Fashion Designer Anthony L. Williams Talks Stacey Dash's Style, 'Single Ladies' & Dead Fashion Trends

So you're watching VH1's latest drama, Single Ladies, and Stacey Dash fabulously struts across your screen in a breathtaking and amazingly appealing outfit that you're dying to have. Well, say hello to fashion designer and stylist Anthony L. Williams because he's the man behind Val's (Stacey Dash's character) impeccable style and sophisticated image on the new, and arguably popular show. Entering into our radar since the seventh season of Project Runway, the Atlanta resident has stolen hearts with his sense of humor, blunt honesty and infectious charisma. VIBE Vixen caught up with the funny fashion man to see what it's like working with Miss Dash every day. He weighed in on his least favorite trends (thank you, Kim K!), his hope for Val in future episodes and why he's not your average designer.

VIBE Vixen: How did you get the styling gig with Single Ladies?
AW
: I was on season 7 of Project Runway and the producer somehow saw my clothes at Fashion Week. From that point, they liked our aesthetic, and I think they wanted to primarily use an Atlanta-based designer. So, I came on to the pilot just giving Stacy Dash a special dress or one of the ladies something special, but I primarily just focused on Stacy. So, in the pilot, the black dress that she wears to her party with the exaggerated shoulders and plunging v-neck, I actually made that dress and the blue dress when Quinn comes back and they get intimate on her little chaise. That’s what I came in doing for the pilot, just making clothes for those high fashion moments they wanted for her character. So when the show came on, they were like, 'Anthony we would like to bring you on full-time to dress the character of Stacy Dash.' We really worked harmoniously together, and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into because to style a woman every day is totally different than styling a woman for a show. There’s an education and a respectability that needs to be brought back to styling because it’s not easy. I thank God for Stacy and another director; they gave me movies to watch because it’s not enough to have the eye. I could have the eye all day long, but I need to respect and maintain the integrity of clothes that are seen on television.

What specifically would be hard about styling every day?
Styling her was every day was easy, it’s just styling for television that’s hard. In television there are certain rules and guidelines that you have to follow. There are certain things that don’t look good on television. There’s not a lot of white. You can’t wear a lot of prints, not a lot of stripes are shown on television and graphic tees. So, you have to read to the script and go through the script with what they write. I, myself as well as my assistant, would go through the script, and we would dissect certain things. For example, if the script says, 'As Quinn was unzipping the dress on her back,' not only does she have to wear a dress but the zipper has to be long enough just in case he has to say something. The zipper has to fit the length of the dialogue. Smalls things like that that you wouldn’t think about.

How does Stacy Dash’s style differ from her character, Val?
They’re very different, very different. I think Val takes more risks in her character than Stacy. Val takes more risks because she’s a fashion designer; she’s going to have that melting pot of wardrobe. She’s a founding board of her costumers to figure out what they should wear. Stacy Dash and Val are concerned about the fit of the garment, but I think Stacy Dash is a little more at ease, a little more relaxed. I think Val’s wardrobe has some ease to it, but it’s clear that she puts effort into what she wears.

What would you say is the most “liked” outfit that you put her in on TV?
It hasn’t been shown on television yet, but there’s a pink Jil Sanders top, [and] it is the brightest pink that you’ve seen in your life. It’s a pink stretch mesh, crew neck top. We have it paired with a green silk, form-fitted skirt with a bow in the front; she looked like a little Barbie doll. And we put her in these pretty, blue suede Louboutins because color blocking is really in now. You can tell when she looks good because she has this walk. I enjoyed seeing that look on her!

What celebrities, other than Stacy Dash, would you want to style for?
A celebrity that I always wanted to work with was Jennifer Hudson. I think people keep dressing her persona. But I don’t think, she is necessarily being dressed. I think people are dressing the new Jennifer Hudson that lost the weight and before that she was the girl that just got married and had the baby, before that she was the girl from Dreamgirls, and we’ve seen her look go through many different changes. If I were her stylist, I would go for what she likes. I would identify with her personality and character. I always tell people that you don’t know how good you look until you know how good you could look, and I think she could look a little better. Like that dress at the Oscars. I don’t want to seem like I’m bashing her, but that did not look like a Versace dress.

What are you looking forward to from Val’s character? You already know what’s going to happen this season, but how do you want Val’s character to further develop and evolve?
I want her to find true love, because I guess I am an advocate for love. And I want her to continue to evolve as a designer. I think that, in her character and the drama on the show, she’s saying that she is strong, but we’re still seeing her lean towards men. It would be nice to see her working a little more in her shop. You say that you’re a powerful woman, and you say that you’re a strong woman, let me see you assert your power and your strength. You know, she dresses the part, she looks the part, but I think that a great deal of her character is still focused on the breakup with Quinn, another part is focused on helping her girlfriends, but I think we can see her strength [in her work]. Like, you own this boutique, so what’s next? Let me see a line of your dresses come out. Let me see all of these different things that will show your strength. I think we attract whatever we are in our life. The reason why Val is attracting confusion is because she’s in a very confused state. Is she completely out of love with Quinn? No, it’s still very fresh, so right now you’re in that vulnerable state where you just take whatever. But once she becomes strong and the esteem of herself is raised to the level it needs to be, I think she’ll attract the man who can appreciate that accordingly.

I agree. And while you’re talking about what’s next for her, that brings me to you. What’s next for you and any projects that you may be working on?
I’m always asked that question ‘cause in Atlanta, this is the home of making clothes and show it at the local venue and have a fashion show, and I don’t do that. I thank God that I have a great team around me. I’m more concerned about the business of what I do. To be honest, I’m not working on a clothing line to come out, and I am not interested in doing a fashion show or anything like that. I like working, and I’m glad that I work. I think it comes down to me being a man of quantity or quality, and I am most definitely a man of quality. I don’t know what’s next for me. I did make some things for [Stacey Dash] on the show, but I don’t want to lose my hand at my craft because I truly am a designer and I enjoy what I do. But I would love to have my own show helping people with fashion or just a reality show about my life. I think that there are enough shows on television celebrating broken marriages, buffoonery and bullies that are just dressed up glamorously, but they need a real reality show. I hope Lifetime reads this, since I’m already on their team [laughs]! But that’s what I want to do. I want to raise the level of education and awareness about being a stylist, about being a fashion designer.

And now let's talk all about trends! What are you loving and loathing right now?
One thing I would have to say is that a lot of people are the exaggerated jackets. They’re very short in the back but are kinda cut in the front and they have all these layers to them. I really like that because it gives a person the opportunity to cover up their midsection, but if it’s shorter in the back then you can kind of show your body, you know, if you got a little booty or a little thigh [laughs]. I like the berry colors. I think any time we’re transitioning [between seasons], it's berry colors. I really like fuchsia and purple and blueberry [colors], because those colors typically look good on most women. We’re also coming out of a short phase. For the longest, everything has been really, really, really, really short lately, and I’m glad that we’re going into a phase where things may be getting a little more fitted but we’re getting some length.

Yeah, I’ve definitely noticed.
Yes, I like the longer skirt, and more importantly, I’m enjoying pants right now. I’m really enjoying the palazzo pants that are making a comeback. Not everyone can wear them, and you cannot wear a cheap palazzo pant. It’s just not going to read well, but if you partner that with a nice fitted top, it really can be appreciated. And one thing I’m really over: belting everything. Thank you, Kim Kardashian for once again adding the exposure of that trend [laughs], but you know what? Let’s just wrap that up! At some point, people just find a place on their body above their waste to put the belt. It can be up under their arms, under their nipples. You have to find a happy medium! The rule is to find the smallest part of your waist and put the belt there. [laughs].

[Laughs] So you think we should just be done?
This is how I feel [laughs]: If every time you feel incomplete unless you have the belt around your waist, you have become co-dependent upon the belt and it is no longer your friend, it is your enemy and you need to acknowledge it accordingly. I like tiny belts, but if you got this big, leather belt wrapped around your waist and you’re looking like you possibly just won a wrestling match, that’s a problem for Anthony [laughs]! All trends are not your friends!

Check out Anthony's Fashion Breakdown for Single Ladies here!

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
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Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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