BlackBook Interview + Exclusive Shoot: Model-Provocateur Omahyra on Faith, Art & Quitting Instagram

Images by Nelson Castillo
Above image clothing credit: Natasha Zinko, Green feather dress from ODDS, Miami Design District

 

She is the original badass of fashion, walking for designers such as Tom Ford, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Vivienne Westwood. Many might recall first seeing Omahyra in Jay Z’s hit “Change Clothes” alongside Naomi Campbell.

Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in NYC since age 10, model Omahyra now lives and works on her art in Miami. She is a humanitarian with a passion to give back to the world, enriching the culture through words and visual art. We caught up with her recently for an exclusive BlackBook interview, which also included this provocative shoot by photographer Nelson Castillo. During our conversation, we got inside the mind of the runway icon, painter and veteran of such movies as X-Men: Last Stand and After the Sunset—we were not disappointed.

 

Accessories credits: APM Monaco Jewelry, Balenciaga Shoes

 

During Art Basel you were part of the Levi Haus Miami, where guests were able to interact with you and create unique pieces. One of the sayings/options to be transferred to pieces was “OMG Omahyra Inspire The Future.” Can you please tell us where the phrase originated from and what it means?

There are layers to it. O.M.G. are my initials: Omahyra Mota Garcia, and it’s what I’ll be using as my artist name—but it also references my love of and belief in God. So the phrase “O.M.G. Omahyra inspire the future” is actually “OH MY GOD OMAHYRA INSPIRE THE FUTURE.” This was something my best friend Leo Velasquez would say to me. He loves kids and his goal in life was to always be doing something that would inspire the kids coming up behind him. He was just there pushing everybody to reach for their dreams. For me this moment was exactly that.

And Levis was a supportive partner for you?

I have always dreamt of being looked as an artist or creative director, working with a brand like Levis. They gave me this opportunity to achieve a dream of mine, to show a part of myself that I always kept private. So that phrase is me introducing myself as the artist that I am, while paying tribute to my best friend and someone I miss dearly. I pray to inspire the future the same way Leo did.

Your work is vibrant, with use of neon colors, at times, reminiscent of a mandala, geometric shapes, cosmic, as if you were painting frequency or sound. How do you approach your surfaces before you begin the process of painting and what is your favorite medium to work with?

When approaching surfaces, I always begin with feeling and interacting with the surface, feeling the texture on it, envisioning my lines and where they should go. My favorite medium to work on is acrylic on canvas. I love the freedom, it allows me to just paint as I go. I never pre-plan or sketch what I’m painting. I just paint what I feel and canvas and acrylic allows me to add depth and layers and the ability to just go with the flow of energy and frequency about me. Thank God for that!

 

Clothing credits: Fendi Top, Alexander Wang Pants, Boxers & Cycling Shorts

 

You recently deleted your grid on Instagram. What was the catalyst for this? Can you tell us why you left just one image from 2016 and what that photograph represents to you?

My Instagram grid was full of my past work, life, etc. I never really shared my passion with the world before so I wanted to start new and fresh, especially with me working toward my debut art show. The photo of me on my Instagram was a selfie in the mirror, which to me represents what I want to show the world. I want you to see a reflection of me, given to the world through my lens. The world has always seen me through the lens of someone else.

You have developed some unique and spectacular works of art. How do people access them? Where does your art live?

My work currently lives in my house. I’ve always painted for myself and my passion. I never shared any of this with the world but I believe now is the time. I’m working on my debut solo show, and from that point forward, my website will launch and you will be able to access everything through there.

 

Clothing credits: Staud Dress

 

Turning to fashion and your history on the runway, are there any designers you would want to walk for today? We’ve seen you pop up in Raul Lopez’s Insta stories, for example. Will we see you walking down the runway for Luar?

I’ve been in this state of transcendence and transformation. The only runways you will possibly see me on are those of my friends. Raul is a friend of mine, but we haven’t discussed walking in his show. If he asks, I would definitely consider it. But I’m more at the stage where I want people to see me for my other talents and passions. For instance, I created my own clothes as a child and I want to get back into that. Just giving people a piece of me through different interests I have.

Do you have any daily rituals?

My rituals mostly center around prayer and searching for God ‘s presence while making sure that my kids have everything they need.

What things are still a mystery to you?

God’s physical image! That, and why do the best people leave us so early?

 

Credits 
Model- Omahyra Mota @omahyramotaofficial
Photographer- Nelson N. Castillo @nelsonncastillo
Creative Director & Producer- Bianca Carosio @biancacarosio
Stylist- Mariela Ortega @bymo___
Makeup Artist- Autumn Suna using Chanel makeup & La Mer skincare @autumn_suna
Location- Maps Production House
@mapsproduction

 

Clothing credits above two images: Proenza Schouler Zebra Top, Off White Jeans, Natasha Zinko Shoes from ODDS Miami Design District; Top from Vetements, from Mrkt Deux, Raf Simons Denim from Mrkt Deux

New Exhibit ‘Photographers…Artists and the Snap Cardigan’ Pays Homage to the agnès b. Fashion Classic

Image by Claude Lévêque

 

 

Almost every magazine has published (at least) one article promising to reveal the secrets of “French-girl style”—and they all, inevitably, get it wrong. Simply outfitting oneself in a striped tee and crimson lip gloss won’t instantly result in the je ne se quoi that so many French women effortlessly exude.

While the answers to Paris’ sartorial mysteries may remain locked in a vault several meters beneath the Louvre (or perhaps the former Colette flagship space), one simple garment—the agnès b. Snap Cardigan—has proved to be more art-worthy than the simple French wardrobe inspiration.

 

Image by Ed Templeton

 

Now, in an ode to the 40th anniversary this timeless garment, more than 70 luminaries in art, film, and photography have come together to offer their interpretation of said garment. The exhibit, pithily titled Photographers … Artists and the Snap Cardigan, features contributions by cultural luminaries such as Juergen Teller, David Lynch, Ryan McGinness, Jim Jarmusch and Carly Steinbrunn. This show echoes previous snap cardigan exhibitions at the Galerie du Jour in Paris in 1986, and at the Centre Pompidou in 1996.

“I had the idea for the exhibition when I saw people making the garment their own,” agnès b. herself explains, “adapting it to their personal style. It occurred to me that photographers are never given the same subject, and that they would each have their own vision of the [Snap Cardigan]. Their response was enthusiastic, and the result is beautiful. I am extremely grateful.”

Photographers … Artists and the Snap Cardigan opens in New York on February 8th at 195 Chrystie Street, and remains on show through March 1st, before making stops in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

 

Above images from top: David Lynch, Juergen Teller, Kenta Cobayashi

Ungendered in 2020: Olivia Kim & Eileen Fisher Collab For Pop-In@Nordstrom

 

 

For their latest installment of Pop-In@Nordstrom—for which past partnerships have included Everlane, Gentle Monster, Goop, and Opening Ceremony—Nordstrom has just debuted ungendered capsule collection that marries the eco ethos of Eileen Fisher with the future-forward vision of Olivia Kim. Traditionally designing for women, Fisher has been creating elegant, timeless styles more than 30 years.

In its commitment to sustainability, EILEEN FISHER Pop-In@Nordstrom focuses on organic and reclaimed materials. This exclusive edition of the Eileen Fisher System is a uniform for the new world—an inclusive world. The 30-piece collection inspires creativity through connection and great design in an array of minimalist colors, and is crafted from a variety of conscious fabrics, including cotton and polyester fleece derived from recycled plastic bottles. The editorial was styled on both men and women.

 

 

“Our vision for this collaboration was not to design a collection for him or her, but for all of us,” enthuses Kim, Nordstrom VP of Creative Projects. “It was such an incredible opportunity to partner with Eileen Fisher on this project. I have always had tremendous respect for her not only as a woman who founded a successful business, but one that has done so with a thoughtful and responsible approach to fashion. We are aligned in our core values around inclusivity and sustainability and we are excited to share these important messages with our Pop-In@Nordstrom customers.”

Fisher continues, “Nordstrom has always been an important partner to us, so we are delighted to work with Olivia Kim and her team. Olivia is a true creative–reimagining our iconic shapes and styles into a unique collection that reaches across generations in new ways.”

From classics such as the collar jumpsuit and crew neck tee to the slouchy cropped pant and open V-neck cardigan, it’s a wardrobe of pieces designed to work together.

EILEEN FISHER Pop-In@Nordstrom is available online at Nordstrom.com/pop through February 9, and at select Nordstrom stores throughout the US and Canada.

 

Harley Weir Hots Up the Winter w/ New Ferragamo S/S 2020 Campaign

 

 

 

Fashion has long been rightly criticized for perpetuating narrow beauty ideals—though in response, encouragingly, we’ve seen an increasingly more inclusive approach being taken both on the runway and in advertising campaigns. And in an ode to the glories of individuality, Ferragamo has tapped beautifully into the diversity zeitgeist with its stunningly shot Spring/Summer 2020 campaign.

Under the watchful eye of newly installed, Berkshire born Creative Director Paul Andrew (his dad, btw, was a royal upholsterer to Windsor Castle), photographer Harley Weir captured the wild freedom of unfettered self-expression against the sun-drenched hues of an unidentified—to us at least—desert landscape.

“We showed this collection outdoors in Milan last September,” Andrew recalls, “as a way to emphasize that these are clothes designed to be worn for pleasure, during the summer, and with friends.”

 

 

And indeed, models Malgosia Bela, Abby Champion, Sora Choi, Alpha Dia and David Kammenos do seem to be genuinely chumming it up, as Weir snaps them strikingly against the dusty landscape.

Andrew continues, “We used the campaign to highlight certain items, including the new Viva pump and some of the gorgeous hand-kit crochet work—as complements to a summer spent roaming free in the company of people you love.”

While your summer may actually involve more time spent in an overly-air conditioned office than throwing shapes against enigmatic rock formations (with a coterie of astonishingly good-looking friends), you may just find the campaign’s evocative images whisking you away to there…even if just for a few blissfully delicious moments.

 

 

BlackBook Interview + NYC ‘Indie’ Style Guide, w/ Overcoats

 

 

When asked why we never actually see them wearing overcoats, Hana Elion of buzzy NYC musical duo Overcoats (which also includes JJ Mitchell) counters, “You’re not looking hard enough!” She may be right, in fact—but it’s probably also because we’re busy listening. Just as we had been when they released their critically acclaimed debut album YOUNG in 2017, via Arts & Crafts. (NPR called it “one of the best albums of the year.”)

But lately we’ve been obsessed with two new singles by them: “Leave if You Wanna,” an ethereal dream pop meditation on romantic confusion (imagine if Le Tigre went indie folk); and especially “The Fool,” which reminds us of so many great ’80s synth pop bands, especially Depeche Mode and OMD. The latter also contains one of our current fave lyrical couplets, “Some days I’m a warrior / Some days I’m out of my mind.” Uh huh.

 

Image by Shervin Lainez

 

The tracks are a preview to their upcoming sophomore album, to be released in early 2020 via Loma Vista Recordings.

The pair also sport a singular sense of style, one apparently cultivated in the thrift/vintage/indie/punk shops that have somehow managed to remain open in the face of skyrocketing New York rents. So when we caught up with them for a chat, we asked if they would also be so kind as to enlighten as to their fave five of said shops – a request with which they enthusiastically complied.

 

 

 

How did you come to meet and form Overcoats?

Hana: We met on our first day of college. Our connection was instant, and we sang together for a long time before we formed the band, in the last few months of our senior year. It happened pretty organically. We couldn’t stop writing together, and we didn’t want desk jobs.

Were you surprised by the amazing critical reception for YOUNG in 2017?

JJ: We were humbled by how much people connected with the music on that record. Those songs were born out of our late night college dorm room hangouts and our own personal experiences of the world around us. So it felt special to have anyone at all listen and like it.

That album had something of a sweet, Swedish pop vibe—but the songs from the new album sound a little darker, almost like you were listening to Depeche Mode or Gary Numan. What were some of your influences when recording the new album?

Hana: We listened to much more rock while we were recording this record. From modern bands like Arcade Fire and Kings of Leon, to classic groups like the Stones and Public Enemy. We wanted to bring an angsty, organic vibe to the new material.

What else can you reveal about the upcoming album?

JJ: We expanded the breadth of sonic and lyrical content on this next project, allowing ourselves to comment on what was and is happening culturally and politically. The album touches on the #MeToo movement and its limits within the music industry, [and also] the gun violence epidemic, depression, Generation Z, the climate crisis, as well as our own interpersonal relationships with partners and family over the past three years. It’s personal but it’s also political, an album that is meant to break you apart and then put you back together again.

You each have a unique sense of style, but also are very complementary to one another. Do you shop together, do you plan out your looks?

Hana: We have a hilarious thing that happens to us, which is that we show up to places accidentally matching, all the time. It’s a blessing and a curse. Fashion and style and visual culture are inextricably linked to music for us—so when we’re making an album [like this one] we’re both interested in leather jackets, pointy boots, animal prints.

Do you have musical style icons that you admire?

JJ: For this album we have definitely been inspired both sonically and stylistically by artists like Iggy Pop, The Violent Femmes, and of course Bowie, mainly in his glam rock phase. More contemporary icons include Harry Styles and Billie Eilish—we can’t get enough of their dope androgynous wardrobes.

Will you be touring for the new album in 2020?

JJ: Definitely. We will be headlining in North America from April onward. (For early 2020 dates w/ Cold War Kids click here.)

 

Overcoats’ Favorite NYC Shops

Search and Destroy

We’ve been really inspired by punk fashion and culture recently. Search and Destroy is a wild place – kind of overwhelming, but a staple for DIY pieces. Expect Vivienne Westwood, as well as Vivienne Westwood dupes.

 

 

Trash & Vaudeville

A classic NYC punk store. Leather, chains, mesh, all the best band t-shirts. We’ve sourced a lot of clothes from here for music videos and such.

 

 

Urban Jungle

Bushwick’s best thrift store. It’s big, it’s fabulous. Levi’s, vintage band t-shirts, and bomber jackets galore. Also lots of funky tie-dye…which luckily for everyone, is back in style – did it ever go out of style though?

 

 

Bird Brooklyn

Slightly higher price range than our go-to vintage spots, but this trendy boutique chain always has amazing designer items for that album-release-celebration purchase. Love their No. 6 clogs, Leigh Miller jewelry, and Ganni clothing.

 

 

Oroboro

For another slightly more upmarket boutique, we love Oroboro. They have beautiful clothes from emerging designers like Black Crane and Jesse Kamm…as well as weird and wonderful pottery objects. The store in Soho is a really cozy and relaxing place, and if everything is out of your price range you can always just buy a soap for your mom.

 

Fashion of the Year of the Rat: Fendi Launches Chinese New Year Capsule Collection

 

 

In the last couple of years, both Shia Labouf and Kristen Stewart tried unsuccessfully to bring back the rat tail haircut (alas, the Thompson Twins just did it so much better). But other than that, we must admit haven’t seen much in the way of rodent referencing style.

But 2020 is indeed the actual Year of the Rat (no coincidence, it’s also a presidential election year). And Fendi is celebrating with a new Chinese New Year capsule collection that makes uniquely stylish reference to the furry little scavengers. The Women’s Collection includes the iconic Peekaboo and Baguette bags in elegant rose gold, and unique materials include nappa leather and dazzling sequins. There are also Pequin jewelry boxes and rose gold wallets.

 

 

For the Men’s Collection, the red/gold color combination symbolizes luck and joy—the latter of which we are very much in need of right now. A cartoonish rat motif, specially designed for this line, lends a cheeky touch to the mini bag, wallet, and card holder.

The entire rat-tastic range will be available as of January, in Fendi boutiques worldwide and on Fendi.com. Oh, and 2021 is the Year of the Ox—already looking forward to fashion’s tribute.

 

First Images: Model Ruth Bell Channels Audrey Hepburn in Dior’s S/S 2020 Campaign

 

 

Although winter’s chill is just beginning to descend upon New York (and Paris), the Dior Spring/Summer 2020 Ready-To-Wear advertising campaign is already in full bloom. Artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri (a creative juggernaut since taking the reins at the French fashion house) once again partnered with acclaimed fashion photographer Brigitte Niedermair—who was honored in 2019 with a solo exhibition at the Museum of Palazzo Mocenigo, as part of the Venice Biennale—to showcase the somewhat “sylvan” collection.

Niedermair’s images vividly highlight the collection’s rich textures, lush floral embroidery, and precious accessories, that pop when against a botanically patterned grey background.

And perfectly cast, gamine model Ruth Bell captivatingly conjures the whimsically sexy spirit of Audrey Hepburn, a la Funny Face, in a raffia bucket hat and oversized sunglasses. Ladylike floral embroidery is contrasted with punk-inspired lug-sole boots (which we predict will easily make our 2020 top ten fashion items), capturing that ever rebellious couture spirit of Dior.

 

Why You Really Need a Scented Fendi Baguette

 

 

We somehow managed to survive yet another two month stretch of pumpkin spice everything (we swear, we even smelled it on a cat sweater), and are now gleefully taking in the pleasures of everything being scented with gingerbread and balsam – a particular sort of happy place for us.

But now comes word that our friends at Fendi will be dazzling us with the introduction of a new…wait for it…scented leather Baguette bag. A playful collaboration with venerable parfumeur Maison Francis Kurkdjian, the FENDIFRENESIA Baguette ensures that even if you forgot to spritz a little behind the ears in the morning, you’ll walk the city streets confident of your considerable olfactory appeal.

 

The FENDIFRENESIA scent itself (a 4ml sample is included with purchase) is characterized by leathery / musky notes which emphasize the textural qualities of the Selleria leather from which the bag is made. But this is certainly not just some fancy scratch and sniff – the scent is applied in a way to last up to four years on each bag. At which time they are guaranteed to still be in fashion.

The bags will debut the evening of December 4 at Fendi’s Miami Design District boutique, as part of Design Miami – though you can be pretty sure a few will also be spotted around Art Basel. As well, Christelle Boulé’s photographs of the fragrance being dropped onto colored film paper will give the opening event a frisson of cultural gravitas.

FENDIFRENESIA Baguette will be available only at the Miami shop as of December 5, while the nano baguette is available now at Fendi.com.

 

 

Artful Intimates – Blair Breitenstein’s Mural for Hanro Celebrates Elegant Underthings

 

 

Hanro has been reinventing luxury intimates and underthings for more than 135 years – and an artistic bent has long been a part of their DNA. In recent years, artists the likes of Izak Zenous, Esther Bayer, Petra Dufkova, Marc-Antoine Coulon, and Miles McMillan have all been enlisted as collaborators.

Fittingly, then, the’ve just transformed their New York City flagship into a veritable work of art, with the installation of a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted mural by Blair Breitenstein – the celebrated fashion illustrator whose work has been previously esteemed by the likes of Prada and MAC. Recognized for her expressionist take on contemporary fashion and beauty, she has garnered a loyal following, and has been has been featured in Vogue, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar.

 

 

Influenced by fashion photography, Breitenstein exhibits an emphasis on the imperfect line, with layers of crayon, marker and acrylic – making her work instantly recognizable.

BlackBook was treated to an exclusive preview of the mural, now gracing Hanro’s Meatpacking District boutique, and were dazzled by the artist’s trademark use of slender figures, and strikingly angular faces, brought to scale in this larger-than-life piece. While staying true to that aesthetic, Breitenstein has also cleverly tapped into the essence of Hanro, showcasing a deliberate delicateness, with a soft color palette in the mix.

Following the preview, we caught up with Breitenstein to discuss this project and its importance within the context of her overall oeuvre.

 

We see that you use watercolor in much of your work. Is that your preferred medium?

I actually like to use markers and pastel as my preferred medium. I like the combination of textures. Markers are flat and saturated and pastels are gritty. I think the pastel elevates the marker. I also love the accessibility of those tools, you can use them anywhere – they dry fast and are clean.

What was the process of creating the mural for Hanro?

I used acrylic paint – it was different, because I had less control. When I use markers on paper, I can simply start over, and with the mural, this wasn’t the case. I had a sketch I used as a guide…and trusted myself! The key to the success of this project was not psyching myself out.

 

 

Historically, your work has been with couture and accessories, while Hanro is a brand dedicated to intimates and loungewear. How did you change your approach for this project?

I did consider the differences in how I went about it. I usually work with bright, complementary colors and exaggerated features – but the Hanro aesthetic is softer and more natural in my opinion. I discovered that I really like an earthier palette. As I planned the work, I thought about softening my usual girl – no fake eyelashes, no red lipstick: Hanro is loungewear, so the girls should look comfortable.

What inspires your design aesthetic? Over time, how have you evolved as an artist? 

I love fashion photography from the 60s through the 90s – some of my favorites are Sam Haskins, Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin. I have evolved as an artist in that I tend to create artwork based on what I love, versus thinking about what people want. I think this makes my artwork better, more genuine and passionate.

 

We are privileged that below is an illustration that Blair Breitenstein did exclusively for BlackBook.