“Fashion is the science of appearances, and it inspires one with the desire to seem rather than to be.” – Edwin Hubbel Chapin
With the arrival of fall comes the celebration of creativity and boldness in the fashion world. FASHION WEEK involves some of my most favorite events of the year. I absolutely love seeing what some of the hottest designers have cooked up for those of us hungry for whats next in fashion. While LA Fashion week is not seen as important as NYFW or Paris Fashion week, the glamour is still present. Because of my busy schedule I was not able to attend many of the fashion shows and events throughout the week but Saturday night I was finally able to catch a few shows.
For anyone who knows how chaotic a red carpet can be, fashion week carpets take the cake. Between the media hungry artists and undiscovered designers seeking to showcase their designs for the photographers, it was like a zoo. Of course when I walked the carpet everyone was mistaking me for Common (which I am not sure what to do with). After the seemingly endless camera flashes(which I love, I’m a narcissist) I made my way to the fashion gala.
The music, the lights, the beautiful people, the clothes…I am obsessed with it all and I don’t care who knows it.
My favorite part of Fashion week is seeing all the bold designs and color schemes on the runway and in the crowd. I am inspired to find my own personal fashion statements when I see others being true to themselves with their fashion. It is not for the faint of heart that’s for sure. Fashion favors the bold.I intend to be one of the most courageous and help others find their fashion courage as well. I am extremely inspired right now. I think I will go shopping. Wonder what outfit I will find today.
“Style is the perfection of a point of view.” -Richard Eberhart
I had an interesting experience yesterday that solidified for me the belief that people treat you differently when you look like money. I purchased my first custom design ensemble from LA designers Cosmo and Nathalia (they have a shop located on Melrose Ave and are amazing.) I felt like Kanye West as the stylist referred to me as her client and focused all her attention on me. Working with different styles and fabrics to find out what worked best for me. It was a lot of fun and I will definitely be returning. I left feeling like a superstar with a new ensemble that I couldn’t wait to wear out.
Yesterday I decided I wanted to go shopping in Beverly Hills and debut my new digs. At each store the employees would swarm me under the impression there was a nice commission in their future. I would look around to see if there were other customers and the stores were always full. Why were they focused on selling to me? After talking with some of the salespeople they would inquire about my clothing. “Where did you get your shirt? I love your sweater, can you tell me who designed it?” One salesperson kept bringing me pieces to my fitting room that I didn’t ask for and finally said “I just got excited because you look so fashionable and I wanted to dress you.” That’s when I realized it was my outfit that was getting their attention. Either they thought I had a lot of money, which i don’t yet, or they loved my fashion sense and wanted to be a part of my fashion point of view.
Later that evening I went to dinner at this bistro on Sunset Blvd and sat outside. A Star Tour Bus pulls up and stops in the street. The tour guide informs his passengers that the rapper Common was to their right, directing their attention to me. Cameras flashed and girls screeched in excitement. I just waved and let them go on their way. I have been told I look like Common a few times but never I never stopped a Star Tour Bus. I can’t help but believe that once again my ensemble set them off.
The point of me sharing this experience is this…you ARE how you dress. Just like it is said that who your friends are represents who you are viewed as. Your clothes are your closest friend. At first glance how do you recognize a Doctor ? Probably the white coat. A fireman? The fireman’s uniform. I have friends who can pinpoint a music producer by how expensive his shoes and jewelry are. Just the same, if you put time, money, and effort into your personal wardrobe the nonverbal communication between you and the rest of the world drastically changes. A well tailored suit says this man is serious about his endeavors. A custom designed ensemble says this guy takes pride in his appearance and his business. The right outfit can express that you are a man of means or a man of high taste. Tom Ford says “Dressing well is a form of good manners.” So what does your wardrobe say about you? If you don’t like what it says then change the conversation. Personally I like for my clothes to say, “Strong. Confident. Unique. This man is well on his way to greatness.” But that’s my journey. What’s yours?
“Burn the boats!” -Hernan Cortez
The idea of burning the boats was a strategic military tactic used by the likes of Cortez and Alexander the Great before him. This removed the option of retreat and left their men with only the options of victory or defeat. With an escape plan out of the question these men committed themselves fully to the goal of victory. This “burn the boat” tactic produced some of the most remarkable victories in history. Against all odds, victory is sure
4 years ago today my best friend Justin and I arrived in Hollywood full of dreams and aspirations. Knowing how daunting a task tackling the entertainment industry would be and how lofty a goal our successes were, we made a resolution. We were here to stay. No matter how difficult or bleak it looks, there was no retreat. We burned our boats that day. Defeat is not an option. Over the past 4 years there have been miraculous victories and terrifying defeats but we are still here. We are still hopeful. When I look back on how excited I was when we arrived I have realized I am more excited now than I was then. This is because I can look back and clearly see how far we have come. I am proud of the strides I have made both as and actor and as a resident of Los Angeles. I have learned a lot and grown in amazing and unexpected ways. So while the goals are still lofty and to some impractical, I am closer than I was when I arrived and assured I am exactly where I belong.
This life is a journey and I am thoroughly enjoying this odyssey God has and continues to go before me and there is profound peace in that. I am excited about what the next 4 years have in store.
“The journey’s the thing.” -Homer’s The Odyssey
“Art can never exists without naked beauty displayed.”-William Blake
Growing up I was pretty vocal about my desire to be in entertainment. I wanted to be an actor and a singer…I wanted to do it all. I would frequently get asked the question, “Would you ever do nudity?” With a self righteous indignation, my answer was always be a resounding “NO!” As a child I thought it was the worst possible thing an actor could do. I had a lot of hang ups human expression back then but as I got older I found myself becoming increasingly comfortable with who I was both internally and externally. I still couldn’t see myself being naked on film.
About 2 weeks ago I was given the opportunity to appear completely naked on an episode of a new HBO series. Without hesitation I accepted the job. Now I would like to say it had nothing to do with the money but, in truth, the money was really good. However, the biggest reason I said yes was because I realized in that moment that I strongly desired to present my naked self for the sake of art. I have gone streaking and skinny dipping back in high school and college but it was usually under the guise of camaraderie or drunken fun. In recent months I have begun to see myself as ART, not perfectly sculpted or flawless but ART nonetheless and I wanted the opportunity to express this perspective.
I spent most of the night before the shoot unable to sleep. Apprehension and excitement riddled my body. I had a very early call time and when I arrived on set I was quickly given a robe and all my clothing removed. I was whisked away to the makeup trailer where 4 other naked bodies were being oiled and airbrushed. My makeup artist was a middle aged Hispanic woman who proceeded to disrobe me like she had done it a million times. Awkward conversation ensued. “You do a lot of nude modeling? Because you should.” As she vigorously rubbed some kind of makeup on my ass and thighs. She moved things around to give my entire body an even skin tone. The whole time I was thinking “what have I gotten myself into.” After the initial discomfort I realized I wasn’t all that uncomfortable. In fact I was invigorated. By shooting time all of my apprehension had dissipated.
I sat in a chair and in front of me were the camera crew, director and AD, and the lighting guys. The Director yells “DISROBE and ACTION!” The camera pans to me as I sat there in all my naked glory. I have never felt that kind of liberation in my life. It took all of me not to laugh because I just felt so free. Before I knew it the first take was done. After that I spent the next 6 hours doing different scenes with different angles and lenses. I was having the time of my life.
Now I am not saying we should run around butt naked in the streets. I do, however, believe our bodies should be celebrated and our nakedness expressed as the art it is. After all we are the Creator’s workmanship. At the end of the day, this life is about loving yourself and being comfortable enough to express yourself, flaws and all. I look forward to the next time I get to be naked on film.
“To see you naked is to recall the Earth.” -Frederico Garcia Lorca
“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”-Karl Lagerfeld
If sweatpants are a sign of defeat then style, true style, is a sign that there is some fight left in you. When I say style I don’t mean fashion trends or our boring attempts to blend into the masses. No, when I say style I echo Orson Welles definition of the word “Style is knowing who you are, what you want, and not giving a damn.”
As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by a wardrobe’s ability to express who we are without saying a word. In elementary school we wore uniforms and I spent more time than I am willing to admit tucking my shirt in my pants, making sure my tie lined up with my belt buckle, and shining the nickles in my loafers (maybe I was a bit OCD). But I knew in a world that aggressively attempts to force conformity, my clothes could say what perhaps I was to afraid to say. Now that I am older I have grown undeniably comfortable in my own skin which has allowed me to explore my personal style. On my journey I have been misunderstood, ridiculed, excluded, and mistreated in an attempt to put me in a manageable box. Peers, friends, and family have all sought to define and control my thoughts, actions, and dress at one time or another. But when I put on an ensemble that is inextricably Mykell, I feel like I can take on the world.
My point is this; When you feel bullied by the world or beat down by your circumstance. When your self esteem is low and you feel silenced by the people around you, brush your hair (if you have any) and put on your most favorite ensemble…the clothes that say exactly what you wish you could, and go out. Go to the grocery store. Go to the bank. Go wherever the world is and stand tall. Let your style say what you cannot. It may not fix your problems but you will look good on this ride we call life. It’s definitely a confidence builder.
If you are extra daring once you find your style, get a photographer and do a kickass photo shoot. Any photographer worth their weight will make you feel like the most important, most uniquely beautiful person on the planet. At the end of the day have fun being YOU.