2nd Day of Fashion Camp (PART 1)

After Akman’s workout and a shower, I headed to the fieldhouse. At IMG, there are long golf carts that transport campers around. My friends and I got on the golf cart. We arrived at the field house and disembarked. We went back to the room upstairs and waited from Lacy Redway and Vincent Oquendo. Redway is a hairstylist and Oquendo is a makeup artist. They arrived with smiling faces.  Redway was wearing a blue snake print dress with a belt. She looked fabulous. Her shoes had a short heel and were white. She shared with us that she got the dress from Topshop and the shoes from Prada. She reiterated that being fashionable does not have to be expensive. Also, your outfit can consist of pieces that are at different price points. The whole outfit does not have to be cheap or expensive. Oquendo wore an all-black ensemble. I noticed that week that most people in the fashion industry wear all black. 

Lacy Redway & Vincent Oquendo

The interviewer asked both where they were from and how they got started in the fashion industry. Redway began, “Hair kinda happened accidentally. I’ve just always known how to do hair. I was like the girl in school always doing everyone’s hair.” Originally, Redway believed she would be a publicist and that is what she majored in in college. Both Oquendo and Redway originally wanted to be a publicist. Redway always knew she had a passion for fashion, she just did not know how to pursue it. She began assisting. Redway continued, “Assisting is so important if you want to work in fashion because you just really don’t learn enough information behind the desk. You really have to get in the field and like really… shadow someone and you get to learn also from their mistakes… and take it and make it your own.” Redway assisted a hairstylist who did photoshoots. While assisting, Redway had an “aha moment” that revealed to her that hairstyling was a profession she wanted to pursue. She enjoyed the process of being on set and seeing the final product in a magazine. 

 

Oquendo responded to Redway, “First off, I didn’t know you wanted to be a publicist. I wanted to be a publicist.” Oquendo also went to school to be a publicist. Oquendo knew he liked working with people. He also wanted to travel the world. He pursued being a flight attendant. Then he realized he could work with people and travel the world by being a makeup artist. The moment he realized he wanted to be a makeup artist was when he was in Paris assisting Pat McGrath. Oquendo described, “I remember I started crying it was at Galliano. I got all the heels and I was in the lineup. And I remember a model turned to me and was like ‘Are you ok?’ and I was like ‘I am so good!’. Oquendo continued, “I didn’t come from money. I didn’t come from anything… I never thought I would end up in Paris. Even just going there… and being apart of something so much bigger than myself, that is when I knew.” 

 

Redway and Oquendo have known each other for over ten years. Redway stated, “We both were assisting backstage. So we kind of grew up in the business together. So it’s nice to sit here next to you and be like ‘Wow girl we made it!’.” Everyone smiled and laughed. Redway assisted Guido Palau, “probably one of the biggest fashion hairstylists in the world”.

Guido Palau, renowned hairstylist

Redway was able to stand out because she knew how to do all types of hair. Redway could not only do all types of hair, but she could braid. Redway did not notice her uniqueness because she had always been accustomed to working with all types of hair. Redway could easily adapt to any head of hair unlike most of the competitor assistants. “When I was backstage, I think it was at Alexander Wang’s show… a crowd of assistants stood around me, watching me.” After that moment, Redway realized, “I kind of have something here. I really need to push and pursue it”. 

“Everybody starts off somewhere,”

-Vincent Oquendo

The interviewer asked about how to treat people on set and what are the roles of a hairstylist and makeup artist on set. Oquendo began, “Everybody starts off somewhere,” he continued by using an example of Gigi Hadid, “Gigi, I remember when she first started, I worked with her. And how things change… people grow and you grow with them.” “Like when you start out… when you’re an assistant, just knowing your place and… having that set etiquette and being nice, being polite, anticipating what the person needs before they actually say that they need it,” Oquendo advised. Oquendo believes, “We all get hung up on what we don’t have, but what we do have is drive. Use that drive.” He was nice to everyone on set and made sure he said good morning and goodnight. He continued,” [Also,] being kind to the models, bring them water, making sure they were ok. That makes such an impression.” Oquendo worked with both of the Hadid sisters in the beginning. Oquendo reminisced, “In the very beginning I did Bella’s Jalouse

Jalouse magazine cover with Bella Hadid

cover. And this is when she was Gigi Hadid’s little sister. She had under a million followers. It was all brand new for her and I was just really nice to her on set. And then we exchanged phone numbers. And then when she started doing red carpet stuff, she asked me to do it. And it was all so new for us. And then we just got to walk through that together.” That encounter initiated “a new chapter” to Oquendo’s career and “the most exciting and lucrative chapter yet.” His success came from “small kind acts” while he was on set.

 

Redway chimed in, “It’s about being nice [and] saying thank you. It doesn’t take anything out of us to say ‘thank you’ or ‘hello, good morning’.” Redway continued, “A lot of what I get my jobs from is yes, you have to be super talented, but people have to want to be around you.” Redway believed that “energy” and “what you can bring to the space” plays a huge role in getting hired. Traveling around the world can cause stress and sleep deprivation. “It’s about having a group of people around you that you really and enjoy and that are nice. And bring good energy and good feels to the room. It’s about the vibe,” Redway professed. “There could be someone just as talented as you but they’re gonna go with the person that’s nice,” Redway declared. 

“There could be someone just as talented as you but they’re gonna go with the person that’s nice,”

-Lacy Redway

 

When working on set, Redway states, “I have to make everybody in the room think I’m doing exactly what they want me to do but also do what is best for my client.” Redway explained, “It’s learning how to work that space in a seamless way where it’s not so obvious that you’re doing what you think is best.” When Redway is on set, she is the expert and there is no one else above her. She has to be able to communicate and not only make the vision come to life but do what is in the best interest of her client. 

“It’s learning how to work that space in a seamless way where it’s not so obvious that you’re doing what you think is best.”

-Lacy Redway

 

Ella Balinska’s makeup at the Met by Oquendo

Both Redway and Oquendo worked at the 2019 Met Gala. The interviewer complimented Redway on Tessa Thompson’s braid and Oquendo on Ella Balinska’s eyeliner. The interviewer asked, “What is it like working on an event like the Met Gala?”

Planning for the Gala can begin up to five months prior. After the theme is decided for the Gala the conference calls, dialogue exchanged between designers and stylist, mood boards, making the gowns, and the diets begin. Oquendo describes it as “a proper… political campaign.” The day of the Gala, the preparation can cause stress. “The celebrities are nervous and you have to sort of create an environment they feel good in,” Oquendo explained. Oquendo believes that makeup is a small portion of his duty: “Makeup is about 25% of my job, 25% is listening, and 50% is creating that environment in that moment and being receptive of my client’s needs.” All the preparation can go out of the window if something goes wrong. “I’ve had clients like have full-on mental break downs before they walk out the door and they start crying and everything starts melting,”

Zazie Beetz, Hair by Redway. Met Gala

Oquendo remembered. The success of an event is determined through the client’s emotional state. “As long as they feel like their best self when they walk out the door,” Oquendo commented. I learned that doing makeup or hair and leaving was not the beginning and the end to their jobs, they have to offer emotional support as well. “I think what Vincent is trying to say is that we’re therapist, doctors, we are lawyers, we are all that,” Redway laughed. It is easy to forget that celebrities are just regular people. “They’re human beings, they’re people, just like us, they get emotional just like us,” Redway empathized. 

“…we’re therapist, doctors, we are lawyers, we are all that,”

-Lacy Redway

 

Redway never chooses a hairstyle until she sees the dress. Redway designs the hair around the outfit. This year, Redway did Tessa Thompson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Zazie Beetz.

Tracee Ellis Ross, Met Gala, Hair by Redway

Redway has an “army of assistants” to help her with these types of events. She assures, “I can’t do it alone.” Redway has agents and business managers that assist her also. She was able to keep all of her clients in hotels in close proximity to one another so she could easily move around. “I had one assistant helping me per girl so that I could shuffle between the hotel rooms,” she explained. Redway also does a hair test. The day before a big event like the Met, she will do a hair test to see how the hair looks in reality and in photographs. “The Met Gala is the Superbowl of fashion,” Redway described.

“The Met Gala is the Superbowl of fashion,”

-Lacy Redway

Redway’s favorite event is the Met Gala. Redway began doing editorial and then celebrities.“It’s where I get to like marry my editorial background with my red carpet sensibility,” Redway states the Met is her favorite because she is able to both of her specialties. For those like me who did not know the difference between an editorial shoot and a red carpet event, an editorial shoot is a photoshoot that goes into print and articles, while the red carpet is just styling a celebrity for an event. The Met Gala is normally considered both because the celebrities walk the carpet and their looks go in magazines.

Watch a video of Redway and Oquendo talking

The interviewer asked how they established themselves in the industry and what it is like having an agent. Both Redway and Oquendo are managed by the Wall Group. The Wall Group is owned by IMG and IMG is owned by Endeavor.

Tessa Thompson, Met Gala, Hair by Redway

“When we were young little babies, we thought having an agent was like opening the gates of heaven. It was like, ‘Now we made it. Now we get to sit back and cash checks,’’ Oquendo assured us that having an agent is not salvation.  “I got signed I was like ‘Ahhhhh’,” he mimicked a heavenly sound, “except, it wasn’t.” The agent can only do so much for their clients. Oquendo stated, “You have to work just as hard as your agent works.” The agent can help to get jobs but “you are your brand and never forget that”. Oquendo advises, “No matter how fabulous the agency is, [no one] is going to put in the work you need to put in yourself.” There can be one hundred people who are better than you, but “nothing compares to the work you put in”. “Showing up every day on time, early, being kind, not leaving until the job is actually done… being present,” are the things that will set you apart. Oquendo advises to stay away from your phone and to be as present as possible. “Be present,” he demanded. 

“No matter how fabulous the agency is, [no one] is going to put in the work you need to put in yourself.”

-Vincent Oquendo

Social media completely changed the fashion industry. When Redway and Oquendo were beginning their careers, there were only platforms like MySpace and Model Mayhem. Model Mayhem was a site similar to LinkedIn that created a space for people in the fashion industry to network. Redway made connections like Jamie Nelson on these social platforms whom she still works with today. Redway believes social media was a great tool then and it was not as diluted as it is now. Redway believes social media has been beneficial for her career: “Beyond having an agent, it allows me now to use my own voice and… advocate for diversity in the industry and reach people all over that we would have never reached before… So I’m able to share my gift with the world and also inspire people.” 

“Be present!”

Vincent Oquendo

 

Physical portfolios have become a thing of the past. The interviewer quoted that Devon Windsor looks at people’s Instagram before hiring them.  Redway agreed, “People go to your Instagram first, like when you’re being hired for a job, they don’t go to your portfolio first.” In the prehistoric days, one would need a 9 by 12 portfolio. In order to be booked, the agent would send the portfolio out to clients and they would choose based on the book. 

 

The world of creativity has evolved. Redway reiterated, “Now the industry has grown so much and there are so many people that it is a lot harder to stand out so you have to be really good and really nice.” 

 

Oquendo interrupted, “And take down all those thottie photos from your Instagram.” There was an uproar of laughter from the audience. 

 

Redway emphasized that it was important for the people at fashion camp to network with one another.

Redway taking a selfie with the Fashion Camp

“You guys are all here for a reason,” Redway professed. She used her and Oquendo as an example, “We came up together. I never would’ve dreamt I’d be sitting up on stage talking to you guys.” Redway is a Jamaican immigrant. She lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her parents and brother. “I’m getting chills just talking to you guys about it,” she reminisced on her life, “It’s really surreal to see how far hair could take me.” 

 

“It’s really surreal to see how far hair could take me.” 

-Lacy Redway

“I just came off a huge press tour, I was in like four or five countries in seven days. I was on private jets… It sounds lavish but I’m sleep deprived… but it’s also incredible… God really has me covered,” Redway reflected. Redway does believe divine intervention and connections had a lot to do with her success, but that only took her so far. “Nothing gets handed to you,” she added, “you really have to put in the work.” 

“God really has me covered”

-Lacy Redway

 

Redway, Oquendo, and Fashion Camp

The interviewer asked what the difference is between Youtubers doing makeup and being a full-time makeup artist. 

 

Youtube and social media are now a huge part of the Fashion industry. Redway stated, “If you don’t want to get left behind, you gotta learn how to adapt.” Trends are always changing and it is important to always be abreast of what is popular. Redway uses Youtube and social media to stay current on trends. People can easily succumb to the mindset of the old fashion world and get left behind. When it comes to, Youtubers Redway says, “they can teach you a thing or two,” and that she is “always learning.” Redway with decades under her belt in the hairstyling world, believes she has not learned everything. “Once you feel like you’ve learned everything, I feel like that’s when you kinda die,” she added.  In any industry, it is important to “evolve, and stay relevant.” Redway continued, “I do look at Youtube and I do respect what YouTubers do.”

“If you don’t want to get left behind, you gotta learn how to adapt.”

-Lacy Redway

 

“Evolve, and stay relevant.”

-Lacy Redway

Oquendo questions what exactly success means. He stated, “The ceiling keeps shattering and the work keeps opening up… the goal keeps changing.” Oquendo believes there is a huge difference in YouTubers, beauty influencers, and actual professionals. Oquendo confessed, “I think the responsibility falls on the viewer of knowing the difference.” Youtubers are not experienced makeup artist. Oquendo continued, “This person is specialized at doing make on themselves.” Oquendo highlights the difference, “This person may be amazing at doing makeup on their own face, but if you put someone else in front of them they might not be able to recreate those kinds of looks.” Oquendo has been a makeup artist for seventeen years. He claims he can fit any look to any face, skin tone, or feature and give a similar effect. “I could create a similar look so that you essentially could walk in the same runway show and fit it to your face and make you look the best in that look,” Oquendo clarified, “A beauty influencer is gonna make that look look amazing on themselves but they may not be able to adapt it to everybody else.” Oquendo respects influencers and their work, but he believes what they do is different. Oquendo shared a story of a brand hiring an influencer and then giving the influencer celebrities to work on. The influencer was not able to recreate the looks on the celebrities because they had only had experience using makeup on themselves. Oquendo advised, “If you want to be a hair person or a makeup person get a job at a makeup counter. Even if you do it one of two days a week.”

Sir John, Makeup Artist

Oquendo described working at the counter as “one of the best things I ever did.” Sir John, who does make up for Beyonce, Micheal Anthony who does make up for Katy Perry, and Oquendo all started off working at the same makeup counter. 

 

The other issue with hair and makeup is perception.

Micheal Anthony, Makeup Artist

Makeup and hair look different under varying lights and angles. The makeup and hair may have to be altered if the light or angle does not match. Certain looks on Youtube do not look right in the real world. Before a shoot begins, Oquendo makes his models test the light. He tests the light so fore he does makeup, he knows where the shadows fall. 

 

Oquendo believes, “A real talented artist is defined not by what they do, it’s what they don’t do” Oquendo quoted the late Coco Chanel, “Take off one thing before you go out the door.” Oquendo remembered when he was assisting Pat Mcgraph, “When I was doing these shows in Paris, sometimes Pat would have us do beautiful makeup. I remember at Prada one time we did this amazing makeup. Then she would say, ‘oh now take this greasy oily remover and take it off, smudge it,’ and that was the look. The look was the destroyed make up look.”  Oquendo was shocked by all his hard work being destroyed. 

“A real talented artist is defined not by what they do, it’s what they don’t do”

-Vincent Oquendo

Redway does the same thing with the hair. Sometimes she hides braids and pieces in the hair to make it look more full. 

The interviewer asked how do Oquendo and Redway feel about the shift of brands becoming more inclusive to all tones and textures and if there is still more progress that needs to be made?

“I personally believe there’s still a lot more work to be done,” Redway continued, “I can speak specifically as a woman of color working in the industry.” Redway is a woman of color and she still deals with racism. “There are still times where I feel challenged,” she stated. “I feel like I’m constantly proving myself,” Redway added. Redway feels like she does not get the same treatment as her peers: “Also getting the same, fair opportunities as my counterparts.” Redway feels lonely being one of the only black hairdressers at her level. She feels as if there needs to be more women of color who are able to reach her level. The fashion industry is oversaturated with white people, leaving little representation for minorities. Redway never wants to feel limited: “I don’t belong in a box, don’t put me in one.” Redway, as one of the very few successful minorities in her field, feels a great sense of responsibility. “I feel like I represent women of color,” she explained. Redway has a goal to not only represent women of color but to help them.“I’ve made it my goal to open doors for other women coming up after me… specifically women of color,” she continued, “diversity is something very important to me.” She also says, “I am willing to sacrifice relationships to communicate properly.” She has lost many friends and opportunities for using her platform and voicing her opinion on injustices. “I want to work with the people who enjoy me, and also want to stand with me and fight for the same things,” she professed. 

“I don’t belong in a box, don’t put me in one.”

-Lacy Redway

Both Redway and Oquendo are brand ambassadors. Oquendo is the ambassador for Maybelline. He made it very clear before partnering with them, that he would be using his platform to make a change. Recently, Oquendo piloted Maybelline’s first pride campaign. The people apart of the campaign are apart of the LGBTQ  community. In the campaign, they shared their coming out stories. Oquendo came out when he was thirteen and struggled not seeing representation. Eventually, he came to a point in his life where he realized he needed to stand up for what is right. “I’m going to do this whether it’s successful or not because I know it’s the right thing to do,” he stated. Oquendo was fully aware of the consequences of being himself. “This might be the end of my career, but at least I’m going down in a blaze of glory,” he laughed. Oquendo believes his job extends past being a makeup artist. “It’s bigger than makeup, it’s about making people feel like their most confident self in their own skin,” he explained, “We’re making people feel like their best selves.” Oquendo believes the makeup is not really important the most important part lies in “the power of listening to someone”. “You changed their life in that 45 minutes,” he described. 

“I’m going to do this whether it’s successful or not because I know it’s the right thing to do.”

-Vincent Oquendo

Redway added that life is about “making anybody who sits in your chair feel like the most important person… because they are.” Oquendo agreed, “Don’t be afraid to speak your truth.” Everyone has traits that make them unique. Oquendo continued, “All those things that set you apart, that you may question, are the things that make you special, that make you magic.” Oquendo dealt with accepting himself: “I didn’t need to be like that person, I needed to be me.” Eventually, Oquendo learned to appreciate himself: “I love the way I am. I love my weird laugh.” Oquendo dealt with people constantly criticizing him. He shared, “Even agents told me in the past, ‘be a little less you,’” he continued, “And I left them because that wasn’t right for me. I knew I had to be my true self.” 

“The power of listening to someone.”

-Vincent Oquendo

“All those things that set you apart, that you may question, are the things that make you special, that make you magic.”

-Vincent Oquendo

 

Redway enjoys the shift in the industry towards equality, but she hopes that brands are being honest. She began, “I love the way that the industry is going and that we’re being more diverse but I just want to also make sure it’s from an authentic place.” She believes, “It’s not trendy to include the LGBTQ community or to have more women of color on your covers or in your campaigns… it should be the way the world is because it reflects the world we live in. I feel like some brands are doing somethings because it’s what is of the moment.” She also emphasized on the new generation’s responsibility: “You guys are the future leaders and you guys are gonna change the world.” She wants us to “be authentic” and to “do what is right, not just because it’s going to sell.” Both reminded the audience to stay humble because “it could all be gone tomorrow.”

“I love the way that the industry is going and that we’re being more diverse but I just want to also make sure it’s from an authentic place.”

-Lacy Redway

Q & A

Sasha Yates asking a question

The question and answer portion began. One person asked how Redway and Oquendo deal with criticism and negativity. Redway believes that it is important to not internalize negative energy. “Don’t take that energy into your body. Keep your energy,” she explained. Also, they both believe the unfollow and blocking feature in social media is essential. If someone is being negative, block them. 

“Don’t take that energy into your body. Keep your energy,” 

-Lacy Redway

Another person asked how to be accepted in a world with unrealistic beauty standards. Redway replied, “Change beauty.” Redway believes we are the generation that is changing the world. Models like Ashley Graham and Winnie Harlow would have never existed if it was not for the industry shifting to being more inclusive. Both speakers also believe that “patience” and “finding your own voice” are important. 

“Change beauty.”

-Lacy Redway

Redway was asked to give hair styling tips. Redway swears by Nexus products. She believes Nexus works on all hair types. She loves Nexxus dry shampoo and believes it adds volume. We were all given a Nexxus shampoo and conditioner when we left the room for the next activity. Thanks, Lacy Redway and IMG. 

 

Redway was asked how red carpets and editorial shoots vary in difficulty. Redway believes editorial is easier because the environment is controlled. Also, editorial is two-dimensional. Redway can easily get away with having braids in the back of the hair that are holding the style together because all that is being photographed is the front. While on a red carpet, all angles of the hairstyle have to look good. On a red carpet, the hairstyle has to look good, but it also has to be durable. In a photo shoot, the hair could fall apart at any second, but it is ok because it can be quickly corrected. On a red carpet, the hair has to last the whole night. 

 

Oquendo advises us to not text or be on the phone when getting makeup or hair done. 

 

We took a break and left the room. Redway and Oquendo stayed and got ready to do Devon Windsor’s hair and makeup. We returned to the room. They decided to give Windsor a beach look. They continued answering questions.

Watch a video of Oquendo and Redway doing Windsor’s hair and makeup

Another person asked about scandals and how they should be dealt with. Redway worked on the set of a controversial Pepsi commercial. The commercial included Kendall Jenner being a protestor in a riot and ending the riot by giving the policemen a Pepsi. The commercial caused controversy because it conveyed the message that if a white supermodel led the Black Lives Matter movement with soda, then maybe the world would be a better place. Redway was seen in the background of the commercial and caught fire for being associated with the message. Redway was just there to do hair. Redway learned that she should ask more questions about her jobs before she commits to them. She was just there as a hairstylist, but she believes she should have been more aware of the storyline of the commercial. 

See the controversial Commerical 

Another person asked how to stay passionate about your profession even if you stop liking it. Oquendo responded that it is important to “adjust lenses” and “change directions”. It is important to take a step back and remember what made you love what you do. It is also important to give yourself a break and recalibrate. 

 

Someone asked how they find inspiration. Both Oquendo and Redway find inspiration in everything and there is “always a point of reference.” They believe inspiration is found in albums. They also believe it is important to look into what other people do and see what they reference. Redway thinks everyone should know iconic decades and have references from the past.

 

Redway added, “There is enough room for all of us in the industry.” She does not believe in cutting other people down to stay ahead. She believes there is enough room for everyone in the fashion industry and welcomes us all.

“There is enough room for all of us in the industry.”

-Lacy Redway

 

A letter to Vincent Oquendo & Lacy Redway,

 

Dear Vincent, 

I enjoyed hearing your story. You have a wonderful personality and are a joy to be around. You taught me that what I want is already mine if I work hard enough and believe in myself. 

 

 

Love,

Sasha C. Yates

 

 

Dear Lacy,

I enjoyed being around you. You truly made me feel special. I appreciate everything you do for women and how you carry yourself radiantly. One day, I hope to affect people in the way you affected me. 

 

 

Love,

Sasha C. Yates

My selfie with Lacy Redway

 

1st Day of Fashion Camp (PART 3)

Day 1 continues…

 

After Trey Laird and Akin Akman’s interview, we broke into our groups. Akman and Laird hovered around the room to give us help. We would be making a brand with our group over the week.

Laird and Akman came around to help the groups with our ideas.

Each group had a counselor in charge. My counselor’s name was Derek Walker. Walker is the assistant of Luis Mattos. Mattos is a manager at IMG. He works with models like Gigi and Bella Hadid. I will be posting an article about him in a couple of weeks. Walker was an extremely wonderful person that I grew very fond of over the week. Walker taught us about the fashion industry through his first-hand experiences.  I also thoroughly enjoyed my group. My group consisted of Olivia, Lauren, Sydney, Amelia, Lauren, Sienna, and Alisa to name a few. We were in charge of making a brand that would be presented on the last day. Lauren and I automatically thought inclusive and gender-neutral clothing. Olivia thought we should do leather jackets, I thought suits, and Derek thought dresses. We spent an hour trying to figure out the product and approach. Akman and Laird came around and helped us form our brands. 

(left to right) Luis Mattos and Derek Walker

I got to talk to Patrick Phillips. He was one of the videographers who was in charge of taking our pictures and videos. I talked to him about his experience and I showed him some rough edits of my film. We had a great talk and we were able to exchange contacts. Over the week, I got to learn about film through him.

 

 

 

Patrick Phillips, Videographer for IMG

An IMG school bus pulled up in front of the Field House. We went downstairs and got on the bus. We all had snacks from the snack bar. I got goldfish, gummi bears, and sour patch kids. We went to the beach. It was scorching and I was not getting my hair wet under any circumstances. Olivia, Lauren, Kayla, a couple of other girls, and I went to get ice cream. You cannot drink alcohol on the beach in Florida. I did not know that, but I thought it was a fun fact. It was so hot the sand burned my feet. Aylin, Keythlin, and I stood in the water. My ice cream began to melt all over my hands so I had to eat it fast. Everyone was taking pictures. We got back on the bus and went back to IMG. It was time for another day of slop, I mean dinner. 

Image-1

(left to right) Sienna, Kayla, Sasha, Aylin, and Keythlin at the beach

Aylin and I headed to our rooms before dinner to change out of our beach clothes.

Walking with Devon Windsor 

After we ate, it was time for us to go back to the field house to meet Devon Windsor. When she walked in, she alluded a striking presence. Her skin glowed and she towered over us. Windsor is almost six feet tall. Her hair was sleeked back into a neat bun. She was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved black shirt. Her shoes were boots with a tiny witch looking heels, a look she could only pull off. Jenni Rose interviewed Windsor. She sat on stage and began telling us about her humble beginnings. 

Devon Windsor, Model

Windsor described her younger self as, “Super not cute.” She continued, “I was very awkward for a long time.” 

 

She told us how she was scouted,” I was actually scouted at a bat mitzvah which is not glamorous at all.” A local photographer who also did high fashion photography and bat mitzvahs discovered young Windsor. She grew up in Saint Louis, Missouri. 

 

Windsor recounted the photographer’s words, “She was like, ‘Wow! You’re so skinny. Like here’s my card… And if it’s ok with your mom, I’d love to do a test shoot.”

 

Rose asked, “Were you already tall?”

 

Windsor responded, “Yeah, my whole life. Like I was always consistently taller than everybody… Always tall, always lanky.” Windsor described how she felt, “I was like oh my God. This is the coolest thing ever! Because I was not cool in high school. So I was like me?” 

Jeni Rose, IMG Model Scout Paris

Windsor did the shoot and then met with a local agency, West Models in Saint Louis Missouri. Windsor started sporadically doing jobs. “Two years later I signed with IMG in New York when I was sixteen. But I didn’t full-time model until I graduated high school because that was important to me,” she added.

 

Jeni Rose is the head of modeling scouting in Paris. “So we got you in Paris?” Rose interrupted. 

 

“Yes,” Windsor laughed.

 

Rose asked, “What was it like when you found out you landed the Victoria Secret show in 2013? Were you nervous? And is it really as exciting as it looks?” 

 

Windsor laughed, “Yes it is!” She reminisced exactly where she was when she found out, “I was in Zara and I was shopping. And my manager, at the time, called me. And I was like omg! I was nervous. Did I get a job? You never know when your manager calls you. Like are you flying immediately… [He] calls me and is like, ‘So I got the news from Victoria secret.’ I was like, ‘Yeah whatever.’ ‘Cause I never ever dreamed that I would ever get the show. It wasn’t even imaginable. He was like, ‘Yeah so you got it.’’ 

 

Rose interrupted, “Did you scream?”

 

“I did scream,” Windsor remembered. She was in the checkout line holding a scarf and yelled, “Oh my God.” She immediately “ditched the scarf” and called her mom. She described, “It was probably the best moment of my life. Finding out I got it and walking it were hands down probably the best moments of my life.”

 

Rose continued, “So tell me about the casting process for a show? How does it actually work? Like how do you get booked?”

 

Windsor responded, ”So, for Fashion Week, for instance, it’s a long process or it feels like a long process. You go to New York a week before the shows even begin and you just start meeting casting directors. Or you would meet the designer to meet the casting directors, who book the shows and you go in.  There’s like so many girls. Like unimaginable amounts of girls. All lined up. Like all in heels. All beautiful. And it’s super intimidating. You walk in, you wait. Sometimes I wait for hours at casting.” Windsor continued, “It’s not in and out. It’s hours waiting and then finally we walk in and there’s people in a room. And you kinda walk in and they’ll be like, here’s a dress. And you change into a little casting dress. And you walk out.” The casting directors may or may not ask you questions. “They may just tell you to walk and take pictures and you just pray to God,” Windsor added.

 

Rose interrupted, “Then you wait and you find out, you got booked.”

 

Windsor has walked in Prada, Chanel, Mcqueen, Dior, Tom Ford, Balmain, Celine, Versace, and many more. Rose stated, “One season you did 120 shows!” Rose continued, “Once you are cast in shows, you have an uncanny ability, which is what everyone says, to interpret the designer’s vision with the walk that you do.” Rose then asked Windsor to show us how to walk.

See Devon walking

Windsor started strutting around the room. She pretended like she was on a catwalk. She leaned back a little as she strutted. She showed different walks including her signature Victoria Secret walk. 

See me walking with Devon Windsor

A Note To Devon,

I had a ball walking with you and learning about your story. You are truly a vision and you’re so much more than just a model. You’re an inspiration.

Love,

Sasha C. Yates

My selfie with Devon Windsor

We all headed to the football field and walked beside her. She had a fun and light-hearted personality. I got a chance to compliment her on her outfit that was simple yet beautiful. We all swarmed her and got selfies. She took selfies with every single person. I thought that was amazing and showed a lot about her character. She came back the next day and Lacey Redway and Vincent Oquendo did her hair and makeup. I will be covering Redway and Oquendo Sunday! 

 

After Windsor left that Monday, later that night we had a welcome party at the huddle. The huddle is a place at IMG near the dorms with a pool, a basketball court, a soccer/football field, and ping pong tables. The huddle was where everyone hung out during their free time. It was the only time we had to really get to know all the athletes. The first day, I really did not meet many athletes. I just hung with the fashion girls. When I got to my dorm, I crashed. My roommate Aylin and I were trying to figure out whether or not to go to Akin Akman’s workout in the morning. The workout was early at 8:30 am.

Day 2 begins…

 

I woke up and put on my leopard one piece and my red lipstick. I headed to the huddle and we waited for the workout to begin. Everyone grabbed a Gatorade white towel to lay on. Akman’s parents were in the front leading the workout with several other instructors. Laird stayed in the back and worked out behind us. The sun was shining directly on us. Akman began instructing us but it was so hot. We were doing basic cardio. The workouts were basic but the speed was not. The sun did not help. Girls quickly started to turn red and sweat bullets. Akman would come over and yell at us if we started slacking. He encouraged us, “Get water if you need to.” I got water. I was about to die but I was determined to stick through it. I started with Kayla on my left and Keythlin on my right. Kayla and I got back up and got water again.  I saw some girls worn out sitting in the shade crowded by adults. 

Akin Akman training us at the Huddle

I heard one woman say, “We can get you a nurse if we need to.” There were girls hyperventilating and passing out. There was a mini Johns Hopkins on campus. I walked back to my towel in horror and kept going. Akman showed us altered versions of workouts if we were not ready to do the extreme version. For example, he let us do push-ups with our knees on the ground if we wanted. As you suspected, my knees were on the ground. I looked to my right, Keythlin was gone. She left! Kayla was still on my left trying to keep up. After a while, I looked over, and she was gone too. They were both sitting in the shade with the adults trying to cling to life. A woman trainer kept coming over to help me because I would barely see the instructors. After a while, they looked like ants and I could not figure out what they were doing. Every time I heard Akman’s voice getting closer I would do the workout perfectly. When he left, I would collapse on the ground. The workout was not even that hard! It was the sun! The Florida sun was hell. Akman kept encouraging us and eventually he got fed up with people quitting and said, “This workout is all about your willpower. You have to at least try. All of you are asking for internships but you can’t even show me you have the willpower to stick out the work out.” After that, I kept trying, but eventually, there was not that many of us as there was before. Most people were in the shade in between life and death. 

Watch us working out

I came out alive in the end. We huddled together and I got to give Akman’s mom a hug. I also took a picture with Akman.

My picture with Akman

Laird stuck through the whole workout and did not break a sweat. I told him thank you and then I walked back to my dorm to get in the shower. I got ready for the next speakers. 

Sunday I will be sharing my experience with Lacey Redway and Vincent Oquendo

1st Day of Fashion Camp (PART 2)

Later that day we came back to the Field House. We were told to dress in swimwear because we would be taking a trip to the beach later. 

Fitness & Fashion

Trey Laird & Akin Akman 

Trey Laird is a creative director that brands hire to revamp their image.

Akin Akman graduated from the IMG boarding school, which is where the camp was located. Akman is now the number one SoulCycle instructor in America. SoulCycle is a trendy indoor cycling class. 

Ivan Bart interviewed both Trey Laird and Akin Akman. Bart interviewed Laird alone first. The interview began with Bart describing Laird as a celebrity that he had always admired. Bart said it was a privilege to interview Laird. Bart began the interview by asking Laird, “Like How did you get started? Where did you begin? Where are you from?”

Akin Akman and Trey Laird

Laird answered, “I grew up in Texas. You’re going to hear that probably… it comes in and out.” Laird said he knew nothing about fashion, advertising, or branding. Laird continued, “I went to school in Austin, University of Texas.” After Laird graduated he said, “I moved to New York. I was always fascinated with New York. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something there.” He moved to New York three days after he graduated. 

 

Bart asked, “What did you study?”

 

Laird responded, “I got a business degree in marketing and a minor in art history.” 

 

Bart noted, “Isn’t that amazing though? You set out your intentions, and then he ends up having a career that marries the marketing side and the artistic side.”

 

 Laird responded, “I know, I didn’t realize it at the time…”

 

I noticed Bart kept placing importance on setting one’s intentions and making them a reality. I believe you should set your intentions and then go after what you want. That seems like the continuity between most successful people. 

 

 Bart continued, “Currently you will recognize some of Trey’s work in the advertising campaigns of Tommy Hilfiger, Karl Lagerfeld, Tiffany’s. ” Bart noted, “That Tiffany’s Ad was pretty extraordinary… How did that all come about?”

 

Laird explained the new generation’s experience with Tiffany’s: “Well, Tiffany’s, we’d been working with for the last couple of years. And you all know Tiffany’s. You’ve probably gotten a graduation gift from there or something like that. The blue box. But I don’t know the last time you went in and bought jewelry for yourself. Right? It’s probably like your mom gave you a charm or something like that. So they really wanted to reintroduce it to your generation and make sure it’s relevant and not that you just admired it and were aware of it, but that you engaged with it.” Laird’s task was to extend the market of consumers from older people to the new generation. “I use the word relevance a lot because if you’re not relevant, you’re dead,” Laird laughed. Laird’s profession is centered around keeping brands relevant. Laird’s first steps were to find what was so magical about Tiffany’s. Laird decided that the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s would be a gateway to bring the old and the new generations together. Laird described the movie as, “[something] which obviously many of you know about and love.” 

For those who are unfamiliar with the film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it is based on the book by Truman Capote published in 1958. The movie is about an expensive escort named Holly who befriends her new neighbor. The neighbor is a man who is in a relationship with a wealthy woman who takes care of him. He aspires to be a writer.

The movie’s name comes from the main character, Holly. Whenever she gets down, she dresses up, buys breakfast, a scone or a croissant with coffee, and eats it in front of the Tiffany’s store in New York. She eats her breakfast while window shopping on the sidewalk. The movie is quite odd, but it is a classic. 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s the Film

Laird’s first approach was to use the movie as a marketing tool: “The brand had never done anything with that, but it was the most famous thing in their DNA. So we reimaged Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Laird described apart in the film where Holly window shops in her fancy clothes while she eats her breakfast: “I thought ok well what if there was a new Holly Golightly. So I cast Elle Fanning as Holly Golightly. [I] thought ok maybe she doesn’t wear a black dress, maybe she wears a hoodie. We still gave her a little tiara, but she had her coffee cup. And it was just this fantasy about what if New York City turned blue and came to life and showed you all those dreams came true.” 

Watch the commercial 

The next version, Zoe Kravitz was cast as Alice in Alice in Wonderland. She falls down a rabbit hole and lands at a tea party with jewels. Naomi Campbell is the mad hatter. 

Watch the commercial 

Bart described Laird’s profession as a creative director: “When brands are thinking about… what they want, they will go to Trey and Trey will help realize that…” Next, Bart asked how Laird defines himself as a creative director.

 

“It’s about having a point of view. And I think that’s something each of you have to figure out. What’s your point of view? What do you believe in? What do you stand for?” He continued, “…I’m always attracted to people that have a point of view. Um, I never respond to people that (say), ‘Mmm, I don’t know. Whatever.’ You know like, ‘what do you think’?” Laird believes, “…it doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with your point of view, but you have to have one.” Laird continued, “People hire me and my team for our point of view and [to] try and help them find theirs.” Laird described a creative director as the following: someone who does advertising, marketing, branding, product development, and intellectual property development. He says it is about “Taking that taste, that point of view, that decision, an idea and being able to fly it to any touchpoint.”

 

Bart reminisced, “Turning the clock back, someone with a point of view, Donna Karan.” 

 

Laird laughed, “Yeah, Donna has a point of view” 

 

Bart continued, “I don’t know if many of you know who Donna Karan is but [she] will go down as one of the greatest American designers and especially for women.”

 

Laird described him and Karan’s first campaign, “She had two brands at the time. You guys are probably not going to remember this you’re super young. This is super depressing,” Laird laughed, “Anyways there was two brands. There was Donna Karan Brand and DKNY. You’re probably more familiar with DKNY,” In the early 90’s, the campaign imagined a woman being elected president of the United States. Laird added hopefully, “Which has almost happened, not yet, but it will soon.” The campaign was called, “In Women We Trust”. Laird stated, “At that time she was the most famous fashion designer that was a woman and [thought it was] very important to represent women in a powerful way.” Laird described Karan as, “ …very much ahead of her time.”  

 

“In Women We Trust” Campaign

 

Laird talked about Rosemary in the grove with the hand on the vital shot by Peter Whimper. Laird and Bart laughed as they remembered it. Laird described Whimper as his fashion dad. (I tried to look up what they were talking about but I have not clue. If anyone does please let me know)

 

Laird reminisced on what we know today as the movie Zoo Lander: “Zoo lander was actually a spoof that was based on…the most famous male model at the time I found… [a] Dutch guy… named Mark Vanderloo. He was nothing at all like Zoolander who is an idiot. Mark was great.” 

 

Bart remembered representing Esther Cañadas an IMG model. Vanderloo and Cañadas fell in love on set and got married. Bart described the duo as, “Art imitating life or life imitating art”.

 

Laird added, “I’ve had a few of those” Bart and Laird shared a laugh. The two divorced a couple years later. So much for life imitating art. 

 

One of Bart’s mantras is “Through fashion imagery, we can affect social change.” Bart believes that the Donna Karan campaign with a woman as president manifested the idea of a woman actually being president. Like Bart told Cowan in the interview earlier that day, he told Laird to, “Keep doing what you’re doing” 

 

Laird responded with a laugh adding, “I’ve got more up my sleeve” 

 

The next question Bart asked was when Laird gets a new brand, how does Laird guide them if they may not know what they want. Laird responded by saying every brand has different needs. The brand may have business goals they are trying to solve for, some people don’t know they just want it to look better, some are dealing with business problems and their sales are down, and others are trying to introduce to a new market. Laird gave the example of Gigi Hadid, a famous supermodel: “A lot of people think ‘Tommy just hired Gigi to be… a fun model…’ it didn’t happen at all that way.” Laird met Hadid on a Tom Ford set and he was introduced to her by Karim. Laird met Hadid early in her career, about four or five years prior. He stated, “There was something different about her.” Laird described Hadid as, “Incredibly professional, an amazing person, totally present, really focused, smart, but also fun, a little bit goofy in the best way.” Five years later, Hilfiger is one of Laird’s best clients. Hilfiger had been a brand that appealed mostly to men and Laird was in charge of extending the market to women.  Laird stated, “Their business is almost 75% men. It always struggled kind of connecting with women… But they wanted to double or triple their women’s business over the next couple of years.” 

 

Laird’s solution was, “I don’t think you can. I think it’s impossible. And I know it wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear but that was the truth.” He told them, ”As wonderful as Tommy is… I just don’t think a millennial young woman is going to connect with that brand. I think we need something more.” Laird continued, “Instead of just hiring Gigi or somebody else to be a model in a campaign what if we actually had her be the company and be the brand and embody that and really take the spirit of Tommy which is always about American classic but serving it up to the world in a new way.” Laird defended why he chose Hadid: “Gigi to me, in my mind, like a new American classic girl. She’s from California, classic California blonde girl, grew up there, but her last name’s Hadid, her father’s Palestinean she has this global citizen side to her as well. To me, she sort of like was a modern American girl.” Laird worked with Bart and Luis Mattos, Hadid’s manager: “And she was up for it we talked to her about it with you and your team and Luis… and we decided to do this which at the time was very risky to kind of turn over the keys to this big multi-billion dollar global brand to an 18-year-old girl from California.”

Gigi Hadid & Tommy Hilfiger

Bart characterized Hadid, “She was a great partner because she was very involved.” He continued, “Every time we did a fashion show she was sitting in on the casting she wanted to make sure that those models were very diverse…”

 

Laird agreed, “She represents her generation in the best way. She’s on it and thoughtful and considerate and she has a point of view.”

 

Bart continued,“Let’s take a look at your other quite notable work.”

 

A video began to play called a reel, with campaigns Laird had been apart of including Beyonce’s Heat fragrance, Tommy Hilfiger campaigns, Tiffany’s commercials, and so much more.

 

After the video, Bart exclaimed, “Wow…” Bart and Laird had both grown together in the fashion industry and worked on many projects.

 

Laird looked over at Bart and responded,  “You’ve been here the whole time.” 

 

Bart laughed, “I tried” 

 

Laird and Bart smiled like old friends. 

 

Bart continued, “Tell us about the Tom Ford Dance line with Lady Gaga”

 

Laird reflected, “A lot of these things you know, in retrospect, people think just happen. But they usually happen for a very specific reason,” Laird continued, “Tom Ford which you may or may not know, also does movies. He directed his second film a few years ago called Nocturnal Animals. He was on set for about six months doing that movie so he couldn’t do a fashion show in Paris. So it became this whole thing. ‘What do we do? How can we not do a whole show? We’re gonna miss a whole season of press.’” Laird found a solution: “So we decided there are all these people live-streaming their shows… so we thought what if we not just do a show, we just do a live stream show.” Laird made history: “That was the first fully digital show that happened for a major global designer four years ago.” Laird described the show, “There was that old show Soul Train… it sort of had lines and people. And the people would go down and do the dance… we had to show 40 looks of fashion. If we could come up with a way that was entertaining… but we also needed something else.” Laird asked Lady Gaga to come to do an original song which sealed the idea of a live show. “The incredible director (Sam) McKnight did it!” he exclaimed.

 

Bart’s next topic introduced Laird’s partnership with Lane Bryant. Bart stated, “That campaign launched so many careers. It gave a great platform for someone like Ashley Graham and a lot of curve models. But it also shaped the way we saw women and saw bodies and what size is beauty… Tell us about that campaign.” 

 

Laird believes he has to approach any category with “the same standard”. Laird referred to him and Akin Akman’s mantra of “ a higher standard”. Laird believes no matter what brand he is working for he has to think, “How can you make it the best?”. He said that it always irritated him that “whenever we were approached to do anything that was sort of in a plus size range it immediately became sort of a catalog kinda thing.”

 

Laird quoted Ashley Graham, that she always tells the story that before the Lane Bryant shoot, the shoots would consist of, “her hailing a cab, or having a coffee in a cab and all of a sudden we had her black and white.” 

 

Bart interrupted, “…and naked…”

 

Laird responded, “Why not? I mean if it’s done in the right way…”

 

Bart asked Laird what he has been doing to keep his physique. 

 

Laird smiled at the compliment.

 

Bart exclaimed, “You look amazing!” he continued, “You obviously you ended up at Soulcycle.”

 

Laird began telling the story of his journey to SoulCycle: “I started going to soul cycle 8 or so years ago… and liked it cause I was never someone who liked to run. I hated the treadmill. I think it’s horrible, I still do, I can’t stand it.” Laird described SoulCycle was more centered around cardio and he enjoyed that more. “About two years later my sister took me to a SoulCycle class.” He stated, “That was unlike anything I’d ever witnessed. In about 30 seconds I knew it was something totally different. It was the class of the guy you’re about to meet named Akin Akman.”

I looked over and saw Akman was standing on the wall across the room eager to be interviewed next.

Laird continued, “In seconds I thought, what the fuck is this. Like omg, it’s like insane.” He corrected himself, “I shouldn’t say that, but that’s what I thought if I’m being honest.” Everyone laughed. That day started Laird’s partnership with SoulCycle, he started to form the brand into more of a fashion perspective. His angle was to change it from just being a class to being a mind, body, and soul experience. Laird described Akman as his “inspiration”. “It was my own personal sort of physical transformation. Now, it’s just a huge part of my life and it just is. It’s not something that is ever going to change,” Laird commented.

 

Bart brought Donna Karan up again: “If we could’ve Donna Karan now, the president, it would be more moving more social. It was in Vogue. It was in magazines. It was like an 8-page spread which was pretty incredible watching this woman reach the highest office in the land… how has your job changed in the world of moving imagery and communications through social methods?” 

 

“In some ways, it hasn’t changed. It’s just the mediums have changed. You still need great ideas,” Laird answered.“ In other ways, though it’s completely different. I think it’s also about speed and I think content is key and it’s like a beast. Every day, we see something on our phone and it’s over and it’s the next thing,” Laird continued. 

 

“Speed and engagement,” Laird described as becoming real issues. He believes social media presents so many distractions. 

 

Laird answered, “It was funny with the whole phone thing I was really down about it a few years ago. At first, I couldn’t get my head around it. And I thought it was really depressing that all this work that we do boiled down to somebody looking at their phone. But then if you change your mind and you’ll get in a different perspective, you can go okay well how can I be inspired by this. And so for me it became a challenge. Like ok if the whole world is going to look at everything on their phone, how can I do something that makes that the best it can be and make a lot of people want to have it on their phone.” Laird advised, “How you approach something and how you choose to look at it really defines the way you can navigate it.” 

“How you approach something and how you choose to look at it really defines the way you can navigate it.”

-Trey Laird

 

Bart continued to name all the jobs that are important to bring a campaign to life: ”A photographer, the talent, the makeup artist, there is always a manicurist on set (fun fact most people do not know that) and sometimes even a choreographer. What’s it like to be around all these creatives and is there any part of the creative that stands out during the shoot?”

 

“Team work,” Laird responded, “It’s like a team and everybody’s got a role.” 

“Team work.”

-Trey Laird

“Whether it’s a fashion shoot or a baseball team everyone has got a role,” Laird advised, “If the team doesn’t work together, it doesn’t matter.” Laird believes that everyone is equally important on a team. 

“If the team doesn’t work together, it doesn’t matter.”

-Trey Laird

“My role is to not only assemble this great team, but I have to inspire them and make sure they stay focused,” Laird clarified.

 

Bart added, “Be nice to everybody. You never know, as you move through fashion, you meet them again, and they remember if you were mean or if you were nice. And That could also determine whether you got the job or not.” 

“Be nice to everybody.”

-Ivan Bart

Bart commanded, “Even if you’re not in a good mood, get in one.”

“Even if you’re not in a good mood, get in one.”

-Ivan Bart

 

Laird reminisced on getting Chinese food with his colleges the night before and they all had fortune cookies. One cookie said, “Courtesy goes a long way.” 

 

Laird added when he meets someone on set “if they’re not nice and they have a bad attitude, they don’t get asked back.” 

Pat Mcgrath, Famous Makeup Artist

Laird admired Gigi Hadid’s ability to always treat everyone on set kindly. After the shoot is over, Hadid thanks everyone. Laird added, “Whether you’re the assistant behind the computer or Pat Mcgrath… she immediately goes and thanks everybody and gives everybody a big hug.” Laird said Lewis Hamilton, a famous athlete, does the exact same thing. 

Lewis Hamilton, Race Car Driver

Akman started approaching the stage. Bart introduced Akman as a former boarding school student at IMG. They played Akman’s reel.  Now Bart, Laird, and Akman were on the stage together. Akman and Laird sat the exact same, crossing their legs. They also had on the exact same outfit. Their shirts were black with a logo that said team under it. Akman is a SoulCycle instructor and trains people to reach their athletic potential. Akman is also a model.

 

 

 

 

IMG_Fashion_Camp_Day_1_39.JPG

Akman and Laird at Fashion Camp

“When you’re doing your SoulCycle. How many classes a day would you do?” was Bart’s first question.

 

Akman responded, “I do around six or seven classes a day.” 

 

Bart in shock responded, “So how do you eat?” The audience laughed. 

 

Akman eats all the time, between classes, during class, and relies on snacks.

 

Akman described his normal day as waking up at five AM and going to teach around six or seven AM. He eats a protein bar sometime around those hours. Before his 10:30 class, he lifts and eats breakfast. After his his 10:30 class, he eats again. He then takes his brother’s class at 10:30. Then he goes into the office and does some work to further his brand. Lastly, he has two classes at night. He eats again. He goes to sleep around 11:00 PM. 

 

Bart then asked if Akman has a social life. Akman does go out sometimes, but he “usually watches movies or something.” He has more time for leisure on the weekends when his classes are only in the mornings. 

 

Bart asked how Laird and Akman began developing a brand together. Laird recapped from earlier in the article that they met when Laird’s sister dragged him to a SoulCycle class. Akman was the instructor and him and Laird became friends after class. Laird was working on a campaign for Tommy Hilfiger. Rafael Nadal, a famous tennis player, was the talent for the ad. During the meeting, Hilfiger’s team was looking for another model and their description reminded Laird of Akman. Laird immediately suggested Akman, who by that time had become his good friend. They worked on the campaign together.

 

After the campaign, Akman sought help from Laird to build his brand. Akman said it was not easy to get Laird to work with him: “I had to convince him.” Akman wanted to focus on sports medicine and graphic design. Akman had a rough time figuring out his logo and where to start. Akman would ask Laird, “Hey can I borrow your Illustrator and Photoshop? Can I come to your office and you show me some ideas of what you would think it should look like.”

 

Laird and Akin now have a brand together called Army. Army basically is a workout class. 

 

Bart inquired on where the name came from.

 

Akman responded it was his fans: “They said, ‘hey call us army.’.” Akman said Army originated from his love of exercise and training people and eventually it evolved. He added, “As people asked for things, I started listening to what they wanted.”

 

Akman is still in the development stage of his company. Bart asked Akman to give a brief summary of what Army is.

 

Akman said Army is inspired by IMG Academy training from the time he spent at IMG’s boarding school. Akman believes that nowadays everyone wants to train like pro athletes. Akman wanted to answer the question of how everyone could train like a pro athlete in a productive way for them individually. “Prehab, Rehab… nutrition, clothing,” Akman said were items that would be focused on in Army training. 

 

When Akman and Laird would work on the brand, Akman would always relate his training to IMG. Akman would say, “Well when we were at IMG, we would do it this way.” Eventually, Akman and Laird visited IMG in November. Laird had a first-hand experience of how Akman wanted to model his brand, Army, off of IMG training. After visiting IMG, Laird had a greater understanding of the conditioning required to be a great athlete. Akman wanted to find a way to apply IMG’s training to a mom, a lawyer, or anyone. 

 

Akman stated, “It’s a mindset.” At IMG mental and physical conditioning are separate. Later that week, we sat in an IMG mental conditioning class that I will be writing about in upcoming posts. For mental conditioning, athletes sit in a room and a coach tells them how to think in order to be successful. The coach also goes over the reasoning why an athlete performed good or bad and how they can perform better next time. Akman explained what is different about his class: “While I’m training, you’re doing the workout but you’re applying the action while you’re doing it. So it’s becoming your habits and rituals.” Akman continued, “You try to get people to see your point of view and where it could go. I’m trying to make people see their own potential and unlock that as they level up.” Akman dealt with his vision when he was growing up at IMG and he had to keep growing to understand himself more. Akman trained at IMG since he was five to be a famous tennis player, but after an injury, he could no longer play. He had to shift his vision from being a tennis player to becoming a trainer. 

 

When asked on how Laird and Akman make such a great team, Akman responded: “We’re pretty much on the same frequency…we complement one another… we divide and conquer.”

 

Laird said, “We come from the same drive…It’s different background, but it’s the same approach.” Laird and Akman claim to not argue much because they have similar mindsets. Laird complimented Akman, “When you’re job is to inspire all these people on a daily basis… sometimes it’s nice to find someone that inspires you. The coach needs coaching sometimes.”

“The coach needs coaching sometimes.”

-Trey Laird

 

Bart asked how fashion ties into the athletics. Akman responded he got recruited to model in Miami. He was sent to Milan and then back to New York where he is now. Akman hates the casting process required to be a model. He wanted to figure out a way he could incorporate his love for training into modeling so that he could run the casting calls instead of attending them. He began to build his brand on exclusively training. Akman did not want to just be a model. He used his platform as a model to leverage relationships with people like Trey Laird. Eventually, IMG became his representative. IMG books Akman for jobs that align more with his mission instead of just modeling jobs. Akman coaches people from the fashion world too. One of his greatest issues with his fashion clients is consistency. One of Akman’s clients is Edward Enninful, editor and chief of British Vogue. He lives in London but when he comes to New York, he dedicates himself fully. Then Enninful goes back home. Akman says he has many clients who are inconsistent. He says when they return they get frustrated when they cannot pick up where they left off. 

Edward Enninful, Editor and Cheif of British Vogue

Bart asked Laird and Akman for advice for young creatives.

“Stay open,”

-Akin Akman

Akman stated, “Stay open,” he continued, “If it’s not going exactly how you planned it, try to see it in a different… perspective.” Lastly, Akman added, “Don’t just play the game, be the game-changer.”

“Don’t just play the game, be the game-changer.”

-Akin Akman

Q & A

I asked Akman and Laird how they stay humble. Akman responded, “Don’t forget who you are and where you come from”

“Don’t forget who you are and where you come from”

-Akin Akman

 

 

A Note to Trey Laird and Akin Akman

I really enjoyed talking to you both! My sister loves SoulCycle so hearing more about it made me understand why she likes it so much. I enjoyed working out with you both the next day too! I almost died but it was worth it! I stuck it out all the way through and I was proud of myself. Lol. I hope to bring my sister with me to take one of your classes in Soho! I also hope to work with both of you one day! Go Team! Army for life.

XOXO

Sasha C. Yates

Wednesday @ 9:30 am I will be talking about the end of Day 1. The beach, meeting Devon Windsor, and working out the next morning with Akman. 

1st Day of Fashion Camp (PART 1)

How I Got to Camp…

I was having a really bad week, to say the least. I was directing my film Swerve, and everything was falling apart. I could not find my lead actress and I was running out of time. There was a woman at my job, where I was creating my film, who had a personal vendetta against me and would constantly cut me down at every chance she got. I ended up getting transferred, against my will, to another worksite. 

 

 I was sitting in my room crying again. I had to scrape myself off the floor to go to work the next day and start getting ready to film. While I was chilling at work, I received a notification, “Gigi Hadid would like to send you a message”. I automatically thought it was spam. I saw her page, she had over 40 million followers and a blue verification checkmark. I tapped on her story, there she was. She said my name, “The Harlem’s Fashion Row Scholarship recipient is SASHA YATES! I can’t wait to meet you!” 

See the videos of me getting into fashion camp

Wait, did Gigi Hadid just say my name? I was going to an over 2,000 dollar fashion camp in Florida. I started screaming uncontrollably and I called my mom. Then I called all my friends. My Instagram went crazy and I got 20 k views in a day. The next thing I knew I was planning on what I would wear and how I would carry myself while I was there. My outfits had to be perfect.

 

The week before I was flying out, I shot my film. I found my lead actress and we shot for 5 days straight.

IMG_0727

Day 3 of Filming

 

I was exhausted on Saturday night planning my outfits. I honestly thought my bag was going to go over the 50-pound weight limit. 

 

Sunday, June 23rd

 

I put it on the scale. It was so early in the morning at the Memphis airport. My bag was exactly 50 pounds. My mom laughed, “You’re so lucky!”. I got on the plane and landed in Tampa. I pulled up to IMG in Bradenton, Florida. It was such a random place. IMG was beautiful with the palm trees.

See the videos of me arriving to IMG

The first person I met was Jibran, who had been my travel coordinator. There was so much chaos. I didn’t know that IMG was for sports and that I would be coming to a sports camp. There were hundreds of people running around in jerseys with basketballs. I went to my dorm where I met my roommate. She was from LA. Her name was Aylin. We went to the cafeteria and I saw a girl sitting by herself. I welcomed her to sit with us. She told us she was from Panama and her name was Keythlin. 

 

We went to the first meeting which was with Jeni Rose and David Cunningham. They are the modeling scouts for IMG. The meeting was in the field house that was across the campus. It was about a mile walk. IMG stands for International Management Group. Rose is based in Paris and runs IMG’s agency there. Cunningham runs the agency in New York. Cunningham is the founder of the fashion camp and 2019 was its third consecutive year. They told us who we would be meeting throughout the week and then we were released for dorm orientation. 

 

We stood in the lobby of the dorm. There were fashion and sports girls. A lady came out and told us that there was a dress code at IMG. She said, “I only want to see 2 cheeks and those are the ones on your face, and no crop tops!” She added, “Oh and no thong bikinis at the pool and you have to wear a cover-up when you exit the pool. There are so many different religions and beliefs at IMG that we want to be respectful.”

 

A girl stated, “Well there goes all my outfits for the week.” I was so annoyed. Why is there a dress code at fashion camp? They should have told me this before I packed. Nobody abided by the rules throughout the week. Everyone still wore their crop tops and booty shorts. 

Monday, June 24th

Christian Cowan and the American Dream

IMG_Fashion_Camp_Day_1_14

Cowan and my wonderful group

The first speaker we had was Christian Cowan. Every day we waited until they opened the doors to the room. People sat in long lines trying to get good seats. I wore a green sequin jumpsuit. It was inspired by his Powerpuff girl collection. The main colors used were green, pink, and blue representing the characters. His collection included sequins and feathers so I thought the jumpsuit was befitting. Ivan Bart, the president of IMG models interviewed Cowan. Cowan was wearing an all-black outfit from head to toe. His last name is pronounced COWan, not COan. Like moo moo, I’m a cow. I did not know that until he was introduced.

 

It’s not about looking good for other people, it’s about looking good for yourself.” 

-Christian Cowan

 

The interview began with Bart introducing Cowan as a person who was raised during the age of the internet. Bart asked Cowan about a quote. Cowan stated previously, “If I wouldn’t click on it, there’s no point in making it.” Cowan agreed with his statement and said he had centered his career around the internet. Cowan stated how he grew up around the internet and TV.  His career had been affected by the influence of both.

Bart continued to discuss that the internet is an easy outlet to determine the consumers’ reactions to products. Bart asked, “Do you find yourself, like when you design things, like looking at what the feedback is?”

Cowan responded, “Completely, so when I started designing I looked at what things did the best online, what things resonated with people.” Cowan believes, “…the internet is kind of everything…” In Cowan’s day in age, he never had to wait for publication to determine the success of his work, he could use the internet at his own will. He goes off of what makes people smile and laugh and that determines whether or not he is on the right track.

 

Bart asked next, “You’re a self-proclaimed feminist and you’re designing for the modern woman. Tell me who that is.”

 

Cowan answered, “The modern woman is someone who owns whoever she wants to be.” Cowan reminisced on his childhood and stated that he was raised around women who were powerful and owned and accepted every part of themselves unapologetically. Cowan stated, “It’s not about looking good for other people, it’s about looking good for yourself.” Cowan believes the modern woman should focus on herself and stop being a doormat for patriarchy and I love that about him. He continued to describe his mother as, “A super fabulous, Spanish lady.” He painted her as being a force to be reckoned with and that she makes whatever she wants to happen, happen. When he described his mother, it reminded me of mine. His mother is the inspiration for his work. 

 

The modern woman is someone who owns whoever she wants to be.

-Christian Cowan

 

Bart questioned Cowan on his decision of attending Central Saint Martins, a prestigious fashion school in London, England. Cowan went because “…all of my icons went there.” His icons include Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. It was the only school he applied to. He did something unique with his application. He got a tin can and put all of his paperwork in a spiral that rolled out and inside was a big fold-out paper. He described it as, “cheesy and lame,” but I thought it was brilliant. That uniqueness and creativity landed him in the university. He was under the misconception that the university would give him all the tools to become a designer, but he quickly learned that he would have to figure that out on his own. Like anything, he stated the university had its challenges he had to overcome. He stated, “You’ve got to make it happen yourself.” This resonated with me because it was true. Whatever it is in life, whether it be fashion or film, you have to do it for you. 

You’ve got to make it happen yourself.”

-Christian Cowan

 

Bart alludes to the attention from celebrities like Cardi B and Lady Gaga Cowan got before he graduated college and how unusual that is for young designers. Cowan describes himself as, “an impatient person,” he stated that he almost got kicked out of the university several times for this trait. Cowan came from a world completely opposite from fashion so he desperately scrambled for the knowledge he had been deprived of. He got started by looking through magazines and combing through the internet, specifically, Instagram to find people in the industry. Cowan Dm’d stylists in search of a part of the action. Cowan began reaching out to a plethora of people and he still did not even know how to make clothes. But he knew what he wanted. Without a sewing machine, he glued together his outfits and put together what he described as, “a makeshift presentation”. His friends gathered and became his models and help. They helped him create a photoshoot that grabbed the attention of a famous drag queen in London named Dinah Lux.

Dinah Lux, an Incredible Drag Queen

She was friends with a UK magazine editor who Instagrammed some of the looks. Lady Gaga saw the look and he got a dm from her team two days later and then a week later she was wearing it. Bart asked where she wore the outfit to and Cowan did not know. He was invited by Gaga’s team to come to parties and events to meet her but he was in London studying and his education meant more to him. He was doing coursework. He wanted to learn everything he could then dive into the fashion industry. Bart inquired on how the outfit got to Gaga and Cowan said that her team sent him the FedEx details. Cowan did not have a box big enough to fit the hat so he just tapped boxes together. 

Cowan designed for Lady Gaga

Cowan transitioned from being in school full time to completing school and setting sights on America. Bart inquired Cowan on why he came to America. Cowan stated that American is one of the largest markets for fashion. He added that Asia is an equally large market for fashion, but he does not know the languages. Cowan believes London is congested with budding designers and New York was the place to be for him to stand out. Cowan described New York as the place for commercial designers and London as a place for young people. Cowan told his mom when he graduated, “I’m going to New York.” It seemed like his dreams of moving to New York were manifested through his dialogue with his mother. Bart asked if Cowan had ever made a mood board. Cowan has never made one, but he stated that he keeps posters and pictures all over his room and walls which are a constant source of inspiration. Bart suggested that Cowan should invest in making a mood board or at least writing down his intentions. A mood board is a poster with pictures, fabrics, and other items that can help one layout their intentions and goals for the future. We made them later that week. Bart believed when Cowan stated that he wanted to move to New York it was manifested into him actually moving to New York. Cowan defines himself as more of a list person. He creates lists that help him cultivate his dreams into reality. Cowan believes he is a visual person so he believes it is odd he has never created a mood board. Bart and Cowan both have different ways of organizing their dreams, but both ways are valid. There is no right way to do things, it is whatever way you like the best. 

An Example of a Mood Board Made Later That Week

Bart asked next, “What was it like to get to America and establish yourself?”.  Cowan responded, “If I sit and wait around until I work out a way to do this, it’s not going to happen. Because there’s always going to be another reason.”  Cowan stated, “You just have to go for it and work it out when you’re doing it.” He added, “You’ll never know how to do it until you do it.” Cowan believes that there is no right time: “I just moved. I packed up some boxes of stuff. I borrowed 3,000 pounds from my mum… and I moved out and just started making it happen.” Cowan named Patti Wilson, an iconic stylist from Vogue Italia, who is one of his many idols. He harassed her at every party he could: “Please stall my show”. He said to refrain from “…pestering people to a point where you annoy them.” Cowan feels you have to hustle to get what you want.

Patty Wilson, Vogue Italia

 “If I sit and wait around until I work out a way to do this, it’s not going to happen. Because there’s always going to be another reason.”

-Christian Cowan

 

Bart asked, “So when was your first collection?” 

 

Cowan responded, “My first collection was probably 4 or 5 months after I moved to New York.” Cowan commented on the collection,“This is such a bad collection, when I look back at it, oh my word, I really made whatever I could” His first fashion show got the attention of Kathy Horyn. Cowan says, “I had people like Kathy Horyn there who I had no idea how I managed to get there and I didn’t know who she was.” Cowan described Kathy, “Probably one of the most legendary journalists in fashion ever and I asked her who she was which is embarrassing.” 

Kathy Horyn, Legendary Fashion Critic

 

Bart asked next, “There is a lot of like A list celebrities that like wear your clothes and things like that, what’s your feeling about that connection as a young designer?” Cowan did not have an investor or a press release so he had to figure out how he could get the most press for the least amount of money possible. He began making sketches and sending them to celebrities and they could pay him to make clothes for their music videos or events. Then he would get exponential press. A word of advice for Cowan is, “Never be afraid to ask them to tag you” Cowan did Cardi B’s album cover and every time she tags him he gets 10,000 followers. The tags increase not only following but how much you can get paid for projects. Bart asked, “Of the 10,000 followers, how many say, I want that piece… Are there shoppable experiences through your followers?” Cowan responded that the fans of Cardi B and Lady Gaga cannot afford how the celebrities dress or even get to the clothes geographically.  He had to find a way to bridge the gap from the high and middle-class consumers. Cowan started his merch business and a collaboration with V files to reach the consumers who can afford lower price points. He also added he has some much larger scale collaborations coming out in October that he could not give too many details about. He believes it is about having “different product categories,” that can cater to different customers. He added that most companies separate the categories and it ends up damaging their high-end line. Cowan keeps all of his levels in the same line. Cowan explained further, “You see the sweatsuits with the gowns. I think fashion is for everyone. I hate when they separate like the lower costs stuff out of the show. There’s people that deserve the magic of fashion week. I like to mix them all up.” 

Cowan designed Cardi B’s album cover

Bart asked next about how the new age and old age of fashion collide. In the old fashion world, a designer had to receive acceptance from critiques, get their work into retail stores, and get buyers. Bart questioned Cowan on what it is like being a modern-day designer, but still having to deal with the more traditional aspects of the industry. Bart asked, “How do you convince people you are a great designer and that the clothes will sell?” 

 

Cowan said it was “super hard” he had to convince all of these old school buyers and editors the clothes would sell. He received criticism about only designing for high profile singers and how that would translate to the average woman. Cowan argued that he had only been designing for singers and that he had not had a chance to design for regular women. He added that he was never taught how to communicate with buyers in school so he had to talk to people and reach out to stylists on how to bridge the gap. He began to slowly break into both worlds by mixing his collection with high profile clothes and casual wear. Jeffrey Kalinsky, the owner of the Jeffery Boutique, was the first person to take a chance on Cowan and stock him.

Jeffery Kalinsky. Cowan’s Mentor and owner of Jeffrey Boutique

 

Cowan said it takes time to build momentum for a brand. He believes it is especially hard because you are spending so much money in the first few years but not making that much and you have to make up the difference. Instagram helped him break even by designing for high profile people and collaborating with brands. Cowan had to learn the business models for most brands and then cultivate them to fit his personal brand. Stores have a larger budget for Resort and pre-fall clothes. He cannot afford to make four collections a year so now he makes a majority of the September show early and he is selling it in Paris right now so it will land in stores just after September. It is like he is doing four collections but it is only two. 

 

Bart chimes in stating that resort is 70% of retail stores. I had to look up the meaning of resort. Resort is the midseason or preseason. It includes vacation and party clothes and it is the most profitable season. Cowan sells four times more resort clothing in his new marketing structure. 

 

Bart continued asking Cowan how he does selling on Instagram. Cowan responded that compared to other brands like Fenty where it is makeup and consumers can just buy off the internet. Cowan says clothes are different because people want to try them on. He said his merch collection helped him eliminate some of the issues with consumers having to try everything on and he hopes to create an accessory line.  He does not have the capital at the moment. He mitigated the issue with collaborations like Giuseppe. He created these fabulous heels with watches on them. 

Cowan & Giuseppe Collaboration

Bart questioned how Cowan feels about influencers. Cowan believes people will look at influencers and want to wear what they are wearing while with a celebrity, they just like the celebrity.  Cowan prefers working with celebrities over influencers because they give him more press. Influencers work better for bigger brands because they are more willing to tag bigger brands. Celebrities will not tag huge brands unless they pay a lot of money, but as a small designer, they will tag Cowan. He states, “Influencers are for the show and celebrities are for outside of the show.” He believes influences make a bigger impact when they are invited to the fashion show where they will Instagram and get really excited about it. Outside of fashion week, he manufactures mostly for celebrities.

 

Bart discussed how there is always a melting pot of high profile people at Cowan’s shows. After the shows, Cowan is always busy hugging and kissing people. He described himself as, “emaciated, disgusting and sweaty, and that’s the time everyone wants to film and take pictures.” 

PowerPuff Collection

The next question Bart asked was, “what is the latest you have been sewing before it hit the runway.” Cowan said, “During the Show!” According to Cowan, there is always a disaster and sometimes he has to rearrange his whole show to put one piece at the end because it is not finished yet. There was one incident where a zipper busted right before the model walked out and so he pretended like it was apart of the design. Cowan believes, “You’ve got to be a perfectionist and not at the same time.” Cowan assures that if you are over critical of yourself then you will scare yourself into not creating. You are your biggest enemy and Allie. Cowan felt as if most designers would have taken the busted seam dress off the runway, but it ended up being one of his favorite looks. 

 

“You’ve got to be a perfectionist and not at the same time.

-Christian Cowan

 

Bart inquired on where Cowan’s muse and inspiration come from. Cowan believes his inspiration for his collections comes from the way he was raised. His collections stem from where he is in his life at the moment. His first few collections were inspired by his adolescence and the tendency to party and wanting to have a good time. These looks included sequins, feathers, and loud colors. Now, Cowan is transitioning to a more familial direction. He wants to add more of a backstory to the brand including his heritage. He says he is influenced by what is happening in his life now. He is being influenced by his own community, LGBTQ+, and the new climate of inclusivity and freedom to be who you want to be. He even had a collection with George Micheal’s song, “Freedom”, playing. The next collection is about his family, but that is all he can disclose at this time.

 

Bart moves onto Cowan’s family and their dynamic. Cowan is apart of a blended family of eleven children. Cowan is the youngest and spent most of his childhood alone. Cowan said he definitely had to carve out his own identity because it could easily be lost in a sea of eleven people. All his siblings went to boarding school or they moved away so he was left fully alone to his own devices. He described himself as, “a weird kid.” He said he was born “in the middle of nowhere” and that “there was no one like him.” He lived in his own world most of the time. He described his parents as super strict but that they would spoil him when it came to arts and crafts supplies. As a result, he became very creative. He lived on the internet and was obsessed with it. He started designing when he was 12. When he was 14, his mom bought him a 30 pounds or 14 Dollar red, sewing machine. He began making clothes on that machine. He would buy clothes from Primark, a store in the UK, and remake clothes. For reference, he compared Primark to whatever the cheapest clothing stores are in America including Ross or Walmart. In the UK they have TK Maxx instead of TJ Maxx, which I thought was quite interesting. Overall, Cowan could not think of the equivalent to Primark in the U.S. and he suggested that we all should visit. 

British Clothing Store

Before he went to a fashion school, Bart asked Cowan what he was doing to further his career. He turned his home into a fashion house. Before Cowan knew how to sew, he would buy clothes and customize them. He would gather all his friends who enjoyed taking pictures or modeling and do photoshoots so by the time he applied to Saint Martins, he had a huge portfolio. The portfolio included sketches and paintings. 

 

Bart asked, “Where do you see yourself 10 years from today?” 

 

Cowan would like to design for a larger house. He believes it would be fun because they have big budgets. Cowan has big budget ideas but his brand operates on a low budget. He would like to also do more collaborations. He wants to scale his own brand larger as well. He would like to continue to make the brand more affordable. He also wants to do an accessory collection. 

Bart asked how his home space affects him being a creative.  

“You should never be like, ‘oh I’m done with it so now I can hang out and relax’ you should enjoy it so much that you want to do it the whole time.”

-Christian Cowan

 

Cowan likes his office and his home to be the same thing. His office right now is two floors above where he lives. Before he moved, his office and living space were the same and he prefers it that way. He only changed the space to accommodate “relationships”. He feels that if the space is one, he will easily get absorbed into the work. Cowan asserts, “Living and breathing what you do is important and it will set you apart from anyone else.”  Cowan states,You should never be like, ‘oh i’m done with it so now I can hang out and relax’ you should enjoy it so much that you want to do it the whole time.” Bart believes it is very interesting how a creative lives.  Cowan described his home, “There’s glitter everywhere by the way.

“Living and breathing what you do is important and it will set you apart from anyone else.” 

-Christian Cowan

Bart asked how Cowan felt about being an openly gay man on the quickly approaching 50th anniversary of pride day and if he felt any responsibility as a role model. 

Cowan believes he does have a responsibility being an openly gay man. He believes that many people live under an incorrect preconceived notion that being homosexual is accepted now. Cowan explained that there is so much more work to be done because there are so many parts of the world where it is not. He continued talking about members of the LGBTQ+ community being killed and that he does believe he has a huge responsibility. He says A, he has to help people and B, he has to advocate for LGBTQ rights in the U.S. and the U.K. so it stays the way it is. Cowan reiterates, “Things could always revert backwards… You can see it literally with many different cultures and civilizations things become very progressive and amazing and then they go straight back down again.” According to Cowan, “You always have to fight for people’s rights, whoever they are if its gay or trans or anything.” 

“You always have to fight for people’s rights, whoever they are if it’s gay or trans or anything.”

-Christian Cowan

 

Bart is proud of Cowan and encourages him to “Keep doing what you’re doing.” 

Bart asked, which side of you comes out more since he grew up in England but his mother is Spanish. Most of Cowan’s siblings are step-siblings and he has one genetic brother. His brother is the English sibling and he is the Spanish one. Cowan described himself as, “My mother’s child.” He said his flair and passion comes from the Spanish side. His full name is Christian Cowan San Luis and he shortened the San Luis because it is harder to pronounce. 

 

Bart asked Cowan for “A soundbite of advice” for budding creatives.

 

“There’s never one big break,” said Cowan. Cowan discussed the incident with Lady Gaga and how after that everyone believed he made it, but he said that was not the case: “You think you’re going to have that moment and things are gonna snowball from there, they’re realistically not.” Cowan continued, “You can have a massive moment and it’s just done. And you can see that for so many industries.” Cowan explained further, “It’s just about like thousands of small breaks…You have to keep hustling for the next thing and the next thing.”Cowan gave words of advice, “So never get disheartened if things don’t come about…80% of the things we start working on fall through.” Cowan continued, “Have faith in what you do, no matter what it is…It’s about how many times you can get knocked down and get back up again.” 

“There’s never one big break,”

-Christian Cowan

“We live in a world now where everybody wants to be perfect and everybody wants to be perceived as perfect.”

-Ivan Bart

Bart quoted, “In order to appreciate the highest mountain top, you have to be in the valley.” He added, “Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.” Bart reflected on the world, “We live in a world now where everybody wants to be perfect and everybody wants to be perceived as perfect.” Bart believes you have to “Pick yourself up, move through it, and get to the other side.” 

Cowan quoted, “My greatest failures are my greatest lessons”

“My greatest failures are my greatest lessons”

-Christian Cowan

 

Cowan warned, “Protect yourself.” He says, “It’s easy when you’re so eager to do whatever you’re doing to just give everything for free and you have to at first for a while but then there’s going to be a state where you need to start applying some protection.” Cowan says, “Do not show your designs to a big fashion house without a contract” He advised us to not work with someone without being paid upfront.  “I won’t be doing that again,” Cowan reminisced. 

 “Have faith in what you do, no matter what it is. ”

-Christian Cowan

 

Bart asked, “What could we expect from you in the coming year?”

 

Protect yourself.”

-Christian Cowan

 

Before revealing his plans Cowan stated, “I’m the most forgetful person, hence the list, I don’t remember much.” Cowan will be releasing sunglasses worldwide. He is also launching a high street fashion line. After that, he will be releasing a jewelry line. Next is  a partnership with a famous singer. Lastly, he is doing a lot more commercial and diverse collections. 

Q & A

 

This is me asking Cowan a question

I was the first question. Cowan complimented me on my outfit and I nearly died. I told him I had been a fan since his Powerpuff collection. Ever so often a designer does the Powerpuff collection.  I loved how the Jeremy Scott collection a few years ago juxtaposed his collection this year. I found out about Cowan through the collection and had been following him ever since. So when I found out he was coming to fashion camp I nearly died.  I asked, “What’s your why? Why are you so passionate about designing, what keeps you going?” 

 

Cowan answered, “I’ve chosen something and I’m dedicated to it” He described his work, “Fashion is art you can live in and you can take on a persona and be whatever you want to be.” Cowan quoted RuPaul, “You’re born naked and the rest is drag.” Cowan says that every day what we wear reflects us and who we want to be. “I can design things that allow people to be their best and fullest self,” Cowan said. Cowan continued,“ I always see women trying on the clothes and smiling and having a good time. I’m like, ‘success’” 

“Fashion is art you can live in and you can take on a persona and be whatever you want to be.

-Christian Cowan

Cowan discussed how there are no originals and you just have to find things you like and put your own spin on them. Sometimes you have to say, “Screw that, I’m doing me.” 

 

One person asked how Cowan goes about people stealing his designs. Cowan discussed that people stealing your designs is inevitable, unless you have a huge team of lawyers like Chanel. He said you just have to keep going and hope to make something even better the next time. Early in his career, he made the mistake of sending his sketches and watching them be made without his input. He recommends sending everything in an email so if the ideas are stolen and reproduced you can dispute it with proof. 

 

Cowan’s business model includes many small boutiques. He places his clothes in small boutiques instead of department stores because he wants to get feedback. When he puts his clothes in boutiques, he is able to receive feedback from his customers. He has his clothes in 16 stores internationally. His clothes perform the best in the Middle East. In October, he is having a fashion show in Dubai. 

 

One person asked if age set him back because he is so young. He said that it did and he would constantly lie about his age. Eventually, he got offered to work in Alexander Mcqueen’s fashion house. He declined and made his own brand. 

 

Another person asked how he was able to design the watches on the shoe with his collaboration with Giuseppe. He said he believes we live in a world where it is about flashing your wealth. We constantly see people showing their wrist with fancy watches. He said putting the watch on the shoe is ironic and it makes fun of the whole idea of flashing your wealth. 

 

Cowan was asked about his sketches and he says that he keeps his sketches as simple as possible. He actually spent hours creating a sketch of a body and he just prints it and draws over it. 

 

Someone inquired Cowan on what he looks for in a model. He said they need to be fierce and unapologetic. Reiterating what he said earlier, the model has to represent the brand. The models have to reflect the Cowan woman, a woman owing who she is. 

 

The next question was how did Cowan become so successful. He said he always had a positive and welcoming personality. He emphasized the importance of being nice to people. He said that having a strong work ethic is important. He also said that you must maintain a social life. He said not to forget to be profitable and make money. 

 

Someone asked why he does not have a men’s line. Cowan responded that the women’s line is a larger market. He also said it is expensive to do a men’s line because that involves a second team and a second budget. He wishes to do men’s clothes in the future. 

 

Another person asked what is the inspiration for his own personal style. He said his mom always wore all black. That day he was wearing an all-black outfit. He also said Dilara Findikoglu and Paloma Spain influence his personal looks.

 

A Note To Cowan

 

Cowan taught me a lot. I enjoyed hearing about his life and it inspired me. He constantly commented on his idols and I hope he knows he is one of mine! If you ever read this, I hope to be like you and work with you in the future. 

 

Love,

Sasha C. Yates

Later that day I met Trey Laird, Akin Akman, and Devon Windsor. I will be covering their stories next week! 

Shook, The Movie

Three African American boys of different ages all attend the same private school in Memphis, TN. They symbolize the lack of emotional expression in African American boys and how bottled up anger can explode into violence.