Here’s why Steve Harvey is still winning after announcing the wrong Miss Universe

Miss Columbia’s universe came tumbling down after Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner for Miss Universe. The crown, initially given to Ariadna Gutierrez, actually belonged to Miss Philippines (Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach), and the de-crowning literally set the online world ablaze with criticism and, of course, hilarious memes to accompany them.


But . . . was it really that huge of a deal?

Nope. It just further validates the fact that we humans are imperfect, and our happiness, royalty, winning status, or whatever you want to call it, shouldn’t be dependent upon another human being. All of us make mistakes – his was just amplified because it happened to be an international event broadcast on TV – and while it was an embarrassing mistake, it’s something we can all relate to.

Mistakes are how we learn, how we grow. And sometimes, mistakes are our best masterpieces.

What mattered most was how Steve responded to the situation. He did a darn good job at apologizing and correcting the mistake immediately after he realized it, and later one via social media, and he didn’t try to shift the blame. This truly tested his character.

It also tested the characters of the contestants and their supporters. Just think about how much more embarrassing it would’ve been if Miss Philippines threw a tantrum and then realized she was the winner. How she responded spoke much louder. How Steve responded spoke louder. How we respond, speaks louder.

Furthermore, this moment reminded me of a quote from Miss World Caribbean 2014, Rafieya Husain, when I attended the Miss New York World pageant earlier this year:

Don’t ever sell yourself short. This is just the opinion of one, small panel – not the whole world’s.

No matter what’s awarded (or not) to you,  it could always be taken away or skewed by man. The beautiful thing is that no one can take away our character, which will grant us far more than a crown.

Watch the Miss Universe crowning recap below.



“Destination Brooklyn” fashion week uncovers diverse talent in the city

Fashion Week Brooklyn dug deep into the heart of the borough as it took a more intimate approach to its 19th season of fashion shows. The bi-annual event, founded under the BK Style Foundation, had a “Destination Brooklyn” theme, offering for the first time a pop-up style week of events that further uncovered the diversity of talent that flourishes in the bustling city.

The theme went perfect with my vision for the new structure of the event: to truly turn Fashion Week Brooklyn into a borough-wide experience showcasing the diversity of talent, spaces, art, and fashion”, said new creative director Dalibor Porcic.

Me (Vonecia) and Fashion Week Brooklyn creative director Dalibor Porcic after the final presentations (Photo by Moeka Nakamura)

Porcic, who recently moved from Germany to New York City, has a portfolio that spans from illustration with publications such as ELLE and Men’s Health to global visual campaigns for Hugo Boss, and he played a tremendous role in FWBK’s rebranding efforts. Working closely with FWBK founder and director Rick Davy, he helped “fine-tune” the event, making changes in its structure and presentation to build a higher profile and make a stronger impact on the community.

Other than its strikingly minimalist yet dramatic visuals, other major changes to FWBK included moving from ticket sales to invitations, and having a whole day dedicated to a menswear presentation in which guests were allowed to get up close and become a part of the experience.

Designs by ienday during the Fashion Week Brooklyn menswear presentation (Photo by Vonecia Carswell)

“I look and find inspiration from various outlets that surround us. Sometimes it is a movie or an art installation; it can be people or even a design pattern that can trigger imagination and turn into something inspirational I can utilize,” Porcic said.

These changes surely allowed FWBK to spread its visibility and become an anchor in the future of fashion. Endorsed as the official fashion week of Brooklyn, FWBK has “deserved its spot in the top five worldwide independent fashion weeks”, Porcic said, as it showcases a diverse lineup of aspiring and established fashion talent from across the globe.

Designer Claire Consigny’s presentation during Fashion Week Brooklyn (Photo by Vonecia Carswell)

Some notable designers included Aleksandra Ziravac, Claire Consigny, ienday, Irina Shabayeva, Joyce Pilarsky, Kit Woo, MillesiM, Sohung, Tru Fiction, and YANGie NY.

The FWBK team is now preparing to celebrate its 10th anniversary (and 20th season) in Spring 2016, and we are all expecting nothing but the best.

“There is no place like Brooklyn and, by saying that, I think no other fashion event brand can be compared to what Fashion Week Brooklyn has to offer,” Porcic said.

To learn more about Fashion Week Brooklyn, visit www.fashionweekbrooklyn.com, and to get in touch with Dalibor, email dporcic@fashionweekbrooklyn.com.

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**Editor’s note: Vonecia was part of the Fashion Week Brooklyn team as a backstage photographer.


Afropunk Fest 2015

I like to consider Afropunk Fest as my initiation into the Brooklyn community — like, you don’t really know Brooklyn until you’ve experienced this explosion of art, culture, and music.

IMG_0038It was the first major event I attended upon moving to the Big Apple in 2013, and it has become sort of like a family reunion, especially for creative people. Aside from the scheduled performances and marketplace, it has been a platform for individuals to simply network, learn from each other, unite, and grow.

This year, the weekend event celebrated its 11th year with talent such as Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, Kelis, and Sza.  I only went for one day, Saturday, mainly to catch Lauryn, instead of making laps around the park photographing people like I usually do. Well, I got a few, but it felt good to mostly sit back and immerse myself in the environment.

I stopped by the Carol’s Daughter booth for some free hair samples (they’re alsounnamed holding a fantastic #bornandmade campaign right now); got a photo op at Bevel, an amazing and fast-growing mens grooming brand; and ventured through the marketplace, taking a mental wish list of the businesses I want to support.

And not surprisingly, in light of the heightened racial tensions happening across the nation with the senseless killings of black people by white supremacists, police officers, and the like, there was an increased amount of activism going on, especially for the black transgender community – In fact, Afropunk has an “Activism Row” to shed light on the work being done in New York’s minority community.

Unfortunately, I did not rock my ‘fro this time, but I will be letting it all out today for Curlfest! Stay tuned.

Irina Shabayeva

Fashion for Freedom: Designers take steps to end child trafficking

Fashion fanatics took strides to end child trafficking at The Set NYC’s Fashion Night Out.

The event production group showcased designs by Reverie, Alex Vinash and Irina Shabayeva to support Freedom Ladder, a global non-profit organization dedicated to making the world safe for children.

“Just by coming here, by coming through the doors, you are helping us with our mission,” said founder and director Thomas Estler before the show started.

The proceeds from the event — acquired through admission, food, and raffles — helps Freedom Ladder produce popular entertainment mediums to educate children about self-protection.

“We have partnered with the FBI to create comic books to teach our children how to protect themselves,” Estler said.

Reverie-SetNYCReverie, founded by Israel-native Ronit Genik, elevated the atmosphere of the crowd with its dreamy designs consisting of sheer skirts and tops embellished with starry-like jewels. The designs, deemed “edgy yet whimsical,” are inspired by Genik’s love of nature.

Estler kept the audience on a high with a dance party on the runway before Alex Vinash romanticized the mood with his sophisticated attire.

Alex VinashIt was all about texture — feathers and floral patterns — for Vinash, a former Argentinian ice skating national champion who channels his athletic experience to incorporate a sense of “effortless movement and elegance.”


Irina Shabayeva, Season Six Project Runway winner, left a final imprint on the stage as models swayed down the runway in layered gowns that radiated regalness. Animal-print patterns made a bold statement, complemented by glistening headbands and high slits that accentuated femininity.

Which looks were your faves? And does your fashion shout freedom?

Miss Nigeria USA 2015 opening scene

Frances Udukwu crowned in first Miss Nigeria USA pageant

Miss Nigeria USA 2015 finalists
Miss Nigeria USA 2015 finalists (left to right): Olutosin Araromi (1st runner-up), Frances Udukwu (Miss Nigeria USA 2015) and Wuraola Kolawole (2nd runner-up)

Seventeen women with passions to shed light on issues such as human trafficking and early breast cancer detection competed for the first Miss Nigeria USA title in New York on Saturday, May 23, 2015.

The event was founded and directed by Joy Ikedinma Jacob, in hopes of raising the profile of the Nigerian woman and expand their opportunities while celebrating their physical, cultural and intellectual attributes.

Frances Udukwu Miss Nigeria USA
Frances Udukwu, crowned 2015 Miss Nigeria USA, DJs for the talent portion of the pageant.

Frances Udukwu, representing Cross River State, took home the crown after wrapping up the show with an astonishing DJ performance as her talent.



Runners-up were Olutosin Araromi (1st, representing Lagos), Wuraola Kolawole (2nd, representing Ekiti), Vanessa Afogho (3rd, representing Edo) and Junaid Damilola (4th, representing Sokoto) announced by Miss Africa USA.

Miss Nigeria USA 2015 contestants perform an African dance routine in the opening scene.

The event, with appearances by Beyonce’s stylist Ty Hunter, music artist Banky Wellington and America’s Next Top Model and judge Bianca Golden, opened up with an all-white scene where the contestants performed an African dance routine.

It was followed by swimwear, traditional wear, evening wear and a talent portion before the top five contestants were chosen for questioning.

“Beauty without brains is like a car without an engine,” joked pageant co-host Dulo to lighten up the mood. The judges asked the women some serious and powerful questions and some hit close to home:

If you were the president of Nigeria, what would you change?

How can you empower an uneducated woman?

Do you think the women impregnated by Boko Haram should keep or terminate their pregnancies?

Their responses sat well with the crowd.

After announcing the finalists, Meron Wudneh (Miss Africa USA) reminded the women to stay humble and that it’s not about the crown.

It’s about what you do before and after the crown. – Meron Wudneh