Attending Essence magazine’s private luncheon for Olympian Gold Medalists at The Lamb’s Club: Actress Tasha Smith, Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross, Essence editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White, Olympian Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix, celebrity stylist June Ambrose (Photo Chris Franko)

*On Monday, September 20, 2012, Essence, the preeminent lifestyles publication for African American women, hosted an exclusive luncheon for a terrific trio of Olympic gold medalists — Sanya Richards-Ross, Carmelita Jeter, Allyson Felix — in The Club Room at The Lamb’s Club located at 132 West 44th Street, New York City, during New York Fashion Week.

The invitational-only event celebrated the accomplishments of the triumphant Olympians and was hosted by Essence editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White who looked stylishly smashing in an original Byron Lars custom-made black lace dress.  White welcomed the amazing trio expressing how thrilled and proud she was.  “On behalf of over 8 million subscribers and digital readers, Essence would like to tell you how proud we are of you,” stated White.  “Your accomplishments at the Olympics have empowered many young women and made us all proud.”

She then introduced the honorees.  Felix thanked Essence for helping them celebrate and share in the glory.  “I just want to thank everyone for their prayers,” she said.  “My heart is filled with gratitude.”

In her appreciation remarks, Jeter explained the importance of being recognized by Essence.  “It is so hard for women in track and field to get the press they deserve.”  She thanked Essence for the support that she will never forget and for making their fashion shoot so beautiful.  “I almost didn’t recognize us.”

Lastly, Richards-Ross thanked Essence for helping her realize her dream at the Olympics.  She spoke of her personal relationship with White and how White had mentored her assuring her that she could do anything that she set her mind to.  “It’s my plan to empower the next generation,” stated Richards-Ross.  “I will continue to kick down and open doors as you have done for me.”

White also introduced some of her key staff members and acknowledged that the ladies will be featured in the November issue of Essence magazine.  “I’m so proud of this issue and the hard work that our staff put into it.  The issue is so well done that we could easily issue an Essence sports magazine,” she mused to the delightful laughter of the crowd.

White closed the program by surprising the Olympians with the news that designer Byron Lars will be designing a dress for each of them.  The ladies swooned.  Now they can say they’ve won a fashion medal too!

After the program, lunched prepared by chef/partner Geoffrey Zakarian, was served along with expensive white and red wine.  Guests lunched on Appetizers: Lambs Club salad (bitter & soft greens, endive, apple, tarragon vinaigrette); or shrimp cocktail (smoked pepper cocktail sauce, mignonette); Entrees: chicken paillard (Belgian endive, arugula, radicchio trevisano); or slow roasted halibut (Swiss chard, sweet carrots, buerre rouge); or house-made gemelli (corn, mushrooms, tarragon, parmesan); and Desserts: panna cotta (vanilla pudding, fresh berries); or apple crisp (dulce de leche, Tahitian vanilla anglaise).

Socialite Kathryn Chenault’s (second right) private reception for designer b michael (third left) at her luxurious Fifth Avenue home attracted Macy’s Chairman, CEO & President Terry Lundgren and his wife Tina Lundgren and models wearing b michael America Red RTW Collection (Photo by Julie Skarratt)

Macy’s president attends launch of b michael America Red RTW collection

*You know you’ve arrived when the chairman, president & chief executive officer comes from his executive suite to welcome you to the world’s legendary department store Macy’s at Herald Square on one of the busiest nights in fashion.  This is just what happened when Terry J. Lundgren surprised shoppers and VIP guests who attended the launch of the new b michael America Red Ready-To-Wear collection at the world’s iconic department story in Herald Square on the fourth annual Fashion Night Out on Thursday evening, September 6, 2012.

This was an exciting evening for scores of fashionistas who heard about what was going on in the designer’s area on the fourth floor and rushed up to take part in the fabulous evening filled with fashion, food folks and fun.  This exceptional party featured models rotating on raised platforms in fashions from the b michael America Red RTW collection.  Early shoppers got more than they bargained for when they got a glimpse of Lundgren.

Lundgren, under the watchful eye of a couple of burly bodyguards, was greeted like a rock star as he thanked shoppers for shopping at Macy’s and attending the launch of this stellar collection.  And as chamber music played and pristine waiters served champagne and finger food shoppers got busy buying items from the designer’s affordable ready-to-wear collection patterned behind his couture collection with prices ranging from $155 to $400.

b michael, who arrived with his BFF Cicely Tyson and Mark-Anthony Edwards, co-founder, CEO, media relations, b michael America, is known for his sophisticated timeless designs and clean aesthetic and many notables from his A-1 client list attended the event.  The elegant sip and shop launch also attracted socialite and philanthropist Kathryn Chenault, wife of Ken Chenault, CEO, American Express who was one of the first to host a champagne reception at her beautiful Fifth Avenue home for her favorite designer b michael when the line officially hit Macy’s stores nationwide in August 2012.

Chenault greeted her dressed to the nines friends that included Lundgren and his beautiful wife Tina wearing a rose cobra textured silk-faced wool from the b michael America Couture RTW collection.  b michael Couture designs are synonymous with sophisticated timeless fashion and visual beauty and are highly sought after worldwide and are worn by the who’s who of stage, screen, sports and socialites including Chenault, Cicely Tyson, Dina Merrill, Tamara Tunie, Lena Horne, Alicia Bythewood, Nancy Wilson, Lynn Whitfield, Myrna Colley-Lee, Eunice Johnson, Rhonda Ross, Angela Bassett, Beyonce and Nancy Wilson who donated one of the designer’s couture gowns to the Smithsonian.  Not too many designers have that distinction!

The reason why b michael is so loved by all women is that even women who could not afford him respect how his designs made real women look like reel women — always stylishly glamorous with deliberate touches of femininity.  For these ladies, there was always that glimmer of hope that one day they too would have a b michael in their closet.  No longer is this the impossible dream with the highly anticipated launch of the affordable luxury RTW collection of traditional dress and jacket ensembles under the label b michael America Red that will be Made In AMERICA.

“I am excited by the opportunity to share my point of view of Advanced American Style with a broader audience.  We are especially pleased to have Macy’s as the retailer to launch the collection — the quintessential American Department Store,” stated b michael.

Priced between $155 and $400 the collection features dresses, some with sleek jacket options that seamlessly transition from daytime to evening.  The red hot collection showcases the acclaimed designer’s signature haute-couture style, and re-imagines it for the RTW customer resulting in an awesome array of spectacularly styled designs combining a modern approach to silver-screen glamour with a simple, yet sophisticated, look.

The new collection will be carried exclusively in Macy’s and since its debut has been doing booming business.  One of the first customers to purchase several items from the new collection was My9 News anchor Brenda Blackmon who met up with the designer in the Macy’s Herald Square store and shared with him her exhilaration over her purchases.  “Designer’s clothes at ready to wear prices.  What a bargain” she exclaimed!

b michael America Red RTW collection takes inspiration from the dramatic looks that the designer created through his collaboration with costume designer Ruth Carter for Whitney Houston in the film “Sparkle” which was released nationwide on August 17, 2012.  In 2011 b michael was commissioned by Oscar nominated costume designer Ruth Carter to create the wardrobe for the beloved singer for her role in that film.  The fashions were so outstanding that they became the silent star of the movie.  In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily on Whitney giving him direction on creating the proper costumes for church scenes, he told the paper that the late singer said to him: “Come on B.  My mother would never wear a sleeveless dress to church,” Houston said.  “If I’m in church singing, I am going to raise my hands high. I need something dramatic for the sleeves.  You’re the designer, B.  You go create these sleeves.”  Here are the timeless sketches of his unbelievably amazing designs that made her star shine more radiant than ever – leaving a lasting impression – one of which we would like to forever remember her by.

“We are extremely excited to launch the b michael America Red collection at Macy’s,” said Tim Baxter, Macy’s executive vice president, fashion and product office. “b michael is an extraordinary talent with a keen eye for fashion and sophisticated design.  We are thrilled to introduce this truly inspired collection to our customer just in time for the fall season.”

b michael America Red RTW collection will be carried in the following Macy’s locations: Macy’s Herald Square, New York, New York Macy’s Pentagon City, Arlington, Virginia Macy’s State Street, Chicago, Illinois Macy’s Metro Center, Washington DC Macy’s Union Square, San Francisco, California Macy’s Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Macy’s South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, California Macy’s Lenox Square, Atlanta, Georgia Macy’s Dadeland, Miami, Florida Macy’s Somerset Collection, Troy, Michigan.

About b michael

A former account executive for a Wall Street firm, b michael decided to pursue his creative side, launching a successful millinery line after designing for Oscar de la Renta, Louis Feraud, and Nolan Miller for the hit TV series Dynasty. The designer, under the tutelage of Eleanor Lambert, debuted his first couture collection in 1999, and has shown his collections to wide acclaim stateside, as well as in Asia. His designs have been featured editorially on high profile superstar actresses, and leading sports stars have also been spotted sitting front-row at his runway shows wearing b michael.  He counts prominent music and screen personalities among his numerous fans.

About Macy’s

Macy’s, the largest retail brand of Macy’s, Inc., delivers fashion and affordable luxury to customers at more than 800 locations in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.  Macy’s stores and offer distinctive assortments including the most desired family of exclusive and fashion brands for him, her and home.  Macy’s is known for such epic events as Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as well as spectacular fashion shows, culinary events, flower shows and celebrity appearances.  Building on a 150-year tradition, Macy’s helps strengthen communities by supporting local and national charities that make a difference in the lives of our customers.

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

audrey j bernard

Audrey J. Bernard