Vixen Chat: Fashion Designer Kiki Peterson Talks K.Milele, Urban Fashion + Fashion Classics

Kiki Peterson has created, designed and relaunched several clothing brands over the span of her 19-year fashion career, notably Rocawear, Sean John and House of Dereon. With a keen eye for apparel, a knack for targeting the every day Vixen woman and always following her heart, Peterson is now set to launch K.Milele, her first women's collection. Deriving from her full name Kianga Milele--meaning "sunbeam everlasting"--the sassy yet bold collection will be a contemporary take on the bossy type. Admit it, ladies: Whether it's for a night out with friends or a board meeting with the suits, we want to feel great in what we wear as well as accentuate our young womanly essences.

Because Kiki has lent her know-how and creative balance to several avenues in this way, Grey Goose will honor her as a Rising Icon in Fashion. VIBE Vixen chats with the honoree about the new fashion venture, what celebs should wear her threads and what major moves she was making at 19. -Niki McGloster

What inspired the launch of K.Milele?
K.Milele is something that has been in my heart for years. As a teenager I was making prom dresses, and in college, I was making fabulous cocktail dresses. But I happened to catch a once in a lifetime wave in an unexpected new industry. The urban market was new, fun and fresh, and I was lucky enough to be one of the pioneers and launch the first juniors urban brand. From the success of Fubu Ladies, my career shifted to the juniors market, so before I knew it, 18 years passed. I haven't had the opportunity to do the type of designing that drove me to this business originally; I've been longing to get back to designing contemporary dresses. It has always been my first love and I'm ready to reclaim it.

In three words describe the line?
Sexy, vivacious and feminine.

What is your vision for the first collection?
When I thought of what I should do with this collection, I looked down at the tattoo on my forearm that reads "Let me fly." I knew that's what I needed to do. I've spent so many years designing for everybody else, following their esthetic and pleasing their customers. With K.Milele, I just wanted to FLY! From concept to colors, fabrics and design, I wanted it to represent where I am now, as a 37-year-old woman. I wanted beautiful fabrics and feminine appeal.

What age group are you targeting?
It's not about a specific age group. There is a certain level of sophistication that my collection carries, that may lead to a more mature customer. But I honestly feel like I have something for everyone who's purse and style can handle it.

What have your learned from previous employers about fashion and design?
Every job I've had, I've discovered new ways of being more efficient. Each company operates in their own way, and I can take pieces from each of them and work it into making my own system as efficient as possible. Efficiency is key in a business plagued by deadlines. Being late in any stage of the design/sample/production processes can cost lots of money or even cancellations in orders if you ship late.

It seems that our generation has stepped away from the "urban" wear and look to more tailored or slimmer fits. How do you feel "urban" fashion can be revitalized?
Urban clothing was a huge phenomenon, and just like any phenomenon, the market gets flooded with everyone wanting a piece of the pie. Most of the market's flooding isn't from the original source of the movement. The urban market had evolving trends similar to any other category. For instance, even in couture fashion, there's not one look. The trends, colors, aesthetic changes seasonally and varies amongst designers. The Urban market was that way at one point, but when the market got flooded, they clamped onto one specific look that read the most "urban"(baggie jeans, football jerseys, large logos) in an effort to capitalize on the market the most. Being on the inside, this frustrated us because we're here to design what we liked to wear as young black men/women. Now if you know young black men/women, you also know that we love style and fashion. We are not trying to look like last year. But it was beyond our control. Urban took on a life of it's own, and we couldn't sell the new looks we tried to introduce. The buyers didn't give us the credit of evolution. Yet high end designers constantly take urban trends and built it into their collections. It's crazy. Today the word "urban" is a dirty word! Coming from someone who was there, who knows we were building dope, evolving collections that the buyers would ignore, I can't help to feel a bit sad when I see what the word means to people today.

You're 19 years into the game, what were you doing at that age?
By 19, I was already designing and calling shots for a major brand.

Wow. If you could see any celeb in K. Milele, who would it be?
Dita Von Teese!

Nice! She's very retro glamour. If you could work closely or collaborate with one fashion designer, who would it be?
Betsy Johnson. I've always been a huge fan!

What's your favorite piece from the collection?
That's like picking a favorite child! But if I were tortured into choosing, I'd have to say I love my color-blocked pieces the most.

How does K.Milele fit the current or upcoming fashion trends?
I don't worry too much about fitting into trends. I'm constantly gathering inspiration throughout my everyday life, through shopping, walking down the streets of new york, traveling, fashion magazines and trend sites. Current trends are stored somewhere in my brain and therefore play a part in my designing, but I try to steer away from anything too trendy. I'm a huge vintage fan. I'd like to think of my pieces as fashion classics.

Lastly, in your own words, what's a Vixen?
A Vixen is a woman who's comfortable in her sexuality without flaunting it. Her appeal is apparent, and her confidence will never go unnoticed no matter how hard she may try to play it off. But then again what Vixen chooses to shadow her confidence?

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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.
KMazur/WireImage

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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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

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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