Black creators don’t always get the recognition we deserve, and if we do, it often feels like it’s only to rehash our traumas. It is vital that we not only amplify Black stories, but that we amplify many kinds of Black stories, including those that center on our joy.
My joy. The joy of my beautiful Black friends who light up any room they enter. The joy of Black designers who deserve just as much attention as their non-Black counterparts.
I’ll be honest: I’ve read some of the criticism of Man Repeller over the last month. It’s obvious to me that the community of readers cares deeply about equality and injustice, and the importance of highlighting new stories and perspectives. That’s why I wanted to share a slice of what Black joy means to me here, with a week’s worth of summer style inspiration featuring all Black designers and produced with a team of Black women. Below, my visual diary of things I’m doing, wearing, and loving right now.
Sundays are my favorite time to dive into a good book, because it’s pretty much the only day of the week that I get to relax solo without work responsibilities creeping up. I recently joined two book clubs, which have introduced me to books I might not have discovered otherwise. I’m currently reading The Heart of a Woman by Dr. Maya Angelou. I am in awe of how she changed the world with her words, and ignited the hearts of Black women everywhere with her poetry.
I collaborated with stylist Kia Davidson for this editorial, and given the current constraints on travel, we wanted to tell a visual story of what it looks like to use clothes as a vehicle for escape. Andrea Iyamah’s designs were the ideal inspiration–we gravitated toward this monochrome orange look because it exudes joy, sunshine, and tropical vibes. (I’m a Caribbean woman, so I love anything tropical-looking.)
I usually get all my grocery shopping done on Mondays, because the stores aren’t as packed and the produce is fresh. When planning this shoot, I knew I wanted to do a look with rollers in my hair. Running errands with rollers in is a style statement for so many Black women. Of course, usually it’s paired with a stained shirt and sweatpants, but Kia masterfully executed a hyper-stylized version of that. In her words, “rich auntie vibes!”
The photographer, Camille, and I both wore masks to head to the grocery store, and I briefly took off my mask while we were shooting in a secluded area. Doing a photoshoot in a public area right now was not without its challenges, but it was important to me and the team I was collaborating with to be mindful of safety protocols currently in place.
I recently moved into my first solo apartment, which is a big deal for me. I love the experience of living alone, but obviously the last few months have felt more isolating than usual due to the pandemic. Sometimes, if I’m bored or lonely, I’ll turn to my closet for distraction. I love to dress up, even if it’s just to sit on my couch. This turquoise dress is the ideal fancy-for-no-reason outfit base, especially when accented with a few pieces of simple gold jewelry.
I’ve been cooking at home for about four months straight without ordering any takeout, but now that we are in Phase 2, I’ve started ordering once a week from my favorite place–Grandchamps. It’s a Haitian restaurant and serves delicious, authentic food from the islands. As a first-generation Haitian-American, I have fond memories of waking up to the smell of amazing Haitian cuisine during my childhood. Now that I live alone, I either cook it myself or head over to Grandchamps for diri kole, a.k.a. black rice and beans.
Kia and I wanted my outfit to capture the spirit of Haiti, so we included not only a Haitian designer, but also elements like a fan and headscarf that are often worn by women in the islands.
Other than the shower, my bedroom is where I do all my deep thinking. It’s also a safe haven for some of my most treasured belongings, like my favorite candle from Alexandra Winbush and an amazing painting by Haitian-American artist, Madjeen Isaac (if you are in need of art and want to support more Black artists, she’s your girl!).
Kia and I wanted to showcase a comfortable but fashionable “home” look as inspiration for days when you still want your outfit to say something intentional even if you’re not seeing anyone. This glorified hoodie dress was just the thing–I also like this less expensive option with a similar silhouette.
Typically, my favorite summer Friday activity is hanging out with friends while sunbathing, eating fresh fruit, catching up and listening to Beyoncé. But since this summer is far from typical, my friends and I all took precautions to make sure we were tested before gathering, and wore masks prior to and after taking these photos. There is a special kind of energy I get from being surrounded by a group of inspiring women, and I was grateful for the opportunity to tap into it after months of spending time mostly alone.
The styling in this shot is an ode to two of favorite Black-owned swimwear brands, Castamira and Riot Swim. I love how we used all one-piece swimsuits, but each of them is so unique–just like each of us.
My personal version of summer joy would be incomplete without a Brooklyn stoop celebration, surrounded by some of my favorite Black creatives. The support of other Black female creators is the foundation of how I stay inspired and uplifted in an industry that is not set up for me to win. I appreciate each of these women for who they are, and I respect them for refusing to fit themselves into boxes in order to find success. We each stand beautifully on our own, but together we are truly Black girl magic.
I hope you enjoyed this little bit of joy to keep in your back pocket. An amazing crew of artists helped me put my visual diary together–I encourage you to give them all a follow below–not because it’s trendy to follow BIPOC on social media right now, but because their stories and their joy have always been worthy of taking up space.
Producer, Writer, and Talent: Micaéla Verrelien
Creative Director: Alexandra Berrocal
Photographer: Camille Shaw
Stylist: Kia Davidson
Makeup Artist: Latisha Rankin
Hair Stylist: Nie Alston
Nail Artist: Kia Stewart