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The North Face

Ella Mai On The North Face's 'Explore Mode' Campaign, New Music And Living In The Moment

The singer-songwriter wants the world to disconnect and enjoy the great outdoors.

Ella Mai is in her own age of exploration. Her eponymous debut album scored her a platinum plaque with her breakout hit, "Boo'd Up" earning her a Grammy for Best R&B Song. But the accolades aren't driving her creative path. The arc in her compass is all about the places she's traveled, the people she's met and the lessons learned along the way.

"To be honest, personally, exploration is like growth. I feel like if you don't explore new things, whether it's going outside, meeting people or trying new food, you won't ever grow because you're just stuck in your little comfort zone which can be super scary to come out of," she tells VIBE at The North Face's Explore Mode event in New York on Monday (April 15). The singer is one of three women (including model-activist Gabrielle Richardson and chef Angela Dimayuga) who teamed up with the brand to share a message of enjoying the outside world without digital confinement and the global initiative to make Earth Day a national holiday.

The London native's urge to explore came in handy over the weekend when she performed in the brisk desert of Coachella. Inspired by artists like Rihanna and Ms. Lauryn Hill, Mai helped fans enjoy the hazy sunset as she performed hits like "Trip" and her latest No. 1 song, "Shot Clock."

"It's such a good feeling, especially when it comes to radio," she shared about her track reaching No. 1 on the airplay chart. "I wasn't even sure if people listened to the radio because people have so much access to streaming platforms, but obviously having all three of my singles from my debut album, go number one on urban radio is incredible."

That energy was brought to the Coachella stage with the festival being her biggest artistic exploration so far.

"My favorite part of the performance would have to be when I performed "Naked" and because it was dark, and I performed when the sun went down, I couldn't see how far the crowd actually went back. But during "Naked," it was such an intimate moment I asked everyone to put their lights up (phones) and when I saw how far it went back I was like, "Woah." That moment sealed it for me."

"Even there were two people in the audience, I still would've done my best," she added. "But just to see the crowd be so engaged, even if they didn't know the music, was a really good feeling. I had so much fun."

As the festival energy in Indio, Calif. continued to thrive, another rested on the streets of Los Angeles following the loss of Nipsey Hussle. With the singer having ties to those close to the rapper like DJ Mustard, she says the shift in the city was hard to ignore.

"As weird as it sounds, you felt it," she said. "Even in the weather, it was super hot and then everyone got the news and it started raining. Just a weird energy shift." As a new L.A. resident, the singer says Nipsey's influence cannot be denied.

"I feel like the energy shift went both ways; everyone was really sad, grieving and mourning but everyone feels more inspired by what he was doing that they want to go out and do something and change in their community. It's still a very touchy subject in L.A., especially the people that I'm around since they were very close to him. I think everyone is super inspired to do better and try to be more like him, which is great to see. YG's whole set at Coachella was dedicated to him, I know Khalid had a dedication to Mac Miller. Everyone is super aware of what Nipsey was trying to do and how he wanted to change the world."

Engaging in The North Face's mission to explore seemed to be in the cards for Mai. Like many of us, Mai was familiar with the brand's effective coolness factor. "I remember running home and telling my mom that I needed a Jester Backpack because my cousin had one as well, and it's similar to the other stories, I wanted to be like my older cousin (laughs) so my mom ended up getting me one." But there's also the incentive to showcase the importance of stepping away from the phone screens and into leafy green forests.

"I'm such a live-in-the-moment person," she says of her lack of identity on social media. While she might share a thought or two on social media, Mai is interested in appreciating the world around her. "I feel like everyone is so consumed about documenting the day, you don't really get to live the day. You just watch it back but I like to have the memories in my head. Of course, sometimes, I'll take out my phone but I try to live in the moment as much as possible."

Part of that mission is ensuring Earth Day is celebrated the right way. With the support of Mai, Richardson, and Dimayuga, The North Face officially launched a petition to make Earth Day a national holiday.

“The North Face is no stranger to exploration and this Earth Day we are proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Global General Manager of Lifestyle at The North Face, Tim Bantle. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the Earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it. Explore Mode urges us to unplug from our digital lives to connect in real life to the world, each other, and ourselves in the effort to move the world forward.”

Mai hasn't hit her all of her exploration goals just yet. "I really want to go to Indonesia or Bali," she said. "That's one of my Bucket List places I really, really, really wanna go." For her essentials, the singer knows she has to bring along a windbreaker set and of course, a jester backpack. "I think the backpack is the most important thing."

In addition to a few trips around the globe, one destination includes the studio for new music. While she hasn't had time to lock down a moment to record, the inspiration is sizzling.

"When I work in the studio, I like to be like there for a good amount of time," she explains. "I like to block off two to three weeks at a time, I don't like to go to different studios and different places, it's just a comfort thing but I'm very excited to get back cause I have a lot of talk about. I've seen so many different places and met so many new people and a lot that I didn't get to experience last year."

Learn more about The North Face's petition for Earth Day here.

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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.

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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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