Nomi Leasure On… Fashion Week, Style And Where She Shops

by Nomi Leasure
Taylor Magazine Minimalist guide to life

Please tell me where you shop! You’re so beautiful and so are your clothes. The white dress that you wore recently on Instagram is so cute so it would be great to know more about your fashion sense and style. – 1st Self Made

At this year’s Fashion Week I had the unique misfortune of encountering a fashion skeptic. You can imagine the type; Squeezed into his weathered leather jacket, scowling beneath his greasy, coiffed locks, scoffing at the spectacle that was unfolding around us. What was unfolding around us was the RtA 2017 A/W showcase – a maze of a dozen or so models frozen in their glacial cool – their piercing, icy stares challenging passersby to rock this frock or pull off this pantsuits.

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RtA – Craig Barritt/WME IMG

I had encountered this type before, someone who took themselves too seriously to be concerned with the frivolity of fashion. He persisted that this, all of this around us, was all in the name of capitalism. That the entire essence of fashion shows and fashion was just to push people to buy stuff. I couldn’t entirely disagree, but I also couldn’t help but wonder just what the hell he was doing at a fashion show.

I countered his argument, “Fashion is art. Each piece is a unique creation. It plays on the past, it pushes us into the future. Fashion makes statements; it speaks to who we are as a culture.”

“But art is created for art’s sake. Art isn’t created to gain anything. It’s just meant to be art.” He was trying to sound smarter than he was.

“Well think of fashion more as design. Fashion is art but with a purpose. It solves a problem. It’s meant to be worn.” And then I slipped in a cliche but apt quote, “Style is a way to say who you are without speaking.” And thank you Rachel Zoe.

What the ladies donned in RtA were saying was, “We’re not going to walk into a room and go unnoticed. We won’t lower our eyes in coyness, we respect ourselves enough as individuals to standout, and we probably have a stronger handshake than most of the men in the room.”

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RtA – Craig Barritt/WME IMG

I’ve gotten a lot of fashion related questions over the years – which is funny to me because I’ve never once considered myself a “fashionista.” Frankly, I hadn’t grown up with enough money to think I could afford to keep up with fashion trends, so I always just wore whatever I liked, whatever looked best on me or made whatever statement it was I was trying to make at the moment. I suppose that culminated in a pretty unique sense of style, and a critical and curious view of the fashion industry. And a few fashion profiles.

For the record I think fashion is important. I think what you wear deserves thought and attention to detail, I don’t find that to be superficial, and I think those who disagree likely could use a makeover. So let’s chat fashion!

RtA is already donned by likes of Kendall, GiGi and Heidi, so they hardly need my plug, but this line so perfectly executes on all my edgy / cool fantasies. Feminine and badass in all the right ways. Sassy but not trying too hard. It’s inline with All Saints, a brand I adore, if not obsesses over. In terms of staples, All Saints is your go to for leather jackets and outerwear. They make other stuff but it’s pretty pricey and trendy and nothing you can’t find elsewhere cheaper.

Sometimes you may feel like parking your sass on a side street and slipping into some pure, glitzy femininity. Hey, just because we’re feminists, ladies, doesn’t mean we can’t like pretty dresses. Enter Gemy Maalouf – maker of every girl’s fantasy princess gown. Of the shows I was privy to see during Fashion Week, Gemy’s took the cake. And not because of the passed apps and free champagne. Okay well not entirely because of the free champagne.

Gemy Maalouf – Jerry Tian Ying Min

The lights were low, the setting simply stunning (The Bowery Hotel in some sexy, secret lair), the music – a solo cello. Models paced the floor in floor length dresses and pants, classic in their overall message but begging a second look to uncover elegant, whimsical or daring details.

Gemy Maalouf – Jerry Tian Ying Min

The gowns were reminiscent of my guilty pleasure designer – Giambattista Valli – the designer responsible for Rihanna’s infamous pink cupcake dress. Valli’s gowns are almost criminal in their cuteness, and I secretly muse about reliving prom and shocking the entire class of ‘09 with my layers of ruffles and chiffon.

For more practical case uses of sexy-femininity I hit up American Apparel. A lot of the things I own that I feel are just downright hot are American Apparel, and unlike a lot of fast fashion their stuff lasts. But outside of formal occassions I typically veer away from the outright girly/feminine stuff. I think because I’m short and look twelve? I dunno. But sexy, sexy I can do. I have a friend in London who makes the naughtiest lingerie – a lot of which can be paired with everyday pieces because innerwear as outerwear is now a thing, don’t ya know? Her line is called Alice Elizabeth Intimates and the site is NSFW.

Back to our skeptic and his argument against fashion as art. If you don’t consider the end product of a process of hand dying, weaving, painting and sewing to be a work of art than you may have taken one to many theory classes and not spent enough time in museums and galleries. After losing one too many articles of fast fashion to normal wear and tear, I can appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into creating a truly artful garment.

I found myself in Michelle Helene’s Chelsea apartment viewing pieces that were just that – unique, well constructed and stitched with love. Her A/W 2017 Presentation “Winter of our Life” features a collection of cozy-cool garments that are as impressive as they are wearable.

Michelle Helene – her own 2017 look book

The intimacy of her showing signalled another trend in the fashion world – people are unimpressed with the been there, done that, (paid) celebrity studded fashion shows. Right now we value authenticity, truth and inclusion – and our fashion choices are no exception. Michelle’s pieces offer a cool that cares – they’re right in step with current trends but still walking to their own beat.

Michelle Helene – her own 2017 look book

On the back of her unisex hoodie, one that needs to enter my wardrobe soon, is her own hand painted watercolour of a porn scene. A woman after my own heart. As for the casual cool that’s already in my closet, the tags are mainly Reformation, Madewell, Everlane and Outdoor Voices. These brands offer everyday pieces that are comfortable, well made and, in the case of Reformation, good for the planet as well (Reformation is where that white tube top/skirt combo came from, by the by). Madewell jeans do for your ass what the Victoria’s Secret Bombshell bra does for cleavage. Trust me, just invest in a pair.

To be honest, a lot of my dope more unique pieces come from putting in time and work at the thrift stores and resale shops (and scalping things from boys closets). I grew up in Salvation Army, Goodwill and The Red White and Blue – and once a bargain shopper always a bargain shopper. In New York, Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading are minefields of secondhand designer duds. You’d be remiss not to explore what the glamourati of your city have discarded. Once you’ve exhausted your latest look, return the favour and donate it. Alternatively, if you’re still looking for designer brands but on a budget, consider investing in replicas; some can look just as real as the actual design. Some are wary of replica designs due to concern over the quality or appearance of the clothing or accessories, but if you follow a replica Louis Vuitton guide, or whatever brand you want, you’ll be sure to find a fake designer product that is almost as good as the real thing.

And don’t forget, beauty fades, but pictures of you looking fabulous last forever.

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