that I was lucky enough to find, which created a subtle luminous quality. I wanted to create a futuristic heroine who was believable in the future, but with her feet firmly planted in film noir past.”                                  — Mark Kaplan


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Blade Runner j’taime.

Images courtesy of: Another Magazine and CinemaSquid. For more glorious detail on Blade Runner see the Blade Runner Sketchbook. AMAZE.

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CRUSH: Dom Streater Winner, Project Runway 12

Dom 6If you couldn’t have guessed I am a Project Runway fanatic. I have watched every season of the show since the 2nd Season and quickly went back and watched the 1st season as soon as it was repeated on Bravo before moving to Lifetime.

Season 12 PJ Cast

Every year Tim Gunn, my favorite warm and fuzzy Mentor and Super Mogul Super Model Host and show creator Heidi Klum discuss how this batch of designers is the most talented group yet to compete for the ultimate in prizes in this clothing design competition show. I couldn’t agree more.  It was also full of amazing designers who seemed to have really bonded and didn’t “play the game,” but actually just made beautiful design!

Dom Streater is the first Black person to win Project Runway Season 12. I couldn’t be happier for her. Her designs were the most consistently fresh and creative, her background of textile design informs stunning print mixing and her clothes are simply lust worthy. I feel like she is Donna Karan meets Diane Von Furstenberg with a severely FRESH twist. Her final collection for me, was perfection.

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Her work during the competition was consistent creative and overall extraordinary. 

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I could go on, and on, and on, but aside from her perfect portfolio from the show, she is the kindest and most humble designer who has ever won Project Runway, and for me that counts for everything. Her Finale collection was one of my favorite finale shows ever. Retrofuturism was the theme and the fact that she was inspired to design based on a movie night watching Blade Runner is just too much happiness. Cheers to Dom! The next big thing. My heart salutes you!

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Rick Owens, Paris Fashion Week and Me.

Rick Owens Spring 2014dDarlings, I am a fat Black woman. I am considered short (although I’ll argue average), I have large meaty thighs, muscular calves and a large round belly and not much of a waist. I an not conventionally considered beautiful in the western world that I inhabit. I have always been considered fat, even 100 lbs ago, as much for my body type and mass as for my fat. I have always been short with large thighs, muscular calves with a round belly, not so much of a waist, and I have concluded that at my most fit I will continue to be all of those things.

I have over much time accepted the reality of my unique body shape, as well as my dense bones, thick skin, stretch marks and the massive dimple in the right cheek of my bottom. Regardless of what society has ever had to say I have never let this stop me from being a glamour queen, a style fanatic and a snazzy dresser. So I never really viewed my love of fashion and lifelong pouring over the pages of Vogue and GQ as encumbering to my sense of self worth. But perhaps it wasn’t until today when viewing the slides from Paris Fashion Week that I truly realized that my love of style and styling and good design in the circus of fashion had indeed deeply affected my body image in some way.

For the first time ever, as I write this I am tearing, I saw women who in some regard looked like me on the runways of Paris Fashion Week. Rick Owens a master of “minimal” geometric design, chose to feature models who “defy” conventional standards of beauty. His models: average bodied, short and stocky, some with heavy touching thighs in their splayed stances, others with soft bellies gently protruding from beneath their fabulous clothing. They were mainly Black with wild, “undone” hair and skewed faces. They did not glide down the runway with pretty pouts, but were Stepping, an old African American college tradition. The models actual American college students who were part of Step teams on their campuses.

On his models, Owens says that fitting each woman was a good exercise for him on body types. Perhaps more designers will take the opportunity to stretch their skills.

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I won’t lie, it was a shock to the system to see. A shock to my expectations of Runway shows at fashion week. But a marvelous type of Shock and Awe it was. Because there is nothing but beauty in Rick Owens’ presentation. Aesthetics can have depth and meaning. The superficial valuing of beauty in the limited scope that the taste makers of society have showcased is something that we need to all be reflecting on.  And Rick Owens has won a whole new respect from me in his Spring 2014 presentation. Not for his clothing which as usual is fabulous, but from his conscious effort to reflect the beauty he saw in these women and their art form.

Rick Owens Spring 2014

Just a week ago I was ranting on my personal Facebook page about the absence of average shaped women and larger women among well known runway designers who actually make collections for plus size women. And how what they produce in those collections don’t in fact compare to their runway designs of their straight size women’s collections. Essentially how we are not worth selling the fantasy to. Here we have Rick Owens making US the fantasy. Less remarkable than long overdue. But still, it feels pretty remarkable.

I love and admire many traditional aspects of beauty in the world, but I see the beauty in so much more than what we are spoon fed. I think, the beauty in truth is what we should all be attaining for. What do you think?

Source material and Images courtesy : The Cut NY Mag

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