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Perhaps some of my most cherished memories from my recent trip to Paris are my daily rousings from bed.

As the rich notes of jazz singer Abbey Lincoln’s voice would enter my room, I could hear the pitter and patter of my roommate in the living room. Michelle Elie, the Haitian jewelry designer/mother of 3/newly-minted style star, met the day with a real urgency—unlike any I had ever known—and no matter the time zone, she was up at 5 or 6 am to give thanks, check on her family back in Köln, Germany, and adorn herself in some of the most inspired, whimsical pieces I had ever laid my eyes on. I would stumble out of my room of the pied-a-terre we shared in the 17th and be met by her positive force, outfitted in jawdropping numbers from Comme and Rodarte. She always called me “darling”, deftly snuck me into the Yohji Yamamato show, ended each night with a fresh batch of ‘girl talk’ with me (no matter the hour) , and encouraged me to never revel in the negativity.

Michelle and I had met many months before at our mutual friend, Shala’s dinner party, wherein the stunner had whipped up a meal of Haitian delicacies for a group of twenty or so.

With an apron tied tightly around her waist and Prada clobbers fastened to her heels, Elie had commandeered that kitchen, and swayed in and out the night’s conversations with a real elegance. I was totally charmed by the chef/glamazon, but knew that her work in the kitchen was only one of her many talents. Shala had often worn the bold jewelry and accessories that made up Michelle’s fledgling jewelry line, PRIM: with “cock rings” and metal-molded rabbit bags apart of her repertoire, I figured she had to be made of a humorous and sharp mind.

All said assumptions were affirmed when my LURVE editor approached me to interview Michelle soon thereafter for the magazine’s 7th issue. I was more than pleased to do the honors, and with several email exchanges and one absorbing call later, I had the below interview and an open invite to Paris.

Naturally, I accepted.

**Read after the jump for excerpts from our revealing LURVE interview.**

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Perennially chic: the idea that style is constant, consistent, habitual, preternatural. It hardly erodes, but withstands the mercurial nature of trends, fads, and phases year after year to defy the annals of time. The women and men I have tapped as LADYPANTS and LADpants of the YEAR embody such a politic in every ounce of their dress and spirit. From photographers, songstresses, editors, writers, to bloggers, these individuals are style iconoclasts, possessing a fearless approach to fashion and an inspiring vision for all 365 days of the year. Read on to see who made the list…

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I am very pleased to offer you a preview of my featured interview with songstress/style star/beat-thumping DJ/hot mama, Solange Knowles, for LURVE Magazine’s Fall/Winter issue.

LURVE’s editor, Lyna Ahanda, approached me about the project last Spring and I immediately went to work, pouring myself over research on the style maven and developing questions that would underscore the wit, intellect, and artistry of this young creative on the brink.

I have found that when interviewing people, niceties should be thrown out the window: a conversation should be had, a dialogue started; all walls should collapse. And so with Miss. Knowles, I obscured the surface and dug deep. What she reveals here is expressly her own voice, and with it a very honest, endearing story emerges that works perfectly in concert with the imaginative and transformative images of Ellen von Unwerth.

After reading on, I think you’ll find that “Solo” is on to something fantastic, insightful, and very necessary.

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**An excerpt from the fourth installment of my Huffington Post series, “The Black Girl Crush Series”an awesome new index of interviews with Black female iconoclasts.**

In the recently published third issue of the provocative art/fashion magazine, GARAGE, there is no dearth of fascinating images. The magazine, ferocious in size, literally opens itself up to page after page of expressive and intellectual visual dialogues on the subject of time. Simply checking the contributing page you’ll find a roll-call of the fashion industry’s top imagemakers; famed lensman to the beaumonde, Juergen Teller, shot one of the issue’s multiple covers.

However, for me, one of the most striking visuals comes in the form of a small black and white photo of our fourth Black Girl Crush, Shala Monroque. She, GARAGE’s Creative Director, is shown as a young tot, her hair perfectly plaited, and her cheeks plump and ripe with baby fat. I suspect the editor and style maven is no more than two when this picture was taken, but her expression here is one she has carried through her adult-life, and one I know well.

Almost inscrutable, I can still tell Shala is deep in thought–as she always is–and I’d like to believe this is why she has become, in turn, the “thinking woman’s” style icon some years later.

Declared the “muse of a generation” in 2011 by New York Magazine and the moment’s “It Girl” by Town & Country, the St. Lucian editor and writer has dazzled the international art and fashion crowds (and the infamously unflappable designer, Miuccia Prada), with a signature flare and statement-making approach to dress. The term “fashion risk” doesn’t really exist in her sartorial lexicon, as she can easily make the unthinkable (i.e. a bejeweled beetle brooch) the very necessary (i.e. Vogue did a full feature on the now must-have accessory).

But it is really when Shala opens her mouth does she make the most powerful impact. A soft, almost undetectable Caribbean lilt gives way to candid discussions on books, gender, race, art, politics, sex, relationships, and more books–her library seemingly as rare, vast, and precious as her shoe collection. Ebbing from the serious to the irreverent, no conversation is quite the same with Shala: a spirit I infused into the Q/A below, where she reveals the influence of writer Maya Angelou, how to navigate New York as a young creative, and her endearing (albeit secret) fascination with celebrity blogs.

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Photography by Tommy Ton.