Scene: Margie Plus at the night launch party of Universal Standard x Danielle Brooks Tria Collection. The recent events in SoHo were sponsored by Red Sea Ventures and started in the morning with a panel discussion with Danielle Brooks and Universal Standard co-founder Alex Waldman, moderated by CBS This Morning co-anchor Gayle King. They talked about the collaboration, the future of fashion, and the body positivity movement. Danielle Brooks is best known for her role as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, and for her Tony Award-nominated portrayal of Sofia in the 2015 Broadway production of The Color Purple. She recently wrapped production on Sadie, an independent film from Writer/Director Megan Griffiths opposite Melanie Lynskey.
Universal Standard co-founders Polina Veksler and Alexandra Waldman had become tired of the established fashion standard; size had become the dividing line determining who had the privilege and freedom to dress with quality and style. Driven to solve this problem, they launched Universal Standard in September 2015, a direct-to-consumer brand for women size 10 – 28. Starting with the premise that clothes should look and feel good, they created a line of modern elevated essentials, giving women a new standard in style.
Scene: Gayle King, co-anchor of CBS This Morning, Danielle Brooks, actress, singer, model, and fashion designer, and co-founder Alex Waldman of Universal Standard.
Scene: The press, editors, clients, and guests. Co-founder Polina Veksler of Universal Standard standing by the USxDB Tria Collection.
Scene: Gayle King and Danielle Brooks.
Scene: Audience at the morning discussion.
Scene and Heard: Excerpts from my interview with Alex Waldman and Danielle Brooks —
What are three of your favorite items in your closet, Danielle? You’re looking at them because I got to design them. I always wanted an off the shoulder dress that I could make into a mini, a pair of overalls that were feminine and fit my body perfectly in my hips and waist, and something unique that anybody who saw me in the street would ask where did you get that.
Fashion designers, past and present. Alex, do any appeal to you and/or are you inspired by them? All of them! Inspired by people who started their own direction especially at the turn of global events like Dior when he created post war fashion that was super feminine and very pretty because he knew women wanted and were ready for it after the austerity of the war years. I love Rei Kawakubo for doing something completely original with Comme des Garçons, not being afraid to work shapes into clothing that are not in any way influenced by the body. And Calvin Klien for coming up with that perfect American minimalism.
What inspires you in life, Danielle? People, the behaviors of people that’s why I do what I do. The good and bad. I read these horrific stories that inspire me to make sure that I use my art to hopefully help someone. I feel that art is a healing thing… it’s a powerful tool to help us get our stuff together. I’m also inspired by people who go above and beyond in this world. People in leadership positions — seeing how well the career of Tracee Ellis Ross has been, watching Michelle Obama as a first lady has inspired me to continue to do good work. It’s a balance of both. The negative reminds me that there’s so much more work to do. I think even being a part of United Standard is showing young girls that look like me or relate to me that they can pursue whatever they have aspirations to do.
What inspires you in life, Alex? The people that I love — maybe a little bit of a clique answer, but it’s true. I’m inspired by beauty which can be in almost anything. I love the concept of Wabi Sabi which is like the beauty of ugliness, the idea of imperminence of beauty. When something has a crack or a chip in it, it can actually enhance it and make it more beautiful. There is so much to look at… take anything but not my eye sight, because it’s such a source of pleasure for me to delve into anything from patterns to colors to starkness. I just absolutely love it.
What’s your take on street style, Danielle? It’s personal. I grew up in Greenville, South Carolina where there wasn’t any street style. There weren’t many options to shop for clothing. Once I came to New York and walked the streets, I was like, wow! This is the place where people can express themselves and how they feel and do it uniquely. I come from a very traditional and conservative place, everybody kind of wears the same thing, So, when I got here and saw people rocking their swag that inspired me to actually step out of the box a little bit and try new things.
What do you define fashion as, Alex? Fashion is a visual reflection of who you want people to think you are. I think it’s kind of an armor we take into the world with us, it’s a lot of things. But over and above everything else it’s a language that speaks which we actually tell people about ourselves.
Scene: Guest at the morning discussion.
Scene: Heidi Kan.
Scene: Quinn C. Ford.
Scene: Polina Veksler and Guest.
Scene: Polina Veksler, co-founder of Universal Standard, Gayle King, co-anchor of CBS This Morning, Danielle Brooks, actress, singer, model, and fashion designer, and co-founder Alex Waldman of Universal Standard.
Scene: Gayle King leaves the morning scene.
Scene: Yahdon Israel arrives at the night launch party of USxDB Tria Collection in SoHo.
Scene: Yemi Adewunmi, Yanece, and Amanda Wilson at the launch party.
Scene: Aileen Leung and Michelle Blous at the launch party.
Scene: Gustavo Gutille and Quinn C. Ford at the launch party.
Scene: Kristen Martin.
Scene: Jermaine Jagger.
Scene: Rodney Richardson and Emily Jones.
Scene: Jari Jones.
Scene: Denise Bidot, Joselyn Adams, and Anastasia Garcia.
Scene: Kate Carroll with moms Kelli Carroll and Christine Nelson.
Scene: Mom and daughter, Qiana and Adaku Aharanna.
Scene: Jae Rich.
Scene: Daughter and mom, Georgia and Karen Pratt.
Scene: Nora Whelan.
Scene: Fatou DjNyla Sampson and Simone Missick.
Scene: Ji and Mina.
Scene: Alex Kasavin and Jenesee Utley.
Scene: Julie Henderson.
Scene: Troy Solomon.
Scene: Alex Larosa and Saran Chiwaya.
Scene: Ray Fernandez, Amy Ernest, and Michael Patterson.
Scene: Quan Michelle, Lauren Delarato, Anna Laura, and Brooke K. Rodriguez.
Scene: Malik and Madeleine.
Scene: Lauren Preston, Emily Kammeyer, Leah Snow, and Guests
Scene: Michela Bracich and Madison Elliott.
Scene: Mayuran Tiruchelvam and Lindsi Fisher.
Scene: Quinn C. Ford and Terry Doe wearing Day Birger Et Mikkelsen.
Scene: Reuben Reuel and Allyson Dia.
Scene: Teyonah in Houndstooth cape.
Scene: Marko Hurst and Michael Botefuhr.
Scene: Solomon Babani and Kate Carroll.
Scene: Rachel Bekkerman and Guest.
Scene: Jessica Miller.
Scene: Check it out.