There is something to be said about the power of playing dress up in your parent’s closet. For Kensington resident, Shelly Samuel, that power came in the form of a pair of red strap sandals her mother owned. “They were so pretty and sophisticated,” Shelly recalls while showing me the first two looks of our shoot. “I felt as though they were speaking to me.” Her mother worked at Saks Fifth Avenue— and while Shelly admits that it was her youthful imagination that told her to try her mother’s shoes on, you will see that the audacity to imagine is the prerequisite for the life Shelly ultimately lives. Shelly’s life is one that enables her to maintain a career, work on a new one, and preserve the gift her mother gave her when she was five: a closet that emboldens her imagination while embracing reality.
LOOK 1: “GIRLS NIGHT OUT”
ON FIRST LOOK:
“This look is something I would wear out to a rooftop lounge on a Friday night with my girlfriends. It’s a fun, casual look but the boots add just the right amount of sexiness to bring it together for the ‘Zsa Zsa Zsu.'”
ON WHAT STYLE MEANS TO HER:
“I like to say my style is Urban Chic with a touch of class and glamour. Style is an expression of mood. It changes as you evolve. I like to stay true to who I am when I dress. You have to dress for you, and your body type. Be confident & comfortable in what you wear. Do it for you- never for anyone else.”
Brooklyn is my one true love. It’s home. It’s where I can be myself, Be vulnerable, laugh, play, and feel the safest. This beautiful borough made me street smart, taught me how to love hard and constantly reminds me to never take kindness for weakness.
ON WHERE SHE DRAWS INSPIRATION:
“Diane Von Furstenberg is one of my biggest influences because she empowers women in many ways besides fashion. She is on the board of Vital Voices, a non-governmental organization that supports female leaders and entrepreneurs around the world. The intricate attention to detail is by far one of the best I’ve ever experienced.
I also love Toyin Ojih Odutola. Her work is AMAZING! She focuses on the sociopolitical construct of skin color through her artwork. I am drawn to her work because her images speak to me about the difficulty of being a black woman in society, no matter how far people might think we have come in this world. Art helped her embrace her identity and to be proud of it without being apologetic, and I feel that is how we all should feel about who we are as people of color.”
LOOK 2: “CASUAL CHIC”
SHOES: Sophia Webster
JEWELRY: Jewel House Junkies
ON SECOND LOOK:
“I would wear this to dinner with my significant other to my favorite restaurant, Buddakan. The outfit is simple and comfortable because the shoes are the statement piece.”
ON FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP IN BROOKLYN:
“Nordstrom Rack, H &M, and a lot of boutiques along Court St. and Atlantic Avenue—Something Else on 5th Avenue between Union & Sackett; Shop Our Closet that’s on Court St. between Sackett & Degraw Street; and Kaight that’s on Atlantic Ave Between Bond & Hoyt.”
ON HER SOPHIA WEBSTER BUTTERFLY SANDALS:
“My favorite piece is my Sophia Webster Chiara Butterfly Sandals. I remember seeing the shoes on Instagram and it was love at first sight! I didn’t know how I was going to get them but I knew I would because I am a determined person. Every year, for my birthday and Christmas I treat myself to two expensive items so when my birthday rolled around in 2015, I decided that the shoes would be my birthday gift from me to me.
The joy and excitement when I received my shoes was indescribable. I was like a kid in a candy store. The colors were so vibrant. The craftsmanship was impeccable & the details of the butterfly wing made be believe I could fly. The first time I wore them was to my boyfriend’s birthday dinner at Zuma and needless to say I stole the show. To this day they’re still a show stopper and I love them!”
LOOK 3: “URBAN CARRIE”
BRACELET: Banana Republic &
ON THE THIRD LOOK:
“This look is my version of Sex and The City with an urban twist. It’s a jacket that I wear as a dress and the furry high heels with the globe shaped bag makes it Carrie approved! It can be worn as either a daytime or nighttime look.”
ON BIGGEST STYLE MISTAKE:
“I remember wearing a silk jumpsuit that wasn’t tailored properly to a wedding. I looked like I was wearing someone else’s outfit. It wasn’t until I saw the pictures that I realized that I looked ridiculous. Note to self: always make sure your clothes fit properly!”
ON WHAT SHE WOULD BUY IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT:
“I would buy a house just for my shoes, bags & clothes. It would be my own personal mall.”
“Shoegal4ever is a fashion platform that will present designers and photographers to the public through one on one interviews & events. It will showcase what it takes to bring a product to life by going behind the scenes, allowing viewers to get a personal connection with collections, and the ins and outs of building a successful brand.”