Greetings everyone, I hope you all had an excellent and safe month. Time flies within a blink of the eye as we are approaching towards the fall season quite soon. I would like to take the time to talk about the four seasons and why it correlates to fashion. After all, there’s always an occasion to dress up. No matter if it is for a casual shopping spree or simply a gathering among friends.
The world is constantly changing around us, trends come and go, our motivations change over time. Change is inevitable and that isn’t a bad thing. It allows us to learn something today and grow into a better person tomorrow. Just to keep things simple, let us begin to talk about the four seasons and what does it have to do with fashion.
Let us begin with Autumn, the reason where things start to get mild, the environment becomes a shade of warm orange and pumpkin spice lattes become available. With the temperature cooling down, it is only natural to start putting on layers. Putting on a jacket is pretty much on every agenda unless you happen to be a sweatshirt type of person. Perhaps you choose to be snazzy and add a scarf or a hat? There is never a wrong way to dress comfortably. When the north wind blows and brings some frost along the way and then suddenly the season is changing.
The temperature drops even further, nature has gone dormant for the season, the environment becomes frosty and you begin to shiver. Now you know that we are in the winter season. Are you the type of person who enjoys going out in the snow, or do you enjoy staying indoors wearing a sweater while drinking some hot cocoa. That is the season where coats are popular, along with gloves and hats. Of course, you don’t need to bundle up with layers to be fashionable. Turtleneck sweaters is one thing that comes to mind. Some fashionable boots made for the season is another.
Things are warming a bit as the snow and ice starts to melt. Things become a little green again. The trees are awakening, the flowers are blooming. The much needed rain that makes our world green is helping with the transition. We are in spring season now. Around this mild season, the possibilities are nearly endless. However, there are quite a bit of special occasions that I can think of where one might want to dress for the occasion. Weddings are a popular event I often hear, or does the environment look pretty enough to have a photo shoot. A nice dress or formal wear is something you can consider. I hear graduations are very special occasions, so it would not be a bad idea to dress up. Things are now heating up because we are heading towards yet another season.
Summer is finally here, and there are plenty of things you can do with fashion. Who says you can’t look fashionable when going on vacation? Crop tops and shorts is what I think of when summer comes to mind. Obviously wearing less layers is crucial to having a good time during the heat. When the environment becomes hotter and the sun is nearly always shining, it is important you take steps in protecting yourself when you choose to dress during the summer. Otherwise, do go all out. It is time to be free and wander around the world when it is bright and colorful.
Let us wrap things up here for today. The seasons give us reasons to adapt and change when the time is right. It encourages us to strive for different things and come up with different ideas for when the time calls for it. In a way, the adapting when things change within a blink of the eye is key to success.
Greetings, I hope everyone has been having a safe summer so far.
No matter what season it is, I still go by under the notion of “Always dress for the occasion” no matter if it is hot, cold or even damp. Spending time outdoors during a season where it is encouraged to be outdoors underneath a nice shade from a big tree is always good for the heart.
Today, I would like to show off another product of ours: The official HM Models T-Shirt!
A plain white T-shirt may seem like it is a basic article of clothing upon first glance. However, let me reference the last blog post where I discussed about “the simple things that matter”. This applies here as well and let me tell you why.
It isn’t about the T-shirt, it is about who wears it and what does it represent. Obviously, it represents the essence of HM Model. The best part being that they can be worn with most attires. It is the simple things we often ignore because of our desire to always want the big things. We must always start from somewhere and we must also cherish these moments, so we may look back and reflect on our progress.
As for the T-shirt itself, there isn’t much to say because you can make it work with any outfit. The simple comfortable feel and design can give you near endless amounts of possibilities. For instance, I wear my black blazer with it and I feel comfortable in it.
No matter what setting I find myself in, if I happen to be shopping at a department store or simply taking a stroll at a garden surrounded with thick trees that provide shade. This shirt is the perfect definition of adaptable, along with the official GSyndicates T-shirt.
Everyone has their roots no matter where they come from. In moments like these, I will definitely reflect on moments like these in a few years. It is sign of progress and that leads to greater things.
I hope everyone is having an excellent summer full of fashion. Even during the heat, there is never a wrong time to dress for the occasion! It’s always a good day to be fashionable. Without further ado, I’m excited to show this product.
Today, I will be discussing about one of our most anticipated items that I will showcase: the official GSyndicates T-Shirt.
This is one of my favorite shirts to wear and let me tell you why. The simple design of the logo blends in perfectly well with the black shirt. Not to mention that this could be worn by itself, or perhaps you wish to customize your look by throwing in a jacket. It does not matter whenever you choose to fully customize or not. That’s the fun thing about T-Shirts, you can choose to go with a simple look or a sophisticated one.
What makes this shirt unique is its soft material, I never feel any physical discomfort even under extreme weather conditions. I can easily walk out with just the shirt and slacks however, I choose to customize how I see fit. With the blazer and T-Shirt being the right combination for me, I can truly say it is a perfect occasion for just a normal day.
Another detail I like is the color of the shirt. Because of this, I feel jackets are the perfect companions for this shirt. The most common variety of jackets I see on a daily basis are: black blazer jackets and denim jackets of any shade. Because of the color, it will along nicely with other blazers or denim jackets. With the latter being fitting as most people wear jeans during their casual days. The black color blends in nicely with those materials.
I truly believe even in the smallest things, they can truly be unique. It is important to embrace the smaller things in order to reach for bigger and better things. This T-Shirt being one example of being something that seems small, but it is actually something unique. The work behind it will lead to bigger and better things.
There is never a wrong time to dress for the occasion, even for casual settings.
As we reach towards the third quarter of 2021. Hopefully all of you have been staying cool and hydrated during this hot season. While it has been dry during the past month. Regardless, there is never a wrong time to dress for an occasion.
When I think of summer, I think of a time to let loose and go with the flow. For fashion, there’s always a style for every season out there. It isn’t restricted to just formal wear. You can put on a bathing suit and still look fashionable. It’s just all comes down to how you want to express yourself out there. I always go by my catchphrase: “Always dress for any occasion.”and it applies to here too.
Firstly, I will show off a product I’ve received recently. It is a set of GSyndicates brand flip flops sandals and I feel it is the perfect time to wear them often around this time of year. I personally wear them around the house, usually after a long day of running errands or exercising. Not only that, but the colors match perfectly with my selections from my wardrobe.
During the summer season it is only natural for you to find ways to cool yourself off. For instance, if you plan to go to a beach or take a dip at a water park. The sandals make a perfect set of companions to bring along as they are easy to put on and take off.
Not only they’re good for vacation trips, you could simply wear them casually if you plan to take a short stroll at the park. You can casually wear them with a summer themed outfit. Even for something as causal as a pair of sandals, you could make a look that not only suits you, but feels just right too.
Summer is usually a busy time for people because it is a time where people want to get out and have fun. Whenever it may be vacationing, attending to a local summer event or even just relaxing. Trying to look fashionable is never a bad idea even during such a humid time.
After a much awaited join, we are excited to welcome Edgar as a new Contributor to GSyndicates Magazine! He comes to us from HM MODELS and will be a blogger and social media influencer.
My name is Edgar Carreno. I am happy and honored to have joined GSyndicates.
Let us begin with some details about myself. I was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. I am a student at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). I am going for an associates in Liberal Arts.
I chose the fashion path because I’ve always been fascinated with how I dress. I always make an effort to look presentable, regardless of any circumstances. Whenever the topic of fashion is brought up, I like to say, “Always dress for any occasion.”
Initially, I did not vocalize my fashion interests. Pursuing fashion professionally is something I never thought I would do. Long story short, I recently became an HM MODEL and now work with GSyndicates. It is an excellent opportunity to finally make my fashion thoughts a reality. I am really glad I can finally fulfill this desire.
Some other reasons I would like to share for joining GSyndicates are that: I enjoy helping out others in need; I want to explore the world beyond Iowa in the future; and I would like to get to broaden my horizons by learning more about different people and the world. Fashion is a great arena in which to accomplish these goals.
I truly want to make an impact in the world. It is one of the biggest goals I want to accomplish in my life. With that being said, I look forward to supporting GSyndicates and will give it my all to accomplish my life’s goals.
Yours in Fashion,
“If you are truly a fashionista, fashion finds you. That’s the serendipity of fashion… Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
I discovered Edgar while he was shopping at a local retail establishment. I had seen him there a few times before. What I could not help but notice is that no matter the day, he always wore slacks and a blazer. He always seemed confident. This is something that never goes out of style. I want that confidence leading my brand.
One day I complemented Edgar on his style. I told him that I was launching a fashion business and wondered if he would be interested in being a model. Well, you can see how that turned out – we are super excited to welcome Edgar as the newest HM MODEL and GSyndicates™ Magazine Contributor!
The National Association of Fashion And Accessory Designers (NAFAD) was founded in America in 1949, to promote equal opportunities for Black fashion designers. Today (as with ever before – just that it is now not so much silenced), with the rising tide of Black talent, the fashion industry is facing its deficits and calling forth its hidden giants as Black lives demand more Black fashion designers.
GSyndicates Black honors the history of Black fashion designers. In my journey to discover my designer genes that inspired designer jeans – among other fashion plates, I came upon these great shoulders…
Stephen Burrows (born in Newark, New Jersey on September 15, 1943 to parents Octavia Pennington and Gerald Burrows) is an American fashion designer based in New York City. Burrows was raised by his mother, and maternal grandmother, Beatrice Pennington Banks Simmons. Burrows learned to sew watching his grandmother at her zigzag sewing machine. At age eight, he made his first garment for a friend’s doll.
Burrows took dance lessons in high school. He loved the mambo. He danced on Sundays at the Manhattan Palladium night club. That led to sketching dresses he imagined for his dance partners. Burrows initially enrolled in the Philadelphia Museum College of Art when he graduated from Newark Arts High School. He intended to become an art teacher. During a tour of the college, he encountered and was inspired by some dress forms. He transferred to New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). However, FIT professors taught draping rules that frustrated Burrows’s trademarks of asymmetrical cutting, off-grain edge stretching, and drape-as-you-go garment building. He graduated in 1966.
Burrows studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology before beginning work in New York City’s Garment Center. Burrows epitomized what many fashion designers do in their early years, working closely with established designers and also being self-employed as small business owners.
Burrows is known for breaking the international fashionpreneur ice as the first African-American fashion designers to sell internationally with a mainstream, high-fashion clientele. Burrows’ trademark of bright colors and “lettuce hem” curly-edges, became an integral part of the “Fun City” New York City disco-dancing scene of the 1970s.
Burrows started his working career with a job at Weber Originals, a blouse manufacturer. His work was slowly picked up by small shops. “Burrows’ clothes were described as the fashion embodiment of the electric sexuality of this era. The women who wore his clothes gave off an aura of frantically creative days and wild nights filled with disco music and glamorous people.”
In 1968, Burrows began working with Andy Warhol and his entourage, selling at Max’s Kansas City and the O Boutique across the street. Burrows had yet to be satisfied. As a former FIT student Burrows shared his classmates’ desires to sell their lines at the famous Fifth Avenue retailer Henri Bendel. Burrows was introduced to Bendel’s owner, Geraldine Stutz, in the summer of 1968. She loved the coat he wore to meet her. She immediately allowed him to open a boutique in Henri Bendel. In Fall of 1973, “Stevies”, Burrows’ first lingerie/sleepwear collection, debuted at Henri Bendel’s, Bonwit Teller, Lord & Taylor, and Bloomingdales, as well as stores in Chicago, San Francisco, and elsewhere.
Burrows was one of the five American fashion designers chosen to showcase their work at the historical fashion show billed as divertissement à Vèrsailles, held on November 28, 1973. This event is referred to as “The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show.” Burrows was the youngest of the American designers to feature a collection at the show.
Among other exciting fashionistas, First Lady Michelle Obama, the first African American First Lady of the United States, wore a Burrows Jersey pantsuit to an event in Washington, D.C. of which Vogue Magazine wrote, “It was a wonderful acknowledgement of Burrows, one of the great African-American designers and a Harlem resident known for his inventive cuts and bias technique.” Burrows opened his new showroom and design studio in 2010 in New York City’s Garment Center.
Daniel Day (born August 8, 1944) is best known as Dapper Dan, an American fashion designer and haberdasher (a retailer of men’s clothing, including suits, shirts, and neckties) from Harlem, New York.
Day grew up with three brothers and three sisters on 129th and Lexington Avenue. His father, Robert, was a civil servant. His mother, Lily, was a homemaker. He recalls seeing horses and buggies on the streets of New York in his post-World War II early childhood days in Manhattan. By age 13, Day was a skilled gambler – the success of which helped him finance his first store.
In the 1960s, Dan worked for a Harlem newspaper called Forty Acres and a Mule. He eventually became a vegetarian and gave up drinking, smoking and drugs. In 1968–74, he toured Africa as part of a program from Columbia University and the Urban League.
His influential store, Dapper Dan’s Boutique, operated from 1982–92 and is most associated with introducing high fashion to the hip hop world. Over the years, his clients have included Eric B. & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, LL Cool J, and Jay-Z. Dan likes to call his designs, “high-end, ghetto-fabulous clothing.”
Returning to New York in 1974, Dan decided to be a clothier. He started his business by selling shoplifted items out of his car. He opened Dapper Dan’s Boutique in 1982 on 125th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues. The store was sometimes open 24 – 7. Dan faced prejudice as he aspired to be a clothing wholesaler. Most companies in that era refused to do business with him because he was Black. He struggled to obtain the textiles and other supplies that he needed. This lack of access to ready-made products inspired him to learn how to create his own designs.
Dapper Dan developed a collection of brash knockoffs using bootlegged fabrics he designed himself after learning by himself to do textile printing. One of his most notable inventions was the a new creative process for screen printing onto leather. Later, Dan also designed jewelry and luxury automobile interiors. “Dan’s trademark was his bold usage of logos from high-end luxury brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Fendi.”
Day’s illegal use of logos in his custom-made designs eventually led to counterfeiting raids and litigation, followed by his first store’s closing. For decades later, Dan continued to work “underground” as a designer, although he was shunned by the mainstream fashion world.
Dan launched a fashion line with Gucci in 2017, revitalizing his career and showing that there is room for second chances. The fame of this collaboration led to his opening a second store and atelier in 2018, Dapper Dan’s of Harlem. Dapper Dan is included in Time magazine ‘s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
Willi Donnell Smith (February 29, 1948 – April 17, 1987) was an American fashion designer who pioneered the streetwear movement. By the time of his death from complications of the AIDS virus, he was regarded as one of the most successful young African American designers in the fashion industry. WilliWear, Smith’s fashion company, grossed over $25 million in sales since its inception in 1976.
WilliWear was the first clothing company to create both womenswear and menswear under the same design label. The accessibility and affordability of Smith’s clothing helped to democratize fashion.
Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to extremely clothes-conscious parents, Willie Lee Smith (an ironworker), and June Eileen Smith (a homemaker). Smith toiled for hours on the floor of his home as a child, and at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, sketching. Smith’s mother told him (so prophetically) that he would grow up to be an artist or designer. Following the divorce of his parents, Smith’s grandmother, Gladys Bush, ensured his matriculation into the fashion industry.
Smith studied commercial art at Mastbaum Technical High School and took a course in fashion illustration at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art. Then, he moved to New York City to go to Parsons The New School for Design. In 1965, Smith’s grandmother (who was the housekeeper for a family that was close to couturier, Arnold Scaasi) helped him land an internship with Scaasi, where Smith helped with the design of clothing for Elizabeth Taylor. Smith began studying fashion design at Parsons in the fall while taking liberal arts classes at New York University.
After dropping out of Parsons, Smith began designing for Digits Sportswear, where he met Laurie Mallet. In 1976, Smith founded WilliWear, with Mallet. Smith was known for his reasonably priced designs that were called “… ones you would see everyone wearing on the street…” WilliWear mixed elements of relaxed fit sportswear with high-end tailoring before the melange was a fashion staple. WilliWear’s seasonal collections saw 11 years in his lifetime.
The National Association of Fashion And Accessory Designers (NAFAD) was founded in America in 1949, to promote equal opportunities for Black fashion designers. Today (as with ever before – just that it is now not so much silenced), with the rising tide of Black talent, the fashion industry is facing its deficits and calling forth its hidden giants as Black lives demand more Black fashion designers.
GSyndicates Black honors the history of Black fashion designers. In my journey to discover my designer genes that inspired my designer jeans (among other fashion plates), I came upon these great shoulders…
My Designer Genes
“I have designer genes and designer jeans!“
Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane
First, since Black hair is certainly a topic on the fashion front lines, let me pay homage to my own maternal Great Grandmother (at left), Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane (born c. 1909), who was the first Black woman to own a Velvatex College of Beauty Culture in Kansas. She was the twin daughter of her slave mother and their slave owner. Many of the women in my family would say that I inherited my great grandmothers’ gift for haircare.
The following is an excerpt about the founder of Velvatex: “In 1926, M. E. Patterson of Little Rock incorporated Velvatex College of Beauty Culture, then known as Velvatex Beauty College, which was the state’s only approved beauty school for people of color… Patterson dubbed the school “Velvatex” because she believed African-American hair emulated the feel of velvet.” « read more
Celia Lucinda’s daughter, my maternal Grandmother, Annie Lucinda (Lane) Evans (September 15, 1931 – April 20, 2013) was one of the Lane owned Velvatex College’s first graduates. Lucinda was born on September 15, 1931 in North Little Rock, Arkansas to Mr. and Mrs. James (Lucinda) Lane. Annie was the oldest girl of nine children. Annie married Harrell K. Evans on May 14, 1950. They were married for 48 years, 9 months, and 28 days. Grandma Lucinda was also a prolific seamstress who was gifted to make fine apparel without patterns, simply from the ideas in her creative spirit – that entity shared by all designers.
Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris
Annie Lucinda’s daughter, my mother, Mrs. Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris is the Founder and CEO of House of Sherell, a fashion design business. Deborah was born on February 21, 1956 in Wichita, Kansas. From the age of six, Mrs. Morris carried the dream of launching a fashion mogul. She is now capitalizing on the many skills gained from her leadership role as a Supply Sargent in the US Army.
In 2007, she founded Sherell Ra Sha Inc, a consignment and service company with a vision of helping families recover from poverty and natural disaster.
This leap secured the fact of faith in her vision. The business saw its first major progress when Mrs. Morris enrolled in a fashion design program at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in the fall of 2011, leading to development of the first fashion show, which was held in 2013. I debuted my first fashion line at that show.
Part of my heritage of fashionpreneurs, my mother has served veterans and civilian families for over fifty years with a variety of talents. She is a highly gifted seamstress and creative force who has inspired and empowered many others including myself (I am still writing my own fashion history).
Shenica Renee Graham
I (Shenica Renee Graham) was born on October 14, 1977 in Long Beach, California. I am the great-granddaughter of Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane, the granddaughter of Annie Lucinda (Lane) Evans, and a lifelong apprentice of my mother, Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris (Owner / Designer of Iowa’s premiere fashion house, House of Sherell).
I learned to sew as a child while sitting on the floor near mother’s chair as she whisked her Singer classic sewing machine through everything from hats to draperies. I have been designing doll clothes since age 6, sitting at the feet of her sewing mother. Her maternal grandmother was also a talented and influential seamstress. I began began designing clothes for myself at age nine. I like to say, “I have designer genes and designer jeans!“
Though I naturally developed a love for fashion, my dreams were diverted by nagging health problems including severe depression. I battled low self-esteem and had a difficult time breaking free from a downward spiral that left me in a virtual hermitage.
In high school, I could from time to time be found sewing throughout the night, making clothes to wear the next day. As a Sophomore, I made the graduation dress for one of my Senior high school friends. This friend was my first paying client as a teenager. Furthering my fashionpreneure spirit, I made and sold plush bears dressed in my original designs. A high-school counselor bought my most-expensive item: a bear dressed in a red, couture gown with hand sewn embellishments. In college, Shenica continued to create wearable art including custom painted t-shirts.
In 2013, I founded fashion label, GSIA – one of the best decisions I ever made. I still recall the mélange of excitement and anxiety of stepping out of my comfort zone to launch a creative project beyond the borders of self-seclusion. After battling depression for several years, I was inspired by my mother to take up a lost art from my youth. Following a series of hospitalizations, I was once again at a crossroad. My mother, who had gone back to college to pursue a fashion design degree, was already well on her way to becoming a Senior in her program (class of 2018! Whoot! Whoot!). She offered me the chance of a lifetime…
My mother and I are traditional pageant watchers. Our favorite competitions are the evening gown, talent, and costume competition (as with the Miss Universe pageant). With the rise of reality television, we have become regulars in the home-front row, watching the likes of Project Runway and Making The Cut (we love Tim and Heidi!). When I accepted my mother’s offer to join in a fashion business as Chief Information Officer (CIO, based on my compu-tech savvy) and Senior Fashion designer, Mom was already planning to host a fashion show in November.
It felt like I had stepped into a Cinderella story. The pumpkin bloomed and I had made it to fashion week!”
Mom and I even had a private competition. We sequestered ourselves to a sewing environment with our own one-to-one challenges in a mock Project Runway. I won that contest (to be fair, Mom did have some heart trouble the week before and had just been released from the hospital when we started the competition. Thank God she came out well).
I am so humbled and grateful for this opportunity. The power of someone else believing in you when you cannot see your value is priceless. Becoming a fashion designer is something I had dreamed of yet did not have the courage to pursue. It was too personal; and that made it too risky. My mother is my hero for giving me a gentle nudge, picking me up every time I fell, and supporting me whilst I learned to stand on faith. Helping her to build this business is something at which I work very diligently. I want her to know that she can count on me to be her best champion, the way she has always been for me.
Coming out of that shell to do something so public; putting all of me into a product and subjecting it to scrutiny, was an is frankly, terrifying. I had spent so much life force building walls to protect what was my fragile shell. It was difficult to see myself any other way.
In this whirlwind of new experiences, I finally found my niche beyond the written word – a hobby turned into several published articles and unfinished manuscripts. Thus, I joined Mom and one younger brother to officially launch the fashion business. This trio hosted a fashion show and banquet, which received rave reviews. As fate would have it, my finale look (which I entitled, “Marilyn”) was, “… the show maker,” according to Mom. The success of my first line preview sparked a new venture, Haute Midwest Magazine. The magazine allowed me to fulfill my love of journalism and creative writing, while staying informed in my new career field and advancing the goals of House of Sherell, our family’s premiere fashion house. The magazine is a testament to the constant flow of new ideas and talented energy in our entire family.
The second chapter in GSIA history has already begun. With the success of Haute Midwest magazine and finding a new creative voice, I am launching full-time into fashion. Yet a computer programming student, I plan to add fashion design to my educational portfolio, which includes two Bachelor of Arts degrees. To pay success forward, I am happy to sponsor future fashion moguls, which is part of my new design business including expertise in fashion and media, GSyndicates.
My designs complement a variety of body shapes and sizes. My first full-sized (not just for dolls and bears) apparel and accessory collection, GSIA™ (GSyndicates Iowa, now part of GSyndicates™), was featured at the November 2013 House of Sherell Fashion Show & Banquet. The star of the collection was a pearl white suit dubbed, “Marilyn.” This show stopper (shown at left) was born in one of Shenica’s bursts of manic energy (a nod to her Bipolar battle – Shenica was diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depression, and Schizoaffective Bipolar Disorder (following a near death experience). My condition is managed by medication, allowing me to thrive creatively (learn about my mental health activism).
Ann Cole Lowe (December 14, 1898 – February 25, 1981) was America’s first Black high-fashion designer, from rural Clayton Alabama. Lowe and I share an element of history (including our culture and designer genes: we are each the third generation out of slavery – the great granddaughters of an enslaved woman and a plantation owner. Lowe’s grandmother was raised as an enslaved dressmaker for her white owners. After the Civil War, she opened her own business. Ann, like myself, learned to sew from both her grandmother and her mother, and showed marked talent even from the early age of six.
Lowe’s designer genes came from her mother Janey and grandmother Georgia. These influences both worked as seamstresses for the first families of Montgomery and other members of high society. Lowe was just 16 when her mother passed. Lowe inherited her mother’s unfinished fashionable work including four ball gowns for the First Lady of Alabama, Elizabeth Kirkman O’Neal. Lowe finished the dresses.
Although Lowe was (perhaps unbeknownst to herself) married to her design work, she wed Lee Cohen in 1912, with whom she had a son, Arthur Lee. Cohen’s lack of admiration for Lowe’s design prowess likely led to their parting. He wanted her to give up working as a seamstress. While she complied for a time, the #fashioncall could not be put to rest. After being hired to design dresses for a Florida based tycoon, Lowe took her son and left (Arthur Lee later worked as Lowe’s business partner until his untimely death in 1958 from a car accident (a second marriage, to a man whom Lowe quoted as having said he, “…wanted a real wife, not one who was forever jumping out of bed to sketch dresses”, also ended)).
Lowe enrolled in a couture course at S.T. Design school in 1917, taking a sabbatical from her Florida job. The school was then segregated. Lowe’s classes hosted only one student – herself! Her white schoolmates refused to sit in the same room with her. In fact, the college head was shocked to learn that Lowe’s application was that of a Black woman. Despite the potentially lonely education, Lowe studied hard and graduated early in 1919. Lowe and her son returned to Tampa, Florida and opened her first dress salon. It successfully catered to Tampa’s high society. However, Lowe returned to New York City in 1928 and lived in New York for the rest of her life.
After working for a time under the auspices of various labels on commission – including Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, Lowe grew weary of not being credited for her work. In 1950, Lowe and her son opened a second salon, Ann Lowe’s Gowns, on Lexington Avenue in New York City.
Lowe’s unmatched designs thrilled high society matrons from the 1920s to the 1960s. She became known as “society’s “best-kept secret” (Minutaglio). Ebony magazine called her the “Dean of Designers.” Much like my mother taught me, Lowe learned and practiced that the inside of the garment, however unseen, was as important as the outer appearance. The inside of her garments were beautifully finished with her trademark excellent technique.
Lowe is best known for her ivory silk taffeta wedding dress design worn by Jacqueline Bouvier when she married John F. Kennedy in 1953. However, Lowe was snubbed by Kennedy who when asked by reporters about her dressmaker, responded that she had wanted something French, but instead “a colored dressmaker” did it (Martin). Only one reporter, Nina Hyde of the Washington Post, actually followed up to discover Ann Lowe’s name (Martin). All of the numerous other stories ran without any mention of her. Understandably, Lowe was very disappointed.
While Lowe commanded high prices for her designs, she was often talked down and barely made a profit on what should have been lucrative sales.
This marked underprofitting plagued Lowe’s business years and left her at once bankrupt. She even had a loss of over $2,000 on the Kennedy dress that is one of the most iconic gowns of all time. Lowe charged only $500 for the ensemble that actually had to be made twice! The original gown was destroyed in a freak flood that ruined Lowe’s design studio and several of the Kennedy designs including the bride’s and some bridesmaids’ dresses. Lowe swallowed the cost, re-ordered fabric, and had her seamstresses working overtime to re-make the dresses. After all of the sacrifices Lowe made, she was still asked by guards at the wedding venue to use the service entrance because she was Black. Lowe refused, stating that the dresses would not be delivered at all if they had to be delivered under an umbrella of prejudice. She said, “If I have to use the backdoor, they’re not going to have the gowns!”
Lowe was challenged in later life with bad eyesight and completely lost one eye, with the other later being saved by surgery. She told the Saturday Evening Post that although she had to “work by feel”, people told her that she had “….done better feeling than others do seeing.”
Sadly, Lowe died at 82 on February 25, 1981, without achieving notoriety or financial success that equals her current renown.
Though she did not live to see it, a collection of five of Lowe’s designs are presently held at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Three of her designs are on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Several other of her designs were included in an exhibition on black fashion at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan in December 2016. A children’s book, Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Ann Cole Lowe written by Deborah Blumenthal was published in 2017. Author Piper Huguley wrote a historical fiction novel about Lowe’s life.
“1953 – Ann Lowe, Jacqueline Kennedy’s Wedding Dress.” Fashion History Timeline, 13 June 2020, fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1953-lowe-kennedy-wedding-dress/.
Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes (June 28, 1905 – September 26, 2001) was an American fashion designer and costumer. She is credited as the original creator of the Playboy Bunny costume. Valdes is frequently quoted as having said of herself, “I just had a God-given talent for making people beautiful…”
Valdes was born Zelda Christian Barbour in Chambersburg, PA, but grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina where she trained as a classical pianist at the Catholic Conservatory of Music. In the early 1920s, Valdes worked in her uncle’s tailoring shop in White Plains, New York. Around the same time, Valdes began working in a high-end boutique as a stock girl. Eventually, she worked her way up to sales and making alterations. Valdes was the boutique’s first Black sales clerk and tailor. She knew how to design for any body type and could accentuate the best of every body.
She claimed to own the first Black owned business on broadway when she opened “Zelda Wynn” in 1948, her design and dressmaking studio in New York. Valdes dressed a host of celebrities and charged near $1,000 for a single gown in the 1950s (that would be about $10,000 US today). Wynn was one of the founders of the NAFAD. The clothing label featured at the top of this post is from a dress worn by Ella Fitzgerald (circa 1940s), designed by Zelda Valdes.
Mildred Blount (born 1907) was an American milliner (hat maker) noted for her creations for the production of Gone With The Wind, and for celebrities and other people in high society.
Blount’s worked at Madame Clair’s Dress and Hat Shop in New York City, where she developed an interest in millinery. She and her sister, who was a dressmaker, later opened their own dress and hat shop with target market of wealthy New Yorkers.
Blount’s career was energized after her designs were shown at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. She was asked to design hats for the films Gone with the Wind and Easter Parade, as well as for the cover of the August 1942 Ladies’ Home Journal. Later in the 1940s, Blount ran a hat shop in Beverly Hills, California. She catered to clients such as Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Gloria Vanderbilt, Marian Anderson, and others. Blount reportedly died in 1974 in Los Angeles, California.
GSNY (GSyndicates New York) is your fashion source for uptown fashion at a hometown price. GSNY is inspired by comfort and classic lines. Breathable fabrics complement lifestyles on the move. Convertible styles mean more mojo for your money. You can easily take daytime looks to nighttime flair. Whether you take to the catwalk, the office, or the shops on the avenue, you will look and feel great in GSNY.
GSNY Butterfly Mini Shirt
Update your little black dress! The GSNY Butterfly Mini Shirt is the long and short of comfortable style. Ruche at the waist for a daytime wear. Stretch to full length for nighttime flair. The mini shirt is made of organic jersey knit fabric. The V-neck collar is mirrored at the back and made of 100% American grown cotton jean fabric.
The GStyle Concierge is your personal GSyndicates Stylist. She says, “For a DAY LOOK: Wear the GSNY Butterfly Mini at 3/4 length for a form flattering shirt with butterfly sleeves.”
“Transition to a NIGHT LOOK: Wear the GSNY Butterfly Mini at full length (shown at left) for a lightweight mini dress with captivating movement even when you are standing still.” The GSNY Butterfly Mini Shirt retails for just $85 online (excluding tax and shipping).
I could not share GSNY without its forerunner, GSIA (GSyndicates Iowa) – the original GSyndicates brand. After battling depression for several years, I was inspired by my mother to take up a lost art from my youth. Read about my fashion design history.
F.D.L.F.D.B. That is, Friends Don’t Let Friends Dress Badly. Does your BFF need a #stylehaul? You’ve been there for her since kindergarten. Friend, don’t fail her now: help a sister out! Give her the gift of GSNY.
From Midwest to Manhattan
Making the transition from Iowa to New York, this post would be remiss without mentioning obvious differences between Midwest and East Coast style from the brief time that I lived in Manhattan over a decade ago (before GSIA was conceived). The Midwest founded GSIA is true to its traditional roots of high necklines and low hemlines in comfort-first creations with intermittent elements of Michael Kors and Coach (I see these on a daily basis paired with eclectic and even crafty (homemade) ensembles).
On the other hand, New York had its own fashion week on the scale of Paris and Italy (not to downplay the up and coming Midwest Fashion Week). Personal style was more of a collective fast fashion that ebbed and flowed with the global community where one wouldn’t be caught in last season’s wing tips.
Times are changing, though. With COVID re-shaping the way everyone does business, fashion is fighting a war like nothing it has ever seen. More and more people are having to choose between what not to wear and where not to wear it. Fashion businesses that hope to survive must pick up the virtual reins and find ways to meet fashionistas where they are – at home and online, becoming influencers with their self-made blogs and vlogs.
My GSNY Favorites
GSNY is the best of both regions: an homage to the international fashion Elders via the Eastern Seaboard, and a faithful offering to the love of comfort – even when it does not make the catwalk (since that is becoming more rare with restricted gatherings). Here is a look at some of my GSNY favorites.
mox·ie/ˈmäksē/ : 1. Force of character, determination, or nerve. “When you’ve got moxie, you need the clothes to match.” (Google Definition)
Treat yourself to a little moxie!
It’s finally here! Introducing GSyndicates’ private label (PL) women’s clothing brand, “Moxie”. Inspired by the original GSJEANS CO Moxie Jacket, the new line has everything a Midwest Diva needs to weather this winter and come out like a rose. Here’s a preview of GS Moxie (PL)…
The GStyle Custom Fit Profile is a complete tailoring solution. Complete your personal profile to customize your garments and accessories for the right fit every time. An incomplete profile may not produce the same results. Read the F.A.Q.s below.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a GStyle (GS) Custom Fit Profile?
The GStyle Custom Fit Profile is your key to getting the right fit every time you order custom apparel and accessories. We fulfill your order based on the details contained in your profile.
How do I create my GStyle™ Custom Fit Profile?
The GStyle Concierge can help you create a GStyle Custom Fit Profile. On the product detail page, click the “Buy Now!” button. You will be prompted to create or update your GS Custom Fit Profile before completing the payment process. Complete the required information to receive a GS Customer ID. This ID links your profile to your orders.
How do I link my GStyle Custom Fit Profile to my order?
Enter your GStyle Customer ID in the appropriate field on your product order form.
What if I am purchasing for someone else – do I have to link my profile to the order?
Yes and No. Yes, you should link your profile for account history purposes and order tracking. No, you do not have to apply your profile details to the garment or accessory you are purchasing. If you want to purchase an item for someone else, select the “This is a gift” option on the order customization page. Your GStyle Customer ID will assigned to the order. Your profile details will not be applied to the item your are purchasing.
Do I have to complete the entire profile every time I make a purchase?
No. If you have previously created a GStyle Custom Fit Profile, you do not need to complete all questions on the form each time you make a purchase. You can choose to complete only the required contact details and the questions for which you want to edit / update your profile information.
Is creating a GStyle Custom Fit Profile required to place my order?
No. Creating a profile is optional but recommended to ensure your best fit. If you do not create a profile, you can still place your order with standard sizing options.
Please read the following before completing the profile form.
A unique GStyle Customer ID is required to save your order history. You may also make guest purchases without saving your order history. .
If you previously created a GStyle Custom Fit Profile, you already have a unique GStyle Customer ID. .
If you have forgotten or lost your GStyle Customer ID, click here. .
If you do not have a GStyle Customer ID, complete and submit the GStyle Custom Fit Profile form. After submitting the form, your profile will be saved and you will create a GStyle Customer ID. .
If you previously created a GStyle Custom Fit Profile, you do not need to complete all questions on this form again. Complete only the GStyle Customer ID and the answers you want to change / update on your profile. .
If you have a GStyle Customer ID and do not want to make changes / updates to your GStyle Custom Fit Profile, you may skip the GStyle Custom Fit Profile section of this form and proceed to customizing your item. Click the green GStyle by You: Customize This button on your chosen product page to continue. .
If you have a GStyle Customer ID and want to add custom features to this item, complete and submit the GStyle by You: Customize This section of this form. Click the green GStyle by You: Customize This button on your chosen product page to continue. .
If you have a GStyle Customer IDanddo not want to customize your item, you can skip the GStyle by You: Customize This section of this form and proceed directly to the buy now page for this item. Click the blue GStyle Buy Now & Save! button on your chosen product page to continue with your order. .
If you do not have a GStyle Custom Fit Profile and do not want to create one, you still need a GStyle Customer ID to save your order history. To create a GStyle Customer ID, complete only the contact information on the GStyle Custom Fit Profile and submit the form. You can leave the remaining sections blank. .
If you do not want to save your order history, you may place your order as a guest. You will not be able to access your order history at a later date without incurring a fee.
« Request a consultation today for your custom wardrobe or other apparel including wedding garments and special occasion attire.