4TH EDITION | MAY 2013
CONTRIBUTORS 3 CREDITS 4 KEITH SHOCKLEE 5-6 ROXIE DARLING 7-10 DEE & RICKY: WALKING ART 11-18 BLACK BANDITZ 19-25 ΔLΞX1S _M1NCØLLΔ 27-34 NATHALIE KRAYNINA 35-42 ILLYA KNIGHT 45-46 MODI OYEWOLE 47-48
Cover Art: Kevin Banks ©2013 PUZL™ All rights reserved.
EDITORâ€™S LETTER A lot has happened to us over the past year. We took a hiatus from this publication; to all of our readers, an apology is in order. From that absence, a sense of urgrency began to manifest. The need to breathe life back into this periodical took a subconscious hold. Although we were immersed in developing new projects, our focus began to shift towards documenting the activities of those we had encouncerted in our immediate and distant past. Recognizing their endeavours seemed both logical and prudent. The theme of this issue is a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit this brand and its members strive to embody in our work and in our lives. We are creators, taste makers, trend setters, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs. As such we are naturally attracted to those who share a common propensity; the urge to build. The articles encapsulated herein will guide you through the workings of some of the most talented, experimental, and intrepid purveyors of vogue. We highlight their work not only as recognition of their accomplishments, but also because it is these types of projects and individuals who continue to push the envelope and inspire creativity. Finally, we bid farewell to one of our own, Sarah Whitmore. Her contributions to this magazine and PUZL are invaluable, and we wish her well as she goes forth to conquer her next project. - MR. PUZL
CONTRIBUTORS Publisher, Designer Alex Slater Editor In Chief Sarah Whitmore New York Managing Editor Anna J. Martinez Contributing Editors Jessica Johnson Laura O’Reilly SEAN BAPTISTE is a poet, Los Angeles native, and recent Brooklyn transplant by way of Austin, Texas. ANNA J. MARTINEZ is a Brooklyn-based fashionista who writes, dances, and tirelessly pursues the world’s best hand-mixed margarita. LAURA O’REILLY is a culture curator from New York, adjunct director at The Hole NYC, principal at The City Firm, and artist. Tag along @TheArtofOR MR. PUZL and his associate OLEG THE INTERN are the cogs behind PUZL’s wheels, they are the company’s driving force.
CREDITS Photograph of Keith Shocklee can be found on artistâ€™s website. Photographs of Roxie Darling by LAURA JUNE KIRSCH in Brooklyn, 2012. Photographs of Dee & Ricky by LVRS TRACY (@CosmoBailey) in New York, 2012. Photograph on page 18 provided by author, 2013. Photographs of Black Banditz by CAMERON McCOOL in Downtown Los Angeles, 2013. Photographs of Alexis Mincolla by DIANA DALSASSO in West Hollywood, 2013. Pages 35-42, CAITLIN CORCORAN in clothing by NATHALIE KRAYNINA photographed by KYNA MARIE with makeup and hair by MARIA BAEZ and jewelry by ENFANTS PERDUS. Photograph of Modi Oyewole in Austin, 2013. Provided by subject.
KEITH SHOCKLEE by Sean Baptiste
The pace of our (now almost entirely) digital culture can be confusing. Along with unprecedented access to resources and the opportunity to have any creative project seen worldwide with a click of a button, the market for success becomes flooded with millions of other entrepreneurs trying to make a name for themselves with these tools of the time. Sometimes that can be overwhelming, but optimism and universal justice lie in the fact that every once in a while you find yourself a step closer to that success (or something like it) and fueled by none other than that very brute you tend to curse in times of nostalgia and want. I’m sitting in my Brooklyn apartment in anticipation of my first official interview with excited nerves. Soon after my move to New York, wide-eyed and hopeful like they tell you you’ll be, the woman sitting next to me asked me to write for an online magazine and blog. Now, months later, I’m actually doing it, despite my inevitable laziness, and you might say that I am interviewing a bit of a legend or, at least, a guy who has seen it all. When Keith Shocklee picks up the phone you can hear the cool in his voice. There’s knowledge in it, like a man who’s profited off some unique skill and through the interview I come to find out that that’s exactly his M.O. Hip-hop, like much of American music, starts with a passion and a drive to create: to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Picking up a pen or a pair of headphones can turn into an unimaginable endeavor. Keith is one of the early examples. “[It was] something that we liked to do, it was a semi hobby, but then when we went out, we [were] gettin’ paid. And then we were like, ‘oh this is pretty cool.’ Now, to get here from where we were then, we had no CLUE it would go this way.” That’s how it all started for Shocklee: DJ, producer and member of The Bomb Squad. When Keith was growing up he entertained himself listening to music, going to block parties, and chasing the perpetually moving scene; he made it during the golden age of hip-hop, when that rampant beast was rearing its wild head through the borough of Queens. In the early ‘70s Keith and his brother, Hank, spent their time on the block, waiting for these DJs to set up in their park and shake down the neighborhood, Jamaicans moving to Brooklyn, bringing their music and their sound systems to set up and play. Keith and Hank would hear Grandmaster Flowers (where Grandmaster Flash got his name) or Paul “DJ” Jones’ bass thumping in their apartment building and know
that a party was going down on the block. After watching the DJ sets, Keith and Hank knew what had to be done, “We wanted to be the dudes who could rock the block or the party.” Before this, Keith had learned how to DJ at a program at the local youth center in Roosevelt, his hometown on Long Island. From there, the pair spent their time in their mother’s basement, getting after the ones and twos, practicing to make just one party live. Little did they know, before long they would be booking gigs from Nassau to Suffolk County. Soon after, having made a name for himself on the NY scene, Shocklee started at VAU Radio Station with Hank. The show was heard throughout New York (except for Manhattan, which was out of reach) and became the place where rappers like RunD.M.C., Biz Markie, and The Beastie Boys came through to promote themselves. VAU was the station to listen to on tour if you wanted to keep yourself up to date on what was happening in the industry. The Shocklee name quickly became a cornerstone of the hip-hop community and his growing brand would find a new name when a couple of neighborhood dudes started up a group called Public Enemy and a production team called The Bomb Squad. As his talents mature, Keith allows himself to work outside of his comfort zone. A project he’s working on now, The Art of Rap, is an interactive gallery that allows artists and producers collaborate to make a joint piece. Keith produced a track for the art show that like the other musical pieces attached to the paintings sought to connect music with the listener’s visual imagination, enhancing the paired picture. For Keith, this experience was outside of his wheelhouse, never having produced a track with the purpose of soliciting a certain landscape or picture in the listeners mind. This seems to be how it rolls along for Shocklee: picking up where the music takes him and going along for the experience. Seeking out a career or certain fame was never part of the plan and it’s worked out for the man so far. With all of the pressure that this generation might face with a growing culture of competition, Keith’s story serves as an inspiration to all of those looking for a spot. I was once a teenager staying up ‘til six in the morning to finish The Great Gatsby, feeling the weight and the passion that the words elicited. Maybe I’m just a hop skip and a jump away from my spot. All I know now is to let it ride. Who’s to say I won’t be sitting across from Miss Martinez at The New York Times twenty years from now: responsible for single handedly reviving the newspaper medium. I won’t get too caught up, I’m going to sit back and see where it all takes me, just like the man in question: Keith mutha fuckin’ Shocklee.
ROXIE DARLING by Anna J. Martinez
I knew Roxie Darling instantly, picking her out from the crowd disembarking the subway on that Thursday night: she was skipping down the metal stairs of the elevated track from the M train, wearing a small plush backpack in the shape of a unicorn, an imaginary trail of glitter flitting out from behind her. Sitting at a bar in Bushwick, the neighborhood of Brooklyn that she and I share, our drinks hadnâ€™t yet arrived before she began filling me in on the details of her life. It was a stream of consciousness that painted a complete picture of how this pretty young thing beside me has become the perfect embodiment of a creative soul. A selfdescribed lifestyle artist, Roxie does not draw a line in the sand between her work and her day-to-day existence. She lives artfully and generates a warm glow of creative energy that washes over all people in her presence. By spending just a few hours with Roxie you begin to understand that everything she touches turns to gold: or, more accurately, rainbow. Spending her days painting sunshine and cotton candy tones on heads of hair at the Cutler Salon in downtown New York City, she is able to spread this beautiful energy to everyone that comes in the door. Though, a traditional colorist she is not. She approaches each client in hopes of revealing some deep truth or hidden passion that can only be set free by framing their face in the perfect hue. This is how she approaches life: always venturing past the first layer to uncover something more. Roxie looks at the ordinary and discovers a way to make it shine. Consider the scrumptious hand-dyed fur coats that Roxie created for The Hole Gallery: buttery furs bathed in raspberry, ombre and a sea of other colors that offered a perfect example of how she re-imagines the pedestrian things, no matter how coveted they may already be, and creates something truly magical with them. Her apartment in fringy Bushwick is just another example. I find myself surrounded by a series of carefully curated still lives â€“ a collection of small, plastic dinosaurs sit atop her television, a trifecta of troll doll, My Little Pony and sprawling Buddha are arranged next to framed photographs of dear friends and family. There are books and magazine collages everywhere in sight. You can imagine that this is where Roxie conceives of her greatest ideas. In one corner of her living room is her coloring station, where I sat the night I visited her apartment and she painted my hair.
Shelves of pigment and brushes, containers to mix in and old coffee cans filled with black combs. Her bathtub, as evidence of hundreds of past projects, looks like it was decorated with a melted snow cone. Itâ€™s as though her apartment is the blueprint to her inner self: her memories and experiences still living all around her, and Roxie invites you in with open arms. The night we sat at the bar Roxie touched upon a great heartbreak that had befallen her recently. You would never guess that she has experienced tragedy, let alone an upbringing that was at times rocky, because she is a vivacious and open creature that welcomes each new experience with determination and grace. But that is exactly what sets Roxie Darling apart from the masses: she views each life lived as just another juncture on the epic journey of existence. She is confident that we meet each other again and again throughout eternity. And, most importantly, we can control the happiness and gifts that come to us in this life. Thus, it is unlikely that any sadness could keep her down for too long. The words â€œstronger than everâ€? are painted with lipstick on her bedroom mirror. These are the words she chooses to inspire her every day. It is her embodiment of this mantra that has driven her to achieve all of her artistic brilliance to date, and to radiate the contagious spirit that inspires others to achieve their highest potential.
Even though this may be just another stop on her cosmic journey, Roxie Darling is sure to make her mark on this lifetime. In truth, she says it best, “It’s easy to make a mess and call it art. But, I want to create something beautiful.”
DEE & RICKY = WALKING ART by Laura O’Reilly
Dee & Ricky Jackson are the twin brothers from Staten Island, New York who comprise the avant-garde art and design brand Dee & Ricky are unlike any humans I have ever met. To spend time with the twins is to be caught between wondering what planet they are from and being happy that they’ve somehow landed in our dimension to share their creativity with the world. Maybe they aren’t from any one particular planet, but some region of stars--because they have a rare ability to light up any room they enter. Dee & Ricky are best described as walking artworks, living and breathing their craft.
I recently took the adventure of curating Dee & Ricky’s first solo art exhibition HEART BREAKERS which opened on Valentines Day at ROX, Emerald Fitzgerald’s new gallery located at 86 Delancy in Manhattan. In HEART BREAKERS, Dee & Ricky play with the use of luxury as a weapon; the twins produced a bat and crowbar wrapped in Louis Vuitton leather, gold-plated grenade and box cutter, and two Kevlar-clad, bulletproof teddy bears for the show. The objects in this weapon series were shown beside their classic LEGO pieces and items from their conceptual interactive VELCRO streetwear line for PONY. HEART BREAKERS represented a turning point for Dee & Ricky, breaking any notion of being kept in a box by people in the industry solely identifying them for their work with LEGO blocks. At their core Dee & Ricky remain conceptual artists. The playful blocks are only one medium they express themselves through, there is no limit. Not only can you wear Dee & Ricky, collect Dee & Ricky, you can also eat Dee & Ricky. The duo took the term “lifestyle artist” to a whole new level when they opened Dee & Ricky’s Home Cooking in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn a year and a half ago. “We grew up in the kitchen,” Dee and Ricky explain, “both our grandmother and mother were constantly inventing with food, incorporating unexpected flavors into traditional dishes. We aim to reinvigorate that no-rules approach to food at Dee & Ricky’s.” The 40-seat restaurant keeps the pair’s New York origins in line with their stylized artistic vision: chrome paneling is unexpectedly at home amongst custom oak flooring in bright primary colors and seats upholstered with the Louis Vuitton monogram.
The twins initially rose to fame when Marc Jacobs picked up their LEGO heart accessories and threw them on the runway when the pair was aged 19. Next, Kanye West wore Dee & Ricky’s hearts in the artwork for his 808s & Heartbreak album, spawning a loyal base of celebrity fans. The pair’s wearable LEGO pieces include cigarettes, blunts, lipstick and hearts. The twins have continued to receive international acclaim for their work, and have been featured in hundreds of fashion publications. Dee & Ricky’s first introduction to the art world occurred out of a chance partnership with Kehinde Wiley. Initially casting Dee & Ricky for a single portrait, the artist became so enamored with the twin’s sensibilities that he asked them to cast and style the rest of a series of portraits that would eventually be known as Black Light, a uniquely acclaimed series within Wiley’s work. In the portrait that Kehinde did of Dee & Ricky, one of the twins is wearing a Wu-Tang brand hat; the Clan and the twins share Staten Island roots.
Dee & Ricky will be featured artists on the new WutangClan.com site launching this spring as a part of the WU-TANG HYBRID ARTS program corresponding with Wu’s 20th anniversary. The twins will be featured in the international WU-HA exhibition along with an official collaboration with WUTANG BRAND LTD. Dee & Ricky also share with the Clan having found their creative inspiration out of necessity, the mother of invention. Dee & Ricky have come a long way since they handmade their first accessories to rock fresh items that no one else had on their block: because they couldn’t afford the bling that the drug dealers were wearing they invented their own currency in creativity. Re-appropriating objects in the way the twins do, they are on a mission to continue blurring the lines and creating their own reality out of what already exists around them. We get to collect bits and pieces of the most important thing these twins don’t lack: heart and the relentless hustle that goes into being iconic. Be sure to check out Rock|Them opening Wednesday May 29th from 7-9pm at Rox. The group exhibition will run from May 29th - June 30th.
Laura O’Reilly with Dee & Ricky at ROX Gallery in Manhattan.
BLACK BANDITZ by OLEG the Intern
There is no other kind of “cool” quite like the sort LA dishes up. There’s a doubleedged sword in being no-holds-barred: freedom and high risk, but as Tony Soprano used to say “no risk, no reward.” LA’s brand of cool has always been high risk because it has been disposable. An emphasis on volume rather than substance and a breakneck rate of rotation cast most aside before they’ve realized they’re successful. There is a second version of LA cool, though, one that endures gripping trends, lost decades, and curses, to emerge impervious. Like the environmental stressors of LA have been built into its structure, accommodated. It is the second version of cool that argues for LA’s uniquely American style dominance. New York is like black: it will never be out of style, but works everywhere. LA is like the cut of the cloth: an alwaysmutable medium with attention to detail. Of the moment, with the capacity to be great. No matter what Angelenos do Americans follow them, want to be and look like them. And Angelenos, they want to look like Banditz. It is impossible that, during the last year, you’ve spent time in New York, Los Angeles, or at any major festival and not noticed Black Banditz ubiquity. From pop up roots— parties, more specifically pop up tattoo parlors at parties—through two spaces before opening at 9022 Sunset Boulevard last month, Adam Moonves and Dan Regan along with the more coy behind-the-scenes triumvir Gio Artiga have built a brand ideally suited to crafty partnerships and specialty product development. The sprawl of their early tattoo installations crept to music, art, party production, blog, salon, a collective of artists working in media of the body which in turn has inspired more traditional artists—case in point Shantell Martin—to apply iconic visuals to a body for the first time. If it sounds like a maelstrom, that’s because it is. This is not a model that would be suited to every kind of entrepreneur; the glue that binds is still the underlying identity of LA and its elevated sense of persevering cool that the Banditz share. They’re friends first and foremost, which doesn’t always help but in this case seems to work in their favor: mutual interest in this type of entrepreneurial adventuring is a vital part of the social fabric of the group. Their projects grow organically in a shoot-fromthe-hip creative atmosphere aided and abetted by maintaining heavy communication. In other words: they’re rarely not working. It is moot to say that the line between professional and personal lives has been demolished. This is on another level. Their
production speed is breakneck; Regan and Moonves each contribute to a number of weekly shows and it seems that BxB logo is popping up everywhere from Paris to LA (next stop? Hong Kong) with regularity. While managing all this, the Banditz maintain active social lives and their mustachioed, elegantly tressed—and inked—scions permeate LA galleries, shows, and nighspots. What’s essential that can’t be acquired: growing up [at least part] Angeleno. While the Banditz are committed to a global enterprise, they’re undeniably here and now. No other provenance has the same in-crowd vibe right now as LA does, and it orbits around the Bandit sensibilities. The interesting part is that LA has evolved to a point where this culture is intriguing, guiding, even having been called the next great literary city. The portrait that the Banditz’ style paints is one that seems genuinely relatable to a generation that has grown up under the city’s intoxicating influence. The really smart piece is that the guys did not let this cloud their vision in the haze of partnership and sponsor opportunities. They’ve been selective, inquisitive, specific in their instances of co-branding. They’ve launched an organic hair care line and collaborated with Reformation on a duo of timeless boyfriend basics. With fingers on the pulse of highlife social scenes in Paris, London, New York, Miami, LA—and the rest of the world within their sights—tireless promotion and production have ripened Black Banditz into a prize among their mimes. Their careful attitude toward collaboration, however, is not solely a matter of taste. From a genuine sweetness that all three seem to share, and embody in their own demeanors, they want to create good things for the world. An emphasis on sustainability in product construction goes hand in hand with an emphasis on sustaining the creative team assembled around them. What pervades their aura and the cloud of chatter around them is recognition for their responsible and gracious handling of their business. Compliments not easily given are sincerely earned. With a knack for favorably interpreting their past and building wisely, they’ve driven the business in the direction of demand until now. How the Banditz manage their immediate future now that they have the freedom to roam a bit will be even more interesting. They design toward opening a second LA location and forthcoming projects with international creative powerhouses, while maintaining a firm grip on the LA scene. Presenting such an impressive track record for business logic, it is hard to imagine that we won’t be seeing a steadily growing takeover. The vibe is auspicious, benevolent, clubby, genial, friendly-macabre. True banditry.
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ΔLΞX1S _M1NCØLLΔ by Sarah Whitmore
It isn’t casually apparent what a first encounter with Alexis Mincolla will bring: his Internet presence is vast, encompassing everything from a personal site with extraterrestrial and deific mythical imageries to a relatively puffy piece from NYMag about his (then) startup beverage line, to a lot of very vague verbiage about his infamous parties in Miami; nothing that quite deviates from nor comprehensively represents what the man behind the brands embodies. In interviews his language reads as a fusion of the antiquated and the digital, invoking scat singing with polarized terms of similar and complementary psychophonetic timbres (e.g. catalyzing and synthesizing: one chemical and ancient, the other manufactured, industrial). His representation unanimously displays innate intelligence, it also begs questions: what here is overly contrived, and what is genuine? How much of this is branding an image essential to his entrepreneurial ventures? Is the brand extricable from the individual? Mincolla is, to borrow the words another dear friend uses to describe someone else, “like a human Xanax.” Absent a cloying effect, his interior health radiates as if he could bring any system into homeostasis. I’m unsure if this is better characterized as a skill or a trait and his control over the energy he possesses in combination with the aforementioned facile intellect carries perception of his power past bodies and into the cosmic realm. Which is the way, I think, he hopes it will be seen. What it is more concretely is a masterful power over image management in which Mincolla is skilled at influencing you in a way you understand you are being influenced, while also influencing you in a way to which you are oblivious… one is perceived, the other felt. He’s also a human being, meaning he’s got a past, present, and future that all influence his stature (stature here being an amalgam of his competence and achievements enhanced by a powerful, dominating, masculine build) and he, you know, speaks with a human voice, offers water, chuckles, smirks, etc. and one of the first things we end up discussing is origins (which he’s obviously prepared for). With an ISL prep school pedigree, Mincolla chose to expatriate to Rome for an undergraduate degree in political science, seduced by the idea that the program at an intimate university abroad would slake a lust for learning more about the world at large. He does describe it as a “mini-UN.” I’m sort of skimming past it because this made me wildly curious to know how he came back stateside and landed at the pastel ghost town that was Miami post-drug bust. Mincolla has a characteristically—
not opportunistic, nor optimistic, but kind of fabulous, sophisticatedly childlike—way of seeing places and people, his perhaps more fair description of Miami at the time is that it--not yet considered a city of world class art and culture, for those who know it as it is today--was “a Petri dish of growing culture,” its Downtown a “30-block playground.” He jumped into advertising, climbing the ladder, while using the city’s blank canvas to “leverage the illusion of doing something in Miami” as a means to contribute powerfully to the construction of its culture. Mincolla’s breakout came when he tried to take a more Bohemian path by applying to work at an opening nightclub backed partially by Alfred Spellman of Rakontur. He was succinctly told he wouldn’t be hired, but was thrown a one night per week hosting gig at Bella Rose, a now defunct Miami Beach nightclub that grew its hip and unpretentious reputation partially on the power of Mincolla’s creations. He was encouraged to “make it weird,” though I’m not quite sure where the apparent necessity for that encouragement entered, and what was born became infamous: Black Sunday. Each week, a faux murder would be shown alongside less sensational but environmentally relevant, strobing, old films on the walls surrounding the party (the former edited by hand, frame by frame, weekly). The concept gained some traction among partygoers, what with the fanfare and the competitive edge to become the next “victim” and the ambience—Mincolla’s partner in crime was a model agent at Wilhelmina who specialized in corralling wanton, leggy vixens and the celebrity denizens of their chosen haunts—being unusual, exploratory, a befitting host for the expansive creativity of which Mincolla is capable. As the guest list for Black Sunday grew, so did the publicity, and it was when the New York Times took note of the party that his family did the same. Around this time, at the apex of the party’s fame, Mincolla decided to kill it. As with his global interests in mythology, meaning, and archetypes, Mincolla’s next move seems heavily influenced by the early environment created by his father: Mark Mincolla is a eminent healthcare practitioner fusing a unique combination of medicinal cultures to treat and heal holistically, with a focus on nutrition and his independently developed systems. His son’s next venture was developed in Miami, but once Black Sunday had passed, took the younger Mincolla to New York in search of major financing. Prometheus Springs is a line of healthy beverages spiced with anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, healing capsaicin. It should be specifically noted that this capsaicin is what makes them functional, most unlike specialty beverage competitors lining shelves: the substance (found in hot peppers) releases endorphins and boasts a number of health benefits both proven and under research. In New York in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008 Mincolla was able to assemble a superstar team of financiers and brokers who complemented the skills of each other and the rest of the team, finally allowing for the creative beast to be liberated from the chains of the bottom line. Having found his financial gurus, Mincolla could pursue the branding and marketing sides of the “curious elixir” to popularize its ayurvedic and psychological benefits, to examine the aura of those who love spice and those who do not, to have some “heavy handed concept fun, for better or worse.” (Better. The fun comes in on the, ahem, rather comprehensive mixology section of the Prometheus website.)
“Heavy handed fun.” It is an apt description of a lot of Mincolla’s work. Once— doing a lip disservice to the enormous investment of self Mincolla and his partners bled for years to make Prometheus widely available and appropriately branded, sold—Mincolla moved to Los Angeles, his designs toward artful party production and rulership over the nocturnal returned. While Black Sunday had been rooted in the archetype of the villain, playfully invoking fear and imbuing the adrenaline of partygoing with the adrenaline of confronting mortality—stories played out with pretty and popular actors on a dazzling stage— the beverages lie in the shade of the Promethean archetype of sacrifice for the greater good, a sacrifice made at great personal expense for the benefit of human progress. The incarnation of popular nightclub series LIL DEATH (on its Facebook profile, a “Religious Organization” whose slogan reads “://_LØИG_L1VΞ_ŦHΞ_ИΞW_ FLΞSH_>>>”) cemented the return of Mincolla’s outfit, The Overthrow, to evolving conceptual nightlife. Its name is layered in meaning but is most recognizably rooted in the French colloquialism la petite mort. The term indicates, physically, a period of time when one is under the influence of exposure to enormous power—chemical or spiritual—as after an especially strong orgasm. Literarily it is a more complex (of course) reference to an elevated transcendent state of [un]consciousness. Either way it is an embodiment of a unique view, an enhanced approach to correspond with an evolved reality. This evolved reality is our current age, which is a high-stakes experiment in the transfer from analog to digital reality. The archetype here is how Mincolla uses this theoretical base, possessed of an admirable grasp of branding and strategy, to generate ideas that—in the painstaking tradition of Black Sunday—require a lot of fancy footwork and strike beyond the relevance of most other production companies. In other words, his grasp of concept-to-completion is so masterful at this point that he’s coupled it with a (rare) tasteful approach to be able to shift among industries and tug at the strings of their trendsetters by sidestepping usual approaches to communication and engagement. Becoming a work of “party art” or, also, satiated by branded content worthily bearing your face and or name, or, also, still on the waiting list to be killed at Black Sunday: each represent powerful aphrodisiacs compared to the wet blanket of a blown out mug shot disseminated before your first coffee the following morning. In this type of engagement-focused marketing, Mincolla and his partners at The Overthrow have an unimpeachable track record. They operate a perennially successful “Basel Castle” satellite festival widely regarded as a premium place to showcase art, music, or your brand at Art Basel Miami Beach. They boast tastemaker pairings with Sol Republic, Reebok, PBR, Boy London, and Playboy—aside from the previously mentioned projects Mincolla took on with the brand—and offer comprehensive outreach to back it up. On the horizon are potential collaborations with Beta Unit, Skingraft, and an East Hollywood HQ. The life it has required seems—maybe not in the traditionally mortal sense but still— harrowing. Mincolla’s self-awareness is acute. He recognizes the need to have sweat blood for years doing what he loves; he’s equally forthright about the need to “always project a successful image” that can prove impossible for some entrepreneurs to develop. He’s still working day and night, living by a principal that may mark him a worthy custodian of our transfer to the digital age.
NATHALIE KRAYNINA by Anna J. Martinez
I had been invited to attend the Spring 2013 presentation of Williamsburg Fashion Weekend completely unfamiliar with any of the designers whose collections I would witness. The venue screamed Brooklyn—the audience being it’s own eclectic fashion show with some patrons dressing for shock value, including an Andy Warhol doppelganger who sat across from me, never removing his dark glasses—and the presentation itself held a lot of the same. Enjoying a welldeserved reputation as a platform for performance and experimentation that spreads awareness of independent designers creating ethical fashion, the participants of Williamsburg Fashion Weekend portrayed the avant-garde, the unconventional and occasionally the bizarre. Nathalie Kraynina was serving up a collection that stood out. A strong example of what I now know to be her clean design sensibility and impeccable professional execution, she sourced working models to walk her clothes down the runway. Her presentation began as the lights came up slowly on a leggy wonder standing against the back wall. Milking the moment, the gamine beauty stretched expertly into fierce postures in her all-black ensemble, before taking her first calculated steps across the stage.
Practiced in the art of poise and grace, the models to follow were diverse in complexion and build, not at all cut from the same cloth, which offered texture to the presentation without overwhelming the pieces. The result was a group of elegant, individual canvases that perfectly presented Nathalie’s exquisite collection. The collection itself was the true focus of the presentation: designed exclusively in black with such celebrated details as triangular brocade sleeves in sequin
that evoked images of a shadowy bird in interplanetary flight. The pieces in Nathalie’s presentation were appropriately dark, without being morbid, and played with our perception by introducing buoyant, feminine fabrics like tulle in a dark hue. Structured silhouettes were intermixed with airier pieces that translated as a balance between movement and stillness in her work, offering a meditative quality to the presentation. Nathalie Kraynina is a woman who doesn’t wait for elusive fame to come her way. Very much on her grind, she attended FIT and trained under Michael Kors and Badgley Mischka before breaking out to develop her namesake brand from the ground up. This past year has been particularly exciting for Nathalie: runway showings of her two most recent collections being gobbled up by an ever-growing fan base and her line being launched at Any Old Iron, a favorite outpost in downtown Manhattan. Now with two doors open, Kaight in Brooklyn being the first to carry the collection, Nathalie continues to spread consciousness of what independent designers are capable of and to set an example for others who wish to follow in her path.
As a diligent and motivated businesswoman, Nathalie’s first priority will always be the livelihood of her brand. But she’s been intimately involved with many noble projects including, most notably, her work promoting and collaborating with other emerging designers under the banner of Williamsburg Fashion Weekend. She has also created a line of t-shirts for the “I Can Too” foundation to aid children in need and has contributed her efforts to Manufacture New York’s mission to support independent designers in an ethical resurgence of the industry. Nathalie’s controlled, deliberate approach to design is simple: to establish her voice clearly and convey it through consciously constructed wears. Without clinging to the misconception that to be innovative is to disturb, derail and undo, Nathalie consistently produces fashion that is relevant. Richard Avedon is famous for his use of the all-white background in his portraits. His photographs continue to give example of how working within established parameters with a classic approach yields timeless art. Just as Avedon was able to convey unparalleled emotion with his subjects, Nathalie Kraynina’s clothing conveys true beauty to all who see it.
SHOWCASE: ILLYA KNIGHT
Select works, 2012
Illya Knight is a world wanderer whose fashion photography just scratches the surface of his creativity. In his past: work with Dazed and Confused, Tatler, Barney’s New York, Marc Jacobs, Xevi Muntané, Terry Richardson, HBO, Sony VAIO, Donald McPherson, Tesh, and Thomas Schenk-just to name a few. Now: he’s exploring themes of androgyny, sexuality, beauty, and alteration in raw portraits of vulnerability more suited to white walls than glossy pages. Next: releasing a line of luxury leather goods in collaboration with a New York industrial designer.
MODI OYEWOLE DC impresario Modi Oyewole has a voracious appetite for life and the stories to back it up. His blog-turned-brand DC to BC and his production endeavors with Rock Creek Social Club have made him stand out on DC’s cultural radar. He’s made his move toward the national scene with Trillectro while keeping one thing in the forefront: the music. Here’s a glimpse of the lifestyle he leads, for the full text see PUZL’s blog. Keep up with Modi on Tumblr and @DCtoBC. Destination: Tie between London and Antigua. Boutique: Collette in Paris. Nuts. Museum: MOCA in LA is absolutely beautiful. US City: NYC is tight but it’s so fast-paced and I can’t whip it so LA is preferable. International City: Lisbon, Portugal. Brand(s): Nike, Stussy, APC, Jansport, The Decades, AnmlHse and Babylon Cartel. Watch: FuelBand + phone. Shades: SUPER at Blake Scotland Cologne: MILLION Kicks: OG Gourmet, the Desisto. iGadget: Beats by Dre wireless headphones and my Apple TV. Phone: iPhone is essential. Invention: The wheel? Beer: Guinness Liquor: Hennessy, Jack Caffeine/Power Source: Red Bull. Cranberry is my go-to. Fruit: Plum, the kind that looks like dark purple inside. Vegetable: Maybe potatoes? That’s not really healthy though. Inspiration: Pharrell Williams Porn Star: Pinky Charity: Food and Friends Holiday: Thanksgiving Workout: Hoop and gym. Sport: Basketball Writer: Paul Jennings
Photographer: Brad Ogbonna (http://justbrad. tumblr.com/) Contemporary Artist: I like Banksy, he’s slick. Color: Gold, black, purple. TV Series: Shameless Film: Back to the Future Part II Superhero: Zach, the Black Ranger Hip-Hop: Travi$ Scott, ScHoolboy Q, Theophilus London Electronic: Calvin Harris, Daft Punk Song: Theophilus London x Trouble Andrew “Snow Angel” DJ: BRENMAR, Spicoli(@spicoliDCtoBC) Album: N*E*R*D’s “In Search Of…” Band: Body Language, MØ (https://www. facebook.com/MOMOMOYOUTH), Capitol Cities Dance/Hype Music: Branchez Smoke/Mellow Music: Toro y Moi Venue: 9:30 club or UHALL in DC. DC Neighborhood: Brookland Restaurant: Steak N Egg Gallery: Lamont Bishop (before it closed) Dive Bar: Wonderland Thrift Shop: I’m not a thrifter, but I respect the craft. I just take hand-me-downs or steal from Quinn’s closet. Shit. Center of Debauchery: Adams Morgan on a Friday or Saturday night. I double dog dare you to walk through that place holding your girl’s hand at night. Good luck, dude.
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