Bravo's "Fashion Queens" Bravo's "Fashion Queens"

Vixen Exclusive: Bravo's 'Fashion Queens' Discuss Rihanna's CFDA Award and Style Evolution

On June 2, Rihanna's influential style will be solidified at the CFDA Fashion Awards, where she will be honored with the "Icon Award." The Council of Fashion Designers of America have labeled the provocateur "fashion's most exciting ambassador in recent memory" for her ever evolving looks. Like her predecessors Iman, Lady Gaga, Nicole Kidman and Kate Moss, she's covered countless glossies and set off seasonal trends. However, the question still remains--is she truly an "icon?"

We've employed Bravo's Fashion Queens (above)--Bevy Smith, Derek J and Miss Lawrence--to answer this question and reflect on Rih Rih's journey from Barbadian pop princess to Good Girl Gone Bad.

See what these industry pros have to say on the next page and be sure to tune into Fashion Queens every Sunday night at 11:30pm EST!

Photo Credits: Getty Images

The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Pre-GRAMMY Gala And Salute To Industry Icons Honoring  Lucian Grainge - Show

VIBE Vixen: What is your definition of a fashion icon?

Bevy Smith: I always like that she wears things with confidence and attitude--it works. She's a fashion icon because she goes her own way, takes the risk, and when you take a risk in fashion, that means you are going do something that has not been tried before and when you do that, a lot of times you're going to have mishaps. That is part of being a fashion visionary.

Miss Lawrence: A fashion icon to me is someone like Rihanna--I think that she definitely has earned it. I think that she came along and pretty much galvanized pop culture with her style sensability and turning into being a fashion designer of her own. I think she owns absolutely everything she puts on and she’s always effortlessly chic.

Derek J: Well, in my eyes a fashion icon is a person that exudes personal style. For me, I am very proud of Rihanna for getting this award, but I don’t think she has reached icon status yet. The reason I feel like that is because when it comes to being an icon, their style goes through generations, people know about that person before they even know who that person was. I think she is on her way to become an icon, but do I think she is iconic yet? No.

Do you think it's a matter of time?

Derek J: It’s just a matter of time and I think it’s a matter of evolution of style. When it comes down to style, Naomi Campbell is an iconic styled woman.

Rihanna performing "Umbrella"

Can you remember the first time you saw Rihanna's style evolving?

Bevy Smith: Once she got out of that video vixen look of the blonde hair weave-- the broke r&b chick look--she kind of stepped out on Good Girl Gone Bad. That was definitely the canvas of her style and stepping into her own on all levels.  Style is just as important as talent when you are trying to break out the box.

 It wasn't about the sound initially; it was really when she cut her hair and dyed it black. A long time ago, I dressed her for the Vibe Awards and after that I didn't see her for a while...maybe 2 years.  Then when I did the cover story on her for Paper Magazine, she was a completely different girl.  She was more outspoken. When I first met Rihanna, she was really quiet, kind of shy and referred a lot to other people's opinions.  When I interviewed her two years later, that was totally not the case. In the piece she told me that she had the goal of becoming the black Madonna.  I think she is definitely well on her way.
 In that time, you have to remember everyone was rocking long blonde hair. Think of her competitors during that time--Christina Milian, Teairra Marie, Beyonce--what she did was really bold to go short and black. There was no one doing that.
Derek J: When Rihanna cut her hair, it was at a moment when everybody was in that cookie cutter mode of long hair. If you had a certain skin tone, you had a certain lightness of hair. She cut it and went black. She was the total opposite of what was happening at that moment and it made her stand out.
Miss Lawrence: I was very pleased to see her share herself in the "Umbrella" video. That was one of my favorite videos where she displayed a lot of high fashion. I love her chopped messy bob--she just really delivered a total look for me and it actually worked for her.
2013 American Music Awards - Press Room
As far as Rihanna's hair, what color/style do you think has worked best for her?
Bevy Smith: Another iconic thing she did is when she rocked that bold cherry red. That look might be big in Carribean communities, but you  never see that look in a high fashion point of view. That's what I love about Rihanna-- she brings urban street fashion into the mainstream conversation.  Many women in the past try to crossover street looks to high fashion. Madonna tried it with cornrows , she had marcel waves; she was trying to show the urban experience, but she never experienced it. With Rihanna, she is just taking from her background and bringing it out to the forefront.
Derek J: My favorite has been the short hair. I even liked it when she did the one sided with the gray tips. My worst was when she wore that wrap with them bobby pins. I hated the fact that it was not done and the fact that you had the nerve to add rhinestone bobby pins.
Miss Lawrence: I think my favorite was that whole red moment that she was doing. I think she wears that color really well because she has such rich undertones in her skin and she has beautiful amazing almond eyes.  My least favorite was the whole wrap moment that she had with the blinged out bobby pins. I think she tried to do a whole silver gray moment one time--that might of been my least favorite color.
Bevy Smith: I didn't particularly like it, but it was bold.  We see this look countless times in the hood, but she was taking it to an international platform , and she is calling it a style even though it was a maintenance  kind of  look. You know if you are going out tonight, your doobie has to be fresh( laughs). Who knows-- maybe her doobie wasn't ready to let down, so she just ran with it.
Rihanna The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Red CarpetRihanna The 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Red Carpet
Do any of her red carpet moments stick out in your mind?
Derek J: I know she wore this this deep plunging neckline [at the 2013 Grammys], and she had that had that toussled blonde hair. I thought she was absolutely stellar looking. She looked amazing, she was absolutely stunning and I loved that she walked the carpet and went straight to the stage and didn’t do a costume change or anything.
Who do you think she looked up to in terms of style as a kid?
Miss Lawrence: I could see a little Madonna; not the avant-garde Madonna or anything like that--the Madonna sexy chic side. I could totally see a little bit of Naomi [Campbell] there. I could see a little of Grace Jones with Rihanna’s more daring numbers that she’ll do.
If you had to employ her to help another celebrity with her style, who would it be?
Miss Lawrence: I don’t really want to go there because I think everyone has their own unique style in their divine right. I don’t want to put another artist with another artist to say she could help her out. What I will say is that up and coming entertainers and artists should take note of Rihanna and make sure they follow her path for inspiration.
Derek J: Rita Ora to me doesn’t have a personal style. Rita Ora looks like she is a very stylized person; meaning that her stylist is like, “Girl put this on, you gon’ look good, this is the hottest thing."  I think she is an “It” girl and not understanding as and she feels like she has do the "it" things, too. She only had one good look and I think that was the 2014 Grammys.
Rihanna
Do you think her confidence is inspired by her style or vice versa?
Bevy Smith: I think her confidence is there. Are there better singers? Yeah.  Are there better dancers? Yeah. But she is a maverick and she owns her lane. I think when you own your lane, there's a confidence there that no one can take from you. When you put a fabulous look on top of that--she is the provocateur of music. I think that's what fuels the style.
What tips can you offer Vixens on finding their own personal style?

Derek J: Find out who that inner person is in you and who you really feel comfortable being. Now, a lot of women know who that person is, but they just don’t feel like that’s the right person to be, so what I tell people to do is name that person. If you want to be this really hood rat chick, then be that girl. If you’re more of that classy and reserved lady, then figure out who that chick is and name her. I think that they get so caught up in what people’s perceptions are of them and they second guess what to do because they’re wondering what so and so is thinking of them. That shouldn’t even matter. If it makes you feel good, it doesn’t really matter.

Bevy Smith: Every season you go, look at what the trends are and then you see how your body type , your finances and your spirit can fit to the trends.  Don't opt your personal style just to be on trend. For instance, everyone is wearing overalls, right? That is a really big trend, but I cant wear overalls. But to still be in the denim trend, I got a gorgeous denim pencil skirt.  I'll be part of the trend, but in my own way.

What is on trend this spring?

Bevy Smith:

Pastels- Although it kind of looks Easter,  it is a really great trend for girls and guys. For girls, it makes us look ladylike, young and spirited.  For guys, it makes them look a little more emo; gives them a Drake appeal (laughs).  If you see a guy in a nice pastel pink sweater you are going to think, "Aww he's a nice guy, but he can really be an asshole (laughs)." It makes everyone look a little softer and nicer.
Atheltic Wear- Gotta have your baseball jackets; gotta have athletic inspired footwear.
Metallics in the daytime-  You know last year was all about a pop of color. This year is all about a pop of shine.  Metallics are becoming more casual. In stores you will see a metallic sweat shirt, sweatpants and of course prints and patterns.
How about hair, Miss Lawrence?

Well, definitely you need to consider your hair texture, your facial shape and your lifestyle. Those are definitely three things you need to consider. Then you want to move into manageability, but I support change 100%.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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