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A Deep Dive into Iconic Black Fashion Throwback in “Best Friend”

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saweetie

It’s 2021, and the girls did not come to play. The relevant girl in particular here is Diamonté Harper, a.k.a. Saweetie. Her “Best Friend” music video featuring Doja Cat racked up more than 18 million views over its debut weekend, while also serving up a sumptuous fashion feast amid glittering visuals. Among the eight eye-catching looks featured, there is one, inspired by an iconic piece of Black fashion history, that stands out. “When we pull up to the scene, they be filled with jealousy,” Saweetie raps while patting her hot-pink hair. As I take in her custom Dapper Dan for Gucci ensemble, that is exactly how I feel—not just a little envious.

Decked out in a forest-green velour cropped jacket with balloon sleeves, a bralette, hot pants, and thigh-high boots emblazoned with hot-pink Gucci monograms—not to mention paired with gold jewelry and auntie nails clacking—Saweetie is a pure ’90s throwback. “I wanted it to feel like she was a chick in Harlem in 1994,” her stylist of three years, Bryon Javar, tells BAZAAR.com. “The Dapper Dan moment was so important for me and Saweetie to have for this video. I had been trying to get some things made for other projects and timing wasn’t on our side, but for this, it was perfect.”

A close-up of Saweetie on set

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Dapper Dan, in case you’ve been living under a un-chic rock, is a designer and haberdasher from Harlem who rose to fame in the 1980s, outfitting hip-hop heavyweights like Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, LL Cool J, Run-D.M.C., The Fat Boys, and Public Enemy out of his iconic store, Dapper Dan’s Boutique, which shuttered in 1992. Flash-forward to 2017, when Dan caught the eye of Alessandro Michele of Gucci, resulting in ongoing collaborations on a number of projects.

“This is how we work,” Dan explains of how Saweetie’s look came together. “The inspiration came primarily from their team. When they reached out to me, my understanding was that they were always fascinated with the item that I made for Diane Dixon back in the ’80s, with the blouson, puffy sleeves, and so they wanted something sexy on that order.”

He continues, “So, as we go through that, we sit down, we lock heads, and we find out what suits them. In the past, it was just me and the client. Today, we have a lot of people who have their own stylist. So between us, we work out the ideas that are based around how they want to look, what their image is, or even what their lyrics are in some cases.”

diane dixon

Diane Dixon in the

Courtesy

The image maker in question here is Javar. “I’ve been inspired by Dapper Dan for decades,” the stylist says. “I was inspired by his infamous Diane Dixon coat. … I remember watching Lil’ Kim videos and being blown away by her look. [Dapper Dan] sent me fabric ideas, and it popped in my head. I wanted to have her in a Dapper Dan–Gucci look from head to toe. I had a sketch done and sent to Dap’s team, and they loved it! I was like I have to have her in a boot! That is such a hip-hop fashion staple for women, and it had to be done.”

The impact of an aughts queen as inspiration goes deeper for Javar than pure style. “Having this Black hip-hop fashion was important and was an absolute must for me to make happen. I paired it with bamboo earrings, which are from Mary J. Blige’s brand, Sister Love MJB, and rings and necklaces from Ruby Stella, which was a great additional touch to this look, to give it that hip-hop feel.”

stylist

A stylist at work

Courtesy

The trick with working with celebrities and their stylists is all in the mind meld, explains Dan. “It has to be consistent with how they see themselves. I help them to interpret themselves. Let me tell you the basic difference between me and designers: Designers will work with a stylist, or they do collaborations with other designers. My thing has always been, over the last 35, 40 years, to collaborate completely with the customer. I find out how they feel about themselves. What do they think their image is? And I help them design what’s best to suit that image.”

Just like his work in the ’80s and early ’90s, Dapper Dan remains committed to telling stories through his garments, capturing “the mindset of the rappers and images that they’re trying to project.”

As for Javar, he hopes to achieve just that with his singer-songwriter client. “My vision for Saweetie for 2021 is to create more iconic looks with her. I’m super excited for people to see her eye and the creative genius she is, and continue to make our mark together in the fashion world.”

Judging from what we’ve seen in just the first week of 2021, she’s well on her way.

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Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg on Their New Book Every Body

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Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg on Their New Book Every Body

Every Body, a new book from illustrator Julia Rothman and writer and filmmaker Shaina Feinberg, is an inclusive, awkward, tender, silly, discomfiting, emotional, and, above all, candid collection about what it means to be a living person. Vignettes about sexual experiences—culled from impromptu on-the-street interviews and anonymous online submissions—are paired with a range of personal essays, discussions with experts, and erotically-charged art. The book addresses a wide range of experiences, from being horny to unlearning religious inhibitions to drunk sex to watching porn to enduring a miscarriage, all while demystifying stigmas and clichés, normalizing uncertainty, acknowledging trauma, and celebrating desire and playfulness.

Rothman and Feinberg, who have a New York Times column about money called Scratch, are also close friends. ELLE.com Zoomed with the duo to discuss creative collaboration, being a good listener, and how people are waaaaay coyer about money than sex.

How did you meet and start working as a duo?

Every Body: An Honest and Open Look at Sex from Every Angle

Rothman: A friend of ours was filming a video and I met Shaina there. I was kinda shy, and Shaina came up to me and said, “Hey! How’s it going?”

[Both laugh]

Feinberg: I saw Julia and I could tell…she felt very New York-y to me, so I was like ‘Oh! Let me strike up a convo.’

Rothman: I ran into you a few times and then invited you to a party. And then—she asked me to do a drawing for one of her films. We started doing more projects together. Shaina wanted to do this thing about how there were no women directors nominated for Academy Awards one year, so I illustrated the piece and she wrote it. And we’re like, ‘Hey, let’s do more of that!’ We did another one for Cup of Jo, and then I was approached by the New York Times to do a column. I was like, I’m going bring Shaina on with me. We like to say the column is basically about small businesses and big personalities.

Feinberg: We were already working on Every Body at that point.

Rothman: That’s true—I brought her on to help me with the book before the Times.

Feinberg: We started the book in April [2019], but the Times didn’t start until August. I think that’s part of why it made sense—we’d already been working so much in concert, as they say.

Rothman: I needed someone who could help me organize and edit. Shaina can come up with crazy ideas I would never do; she has a different brain than I do. I had made a website that I was using to collect stories for the book. I felt the stories were all coming from one type of person: a white woman around my age. I told Shaina I wanted stories from more people and she was like, “Let’s just go on the street and talk to people.” I would never have done that on my own, or even thought of it. That really changed the entire project, which was wonderful. We did it in New York and went to New Orleans and collected a lot of stories.

Feinberg: For Scratch, we were going on the streets and asking people how much debt they’re in. It was similar, going to ask people about sex.

Rothman: People were more scared to talk about debt than they were to talk about sex.

Feinberg: Way more.

Rothman: People did not want to say how much they owed, but they were like, “Let me tell you about my threesome.”

Did you have ideas about what you wanted to cover, or did the conversations and encounters shape the book?

atieh sohrabi

An illustration by Atieh Sohrabi.

Courtesy

Rothman: The stories informed the topics. There were stories we heard that made us realize, we didn’t think of that. We had made a list of everything we wanted to cover, but then there were things like pegging—we didn’t think a bunch of men would tell us they wanted to do that.

Feinberg: We checked off so many things we wanted to get but were just not hearing about certain things, so we were like, we have to make sure to ask people about this.

Rothman: Like menopause. We actively looked to talk about that, because nobody was offering that information. We had to target talking to some older people.

Feinberg: When older women would talk to us, it was more about memories, like when they had sex in 1971. So when we talked to them, we would ask pointedly, “Have you gone through menopause? What was that like?”

Rothman: The most common thing people wanted to tell us about was sexual assault. So many people couldn’t wait to tell us what had happened to them, which was really hard. Also vaginismus, which is when your vagina tightens involuntarily and nothing can go up and people don’t know why it’s happening to them. And women still being virgins when they’re in their 30s and 40s. It felt like an overwhelming number of stories on those three topics.

I imagine you had a copious amount of material. How did you narrow it down?

Feinberg: We went through it a million times. The first time, it was almost all yeses. The noes would be like, “This makes no sense, actually.” We had to say “maybe” to some of them.

Rothman: Ultimately, it came down to getting a diverse group of people. We took statistics. It was anonymous, but we asked about ethnicity, religion, etc. on the website. If we had five stories about vaginismus, and four women were 40 and white and one was 20 and Black, we made sure [the latter] was in there, and that it was a good story—it was weighing all those things.

How did you balance the anonymous narratives with the writers and illustrators you purposefully assembled?

an illustration by eleni koumi

An illustration by Eleni Koumi.

Courtesy

Feinberg: With the essays and interviews, we made a dream list. Like when you’re making a book about sex, you want to talk to Betty Dodson. She just passed, but she was an amazing sex educator for generations.

Rothman: We wanted some funny people and some serious experts. We wanted some sex workers. One guy uploaded his experience onto the website and it was so good, we decided to pay him as an essayist instead of considering him an anonymous anecdote.

Feinberg: Some of it was, we want that writer or interview; some of it was, we want that topic.

Rothman: I’ve done a lot of books and organized and curated lots of illustrated compendiums. For this, I looked at art that had already been done that was sex-related and asked to reuse it for a fee. The art doesn’t relate to the stories. The stories are separate and the illustrations are their own voices.

Feinberg: That’s what it feels like when you flip through and see the illustration “Pardon my hard-on.”

Rothman: I was inspired by how the New Yorker does their spot illustrations. They tell their own story. I reached out to friends, which is the best, and new people to me. Instagram makes it feel like everyone’s so close to each other. But I was, again, looking for a diversity of styles and backgrounds—making sure it had a range.

In addition to statistical diversity, you mention needing tonal diversity in the book—that you had to fish for more positive stories because negative stories were so recurrent.

Rothman: There were so many sexual assault stories. It was draining. I remember when I first read some on the website and cried. I was so upset and not able to sleep. There were some where I was like, I want to reach out to this person and say something but I can’t, but I’m feeling all these feelings about it. I want to say, “Sorry, and it’s okay, and I hear you and I see you.” There was nothing I could do—it’s someone submitting a story to a site. On the street, when people would talk about a terrible thing, we would ask, “Do you also have a good thing that’s happened?” or, “What do you like about your body?”

From the sheer cumulation of stories, did you see patterns emerge? Did you arrive at any sociological or anthropological conclusions?

Rothman: I came away with: Everyone feels alone and like they are weird and different from everyone else. But they’re not.

Feinberg: There’s an interview with Eric Garrison, who’s a forensic sexologist, and he says basically everyone has one question: “Am I normal?” He tries to reframe it as, “Everything is natural and on a spectrum.” What we came away with is, people genuinely wanted to know if what they feel is okay. And yeah, it is.

Rothman: We’re not doctors, and we’re not experts, we’re not therapists. We’re trying not to have judgment. I remember once by NYU, a young woman sat and told me, “I don’t know who I’m attracted to; I can’t tell if I like men or women, and I’ve never had an orgasm.” I can’t say, like, “That’s okay!” I just listened, you know? But I want to say: “That’s okay! Maybe you need to do some exploring on your own and touch yourself.” It was really hard. If you want something overarching: “Everybody is struggling.”

Feinberg: I think everyone is questioning. Everyone is curious. We weren’t giving advice. But my general take from the whole thing was that everyone is struggling—the person next to you or across from you. We all have these bodies, and we’re doing stuff to them.

Rothman: We’re all trying to understand our relationship to them.

an illustration by jasjyot singh hans

An illustration by Jasjyot Singh Hans.

Courtesy

Aside from finding enormous amounts of empathy, has this project pushed you in any new direction, whether it’s your own personal reflection or how you will tackle future projects?

Rothman: I feel like I have yet to find out how this project affected me personally. In terms of work, I realized how much I like talking to strangers. Doing the Times column—it’s my very favorite thing to do, ever. There’s definitely going to be more of that: talking to people and listening to what they have to say, all kinds of people that are really different from us. It feels exciting. It’s like an addiction. I can’t wait until we do it again.

Feinberg: For me personally, I have struggled with body dysmorphia since I was in sixth grade, and working on this book definitely helped me. I felt like I was privy to so many people’s relationships with their bodies. And seeing and hearing about so many kinds of bodies helped me rethink and see that we’re all just bodies, and it’s cool.

Shaina, you discuss this in the conclusion.

Feinberg: It’s so easy, especially as neurotic [slips into accent] “New Yawkahs,” to get out of your body and just be in your brain. This book really helped me to be like, “Oh yeah, I have boobs—let me love them!” Or whatever.

Rothman: We spoke with somebody who had breast cancer, somebody who has a colostomy bag…there’s so many things people are dealing with.

At the start of each section of the book, there are snippets of dialogue between the two of you. How did those come about?

Rothman: Our voice is just to talk back and forth. So we asked each other, “What would you say?”

Feinberg: Some of it was natural. But also I was like, is this too silly for words?

It was grounding! Amongst all these disparate stores, the reader comes back to you as the trusted guides. And you feel the friendship too, which is so endearing.

Rothman: When we met, we were, like, [claps]: done. It wasn’t like, “will we be friends?” It was like: ‘we’re friends.’ It’s a New York Jewish thing. We’re familiar with each other.

Feinberg: It was so easy. With gathering sex stories, there’s a lot of emotion we’ve shared. With Scratch, there’s a lot of things that are—

Rothman: —stressful. Deadlines…

Feinberg: …or someone who shows us their gun in their pants when we’re interviewing them! Like, we were fine, but still, you’re like: let’s wrap this up!

Rothman: [Laughs] We’ve experienced a lot of things together.

Feinberg: And we’ve spent a lot of time together. There’s no TMI anymore, you know?

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Spring-Summer 2021 Fashion Campaigns – All The Best Spring-Summer 2021 Fashion Advertisements

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Versace

With a new year comes fresh opportunities for innovative fashion, stunning visuals, and new levels of star power. The spring-summer 2021 campaigns have arrived, placing Kate Moss near a glowing Eiffel Tower for Messika Paris, and the likes of Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner in an underwater escape for Versace. Plus, Prada is exploring technology’s impact on fashion with its latest visionary output from Miuccia Prada and Raf Simmons. In 2021, the sky is the limit.

Click through to see all the best campaigns, here.

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Kat McNamara on The Stand, Making a Movie in Quarantine, Shadowhunters & Arrow

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“fear and loathing in new vegas” — ep105 —pictured  kat mcnamara as julie lawry and nat wolff as lloyd henreid of the cbs all access series the stand photo cr robert falconoercbs ©2020 cbs interactive, inc all rights reserved

Kat McNamara did not spend 2020 learning to crochet or baking banana bread over and over and over again. Instead, the 25-year-old actress filmed a horror movie from home, started development on a YA adaptation, appeared at virtual fan conventions, and plotted where her career goes next as she looks to explore what she calls “new avenues of her psyche.”

But the pandemic escapes no one, so we’re meeting over Zoom. “I have tried to make the best of it, being the stubborn optimist I am,” she laughs as we both admit 2020 was not the year either of us planned for.

But 2021 is looking bright, as the 25-year-old stars in the CBS All Access adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, a prescient work by the master of horror that follows a group of survivors after a deadly man-made virus ravages the world.

McNamara stars as Julie Lawry, a small-town girl with a wild side who finds herself susceptible to the call of Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård), the mysterious and supernatural ’dark man’ who serves as the show’s chief antagonist. It is, perhaps, the role most unlike herself McNamara has played thus far.

“It was an exciting prospect because I get to be a chameleon and transform,” McNamara says, “but the ways in which Julie is different to me make me uncomfortable—the language she uses, the stigmas she holds, are just not okay. But because it’s Stephen King there’s not much you can really change about it, so it was a process of turning it into something good.”

McNamara with her The Stand co-star Nat Wolff.

Robert Falconer

Julie, says McNamara, is “probably the worst example of who to be.” Self-absorbed and ignorant, the character pressures men for sex and mocks those she believes are less fortunate than herself.

“This past year we’ve had the time to look back at society and the stigmas and habits we’ve fallen into and confront [them] and hold ourselves and others accountable for the ways we treat other people,” McNamara says. She hopes to use the show as “an opportunity to guide people towards the right resources” as further episodes air.

CBS risked the wrath of King fans when they confirmed the ending of the show would be different from the book, and with two fandoms under McNamara’s belt—and more than five million followers on social media—she knows better than anyone how perilous that can be.

In 2015, the Kansas City-born actress’s world changed forever when she was cast as Clary Fray in the Freeform series Shadowhunters, based on a series of young adult books with a passionate built-in fanbase. Hours before her casting was announced, “Who is Clary?” was trending on Twitter.

shadowhunters   freeform's "shadowhunters" stars alberto rosende as simon lewis, isaiah mustafa as luke garroway, dominic sherwood as jace wayland, harry shum jr as magnus bane, matthew daddario as alec lightwood, katherine mcnamara as clary fray, alisha wainwright as maia roberts and emeraude toubia as isabelle lightwood freeformjustin stephens

McNamara, third from right, as Clary Fray in Shadowhunters.

Justin Stephens

The show ran for three years before its cancellation, and a viral worldwide fan campaign launched in the hopes of saving the show. But by that point, McNamara had joined another project with another loud fanbase, Arrow. The show is the main installment in an “Arrowverse” that includes Supergirl, The Flash, and Batwoman. It promoted McNamara to series regular in season 7, and a backdoor pilot for a spin-off show focusing on her character Mia Smoak aired in Arrow’s eighth season.

News that Arrow would not get a season 9 was confirmed last week, but McNamara teases that “no one is ever really gone, and I know I am not done with Mia Smoak—if they ask me, I would be back in a heartbeat.” But what she does know is that navigating a fandom (or three) must come with boundaries.

“Being part of shows like Shadowhunters and Arrow taught me that you have to realize there’s a clear separation between what happens in the digital world and the real world,” she says. “It’s wonderful that the world can be connected, but we have to remember to appreciate the reality of the people sitting here with us.”

Yet social media kept much of the world sane this year, and for McNamara, it also gave her work. She began reaching out to and making friends with her peers and other creatives—“people I probably never would have had the chance to talk to otherwise”—and old friends approached her about joining new projects.

supergirl    crisis on infinite earths part one    image number spg509b0207rjpg    pictured l r stephen amell as oliver queengreen arrow and katherine mcnamara as mia    photo katie yuthe cw    © 2019 the cw network, llc all rights reserved

McNamara appears as Mia Smoak in a 2019 episode of Supergirl alongside Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Arrow.

Katie Yu

One of them is Untitled Horror Project, the first movie made completely in quarantine—as in, they never met in person while making it. McNamara’s Shadowhunters co-star Luke Baines wrote the script with director Nick Simon, and the cast includes Never Have I Ever’s Darren Barnet and The Umbrella Academy’s Emmy Raver-Lampman—all of whom had to do their own filming, lighting, costume design, special effects make-up, and stunts. “I am a monster now at self-tapes and lighting!” McNamara jokes.

“I was surprised by the chemistry of the cast,” she adds. “Half the cast I had never met in person, and a lot of the script is this quick-paced ensemble comedy. It clicked instantly. It was a great outlet for us to play and distract ourselves from reality.”

It’s always fun to work with friends—“the ice is broken and there is a level of comfort,” McNamara says—and right before lockdown, she also worked with another Shadowhunters co-star, Matthew Daddario, on the upcoming film Push. But the two had to “have a conversation” before signing on, as the project sees them play lovers. They not only had to navigate that dynamic as actors and friends, but also determine whether their fanbase—that loyal, vocal Shadowhunters fandom—would be open to seeing them that way.

“It was a thought process,” McNamara admits. “We were looking at the script going, ‘How will other people feel about it?’ It was a fun exercise because there were moments where we wondered if we could get through scenes without cracking up. Romantic scenes on set are so clinical, and it can actually be enjoyable if it’s with someone you trust.”

During the brief periods of downtime she found herself in throughout the year, McNamara also began developing an adaptation of the YA novel The Devouring Gray with YouTube stars and actors Gregg Sulkin and Cameron Fuller. The announcement, made on YouTube, revealed the trio’s desire to keep fans in the loop throughout production.

“I’ve had a lot of questions at conventions over the years about process,” says McNamara. “I can talk about it and describe it, but if we have a unique opportunity, and know folks have a desire to learn about how the magic is made, it’s nice to be able to include people who are passionate.”

As for what’s next in McNamara’s career, she says she’s always had a mind to direct, but doesn’t know if that will happen this early in her career. She shadowed her directors on Arrow, and worked closely with the Shadowhunters crew, learning as much about their process as possible. Now, she wants “a seat at the creative table.”

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Last year was a “test of patience” for the TV star, she admits—she planned to have wrapped at least four new projects by December, all of which were placed on hold. “My biggest fear is not utilizing every opportunity that has come my way,” she says. “My whole career has been this series of jumping in with both feet and taking chances that just happen to come up, taking leaps of faith and seeing what happens, and it has served me well, so I don’t want that momentum to stop.”

In the meantime, well, there’s one indulgence McNamara’s allowing herself: binge-watching Love Island (the U.K. version, of course). “I went back to the original season 1,” she says, “they were stuck in a house and I was stuck in a house and it made me feel so alone, but I am also wondering…sign me up? Can I go on U.K. Love Island?”

With everything she has lined up over the next few years, she won’t have the time.

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