The Funk Boutique: Nurturing a New Generation of Industry Icons and Independent Spirits

The Funk Boutique: Nurturing a New Generation of Industry Icons and Independent Spirits

Lil Nas X, Lena Waithe, Mj Rodriguez for Entertainment Weekly
Lil Nas X, Lena Waithe, Mj Rodriguez for Entertainment Weekly
Image: Texas Isiah, Texas Isiah, Lia Clay Miller For EW

Each year, Entertainment Weekly celebrates Pride Month with a series of covers featuring a series of LGBTQ+ icons and storytellers. Last year, they worked to create an illustrated cover that encompassed that celebration while working with the restrictions of COVID. This year, however, they brought in four storytellers who are regarded as icons making “unforgettable Hollywood history.”

The four featured creatives, Lil Nas X, Lena Waithe, Mj Rodriguez and Bowen Yang all posed in various hues of vibrant and monochromatic outfits,exuding joy, love and confidence. Each has their own unique story of how they got to where they are today and how their past and present experiences have compelled them to take strong stances in the industry. Lena Waithe is very clear on her place in Hollywood and the power she holds:

“Like it or not, I’m not going anywhere,” she tells Tre’vell Anderson.

Similarly, Lil Nas X is saying “fuck you” to all of his haters and is standing his ground, letting us all know that he’s here to “prove [them] wrong.” From sleeping on his sister’s floor in Atlanta at 19 years old to being globally recognized for “Old Town Road,” Nas says the release of “Montero” came at a time when he wanted to give up, and the overwhelming support (coupled with some haters) has pushed him further into the stratosphere.

And let’s not forget that Mj Rodriguez is “claiming what’s hers.” The Pose star has become much-beloved for her portrayal of house mother Blanca on the groundbreaking series, which had a profound impact on viewers, and helped to usher in greater representation of trans actors on mainstream television.

Lil Nas X and Lena Waithe’s covers were shot by Texas Isiah, one of the first trans photographers to photograph a Vogue edition cover and one of this year’s The Glow Up 50 honorees. Nas, standing shirtless in high-waisted mint suit pants and dripping in a layered silver chain that I’m dying to get my hands on (news flash: that will never happen), exudes the power he is so openly working on creating in the industry, draped in a matching—in color—fur coat that ties it all together. Waithe poses in a magenta suit with a pale pink shirt underneath, accessorized in chunky gold and iced out rings that clearly say, “mess with me, I dare you.” And oooh, that slicked-back ‘do Rodriguez is sporting on her cover perfectly offsets a slinky, mirrored hardware dress, giving a combination of elegant and edgy with a smoky glittered eye that is absolute perfection. Her other look includes an orange dress with an open midsection that hints at what we’ll be seeing for Summer ‘21.

All of the Pride Month issues and accompanying interviews are available now on Entertainment Weekly.

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Funding HBCU Fashion

Funding HBCU Fashion

Illustration for article titled The Funk Boutique: Nurturing a New Generation of Industry Icons and Independent Spirits
Image: Harlem’s Fashion Row

Harlem’s Fashion Row, ICON360 and Gap Inc have partnered to curate “Closing the Gap,” a new program for HBCU students to apply for an award that will benefit their school’s fashion department, funded by Gap Inc. Because HBCUs have greater difficulty funding fashion programs, this restricts students interested in fashion from being able to enter into the industry. The funds will allow for a greater number of internships and program opportunities that otherwise might not be available. There are 21 awards available, with first place receiving $100,000. The application opens May 12 and will be open until May 26, and can be found here.

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Black Fashion Fair x Brooklyn Sewing Academy

Black Fashion Fair x Brooklyn Sewing Academy

We all know the next generation of Black designers is poised to rise through the ranks—and Antoine Gregory knows better than anyone. Gregory, a graduate of F.I.T. founded the Black Fashion Fair, a platform that brings Black fashion front and center and connects emerging designers with mentors through an online database and curated virtual marketplace. This summer, the Black Fashion Fair is teaming up with Brooklyn Sewing Academy to launch a program for students who are interested in fashion but may not have access to training in sewing and illustration or the equipment needed to learn. The program is starting small due to COVID, but Gregory has plans to continue and build out other programs as the year continues.

In response to a question regarding his hope for Black and brown students and the future of fashion, Gregory told Victory Vaughns Jr. of WWD: “Black designers are the future of fashion. Black culture has and continues to be a major contributor to the industry. Black designers deserve to be the ones telling their own stories. I hope that we are given space.”

Applications for the program are now open and can learn more about here.

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Celebrating Melanin-Rich Life

Celebrating Melanin-Rich Life

Last week, Allure launched its newest platform, “The Melanin Edit,” which will explore and celebrate “every facet of a melanin-rich life.” The platform will feature voices and stories curated by Black editors at Allure and will include a combination of essays, round-ups and articles focusing on important topics of the beauty industry such as colorism, texturism and cultural appropriation. This idea of exploring a “melanin-rich life” includes historical deep dives into the history of colorism while also providing advice and solutions to questions regarding Black skin and hair care.

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A Shoot Straying Far From E-Arth

A Shoot Straying Far From E-Arth

Doja Cat for Billboard Magazine
Doja Cat for Billboard Magazine
Image: Ramona Rosales

Doja Cat has had quite the successful 2021. From her feature on Ariana Grande’s “34+35” remix to her most recent single “Kiss Me More,” featuring SZA and their pink dreamland of a music video, she is staying in the pop culture stratosphere. While her position in the industry had a rocky start, she has stayed true to her weird and out-of-the-box personality, keeping listeners engaged. This is reflected in Billboard’s Issue 6 of 2021, the cover of which is probably the epitome of who the artist is stylistically and lyrically. Doja poses featuring space-age gloves adorned with discs in shades of purple and blue; hooded coats that give off major Star Wars vibes and very sharp silhouettes that match the intricate braids she sports. There’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of Miss Doja Cat as the year progresses, as well as the inner-workings of her creative style.

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Diotima’s Design Debut

Diotima’s Design Debut

Rachel Scott found the inspiration to launch her ready-to-wear line after a trip back home to Jamaica to visit her parents. Unfortunately, the date she was scheduled to fly home was none other than March 13, 2020—the day the world went up in flames. But that didn’t stop her from pursuing her line Diotima—named after an ancient Greek princess—which focuses on the unique practices of Caribbean artistry. Scott tells Alison S. Cohn at Harper’s Baazar of her experiences connecting with experts in Caribbean artistry and how crazy it’s been starting a business in a pandemic—but that she “really felt it was time to speak for myself and do this project.”

Her Summer ‘21 collection features a range of swim and women’s apparel in neutral tones with a few pieces in a bright coral pink. More information on collection can be found on Diotima’s site.

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