MOD Magazine: Volume 7; Issue 4; Autumn 2018; POWER PLAY (Cover 3)

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editorial contributors Amer Mohamad, Irina Popova, Nadine Smirnova, Anastasia Siten @ Direct Scouting, Dominic Eichler, Mira Parmar, Alice @ Established, Shanti @ Milk, Zhu @ M&P, Maria @ The Hive, Keara Suckra, Jerica Edwards, Widan Kori, Alina Chursinova, Mirko Morelli, Francesca Romana Audino, Sara Beccarini, Kris @ Brave Models, FlyZone Roma, Cheng Po Ou Yang, Weic Lin, Kevin Cheah using Marc Jacobs Beauty, NARS, Zhang Huai-

Xuan, Ku Er-Qian @ Storm, Dorit Thies, Noel Nichols @ Rex Agency, Marina Migliaccio, Jesse Stewart @ Photogenics LA, Kristiana Klekmane, Jay Perez, Christian Alvarez, Kurt Musrasrik, Emily Arreola @ Honey + Cotton Nails, Sophia @ Scout, Vanessa Diskin, Lolla Gleich @ Way Model, Luciano Bortolotti, Leonardo Saraiva, Mari Kato, Denis Ribeiro Management, Everton Sa, Beatriz Takahashi, Kapos, Svetlana Gracheva, Angelia Gal, Anastasiya

Vladlenovna, Natalya Fox, Alexandra Kozhikina, Roma Nechaev, Alisha Piercer, Maria Ridel @ Sisters Agency, Mathieu Puga, Elise Augee, Ludovic Dupuis, Anais Kevorkian, Marine Baran, Natasha Kasatkina @ Karin Models, Trevor Pikhart, Demi Gibson & Amy Jarstad @ Hollywood Model Management, Erica Mer, Abby Mel, Lynzi Massey, Jacqueline Reyes

Vo l u m e 7 ; I s s u e 4 ; au t u m n 2 0 1 8

features YOJIRO KAKE

cress williams

68 Illustration by Antonio Soares -

This cutting-edge label is defined by creativity, femininity, and a fusion between Western and Oriental beauty.

Editor’s Note


The Black Lightning star talks superhero alter-egos, Black Lightning fan theories, and life in the black superhero era.

Mariana A.z From Caracas, Venezuela to SCAD, this talented young designer has already made her mark on the fashion industry.


cover credits Photographer: Amer Mohamad, Makeup Artist: Irina Popova, Styling: Nadine Smirnova, Model: Anastasia Siten @ Direct Scouting Anastasia is wearing: Swimming Suit by Gucci, Earrings by Celine, Leggings & Bag by Louis Vuitton, Shoes by Zara

Photographer: Cheng Po Ou Yang, Hair Stylist: Weic Lin, Makeup Artist: Kevin Cheah using Marc Jacobs Beauty, NARS, Models: Zhang HuaiXuan, Ku Er-Qian @ Storm Models are wearing: (Left) Top by H&M, (Right) Dress by Zara, Earring by Adornmonde

I’m always inspired by the transformative nature of the autumn season. Soon as the leaves turn and the temperature drops, I can’t wait to start piling on my favorite layering pieces. There’s nothing quite like a killer jacket and badass pair of boots to make you feel confident & fierce. Flip through for inspiration on how to master the season’s boldest looks. Special features include ‘Black Lightning’ actor, Cress Williams and fashion designers, Yojiro Kake and Mariana A.Z. And a very special thanks to each of our incredibly talented contributors! Enjoy! - Shannon Phelps

Photographer: Vanessa Diskin, Model: Lolla Gleich @ Way Model, Stylist: Luciano Bortolotti, Retoucher: Leonardo Saraiva, Beauty: Mari Kato, Executive Producer: Denis Ribeiro Management, Photo Assistant: Everton Sa, Style Assistant: Beatriz Takahashi, Location: Kapos - Makeup: Mac Cosmetics & Dior, Hair: Lowell Lolla wears: Dress by Infiny, Skirt by Manzan, Shoe by Eleven Eleven



The representative design of YOJIRO KAKE is the three-dimensional shape created from a single model that is under the origami base, which is inspired by Italian arts and costumes. This cutting-edge label, defined by creativity, femininity, and a fusion between Western and Oriental beauty, features textiles, prints and production made in Italy, authentically. OD: Tell us a little bit about your life, growing up. Yojiro: I was born and brought up in Amagasaki city, Hyogo, which is located between Kobe and Osaka in Japan. I was a boy who dreamed of becoming a cartoonist, not fashion—but as time went by, my animation sketches were changed to fashion drawings. After graduating from high school, I studied at Ueda College of Fashion in Osaka and I started working as a patternmaker for a local apparel company. After a few years of work experienc, I came abroad to Florence, studying at Polimoda, where my label is currently based.

as a career? When did you realize you wanted to be a designer? Yojiro: In my experience working at an apparel company in Osaka, I had doubts about the environment where only profitable design was sought. My adventurous spirit as a designer grew increasingly, and I decided to change my life to go study real fashion again at Polimoda in Florence. That was the moment that I seriously started to desire to be a designer.

MOD: What sparked your interest in fashion? Yojiro: In my childhood, I used to have an inferiority complex against my clothes and appearance—but gradually, this inferiority complex changed to a big admiration for fashion. This was the reason I decided to study at the fashion school in Osaka, when I was 18 years old.

MOD: How would you describe the aesthetic of your designs? Yojiro: Creativity, Femininity, Western beauty, Oriental beauty. It is important to always have these four elements for my label.

MOD: At what point did you decide to take fashion seriously

MOD: Who/ what are your greatest inspirations and how do they feed into your work? Yojiro: The beautiful scenery of Tuscany, where I live, the sculptures, arts, and furniture decorations of Renaissance, and the attire of people are what keep giving me great inspiration.

MOD: How did you develop your design style? What drove you in this particular artistic direction? Yojiro: My current style was created as an answer to the

question of who I am. I grew up in Japan, but my designer soul was born and brought up in Italy. I noticed that there is too much information and confusion in our lives through the internet now, so I blocked enormous information overflowing in the world in order to produce my designs. I stopped watching the Internet and instead read books and looked at the architectures, sculptures, paintings and beautiful things around me in Italy— the Japanese landscapes and experiences reflected in my eyes. I have naturally found out the original style using Japanese origami that I used to play in my childhood, as well as Italian artistic craftsmanship. Now, I aim to disseminate the arts, beauty, culture, and craftsmanship of Italy and Japan to people around the world through fashion. MOD: What’s your favorite piece from your latest collection & why? Yojiro: My favorite item is the Whole Petals Jacket. I believe this jacket is not a stage costume, it can be real clothing that expresses women’s full delicacy, strength, femininity, and elegance. Also, I value the fact that we are the slow fashion brand, and this jacket can be a symbol of our craftsmanship, which is made by incorporating manual works. MOD: If you could design for anyone in the world, who would be your ideal muse & why? Yojiro: Most of our current customers are in creative fields, such as architects, novelists, artists, photographers, designers and other people who have artistic minds. They are always my muses, and they always help me to create new ideas. I create designs seriously towards those who care for their clothing like their skin. MOD: What helps you get in the zone, while designing? Yojiro: For [designing], I need the same work places, desk, chair, table, pen, sketchbook, silence, as usual—they make me relax to the utmost, and always lead me to the right way. mod: What’s your motto? Yojiro: It is not just to design clothes; Design people’s minds. mod: What are some of the most notable ways you’ve evolved as a designer, since you started? Yojiro: I believed that the technological capabilities would produce better design, when I was in Japan. However, I got the opportunity to produce experimental clothes, such as dresses made of paper and jackets made of empty cans, when I was studying in Italy, which is the country of art. This experience changed my values significantly. I noticed the attractiveness of designs that can’t be created with technology. From this experience, it lead to a design made with origami, which is the origin of my label. mod: What’s been the highlight of your design career, so far?

Yojiro: I received the “Polimoda Talent” award after my presentation at the Polimoda final show in 2012, Florence Italy. It was during Milan Fashion Week, exhibited at the Mauro Grifoni Flagship Store in Milan, and was a great success. At the same time, I started to work for Roberto Cavalli as a textile designer. In 2014, I collaborated with “Class Hair Academy” in Prato, as an Italian representative, and designed the costumes in the form of performances, such as my first fashion show at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. In 2013, the logo of label Yojiro Kake was registered officially in Florence Italy, then approved as a legal company in March 2016. mod: Where would you like to see yourself and your designs in the future? Yojiro: I am Japanese, and my label was born and [developed] in Italy, so I have a strong desire to see my label at the Milan Fashion Week runway show, as an Italian brand, in the future. mod: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned on your journey in fashion, thus far? Yojiro: What I learned through fashion is the diversity of beauty and that people’s different appearance and style is not called “difference,” it’s “one kind of beauty.” mod: Any advice for other young, aspiring designers out there? Yojiro: Always ask yourself who you are and who you are going to design for. mod: What are three pieces every woman should have in her wardrobe? Yojiro: In the increasingly frenetic and globalized world, the most important thing, in my opinion, is to maintain one’s personality. So, I would say that, first of all, they have to be the design leaders that emphasize the personality of the wearer, and at the same time, emphasize femininity. For today’s modern woman, I would choose an elegant dress with soft lines, a shirt with a strong design that can be combined with any skirt or trousers, and a nice coat or overcoat. mod: Tell us a fun fact about yourself. What are some things you enjoy? Yojiro: Recently, I’ve been having fun, having a stroll, bringing a camera. Everything visible here in Tuscany, Italy is beautiful— the buildings, the sculptures, the arts, the landscape surrounded by the mountains. The seasonal change gives me peace and discovery. mod: Where can people find you and more of your work? Yojiro: Website: Instagram: @yojirokake Facebook: Yojiro Kake

cress: williams

‘black lightning’ strikes!

For every notable actor, there’s that pivotal role they were seemingly born to play: for Cress Williams, it’s Jefferson Pierce—high school principal by day, masked vigilante by night. It was the actor’s life-long dream to play an onscreen superhero—and that dream was finally realized when he debuted as the titular hero in the groundbreaking CW series, Black Lightning. With SeasonTwo in full swing,Williams continues to electrify television audiences across the nation. We caught up with the star to chat about superhero alter egos, Black Lightning fan theories, and life in the black superhero era!

hannon: Let’s talk Black Lightning. You play the first black live-action superhero on television, which is obviously a huge deal! What has been the most rewarding part of this experience for you, so far? Cress: Wow, I don’t know which is the most rewarding, but one of the things that comes to mind is that this was exactly what I wanted and more, in all the good ways. I’ve been a fan of superheroes and I’ve always wanted to play one and I felt like I got my dream. But on top of that, most superhero alter egos aren’t as complex and as noble as Jefferson [Pierce}... Jefferson, by himself, is a superhero without any superpowers, in the way he lives his life. So I think that’s one of the biggest things. Kids love superheroes, obviously, and I figured that that would be a really great byproduct of playing [Black Lightning]. But what’s great is to be that representative as Jefferson and what Jefferson Pierce represents.

shannon: You mentioned that you were a fan of the superhero genre. Who were some of your favorite superheroes, growing up? Cress: Well for me, Superman was probably number one, just because he’s really strong; and as a kid, flight was my favorite superpower, so I loved the fact that he could fly. Even though he’s a white superhero—I mean, most of them were white superheroes [when I was] growing up—I really identified with him because he was an outsider. He was not from our planet, he didn’t quite fit in, and growing up, most characters that seemed like the outsider were characters that I identified with and really were drawn to. shannon: You said flight was your ideal superpower, back in the day, but is there a different superpower that you would like to have now, as an adult? Cress: Yeah, my family—we moved to Atlanta for Black Lightning and we’re all Californians. My wife was born and

Talent: Cress Williams, Grooming: Cherie Cook, Styling: Carter @ Christopher Jamar Payne, Videographer: Eliot J.

Photographed by Porsha Antalan, Interview by Shannon Phelps

Photographer: Porsha Antalan, Talent: Cress Williams, Grooming: Cherie Cook, Styling: Carter @ Christopher Jamar Payne, Videographer: Eliot J.

raised there, my daughter was obviously born and—prior to this— raised there, and I’ve been there since I was like three years old. So our family and our community and everything we know is there. And now, being in Atlanta, being so far away—we just feel so spread out. I realized that teleportation would be a really amazing superpower... because then, there wouldn’t really be any such thing as distance, from anyone. And the world would be incredibly small with that power, so that would be awesome. shannon: One of the things that I really enjoyed about the first season of the show is that it tackled a lot of real-world issues, like gang violence, drugs, racism and police brutality—I think there’s even a Trump reference in there, where Proctor says, “Make America Great Again.” Is this something that continues, as the show goes on? If so, what are some of the real-life issues you guys are taking on, now? cress: Yeah, we do continue that, and I think we continue it in the world that we’ve created. We started addressing these kids called Green Light Babies—they’re trying to figure out who they are and what they’re about, so they’ve been taken away from their families. And I don’t know if Salim [Akil] is just psychic or what, but it’s kind of like you see a parallel with the families that were separated in real life and the kids who were in cages. So we’re going to really touch on that. We’re also going to expand Freeland. [In Season One], we’ve really only seen a small part of Freeland, but we start to discover that there’s another part; and the racial makeup of that Freeland is a little bit different, and what’s going on there is a little bit different—so we’re going to explore that. I think we’re always going to touch on issues, but also touch on them in our own kind of fantastical way. shannon: Speaking of the Green Light Baby storyline, a lot of fans online have been speculating that Static Shock could one day appear on the show, as a Green Light Baby. What are your thoughts on that? And with all the fun Internet theories swirling around, what are some interesting things that you’d personally like to see happen on the show? cress: I actually think that would be cool, down the line. I mean, I love the characters so much and one of the things that I hope to see— I’d love to see Jefferson and Lynn get remarried and make it official and be together again. That would be really cool. I would love to see, down the line—maybe we discover that one of the Green Light Babies is Static Shock. And maybe he ends up coming to Garfield [High School] as a student, and then getting mentored and trained by Black Lightning. I think that would be awesome. I’m not ready for that yet, just because the family, the

daughters, Jennifer and her powers—I think there’s a lot to be done there, and I don’t want to shortchange that by trying to jump into the Static Shock thing. But I think that would be really cool, down the line. shannon: Let’s talk about Jefferson’s daughters and their superpowers—I feel like you guys are like The Black Incredibles! When I watched the show, I kept thinking, “Man, this whole family is just killing it right now!” cress: [laughs] Yeah! And I really want to see us fully develop that. People want to know about [Arrowverse] crossovers and they want to know about Static Shock, but I feel like we’re really in our infancy, as far as the daughters stepping into their own. At this point, Jennifer still hasn’t embraced her powers, she doesn’t know how to control them yet, and I don’t want to rush any of that. I want that to really find itself, and when we get to that point where we’ve really gone through those storylines, then it’d be great to start bringing in other characters.

Photographer: Porsha Antalan, Talent: Cress Williams, Grooming: Cherie Cook, Styling: Carter @ Christopher Jamar Payne, Videographer: Eliot J.

shannon: Yeah, that makes sense. And since we’re on the topic of Jefferson’s family, I noticed that you and your co-stars all have a really amazing chemistry on screen. Are you guys pretty close off screen, as well? Do you guys hang out often? Cress: We do, we definitely do our share. The thing is, when we’re filming, there’s little or no free time, and I know Christine [Adams] has her family—her husband and her kids— and I have my wife and kids, but we do have some times when we overlap. Last season, me and my family were the first to formally move here to Atlanta, while a lot of the other cast kind of got temporary residences and did the back-and-forth thing. So now that we’ve moved into Season Two, Christine and her family formally moved. When they first got here, actually—she has a daughter who is 12 and my oldest is 13, so they had a sleepover. And I think, eventually, they’ll be going to the same high school... We did all go as a cast, last year, to see Black Panther. So as much as we can, we definitely do—it’s just, in the midst of filming, you’re kind of just trying to keep your head above water. Shannon: Cool. So you mentioned Black Panther, which I’ve got to touch on. With that movie being so huge, and you playing Black Lightning on television, plus we’ve got Luke Cage on Netflix—it’s almost like the age of black superheroes, right now! How does it feel to actually be a part of such a major shift in pop culture? Cress: I’m just happy to be a part, especially because it’s something I’ve always wanted to play. I’ve wanted to play a superhero for forever, and there are only so many of them, so as they started getting snatched up—like Luke Cage and Black Panther—I started wondering if I was even going to get a shot. So I’m just really happy that I can see this dream realized. And

maybe I’m biased, but Jefferson/ Black Lightning is my favorite. What’s great is that on a television show, unlike a film, you get to really take your time and tell the whole story and get into these characters’ lives, over seasons. With a film, you only get a couple of hours, so I love the fact that I really get to dive into this. And honestly, I find myself kind of standing outside of myself and thinking, “Man! Jefferson Pierce is a really cool dude.” Last season, where he was mentoring Malik, the student he had in the classroom— Shannon: Oh, I loved that scene! Cress: Yeah! I was watching it as if it wasn’t me and I was just like, “Wow, I really like that guy!” So I’m really happy. I’m happy, first of all, that there’s more than one black superhero out there—but I’m also really happy that I get to play the one that I get to play. Shannon: Another thing I really appreciate about Black Lightning is—beyond the fact that you play a black superhero, the show is inclusive in so many other ways. We have Anissa, aka Thunder, who represents both black women and lesbians—which is huge! I even thought it was cool that you have Jill Scott, another black woman, playing the bad-ass crime boss role, as Lady Eve—you definitely don’t see that a lot! So what’s it like to be the star of a show that’s groundbreaking on so many levels? Cress: It’s amazing, because a lot of times, in the past, when we’ve had shows that people would call black shows, they only showed one slice, one facet of black life. A lot of times, I feel like we pigeonhole what AfricanAmerican life is, or what it means to be African-American. It’s like, you’ve got to listen to this type of music, and you have to dress this way, and you have to talk this way. I mean, my daughter—it’s sad because I got it a lot, growing up, and she’s getting it too—she’s coming home and telling me, “Oh, people are saying I talk white or if I don’t like a certain song they’re like ‘Oh, you’re acting white.’” And I’m thinking, “Are we really still there? Are we really still doing this?” So I love the fact that our show is kind of running the gamut... From Jefferson Pierce to Lala—that’s like completely opposite ends of the spectrum, but they’re both black men. There are black people, from [Lady Eve], to Anissa, to Lynn, to Jennifer, and all the people that you see in Freeland—we start to really show that being black is everything under the sun. And we should be allowed to be everything under the sun... So I love that in this little town of Freeland, we get to show all the shades, all the types [of African-Americans], and I hope we keep doing it. shannon: Yeah, I love that about the show, too. I also love the overall positivity that Black Lightning promotes. Earlier, you mentioned the scene where Jefferson was mentoring the student, Malik—one of the things that really stood out to me was how Jefferson always taught students his mantra: “Living life by any

Photographer: Porsha Antalan, Talent: Cress Williams, Grooming: Cherie Cook, Styling: Carter @ Christopher Jamar Payne, Videographer: Eliot J.

means necessary.” What does that quote mean to you and why do you think it’s so important to express that to the children on the show? cress: Well, I think it’s a quote that, first of all, empowers them and reminds them that their life is in their hands—that it’s not in somebody else’s hands. It’s not in their parents’ hands, it’s not in any institution’s hands—it’s in their hands. Then, the idea that we’re going to live it and we’re going to be free, by any means necessary—I think it instills hope. The idea that if you stumble, get back up again and keep pushing forward. I believe in mantras. I think one of my things I always try to live my life by is, “Leaving things better than you found them”—so whether that’s people, work, church, home, etc. But “by any means necessary” is just—I think Jefferson is aware that life is not easy and that his kids, even though they’re getting a great education, [will be challenged] when they go out in the world.He’s aware of what the world is, so he’s instilled them with a mantra that will keep them moving forward. shannon: I love it! And to me, in a way, that makes Jefferson Pierce a hero in his own right. Even as the regular ol’ school principal, I feel like the way he educates those kids can really have a profound effect on the community—which makes him powerful, even beyond Black Lightning.

cress: Yeah, initially, but the lines start getting blurred as the characters and the storylines change. But very initially in Season One, really early on, Salim and I kind of identified [the differences]... Honestly, when I first read the script, I really identified with Jefferson Pierce, because I am a father, I have a daughter, and education is very important to me. I’m a college graduate—majored in theatre—and I taught acting for eight years after that. I value mentorship, I put family first—all these things that are essentially Jefferson are matched with me. So I really identified with him right away, and understood the direction I wanted to go with him. From there, I looked at Black Lightning and I said, “Well in order to keep people from guessing, you want to make sure that he’s completely different from Jefferson Pierce.” So I made him a little more urban. Jefferson Pierce is always about education and quotes and proper English, so I thought, “Okay, I want to make Black Lightning more from the hood, like he’s having fun—and I’ll drop the voice a little bit and have a little swag.” [laughs] Then, as we were working on it—there was a moment in Season One when I went to confront Lala to say, “Leave my daughters alone,” and Salim was like, “Yo, you need to be that dude right now.” And I was kind of thinking, “Okay?” So I said, “Wait. I understand Jefferson and I understand Black Lightning. And I think I understand Jefferson and that dude. But what’s really the difference between that dude and Black Lightning?” And Salim’s like, “Black Lightning is having fun. Usually when he’s out there, he’s having a good time.” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s true. He’s got his own soundtrack going through his head, and he gets to fully, fully use his powers, ‘cause he’s not trying to hide.” So that’s how we almost kind of identified three different characters... shannon: Interesting. And speaking of Jefferson’s superpowers, I like how the first season showed his struggled with the decision to put the suit back on, after so many years— especially because of the conflict with Lynn, who didn’t really agree with the dangerous superhero lifestyle, for the sake of the family. But on the other hand, you have Gambi, who encourages Jefferson to get back out there and fight for Freeland. So what I’d like to know is: if you had powers in real life, would you lean more towards Lynn’s point of view, or are you on Team Gambi? CRESS: Oh, I would be on Team Gambi, all the way! Because I

Photographer: Porsha Antalan, Talent: Cress Williams, Grooming: Cherie Cook, Styling: Carter @ Christopher Jamar Payne, Videographer: Eliot J.

cress: Without question. I love it. I mean, that’s the thing. It’s like—a few weeks ago, I was in the grocery store at the checkout, and this little boy came up. And as he looked up at me, his mouth just dropped, he froze and pointed like, “Black Lightning!” I shook his hand and his grandmother’s— she didn’t know who I was... but I thought, “That’s okay, he does.” He was so excited and when they left, it wasn’t till they walked away that I thought, “Whoa!” I was struck with—here’s this little boy and yeah, I’m playing a superhero, so he’s obviously going to be into it. I’m playing a black superhero, so yeah, he’s going to be into it. But the idea that Jefferson, the whole person that is Black Lightning, is a father who takes care of his family, a person who’s in his community trying to create change, an educator who teaches and preaches that education is the way—and all these positive attributes, I just thought, “Man! That’s an amazing thing.” Because if you think about, even white superheroes—you think about Batman and it’s like, “Well yeah, he’s a superhero, but he’s just a rich playboy.” You think about Superman: “Well, yeah he’s a superhero, but his alter ego is just this bumbling reporter.” But Black Lightning—yeah, he’s a superhero, but Jefferson Pierce is a principal, a father, and all these positive things that are heroic without even having powers. So when the kid walked away, I almost was like, “Oh man, I don’t know if I was supposed to say something like ‘Stay in school’ or ‘Make sure you study.’” [laughs] You know, Jefferson is just above and beyond what most other superhero alter egos are.

shannon: Oh yeah, I definitely agree. And I love that there are so many layers to your character—you’ve got the regular guy, who helps out in community directly, and then there’s Black Lightning. So as an actor, when you’re playing a character like that, with the alter ego, how do you balance the duality of the role? Is there a certain approach that you take for Jefferson versus Black Lightning?

just believe that if you have powers like that, if you have gifts, you have them for a reason. You don’t have them to just keep them in your pocket and hide them. When I first thought about teaching acting, it was because I was starting at this church that was really proactive. Your responsibility was not to just go to church on Sunday, and come home, and then live your week and then go back to church the next Sunday—they were actively doing things. So the first thing I thought was, “Okay, so what can I do? And they actually had a lot of arts—they had improv classes and dance classes and music classes, so I was like, “Okay. Well, I’m an actor, so what I can provide is an acting class.” So, by that same token, it’s like, if I had superpowers, I couldn’t just hide them, you know? And I think, honestly, [Jefferson] was strongly motivated in Season One on the reluctancy to put the suit back on. I felt like almost 90 percent was that he was so close to him and Lynn getting back together, he didn’t want to jeopardize that—his priority was really getting his family back together. And he knew that to put the suit back on was going to mess that up. But underneath, he realized that you can’t just sit on these things. shannon: Right, I totally agree. Honestly, I would be Team Gambi, too.

Photographer: Porsha Antalan, Talent: Cress Williams, Grooming: Cherie Cook, Styling: Carter @ Christopher Jamar Payne, Videographer: Eliot J.

cress: Yes! Who wouldn’t? shannon: All right, I’ve got another hypothetical for ya. A while back, you played Michael B. Jordan’s father in Friday Night Lights. You obviously moved on to become Black Lightning and Michael kind of went to the dark side and became Killmonger in Black Panther. So, just for fun, I’d love to know: who would win in a fight between Black Lightning, the hero, versus Killmonger, the villain—who ya got? cress: Oh, I got Black Lightning! [laughs] First of all, I mean, I’ve got wisdom on my side and experience on my side. And really, outside of the suit, Killmonger—he could do all those fancy flips and whatnot, but I’d just kind of hit him with a shock, put him in an electrical bubble and we’d call him good. shannon: [laughs] I love it! So, you’ve been in the acting game for a pretty long time. When did you actually realize that acting was your calling? cress: You know, it’s kind of like something that I knew I wanted to do, since I was a child. Back when I was a little kid, I just knew I wanted to entertain. As my mother put it, when I was a little baby, she’d tell me, “Anytime you were crying, all I had to do was turn on the television and you would instantly stop.” And I kind of look at that like, “Ah, maybe that was just a sign.” But I always look for signs—I can be a little obsessive compulsive about connectedness and signs and space and things like that. So really, from a very young age, I felt like this was what I was supposed to do and was called to do. I even remember one moment—I think I was probably in fourth or fifth grade, and my mom and I had just moved into this new neighborhood. The day we moved in, I was out on the block and meeting new kids and we were all trying to figure out what we wanted to do... And my contribution was like, “Hey, let’s have a singing contest!” [laughs] We didn’t have a singing contest, by the way, we did something else—we probably played football or something. But I knew at that moment—I think I went home and

was like, “That’s not normal, most kids don’t do that... I think I’m supposed to do something with this.” So it was something that I just knew I was supposed to do, and by the time I even hit junior high school, I was fully committed and like, “This is what I’m going to do with my life.” shannon: Wow, that’s pretty amazing. So with all your experience, if you could give one piece of advice to other aspiring actors, what would you say to them? cress: You know, the biggest thing I would say is—well, two things: I would say train and be patient. Because of the Internet and YouTube and just the access to people, I think we’re losing the idea of [acting] being a craft, and really studying and training. Even, probably in every art form, I think we’re losing the idea of things being a craft. There are natural abilities, yes, but you have to cultivate those things—you have to train. I think people see YouTube sensations and success and things like that, so they just think, “Oh, I can do this.” But they don’t want to go through the steps. So I would say to be patient and to seriously— if you are committed to it—seriously train. You know, we don’t have doctors out there who are like, “Hey how did you become a doctor?” “I learned it on YouTube.” “Oh great, I’ll [try it now].” No, they have to actually train. And I hold acting to that high standard, as well. shannon: Nice. Just a few quick questions before we wrap it up: name a movie that never gets old to you, no matter how

many times you watch it.

fishing trip—so that’s another one of my destinations.

cress: Oh, wow. Okay, let me think, here. [pause] Well I’m going to go back to one of my childhood favorites—it’s a very little, little known movie called Bugsy Malone. The entire cast— and I think this is why I loved it as a child, and as the child who wanted to act—the entire cast is nothing but kids. It’s like a young Jodie Foster, a young Scott Baio—there’s not an adult in the cast, but they all play adults. It’s supposed to be in the, I think, 1930s or 40s. They’re like gangsters, but they have these little Tommy guns and machine guns that shoot marshmallows; and they drive these cars that they peddle; and it’s a musical, on top of that. I have the poster and I have the movie so, yeah, that never gets old.

shannon: If you had to choose one meal to eat every single day, what would it be? cress: If it’s good, I’m a sucker for pizza. But it’s got to be good pizza, not something like Domino’s—no disrespect to Domino’s, but not like fast food pizza... I think nine times out of ten, I’m usually more of a New York style, but a really good Chicago style—I could feel that too. And any good meal, for me, always has to end with some ice cream. shannon: What flavor? cress: It would probably be Butter Pecan ice cream.

shannon: What’s the last show that you binge-watched? shannon: All right, what’s your favorite sports team? cress: Well, I have three kids, so we’re extremely behind, but actually, the last thing we just finished this weekend—we bingewatched Season Two of Stranger Things... My wife and I watched Season One, way back when it came out, and my daughter—we didn’t feel like she was old enough to watch it, at that time. But recently, [my wife] was like, “Yeah, she’s old enough to watch it, now.” So, a couple of weeks ago, we rewatched it, and rebinged Season One with her—then, we finally binge-watched Season Two.

cress: God, it’s so funny because, now, we don’t listen to albums much anymore—we just stream music. I think one of the last ones had to be—I know it was a Michael Franti, Spearhead album—an old album. It might have been Home—yeah, I think it was called Home. ‘Cause I started getting into this thing where I was like, “I want to listen to a whole album again!” [laughs] shannon: Yeah, funny enough, I almost asked your favorite song, but I was like, “No, let’s do an album, because that’s a little more intimate of an experience.” cress: Yes, actually it’s easier, too, because favorite songs— that’s always hard for me. Like favorite songs, favorite movies— there are just too many of them... and it depends on the mood I’m in. shannon: Gotcha. So what are some of your favorite travel destinations and why? cress: Right now, I would say—just Southern California, period, because we miss home, badly. But I love New York. I love the energy of New York—but for a short period of time, because I am a West Coast person, so I realize I’m extremely laid back and I love space... But I love the energy of New York initially, then eventually I get tired and I’m like, “I gotta go.” I also love the beach. My wife and I—we got married on the Island of Kawai and we always refer to it as our happy place. We have a sound machine, so we can listen to the waves when we go to bed. So honestly, any beach is definitely my happy place. And we haven’t been able to, but we used to take a trip, once a year, to Mammoth Mountain in California. It was just a nice kind of

shannon: Have you seen Lebron [James] play for them, recently? How do you feel about him coming to LA? cress: If he wins, if he wins, I’ll be all right. Because I’m all about the purple and gold, so if you bring wins, I don’t care who you are. I also love—I call them the Anaheim Angels. I know that people call them the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—but no, they’re the Anaheim Angels. And the LA Rams. shannon: Yeah, the Rams are pretty good, this season. cress: They are, they are. I’m excited. I just believe that you adopt the teams that you grew up on, you know, your hometown teams—and so those are my hometown teams. shannon: Okay, last one. Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that most people would be surprised to know. cress: Ooh! Okay. Fun fact? I’m so boring. [Laughs] Oh man, let me think about this. [Pause] I haven’t done it in a while, but I was a big, big karaoke fan. shannon: Oh, karaoke? I’m definitely surprised at that! cress: Yeah, it sounds weird, I know. My wife, she got me into it. She was going literally every Monday night, for years. And one night, one of my best friends and I, we saw her—we were supporting a friend [who was] doing this musical venue, and the night ended early and she was like “I’m going to karaoke.” And we were like, “Oh, okay. Yeah, we’ll go, too.” I went honestly because I liked her and I wanted to spend more time with her— but then I just became a huge karaoke fan. But the kids have kind of put a wrinkle in that, so we haven’t been able to go very much. shannon: Well all right, Karaoke Cress! cress: [Laughs] Yeah, you can call me Karaoke Cress. That’s good, I like it!

Photographer: Porsha Antalan, Talent: Cress Williams, Grooming: Cherie Cook, Styling: Carter @ Christopher Jamar Payne, Videographer: Eliot J.

shannon: What’s the last album you listened to?

cress: The Los Angeles Lakers—I’m a purple and gold, till the day I die.

Mariana Alvarez


Mariana A.Z designs unique and detail-oriented pieces that are elegant, feminine, playful, and young. From Caracas, Venezuela to the Savannah College of Art & Design, this talented young designer has already managed to make waves in the industry, and her budding fashion career is certainly one to watch! Check out our exclusive chat with Mariana A.Z, below.

Mod: What sparked your interest in fashion? Mariana: My great-grandmother, Cachy, has always been my biggest fashion inspiration. Growing up, I spent hours in her closet dressing up, wearing her heels, pulling out heavy fur coats, bathing myself in perfume and trying out extreme makeup techniques. I always loved that I shared that passion with her. She’s one of my favorite humans on earth, and I’m super lucky to have her still in my life. I’ve always loved creating. I was a big origami fan, as a kid. I think I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of creating

something that can stand on its own—three dimensional art that is used to ornament or decorate. I would say one of my first fashion moments was when I did my first communion. My grand mother passed down the dress she wore to hers—I instantly loved it and suggested some changes. My mom allowed me to change up the sleeves, the neckline and length. It was vintage and chic, and I was incredibly excited to wear it! Mod: At what point did you decide to take fashion seriously as a career? When did you realize you wanted to be a designer? Mariana: I was always interested in fashion. As a kid, I had a million sketches of blouses, pants and jackets, but it wasn’t until I got the opportunity to attend a fashion design summer program in Parsons Paris, that I decided to pursue this as a career. After that summer, I was 100% sure I could not see myself doing anything else besides designing. It was a world that I wanted to dig in deeper and deeper. Mod: Who/ what are your greatest inspirations and how do they feed into your work? Mariana: I would say that my muse is definitely my great-grandmother. She’s the inspiration behind my first collection, called “Happy Incompatibility,” which is based

Photographer: Augusto Silva Alliegro, Jewelry: Lucia Marti, Jacket Embellishment: Anvi Shah

MOD: Tell us a little bit about your life, growing up. Mariana: I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela—surrounded by an amazingly fun family, in which you could never get bored, and friends that impacted my life in unique ways. I was incredibly lucky to grow up in the Caribbean. Latin America is a place like no other. I was always drawing, making collages or painting, art has always been a big part of my life. I always knew I wanted to attend an art school. I chose SCAD because I wanted to experience something new—my first time visiting Savannah was my first week of school and I absolutely loved it.

on the crazy love stories of her and my great-grandfather. I’m utterly inspired by stories. I love to hear what people have to say of their past—of an experience that seems to be a milestone in their life, of trips, breakups, breakups during trips—I find it all so fascinating! Nature has always played a huge role into how I design. I like to explore organic shapes, the active ingredients in our bodies that make us respond to things, the way ants build bridges with their bodies—I’ve learned that no matter how, nature always does it better. Mod:How would you describe the aesthetic of your designs? Mariana: My designs are very detail-oriented, I want to make sure that all the features in my garments play a role in the end result of it. I like to play with stitching, embellishments and multi-paneled pieces that sort of build a puzzle on a body. It’s a mix between sporty and haute couture. It’s definitely elegant, feminine, playful and young. I like my clothes to have an attitude and sell a story. Mod: How did you develop your design style? What drove you in this particular artistic direction? Mariana: My design style is definitely not fully developed—I don’t know if it will ever be. I’m constantly learning and trying new things in design. During school, I tried to experiment as much as I could, in regards to shapes, materials, alterations, fabric manipulation, prints, etc. I feel this helped me develop where my aesthetic stands today. Mod: What’s your favorite piece from your latest collection & why? Mariana: The Luna Jacket is probably my biggest pride from my collection—it was my first time working with leather, so it was definitely a challenge. It’s a heavy piece and I love every little detail about it. The embellishment features one-of-a-kind laser-cut shapes, which I created by deconstructing an anatomic heart, and over-sized acrylic sequins that were specifically made for this jacket. I commissioned the embellishment work to Anvi Sha. She’s an incredible beader—she read my design and understood it perfectly. Together, we created a beautiful and one-of-a-kind material that would later translate into this over-sized and opulent jacket. I’m also very proud of the Fuego Coat. It was definitely a piece that took several hours to figure out how to present it properly. I played a lot with dimensions and with the change of a garment itself by working with its features; this coat has a series of strings that adjust to either a tighter or looser look. It came from the idea of playing with tension and explosion—a few of the words that inspired my collection. Mod: If you could design for anyone in the world, who

would be your ideal muse & why? Mariana: I think, right now, it would be Priyanka Chopra. She’s an activist, a feminist, a role model—this is my kind of muse! I want to dress confident women that empower other people. I’m all for strong and confident people—it’s the best quality a person can have. Mod: What helps you get in the zone, while designing? Mariana: I’m a very visual person. I like to have a series of images to while I design and usually I like these images to be non-fashion related. I have a 260-page sketchbook from my senior collection that kept growing until the last day of school—in there I have 3D mock ups of drapes, photos of my great-grandparents, many sketches, collages, words, ideas on who my customer is and fabric samples. Without a concept, it would definitely be hard to get in the zone while designing. And playing music is key—music is always welcomed. Mod: What’s your motto? Mariana: I stole mine from my mom. I always ask her if she misses her childhood or being a teenager, and her response is: I’m always at my best age. I love this idea. It’s a way of looking at all the positive things you have right now. It allows you to live in the present, while cherishing the past and being excited for the future! Mod: What are some of the most notable ways you’ve evolved as a designer, since you started? Mariana: I would say I’m far more confident, designwise. I just completed my first collection—it’s a small one, but it was definitely a milestone for me. I learned so much, made so many mistakes and worked so hard—I can finally see it all paying off! I have a lot of room to grow and evolve. I’m constantly learning new things and will continue to do so for the rest of my career. Mod: What’s been the highlight of your design career, so far? Mariana: Finishing my first collection. This has opened so many doors for me: I got to participate in my school’s fashion shows, in Atlanta and Savannah; I’ve interviewed with a few magazines; I’ve gotten a lot of beautiful messages complimenting my garments; and I’m working at Carolina Herrera, which has been a life-long dream. I also got to collaborate with amazing designers for the jewelry, accessories, photos and branding of my label. I’m overall thankful and proud to have finished it and seen so many positive results. It’s only the beginning for my career. Mod: Where would you like to see yourself and your designs in the future? Mariana: If I am completely honest, I am not totally

sure. I just graduated and am working my way up in the field. I’m making connections, meeting people and learning. I like to remind myself that the struggle is part of the journey and envision a successful and happy future working in what I love, which is fashion. I see myself having a brand that is empowering to my customers, I see my designs dressing strong and confident people, and I see myself working with an amazing team that will help me achieve these goals. Mod: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned on your journey in fashion, thus far? Mariana: Nothing ends up being what you thought it would be. I cannot express how different my collection would have been if I hadn’t experimented and put in as much work as I did. I’m proud of the result and more than happy with how it turned out, but it was definitely different from what I had initially envisioned. I think that in order to be successful at fashion, you have to have the capacity to adapt to constant changes. There are always new trends, discoveries, ways to make our brands more sustainable, and other manners that should influence a fashion designer and the work we produce. Mod: Any advice for other young, aspiring designers out there? Mariana: Try everything you can! Go for oversized and fitted looks, try soft and hard fabrics—small and big shapes. Learning is a matter of trial and error. Take advantage of anything that can enhance your eye and energy to work hard. Go to museums, reach out to people who you admire and be constantly creating. Creativity is a muscle—exercise it in order for it to become stronger. Mod: What are three pieces every woman should have in her wardrobe? Mariana: Comfortable pants, comfortable shoes and a cool jacket. Mod: Tell us a fun fact about yourself. Mariana: A doctor recently told me I have half a rib less on each side of my rib cage, so technically I have 23 ribs instead of 24. That’s kinda cool (and fun to tell). Mod: Where can people find you and your work, online? Mariana: The best way would be Instagram; my handle is @mariana.a.z. I’m also working on my website, which is not ready yet, but it will feature my senior collection as well as older projects!

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