Leather and Laces Super Bowl Party

After a year of build up and a historic night, Super Bowl LI has come and now gone in Houston. I remember when it was first announced that the game would be coming to our city and then doing the subsequent countdown to the big day. I was part of the experience over the last two weeks, first as a Super Bowl volunteer and then this past weekend, covering two of the parties happening in town.

The first was Leather and Laces at Hughes Manor on Washington Avenue. The annual event started in Houston back in 2004. It returned to the Bayou City this year with co-hosts (and married couple), Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg. Past guests have included Adriana Lima, Joey Fatone and Jeremy Piven. I covered the event for CultureMap. You can check out the story here or read the full article below.

Marriage proposal and Super Bowl predictions take center stage at sexy Leather and Laces party

is In the Air” might sound more like a phrase best saved for Valentine’s Day, but it managed to find a place at the 14th Annual Leather and Laces Super Bowl party Friday night.

Actress Jenny McCarthy and husband Donnie Wahlberg co-hosted the event at Hughes Manor on Washington Avenue, but the couple turned the spotlight over to their friends shortly after the clock struck midnight. Wahlberg, who is the star of CBS’ Blue Bloods, handed the microphone to his friend, Tony, so he could propose to his girlfriend (and for the record, she said, yes).

That was probably the most surprising moment at the party, which is making its return to Houston after being founded here in 2004.

But let’s not forget one of the main reasons bringing partygoers out this weekend: Super Bowl LI. Predictions for who will win leaned more in the New England Patriots’ favor than the Atlanta Falcons, with the most notable push for the Pats coming from Wahlberg, a Boston native.

Special guest and NASCAR driver Kyle Busch also threw his support behind the Bill Belichick-led team, while former Houston Texan Marcus Spears elected to stay neutral saying, “We’ll let the chips fall where they may.”

Even if some fans didn’t outwardly show their love for the Falcons, they did have a chance to take home some memorabilia from the team’s quarterback. A silent auction featured a Matt Ryan autographed jersey, along with signed guitars from Pink Floyd and Paul McCartney, movie posters with cast signatures on them, and other items from NFL teams. But when paying to play in auctions gets too expensive, you can always get the autographs from the athletes and celebrities in the flesh. And there were plenty opportunities to do that.

La’Roi Glover, Roy Williams, B.J. Johnson, Victor Ortiz, Bryan Braman and Ryan Klesko were among the former and current professional athletes to walk the red carpet. Sports Illustrated model and Texas native Hannah Ferguson also made an appearance.

But dancing was the main theme of the night as popular music blared from a room with white cabanas and a lit-up dance floor. Performers with Cirque USA dangled from the ceiling as open bars throughout the venue kept the drinks flowing. DJ Michael Jerome entertained in another area, where guests could feast on macarons, chocolate and strawberries from Dolce Delights, or briefly play dress-up at the photo booth.

For those interested in watching the scene rather than being part of it, covered seating on the deck was an option, complete with a big screen airing NFL Network. One of the lushest rooms was a lounge with a Moulin Rouge flair, including red curtains and velvet ceilings.

Friday was the first of a two-night event. The party continues Saturday with models Emily Ratajkowski and Sara Sampaio expected to headline. Parking seemed limited on the Hughes Manor campus, with valet being the closest option if you plan to navigate the streets yourself on the night before the Super Bowl. Otherwise, you can grab an Uber right outside the club.

A lounge ticket starts at $400 and goes up to $20,000 for a celebrity cabana. You can find more information on the Leather and Laces website.




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Passion for Fashion with Christian Siriano

This year, Houston Community College‘s annual Passion for Fashion luncheon featured designer and Project Runway winner Christian Siriano. The event at River Oaks Country Club raises scholarship money for students in HCC’s Fashion and Interior Design programs. CultureMap editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh interviewed Siriano, who talked about life after Project Runway (he’s one of the show’s most successful stars), and his latest collection, which he showcased during the event. Siriano also has a sense of humor — which kept the room laughing!

Work from HCC students was also on display. I’ve always loved their designs and the talent that comes from the schools arts’ programs. Around May, HCC usually has a large fashion show featuring the collections of at least a dozen students. Scholarships to study in Paris, sewing machines and gift certificates are among the awards given to the top designers (though, those involved are all strong). I’ve modeled in the show before. It’s worth checking out!

On a personal level, I saw my great friend and former co-worker, Brittany. She’s a graphic designer who actually created all the materials (programs, signage, digital elements, etc.) for the event. A snapshot of her work is in the above gallery in the bottom right-hand corner. Before the show, I ran into Clifford Pugh and in between mingling with other guests, hung out with the mannequins. Turns out posing with them is harder than it looks! I also worked in a fierce picture with Christian Siriano.  Stay Stylish!






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Derulo’s Debut

Since I didn’t make it out to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last year, I knew I wanted to check out the show this time around. I reviewed Jason Derulo‘s concert (my first concert review since high school!) on Black Heritage Day. It was his debut at RodeoHouston. He came riding into NRG stadium on the back of a pickup truck and left like a true cowboy  — on horseback. It was a rocky ride (a friend working closer to the stage told me Derulo accidentally kicked the horse, causing it go faster. Hence, a look of shock, or maybe terror?, was spotted on his face as someone helped catch the horse.) Read here or below to find out what other moments left his fans on Twitter talking!

Shirtless Jason Derulo searches for H-Town’s ‘It Girl’ and gets the party started at sexy Rodeo debut

Jason Derulo made it clear early in his debut at RodeoHouston: If you didn’t come to dance, you were in the wrong place. “We came all the way to Houston to party, and I heard this was the hottest party in Houston, tonight,” he shouted out to an excited crowd of 59,236 on Black Heritage Day at NRG Stadium Friday night.

The sexy 26-year-old singer kicked off the show with “Trumpets”, “Wiggle” and “Get Ugly” before turning the stage over to his dancers.  Fans were on their feet, but it seemed the dancing didn’t really get started until he roared back with “Whatcha Say,” his 2009 debut single.

And for the fans who’ve followed Derulo’s career, he had another treat. “Single ladies that love Jason Derulo make some noise. If you’re not single, I bet by the end of this song, you’ll be riding solo,” he said.

What can I say? The man knows how to work a segue between songs. But it was enough to get a laugh and keep people moving well after his break-up anthem “Ridin’ Solo” was over.

Derulo wasn’t alone for long, though. He hopped off the rotating stage to touch fans’ hands and get one question answered.“All these beautiful ladies over here, and I was wondering if my ‘It Girl’ was in Houston, tonight,” he said.

For the purposes of this segment, she was. The strobe lights, glass-breaking sound effects and dance-offs mid-song all faded into the darkness as the spotlight shined on the fan he pulled from the crowd.

However, it left me thinking, how could I do that? I want to be the “It Girl.” Are these girls vetted?  But I digress.

The chosen fan did exactly right: She milked the moment, sneaking in kisses (on the cheek). At one point, she and Derulo were so close, I began to wonder if I should run out to the floor and offer breath mints. My favorite part of the serenade was how supportive the crowd was, cheering her on the entire time.

On that note, Derulo moved into an acoustic version of “Don’t Wanna Go Home,” but it was brief.

He brought back the dance party and upped the sex appeal in a way that many fans knew had to be coming. He ripped off his shirt. I don’t think you could say his chest was sweating. It was more of a glisten. But the fans didn’t seem to mind as he transitioned into “Talk Dirty.”

Derulo set up his finale in a way I thought was meaningful and believable, despite him being half-naked. “This next song is a celebration, and I want today to be a celebration of life.  Let’s celebrate our health. Let’s celebrate that we can get up and do what we want to do,” he said.

That part made me think. I’d wondered if that celebration of life was a nod to the near-death experience he had four years ago, when a neck-injury sustained from dancing could have left him paralyzed.

Derulo spoke with humility about his journey and success from the moment the show started until the final thank you, when he introduced his hit single,“Want To Want Me.” (He and Luke Bryan did an excellent karaoke version of that song. Maybe Derulo should make a cameo appearance at Bryan’s RodeoHouston concert on March 10. Can we make this happen?)

Derulo ended the show shirtless on horseback and rode off into the sunset – or rather, backstage. Gasps could be heard (or maybe that was just me?) when the horse sped off, catching Derulo off guard. But he laughed it off.

Overall, I found Derulo to be a talented, high-energy performer who mixed the hits fans love (“In My Head,” “The Other Side,” “Cheyenne”) with the vocal range he reminded everyone he has (“Marry Me”). Add in the snippet of “Broke” – a collaboration with Keith Urban and Stevie Wonder – and Derulo may have just danced, glistened, and ridden his way to another Rodeo.


Project Runway Meets Chopped

My third story on CultureMap has finally made its debut. This time, I covered the designing duo behind Magpies and Peacocks, Sarah-Jayne Smith and Ahshia Berry. They take materials that would otherwise be headed to landfill and turn it into upcycled gold. Through a series of strategic moves, their goal is to transform and grow the fashion industry by giving emerging designers the raw tools they need to create and make a name for themselves.

Learn how they do it by checking out the article below.

You can also read it in its original format here.

Stay stylish!


Sarah-Jayne Smith and Ahshia Berry are running out of room in their Midtown warehouse. It’s like a fashion Candyland, stocked with clothing, jewelry, bags and furniture. “We have Salvatore Ferragamo handbags, Forever 21 handbags, vintage Dior cuff links, wedding gowns, costumes,” Smith says.

But pulling back the layers of glamour will show you the big names are just a small part of Magpies and Peacocks: An organization branded as the non-profit that helps other non-profits.

“It’s always charity, community, business. That’s the roadway,” Berry says.

“We get a huge kick out of people stepping up to the plate, reaching across the aisle and helping each other out,” Smith adds.

Launched in 2012, Magpies and Peacocks works with local designers to upcycle, or increase the value of, items that would otherwise be headed to the trash pile. The new products are then donated to non-profits and sold at their events to help them raise money. So far, M&P has helped over 50 charities.

“If it’s not good enough, it gets remade,” Smith says. “We want it to be human. We don’t want it to be machine-made because that’s not our journey, but at the same time it has to be worth something.”

Partners with Peacocks

Another method happens each quarter, where organizations are nominated and two are selected to become partners with Magpies and Peacocks. This year, it’s Career Gear Houston and Houston PetSet. Collections are based on the organizations and sold online through the Magpies and Peacocks website. The chosen non-profits each get a percentage of the sales from their collections.

It’s part of a strategy that turns belts and ties into dog collars or tweed jackets into iPad covers and laptop cases. Each year, the charity diverts over 500 pounds of materials to be upcycled.

The push to make even a small dent in how much waste is created is why they collect everything from accessories and furniture to light fixtures and shoes.

Berry says you can get your item and monetary donations to Magpies and Peacocks simply by calling or emailing to let them know you have something to give.

But they also have a more social aspect to donating, where they partner with a local business to host a Closet Deposit event. You can drop off items, shop and mingle —usually with champagne and light bites to boot.

“We’re not replacing your Goodwill run or your Purple Heart pick-up. We’re not taking stuff from those charities,” Berry says. “We want to be able to curate stuff and make better use of it.”

Concept beginning

The organization’s concept really began to take shape when Smith worked as an interior designer. She noticed her clients all shared common habits when it came to clinging to personal belongings.

“We all kind of vet our stuff, but we don’t do it very honestly or openly,” Smith says. “There’s anything you’ve ever been gifted, anything you’ve inherited but it’s going to stay in that box until you figure out what to do with it. And I won’t even get into that category of stuff with swing tags on them because it makes you happy to look at it, but you’re never going to wear it.”

The good, the bad and the broken in those piles can easily clutter a closet. But Magpies and Peacocks says, give it to them anyway. If nothing else, it could offer the hidden treasure needed to continue growing “Artist in Nesting” – their program aimed at nurturing emerging designers. Smith and Berry describe it as “Project Runway meets Chopped.”

Designers are given a task and the donated raw materials to create pieces that will turn into a collection. A percentage of the sales from that collection will then benefit a local charity. Part of the program is also teaching designers about the fashion business and connecting them to the retailers where some of their products are eventually sold.

“They get the branding and marketing side such as being featured on the website down to the packaging,” Berry says. “Then each order is shipped with a handwritten note that mentions who made the collection.”

Artist in Nesting

Smith says the Artist in Nesting program (also known as the Designer Incubator) takes the guesswork out of it for stores partnering with up-and-coming designers who might initially be seen as a risk if they don’t have experience with pricing, packaging or quality control.

Since 2012, Magpies and Peacocks has helped 30 young designers. The latest is painter and art teacher Karen Roberts. She owns the company Zelda & LUCY, which features her collection of 1920s-style cloche hats made from men’s suiting and brooches. They range in price from $60-75.

Roberts’ collection was recently highlighted at an Artist in Nesting event at Langford Market in the Heights.

“We’re saying there’s a place for young designers here, and we can showcase them,” Smith says. “We don’t want to lose our graduates to New York. We need to show them that they can be successful here.”

That’s also why Magpies and Peacocks will host their signature event, “Catwalks and Classrooms” in September. The design competition will have 25 students create two to three upcycled looks from donated materials. Students as young as 14 taking fashion design courses can participate. Scholarships are among the top prizes awarded to the winners.

“We’re talking about building relationships with people,” Smith says. “Getting designers to collaborate with schools, getting schools to collaborate with charities. We’re trying to build bridges so that Houston’s a better place to incubate designers.”

You can find collections made for Magpies and Peacocks at CarrieAnn in Uptown Park and Impromptu and Olivine in the West University/Rice Village area. Wardrobe Boutique in Montrose will carry a Magpies and Peacocks accessory collection beginning in mid-July.

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Girl Power Reigns at Cirque du Soleil

The next opportunity I had to write for CultureMap actually turned out to be a dream come true. I wrote a piece previewing  the Cirque du Soleil show, Amaluna. The production was making a stop in Houston before heading overseas for the European leg of its’ tour. At the time of this post, it’s still here and will be through March 22nd. So why the dream come true? I have always wanted to see a Cirque du Soleil show, but it was never the right time. Now, I’ve not only had the chance to write about it, but also see those words come to life on stage.

Amaluna is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and follows the coming-of-age story of a young girl named Miranda. She lives on the island “Amaluna” (hence the name of the show), which means “Mother Moon.” Several themes run throughout the show but the strongest just might be the strength, intelligence and grace of women.

This is all detailed in the article, which you can find here. Or just scroll down to read the full piece in its’ entirety.

Women power soars: New sexy Cirque du Soleil boasts supermodel drummer, goddesses in the air & more

The iconic blue-and-yellow swirl tent can be seen from a mile away, signaling one thing: Cirque du Soleil is back in town. The big top touring show has taken over Sam Houston Race Park with its’ 33rd production, “Amaluna.”

Underneath all the flair and whimsy of “Amaluna” lies a coming-of-age narrative that promises an attack on the senses. “We see people laughing. We see people crying. We see people taking so many different emotions from this particular show,” Rowenna Dunn, Cirque du Soleil publicist, says.

“Amaluna” also marks a number of history-making moments for Cirque du Soleil, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary. It’s enlisted a real heavy hitter to guide the show in Tony-award winning director of theater and opera, Diane Paulus. Houston is the final city on the United States tour before the acrobats swing overseas to start the European leg of the tour in Madrid.

CultureMap talked to Dunn to find out how this blend of magic all comes together and how Cirque managed to breathe life into an unexpected byproduct — inspiring a generation of women.

CultureMap: What’s Amaluna about?

Rowenna Dunn: It’s essentially a love story very loosely based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” When the show begins, everyone is celebrating a young girl named Miranda and her transition into womanhood on the island Amaluna, which means Mother Moon. Meanwhile, her mother Queen Prospera is whipping up a storm that brings in a shipwrecked, boatload of boys.

It’s love at first sight between Miranda and one of the boys Romeo, who both must find the balance between love for each other, love within a community and love between families.

CM: Women play a strong role in this show. What was the idea behind that theme?

RD: Traditionally in Cirque shows, the cast is about 70-80 percent male. That was never a conscious effort but that was just sort of the way the candidate pool had fallen. In this particular show, our founder and owner Guy Laliberté had said, “You know what? It’s really time we just focus on the amazing female performers out there.

“Let’s bring them in and create a show that focuses on the strength and beauty of women.”

CM: Director Diane Paulus (Pippin, The Magic Flute) was brought in to help execute that vision. What’s it like working with her?

RD: Part of Diane’s theatrical element is she loves to break down that barrier between the audience and her performers. When you come to the show, you’ll see performers running into the crowd messing with people here and there, and you won’t even expect it because you’re so enthralled with what’s happening on the stage.

Diane also brought in her set and props designer Scott Pask. Together, they made a deliberate choice to have relatively few moving parts in the set design. That was intended to add a certain elegance to the performances by concentrating the audience’s attention on the human aspect.

CM: For the first time in Cirque du Soleil history, there’s an all-female band. How does the band enhance the show?

RD: The music with this show is a bit of a departure from the ethereal-type sounds that we’re used to hearing at Cirque shows. This is more rock, more punk and the girls get out on the stage a lot, and they’re in the audience as well. We wanted to integrate them into more of the acts to be more of a focal point.

I feel like some of the other shows that I’ve worked on people never realize that we have live music. So, there was definitely a conscious effort to showcase that strength. It’s something where we see admiration from our audience members who say, “Wow, you have a female drummer, and she kicks butt!” You see that all these powerful women are really giving a good show.

CM: What kind of feedback have you received from having a dominant female presence in the show?

RD: We’ve had audience members, we’ve had people who have sent us comments either on social media or through other channels saying, “I have a daughter, and I want her to know that she can do anything. I want her to not be limited.” Going back to our female drummer, people say, “I kind of thought that was a boy job.”

But when you see the girl — she’s gorgeous; she’s very supermodel-gorgeous and people, are like “Wow, she’s a drummer I would never have thought that.”

It’s breaking stereotypes and also letting people know you can do that as well. It’s very achievable. This is just something we can do to empower young women and girls out there who have dreams and who want to see them come to fruition. We can speak to that, and in doing so, we speak to a lot of people.

CM: How is “Amaluna” different from other Cirque shows?

RD: Particularly with “Amaluna,” there’s such a human silhouette that’s being celebrated. That means most of our characters, with the exception of one is portraying, a human-type character. With a lot of other Cirque shows, there are performers playing mythical creatures or bugs in a forest, for example.

But in this case, you see warrior women on stage and people that are flying out 30 feet in the air, so you get to see and experience the facial expressions a lot more. You get to recognize them as being human. We also wear a lot of denim in the show from jeans and jackets to dreadlocked head pieces. Girls are even wearing corsets and gorgeous heels. It’s a very different look.

CM: Without giving too much away, describe some of the acts.

RD: We have the uneven bars, which we’ve never had at Cirque before. A lot of research and development went into building the apparatus. Initially, we asked, how many girls can we get spinning at one time? The artists are the specialists and they were brought in because they know whether it’s going to work, whether it’s going to look good and whether it’s going to be safe.

Then, the creative team comes in and says, “Wear this five-point headpiece, this corset, these shoes, this tail!” It’s a very big learning curve but definitely one of the high-energy acts in the show.

We also have the water bowl, which is featured in one of our shows in Las Vegas. This is the first time we’ve toured with it, and it weighs about 6,000 pounds. Once it’s full, it takes four hours to fill. We keep it heated at 98 degrees at all times because we have a girl who’s doing a hand-balancing contortion act on top. This thing is so huge that it’s one of the first things to go into the big top as we’re setting it up and it’s one of the last things to come out.

The balance goddess is a very quiet, intimate act in the second part of the show. It’s not something that is high risk to the point that’s it death-defying, but it’ll keep people holding their breaths. Without fail, we have a standing ovation after that act every single night in every single city that we perform it in.

It’s definitely something that people will not have seen or experienced before.

Cirque du Soleil: Amaluna runs through March 22 at Sam Houston Race Park. Tickets start at $35. VIP and behind-the-scenes packages are also available for $275 and $500 respectively.


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Designing Woman: A Fashion (Article) Debut

As of January 5, 2015, I have officially written my first article for CultureMap. It’s a goal that I’ve been working to reach for the last couple years or so. I was looking for something that showed me what’s going on around Houston and at the same time encompassed so many of my favorite topics including fashion, entertainment, and fine arts. So, when I started reading CultureMap, I knew I had to be part of it.

For my CultureMap debut, I wrote about Houston designer, Chekwube Emebo and her budding brand, Ada Kwube. It was truly a blessing to work on this story and I can’t wait to start writing more. Send me your ideas!

I pasted the story below, but to see the original in all its’ glory, go here.

Scientist-turned-fashion designer aims for global appeal with unique made-in-Houston dresses

“I think it takes courage to stand out, whether it’s in your clothing or your ideas. I really want women to feel empowered.”

For Chekwube Emebo, part of that empowerment starts with the bold colors, classic silhouettes and African wax prints that make up her clothing line, Ada Kwube.

“I have always loved fashion, always wanted to start my own brand,” she said. “And it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do.”

The scientist and recent Rice University graduate found inspiration in her own heritage through the wax prints her mother used to wear as a member of a women’s club back in Nigeria. “Every month they would have this fabric that they’d all have to buy,” Emebo recalls. “She’d have this big trunk full of bundles and bundles of wax. She would open it, and you would just get this waft of the smell of the wax print. It was just something really special.”

And something that is still popular in her hometown of Lagos.

The distinct prints are often worn for social occasions such as weddings and funerals. They’re also used to make everyday items like baby carriers. But don’t dismiss the tribal prints as the same ones hanging on the racks at some of the trendy retailers in the mall. The prints Emebo uses date back to the 19th century, when they were originally made in Indonesia. European companies then started mass producing them for countries in Africa, where there was a bigger market.

Now Emebo hopes to expand that market into the United States but admits helping women in Western culture feel comfortable wearing it could be a challenge. “Wax print is still associated with a certain ethnic group,” she conceded. “There are so many people that look at it and go, ‘Oh, that’s cute,’ but they won’t wear it because traditional wax print is so colorful.

“That’s the gap that I’m trying to bridge.  Even if it’s just hints of it where you don’t feel like you’re wearing this thing that is loud, but it’s exotic enough to be interesting.”

Three dresses

A look at the three dresses on the Ada Kwube website showcases Emebo’s desire to meet that goal.

Known as the brand’s signature dress, The Ada ($189) mixes the feminine elements of white polka dots and bows with multicolor wax prints on the collar and insets. Known as the brand’s signature dress, the Ada is designed to be dressed up or down, whether it’s with a cross body bag and sandals or a pair of bright-colored pumps and a clutch.

Emebo says the Aisha dress is for any woman looking to channel her inner Southern belle. Aisha ($179) blends a red, high waist, silk dupioni skirt with traditional wax print and polka dots on a navy blouse. But there’s also a hidden feature.

“The full skirt has pockets. If you don’t feel like carrying your purse, just throw your lipstick or whatever else you need in your pockets, and you’re good to go,” Emebo said. “The high waist is also really comfortable and makes you feel small because of where it sits.”

And like many designers, Emebo agrees that every woman needs a little black dress. Ada Kwube’s version comes in the form of the Femi ($189). The cocktail flounce dress boasts an hourglass silhouette, wax print multicolor panels, and red piping.

Captures attention

Emebo says the three looks were the closest to her heart, so making them the introductory pieces of her brand was an obvious choice. The move also proved to be pretty smart, since it captured the attention of fashion industry heavyweight Greg Fourticq.

“When she brought in her samples, I could see there would be an audience for them,” Fourticq said. “They were also very unique and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. That, combined with knowing what she was doing, peaked my interest.”

Fourticq knows the real deal when he sees it. He took over as the owner of Moo Boo’s Manufacturing five years ago when he moved back to Houston. But before that, he worked in New York for Calvin Klein and Donna Karan. Fourticq later launched his own business as a retail consultant for brands such as Carolina Herrera, Paco Rabanne and Nina Ricci.

With a sharpened eye for talent, Fourticq is now using what he learned to help emerging designers like Emebo manufacture their brand in Houston. In fact, Emebo says she has no plans of producing her dresses abroad and was blessed to find Fourticq after being turned down by another factory owner.

“She was like, ‘Oh, no, I can’t make your clothes. They’re too complicated,” Emebo said. “I just sat outside her store and almost cried. I thought, ‘Oh God, what am I going to do?’”

After researching for the last two years about manufacturing and pattern making, Emebo connected with Fourticq through an online forum. They began working together in August of last year, and as of about one month ago, Ada Kwube was born.

The wax prints used in Emebo’s line are imported from a small town in the Netherlands known for making high quality wax print. The base fabric is 100 percent cotton. Then a wax resin is used to make a double-sided print that doesn’t fade.

Now that Ada Kwube has officially arrived, Emebo says she’s one step closer to realizing her vision of seeing women of every color in her dresses. Creating the brand also serves another purpose: paying homage to her mother, Ada. Sound familiar? The first part of the brand name is for her mother who she says “has always been a pillar of support.”

Ada also has a few words to describe her daughter. “She calls me small, but mighty,” Emebo laughs. “She says, ‘Chekwube, you’re so small, but you’re doing all these things.’”

Look for more colors in the existing three dresses to arrive soon on her website, adakwube.com. Emebo plans to roll out new designs starting in summer 2015.

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A Night in the City

Lions and tigers and giraffes! Oh my! Well, that’s what I said anyway when I saw this cashmere and silk scarf at Elaine Turner in CityCentre next to Town and Country Village in the Memorial area.

ScarfNaturally, as a scarf collector, I had to have it! Plus, hashtagging #shopelaineturner when I posted a picture of it to Instagram instantly made me eligible to win an Elaine Turner clutch, so that was an added incentive  (though, no word yet that I’ve actually won). Elaine Turner was just one of the participating retailers and restaurants in the CityCentre Night Out event hosted by the online news magazine, CultureMap.

Proceeds from the event benefited the American Cancer Society and shops like Dryden Kreps (featured in the photo gallery below) offered discounts for shopping there such as 20% off a purchase (Elaine Turner) or gift cards for a certain amount spent that could be used toward a future purchase. I ate at Grub Burger Bar where you could have free fries or a shake with any burger order.

CultureMap’s editors also attended CityCentre Night Out and gave fashion tips on how to wear the latest trends. I met Clifford Pugh, editor-in-chief of the site, and Joel Luks, listings editor and producer, at Dryden Kreps, and Heather Staible, fashion contributor, at Elaine Turner.

The socks in the pics are by designer Vivek Nagrani, who has made a name for himself with his colorful sock and underwear collection. Even President George H.W. Bush is a fan. I loved the socks representing different soccer teams so you can showcase your support for your favorite World Cup contenders right down to your feet.

Stay Stylish!