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Czar's Palace
  • Czar's Palace: Baggage Claim

    I have a lot of baggage, and you may as well or know of someone who has.  The “baggage” I am referring to is not to be misconstrued with being emotionally damaged, but rather designer leather goods. Possessing designer accessories today is more than just for function; it is a lifestyle, a status quo, a right of passage in the luxury world. Before getting my hands or the funds to acquire designer pieces, I always had a deep appreciation for the aesthetics of leather goods as a whole. I always felt that having a strong leather piece was a statement to elevate a look and make it completely cohesive.

    In the late 80's and early millennium the state of leather goods were mainly focused on women. Ladies always want to travel in style, whether its for work or leisure. The handbag a female travels with on a certain day is one of the main accessories that make her outfit cohesive. Designers put a lot of thought, and study the market, dissecting what exactly a woman looks for when purchasing a handbag; innovative colors and shapes, even small details like hardware.  They also take in consideration how the modern woman is shaping the world. This same approach is now being delivered to the male demographic.

    Observing the fashion industry today, no one can negate the fact that it is a multi-billion dollar machine. Now I know you’re thinking, "What is your point with the baggage claim statement?" Afore mentioned, I pointed out that women (for obvious reasons) like to travel in style.  Men have also hit that plateau of becoming more fashion conscious and are more eager to travel in style as well. In the past decade, huge fashion houses focused on leather goods as the entry product for both male and female consumers to the luxury goods market. Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Hermés, Christian Dior, Saint Laurent, Céline, Bottega Venetta, Prada, Valentino, Chanel, Balenciaga, Fendi, Gucci, and Goyard have all noticed that leather goods make up probably between 60-80% of their business (with the exception of Goyard because they are exclusively focused on leather goods) and will create them catering to the growing market and ever changing demographic. There is no piece that is specifically for one or the other. Both men and women have the options of duffle bags, briefcases, city bags, wallets, clutches, etc. Their worlds have meshed making the category of leather goods a very important factor for not only fashion houses but also for today's fashion explorers.

    When walking in major cities of the world you will most likely see the modern day Fashionista handling their luxury leather goods. We listen to the music that we do because it connects with us.  This also applies when a consumer acquires a luxury piece from any of the high-end labels I mentioned prior because they want to feel connected and affiliated to the brand. One can purchase a random leather good from a boutique that is relatively affordable and durable. However, the men and women of today care more than ever about the way they look.  Even to the smallest detail like a wallet!

    If you are thinking about acquiring a piece, do some research first and see what brand connects to your personality, lifestyle and most importantly wardrobe. I guess having baggage does not always have to be a bad thing.

    Written By: Delroy Smith

    Edited By: Frendy Lemorin

  • Czar's Palace: Closet Freak

    "What goes through your mind?" is the constant question asked when people see an outfit I've put together. Honestly, it is second nature to me. From choosing patterns, fabrics, color, shoes, and accessories I suddenly dive into a world where I can create characters through clothing. This is one of the symptoms to being a "Closet Freak". 

     Closet freaks are individuals that envision endless possibilities when cultivating a look.  I remember my mother's closet growing up!  It was filled and draped with pieces that were all so different. Items that had lace, leather, velvet, oversized buttons, interesting shapes, cuts, beading, and prints. All nipped, folded, hung, and tucked away in solitary confinement. Her dresser also contained an assortment of jewelry (so did my grandmother's). I always wondered how could anyone wear all of this at once and where can one find these unique and extraordinary pieces. As I grew older, I really didn't have a concept of matching or pairing things together. Recollecting my mother and grandmother's broad range of taste, I figured that there was no rule to piecing an outfit together; anything goes. That is when I initially became a closet freak.

    Going to school was difficult at times. I was picked on because I acted & spoke differently.  Furthermore, my interests were far less normal than that of a pre-teen. I enjoyed sketching, writing poetry, indulging myself in books (mostly fiction, poetry, art, and the encyclopedia). When it was time to dress for an occasion, my mother would let me pick out whatever I wanted to wear. My first complimented outfit was when I was graduating from elementary school P.S.221. The Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was conducting the ceremony and he singled me out in front of the entire graduating class and told the audience that I was the best dressed there. That day I remembered wearing a pair of denim that consisted of 3M detailing on each side of the pants, with a white shirt and African tribal printed vest. All the other boys were polished in their "generic go-to" black, navy, gray, 2 to 3 pieces suiting. This is when I knew that following my gut instinct at a young age, and expressing myself was my way of fitting into the world.

     I grew up in a single parent home along with my grandmother and 2 siblings.  We did not have much, but we weren’t severely poor. My mom worked extremely hard trying to give us the very best. We had dressers that were handed down to us and unfortunately alot of our garments could not fit in them.  There was no other choice but to keep our belongings in oversized containers and huge bags. I didn't mind that all because to me it was a treasure chest!  All kinds of colors and fabrics were mixed in. It was like breaking a combination code to a safe.  You pair all the possibilities together until you hear the infamous click; and that was what I did. I maneuvered around my clothing, creating looks that boys my age in my hood wouldn't dare do. Modifying looks seen in the encyclopedia from different cultures, stealing and accepting pieces as hand-me-downs from my mother or grandmother's closet and making it my own. Even viewing pictures of my deceased father. I analyzed the way he dressed and made it a part of my style. My mom at first did not understand or approve of my unorthodox way of dressing but she slowly became used to it. And the more she did, the more daring I became. 

     Years have gone by and I have constantly enhanced my style. Some people think that I go to the extreme to be noticed but it's all really about comfort.  Bill Cunningham in the Style section of the New York Times has photographed me more than 15 times. I was also placed in an underground fashion blog magazine in Paris and one here in New York where my photos received over a hundred thousand views worldwide.  Those achievements gave me the opportunity to network with tons of individuals in the fashion industry.

    I see personal style and fashion as an emotion; a closet freak always sees their world in such a manner, which at times may seem chaotic.  There is a method to our madness though. It is inevitable that closet freaks will always take full advantage of inspiration from past and present experiences, music, art, culture, even forgotten pieces from others that somehow found a home in their closet. It is also to be expected that the world will stare at us on the subway, streets, and turn their nose up because we chose to never tone down. However, I will always wear my art on my sleeves, shoes, and fingers. It is part of my DNA. The decision to be a closet freak allowed the exploration of self, which made me realize my purpose.  My closet is an escape where I can execute, change, create and conquer my thoughts and make it reality.

    Written By: Delroy Smith

    Edited By: Frendy Lemorin

    Photographed By: Sir Shane Miller

  • Czar's Palace: Gender Bender

    Past and present pop culture icons like Grace Jones, Prince, Pharrell Williams, The Eurythmics (Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart), Lenny Kravitz, David Bowie, Marc Jacobs, Rihanna, Elton John, Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, and Alexander McQueen all have paved a way of their own...but what exactly made them stand out? Besides possessing a uniquely creative talent, the uncanny ability to transform anything worn into a trend has made these individuals virtually unstoppable.

    You may be asking yourself why did I name this article "Gender Bender"?  I want my audience to know that clothing bears no gender. The garments that we see on the catwalk, as well as on store racks display the art form conveyed from the designer's eye. The pop culture figures afore mentioned are icons in my opinion because they continuously push the envelope in the fashion realm. Each of them embody the art of constructing a character that is unable to be replicated; pushing boundaries, and daring to embrace a form that may seem taboo to many.

    Take Prince for example. This man possess enough swag to walk in heels and peasant blouses that most men would not even consider if they saw it on a rack. Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics, sported a masculine haircut during her earlier years on the charts, pairing that hairdo with a well tailored mens suit. Her look may have been androgynous and deemed anything but feminine. Nevertheless, she softened her apparance with dramatic makeup.

    All of these other individuals that I have mentioned in my opinion set high standards in a rare art form in the fashion world. Now I know that I am guilty for not mentioning a few well-known entertainers and that may be because they have slipped my mind. Then there are the names I purposely did not mention (I will tell you why in a few). Let me first dig deeper into the topic of "Gender Bender". In the world that we live in, it seems necessary to put a label on everything. Either you are black,white, gay, straight, male, female or any other classification.  If a man decides to wear a skirt/kilt, leggings, or a cropped t-shirt he should not feel be boxed into a category as being homosexual. If a woman decides to have a buzz cut and adds men's clothing to her wardrobe, she is labeled as being interested in women. In my opinion, when you explore unknown territory it heightens experience and you become more acclimated. I have shopped in the women's section or in stores that catered only to women and found gems that have been added to my collection. By all means I am not insinuating that this is for everyone, and I most certainly not dictating what you should be doing while shopping. I am just simply stating that this is something that you can look into, if you feel comfortable doing so.

    There are big names that I failed to mention like I said before because they must have slipped my mind. Then there are names that I did not mention because personally they were not right for this category. Take Kanye West for example. He is a visionary, an artist in his own right, and an amazing lyricist. In addition to that I am not taking away from the fact that he has a great sense of style. However, he does not take risks in his wardrobe or "bends" the rules in his appearance.  Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, I want to make this very clear that I do not expect every individual to be the next Prince, Alexander McQueen, or Lenny Kravitz because I respect everyone's personal decisions. However, just because one may pair Balmain biker denim with a Givenchy leather sweater and an A.P.C. camel overcoat does not make him/her in the leading pack with those that destroy rules and create looks that are totally unconventional. I admire individuals that create breath taking aesthetics. We weren't meant to occupy the same fashion lane. Some of us may be simpler than others and I honor every decision.

    Do not judge anyone based on appearance. It could be that they looked up to one of the individuals that I mentioned and maybe one day be influencial to the world. Remember, clothing are constructed fabrics without specific gender targets. They are just finished pieces of art that the designer wants the world to appreciate.

    Written By: Delroy Smith

    Edited By: Frendy Lemorin

    Photographed By: Shane Miller

  • Czar's Palace: The Introduction

    The world we live in today operates by laws and imaginary boundaries that cannot be surpassed unless we have specific documentation. Personally, I believe today’s fashion is veering off into a political realm. Patterns, colors, fabrics, styles that should have been "done away with" are being judged by "fashion figures" who sit in their "fashionable oval office" feeding consumers what to wear. My name is Delroy Smith, and I am here to tell you “no more!”.

     I created this portion on the site with the help of my brother Frendy Lemorin and skilled photographer Shane Miller. The reason I named it Czar's Palace is because I think of my closet as a palace hosting many different pieces dear to me.  The garments are collections of clothing that I found during my trips or gifts from friends who traveled around the world. Other pieces that I own are simply created by me. My style has evolved over the years because of the inspiration from my culture (others as well). My mother is from Suriname (deep rooted in African History), my Father from Jamaica, Grandmother from Guyana, and Great Grandparents originating from China.

     I want my audience to know whether male or female, fashionista, or completely blind to style that they can create a character that’ll stay with them for a moment or even a lifetime. Do not limit yourself with rules. It's not how big of a step one takes to create or alter a look. As long as the will is there. It may be adding more color, going for a more tailored aesthetic, spicing up your street style, or making accessorizing more accessible in your wardrobe.  Just do it!

    Written By: Delroy Smith

    Edited By: Frendy Lemorin

    Photographed By: Shane Miller