Solange and Alan Ferguson
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Interview: Solange's Relaunched Saint Heron Shop Pushes Black Artisanship To The Forefront

In a new interview, Solange Knowles explains the purpose and need for her newly relaunched Saint Heron shop.

There’s a party going on underneath the starry Texas night sky and Solange Knowles is in the middle of it, surrounded by the tangible fruits of a long-standing vision coming to fruition.

Behind the charming cottage known to Sprinkle, Texas inhabitants as Barr Mansion, a curated crowd of the cultured and fashion forward are gathered to honor the woman of the hour in dance and song. The scene is a rainbow of ethnicities—lots of manicured melanin and those who appreciate them—swaying enthusiastically to the tunes being conjured up at the DJ table (Kindness dished out a commendable mix of #TBT hits ranging from Lil Mo’s “4ever” to Janet Jackson’s “That’s The Way Love Goes”).

In the red-hued glass shed a few yards away, a five-by-five shelving unit positioned between the bar and clusters of acquaintances against the wall holds the reason for the evening. The small leather pouches, clay vases and cups, furry pillow purses, patterned sweaters, photography books, calendars, bandanas, nail polish, soaps and all purpose mist on display are all merch that can now be purchased in Saint Heron’s newly re-launched e-commerce store. The online shop, done in collaboration with Bigcommerce, will be a hub and home for the gifts craftsmen and creators of color don’t always get a chance to showcase.

“I have so many friends who are designers of color,” Solange says over the phone from her New Orleans home. “Hearing their frustrations and some of the challenges that they face constantly—and hearing these stories redundantly—I think it was only natural for us to get in there and shake things up a little bit.”

The evening’s fiesta commemorated the beginning of that shakeup, and who better to soundtrack the moment than the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra. The 12-member troupe sucked the room into their sense-heightening jam session, playing crowd favorites like “Space Is The Place” and “Sun Song.” "Oh my god, this is crazy!” says the guy front and center, in awe. He’s talking to the woman stanning out two people next to him; she knows every word the vocalist sings. In the corner of the room, Solo and her husband, Alan, are cuddled together in their matching neutrals—a tailored tan suit for him and a suede strapless number with an asymmetrical side slit for her — jamming out to the Arkestra’s booming percussion and the wails of their saxophones.

Before the euphoric moment, which she later described as “one of the most magical nights of [her] life,” Solange chopped it up about who you’ll find in the Saint Heron store, why it’s necessary and why Bigcommerce was the perfect fit.

On the frustrations that originally birthed Saint Heron:

Overall, Saint Heron was [built] out of a frustration that a lot of our stories weren’t being told in a way that I felt was true to the modern and innovative black woman or male. I think that those stories can relate and run parallel in the fashion and style industry as well. I have so many friends who are designers of color and hearing their frustrations and some of the challenges that they face constantly—and hearing these stories redundantly—I think that it was only natural for us to get in there and shake things up a little bit. We did a collaboration with Puma, which was the Word to the Woman campaign, which was first taste of actually creating a product that really went in line with our brand. Once we did that launch and were able to feel the response, feedback and love from that, we thought hey, why not just continue this conversation? Why not link up with all of these wonderful, innovators who are just creating beautiful things that really kind of speak to our brand ethos?

On what goods Saint Heron will carry and why:

The one thing I’m really excited about is that the Saint Heron shop is not grounded in just fashion and clothing. We have connected with artists and artisans in every landscape. We actually are carrying a calendar, which is called Shades of Blackness [by] Maurice Harris, and he created this beautiful, beautiful calendar that really challenges gender and sexuality within the black community. So whether it be carrying something like that, or there’s a ceramics artist who, her name is Kenesha [Sneed] and she goes by Tactile Matter, and she just creates these beautiful pieces and works of art. But in that industry, it’s not very often that you are hearing the story of a black ceramics or pottery artist. We are trying to be part of the conversation in terms of making that connection from the things that we own and the things that we wear, and the things that we have in our home, but still being able to connect that to our message of just celebrating that and supporting it, and supporting our own, and telling those stories in a way that’s sensitive and for us. We are just happy that we can now be a part of that conversation no matter how big or small.

On the artists who will be featured in the Saint Heron shop:

There’s a young designer from L.A. His name is James, but the name of his line is Phlemuns. He is really big on reconstruction and we love him because Saint Heron ultimately started to be a music forum, so we love him because he references a lot of girl groups from the 90s and the early 2000s. His work is really inspired by that era of musicians and so it was kind of a perfect fit for us. There’s also a young girl from Brooklyn whose line is Gamut, and that literally just came from us being on Instagram and constantly seeing her creations pop up. There’s a young lady name Mengly Hernandez who we actually featured in the Words of the Women campaign, who is a graphic and textile artist. We worked on creating everything form beach towels to throws. She primarily works with scarves, so we wanted to translate her textiles on to other items that were usable in our everyday lives. We’re also carrying a selection of vinyl from artists we really love, support and listen to and who are the backdrop for our everyday lives; everything from Alice Coltrane to King Me the band. We are also going do a lot of collaboration with musicians, just kind of one-off, vinyl pressings and continue the conversation with music and R&B storytelling, which is a huge part of our foundation.

On the SXSW pop-up launch event in Austin:

One thing that I’ve noticed about South By is the community building that you’re really able to do. That is why South By actually existed in the first place when it first started. It really was about artists being able to really connect with people. Sometimes an artist will play four or five shows in one day and a lot of times they’re free, so your fans are able to come to several shows of yours and you start to recognize faces and afterwards you’re able to talk and communicate. It’s really unlike other festivals where there’s all of this separation between the artists, the shows and the people. So much of Saint Heron is built around community building and being able to have that room for dialogue and that openness between the people who support Saint Heron and are connected to Saint Heron and the people who are actually kind of building Saint Heron. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in a space where we could actually have conversations and connect with people. And I guess also, being that it’s in Texas and it’s my home state, didn’t hurt either.

Big Commerce is based there and they’ve been such an incredible vessel for us in terms of building the Saint Heron shop. In the past, Saint Heron has had showcases that were so phenomenal, so special and so magical, and this year, we decided to forego having a huge showcase and just pick one, dream artist that in our wildest dreams we felt like we could never actually experience and that is the Sun Ra Arkestra. We are all going to be in awe all night.

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Jennifer Lopez Hits Versace Runway In Updated Version Of Grammys Dress

Jennifer Lopez slipped back into a familiar looks for a surprise appearance at the Versace Spring-Summer 2020 fashion show in Milan Friday (Sept. 20). The Hustlers star blazed the stage in a remake of the legendary Versace dress that she wore to the Grammys nearly two decades ago.

The updated rendition sticks to the leafy green chiffon jungle-pattern, although it differs slightly from the original. Lopez left little to the imagination in the sleeveless ensemble complete with a deeply plunging neckline and an open back cut down to her derrière. The long flowy dress is cut at the hip area allowing Lopez to show off her toned legs as she strutted down the runway.

Lopez was already rumored to make an appearance at the show as she was spotted around Milan this week, The Cut reports. The invitation provided another clue to her attendance with a flip book and the Google search topic: “Versace women’s ss 2020.” The Google search is significant since Lopez’s Grammy dress essentially created Google Images (so many people were searching the site for her dress that developers were inspired to introduce a specific section of the search engine decided to photos).

Lopez first donned the sheer floral barely there Versace dress at the 42nd annual Grammy awards which she attended with Diddy, who was her boyfriend at the time.

See photos of both dresses below.

 

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For the Spring-Summer 2020 Collection, Versace honors an iconic moment when fashion and culture became a catalyst for technological progress. Passionate for constant innovation, Chief Creative Officer, @donatella_versace uses the latest technology – the Google Assistant – to call for @jlo wearing the Jungle dress on the runway, creating yet another unforgettable, Google-worthy Versace moment. #MFW #VersaceSS20

A post shared by Versace (@versace) on Sep 20, 2019 at 12:50pm PDT

 

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Debuting in the Spring-Summer 2000 Collection, the Jungle print dress worn by @jlo at the Grammy Awards that year, garnered international attention. Millions of people took to the internet to see Jennifer in the legendary dress, making it one the most popular search queries for Google at the time. The epic red-carpet look, and the excitement it created, inspired the team to create Google Images. This season Versace and Google collaborate to celebrate twenty years of the legendary moment in both fashion and Google history. #VersaceSS20 #MFW

A post shared by Versace (@versace) on Sep 20, 2019 at 1:34pm PDT

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Ben Gabbe

Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Fashion Show Makes Its Amazon Prime Debut

Rihanna is raising the bar again! The singer-turned-fashion and makeup mogul pulled out all the stops for the Savage X Fenty New York Fashion Week presentation, which debuted on Amazon Prime Video Friday (Sept. 20).

Rih Rih’s fashion presentation was a unique experience and Amazon Prime viewers got a digital front-row seat to the action. The show went down on September 10 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center and fused music and fashion as Rihanna, and a bevy of background dancers, set the tone with choreographed movements courtesy of her “sprit animal,” choreographer, Parris Goebel. The fashion event also included performances from Normani, Big Sean, Janelle Monae, Fat Joe and more.

RIHANNA IS BACK ON STAGE. THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR #SAVAGEXFENTYSHOW #SavageXFenty pic.twitter.com/PacWm2yv8T

— Gregory Fenty Ranchester (@GregFentyRanch) September 20, 2019

Savage x Fenty may be considered a freshman lingerie brand but it has already become a strong competitor for the likes of Victoria’s Secret. Rihanna's company recently secured $50 million in funding from investors bringing its total investments to approximately $70 million.

The 31-year-old Grammy winner has since jetted off to South Korea to promote Fenty Beauty after a busy week in New York, where she hosted her annual Diamond Ball last Thursday (Sept. 12). The charity ball raised a reported $5 million for Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation.

Click here to watch the Savage X Fenty fashion show.

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Rihanna performs onstage during Savage X Fenty Show Presented By Amazon Prime Video - Show Sneak Peak at Barclays Center on September 10, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York.
Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Savage X Fenty Show Presented by Amazon Prime Video

Rihanna's Savage x Fenty Show Creates An Inclusive Silhouette For All

No matter your shape, size or physical ability, sexiness can be achieved. It's a mantra retail corporations have pushed but with Rihanna's Savage x Fenty Show in New York this week, it was a smoldering reality.

On Tuesday (Sept. 10) Brooklyn's Barclays Center was flipped into the entertainers' lair filled with 32 flavors of what womxn really look like. Thick thighs, ambassadors of the #littlebootiesmatter movement and members of the LGBTQ+ community sashayed across the stage in a confident spirit only Rihanna can conjure.

The second annual show took their talents to a new level by partnering with Amazon Prime to film the show. Cameramen jumped to the stage every now and then to catch models like Joan Smalls, Bella Hadid and performers Halsey, Big Sean and Tierra Whack. But the theatrics also matched the energy the models exuded–dominant, sweet, flirty and most of all assertive. It's a behavior assumed to be behind closed dungeon doors and for women who keep up Eurocentric beauty standards.

With Savage x Fenty, those stereotypes are thrown out the window. The brand has done well in that market. It's why it makes it the perfect segway into the next generation of lingerie brands. Critics have used their most witty phrases to compare the event to Victoria's Secret Fashion Show but as fans will see Sept. 20, nothing is like Savage x Fenty.

Their mission of inclusion didn't stop at the beautiful bodies and negligees on stage. The music paid homage to the hot girls we've loved before (Tweet, Eve) as well as dancehall riddims and Latinx house music.

As Rihanna continues to dominate the fashion/beauty industry (her LVMH collab, Fenty Beauty) the Savage x Fenty show will be just one of the many moments in fashion history we'll revisit.

Before the big reveal next week, see how it all went down from inside the event below.

___

7:35 pm: The Dean Street entrance to Barclays Center looks like the outside of a club. There are models, rappers and fans who printed out fake barcodes to get in. After a few minutes of starting at the "Standing Line" section, I realize I'm in the wrong line.

7:40 pm: Doors aren't opening until 8:00 pm, so I get to enjoy some fresh air while checking out influencers wrapped in glitter and baby doll lingerie. Perhaps it shows what's to come this evening.

8:00 pm: The doors have officially opened. Like noted in the email, phones were placed into uber-secure YONDR pouches. I'm not mad at it all. With Amazon filming the show, it's only right that the audience is immersed in the experience.

8:13 pm: Sections aren't open yet but the red carpet is. Hip-hop is in the building (early) thanks to Migos, Big Sean and newcomer CHIKA.

8:16 pm: Some guests are starting to look uneasy without their phones. I’m so glad watches are still a thing–shouts to Casio, specifically A$AP Ferg’s collaboration design I rocked.

8:23 pm: In the bathroom and a favorable viral group comes in with plenty to say. “It's funny how celebrities act like they don’t nobody but they see everybody. Like, I know you see me." I feel you sis.

8:40 pm: Was asked to say hello to Rihanna on her Savage x Fenty Insta and totally fumbled it.

I let Rihanna down. 

8:54 pm: We're finally able to enter the show. The stage set up is a perfect combination of MC Escher stairs and gloomy Roman windows with a minimalistic twist.

Spotted: Bronx rapper Maliibu Miitch in a cozy fur, country star Kasey Musgraves in a perfect green fit, Chanel Iman and Ashley Graham with their mom glow as well as R&B duo LionBabe.

9:10 pm:  There’s a lady with a very big feathery hat sitting below me, she smells good.

9:20 pm:  Wow, it’s Dascha Polanco.

9:45 pm: Now that we're all seated, the DJ slows down the tunes and lights turn down low. It's starting.

9:46 pm:  Rihanna is front and center as ten dancers of all sizes flex (and look comfy) in black lingerie. The choreography is on point. The ladies are busting out their best bruk wine to the audience's delight.

9:47 pm:  The Savage looks are separated by color. Plenty of dancers and influencers hit the experimental runway. Bella Hadid looks too cute as she waves at the camera.

9:49 pm: Big Sean comes out (with his abs) and performs "Clique" before jumping into "Bezerk" with A$AP Ferg.

9:51: Blue and yellow bring us into the next phase of the show, paired with a sexy deep mix of Tweet’s “Oops (Oh My).” Cara Delevingne gets everyone in line and I love it.

9:54 pm: Red is the vibe and 21 Savage looks so happy in his blue steel walk. Women dominate the stage with accessories but one can help but appreciate how inclusive the show is. Short, tall, curvy, petite and people with disabilities are owning the stage.

9:56 pm: Laverne Cox came out of nowhere and just bodied her walk! It's a moment fans will truly adore. Tens across the board.

9:57 pm:  Migos perform “Pure Water”... in pure water. The pool is small and the guys seem to be unbothered by it. Shouts to their socks.

 

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A post shared by Migos (@migos) on Sep 11, 2019 at 9:01am PDT

10:03 pm: My handwriting goes to s**t once Normani takes the stage. Her moment makes me feel at ease about copping the new collection.

10:06 pm: I'd like to give props to the musical director. The blend of Wiley's "Boasty" and Eve's "Who's The Girl" is giving me life.

10:11 pm: It's time for another performance! DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Fabolous take the stage but as predicted, Tierra Whack shines the brightest.

10:18 pm: Lace caps, sheer pants are the move in the lingerie game and I’m with it.

10:20 pm: Queen Rihanna comes out to a standing ovation. If she didn't walk away, I'm sure we would have clapped all night.

Spotted on the way out: Dave East, Mack Wilds, VIBE cover stars Naturi Houghton and Lala Anthony, Rapsody, Misa Hylton, Monica, Kehlani (who photographers couldn't get enough of) and actor Jharrel Jerome.

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