WOC x WOC: Enjoying Sex Safely In The Midst Of Covid-19

If you are a woman like me, smart, a self-starter, black, beautiful as we all are, and currently single, you may have found yourself navigating the impact of the novel Coronavirus (i.e. Covid-19) as it took a toll on your sex and dating life over the last several weeks. On the other hand, whether you have been seeing someone(s) regularly, are in a relationship, or married, the staying power of quarantine has still brought up questions about how and when we can have sex and enjoy it (NO SHADE!) without furthering the spread of the virus. Fortunately, on April 28, we saw several answers brought to light as four phenomenal women took to Instagram Live in partnership with Housing Works x MadameNoire to create a safe space for dialogue, and take the much-needed conversation about sex and Covid-19 to a place of empowerment.

The third installment of “WOC x WOC: Our Voices, Our Health, Ourselves” IG Live Conversations, featuring Brande Victorian, Senior Content Director, Women’s Division at Interactive One, Dr. Oni Blackstock, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of HIV for the New York City Department of Health (NYC-DOH), Jamilah Lemieux, Writer / Cultural Critic, and moderated by myself as the series’ Executive Producer, went virtual following two impactful in-person events focused on HIV and women of color in summer 2019. This time, viewers were encouraged to know they are not alone in discovering this new world of Covid-19 as a “sexually associated infection,” with topics covering everything from safer sex practices for engaging with a partner, and self-care for your personal #quarantineandchill, to addressing stigma and HIV/AIDS including information on PrEP and PEP.

Here are a few of the top tips when it comes to sex and Covid-19.

1.The “Sex and Coronavirus Disease 2019” guidelines released by the NYC-Department Of Health in late March are a great resource to start with, and the guidelines are impressively sex-positive, keeping it all the way real. A few highlights to keep ourselves safe:

  • You are your safest sex partner. (i.e. masturbation; wash your hands, sex toys and disinfect keyboards or tablets, before and after sex.)
  • The next safest partner is someone you live with (i.e. have as few partners as possible, and avoid sex with anyone outside your household.)
  • If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates/anonymous partners opting for virtual dates instead.
  • Kissing and rimming (mouth on anus) can easily pass Covid-19 as the virus is found in saliva, mucus and feces, although condoms and dental dams can reduce contact with saliva or feces, especially during oral or anal sex.
  • Skip sex if you or your partner is not feeling well and/or if you or your partner has an underlying medical condition that can lead to more severe COVID-19.

2. Regarding underlying conditions, Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted Black and brown people across the nation in ways similar to the historical disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on communities of color, especially women of color. While it was awesome to hear from Dr. Blackstock that a person living with HIV is not at a significantly greater risk of death when testing positive for Coronavirus, as long as the person has been diligent with managing their HIV (i.e. undetectable), unfortunately according to the 2018 HIV Surveillance Annual Report from NYC-DOH:

  • 89.4% of new HIV diagnoses among all women in NYC are Black and Latinx
  • Black women account for the majority (63%) of new HIV diagnoses among women in NYC, with the age group most impacted being 20 – 29 year olds

As women of color we must take responsibility to self-advocate and empower ourselves and our communities when it comes to taking action around Covid-19, sex and HIV/AIDS. This includes support of transgender women and men, and young gay males of color, all members of our communities focused on in Tuesday’s conversation. Covid-19 has further exposed the many disparities within health, race, and socio-economic status, and sex is no different. The onslaught of Covid-19 brings with it many more questions about sex for what is already a complex, multifaceted subject. To be honest we have just scratched the surface.

3. As stay at home orders begin to lift in parts of our country, we need to be smart. Be conscious of maintaining safety measures and social distancing. It is up to each of us to continue to make good choices for ourselves. As we heard from Ms. Lemieux, as doors open up, it just may be your time to be explorative with yourself for a little while longer. Whether planning for when we can freely go outside again, or your nights of swinging from a chandelier are already in progress, be mindful whenever you do break out, don’t hurt yourself: break out responsibly and safely.

For sexual wellness services during the Covid-19 pandemic, including HIV and STI testing and treatment, visit https://healthcare.housingworks.org/.

This article was first published on MadameNoire on May 4, 2020

Why Australia? Taking a Sabbatical Abroad to Reset Your Mental, Emotional and Physical Wellbeing

“For the better part of a decade and a half, I have not been living. Alive and breathing, yes…but not living. The experience has been more like sheer surviving flanked by cycles of exertion/exhaustion that left me overworked and burned all the way out.” – the author

Having written numerous times about the impact the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the loss of my cousin Wesley to AIDS has had on myself, our family, and generations to come, it was Wesley’s death that also fueled the passion behind my commitment to ending stigma, advocating for LGBTQIA acceptance, my independence as an event consultant, and my drive to help others through the birth of my apparel brand HUMAN INTONATION, with particular focus on HIV/AIDS and women of color.

All inherently good things. Yet, over the last 14 years, I have not given myself much opportunity to grow beyond the scared, angry, grieving, untrusting 22-year old I fully embodied on February 4th, 2006, the day Wesley passed away.

Until now, very little in my adult life motivated me outside of the traumas brought on by Katrina and HIV/AIDS.

It seemed to all work for a while, until it didn’t.

Over time, little did I realize how much I began living for the legacy of my cousin, living to “help” others, living for any and everyone, except for myself.

Like many black women, I had hopes of righting wrongs that were beyond my control, yet I felt unduly responsible for.

Then, somewhere in the last 5 years, something began to shift.

Growing increasingly unsettled, frustrated and disappointed with my own life not being or looking anything like I want it to…I decided to do something about it.

Ironically, I immediately found that making a change required that I uncover some of my old feelings of feeling scared first.

This time, however, it was the good kind of scared like when you know you are stepping out for something greater, a leap of faith that would take me out of New York City 10,353 miles to the other side of the world.

Once boarded, I let reality begin to sink in as I settled next to the strapping Aussie heading back to his home, from whom I could not help but ask for a few tourist recommendations.

My flight to Melbourne with a layover in Sydney marked the beginning of a life-changing adventure, and the first step in my taking a major new approach to address my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

For the next 10 weeks, I would be starting my journey to exemplify what it means for me to be myself, my own version of “Eat, Pray, Love”. I dubbed my sabbatical “The Verneda Adele Project”.

While I did not know what was to come, the one thing I was clear on is that it is time to completely let go, to give myself the opportunity to grow, and to start living for myself for the first time.

How I got to this point is nothing less than serendipity, some would call it a Higher Power when last spring I found myself on the other side of a completed project sleep-deprived and literally weighed down by a number of heavy bags I was taking home from my client’s office.

When I normally would not have, I took a shared taxi to Brooklyn from midtown Manhattan which led me to meet Bunny, who in turn introduced me to my now business coach Bonny (I’m not kidding Bunny and Bonny), and the rest, as they say, is history.

From the beginning of our sessions, Bonny picked up on my less than living state of being and he quickly suggested if I wanted a shot at making a change, that my only next course of action was to take a 3-month sabbatical…

Who me? “Who just ups and goes for 3 months? What about money, my apartment, my boyfriend, my life?”

Putting these questions aside, I reminded myself of the many days and nights I have felt trapped behind a glass wall, watching the life I desire on the other side, constantly feeling out of reach.

But was it really? Or is it just the story I have been telling myself for longer than I like to admit?

Grief and guilt can cause a person to do many things that you would not normally do, as a way to protect oneself from the depth of pain.

I had no choice but to get on that plane.

Since arriving in Australia, it was like a weight lifted off of my shoulders, like my protective shell was beginning to shed.

In preparing for my trip I was introduced to the concept of WWOOFing, where volunteering my time on four very different organic farms in exchange for food and housing would not only allow me to sustain my extended travel, but also learn about what foods are sustainable for me and others to eat.

In the first few weeks of my sabbatical, I have done things I never thought I would do; from being pushed to think more critically about how we treat our planet (as my chest burned from inhaling the smoke haze of the Australian bushfires), to literally scaling mountains with no equipment while hiking to an amazing, untouched waterfall with nothing but a 12-inch wide pathway to stay on between a rock wall and the kind of cliff one would not bounce back from (I am still grateful with the help of my fellow WWOOFer and hiking guide, we made it).

I have driven tractors, chopped tree trunks with a chainsaw, got stung for the first time by a ferocious bee but could not have felt prouder for, because then I was able to help my hosts to make our own honey.

I made friends with kangaroos, wombats, peacocks, koalas, and dove into the ocean from Byron Bay to Bondi Beach.

With every stretch, I am giving myself the gift of life outside of my “survival comfort zone” in ways I never would have experienced had I stayed in New York.

Being in the Australian bush has presented me with an opportunity to do a complete 180°.

Now, as I find myself writing this post from a harbor-front café on a Monday morning in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, while back in New York where it is still Sunday, and my friends and family are no doubt taking in the first half of Superbowl LIV in advance of JLo and Shakira’s epic halftime performance, I am determined for that scared 22-year old to know she does not have to be scared anymore.

There is no guilt for her or me to shoulder.

She deserves, as we all do, to not only survive, but to thrive and receive what I have always wanted for my life: to feel comfortable in my own skin no matter where I am, what I am doing, who I am with, and to live fully in contributing something meaningful to the world that feeds me and others at all levels.

Once I made my decision to take a sabbatical, the question I have been asked most is “why Australia”?

The truth is that I could have gone anywhere in the world, however, the idea behind my sabbatical is to give myself space to focus on myself, get quiet and listen.

I scratched off any places with great safety concerns or direct historical or cultural trauma (though I will admit no matter how many times I have been told in Australia I am perceived as American first, I have never forgotten I am a black woman).

I chose an environment where I could focus my attention on what is it that I like to offer, feel consistently passionate about, how I can have more fun, and take steps to reimagine my life, in spite of my fears.

Following right behind “why Australia?”, the second question is whether this process is working (i.e. have I figured out what I came to figure out yet)?

About that, what I can say is this…expect your sabbatical to be a process within a process. Your process.

My journey to personifying my true self will not end when I touch back down at JFK.

In the process of getting quiet and listening, I have no boxes to check, only to give myself enough space to see, as cliché as it may sound, that the only person standing between me and the life I want is me.

For me to truly make a contribution that will benefit others, I must first make deposits into my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing; to let my spirit dance in the release from guilt and grief.

I want ALL black women to know that it is OK to take care of and live for ourselves first.

When life calls for a sabbatical, take it. You may not know what change will look like when you return, but one thing I can promise is that you will never be the same.

Many asked, “Why Australia?” I simply asked, why not?”

This piece is based on the author’s experience between 9 December 2019 to 3 February 2020.

First published on OMNoire on March 10, 2020

Taken for Granted: Fresh Water and the Australian Bushfire Crisis

The driest spring on record follows the hottest ever summer, the third-warmest autumn, the sixth-warmest winter, the hottest March on record, the third-hottest July, and the hottest month ever recorded in Australia.”Naaman Zhou, The Guardian

Please bring the rain with you.” – my WWOOF Host

If you turn on a faucet and fresh water appears that you can drink, wash, cook, and clean with, you are fortunate beyond measure. If you can let said water run without fear or thought that it is in scarce supply or may otherwise run dry, you are among a special few. If it rains where you live with the regularity it is meant to and a seasonal dry spell is temporary with all but certainty, then simply count your blessings because for many many more, this is not their story.

Bushfire stricken areas just south of Lismore, Australia. Photo: Verneda Adele

In the first four weeks of my sabbatical on the continent of Australia, I have been confronted by the complete and utter degree to which I take for granted…fresh water. Even as I consider myself to be environmentally conscious, not wasteful, support organizations such as Face Africa and the communities of Flint, MI, it turns out, I come from a world where fresh water as a precious commodity is taken for granted regularly and often, much more than I realized. I have been confronted to broaden my horizons and expand my thinking about the critical life source that fresh water provides each and every one of us, and that water crises are not a critical issue only relegated to underserved countries in the depths of India, Sub-Saharan Africa, or the South Pacific. With my recent decision to take some extended time off, I chose to WWOOF, volunteering my time on organic farms throughout Australia and Tasmania as part of my experience. Beyond pushing me out of my comfort zone, taking my travels off the beaten path is allowing me to see Australia from a local perspective, get in touch with nature and gain a better understanding of the full impact the extremely dry climate, drought and limited access to water is having around the country…and just to be clear, the bushfires are continuing to burn throughout much of Australia with a long recovery road ahead.

So, what does access to fresh water mean across much of Australia? In my experience thus far, the sentiment and customs around water are completely different here. Drinking water has been available, living water is on restriction and rainwater has been all but non-existent. The question is in fact “where is the rain?” As I began to write this post, I found myself in Lismore sitting on the back lanai of my second WWOOF host, who is experiencing a third consecutive year in the worst drought since the inception of their macadamia nut farm over 15 years ago. The usually full dam on the farm is nearly run dry and if the rain does not come soon, they will be forced to purchase water from the town’s reserves which once ordered will take 2 weeks to come. They are waiting for the rain, having asked me to bring the rain with me as we planned for my arrival, and acutely aware that the dry conditions on their farm are not different from their brothers and sisters experiencing the unprecedented bushfires further south.

Dam on Macadamia Nut Farm in Lismore, Australia full vs. bushfire drought.

I knew coming here that it may be the first location in my travels where water restrictions would be in effect. You can physically feel the impact of the water restrictions as one can never fully relax into the post-traumatic deprivation operating underneath. I was generally warned ahead of my travels that volunteers may be asked to stick to 4-minute showers, use other ways to conserve water, and it is absolutely at the top of everyone’s mind to save as much water as possible. My hosts’ grandchildren looked on in disbelief as I relayed to them that the average shower time in the US is easily around 10 to 15 minutes, let alone the 30 minutes or more it takes me to shower AND wash my hair when I wear it naturally. Apparently, all my co-washing and working in curl product is no help to the environment as far as water conservationists or Australians living around the bushland go. The ever so slight inconveniences jarred my awareness of just how different my life would be without consistent access to fresh water. I thought of myself as being fully prepared for my first hands on experience of how communities cope when in drought, however, it did not really hit me until my host handed me a bucket to catch the initial water that runs from the shower while I stand there waiting for it to heat up, with the intention of then watering the outdoor plants and vegetable garden.

Standing there, a lifetime of having fresh water available flashed before my eyes. Faint remnants of my father yelling out “stop wasting the water” in my childhood (and honestly anytime I visit my parents as an adult now) referenced the cost of running water more than a lack of supply. Places like New York City are notorious for apartment buildings where you have to let the shower run a bit to get it hot, and most people know water is to be respected, but the reality is that I have never been for want as one of the 9 million customers receiving the more than 1 billion gallons of fresh water pumped into New York City each day. I have never had to operate from the premise that there is not more water coming, or that there will not be enough. I suppose when the dams run dry, animals and crops cannot survive, and the rain simply has not come, one would prepare as best possible to potentially face life’s greatest challenges. Yet bucket in hand, it was at that moment I truly learned just how much I can never take fresh water for granted again.

For those directly impacted by the bushfires, all three water uses, drinking, living and rain will be an on-going source of concern in the coming weeks, with the lack of rain largely contributing to the fires enduring. Extreme climate events increasingly demonstrate our ever-evolving planet is out of balance, with places like Indonesia receiving too much rain, Australia not enough, and both conditions leading to the loss of life. I echo Russell Crowe’s call to action, question everything about NYC’s balmy January, and do not understand how anyone can believe climate change is not real.

On December 18, 2019, Australia’s hottest day on record, with an average temperature across the country of 105.62°F (40.9°C), I was just getting warmed up in Geelong, Victoria where it was 97°F (36.1°C) that day. For me the heat was a welcomed reprieve from the initial cold I experienced when arriving in early December to Melbourne, borrowing coats and jackets from my friends because I had only packed for summer. It turns out that day was a foreshadowing for the dangerous bushfires to come, highlighting Australia’s driest spring on record where an average of just 1.078 inches (27.4mm) of rain fell for the season. When combined with extreme above average temperatures, drought, fuel availability (i.e. dry land, bush, tree bark, leaves, etc…) and high winds, the conditions are ripe for fire weather and catastrophic danger levels of fire risk whether sparked from a lightning strike or a carelessly discarded cigarette. Knowing now what I did not know then, it makes my “Gratitude Wednesday” post from that day now feel simply out of touch, and enjoying the warm summer breeze is a little, or a lot less sweet.

Click for Verneda Adele's "Gratitude Wednesday" Instagram post from 12-18-19.
Instagram: “Gratitude Wednesdays” with Verneda Adele from 12-18-19

In bringing this piece to a close, the rain has started to fall, at least the first bit. I made it to Byron Bay, the one place everyone said I must visit for its lively beach town. My time in Byron turned out to be less on the beach and more puddle hopping though I can’t say I felt deprived in any way. I joined in the expressions of joy, and yet part of me could not help but ask from a spiritual perspective how the collective focus on the lack of water is not helping to bring about the desired change.

Growing in my belief in the law of attraction, I am increasingly seeing the benefit of letting go of scarcity thinking in my own life. What would happen if the whole of Australia focused on the abundance of water that is available versus reinforcing that there is not enough? Or drawing on the dances of Aboriginal rainmakers, take seriously the practice of being in harmony with the land on which we live, while understanding rain as a gift from the Creator. Everything we need to take care of ourselves and our planet is available to us, but it is up to us to properly tap in and utilize it. When combined with tangible action, focusing on abundance does not absolve us of responsibility but rather creates space to release our collective resistance, and for even greater solutions for addressing climate change to emerge. While I will never know how much my presence did or did not help to bring the rain, I do know from this point forward when it comes to fresh water, I only have a new level of one feeling…gratitude.  

For a deeper analysis of Australia’s dangerous bushfire weather see the report “Special Climate Statement 72—dangerous bushfire weather in spring 2019” from the Bureau of Meteorology.

To donate to the on-going bushfire relief efforts consider the Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief and Friends of the Koala Inc.

This piece is based on the writer’s experience between 3 January 2020 to 13 January 2020.

Get Inspired in 2020

In preparation for taking the inspiration behind HUMAN INTONATION global, our transition into the New Year is well underway. We are excited to share Founder & Creative Director, Verneda Adele will be spending the next 10 weeks on sabbatical while traveling from Australia and New Zealand, to Tasmania and the Philippines. As we reflect on the last several years, we encourage all to make time to take stock, refocus and rekindle the fire inside yourself #befearless. We will be sharing details of our journey in the coming weeks, look forward to relaunching our website, and thank you all for an awesome 2019! See highlights here #HILOVERS

My Night with Tommy x Zendaya: A Review

Photos: Vogue

It really was the perfect setting…Harlem as our backdrop juxtaposed with the unexpected use of the courtyard behind the Apollo, both theater style seating and 2 rows of chairs on either side of the runway lining West 126th Street, where once upon a time 7th Avenue would have never thought to venture. Official New York Fashion Week has come to Harlem. 

The excitement in the air was decisive. How would the Tommy x Zendaya collaboration outdo itself? I peeked in early on parts of the collection on the #tommyxzendaya experience bus before heading to the runway, while my fellow revelers from Dapper Dan and Terry Lundgren, to the newest Real Housewives’ Garcelle Beauvais, Jeff Tweedy of my Sean John days and Tommy Hilfiger’s own Shawuan Johnson, all took our seats for the show to begin.

We were here to have fun and the second Tommy x Zendaya collection, following its stunning debut in Paris last season, brought just that to the table…FUN. Lights, music and two gospel ensembles electrified the asphalt runway as models from Ashley Graham to Winnie Harlow made their strut while channeling the energy of a Bethann Hardison, Pat Cleveland and the black models that forever changed the game at the Battle of Versailles. The collection not only built on its combination of 70s inspired separates and jumpsuits for work and play, it was a modern take on burgundies, polka dot and snakeskin, shimmery shimmers and sleek-fitting predominately (but not exclusively) womenswear celebrating women of all colors, shapes, sizes, ages, and the quintessential influence of African American culture straight out of the blaxploitation era. I loved it all.

While I’ve had my feelings about the Tommy Hilfiger brand (the 90s were a particularly rough time), I have a stronger appreciation for the purposeful work to celebrate women of color and the richness of an inter-generational representation now. We must give space for each of us to grow and increase our understanding of the greater impact of using our art and talents to contribute and improve upon society’s movement towards inclusion. The image of Zendaya dancing with Tommy as the designers took their bow is a moment to celebrate (take your moment Z!), and celebrate we did as Tommy made an appearance at the afterparty courtesy of Marcus Samuelsson’s Ginny’s Supper Club where the beat went on well into the night…like a disco.

“Don’t f*ck it up!” Pretty much the first words I ever heard come out of Philipp Plein’s mouth. The closeout to a rousing designer’s pep talk for all the models, assistant designers, hair and make-up artists, dressers, and anyone in earshot, Plein’s words fell on at least 300 people gazing back at the “king of bling” in full attention. Working backstage at Plein’s Fall

Looks from Philipp Plein Fall 2019. Photo @philipppleinofficial via Instagram

“The PHILIPP PLEIN brand and lifestyle are a tribute to the passionate individualist who transforms their innermost desires into reality, who makes a daily promise to live their dreams.” – world.philipp-plein.com/it 

2017 debut for New York Fashion Week, the scene set with fervor and excitement was the opposite of the subdued repetition of Carrie Bradshaw’s defunct wedding that runs through my mind anytime I pass the 42nd street public library. My fascination with Philipp Plein was almost immediate. Who is this dude and where the hell did he come from? But like many seemingly “overnight sensations”, I would quickly learn Philipp Plein has been on the grind some 20 years, becoming a European staple long before making waves and teleporting fashion lovers in the U.S. into the Philipp Plein Universe in ways that can only be described as nothing short of an out of body experience… in a good way that is, because the whole thing is collectively as I said, fascinating. So in short, I was late.

When I heard Plein had teamed up for his Fall 2019 show with the one person who could outdo his brand of creative madness, a performance from the one and only Kanye West, both artistic genius and a personal hero of mine in the “I don’t give a f*ck” department, I first thought there may be a great deal these two could build upon with one another. While Plein has built an international fashion powerhouse, and West would no doubt leave all previous creative collaborators with Plein in the dust, like many others, I wondered why Kanye would agree to perform at another designer’s show?… unless the cheddar was right. From reports that Plein wired upwards of $900,000 to an impostor rep of West’s, I imagine many a people would find a way to perform and keep their own brands on the burner for that amount. I certainly did not put it past Plein to pull off a performance from West. Plein is a showstopper and I’ve long stopped asking where does all this money come from, and instead choose to bask in all the ways Philipp Plein surprises and delights.

Now, back to my first impressions. Lots of shiny black, crystals and everything kissed with those unmistakable double P’s epitomizing the lifestyle for the “passionate individualist” Plein represents. I knelt down to get better leverage as it became clear the true triumph of the night would be for the models to just make it onto the runway in one piece. One of the hallmarks of the Fall 2017 collection that introduced me to the brand were several pair of thigh high sneakers with laces that wind all the way up, backed by the kind of unassuming luxury craftsmanship that brought forth soft, plush, satiny lining throughout the interior of each sneaker. The sneakers were fabulous, absolutely… and a complete nightmare to get on. While the rest of the outfit took 30 seconds, no less than twenty minutes later, with 2-3 attempts of taking the sneaker off and starting over as the lining bunched and argued with the models’ feet, models flushed and fanning themselves, shoe horns absolutely useless at this point, we got them on because that’s what you do at a fashion show, come hell or high water, just get it done. It was special to be part of that first New York show’s success, certainly putting Plein on the American map, followed by a deep red Americana themed after-party (among several) flowing with champagne, hotdogs and a few spools of cotton candy I devoured in the days before processed sugar became my biggest rival. I walked away that night thinking, this guy is FUN! But really it was just the tip of the iceberg.

All the more fascinating, I attended the Philipp Plein after-party for his Fall 2018 show a year ago at the armory inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Celebrating the collection that recaptured our hearts following a wobbly showing for Spring-Summer 2018, so determined were people to get in to this after-party I witnessed one SUV zoom past check-in behind the car in front of it ignoring the security gate slamming down on the roof of the vehicle as it went by. It was the see and be seen of the season. I walked into the space-station winter wonderland to find once again that Plein did not disappoint. As an event Executive Producer, I loved every minute of it, every detail, the ski mountain, the space ship that dominated the center of the room with lasers and lighting effects, but mostly I could not get over all the SNOW falling inside the armory. Beautiful, pillow-y, high-end snow at that (someone please tell me the production company that staged this magnificent scene?), as we mixed, mingled and chatted up with the models still in their Philipp Plein ensembles having just walked the runway moments before. The man obviously has great taste when it comes to luxury materials, and not only knows how to throw a good party (my only objection being the cocktails themselves – godawful vodka concoctions quickly forgiven from being served by extremely attractive men), but it is obvious Philipp Plein is in the business of creating memories.

As a true branding case study, piquing both my passion for fashion and the storytelling that comes through events, the expansion of Philipp Plein in the U.S. has spared no expense from the runway to store openings, and in many ways his investments have paid off with immediate return. Word travels fast. By the time I took my European tour last summer, I had been fully indoctrinated, instantly drawn to the Philipp Plein store as I explored the streets of Antwerp. Eyes beaming and several IG pics later I browsed the sparkling streetwear until I came back to earth, staring at a $800 price tag for a white body tight leotard on sale no less from its original price of $1,300. I took several seats, thanking the sales associates as I silently chronicled all the things I would do with the $800 I left safely in my bank account. Believe me I love this guy, and this brand, but I have work to do to get there…and I will get there, perhaps using this season to start a small college fund to pick up my first complete Philipp Plein look.

To all those who had doubts from this week’s Kanye fake news, I am happy Philipp Plein exceeded expectations during his 20th Anniversary show in New York City. I never doubted it would be anything less than fascinating. I believe in Plein’s resilience, that the creative visionary that has plastered his name globally would not be held down, but for me last night’s collection feels much more like the attention has been brought back to the clothes. Just beautifully made luxury fun. While “don’t f*ck it up” may have been a handy mantra to have on standby in the last few weeks leading up to Monday night, one look at Plein’s Fall 2019 collection and I got the feeling his 20th Anniversary is only the beginning. As one of my favorite color palettes to date, and I do need that “First Rodeo” fur coat with neon green scarf to match in my life, Philipp Plein will no doubt continue wowing the masses, inspiring our imagination, and pumping up our confidence to know ANYTHING is possible. So don’t be discouraged by those who want to drag you, keep that daily promise to yourself, hone your craft, and dream, dream big. As they say, all setbacks are a set-up for the ultimate comeback.

Verneda Adele White is the Founder – Creative Director of HUMAN INTONATION. For more of her writing, link: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/verneda-209

Thank you for reading our first post on “The NEW Purpose of Fashion”.