A Toast to Spontaneity and Being Unpredictable

Last week I read an incredible interview between Charles H. Rowell and black American playwright and director George C. Wolfe. In it, Wolfe shares that “…anytime you can predict something, it’s best to leave it.” While I try to refrain from living by any one adage, no matter how good it sounds, Wolfe’s words of wisdom give us something to consider. It’s important to ask ourselves the following questions: have I gotten myself into a rut, unknowingly? Am I a slave to my way of doing things because I love doing things that way, or simply because it’s become a habit? We can ask ourselves these questions in relation to style, relationships, our professions…just about everything! And our answers are revealing.

I’ve asked myself this question and realized that some of the best times I’ve had during the past few months, and especially this summer, are due to those unpredictable moments, spontaneous decisions I made, or those out-of-the-norm opportunities I seized. And because of my intentional choice to break out of a recognizable pattern, I have reaped the best rewards.

As the Education Director for Face Forward, a growing non-profit organization focused on art and social change, one of my responsibilities entails facilitating some events we bring to local communities and organizations. Last week, I had the extreme pleasure of coordinating and emceeing a show in East St.Paul for a group of 60 kids enrolled in the EastSide Kidventure program, which focuses on instilling pride and a love for the community. We booked New Heist, a local breakdancing crew, Earthshake, a drum and dance ensemble, and OSO’s Bomba Umoja, a traditional Afro-Caribbean music and dance group. I had a ridiculous amount of fun dancing with the girls who could groove more than me, responding to the questions that were posed by the kids with little mouths that had more than a few missing teeth, and applauding with screams to the talent of the artists. Reflecting on this experience, I know that a few months ago I wouldn’t have expected this. In May I was still hunched over my computer with books stacked around me, earnestly completing my master’s thesis. When my close friend, and Face Forward Creative Director Amanda Leaveck asked me to join her team, I gave it some thought. I realized it would be a different paradigm of education work that I had done thus far, but knew it would offer me the perfect amount of challenge, fun, and new experience! With few opportunities to engage with artists, youth, and live performance, in graduate school, it’s a breath of fresh air to do so now. I’ve come out of the habit of being a professional student-– a habit of over 18 years-– to doing something so engaging, yet still educational, with multidisciplinary artists and with a community of lively youth! My work with Face Forward is anything but predictable, so I think Mr.Wolfe would encourage me to stay around with it for a while.

Something that I’ve intentionally made a bit more unpredictable is my mane. I’ve worn my hair natural for more than five years now. As a black woman within a culture that consistently affirms straight hair, at least for black women, this was a pretty big change for me. The first couple years were what can be referred to as my tame, safe years. I rocked a little fro and from time to time I’d twist it. But in the past year my girl Chelsea helped me unleash my inner male peacock. Now I experiment freely and find that others often take a second glance at my curls. My mane is in constant flux and it’s my intention to keep it that way. What’s always fun is walking around Minneapolis with Adrienne, whose long, gorgeous locs, whether perfectly assembled in a crown on her head or freely flowing around her shoulders, also catch others’ eyes. People don’t know whose hair to look at. Yesterday morning when moseying down Eat Street, two women stopped us and literally thanked us for looking so fabulous. Why should we ever stop experimenting? Similarly, why should you stay in your usual way of doing things? Let’s all vow to embrace spontaneity, new approaches, and uncharted territories in the final months of 2012.

Until soon,


Fierce Fashion at ‘The Oscars of Fashion’

Yesterday was the CFDA awards ceremony, honoring excellence in fashion design. If you are not familiar, it stands for Council of Fashion Designers of America. This non-profit trade association consists of more than 300 designers and artists. They work to promote fashion and accessory designers, bring more awareness to the art, and raise the professional standards, codes and ethical practices.

This annual ceremony consists of awards for Lifetime Achievement, Best Womenswear and Menswear Designer, and Emerging Ready-to-Wear Talent. This year, Tommy Hilfiger was awarded with the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, but the biggest winners were the Olsen twins, who won as Best Womenswear Designer for their line The Row.

So who stood out at the fashion awards?

Julianne Hough – I adore this dress on her. The pleats are in all the right places, and the length of the dress is ideal. Metallic is the next trend, and this silver belt goes perfectly. Mainly, I love a plunging neckline on a small busted woman. She looks so sexy and sophisticated!

Dakota Fanning – Looks striking in this brocade look. It’s more of a statement than I think she’s used to, but the entire look is fantastic, the shoes and bag are great compliments. I love the trim around and within the whole garment. Notice the metallic!

Lily Collins – Proves that metallic is coming back strong! This cute little dress is so unique with the mixing of gold and silver, the dropped waist, and large bird; such a unique combination. She looks very sweet, as opposed to edgy, and I like that.

Solange Knowles – She has been ‘one to watch’ in the fashion world for quite a few years now. I love the yellow on her skin tone, and the cage-like blocks on her dress, they are working wonders for her figure. I’m usually not a fan of clear shoes, but these look great with the metallic ankle strap.

Karolina Kurkova – I usually see her in full hair and makeup, so it’s great to see a simpler look. The cut of this dress is perfectly uncomplicated and the print is well placed, I like that the red is at the top. I love these shoes for this dress.

There were many more well-dressed folks who walked the carpet of this event, but I wanted to show the newer trends specifically and show different ways to make them work. For more Photos.

ArielSimone Q2 Newsletter

As we enter into the second quarter, we want to share some of the things that have happened and are happening! 2012 has been an incredibly exciting few months so far.  We will be saying goodbye to our first full-term intern and keeping another on for the summer.  We have built a manufacturing team and while learning along the way can be challenging at times, we are pleased to have stream-lined  a process that works for us. With that news, we have added another boutique in Minneapolis. In addition to Cliche, we will soon be selling at Corset, which is now located on Mainstreet in Hopkins, but will eventually move to Edina. We have had the wonderful pleasure of expanding our networks both online and in person. We just reached 500 likes on facebook, which at a year ago, we were at just a little less than 200.  Our blog readership is increasing– which is really exciting! We have added some very talented guest bloggers this season and we hope to continually provide interesting and relevant content for all of you! We’ve also added a new online retail space– I Like What You’re Wearing (ILWYW), which gives us the perfect segway to introducing our amazing staff photographer Mirza Nizamuddin.

He has been with us at the majority of all our shows last quarter and has shot all our recent retail photoshoots. We can’t  thank him enough, his work and generosity is truly unmatched. We are happy to report that we have a solid team right now, and we feel unstoppable and excited for what’s next.

What IS next?

We have some bitter-sweet news. ArielSimone is expanding! And in our growth, we feel that we are ready to move and set up in California. For this to happen, we have to say goodbye to Nkechi Njaka, who will continue to direct and support the operation and communication efforts from afar. She also will be representing the brand to new boutiques and presenting our collections to a new fashion community. She is very excited about this move and we promise to keep you posted!

Of course we can’t forget the shows. Some of our favorite events so far this year were Cliché’s Avoid the Grey and Arena Dances  Arena Bikini Beach Baby!  We also took a trip to Chicago and we were able to show our pieces to Chicago fashionistas as well as make some great connections.


Here is an upcoming show to put on your calendar:

KTWIN Show: Thursday May 3rd, 2012 at The Brick (Downtown, Minneapolis)

Make sure to keep visiting our blog to hear about upcoming events, new garments, behind the scenes at photoshoots, fashion tips and more! Also, our Facebook fan page has a lot of really great daily updates to keep you in the loop about styling, events and inspirations. Thank you for your support–ArielSimone is not what we are without all of you. Wishing you a fresh, happy, and love-filled Spring 2012!

** If you would like to be on our email list and receive the newsletters each quarter, please drop us a line–we’d be happy to add you!

Celebrating Adrienne!!

We have our first ArielSimone birthday of the year today! So what better way to celebrate ArielSimone’s Owner and Designer than to dedicate today’s blog post to the one and only Adrienne Yancy.

A is for Amazing ALL AROUND

D is for driven, detail oriented and design centric

R is ridiculously funny and always up for a good time

I is for intelligent, inventive, ingenious

E is for entreprenurially-minded

N is for naturally talented

N is for naturally creative

is for exceptional and exquisite

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Congratulations, Adrienne! Wishing you a love-filled day from the ArielSimone Team.

by Nkechi Njaka

Shades of Red

Among the many other occasions this February, it is also the month we raise awareness for heart disease. The Heart Truth is a US sponsored campaign to help promote and serves as a source of information. This campaign mostly focuses on women from ages 40-60, when the risk for heart disease starts to increase.

The campaign began in 2001, and as a way to promote, New York Fashion Week developed a show to aid in promoting to female audiences.

This year to kick off MN Fashion Week, we’ve brought the show to Minneosta. The Red Dress Collection, presented by MNfashion in partnership with The Heart Truth® is a runway show featuring celebrity models in original red dresses created by some of the top local designers. The show is going to be held on Sunday, February 19th, from 6-9pm at Seven Sushi and Steak Ultralounge. It’s going to be a red hot show that you won’t want to miss! Be sure to grab tickets while you can, because they are sure to sell out early!

Designers will be: Christopher Straub, Danielle Everine, Laura Fulk, Emma Berg,Maritza Ramirez, Max Lohrbach, Adrienne Yancy, Sarah Holm, and Rachel Blomgren.

Celebrity Models will include: Allison Kaplan, Kaela Humphries, Robyne Robinson, Alexis Koch, Sandy Simmons, Jennifer Klin, Landyn Hutchinson, Ann Carroll, Laura Schara, Amy James, Dr. Jennifer Dankle

For additional event information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.RedDressMN.com

Here are a few of my favorite dresses from New York’s Red Dress Fashion show a few days ago on the 8th, and I can’t wait to see some of my fellow designer’s looks on the 19th to kick off MN Fashion Week!


The Briefest History of Fashion Week by Adrienne Yancy

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has officially begun! This once little known event has grown into a seasonal social media event where anyone who is somebody travels to NYC during  to cover the shows, style spot on the streets of the city, star search, or just party like a rock star! I’ve been going to fashion week since 2005, and each for a different reason.


When I was a college student at Howard University, we used to sneak into the shows to see the new trends, and to just be in the Tent when it was held at Bryant Park. We loved being treated like stars inside the tent by all of the volunteers and vendors. My favorite memory was going backstage after Anna Sui’s show and having champagne with the designer, models, and watching the press interviews.  Afterwards we went outside and talked with the designer herself, when she went to have a smoke after her press was booted! During Fashion’s Night Out, I’ve had the pleasure of running into such Idols as Karl Lagerfeld, Andre Leon Talley, and Pharrel of N.E.R.D. I’ve also gone to the City to party and attend magazine events and launch parties. Most recently as my and my industry friends’ businesses have been growing, I’ve shown during fashion week, and I’ve been invited to attend many more important shows and events.

ArielSimone – 2010

But, fashion week wasn’t always this breathtaking of an event. Long before this became a multi-city event, designers would show their newest collections at department stores like Saks, and Neiman Marcus. In France, Christian Dior hosted his first show at his salon in 1947.

 ‘Bar’ Suit and Jacket – 1947 Spring/Summer Collection

Even into the 60’s Fashion Week was a small smattering of people, but one noteworthy event, Paco Rabanne, former jewelry designer-turned fashion designer and fashion futurist featured the first black fashion week model Donyale Luna, she subsequently became the first black woman to grace the cover of Vogue. This paved the way for Beverly Johnson and Iman in the 70’s and Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell in the 80’ and 90’s.

Donyale Luna – First Black Runway Model {Photo Source}


At that time in the ‘90’s certain models became Supermodels, and at one point they were being paid upwards of $10,000 for a single show, with maybe two looks, three most! Fast forward to today, and most models are lucky to get $200 for a fashion week show. Fashion Week has since expanded all over the globe, including the now-major fashion cities London, Milan, and Paris. The wave-maker Karl Lagerfeld even took his 2008 show to the Great Wall of China!

 Karl Lagerfeld – 2007 {Photo Source}

The term ‘model’ has been defined countless times over. Anorexia and drugs have played a big part in many scandalous stories about numerous models and designers over the years, while size has shifted from waif thin to curvy and back a myriad of times. Models of color are still rare and seen in trends, some seasons ‘black is in’ as they say (whatever that means) and lately albinism has been a trendy look. The sex of the model doesn’t play as big a role as before either, now we see many more female models that were men in the past.

Lea T – Transgender model {Photo Source}

I can’t wait to see the looks and trends for Fall/Winter that will be coming off of the runways this coming week! And for all of you in Minneapolis and St. Paul, be sure to check out my next show for MN fashion week: The Red Dress Collection.

by Adrienne Yancy

2011 Best Dressed List by Adrienne Yancy

As another year comes to a close with Christmas, I wanted to wish all of my friends, supporter, followers, and especially the ArielSimone team a Merry Christmas! I greatly appreciate all of the continual love and support and can’t wait until the New Year!

At the end of every year, before I make new goals and new collections I like to review what I had accomplished in the past year, and what the runway trends were from the past year. So I wanted to share one of my personal trend lists with you all. As a designer, these are my favorite trends of the year!

Enjoy and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

I love all of the backless dresses, and this pattern is perfect!

The sky-high slit was so sexy on almost all figures this year.

Color-blocking was a look that everyone could do simply.

The all over sheer lace was a daring hit.

Leather pieces were also a pleasant trend. This is a trend I think will continue for the next season.

From the nude lip, to the nude shoes, to the nude dresses, I loved it all!

And finally, we can’t forget all of the avant garde looks from the year! I can’t do without them!!

by Adrienne Yancy

Spring Teaser

So it’s supposed to be the middle of winter, but fortunately for me, there’s no snow here in MN, AND it’s a shocking 30 degrees, instead of the usual -30! Normally around this time I fly down to St. Croix and sit on the beach for a few weeks while I reflect on the past year, and make my list of goals for the coming one, but because there is so much work to do, I had to be responsible and stay put… and work this holiday.

But because I’m so inspired by our new winter, I wanted to give you all a small Spring teaser! Here are some looks that we shot last week with our model Lucie Jane, and photographer Andrew Thomas Evans. Hair and makeup was provided by Ashton Frith. These are still the raw images, but perfect for a teaser! Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Vintage Inspired Tie Suit

Vintage Inspired Tie Suit with Sheer Pants

Flyaway Jacket

Wrap Two-Piece Bikini

Strappy Back Two Piece with Gathered Bottoms

Racing Bikini

Also, all of the items will be on sale throughout the month of January.

by Adrienne Yancy

AMAs: The Good and the Bad

There were some hits, but many more misses this year at the AMA’s. I don’t know what half of these stylists were thinking! Clearly, they are in need of some inspiration. I was very disappointed to say the least, but there were some winners! Here’s what I thought…

I love the way this dress fits Jennifer’s body. The accessories and styling were kept to a minimum, and this dress is the right length. I would have gone with a different shoe. The two grays clash… maybe they were thrown in because they’re Loub’s?

The hair, makeup, and dress are winners for Jenny McCarthy. Although, I would have styled this with thigh-high tights and a grey, calf length, lace-up, peep toe boot! But that’s just ME…

I can’t believe they let this woman into the AMA’s looking like this. First, her stylist needs a new job. Exactly, what were they thinking with this dress? Hello!?!?! Bridesmaids gone wrong. And look at the shoes! CLASHING! I don’t even have ideas on how to fix this one. Just burn the dress!

Audrina has clearly styled herself tonight! Her hair/makeup is overdone and makes her look like a hooker…Who am I kidding? This whole outfit makes her look like a hooker.  I understand that she’s petite, but these platforms are too high for a dress this short. She’s showing the legs and the girls– too much. She probably skipped the AMA’s and went straight to the after parties.

HAHAHA… there are better ways to attract attention to yourself. This silhouette would be great if this was in all black. The mix of brights and the animal print makes this look like she went to the wrong party. But don’t get me wrong, if you know anything about me, you know I LOVE a great costume party!!

This look is perfectly put together and styled! Simple silhouette with a trendy hem! Longer sleeves (it was probably around 50 degrees), and great hair and makeup. Minimal, but statement jewelry is KEY!

Mary is a MISS here…

But a HIT here… where did the lines get crossed?

I know you may think I’m crazy, but this is actually best dressed for me. There is something about this look that draws me to it, and I can’t look away. The lines on the dress create an amazing hourglass illusion to this boyish figure. White is an obvious ‘yes’ for the seasons coming. Also, the fur and styling is spot on! Call me crazy, but I’m in love.

Now for the men…

Mario’s first CD was the first CD I’d ever owned! My old-time crush doesn’t disappoint. I love the slate grey tuxedo style wool suit! Love this look on him.

Count on Luda to bring it home! OK, these sweaters were huge last season (Ralph Lauren, winter Olympics), but I still love them. Luda looks very casual, but very good. Clean cut, simple– great!

Well, where do I begin? There are so many elements about this look that I love! KIDDING!! WORST. DRESSED. Seriously, Soulja Boy.

OOOh! Love the hue of this turquoise with the black and white accents! The plain white t-shirt makes this look perfect! Best dressed male!

by Adrienne Yancy

Falling in Love with DC, YSL, Balenciaga & Valentino by Adrienne

Last week I made a trip to DC for one of my college girlfriend’s birthdays. For 5 days we ate and shopped our way through the city. DC is one of my favorite cities– I love the neighborhoods, its culture and diversity. Most of all, I truly missed all of the different types of foods that you can’t get here in Minneapolis.

While in Georgetown, we made sure to stop at our local favorite Annie Creamcheese!

Annie Creamcheese is a vintage boutique with amazing one of a kind finds and unique jewelry. While there I was in search of some great vintage capes… take a look at a few of my spectacular finds…

This Vintage YSL Tan Cape was about 15 pounds, but it was amazing!! Double layered and below the knee, this cape buttoned up the front, and had two slits up the side. I could tell this was from an early collection and definitely handmade by the construction. I was speechless trying it on.

And then I found THIS….

Valentino Knit, Pleated Cape. If it wasn’t $795, I would’ve walked out with it. It fit perfectly and had a waist tie to cinch the waist! It was just the perfect length and weight for a DC winter.

As we were about to head out and continue on to more boutiques, out of the corner of my eye I saw a padded shoulder and had a flashback… instantly I knew it was a Balenciaga padded shoulder and I had to see what this item was… and try it on of course!!

Obviously these pieces were a bit over budget, so I didn’t end up bringing any home with me… but this trip brought back so many great memories, and I fell in love with DC all over again– with a little help from my friends YSL, Balenciaga, and Valentino!

by Adrienne Yancy