**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.