Category: Fashion

Inside Erica Bryan’s Debut EP

As an artist and entrepreneur, it’s essential that you have a group of people who you turn to when you need support in your business and artistic endeavors. When I set out as a freelance writer over two years ago, I was fortunate to have connected with singer/songwriter Erica Bryan, and since then, it has been an honor to be a part of her circle and to have her as part of mine.

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This past January, I was thrilled to be included in a focus group for her first EP. Erica’s music and lyrics are always very evocative of a particular sensation or image. While I listened to each of the six incredibly diverse songs that will be featured on her debut EP, I was immediately overcome with an array of feelings. As Erica and I formulated a concept for a feature on the EP, it has been amazing to watch these moods brought to life through outstanding styling, makeup artistry, and photography. I was eager to dive in deeper with the photographer, the makeup artist, and Erica herself and to learn how they collectively translated the music into Erica’s image.


AOC BLOG GIRL: How did the EP influence the wide variety of backdrops you choose for the photoshoot?

DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: Erica and I discussed ideas that centralized with the theme of the song Jericho – destruction, crumbling walls, and debris. She wanted a darker, moody feel for a lot of the outdoor locations. While I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, we did end up with some places that worked really well. Lots of concrete and some old abandoned buildings with plenty of overgrowth.

AOC BLOG GIRL: How did you adapt Erica’s makeup to the diverse set of looks for the EP?

ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: When I’m coming up with a look, I always try to capture the feel of the set. For Erica, we wanted a range of looks that would really express the diversity of her musical style. So, after meeting her and seeing the outfits she had chosen for the shoot, it was easy to come up with makeup looks that would not only accentuate her style but also her beautiful personality.

AOC BLOG GIRL: Describe the creative process that went into conceptualizing the looks for the EP.

ERICA BRYAN: I really wanted my looks to reflect the different styles of songs that I have on the EP. To represent the song Jericho, I wanted a look that was very strong. I thought the black dress with the fur shawl was very powerful and warrior-esque – like maybe I was going to hunt for my own dinner that night! I call the style inspired by the track Billboard “Cali-Chill.” I wanted to wear something fun and laid-back, so I chose loose, light-colored clothing. For the song Immune to You, I wanted to emulate a classy Adele-type style, so I went with a vintage hat, fur vest, and some jewels of course! And finally, to represent the track Leaving You In Memphis, I wanted a little more edge, so I wore a Journey t-shirt and some leather fringe!

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AOC BLOG GIRL: What type of direction did you give Erica in order to evoke the mood of each look?

DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: You know, Erica really knew what she wanted. When we started at each location, she just turned it on. It helps working with an artist who understands what she wants and how to get herself there. I would offer suggestions here and there with posing and getting more of a natural look. A lot of that is achievable by natural movement. So, instead of, “OK, turn like this, and look this way,” we would try things like, “Ok, start here, let’s walk together, and just look back at me along the way.” We did some smiles and laughs, especially in the studio, but for most of the outdoor looks, we were channeling a strong feminine vibe.

AOC BLOG GIRL: What is one signature quality about Erica’s style that you maintained throughout each look?

ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: I really wanted to highlight Erica’s eyes and hair in each look that we did. Although the makeup and hair changed with each location, my goal was to bring focus to those qualities, as they are some of her most striking features.

AOC BLOG GIRL: Who or what has been the greatest influence on your personal style as an artist?

ERICA BRYAN: I really look up to strong women performers, so I think the edgy-rocker look of Grace Potter and the classy, timeless look of Adele really speak to me fashion-wise. Some people have even called me a chameleon because I can look rocker one day and classic the next, but I enjoy switching it up!

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AOC BLOG GIRL: Which look was the most exciting to shoot and why?

DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: I love shooting on location. It’s just so unpredictable. I love the old building with all of the gnarly branches. We lit it in a way where you had just enough light on the background, and it created such a creepy feel, so much character everywhere we would turn. That was my favorite.

AOC BLOG GIRL: Which look was your favorite to work with and why?

ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: I think my favorite look was the black dress and faux fur. It was the first look that we did that day, and everything came together so perfectly when we started shooting. It was also the most dramatic hair and makeup, which I tend to naturally gravitate towards.

AOC BLOG GIRL: What is one thing you’ve learned after producing your first EP that you’d like to share with aspiring artists?

ERICA BRYAN: What I’ve learned is that once you record your EP… you’re not done! Recording is just the first part. Figuring out how to get people to listen to it is the hard part. The industry is always changing, so you have to be creative about how you are getting your music out there. So many artists put their EP up online and wonder why no one’s listening, but if you’ve thought it through and made a plan of action, someone will hear it besides your mom. And that, my friends, is success!


When I first listened to the EP, I was torn between the tracks Leaving You in Memphis and Billboard. I couldn’t decide which was my favorite! After seeing the music come to life, I have a whole new appreciation for Jericho. I have to agree with both Daniel and Anais – the look inspired by that particular song took my breath away.

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Click here to listen to an exclusive preview of the four songs that inspired the looks for Erica Bryan’s debut EP, which is set to drop on July 1, 2016. Stay tuned for the release of the first single off the album in the next few weeks. To keep up to date on all of Erica’s future release dates, tour dates, and more, visit her website and sign up for her mailing list for a free download!

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NYFW Recap: AMCONYC

My craving for more of New York Fashion Week didn’t stop at The Nolcha Shows. Shortly after announcing my Instagram and Twitter takeover for the emerging womenswear designer Minan Wong, I received an invitation from another up and coming New York City-based fashion designer, Iyala Anne of the label Ane Amour. I immediately shifted some meetings in my schedule so that I could attend the brand’s NYFW debut at AMCONYC, another show exclusively for emerging and independent designers.

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The day was finally here – the last day of NYFW and the day of Ane Amour’s first show. I arrived in the media lounge at Studio 450 in Chelsea. I took a lap around the space, checking out the photo booth and coffee bar and snapping a few pictures and videos of the pre-show excitement. As I was exploring the area, I was able to sneak a peek at the crew rushing to set up the runway. The space was absolutely breathtaking – crisp, clean, and white with two walls of windows letting the natural light pour in. I could already tell the ambiance was going to be perfect for a fashion show.

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I hung around the check-in so I could be one of the first to enter. When the time came, I was directed to the press desk and escorted to a seat on the front row. Here, an official Ane Amour gift bag awaited me, filled with little goodies from sponsors, like fruit snacks from Go Organically, a set of false lashes from Make-Up Pro, and a yummy ginger and green tea drink from Just Chill. I continued to take in the buzz of the room with my camera as more and more people began to take their seats and the press pit began to fill up.

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The hum of the pre-show chatter began to quiet as the pre-show music began to fade. A new track started to play as the doors opened, and the first look walked onto the runway. As the show progressed, I started to soak in the designer’s signature style. Everything about the Ane Amour FW16 collection is powerfully feminine – the fabrics, the colors, the patterns, and the silhouettes.

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After the final walk, I lingered around the space and watched on as Iyala engaged in her post-show interviews. As things began to die down, I found a quick moment to sneak in and congratulate her on her debut at NYFW. It was such an amazing production from beginning to end and a beautiful fall/winter collection. I left reeling with excitement from the energy of the experience, then the reality set in: my first NYFW was officially over, and I’ll have to wait until the fall to get my fix again.

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Iyala Anne is a NYC native and multimedia artist. In addition to designing women’s apparel, she teaches yoga, practices ballet, and writes and records music. Stay tuned for the release of her first album this year! To learn more about her label Ane Amour, check out her website and follow along with her story on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

NYFW Recap: The Nolcha Shows

In the past several years, platforms like social media, live streams, and blogs have allowed us to catch a glimpse into the illustrious world of New York Fashion Week. Through a tiny window on the Internet, we’ve been able to observe the fashion elite in their natural habitat, prepping models, presenting their works of art, and posing for photographers. Twice a year, I would glue myself to my computer and phone, watching another season and another set of collections unfold on my screens. This taste of NYFW wasn’t enough. It only made me hungrier to experience the fashion phenomena myself.

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This week I finally had the opportunity to realize my NYFW dreams. I was tapped by the emerging womenswear designer Mimi Wong to cover the debut of her Fall/Winter 2016 collection at Nolcha, a set of shows exclusively for independent fashion designers. The minute I stepped into the lobby, I was overwhelmed by the energy. Mimi came to meet me and whisked me backstage. I acquainted myself with the area and got to work, snapping photos and video and posting them out to the loyal followers of her label, Minan Wong. For an instant I allowed myself to relish in the fact that I’d come full circle – I was the girl reporting live and sharing the experience out to the world on social media. Then I jumped back into the moment, trying to capture every inch of the excitement – the press jumping from label to label, the designers prepping their lineups, the models in hair and makeup.

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Eventually I left the backstage area and made my way out to the runway. I found my seat on the second row and settled in before the show began. Other patrons were finding their places and chattering about the collections they were about to see. Flashes came from the end of the runway like bolts of lightning as the photographers took test shots. As the lights began to dim, the conversations dissipated. Music started playing, and the first look stepped out onto the catwalk. Four labels – Cute Like Mad, Virtruvius, Planet Zero Motorsports, and Fine Art of Fashion – displayed their Fall/Winter 2016 collections before Minan Wong closed the show with her latest line of vibrant, youthful, and feminine pieces using eco-friendly fibers and sustainable materials.

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If you’ve ever watched a fashion show, you know the actual show is over in the blink of an eye. The lights went up and floods of people rushed out of their seats, but my work wasn’t done yet. I met Mimi again to follow along with her post-show interviews, taking snapshots and soaking up every moment I could. An hour or two later we wrapped up, said our goodbyes, and parted ways. As I stepped out onto the streets of Chelsea, I was on a high, but by the time I got back to my Upper East Side home office the buzz had dissipated. This taste of NYFW wasn’t enough. It only made me hungrier to experience the fashion phenomena again.


For a complete behind the scenes look at my NYFW coverage from Nolcha, head to Instagram and Twitter, and follow @MinanWong!

Inside Maggie Modena: Dog Backpacks Q&A Part II

You may have caught my post last Friday sharing the exciting news that handbag designer Maggie of Maggie Modena is expanding her line into fashionable and functional backpacks for dogs. Her Kickstarter Campaign is so close to being fully funded, but she still needs a few more donations to reach her goal by December 10th.

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So, in case you need a little more incentive to donate to this stylish and adorable project, I’ve got some feedback straight from the source. Maggie’s dog backpacks are already being enjoyed by pups around the world! Here’s what some Pups Who Pack have to say about their Maggie Modena bags!

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NAME: Walter Cronkite
BREED: French bulldog
AGE: 8
LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY
INSTAGRAM: @TheDailyWalter

AOC BLOG GIRL: What’s your favorite thing to carry in your Maggie Modena pack?

WALTER: My cheddar… as in, actual cheese! I also like to store an extra ball or two in there for impromptu meet-ups with my dawgs.

TINKER & TANK: So far, our favorite thing to carry are treats! Our humans also use it to pack our food when we have sleepovers at Grandma’s.

BUBBA: Treats!

OBI: My mom loves how it’s so handy to put her phone and keys inside! When we go for a run, she always hated carrying that stuff in her hand. So now I carry it so easily in my pack!

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NAME: Tinker & Tank
BREED: French Bulldogs
AGES: 2 Years (Tinker, pictured) and 6 Months (Tank)
LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
INSTAGRAM: @TinksandTank

AOC BLOG GIRL: As someone who has used the backpack, what’s your favorite part about it?

WALTER: That Mom lets me pack it myself, therefore ensuring I get extra cheddar. Oh, and the leash attachment and adjustable straps (I make ’em longer for my barrel chest.)

TINKER & TANK: There’s so many things to love about it, but our favorite is the fact that it’s also a harness. It’s so convenient to not have to worry about putting on two separate items to go on walks! And it fits great!

BUBBA: I never forget anything anymore.

OBI: I love that it’s not only super cute but also actually functional!

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NAME: Bubba
BREED: Pug
AGE: 3
LOCATION: Scotland
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Bubbatheblackpug

AOC BLOG GIRL: What’s your favorite place to adventure wearing your backpack?

WALTER: Me and the NYFC (New York Frenchie Crew) got our regular spot at Washington Square Park. I’ll also be taking it with me to Florida for the holidays! Perfect place for my sunscreen.

TINKER & TANK: The streets of San Francisco! We go to dog parks with it, downtown San Francisco, to the beach, and I’m sure there will be many more to add to the list in the near future.

BUBBA: Forest walks, particularly long ones!

OBI: I love to romp in the city with my pack. I feel like a fashion forward urban pup.

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NAME: Obi Wan Kenobi
BREED: French bulldog
AGE: 1 year 9 months
LOCATION: Chicago, IL
INSTAGRAM: @Obi_TheFrenchiePup
OWNER: Blogger Ali Stone of Those White Walls

Whether you’re a dog lover, a fashion fanatic, a fellow designer, an artistic soul, or someone with a passion to support the entrepreneurial spirit, please take this challenge: donate at least $1 to the Maggie Modena Dog Pack Kickstarter CampaignEvery dollar counts, and the more backers, the better!

If you’re still not sure if you’re ready to contribute, be sure to check out my Q&A with Maggie herself to learn more about the creative process that went into designing these accessories for (wo)man’s best friend.

Inside Maggie Modena: Dog Backpacks Q&A Part I

Yes, you read the title correctly: dog backpacks.

Handbag designer Maggie of Maggie Modena is expanding her line into fashionable and functional accessories for (wo)man’s best friend.

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PomPom the Pomeranian

Maggie isn’t just a designer, she’s a multifaceted artist who uses a variety of mediums. The brand was born out of her DJ alter ego, Maggie Modena. Like many creatives, Maggie has always been a little shy and introverted, and the persona of Maggie Modena reminds her to be bolder on a daily basis. She incorporates this same spirit into each of her creations, inspiring those women (or dogs) who wear them to live boldly.

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Rhea the Pug

I was fortunate to connect with Maggie during my time in Madison, WI, and I’m thrilled to support her latest project, a Kickstarter Campaign for her new line of backpacks for dogs. We sat down over Google+ Hangouts so that I could learn more about the creative process that went into this exciting (and freaking adorable) product.

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Credit: Emily Julka

AOC BLOG GIRL: Describe the creative process that went into conceptualizing the Maggie Modena dog packs.

MAGGIE: Well, about 6 months ago, I decided to make backpacks for my dogs as a break from “serious” fashion. I then realized that I could add a clip on the back, and it would be the same as a harness, only now you can bring items along on your walk. I tested out the sample and brought my dogs, Rhea and Toad, around the capitol square and got a lot of fun reactions. I knew I needed to pursue it after that, at the very least because it made the work crowd smile. I then adjusted the prototype 3-4 times until I felt that its function was what I wanted it to be and that it fit a range of sizes of dogs. It’s kind of mind blowing how much work a small dog bag is!

Design Process

Credit: Emily Julka

AOC BLOG GIRL: What’s the design process that goes into creating the mixed-media textiles for the packs?

MAGGIE: I usually start by gathering a range of inspirational pictures (mostly ones that I’ve taken but some from magazines, online, etc.) and textures from all over the place. From there, I gather them all into one space, determine what the overarching theme seems to be, and pick a story. I then do a couple drawings and paintings that fit within the theme. Next, I scan them into the computer, manipulate and layer them in Photoshop, and make them into a repeat. I usually print several rounds of swatches until I think that the collection looks cohesive yet different enough and that I have at least one “neutral,” one “beautiful,” and one “bold/loud” print. Typically, I have 3 prints per season, but for the dog packs, I have 4!

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AOC BLOG GIRL: What’s one signature quality about Maggie Modena handbags and dog packs? 

MAGGIE: The unique textiles are definitely the most special quality. Each textile is exclusive to the brand and won’t be seen anywhere else. I try and make them wearable yet fun.

Whether you’re a dog lover, a fashion fanatic, a fellow designer, an artistic soul, or someone with a passion to support the entrepreneurial spirit, please take this challenge: donate at least $1 to the Maggie Modena Dog Pack Kickstarter Campaign. Every dollar counts, and the more backers, the better!

Plus, if you’re ready and able to donate $5 or more, there are awesome gift incentives at each donation level, including a limited quantity of early bird dog packs and human packs that will be shipping in time for the holiday season.

COMING NEXT: Exclusive Interviews with Pups who Pack!

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If you’re still not sure if you’re ready to contribute, don’t take my word for it, don’t take Maggie’s word for it – wait to hear what some Insta-famous Pups who Pack have to say about their Maggie Modena Dog Packs in Part II of this post! Stay tuned!