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As the Windy City bustled with basketball fans, Moët & Chandon took a moment to acknowledge the next generation of pioneers who continue to move the culture forward. During this year's NBA's All-Star Weekend, the French luxury champagne brand fine winery partnered with iconic photographer Jonathan Mannion—who has captured VIBE's October 2001 cover featuring DMX and many more hip-hop —to spotlight Chicago's own Don "Don C." Crawley (Just Don, RSVP Gallery) and Kristen Noel Crawley (KNC Beauty).
Held on Sunday (Feb. 16) at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, fellow creatives and friends gathered for a family-style brunch laced with glasses and newly designed bottles of Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé. As four life-sized portraits were presented and unveiled, everyone in the exclusive and star-studded room raised a glass to toast the influential couple and the man behind the lens.
"I've been on a journey with Jon. Together we gone to different cities around the United States celebrating people who we believe are pushing the culture forward," said Jasmin Allen, Vice President of Moët & Chandon U.S. "And today we're in Chicago, the fantastic city of Chicago, against the backdrop of All-Star Weekend, to celebrate leveraging the lens of the mastermind Jonathan Mannion.
"With Jonathan, we've had the opportunity to capture the brilliance of Don C. and Kristen Noel Crawley. Separately, they've done phenomenal things in their areas of expertise and for their communities. But I would argue that together they are bar none. Today, we celebrate them in all their glory."
As the event drew to a close, Mannion took a moment to thank everyone in attendance and talk about the importance of pursuing your dreams, being present for each other as creatives, and broke down the deep meaning of Moet's latest campaign, "Nectar of the Culture."
"Nectar is divided into two different sections. There's "Nec" which means "death"[sic] and "tar" which means "to overcome," which is really powerful, to overcome death. And I think about what I've done with my photography and so many of the people I've photographed in this room and shared my gift with in order to then share it with you guys is really, really essential."
He continued: "We're immortal. We're not here forever, so what's your mark going to be? This is a challenge to really be present for each other and support each other. I just want you to take the time to be together, to embrace each other, to cherish these moments because the moments are essential. I truly am grateful to my partners Moët for believing in me, for believing that my vision was an important one, for bringing this campaign, 'Nectar of the Culture,' to life."
Other creative luminaries in the room included Iman Shumpert, Baron Davis, Yaya DaCosta, Brian Michael Cox, Mano, Nigel Holt, Set Free and more. Scroll down to view more photos from the event.
Moët & Chandon has also released a new, limited-edition collection of custom-designed Moët Nectar Imperial Rosé bottles which pay tribute to the Rose Gold Era and its associated visionaries. As for the "Nectar of the Culture" campaign, Moët and Mannion will be heading to Los Angeles to raise a glass to another pioneer(s).
For the first time since 1988, the NBA All-Star game invaded the winter solstice of Chicago. With the influx of athletes, celebrities, and socialites, several brands took advantage of the opportunity to create various events throughout the city. Amongst the high activity, Martell produced a four-day experience for guests to enjoy. One being in partnership with BET on Saturday night (Feb. 15), with a live performance by Quavo.
“Martell is all about making a statement and pushing boundaries,” Quavo shared. “If you’re looking to have a good time, then the Martell x BET H.O.M.E. is where it’s at. It’s all about drinking Blue and celebrating with the friends and athletes.”
The H.O.M.E. by Martell x BET Experience included interactive activities in the city’s West Loop neighborhood. The day kicked off with a six-part live podcast series featuring Kenyon Martin, Nick Storm, Sarunas Jackson, Nick Young, DJ Whoo Kid, Shaheem Reid and Robiiiworld. Each episode also included special guests Terrence J, Lala, Jadakiss, and many more.
“It’s always a privilege to be able to work with brands that not only build out dope experiences and throw parties, but care to create content and conversation around the culture and things that matter,” said Hustle Simmons, Culture Manager, Martell.
Later into the evening was the highly anticipated Grits & Biscuits function with a special performance by Quavo. Hundreds of patrons gathered outside the venue, standing parallel beneath the famed CTA Lake Street rails, as the trains and cold winds blew past. Once inside, guests were warmly greeted by the vibes of a live DJ, complementary Martell cocktails and gourmet popcorn. The layout included a built out Celebrity Freestyle Booth, which featured a 10’ x 10’ monitor with explosive visuals illuminating the room. There was also an open-air photo booth set, which included a basketball rim, Martell jersey and basketball rack, perfect for solo and large group photo opportunities.
Around midnight, as the crowd imbibed, collectively harmonizing and dancing at the mercy of Grits and Biscuits DJ’s Alzo Slade and Maurice Slade, DJ Durel was on deck preparing to transition the night over to Quavo. In addition to performing some of his and Migos’ highly acclaimed hit songs, “Narcos,” “Ice Tray,” and “Bad and Boujee,” Quavo also incorporated their newest single “Give No Fxk” featuring Travis Scott and Young Thug. The single was released on February 13 with a music video that has already raked in more than 5.1 million views.
Indeed, Quavo is multi-talented beyond his musical gifts. Quavo has an ongoing partnership with Martell as an ambassador and example of boldly following his dreams. “I’ve partnered with Martell because we’re both leaders in our fields. We’re innovators,” stated Quavo. He has also starred in the past three NBA Celebrity All-Star games as one of the leading scorers, and even won MVP during his celebrity-game debut in 2018.
For more information and upcoming events, visit Martell and BET.
NBA All-Star weekend returned to Chicago for the first time in more than 30 years. In celebration of the exciting festivities making its way back to the Windy City (Feb. 14-16), American Express teamed up with Chicago designer, Don C, to launch a limited-edition sneaker.
The Nike Air Force 1 Hi Just Don pays homage to his Midwestern city's roots with the “Amex Blue” custom sneaker resembling the blue and red found on the city’s flag. The blue appears on the smooth leather on the uppers while tumbled blue leather is on the strap. Hints of red can be found on different areas of the shoe, including the Just Don heel branding.
To commemorate the sneaker’s release and the unique collaboration, Don C sat down for an intimate chat with former SportsCenter host Cari Champion. During the American Express Experience complete with an exclusive menu and cocktails, Don C expressed his excitement around sneaker life reaching the point of doing collaborations with a major brand such as American Express and big businesses respecting and recognizing the work of small businesses. A small group of about 150 guests also learned more about his streetwear background and how his upbringing in Chicago played a major part in his work, especially his latest sneaker.
Don C first began his streetwear brand and store, RSVP Gallery, with fellow Chicago designer Virgil Abloh (Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Artistic Director) 10 years ago. The brand’s apparel was based on the designers’ experiences while traveling the world alongside Kanye West. They wanted to give back to their city and offer Chicagoans a taste of what they were exposed to in other parts of the world. Through the power of social media and “community members” as he considers his customers, the brand has grown tremendously through the years and is a staple in the Chicago area.
Then, in 2017, Don C was tapped by Nike to design a luxury limited-edition sneaker for the brand’s Air Force 1 35th anniversary. He gave a nod to the Buck 50 hats, a popular accessory in Chicago, with the Just Don x Nike Air Force 1’s touches of gold hardware and snakeskin. Since that time, Don C has collaborated with Nike on other designs including the Air Jordan 1, but he has returned to the iconic Air Force design with the latest offering, once again taking inspiration from Air Force 2 and 3, since in his words “the 1 gets enough shine.”
The Nike Air Force 1 Hi Just Don sneakers (retailed at $200) were available exclusively online to American Express Card Members on Thursday (Feb. 13), and sold out in just three minutes.
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To celebrate @nbaallstar weekend, I’ve collaborated with @americanexpress to present this limited edition Nike Air Force 1 Hi 🥶 - Growing up in Chicago, basketball has always been a huge part of my life so I’m excited the sports biggest weekend is back in my City! #nbaallstar #amexambassador
With the success of his sneaker partnerships, he continues to focus on building up the Just Don brand and dropping more exclusive apparel and sneakers for “community members” to love and enjoy. Sports, style, heritage, and good principles are his current focus areas as he works to bring exclusivity to the community and make the community feel special. When asked what’s on the horizon, he said, “Using the growth that I’ve learned from entities bigger than my own to apply to my own organization and growing my organization to an entity as big as American Express.”