Auntie Fashion

I’m the fashion world’s most-enduring muse.

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The Ultra Naté Interview

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Ultra Naté

It’s no secret that your dear, old Auntie is a disco queen.  When I get on the dance floor, I leave it all on the dance floor — the kid who mops up after me at the local club knows exactly what I mean!  Anyway, I was scrolling through the songs on my iPod not too long ago when I realized that I’ve downloaded more singles by the ultra-gorgeous Ultra Naté than by any other artist.  And unlike all you thieves, I’ve paid full-price for every track!  That made think that Ultra owed me something, so I called her up for an interview.  Of course, she was eager to oblige because my reputation as a crack reporter precedes me.  I’m like a female version of Piers Morgan, except that I’m likeable . . .

Auntie Fashion: I’ve been working out to your music for as long as I can remember.  In fact, I break out into a sweat every time I hear your name, like a dog that drools when it hears a ringing bell.  Is it just me, or does that happen to your other fans, too?  Do they have any other strange reactions in your presence?

Ultra Naté: LOL!  That’s awesome . . . glad to have that effect.  I’ve been told that most get extremely happy and wanna dance till the sun rises.

Auntie Fashion: Here in Canada you had tremendous chart success with your Stars on 54 remake of Gordon Lightfoot’sIf You Could Read My Mind.”  Why haven’t you tried to recreate that formula by turning another song by a classic Canadian recording artist into a pumping dance track?  What about “Hot Girls in Love” by Loverboy, or “Snowbird” by Anne Murray?

Ultra Naté: Hmmm never considered those tracks but we don’t wanna ruin the magic . . . it has to be organic.

Auntie Fashion: You’ve also covered the Pointer Sisters’ “Automatic.”  Did you know that the Pointer Sisters won the Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1974 for a song called “Fairytale”?  Have you ever thought about dabbling in country music?

Ultra Naté: I never have but I’m not opposed to any style of music if I love the song.

Auntie Fashion: I feel the same way about fashion.  I’m not opposed to anything, and that’s why I’m wearing culottes right now!  Anyway, artists who succeed in the world of dance music usually have their finger on the pulse of fashion, and you’re no exception. For that reason you’ve had almost as many crazy hairstyles as Patti LaBelle. What is the one style in particular that you regret the most?

Ultra Naté: Probably the ones that obscured my face.  Some people are still not exactly sure what I look like.  But I kinda like that, too . . .

Auntie Fashion: According to your Wikipedia page, you’re planning on calling your new album “Hero Worship.”  Besides me, who are your heroes?

Ultra Naté: People in general inspire me.  Those finding their way no matter how ill things get are my heroes.  That’s what the album is about . . . finding that inner hero . . . that inner strength.

You can learn more about Ultra here Read more of my celebrity interviews here.

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August 11, 2011 at 4:07 pm

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The Darcel Interview

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Darcel

Anyone who lived through the first half of the 80s probably spent a lot of time watching “Solid Gold.”  Back in the olden days, we didn’t sit down at the computer when we wanted to see our favorite musical artists performing: We watched them on TV.  The best place to see them — and hear them — was on “Solid Gold,” the show that was made even more memorable because of the “Solid Gold Dancers.”  They were a fabulously fit ensemble who counted down the week’s top hits with jazzy routines and a seemingly unlimited supply of spandex, headbands and hairspray.

The most famous of these dancers was Darcel.  Bearing the title “Principal Dancer,” Darcel grooved her way into our homes every Saturday afternoon for four seasons between 1980 and 1984.  After leaving the show temporarily, she rejoined the cast in 1985 before leaving again in 1986 to raise a family.

I was delighted to hear from Darcel when she left a comment on my blog after I suggested that we should collaborate on a “Solid Gold“-style top-ten countdown of the style.com top-ten collections.  While I’m not quite sure how we’re going to make that happen, I was able to coax Darcel into an interview with yours truly where we discussed — among other things — the panties as pants look and today’s TV dance shows.

Auntie Fashion: Thanks to celebrities like Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Shakira, fashion is having a “pantsless” moment.  Unitards, tights and bodysuits are de rigueur.  People attribute this fad to a lot of different sources, but I can’t think of anyone who wore pants less often than you.  Would you say that fashion is having a “Darcel” moment?  Are you surprised that you’re a trendsetter twenty-five years after the fact?

Darcel: Yes.  Fashion is definitely having a “Darcel” moment.  The 80s are back, I’m back and I’m having a panty moment right now.  And I’m still glad I can get into some panties.  No, I am not surprised that I am a trendsetter.  Anything that is good and unique never leaves and just gets better — better than before.  What goes around comes around.

Auntie Fashion: The memory of you swinging around your braids while counting down the top ten is forever etched in my memory.  However, looking back at video footage of you on YouTube made me realize that you had dozens of hairstyles.  How much time did you actually spend in hair and makeup every week?  Was it difficult?

Darcel: Not difficult.  It was a lot of hours.  Braids and nails every week.  All the dancers would come to my house and everyone was on the payroll.  Sometimes I would fall asleep while I was getting my braids done.  Glenn, my husband at the time [Glenn Leonard of The Temptations], would bring us food.  One time we were trying to get my hair to look like Crystal Gayle’s hair.  The braids were down to my ankles.  I tucked the long braids in my belt and used that hair like a whip.  However, all the dancers who were next to me had to duck and move out of the way of those whipping braids.

Auntie Fashion: Dancing is the focus of a few of today’s tremendously popular competitive reality shows.  What do you think of “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance“?  If you were a kid back in Pittsburgh today, would you be lining up to audition for SYTYCD?

Darcel: I like “Dancing with the Stars.”  It’s good.  It shows as long as you have a desire, you can dance.  I love the way they transform the dancers.  It brings them great joy!  On “So you Think You Can Dance”, I appreciate the art, but there is too much gymnastics.  I have to get my “Hey, Hey” on.  I don’t have time for leaping and acrobatics.  No, I would not be auditioning for SYTYCD.

Auntie Fashion: Was there a sense of competition behind-the-scenes at “Solid Gold” like on today’s TV shows?  Did you have to win a challenge or be voted “fan favorite” to become the lead dancer?

Darcel: In becoming the lead dancer, I just had to be myself.  Brad’s exact words were “How come they’re not doing what Darcel’s doing?  Let’s call her principal dancer and let her do what she does.”  Everyone is unique.  We have to work the gift.  You can never capitalize on someone else’s style.

Yes, there was competition between the dancers.  A love-hate thing.  I was always bringing the other dancers forward for the Countdown and because of that there were a lot of changes in the dancer’s union.  Dancers got paid more.  I have much respect for dancers and their hard work and they needed to be paid.  And even still, they were envious of me.

Auntie Fashion: Like everyone else, I’ll always remember the countdowns on the show.  Are you nostalgic?  Do you ever find yourself counting down anything in dance anymore, like the “Top Ten Items on Darcel’s Grocery List?”

Darcel: Everything I do is done with counts. I do everything with a list. Counting down in my sleep and when my eyes are open.  My life is a countdown.

I am nostalgic.  The 80s were my prime time days, my best days.  But . . . the best is yet to come.  SEXY’S BACK and SHE’S STILL . . .  SOLID GOLD.

 

Click here to visit Darcel’s website and fill out the contact form to receive the latest info on her new book release, and click here to become a fan of Darcel on Facebook.

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November 23, 2009 at 1:52 am

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The Jessica Biffi Interview

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Jessica Biffi

Jessica Biffi

It’s no secret that I wanted Jessica Biffi to win Project Runway Canada Season 2.  Like a lot of her fans, I saw the type of creativity in her work that made me want to see more!  I was thrilled to see her earn a place in the finals and — even though she didn’t win — I was happy that she was beaten by someone as talented as Sunny Fong.

I decided to catch up with Jessica this week to ask her a few questions.  We met at the Metro Toronto YMCA where Jessica was busting out her best moves in a hip hop class.  Girlfriend is so, so def.  It was almost embarrassing dancing beside her in the class because she made the rest of us look like rank amateurs, or — as they call us in the hood — white girls.

Anyway, in between a little crunk and some poppin’ and lockin’, Jessica graciously took the time to answer a few of the hard-hitting questions this crack journalist is always ready to ask.

Auntie Fashion: I hate to do this to you, but I was so eager to promote the first-ever Wear a Gown to Work Day on May 29 that I forget to find something to wear.  Can you whip me up a gown?  Or better yet, can you make us matching outfits?  I think I can safely say that we’d both look lovely in slippery, lime-green taffeta.

Jessica Biffi: What is this?  An off air challenge?  Have you been talking to Kim?  Slippery, lime-green . . . taffeta?  Things I make out of taffeta do not look like puke!  Although a lime-green with a little chain might be hot!

Auntie Fashion: I agree!  And I adore taffeta — it’s my signature fabric.  I like anything that can make a really puffy leg-o-mutton sleeve.  Anyhow, there’s a rumor going around town that you’re trying to parlay your success on Project Runway Canada into another reality TV gig.  So how did your audition for So You Think You Can Dance Canada go, anyway?

Jessica Biffi: Well I shouldn’t say, but they totally loved my victory dance moves on PRC and asked me to go right on to Toronto Week without even having to audition.  I know its not fair, but excited kicks and dancing on the spot get you far in life, and I’m gonna ride that dance train.  Don’t hate the player, hate the game.  But seriously, I love So You Think You Can Dance!

Auntie Fashion: I was also thrilled to discover that you’ve connected with the lovely Vicki BlackNasty from the casting site for RuPaul’s Drag Race.  She tells me that you’re soul sisters now.  If Vicki gets cast on the show, is there any advice that you could give her as someone who has made it to the finals of a reality show?

Jessica Biffi: Girl!  I love that show!  And I watched Miss BlackNasty’s auditions and I think she is A-Mazing!  A fly girl can go a long way!  You gotta do you, that’s my advice.  Keep your head on right (and in Vicki’s case, head, wig and face) and you can “Chante, you stay” all the way!  Bring you to the table on every challenge, and you will be all sprite!

Auntie Fashion: I know that you’re contractually obliged to shut your trap about PRC, but what can you tell me about Rita Silvan?  Every other fashion magazine editor in Canada adores me, but Rita won’t even return my calls.  I guess that I shouldn’t have compared the staff at Elle Canada to the girls on the Rock of Love Bus, but I meant it in the nicest possible way.  Do you think Rita will ever forgive me?

Jessica Biffi: You know, Rita is a very classic type of woman.  She likes her fashion but she is definitely more on the conservative side, and I think that might be why she didn’t like the Love Bus comment.  I don’t really know Rita on a personal level, but if we ever get there, I’ll put in a good word for you.

Auntie Fashion: Thanks!  As my favorite contestant on your season of PRC, I was thrilled to see you show at LG Toronto Fashion Week.  I could tell it was the highlight of your career so far.  Do you believe that you’ll be just as excited to show at Moose Jaw Fashion Week 2012?

Jessica Biffi: Awww . . . thanks for the love!  I was super excited, and the biggest thrill for me as a designer are the shows!  I’m thinking LG for 2012, but I’m really really excited for the Nunavut Spring/Summer shows!

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May 22, 2009 at 3:05 am

Wear a Gown to Work Day: Now with a Celebrity Spokesperson

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rupaul

RuPaul

Just when I thought that Wear a Gown to Work Day was going to languish like my campaign to raise money for those poor runway models who get tripped up in their high heels during fashion week, a platinum blonde angel has flown down from the heavens to help me out!

RuPaul has offered to act as the Celebrity Spokesperson for the first ever Wear a Gown to Work Day on May 29, 2009.  I’m sure that she’ll work tirelessly to spread the word about this very special event.  With this sort of endorsement, I’m sure the staff at Hallmark will be working overtime to get greeting cards that celebrate the day on the shelves of a store near you.

I wasn’t actually able to meet with RuPaul because we’re both so busy (she’s promoting a new album, gearing up for a new round of casting for RuPaul’s Drag Race, and I’m taking a night class on do-it-yourself cat spaying) , but I was able to ask her a few questions via email.  I just imagined that I was back in South Coast Plaza in the 90s when the yet-to-open MAC store was covered in billboard-sized photos of Ru looking more beautiful than anyone I had ever seen before.  Standing in front of those images made me feel as if I had been granted an audience with the Queen, and I’ll never forget it.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re all dying to read the interview, so here it is:

Auntie Fashion: I’m so honored that you’ve accepted the role of the first-ever official celebrity spokesperson for Wear a Gown to Work Day on Friday, May 29.  I know that you were hoping to usurp Angelina Jolie’s position as the UN’s Goodwill Ambassadrix, but this is a far more glamorous role.  Would you call it the greatest achievement of your career?

RuPaul: I live in the moment so my greatest achievement is waking up today and continuing to be interested in life, love and my career.

Auntie Fashion: I had sent out an invitation to Dancing with the Stars’ Carrie Ann Inaba to take on this prestigious role, but I still haven’t heard back from her.  Why was it so important for you to snatch this plum position away from her?  Am I correct in assuming that the two of you are arch-rivals?

RuPaul: I have absolutely no idea who that person is.  I have seen clips of Dancing with the Stars on YouTube but I can’t say I’ve ever watched the show.  But I can say that encouraging people to wear a gown to work has always been one of my lifelong goals.

Auntie Fashion: So what do you say to that stock girl at Wal-Mart who claims that she doesn’t want to wear a gown to work because she can’t find anything to match her blue smock?

RuPaul: In most cases many fashion rules don’t apply when you’re wearing a fabulous gown.  The utter audacity of wearing a gown to work overrides the matter of color coordination.

Auntie Fashion: I was delighted to learn that the casting process for season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race is going to begin on May 1.  Are there any tips you would like to give to the girls who are vying for the crown?

RuPaul: The greatest tip I can offer to potential contestants is to keep in mind we are looking for CharismaUniquenessNerve and Talent.  If you don’t possess them, you needn’t apply.

Auntie Fashion:  As the mortal representation of Zob, I’m always trying to take my blinding glamour down a notch so that I don’t alienate my fans with my unattainable beauty and grace.  I suppose you’ve had the same problem, so — as a “natural beauty” — is there any advice you can give me to make my look a little more accessible to the rabble?

RuPaul: On the surface it may seem that playing down your beauty is a way to make others feel good about themselves, but in reality the opposite is true.  You do yourself and other people a disservice by playing small.  Always turn the volume as high as possible when presenting your unique brand of glamour.

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April 9, 2009 at 2:46 am

The Mike Rosenthal Interview

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mike-rosenthal

Mike Rosenthal

It’s no wonder that photographer Mike Rosenthal doesn’t sit on the judge’s panel of America’s Next Top Model too often.  He’s a strapping hulk of a man, and I imagine that his continued presence might make Nigel Barker begin to feel woefully inadequate.  In a way, he reminded me of a young Dolph Lundgren as He-Man in Masters of the Universe.  I then reminded him that it was inappropriate to wear a studded leather codpiece to Dairy Queen in the middle of the afternoon, but he told me that he was too famous to care.  I smiled coyly at the comment because I implicitly knew what he meant, and it was at that exact moment when I could see in his eyes that he loved me as much as I loved him.

Anyway, before things got too hot between us, I was able to ask Mike a few questions to share with you.

Auntie Fashion: With so many cycles of America’s Next Top Model under your belt, you must be getting jaded.  What does it take to keep you awake on the set?

Mike Rosenthal: I usually start with some fresh juice in the morning.  By the afternoon/evening I’ve usually eased myself into sugar and crack.  Beyond that, I rely on Sutan to keep me laughing.

Auntie Fashion: Now that Tyra is taking on photographer duties on ANTM and Jay Manuel is appearing as the host on Canada’s Next Top Model, it seems as if you’re the only cast member who isn’t multitasking.  Have you considered learning runway coaching or Aswirl training to expand your repetoire?

Mike Rosenthal: My high-heel walk isn’t what it should be.  I have strong ankles, but I can’t get that level of finesse that comes naturally to Miss Jay.  Aswirl seems a bit overwhelming, so I’m trying to see what’s next — possibly interpretive dance.

Auntie Fashion: ANTM fans can be quite obsessive — I should know!  I’ve been practicing writing out my name as “Prunella Rosenthal” since the first time I laid eyes on you.  What’s keeping you from popping the question, anyway?

Mike Rosenthal: It’s all about timing.  I wouldn’t want us to burn out too quickly.

Auntie Fashion: As the mortal representation of Zob, do you believe that a mere photograph could ever do justice to my incomprehensible gorgeousness?

Mike Rosenthal: I honestly don’t think that a camera could capture the splendor, neither film nor digital.  It’s just impossible.

Auntie Fashion: I’m in the middle of planning Moose Jaw Fashion Week 2012.  Could you put in a good word for me with Tyra so that she’ll make Moose Jaw the international destination for an upcoming cycle of ANTM?

Mike Rosenthal: Yeah she’s been talking about it, so I’ll definitely give an extra push.  I remember her saying something about Moose Jaw being the new Paris.

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March 18, 2009 at 5:32 pm

The Christian Francis Roth Interview

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christian-francis-roth3

Model Jotasha Turnbull & Christian Francis Roth

I have to admit that I’m always a little suspicious of child prodigies. People who achieve a great deal of success at an early age sort of give me the creeps.

For that reason, I was both surprised and delighted to become acquainted with Christian Francis Roth. I met up with him quite inadvertantly at a Manhattan YMCA. He was admiring my genuine Jackie Stallone headband while I was ogling the way he filled out his Dolfin shorts. A few spots on the bench press later, and we each realized who the other one was. It was as if destiny had brought us together!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with his work, click on the link above from Paper Magazine to read more. Otherwise, just treat yourself to this delightful conversation I had with fashion’s latest comeback kid. He’s a regular Mickey Rourke!

Auntie Fashion: So, what have you been up to for the last fifteen years or so?  You can tell me if you were in jail.  Auntie Fashion doesn’t judge.

Christian Francis Roth: After I closed my business in the late 1990s, I was so weary of losing money I decided to go work for some big, painfully boring corporations and see how they managed to be profitable.  You can certainly liken my years in corporate fashion to time in jail, but like any savvy prisoner, I got a great education while I was away.  Now I’m like, you know, Brand Master Flash and shit.

Auntie Fashion: Your Gangs of New York show to launch Francis (Roth’s new label) was a lot of fun.  I’m constantly harping about the lack of personality on today’s runways, but I saw something in your presentation that gave me hope for a more entertaining future in fashion.  What do you have planned for the upcoming F/W 2009 season?

CFR: We had a blast putting that collection together. I basically became obsessed with the 70s movie “The Warriors“.  Today’s cliques are so much like those gangs.  Man, if I were running marketing at The Gap, I’d do a whole campaign around it.

For F/W, we’re not doing a show, just a great, super-fun collection.  I’ll likely show again in September, but with the economy the way it is, I want to see how my spring selling goes before I commit to the expense.  That is, until more people answer my male escort ad and I don’t have to worry about money anymore.  I’m expensive but well worth it.  Just go to www.big-in-the-9os.com.

Auntie Fashion: Wow, you still look pretty big to me!  We’re getting off-topic, though.  How has Zob influenced your career as a designer?  Can we expect to see an entire collection inspired by the glory of Zob?

CFR: I actually tried to book Zob to walk my Spring show but Marc had a first option on her, that bitch!

Auntie Fashion: That’s only partly true.  Marc Jacobs tried to book Zob in an attempt to lure her into his secret lair, but Simon Doonan got wind of the designer’s evil master plan and saved the day, as he always does.  He’s a regular Boy Wonder.

Anyway, back to you.  I find you far more attractive on the cusp of your fortieth birthday than I did when you were just a skinny kid making headlines in the early 90s.  Do you have any beauty secrets that you would like to share with my readers?

CFR: Dog kisses apparently keep my skin pretty clear.  Corgi spit must have some secret enzyme in it.  Or maybe it’s all the fat in the Häagen Dazs Vanilla ice cream I eat before bed three times a week.  No way to know for sure.  When I figure it out, I’ll bottle that shit and you can go buy it at Holt Renfrew for $1500 an ounce.

Auntie Fashion: I’m currently planning Moose Jaw Fashion Week 2012, which will undoubtedly become the premiere event of the fashion calender.  Unfortunately, the accommodations in Moose Jaw are quite limited.  Is it okay if we share a hotel room?

CFR: NOT if you snore…I need my beauty sleep!

Auntie Fashion: Obviously you have me confused with Jeanne Beker.  Don’t let it happen again.

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January 15, 2009 at 10:07 pm

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The Kenley Collins Interview

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kenley-collins

Kenley Collins

I don’t blog much about the US version of Project Runway because it airs on Canadian television about a month after it appears on the American channels.  Neverthess, I’m a huge fan.

This past season I was rooting for Kenley Collins to win.  I admired her for her creativity and for her talent at making women look good (don’t get me started about designers who don’t know their way around a woman’s body).  Kenley made it to the finale at Bryant Park, but in the end she was beaten by Leanne, whose penchant for adorning the hips with numerous flaps didn’t impress this old bird.

I was able to meet up with Kenley to ask her a few questions.  She was eager to make my acquaintance because I told her that I invented a new cocktail named the Kenley Collins.  It’s just like a Tom Collins, only with ten cherries instead of one.  We drank so many that my tongue was still stained red a week later.  And not only is Kenley crafty when it comes to hand-painting fabric, but she also can macrame you a friendship bracelet made of cherry stems using just her tongue.  Say what you will about the girl, but don’t ever say she can’t handle her liquor!

Auntie Fashion: Project Runway Canada Season 2, hosted by Iman, premieres on January 27.  Who do you think would win in a cage fight: Iman or Heidi Klum?

Kenley Collins: Heidi.  She seems pretty aggressive and competitive.

Auntie Fashion: Blayne’s “Pooping Fabric” dress stands out in my mind as the worst creation in five seasons of Project Runway.  Do you have a least-favorite design (other than your own) from the season?  What about a favorite?

Kenley Collins: Keith’s car challenge ensemble was pretty bad.  I loved Daniel’s cup dress for the grocery challenge.  He should’ve won that challenge.

Auntie Fashion: I have a theory that I’d like you to consider.  I believe that the three other girls in the final with you (Leanne, Korto and Jerell) were not only envious of your design skills but also jealous of your appearance because you were the prettiest finalist.  Care to comment?

Kenley Collins: Aaahahah!  I don’t know what their problem was.

Auntie Fashion: I’m currently developing Moose Jaw Fashion Week 2012, which will undoubtedly become the premiere event of the fashion calendar.  Would you consider showing your S/S 2013 collection there?

Kenley Collins: If I’m able to put one together, I will.

Auntie Fashion: How has the magnificence of Zob influenced your work? Do you plan on using Zob as the inspiration for all of your future collections, or just some of them?

Kenley Collins: Zob is fabulous!  She always has an influence on my work.

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January 5, 2009 at 5:25 am