NYFW SS19 Art Hearts Fashion Domingo Zapata


Art Hearts Fashion

Domingo Zapata

Verve Fashion

                              Domingo Zapata is a Spanish artist with a fluid colorful style that is referential of the issues and comments that swirl and eddy through popular culture and current issues. Zapata has been associated with Art Hearts Fashion for a number of years, and with the canvases of leotards, white or black simple shifts, he painted words, symbols and colorful shapes that remind of where love and life exists in our world.Zapata paints on a model as she walked the runway,  to embellish work already on her muslin shift , she slides between a flamenco dancer, Nicky Jam performing, to make her way to the runway tongue in Angel Orensanz Foundation space, it is more performance art, than strictly fashion.

– Phillip Wong –

NYFW AW19 Hogan McLaughlin


Hogan McLaughlin

Verve Fashion

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - AOC - Observations

Verve Opinion

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – AOC Observations

by Phillip Wong

     I went to an event at the Langston Hughes Public Library in Queens at the invitation (general) of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


   Since she engineered a political upset of an entrenched and popular Democratic congressman in the Democratic primary, she has been a lightening rod of attraction and repulsion by those on the political left, and political right.    As a Democratic primary winner in a landslide Democratic district of New York (NY-14), she wasn’t going to be seriously challenged by any Republican, so she proceeded to support Democrats running against Republicans in Congressional Districts nationwide.

   With a high profile win, her youth (29), and her willingness to inject herself into discussions nationally, that impact both her local district, and the nation, she has become a target of attempted ridicule by Republican-led media and politicians as she has aggressively proposed a “Green New Deal,” a major reform of taxation, and immigration reform.    In theory, these are not local issues, but obviously affect every locale. In theory, she should sit in a corner and be quiet, while her elders, and established party pols lead the fight.


   Instead, local and national Right-leaning media, the New York Post newspaper, and FoxNews (national entertainment media) have dug into her past and excoriated her for dancing while she was in school at Boston University, not being seen in her district, and having too many ideas and proposals that (they say) are impractical or too upsetting to our society. (I differentiate that “they say” because no one can know how something will work, if it hasn’t been done – so the idea of excoriating someone for something that has neither succeeded or failed is, at heart, fallacious).


   I went to see what the fuss was, and got much more than I anticipated.


   The event was something organized by several local organizations: predominantly the News Story Circle and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). Both organizations have specific interests in immigration issues, but the News Story Circle was recording and collecting the stories of immigration and advocates for the organization of mostly black immigrants to lobby for their concerns.   

   The event was just getting started when I arrived late, and attendees were finding seats while Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, as they would refer to her, was still greeting and speaking to a few people. Apparently, she had been doing this for a short time. A range of people sat in chairs in a circle while other people were seated or standing around the central circle.

   Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, took a seat in the circle, as one of perhaps 25 central people. The organizations moderators outlined their goals, and what they were expecting – that a microphone would go around the circle so that anyone seated (or later, others outside the circle) could define their experiences as immigrants, black Americans or other people of color.

     The organizations’ leaders, began by reading an excerpt from Langston Hughes’ “Let America be America Again” which didn’t surprise me since we were on Langston Hughes Blvd. (a section of Northern Blvd. in Queens) and we were in the Langston Hughes library. Surprisingly, I had been carrying a book with that poem flagged when I arrived. The poem was written in 1935 but was surprising prescient in today’s world.

     Starting on one side of the circle, Dominicans, Cubans, black Americans up from families in Southern states, Haitians, Colombians, Bengladeshis, Italians and Puerto Ricans told varying stories of growing up, going to school, animosities and friendships. When the microphone rotated to Ocasio-Cortez, she dutifully took her three minutes of time to relate growing up Puerto Rican in New York, and how her mixed background (almost all Latinos in America have some mixed heritage from runaway slaves, Spanish conquerors, indigenous people from islands and Latin America) guided, influenced and nurtured her to where she was at present.    When she took the microphone, she was surprisingly shy about speaking about herself. When she defined the neighborhoods in Queens and the Bronx where she was raised, she, like many others, referred to local schools, buildings, places that varying people knew. She didn’t expound into other areas, and when she finished, she handed the microphone to the next person in the circle. Several people, in speaking, referred to her with pride and gratitude for bringing attention to their little slice of America. A few mentioned her public statements and stances, but all worked hard to follow the rules.    There were stories by speakers of being assaulted and doubted by police in upstate universities, growing up gay and Dominican in Washington Heights and growing up politically active in parts of the Bronx or in Queens. She listened to all stories with care.

   What did I see with this national lightening rod? Surprisingly, I saw a small, energetic woman who actually paid attention to the people in front of her. She listened without succumbing to distraction, looked at speakers, focused on what they were saying. She laughed with them when they were deprecating, was embarrassed when they praised her, and when the event was over, spent almost another hour, greeting, one-by-one, people who knew her, knew people she knew, just wanted a selfies with her, and just wanted thank or hug her. I was amazed at how many people she actually hugged. I was amazed that she spent so much time actually looking at each person and listening to their snippets of concerns.    I was behind her and around her for almost the entire time watching, shooting, listening and saw grade school, high school and college kids come to tell her stories and each one, she hugged, listened to and thanked.

   As a local event, there was a band playing comprised of four women in their 50s and some people dancing and at the back of the room, a local children’s organization that had won a local trophy. After a long period of working through the people who wanted to talk to her, she made her way to the kids who were dancing and playing around. In a sea of blue t-shirts (their organization’s shirts), she high fived them and then someone organized them for a photograph. Afterwards, a girl who looked about 15, greeted her and they had a small discussion for several minutes. Her focus was entirely on that girl.

   Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be a symbol of a new Democratic Party, or of Democratic Socialism. She may be feared for her outspokenness by all parts of the Republican Party, the Conservative media or even more moderate Democrats. Her proposals may be derided by established voices on the Right, but over the course of three hours, I had the opportunity to see, and understand, why she got elected, what makes her effective and how beloved she is by the people who elected her. The level of her caring and connection with people who she SHOULD be caring for, and fighting for and representing, runs extremely deep.


   Yes, she’s a freshman representative from a small part of both New York and the country, but she is facing people who don’t answer their phones, won’t meet with local, state or national constituencies, who hide both from criticism and support. Who’s sole goals are to make money, and make money faster. And make more money. They don’t have time for constituents either on the right, nor the left. For far too many politicians, it is simply, and solely, the Art of the Deal.

Cycles and Geometry

Verve Opinion

Cycles and Geometry

by Phillip Wong

Originally published 9/30/93

       In a time of powerful political and economic debate, we pulled up some of the arguments written in the 1990s concerning income inequality, a volatile and deregulated financial industry, and movement of jobs throughout American Society.    At Verve Fashion Magazine, an integral part of our purpose, is our focus on how America because of it’s wealth, and political, and economic culture, creates a standard which influences the rest of the world, either negatively or positively. Fashion tastes are defined in American music, film, fashion and beauty, but so are our political and economic tastes.

   The following essay was written in September of 1993.

The idea of a cyclical economy only works if adjustments, sometimes minor and sometimes major, are made during the cycle. All objects, whether physical or spiritual or intellectual can only spin in a cycle if it has either internal or external constraints to maintain the position of a cycle. For instance, the constraint of the cycle with which the earth makes around the sun, is gravity.


Our economy is not cyclical, unless something besides wishful thinking is applied to constraining it. Without direction or control, too many factors that effect the economy encourage the economy in a direction of geometric progression, rather than a gradually climbing cycle of economic growth.

If free market economists embrace the idea that an economy that is untethered and absolutely free will find its own waterline, they must also realize that the final controls will occur when too many have suffered. If a forest fire is left to burn, it will stop burning … after it has consumed everything it can consume.


Among   the factors that affect the economy are unemployment, which is not cyclical, but geometric. This is not a nation of migrant workers moving from season to season and from farm to farm in an eternal cycle. When the defense industry, the airline industry, to financial industry lay people off, these people are not going to find other defense industry jobs, or other airline industry jobs, or other financial industry jobs. There are no more jobs in these fields and unless they are retrained to work in another growth industry, they cannot work. The new industries will take young, cheap, malleable, college graduates to open up new territories, not experienced   technicians.



AIDs is not cyclical, but geometric. As more and more people contract HIV, it will put a greater and greater strain on the medical and health care industries. Yet the health care industries are already bloated with financial burdens. Each of the competing health care companies that are sold on the stock exchanges are concerned not with allocation of monies for research and development, but with showing the highest profit margins so that they can attract more “investors.” And the cost of medical care is growing geometrically … not in growth cycles.



Financial institutions are absolutely reliant on one another. There isn’t a single bank in the nation that is not entwined with savings and loan institutions, pension funds, stock, bond and real estate holdings, insurance companies. Yet so much of the deregulation of the financial community has encouraged those institutions to seek the highest profitablity, rather than the greater sustained and stable growth. The pursuit of short – term gain, when unchecked, is not cyclical, but geometric. As the savings and loan associations have tumbled, they have put great strain upon other savings and loan associations, other banks, other real estate companies, other insurance companies, and on a government which has implicitly vowed to insure them. If banks or insurance companies begin to fail, they do noes, and on a government which has implicitly vowed to insure them. If banks or insurance companies begin to fail, they do not faˇˇ

il cyclically, but geometrically. One takes down the next and the next and the next.



Our budget deficit, left on its own, is not not cyclical, but geometric. Interest rates, just by their nature, are not cyclical, but geometric. The debts are either retired geometrically, or they increase geometrically.



Our moral attitudes, which have nothing to do with our private lives, but much to do with our tolerance, our caring and our respect for our fellow man, is not cyclical, but left unchecked, is geometric. Our civil rights, our religious rights, our individual rights, our rights of choice and not to chose, are all geometric. Intolerance grows geometrically, just as tolerance grows geometrically.


Violence, unchecked, is not cyclical, but geometric. It only ends when all are dead or gone.




New York Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2019

Verve Fashion Magazine

Attended . . . Observed . . . Photographed

New York Fashion Week . . . Autumn/Winter 2019

New York Fashion Week S/S 19

Verve Fashion Magazine

Sun, Sand and Sequins

New York Fashion Week . . . Spring/Summer 2019

Verve Fashion

           In Spring/Summer 2019, the designers that presented inspired collections, thoughtful construction and artistry glowed like fireflies on a warm summer night. They lit up in surprising ways, in unexpected places and sometimes, you knew that it was going to happen.      It is always interesting to see designers evolve and shift from season to season, from collection to collection and while great designers can produce not-so-great work, the explore risks and keep coming back with something else.


   Calvin Luo, Marcel Ostertag, Just In XXX, Toaray Wang, Candice Cuoco produced strong lines with coherent themes, beautiful construction and vision. Group shows presented by Council of Aspiring American Designers (CAAFD) and Art Hearts Fashion, presented designer collections of greater variance. They give a platform for designers who can be superb, or excellent, or good, with varying degrees of depth to the lines. Because the designer has to invest in design, fabric, construction, labor, before flying to New York to even show, some of the lines are understandably small.

   Designers like Bad Sisters at Art Hearts Fashion, Helena Bajaj-Larsen and Mouton Blanc at the CAAFD stood out in small collections for their intricate work with fabrics combined with a vision of the body as a living canvas.


   The work of these organizers and producers of group shows is invaluable to the design community.


   Fashion industries in Britain, France, Italy, Germany, China, Japan, Korea, Turkey, are all built using these group show concepts. Verve Fashion Magazine is committed to seeing as much as possible and both photographing and commenting on the work of designers.   

   The fashion industry is an industry highly dependent on community. Like the production of a film which is dependent on craftspeople, artists, performers and marketing, the fashion industry is dependent on the fabricators, the quantities available, the craftspeople, the performer/presenters and the marketing.    While an industry can complain about money, price-point, distribution, and sales, the fact is, as emphasis presses more and more on the bottom line, the inspiration, creativity and element of risk is squeezed out of designers and leaves the wearing market uninspired.

   Unlike industries like cars and homes and movies, fashion and food are constant. They are purchased, loved, needed, wanted and desired by everyone. Everywhere, Always.    So the question is: what is the difference between a t-shirt and another shirt? If a dress, or top, or piece doesn’t inspire anything greater than absolute need, than uninspired audiences will opt for the cheapest, most basic, un-identifying option.


   All money looks the same. Maybe it comes from corrupt thieves, or from hard work, but ultimately, it looks the same. When we sell something, we can’t tell where the money comes from, but when we see how it is spent, we see patterns. Corrupt thieves waste money, people who work hard for their money, don’t. They recognize (actually they feel) the con, the lack of inspiration, feeling and desire the relationship. It IS their life. It relates to their lives. It gives their whole life meaning.

      People who buy brands easily, came onto their money easily. People who buy value, value the money they are spending. If we are seeking a market of easy spending, focusing on selling a brand, than we are ignoring a market that gradually turns their back on the lack of value.    I see Tommy Hilfiger branded t-shirts sold in souks in Marrakech, and branded items sold for a dolla on the street in Washington Heights. The value becomes the name alone, and designers who struggle to get a simple, but thoughtfully constructed dress, can’t either get it sold for value, or seen by anyone on the street.

– Phillip Wong –

NYFW SS19 - Marcel Ostertag
NYFW SS19 - Just In XX
NYFW SS19 - Calvin Luo
NYFW SS19 C+Series
NYFW SS19 - Pin-Up Stars
NYFW SS19 - La Piacentini
NYFW SS19 - Candice Cuoco
NYFW SS19 - Black Tape Project
NYFW SS19 - Anyi
NYFW SS19 - Yufash
NYFW SS19 Thunyatorn
NYFW SS19 - Patricia Wijaya
NYFW SS19 - A Modo Mio
NYFW SS19 - Topping Design
NYFW SS19 - Fernando Alberto Atelier
NYFW SS19 - 21 Reasons Why
NYFW SS19 - Argyle Grant
NYFW SS19 - Lila Nikole
NYFW SS19 - Mister Triple X
NYFW SS19 - Burning Guitars
NYFW SS19 - Amal Azhari
NYFW SS19 - Sania Studio
NYFW SS19 - Helena Bijaj-Larsen
NYFW SS19 - Bad Sisters
NYFW SS19 - Domingo Zapata
NYFW SS19 - Ruth Zabetta
NYFW SS19 - TaoRay Wang
NYFW SS19 - Mouton Blanc
NYFW SS19 - Atelier Nicola D'Errico