Profile: Blak.I

Images provided by Blak.I

What inspires you?

We are most inspired by everyday life, be it a song, video, art or someone we see – it usually tends to be a little more on the dark side. We love the challenge of taking those ideas and interpreting them into something more approachable for our women.

What are three words that best describe your design aesthetic?

Dark, Minimal and Sexy.

Who is the BLAK.I women?

The BLAK.I woman is a young, metropolitan girl with big aspirations. She works in an environment where she is able to express her opinions and creativity through her wardrobe. She is an outgoing and outspoken person who is ready to take on the world.

What is the biggest challenge you face as an emerging designer?

One of our biggest challenges is being able to make a mark and establish our brand, as we are up against some of the biggest international brands out there. It’s a bit of a battle as they tend to have more resources readily available, but it is definitely not a battle we are going to back down from.

What are you most proud of?

We are most proud of the growth that we have had with our brand. Something that was once just a thought in our minds and a brainstorming session in a coffee shop has now flourished into a successful brand that is gaining traction across Canada and hopefully, soon, internationally.

Diego Fuchs and Helder Aguiar are the design duo behind BLAK.I. Created in 2010 out of their mutual love for design and shared sharp edge aesthetic, BLAK.I is a lifestyle brand made to bring out a woman’s inner cool. Together they’ve created a brand that incorporates luxury and street wear. From its inception and during its continued growth, BLAK.I has been more than just a clothing line – It’s a way of life and the evolution of the individual – starting with its creators.

The brand focuses on building wardrobe foundations that can be enhanced from season to season and not simply the ever–changing trends from the world of fashion. It ranges from fashion forward, intricately cut shirts and separates to fluid dresses and cutting edge leather garments. The brand has evolved since its inception to fully encapsulate the cutting edge contemporary woman. It continues to include designer aesthetics and detail with a modern and streamlined feel.

Model Citizen – Kendrick Kemp

#WhatsYourNovella – Kendrick Kemp from Novella Magazine on Vimeo.

Videographer/Editor: David Condotta

Model Citizen: Kendrick Kemp

We first had the pleasure of meeting male model Kendrick Kemp while he was tending bar at the TOM* launch party, at the Audio Downtown Toronto Showroom. And one things for sure – this 6-foot tall Bahamas native knows how to make a strong drink. Before strutting down fashion runways and fuelling people’s nightlife energy, Kendrick grew up in a religious country, never thinking he would have the opportunity to venture into a career that went against the grain of his cultural upbringing.

Even still, Kendrick dared to dream big. He found out that his mom wanted to be a dancer and was on her way to America to do just that, soon after discovering she was pregnant with Kendrick’s older brother. It was because of his mother’s unfulfilled dream and relentless motivation that Kendrick believes he must focus, and make his dreams a reality for his mom.

Kendrick is more than just a pretty face. He started a foundation called Fashion for a Cause to help The Bahamas AIDS Foundation raise money and reach a 15-40 age demographic, educating them about the disease and tell them where they can get tested. The year 2015 will mark the 4th year of the cause, and will also be the last time it is held as a one night event. By 2016, the event will become part of a larger initiative – an entire week of fashion, known as the 2016 FFC-FW S/S Collections.

How did you get into modelling?

It’s funny how I started. I watched a lot of American television and that played a big influence on my decisions. I remember knowing I wanted to do something in entertainment, but I didn’t know what it would be. One day, I was watching a special show about Ashton Kutcher on the E! Network and learned how he got into the industry by just modelling in talent competitions. It was that very moment that I decided what I was going to do. I think Oprah refers to that moment as your “Aha!” moment. But that wasn’t enough – now I needed to find a way into the industry because I didn’t have access to talent exhibitions like Ashton did. I then turned to a friend named Cheetara Woodside. I knew she was trying the acting and filming world and thought perhaps she could help lead me in the right direction. She introduced me to her Brother Mario, who became my first photographer and consultant into the world of modelling. He helped me figure out how I should go about looking for agency. I felt like I was getting somewhere now. With his help and with television shows like “8th & Ocean”, I knew I was getting closer. When I saw 8th & Ocean on MTV, I knew right then and there that this was a sign for me – I should be in this agency (Irene Marie). It was then that I experienced my second “Aha!” moment.

To bring a long story to a short, I travelled to South Beach Miami, but was rejected by my dream agency Irene Marie and every other agency. However, MC2 (MC Squared) saw me and gave me an opportunity to work with one of their photographers by the name of Milan Josipovic, who turned my world around. He created a new Kendrick. I went back to the all the agencies (especially Irene Marie, where my heart was) and they offered me a contract. I signed with them, and the rest is history.

What was your experience like walking in the very first Toronto men’s fashion week?    

Firstly, it was a well presented show and the calibre of models really contributed to this feeling. It was my first time opening a show and I am so happy that designer Noel Crisostomo allowed me to do just that. I also opened my first show which was for L’UOMO STRANO, and was so grateful for that opportunity. It’s been a great experience walking 10+ shows and doing my first interview with Christopher Bates as he spoke about his collection to GQ and Vogue Italia.

What do you like to do in your free time?                                                                                                      

I feel like I am super lazy when it comes to my free time. I just lie around or head to the gym. If I get bored of that, I call up some friends and head out in the city somewhere. I am always planning or thinking about my future. It’s difficult not to. I am always in charge of my brand I am always thinking about how I can better myself, or get noticed in public with so many new and fresh faces emerging.

What are you currently listening to on your iPod?                                                                                                

I feel like everyone would laugh at me. I just listen to Kelly Clarkson (Greatest Hits: Chapter One), Jay Z (Magna Carta – Holy Grail), Frank Ocean (Nostalgia/Ultra) and Beyoncé (BEYONCE).

How would you describe your personal style?                                                                                                

I would say I have a very artistic Style. I love the idea of myself as a canvas – where I can actually paint myself in fashion. I love a simple, but classic approach to clothes. I often wear printed shirts and pants, but never together. I like my shoes to make a statement. I love luminous colours. I have to make a statement and I only allow one piece of clothing to do it. All the other pieces must just compliment it.

 

What’s the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about the fashion industry?                          

I could go on and on about the Fashion Industry! I thought everyone would be fake and pretentious, but I have really met some fantastic people in this industry; people who actually use the creative side of their brains. They really want to affect change, and these are people who actually want fashion to live on because it’s the way they breathe. I love knowing these people and I was surprised to find genuine people that I could call friends.

What’s the most memorable job you’ve done so far?                                                                                            

I’ve done tons of stuff, and the events at TOM* had its effect on me. But I must say to this day, my most memorable job was walking for Parke & Ronen at my first ever Mercedes Fashion Week in Miami, FL in 2008.

What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?                                                                          

Oh boy – I get advice almost every day. I’ve had great advice that I ignored but the best advice I have received is the advice that helped shape my life. It was – “THE ONLY PERSON THAT STANDS IN THE WAY OF YOUR SUCCESS IS YOU!” When I heard that, I knew that no one or anything was going to create an illusion that would stand in the way of my own success.

Rosa Athena

On Thursday August 28th, 2014 we had the pleasure of viewing custom dresses at One King West as we previewed Rose Athena’s debut collection. Bushra Dirir and Lily Wong co-founded Rose Athena, a newly launched e-boutique specializing in customizable dresses for stylish women. All the dresses are from pima cotton in Peru. The cotton originates from Peru and is exclusively grown there. It is a longer fiber, which makes it very soft. If you play around with the website there are 2500 different options for potential dresses.

How did the Rose Athena collection come about?

Lily and I (Bushra) had social events to go to.  We were looking for dresses and we found ourselves spending countless hours shopping and we couldn’t find the dress that we exactly wanted.

We found dresses that we liked, but we wished we could change the neckline or the sleeve length or the hemline, or even the colour of the dress, so we created our own customizable dress line.

Who is the average Rose Athena customer?

I guess it could be anybody. What we had in mind was people around our age, mid 20’s to mid 40’s. Our customer is the woman who doesn’t really have time to go shopping necessarily; she has kids and she wants something classic, and the ability to personalize it to suit her fashion sense.

And how does the site work?

You go to the site, and we have a made-to-order section. Basically, we have classical silhouettes and you have the opportunity to personalize.  You can select what silhouette you want and then select what waist option you want, what sleeve length you want, what neckline, what backline, what colour etc. Once you make your selection you’re able to see how your dress will look. The sizing ranges from extra small to extra large. We have a sizing chart available as well as videos to show you how to measure yourself. Once you select your item, it takes 10 business days from order to delivery.

How does Rose Athena differ from other e-boutiques?

So most e-boutiques or e-commerce companies give you ready-to-wear dresses. With other brands, you don’t have the opportunity to customize or personalize what makes you feel comfortable. So Rose Athena is different in that sense, so you can have that ability to change the neckline, change the sleeve-line, pick your colour and it’s something that you designed and you can see how is dress looks, where other e-commerce sites and e-boutiques do not offer that unique element.

What are the different styles customers can choose from?

The wrap dresses are coming out at the end of September and then the strapless; I guess they are also called tube dresses as well. The A-line and the chic dresses are solids and they have the stripes. For the wrap dresses we have a pattern, the black and white pattern and otherwise the two solid colours.

TOM Fashion Week

 

On August 12th, fashion history was made when Toronto became eighth international city to host a men’s fashion week. The three day inaugural event took place at the chic Fairmont Royal York Hotel and boasted an amazing line up of Canadian and International designers including HD Homme, Christopher Bates, SONS OF ODIN, Worth by David C. Wigley, Benji WZW, TOTHEM from Italy, Christian L’Enfant Roi, and Dominican-born, New York based designer Jose Duran. Toronto men’s fashion week or TOM* for short, also included a celebrity charity fashion show raising money for KOL Hope Foundation for Children and Sick Kids Hospital. Arguably the highlight of the week was the  Emerging Menswear Design Award competition which showcased five finalist collections and awarded $10,000 to Brazilian-born, Canadian-based, Joao Paulo Guedes collection of graphic prints.

Photo credit: Phile Jones