Helen Castillo

Jersey City tackles 3rd annual fashion week with Project Runway designers

Beauty/Fashion, Events
Helen Castillo

Project Runway designer Helen Castillo with model Jeannette Josue

Desha Jackson, founder of Jersey City Fashion Week

Desha Jackson, founder of Jersey City Fashion Week

Just three years in the game, Jersey City Fashion Week is scoring major points in the fashion world.

The five-day event, held Sept. 24-28, was created under entertainment and sports attorney Desha L. Jackson’s Give to Live Community Foundation; it raises awareness and funds for charitable causes through fashion, sports and entertainment events. Last season, it held a football-themed fashion week in conjunction with the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl, where proceeds supported the New Jersey Recreation Foundation, the Snowflake Youth Foundation and the Gridiron Group.

This season featured Project Runway contestants Helen Castillo and Nathaniel Paul, and rapper Jim Jones’ Vampire Life clothing. Proceeds supported health and wellness nonprofits: the Mo’ Hair Foundation and St. Joseph’s School for the Blind.

Helen Castillo

The event opened Wednesday evening with designers Rue 114 and LeVirage Fashion on the lineup. Thursday night, designer Kenya Smith of Planet Zero Motorsports revved up the runway with his sleek “fashionable protection,” and former Broncos linebacker Darrell Reid shook things up some more as he danced down the isle wearing a Vampire Life T-shirt.

But just as its slogan “Style with Significance” states, there’s much more to Jersey City Fashion Week than the fabrics. Five Hudson County influencers were honored for their dedication to “making a change within the heart of the community.” Castillo, a Union City resident, along with Ben Figueroa of Jersey City Slam, Monique Smith of the Mo’ Hair Foundation, Sen. Robert Menendez, and David Feinhals of the St. Joseph’s School for the Blind received People of Influence awards.

Tyrone Chablis designs

Tyrone Chablis designs

Friday was dedicated to a children’s show, and on Saturday, the biggest show of the week, things turned up a notch. Jeannette Josue, National Ms. 2014, and Alice Lopez, the second place winner for Top Model Latina, were among the models who walked in Castillo’s Spring/Summer 2015 presentation. Other outstanding designers included Marco Hall, Fashion Sixty4 and Chablis Designs.

In between presentations, there were musical acts such as Giselle Bellas, an opera singer, and Philly-based female R&B group Aviance. Castillo even raffled off one of her gowns!


The event closed out Sunday with a brunch featuring Class by Charles and Sire by SirJean, and it already has big plans for next season. In Spring 2015, Jackson plans to extend the family-friendly event with a fashion design contest for students. For more information, visit jerseycityfashionweek.com.

Read my recap at nxupmag.com.


Stylin’ in the streets: New York Fashion Week, Sept. 4, 2014

Beauty/Fashion, Events

IMG_1104-bwThe weeklong fashion fiesta better known as New York Fashion Week has come to an end, but style lives on.

While people scurried to get into shows by top designers, the streets was where most of the excitement thrived. It was the intersection of emerging and established bloggers, designers, photographers and the like. It’s where culture really came alive, new friendships brewed and unforgettable conversations took place.

Here are some of my favorite street style captures and moments from Day 1 (Sept., 4, 2014):


Alexandra Dieck, a fashion designer and style blogger, shows us that black is still boss.


All white is all right. (Fashion blogger Alyssa Lau)


Nothing’s boring about Daisy Nash, a hair stylist and makeup artist, who brought a little spice to the streets with this warm-hued dress.


Leather is better… in any kind of weather. (Fashion blogger Daniela Ramirez)


Danijel Vukoja knows how to beat the heat with a cool fit and a matching drink.


Pink? No problem. (Recording artist Dante Blakeley)


Igee Okufor keeps it clean in camo.


Friends are for selfies– but with style, of course.


Hats off to this lady who kept it simply chic.


Have fun captioning this…


Can you say GQ? (Steven Onoja)


Modern cinderella


You can’t help but smile for this photographer… Say cheese!


The wait aka “photographer’s corner”


Buggin’ for a taxi


Lia Pellerano is schoolin’ us for sure.


Style comes effortlessly for fashion stylist Ni’ma Ford.


Brazilian photographer Rafael Euterio wears her camera well.


Fresh in prints (The RX Boys)

taye and nikia-e

Pals in patterns (Taye Hansberry and Nikia Phoenix)

Me being interviewed by the wonderful Abi

Surprise! Me being interviewed by Abi Ishola.

Stay tuned for my top captures from days 2, 6 and 8 (yea, I missed a few days), and for even more, follow the blog on Instagram @pensandpumps.


VIDEO: ESSENCE takes fashion week to the streets

Beauty/Fashion, Events, Videos

Essence Magazine took New York Fashion Week to the streets yesterday with a family-friendly block party in Brooklyn.

The free event, hosted under the Manhattan Bridge archway in Dumbo, celebrated street style with celebrity guests such as Jazmine Sullivan and ESSENCE Street Style Closet Crush Award recipient Tracee Ellis Ross, who strutted down the stage during a street style fashion show.

Ron Bass at Essence Street Style Festival

Ron Bass poses at the ESSENCE Street Style Block Party in Brooklyn on Sunday, September 8, 2014, next to a 2015 Chevy Cruze he styled.

The work of Brooklyn-based artist Ron Bass, who “artistically styled” a 2015 Chevy Cruze, was also on display alongside clothing, food and jewelry vendors, a face painting station and live hair and makeup sessions.

And there’s no such thing as a block party without a dance off. Attendees were invited up on the stage in pairs to showcase their moves as DJ Oliva dropped the beats.


VIDEO: Spike Lee, Brooklynites celebrate Michael Jackson’s birthday

Celeb Shot, Events, Videos

A Michael Jackson impersonator entertains a crowd at Spike Lee’s “Brooklyn Loves MJ” celebration on Sunday, August 24, 2014.

Happy Birthday, Michael!

Today marks what would’ve been the King of Pop’s 56th birthday. Last weekend, Spike Lee hosted an annual celebration at the Bedstuy Restoration Plaza to commemorate him.

Borough President Eric Adams made an appearance and spoke about how the star impacted his life.

“Michael taught me something that really internalized in me: don’t live by labels,” Adams said. “Everybody wanna tell you how to live your life. Live your life the way you want to live it so you won’t have to live life in regret.”

With each iconic song that played, people couldn’t help but move their feet. A dance circle formed in the middle of the crowd, and there were even a few MJ impersonators around to usher in the mood.

Lee also used a few of Michael’s songs to honor Mike Brown, John Crawford III and Eric Garner– unarmed black men who had been killed by authorites.

People waved illustrated signs of the young men side to side as the DJ played “They Don’t Care About Us” and “Man in the Mirror.”

Lee said he felt like they were songs that “Michael wrote for what the situation is today.”

Tell us how you’re celebrating Michael’s birthday and share your favorite song! And check out birthday.michaeljackson.com where people are using the hashtag #MJWeAreOne on Instagram to honor him.



Beauty/Fashion, Events

Thousands of people without a care in the world flocked to Brooklyn this weekend for AFROPUNK Fest.

The multicultural festival, which caters to young people who deviate from the norm, celebrated 10 years at Commodore Barry Park with another awesome round of musicians, artists, designers, food and more.

We’ve captured some heart-warming memories in motion during the two-day fiesta.

And here are some of our favorite stills from the event: