Category Archives: Fashion

Alexis Masino: Versace Man

Portrait of Bryan Abrams by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Bryan Abrams by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

Article by Alexis Masino, Copyright 2018

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VERSACE MAN

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A black silk surface is swallowed up by bright hues of gold and electric blue creating the appearance of a fiery gate. God-like stone figures are the main characters in view, but there are small portrayals of animals accompanying them: elephants, birds, giraffes, dolphins. And at the very top of each point in the gate, there is a golden globe of the world held up by cherubs. This surreal scene and work of art created by Gianni Versace himself takes its final form on a button down shirt, and sells for a market price of $1300.

The man beneath the shirt is Bryan Abrams, owner of what is rumored to be the most expansive private Versace collection in existence. Totaling over 1,200 pieces of Versace including shirts, ties, jewelry, watches, shoes, limited edition Barbie dolls, and even a one-of-a-kind fuschia jacket, his collection is renowned worldwide. In the world of fashion, Bryan Abrams is Versace Man.

But Abrams was not always so passionate about fashion. In fact, he was completely indifferent. Weighing over 200 pounds in his youth, Abrams had no particular interest in clothing. “I mean I never cared about clothes, I always made fun of guys who read GQ and stuff like that.” Abrams says he limited himself to the section in stores called “Husky” for lack of better options.

It was not until after he graduated from the University of Delaware that Abrams lost a significant amount of weight. “I started to take up running and I wanted to impress this girl to get a date, so I invited her to see my first race.” By the end, he was so far behind that they picked up the finish line for him. His plan might not have worked the way he wanted, but it reaped its own benefits.

“It spurred me to the point to get serious and I started running and running and running…Before my car accident 5 years ago, I had run 50 marathons.”

Abrams dropped the pounds quickly with his running. In his new fit shape he decided to get into fashion, and started with Philadelphia’s own designer Willie Smith. After a self proclaimed “preppy” phase, Abrams started reading outlets like GQ and developed an interest in high fashion. He started with the big names of the time, until one day when he noticed an ad in the paper to meet a fashion designer and decided to attend. Not yet a big name in fashion, it was a meet and greet with Gianni Versace.

Abrams fell in love with the collection. He immediately bought and changed into his first Versace shirt. And from that day, Abrams had a new passion.

“Versace is my life.”

And he means it. His entire wardrobe consists exclusively of Versace — 6 walk-in closets and 12 wardrobe sets full of it — and has since before the ‘80s. Abrams has struggled to protect his precious collection, seeking insurance coverage overseas by Lloyds of London when no company in America would cover the items of clothing.

His vacation plans revolve around Versace as well. Destinations are chosen based on where there is a Versace retailer Abrams has not visited before. The new store will be the first task checked off the list, then the city’s history and other attractions. As for the Versace stores in North America, Abrams can list each one along with the name of its respective manager.

Even when he is not shopping, he visits his favorite stores to catch up with the employees. They know him by name and invite him to their parties. The friendships are genuine. And of course, Abrams always has first pick from new collections.

“People think it’s an expensive hobby but it’s not.” Abrams compares his Versace hobby to any other, explaining that it’s all just about what you choose to spend on. “Some people collect books, some people go to the country club, whatever their passion is.” Versace is Abram’s passion.

For 32 years, Abrams managed a large ticket selling agency in Wilmington, Delaware until they were bought out five years ago. Not much later, he was involved in a horrible car accident. After a few surgeries, Abrams started to recover. He began working in sales at Nordstrom, but did not keep that position very long due to surgery complications.

Now, Abrams focuses most of his time on his passion for Versace. He attends parties and events regularly, as well as store openings and of course, every fashion show. The other passion that has always remained constant in Abrams’ life is his love for his family.

Bryan Abrams was the oldest of five brothers and was raised by a single mother. There was always a lot of love. “It was the single best family dynamic because of my mom. Everything that she did in her life was for her boys.” Abrams remained close with his mother for the rest of her life. She had epilepsy, was a chronic smoker, and developed emphysema as well as cataracts and glaucoma. He lived with her and took care of her until she passed. But despite her conditions, Abrams says “she still had a zest for life and for her boys and so she imparted that on to us.”

The Abrams boys all went on to lead quite impressive lives. This includes work as a published award winning photographer, despite being self taught, a top salesperson, a ballet dancer, and school teacher. The brothers remained close throughout their lives and family was always Abrams’ absolute top priority in life. Although it’s now just Bryan Abrams and his brother Ronnie, the two still keep in touch and Abrams has family photos around his childhood home, where he still lives today.

Save his love for his own family, it seems there is little Abrams values more than this coveted Versace wardrobe, other than the Versaces themselves and his Versace family.

“The day Gianni died, I had several phone calls in minutes.” Twenty years later, Abrams is still devastated by the death of his longtime friend and idol. Abrams says Gianni treated everyone kindly, no matter who they were and always treated Abrams incredibly. And Abrams exhibits this same feature, speaking as fondly of his friendship with Gianni’s limo driver, Cleveland, and the employees of the company as he does of Gianni and Donatella themselves.

He even still maintains his friendship with the family and company and attends each of their fashion shows by personal invitation. At each show, Abrams has a front row seat. He meets CEOs and important company people as well as celebrities. One of his fondest memories is sitting next to Elton John at a show.

Abrams is also a factor in the corporate sector for Versace headquarters, though he would never officially join the company. He was the motivator for opening the Versace store in King of Prussia mall, and also responsible for having it shut down when he disapproved of how the place was managed. Now he sticks to his favorite outlets in New York and Milan, where the store owners and employees know him on a first name basis.

Considered a sort of Ambassador for Versace, Abrams is known and remembered by many. He always stands out wearing a bright Versace shirt, causing people to inquire about the fashion and ask to take photos of him. People have remembered him a long time later after meeting him once. For years, he was a bright Versace icon in the floor seats at every Philadelphia 76ers game. He keeps in touch with the important company people and they value his opinions. On an interesting occasion, his contact information was even mixed up with a CEO.

After Versace North America hired a new CEO, also named Bryan, Abrams started getting emails from the Milan CEO, Jonathan. The emails contained sales projections and other important company information. Though the information was meant for the CEO, Abrams’ had been the go-to Bryan on Jonathan’s contact list.

Abrams loves to talk about Versace as much as he loves to wear it. He is always willing to discuss the brand, the fashion, and his love for it. In Fall semesters, he lectures about Versace and brings in parts of his collection to be photographed for Tony Ward’s Fashion Photography course at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Fun, sexiness, and overtness is Versace, and like no other. I mean, there’s others who have tried to copy him but he was and still is the king.” Abrams loves Versace for its colors, uniqueness, and the way it the fashion can make the wearer stand out. No matter the occasion, be it a fashion party or just a day in the city, Abrams can always be spotted displaying a

decadent Versace top and matching shoes. Even the license plate on his baby blue Fiat reads VERSACE.

“How you dress is who you are. It’s the first thing people look at and it determines how they see you.” And Abrams certainly dresses for who he is: Versace Man.

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About The Author: Alexis Masino is a freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020.  To access additional articles by Alexis Masino, go herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/alexis-masino-werk/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Friends of TWS, Men, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn: Photography Students

Michael Heath: Artist’s Wear

 

Photography and Brand Concept by Michael Heath, Copyright 2018

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ARTIST’S WEAR

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You have a vision. You have to let it flow through you. It can’t be helped. It comes out in your work, your expression, your drive to mold all worldly materials into that expressive body of work. It cannot be stopped. Nothing can get in its way.

Wear clothes that say that to everyone. Clothes that are designed to withstand having paint on it, developer chemicals, solder, burn marks. Hell, wear clothes that will look even better with those things on it. Why let some other designer put all the character into your shirts and pants for you?

Of course, you can’t always wear clothes that look like you spent the last month not doing laundry. We have designs for your gallery opening cocktail hour, too.

Artist’s Wear.

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About The Author: Michael Heath is a Senior IT Support Specialist, ISC Classroom Technology Services, at the University of Pennsylvania.

To access additional articles by Michael Heath, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/michael-heath-magazine-editorial-process/

 

 

Also posted in Advertising, Art, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Painting, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, UPenn Photography, Women

Karishma Sheth: 3D Branding

 

Photography and Branding Concept by Karishma Sheth, Copyright 2018

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About The Photographer: Karishma Sheth is a senior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018.

 

Also posted in Advertising, Art, Blog, Men, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, UPenn, Women

Sharon Song: Life in Color

 

Photography and Brand Concept by Sharon Song, Copyright 2018

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LIFE IN COLOR

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For this assignment, I decided to create a brand that reflects the importance of individuality and day-to-day self-expression. The photographs display an abstract concept of my brand, Song. Song is my last name, but it is also music. To me, music serves as an outlet for the artist and solace for the listener. Each song makes the listener feel something different, the same way colors do. Just like how you change songs depending on your mood, you can change colors too. I kept these ideas in mind when creating my brand, and decided that this concept could be best represented with eye shadow palettes. Much like music, Song aims to add a unique touch of color to every individual’s life. 

In order to stay true to the brand’s identity, I decided to shoot the models in nude. I wanted to depict the brand’s emphasis on feeling comfortable in your own skin every day. Each colored palette is curated to the kind of person you are, and how you want to express yourself to the world. The selection of colors is meant to complement your style and mood.

In a similar sense, the models of this shoot were instructed to pose however they felt most comfortable. They were also given the opportunity to choose the projected image they resonated the most with. As a result, each image in this series is an authentic representation of each individual, and how they were feeling the day of the shoot.

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About The Author: Sharon Song is a Senior enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018. To access additional articles by Sharon Song, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/sharon-song-honeyed-lips/

 

 

Also posted in Advertising, Art, Blog, Erotica, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, UPenn Photography, Women

Jessica Moh: The Standard

 

Photography and Brand Development by Jessica Moh, Copyright 2018

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THE STANDARD

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The Standard believes that high fashion clothing items can be worn in any occasion. Through the combinations of blazers and hoodies or button downs and exercise clothing, a new generation of fashion is born. The standard strives to create outfits that can be worn in formal occasions, or for casual wear. The styles chosen portray fashion that is comfortable while at the same time, are seen as statement outfits. The juxtaposition of the suit to the hoodie shows how high fashion can be combined with other kinds of clothing to create a new look.

The standard acts as a building block to inspire those around the brand to think outside the box. With simple styles and colors, these building blocks encourage fashionistas to use the basic outfit and reinforce the style by adding different items on top.

The standard promotes ideas that use innovation to create something that seems like it would not work with one another. The standard advocates for the use of unconventional ideas to create something inspiring, something unheard of. The standard aims to merge streetwear with high fashion to create an outfit that is sophisticated yet comfortable.

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About The Author: Jessica Moh is a sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Jessica Moh, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/jessica-moh-love-story/

 

 

Also posted in Accessories, Blog, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, Women