Behind The Scenes With Savanna

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

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Behind The Scenes With Savanna

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Photographs by Al B For, Copyright 2024.

I was introduced to Savanna a few months ago at an exhibition of my work curated  by my  friend and colleague Bob Neroni, owner of Prism Arts Philadelphia.  When we met at the exhibit she seemed very enthusiastic about meeting me, so I reached out to cast her for The Vixens Series, a series of portraits inspired by women from all walks of life that exude; strength, intelligence, heroism and inner beauty.

We settled on a date and aligned the production crew to meet at my studio for the series of pictures that would define the beginning  of a new year as we enter 2024.  I contacted veteran Philly photographer, Al B For to cover the behind the scenes of the production involved in creating Savanna’s remarkable series of pictures.  Al B is quite known in Philadelphia creative circles as a go to guy for candid event photography . His bubbly personality makes everyone around him comfortable as evidenced in the photographs captured on shoot day.  Al B is the ultimate fly on the wall.

Many thanks first of all to Savanna, who was fabulous to work with.  She’s quite daring and provocative as you can see.  Thanks also to my team including: creative director KVaughn, lighting assistant Tony Colagreco, Shibari rope specialist, Scorpiana,  makeup artist extraordinaire, Octavia Monroe and behind the scenes pictures by Al B For.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

To access the complete set of Savanna’s pictures for The Vixens Series, link here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/savanna-autonomy/

KVaughn: Interview

KVaughn. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023
KVaughn. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

KVaughn: Interview by Tony Ward

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TW: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue fashion design?

KV: I never really pursued Fashion Design actually I had a manufacturer, I didn’t start sewing actually until my little sister Dorian bought me a sewing machine and I took a six week sewing class.  I think I was always a designer. I always believed you can go to school to learn how to sew. Being a designer is so much more so I don’t know that I pursed being a fashion designer. I really didn’t know what that was I didn’t know that was a role. I always loved clothes I work selling clothes and  shoes for 15 years before I launched my collection. Actually it was a customer who told me I was a Designer.  I just didn’t know it I was doing styling at the time for my customers but a that time it wasn’t called styling it was just putting together a look head to toe but once I heard the word designer, I just wanted to wear something with my name on it.  I didn’t start sewing until much later in my career when my always supportive sister Dorian bought me the sewing machine and said you will figure it out.  She constantly pushes me to be better in life overall so I found a 6 week class and told my instructor I just wanted to learn how to sew a straight line.  It was a great turn by making my own scarves we slashed labor cost. I still hand sew pieces that need couture touches but we have a manufacturer down the street so we good.

TW: What made making scarves your focus?

KW: Well I’ve always loved scarves so we started doing them just for personal use and everyone start asking how they could get one so we did a small collection actually the first collection was made out of upholstery fabric as time went on the scarf collection was outpacing the mens and women’s collection sales so we decided to make them the focus going forward.

TW: What makes the KVaughn brand unique?

KV:  I think our whole approach to design.  I think it’s what we don’t do that makes us unique we don’t do more than 3 of a kind.  We select high quality fabrics and we don’t chase trends.  Most of our interactions with our clients is one on one so there is a personal touch provided to each customer. Our scarves take on the personality of the wearer.

TW:  How do you go about selecting fabric for each season?

KV: Good Question. I’m not sure there’s a good answer because it’s different inspiration each season the fabrics: wool, cashmere, mohair for winter, linen and silk for summer.  It’s more than just the fabrics I pick. I tap into the mood of the season. Is it about the length short or long wide or narrow?  I like to think about the man or woman – how would they want to wear it and then the fabric has a language all its own.

TW:  What are KVaughn goals for 2024?

KV: Goals 2024? Well that’s a good one. I started my collection in March of 1994,  so I’ve been blessed with almost 30 years in Design and I gave myself 6 months, so I’m always concerned about overstaying my welcome. I will always design, that’s in my DNA but what that looks like I really can’t say.  I’m really enjoying The Creative Director position with Tony Ward Studio, and I’ve been getting offers to collaborate.  As far as K.VAUGHN SCARVES I always ask myself do we have anything to say Fashion wise are your designs still relevant?  Is there a market for my work I always reevaluate at the end of the year.  I’ll keep you posted.

TW:  Who were your earliest fashion influences?

KV:   I’m reminded of  a Biggie song where he was asked the same question. No one influenced me to get into fashion.  It was always in me but I do remember me and my Best Friend Kevin Long.  I was introduced to him when I was living in Boston and we would always talk style and Fashion I met him in 1986.  I didn’t start my own line till 1994,  but the talks we had definitely had an influence.  He even flew down to help with my first collection after I got into design.  You grab a little from everyone it’s like make a cake.  Karl Lagerfeld  had that uniform that look that was distinctive. Alexander McQueen, his shows were always dramatic. Isaac Mizrahi and the Documentary Unzipped revealed the hectic weeks before a Runway Show. Ralph Lauren who doesn’t sew a lick but has such a vision for Men, Women, and  Home . There’s so many influences that have crossed my path. Oh I can’t forget meeting Andre Leon Talley.

TW: How did your upbringing impact your creativity?

KV: Unfortunately words like art and designer were never used in my household.  I always was looking to get away and trying to see what was out there in a bigger world.  I do remember as a kid I would look at the walls in our home and always thought something was missing.  Now I know it was art,  so I think my upbringing made me go in another direction.  Now my place is filled with art on every wall.

TW:  What is a typical KVaughn design day like?

KV: Well since I sell life insurance during the day my design process happens at night around 11pm. I’ll get in my studio lay out whatever fabrics I’m working with and turn on the Tv, no volume and have my music on blast.  Latlely I’ve been working on making new mannequins for display use. It’s all about creating a comfort zone with no limits . Weekend trips mainly to New York to buy fabrics means a visit 20 fabrics stores in one day just to put a collection together and every fabric supplier you have to negotiate fabrics prices.  It’s hectic but it’s the best part because I know no matter the reception to a particular collection I put in the work and selected every fabric so a Day in a Life is very interesting and quite fulfilling.

TW: Which current design house do you gain the most inspiration from?

KV: Inspiration houses: Channel particularly The Lagerfeld Era,  Hermes For the Scarves,  Ralph Lauren for the Scale and reach of the brand.

 

 

Nefertari Williams: The Epidemic of Loneliness

woman in the desert looking lonely wearing a Santa suit
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

Text by Nefertari Williams, Copyright 2023

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The Epidemic of Loneliness 

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I have heard more songs about being a strong independent woman more times then I wish to count. No matter how many times I sing them, wear the tee shirts or yell it from roof tops…..  I still, even if it’s just around the holidays or just late at night, must admit that I get lonely.

Everyone gets lonely at times. It’s normal to occasionally feel the desire to talk with a friend or a partner, go out and experience camaraderie with a group whether it’s a sporting event or your neighborhood church.

However some people experience levels of loneliness that have been deemed an “epidemic” according to the WHO (world health organization). Some of our fellow humans are differently abled and unable to leave their homes. They have to depend on the kindness of strangers for food, deliveries and transportation. Even if they have hired help that person may just do their job which is to maybe clean a little, help with medication distribution quick medical checks. But that’s only temporary companionship. A true deep connection is still desired in most of us whether we want to admit it or not.

There’s a song that’s says people who need people are the luckiest people in the world yet here we are living in a world where loneliness it literally making people sick. According to the WHO, loneliness can lead to increased risk of many illnesses including heart disease.

In 2020 a pandemic swept through Earth. Some believe this may have been the start of the epidemic of loneliness however there were whispers and clues way before the horrific pandemic hit.

The thought of those with physical issues that prevent them from leaving theirs home is one cause of loneliness however that doesn’t include those who have social issues (difficulties making social connections). They are our neighbors who may want to have different kinds of connection because they may not be comfortable with small talk or traditional forms of communication. This is where the discussion of sex workers comes in.

Sex work is referred to as “the oldest profession in the world” yet it is illegal in most states. I believe it may be something that should be looked into as a solution to loneliness in certain situations. Yes, there should be regulations and laws maybe even only used as a medical treatment, however, humans need human touch and there are people who are willing to provide it.

This is similar to the legalization of marijuana. It was illegal and caused so many people to lose their freedom yet was a solution for groups who have medical needs raging from epilepsy to anxiety. Advocacy groups began fighting for it legalization and it happened. So far studies show that it does more good than harm.

Now we have an epidemic of loneliness and we have people who need people. Let’s open our minds and our hearts and make sure we consider all opinions so that no one ever has to spend another holiday, cold night or just daily life – without companionship.

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About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  To access additional articles by Nefertari Williams link here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/nefertari-williams-my-fight-to-combat-loneliness/

Stephen Mallon: Passing East

Caboose. Photo: Stephen Mallon, Copyright 2023

PRESS RELEASE

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Front Room Gallery located at 205 Warren Street, Hudson, NY is pleased to present, “Passing East” a solo exhibition of photographs by Stephen Mallon. “Passing East” is the third iteration of Mallon’s work following “Passing Freight” and “Passing West.” This series of photographs captures the still active rail lines that carry freight to destinations across the country.  Mallon’s industrial landscape photographs isolate singular freight cars within this iconic transportation system, which has played a critical role in supply infrastructure across the continent for hundreds of years.  

Boxcar CSXT. Photo: Stephen Mallon, Copyright 2023

 

These trains inhabit their environment, as characters that are not visibly moving but seem completely encapsulated with the landscape around them. Within the frame of the photograph the train cars take up almost all of the composition, yet the little hints above and below them place them in a singular space. In “Flatcar CSX” a rusty line of axls runs almost the length of the photograph sitting on a flatcar at the bottom of the frame. Above the flatcar a lush forest of trees is gently changing from green to orange in the autumn weather. In “Flatcar NOKL” the car seems to be carrying huge burnt umber barn through the snowy landscape. In “Tankcar GATZ” some trickster has graffitied “$20,000…” along the side of the tank car in large green and white cartoonish letters. One wonders what they were thinking, since surely $20,000 would be a bargain for whatever’s inside the tank. In “TOFC CTLZ” a flat car is carrying a trailer that is painted the identical color of the sky, with only the white seams standing out—like Wonder Woman’s invisible plane.

Flatcar CN. Photo: Stephen Mallon, Copyright 2023

These trains are all moving, quite literally. And while they might appear to be stopped in the photograph, it is only for that split second as they pass Stephen Mallon, his camera, and his tripod. Mallon’s procedure involves many elements including the perfect location, light, the individual personality of each car, the trickiness of getting exactly the right moment, and patience. The intersection of mechanical and natural worlds, singular encounters where the trains activate the landscape are hard to predict.

Flatcar NOK. Photo: Stephen Mallon, Copyright 2023

Stephen Mallon is well known for his series “Next Stop Atlantic,” featuring decommissioned NYC Subway cars as they are retired in the depths of the Atlantic 

Hopper NA. Photo: Stephen Mallon, Copyright 2023

Editor’s Note: For more information about Stephen Mallon’s exhibition, link here: https://www.frontroomles.com

Behind The Scenes: KVaughn Winter Collection 2023

Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023
Photo: Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

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Behind The Scenes: KVaughn Winter Collection 2023

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Photography by Brian Hunt and Ernest Thomas, Copyright 2023

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On November 19, 2023 a group of creative talents, models, photographers and stylists  arrived at the enclave in Elkins Park determined to produce a series of photographs representative of KVaughn’s Winter Scarf Collection 2023-24.  The first to arrive was a tall young man with long hair who pulled up in my driveway at around 10:30am.  I greeted model Larson Hunt and he quickly asked where he should put his wardrobe in preparation for the days work.  Frankly, I didn’t know because KVaughn, the auteur of the days activities was running behind schedule as he was caravanning to the location with photographers, models and lots of scarves ready to be photographed.

This first gallery of photos above are by Ernest Thomas.  He like Brian Hunt are veteran photographers that have worked with KV on various shoots over the years.  Teamwork is what made this seasons photography of KVaughn’s remarkable collection come to life.

This second  gallery of photographs below are by Brian Hunt. Brian is the father of model, Larson Hunt.  One of the joys of observing the talent working around the property that day was the interaction between father and son.  It was quite a moment. KVaughn’s team is a tight knit group.  Everyone is supportive and fun to work with.

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Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023
Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023
Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023
Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023
Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023
Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023
Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023
Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023
Photo: Brian Hunt, Copyright 2023

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