Category Archives: Seoul Searching

A year ago, I did a thing…

A year ago, I was flying 40,000 feet in the air, headed back to Seoul for the second time that year. Seoul, a place that had captured my heart only 5 months prior. The truth is, it’s been 2 years since my mother passed, and I still, to this very day, feel like my life is in a free-fall. There have been bright moments, and most of those moments are connected with the trips I took to Seoul.
Seoul Selfie, Sphinx Rowe, Doeksugung 덕수궁 Palace
The first time, it was an absolute random decision made moments before the stroke of midnight leading into the new year. That random decision suddenly gave me goals, and purpose, in the midst of heavy grieving. Suddenly, I was teaching myself Korean, learning about the culture, working out and even feeding myself regularly. In my deep depression, the ice started to melt like during the first hints of spring.
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Now, here I am, a year later from my the beginning of my 3 month excursion in Korea. By divine intervention, traveling was so, incredibly healing. There are so many stories, but,  I’ve neglected this blog. I’ve held these stories hostage the same way I’ve held my breath, waiting to exhale. Exhale what? Exhale these vaulted memories for fear that it was all a dream. But, it wasn’t. It was very real. Even more real, are the relationships created around such a trip. Who knew I’d run around Seoul with 2 Canadians, or be part of a dynamic church and experience fellowship that I  haven’t had since before my mother passed? Who knew I’d meet the Taoist elder who was convinced I was destined to marry a Korean man, without striving, easily glide into the Seoul fashion scene, or meet my Chinese Unnie who taught me to play the gayageum…so many stories I think I’ll start unraveling these tangled memories that began a year ago.  I have faith, I’ll be making more memories soon.
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XoXo,
S.
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That Drum Machine Ain’t Got No Soul, and Seoul Ain’t Got No Style; Thoughts on Seoul’s Fashion Scene

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Fashion terrorists, the lot of them. They were all fashion terrorists…I was overwhelmingly told, often from people with little-to-no style, that I would be so bored in South Korea. Even at Seoul Fashion Week, I was assured I would be unbelievably and unforgivably bored.

Why?

Because, they’ve simply got no style.

I wasn’t sure how to take it, why was everyone so focused on reassuring me of my imminent boredom? Perhaps it’s because I can’t hide from my fashion persona. No matter who I met in South Korea, be they native, foreign or just passing through, made vocal assumptions about my having a fashion career. Clearly, I was one of those Fashion People. Clearly, I needed to be warned. Even some of the Korean locals I met asked me, in my professional opinion, if I thought all Koreans just tried to look the same? SeoulFashionWeekSS2017-Fashion-Needs-Jesus.gif

Even by the time Seoul Fashion Week rolled around, some of the international press (that stayed on the ground for approximately 1-2 days) made bold assumptions about how they lacked style and they have no subcultures, often comparing it to the nearby island nation which has made waves in the fashion industry (Japan, if you hadn’t caught my drift).

What was this all about? Here’s my response to the whole “They All Look Alike” Camp:

Plenty of foreigners come from countries and communities where “they all look alike too”, the difference being less noticeable because of physical differences in racial spectrum, not because the lot of them are actually dressing vastly differently. It’s that tribalism that we lean to as humans, in hyper-diverse cities, however, this tribalism may simply have more striking visual differences, but take out the varying racial features, plenty of people still look very much the same. People stick to their uniforms, whatever those uniforms may be. The Wall Streeters have their own uniform, sure one may have faded hair, one may have blonde straight hair, one may have brown wavy hair, but rest assured, there’s still a uniform that is relatively easy to spot. In other words, these self-appointed fashion critics are missing a lot of the bigger point, simply because they are looking at a more homogenous major city. Funny enough, many of these foreigners who were so quick to dismiss Seoul’s fashion, dressed eerily similar themselves, they just looked a tad bit more diverse.  *DRAMATIC EYEROLL* See?

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

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Le sigh.

Now that I’ve managed to insert an alarmingly accurate quote from one of my favorite books/films of all time, let’s look at some street fashion from the emerging Seoul scene, shall we? :

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@Apehouse

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@TheSeoulChild

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So, there you have it, ending with visions from the front row. The moral of the story, Seoul is still emerging and developing a sense of who it is in fashion, but it doesn’t mean fashion doesn’t exist there, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. See even more by following the story on Instagram: @FashionNeedsJesus

XoXo,

S.

Seoul Fashion Week SS 2017, Street Style Photographers Capturing What I Wore

An ode to my OOTDs, as captured by some of the photographers at Seoul Fashion Week. I went to watch shows, and observe street style, but I, in turn, was being observed. While I have not found nearly all of the photos, here are a few, be sure to click the link to check out their Instagram accounts and websites for more Seoul Street Fashion! Also, don’t forget to follow my Insta!

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@UlloKorea
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@Younoblues
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@pyh_23
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Kim SeHun
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@ApeHouse 
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@hoon_andrea

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@ww_prince
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@Jihye_o3o
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@je2difilm
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@pyh_23
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@oktop_j
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@kinnnnha

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@ske.jw
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@photographer_cherokee
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@photographer_cherokee

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Here. Now.

 

It’s officially been a week since I’ve moved to Seoul. A week and I’ve been calling a new place home. Fashion Week just occurred in NYC, but I’ve been focused on calling a new place home, and reflecting on what that means. I get the feeling that I’m finally becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be. The woman, who is still rising despite the heartbreak and tragedy. The woman who fights, triumphs and throws a haughty laugh. The woman I was destined to be. Her. I think I’m finally becoming her. Free and bold, a woman who loves extravagantly and courageously in every aspect of life. seoul-tower-han-river

And, God, it feels so good.

In a week’s time, I managed to almost join a cult, I’ve went on a date with KDrama Guy who saved me from said aforementioned cult, hung out at Han River solo dolo amongst all the couples, I’ve agreed to record a music cover with my host, have another date lined up with a different guy, gotten lost countless times, learned how to speak some Mandarin while drinking with the roomies and talking about boys, spoken in Korean every single day, and tackled Dongdaemun, pushing and shoving with the thousands of people and vendors to get the swatches I need to design with.

I’ve actually unpacked my room and set it up nicely so I’m not living out of a suitcase, and realized just how much I’ve  committed to calling this place home for a spell. I never unpack if I don’t have to. Here, though, I did. Something about Seoul. Something about wanting to reset and refresh and explore the fullness of myself again, as a Creator, and as a woman. I look back at the things that interested me as a child, when we were free to think and dream, and as a teenager full of energy, and I’m going back to that child-like faith that anything could happen. Moreover, I’m seeing so many connections with present interests, and interests of my childhood.

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It’s strange to find myself back on a road that I’d abandoned over 10 years ago, but wholly exhilarating.

Yeah.

I’d rather be her.  Her, full of faith, her, the self-proclaimed jet-setting auntie who is gonna travel the world, her, the leader of a girl group, her, the fashion icon and mogul, her, the multi-linguist who strikes up conversations in different conversations at a moments notice, her, the model living in Tokyo, her, the story teller, her, one half of an eclectic, cool, and sexy power couple,  her, the musician turned actress, her, a representative of the people later in life,  her, the poet and novelist, her, the dancer who wanted to do a summer session with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, her, who was ready to drive across the country the day after graduation for an epic roadtrip, her, who had so many big dreams and hopes and a lot less fear.

Yeah, I’d rather be her.

XoXo,

S.

Follow the journey on Instagram, Facebook and Here!

To Seoul and Paris, with Love…

Namsan Tower, Seoul, Fashion Needs Jesus

If 7 is the number of completion, then 8 is the number of new beginnings. This 8th month of the year, this August, I saw the first anniversary of a year without my Mother. Undoubtedly the hardest year of my life. But this 8th month,  is the same month that I am flying halfway across the world to begin, again. I’m headed back to Seoul, this decision is less than 60 days old, and whole heartedly full of faith.

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The first time I went to Seoul, it was in desperate search of magic. The second time around, my trip to Seoul will be about restarting, resetting, and refreshing. I’ve been the better part of dead for a year. Bitter, broken, filled with despair…breathing but not living. That’s what I have been. There have been moments, where I got to feel alive. 강남 Gangnam Style, Fashion Needs JesusIn a year without my mother, I helped style Alicia Keys, have done several styling sessions, I’ve met and interviewed some dope designers, I’ve taken street style photos in another country,  I’ve started learning another language, I’ve left jobs that were too toxic, I learned to say no to things that didn’t suit or serve me, I’ve had a small community of incredible women surround me during my grief, and somewhere during this year of pain, I’ve still managed to smile and to laugh.

With grief comes catharsis. 

My catharsis left my creative soul questioning what was in my heart, and why I wasn’t following it? I know the dreams in my heart, dreams that were largely on hold as I grieved. I kept trying to make things work by my own hands, the normal way, the usual way, and it kept not “working”. At least, not “working” how I meant it to. But, when I stopped measuring myself against a standard that wasn’t native to me anyway, the corporate rather than the creative, I started to live again, and dare to make bold decisions

So that’s where we are. 57 days ago, I decided to give up my dope studio in Williamsburg that was killing me in rent, and had become a prison of my grief. 57 days ago, I decided Seoul Searching-Fashion Needs Jesus-NamSan Tower, South Korea.jpgsuddenly, and with encouragement from a bestie, to just follow what was in my heart. After a lil talk with Jesus, and a few months before the decision of pointed prayer and mediation, and the culmination of such emotions and faith made the decision easy. 57 days ago, I starting measuring myself against a standard all my own. 57 days ago, I decided to head back to Seoul.

So, who do you tell you’re moving overseas? Outside of my sisters, and the bestie that helped me make the decision, I told one person initially, Ariane, the designer for Yhaniqua Lopes. Well, interestingly, at the end of Spring, I met Ariane Fonseca at a #JustDoItCrew meeting(a bi-weekly event run by a mother-daughter duo from Hillsong NYC that helps you foster and follow your God-given dreams). She is this gorgeous woman, huge smile, doll-like eyes, and gorgeous Angolan accent. She was persistent about wanting to get to know me and work with me, she could tell I was in fashion and felt I had a beautiful spirit. I was super #TeamNONewFriends. I didn’t want to meet new people, and explain why I could possibly burst into tears at any given moment. But here she was, smiling. She eventually convinced me to style her line, and God did the rest. She was encouraging, warm, and immensely powerful. She’s gonna take the world by storm, no doubt about it. We talked about these foreign places where we felt a connection, for me, Seoul, for her, Paris, we talked about our singleness, we talked about our struggles in NYC, we talked about my grief, and we promised to meet up for coffee.

On July 30th, we did meet up. She was moving, and before she told me where she was moving to, I asked if she was moving to Paris. She sported a gorgeous smile, and said yes, by way of Miami first. I told her I was moving, and she asked without batting an eye, if I was moving to Seoul (a decision I made the day before). I told her yes, by way of New Jersey (but I’m staying with an awesome family in Brooklyn, another extension of God’s love!). We were finally leaving NYC, and as different women than we came. Zero plan, all faith, and a belief that this was what God put in our hearts. So, there we sat, in that coffee shop, encouraging each other for 2+ hours, while others might think we were crazy, already finding kindred spirit and feeling God’s presence.

Sphinx and Ariane Selfie

So, 27 days ago, I moved out of my studio, I was surrounded by beautiful people who poured into me, and helped me when I literally could not help myself. People who demonstrated what it meant to be the Body of Christ, and to pour into someone and love someone. Throughout this time, I’ve connected with beautiful people, woken up from my grief and started to feel alive again. 22 days ago, I mourned the year anniversary without my mom. 5 days from now, I’m flying to Seoul. Countless people have blessed me, told me I’ve inspired them, or both. Either way, I’m believing for great things, my creativity is resurfacing, and I’m becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to, a woman of relentless faith. I’ve meditated on God being able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all I have every hoped for wished for and imagined for. I’ve meditated on plumbing the depths and testing the heights of God’s love. That meditation and that prayer has given me the strength.

Reset. Refresh. Restore. 

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There is so much more to follow as the best is yet to come.

Follow the journey here, on Facebook, and Insta!

XoXo,

S

 

 

To Paris, With Love: An Interview with International Fashion Designer Ariane Fonseca of Yhaniqua Lopes Designs

Ariane Fonseca, Fashion Designer for Yhaniqua Lopes
Fashion Designer, Ariane Fonseca

“You’re a Christian woman, you have to be strong. And, sometimes, God allows us to go through a situation to become the woman that He wants us to be…”

 -Ariane, encouraging me.

This is  a very special edition of Let’s Convo, while I got the opportunity to chat with Ariane, Fashion Designer for the elegant AfroCentric brand Yhaniqua Lopes, many beautiful changes have occurred. Ariane was involved in a Shoot-A-Thon with a plethora of models, photographers and creative directors, and her beautiful line of swimwear and accessories ended up in a spread for Creativ Modern Magazine!  For now, Let’s Convo!

 

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S: So, first, you are preparing for a Shoot-A-Thon to be a featured designer, how did you come to design for shoot. 

A: I got involved…since the first time I met Jolaina, I knew I was gonna work with her somehow.

Yhaniqua Lopes Swimwear 2016-Fashion Needs JesusS: Really, instantly?

Yeah because she is the type of woman that I am, we have a lot of things in common.

S: So what type of woman are YOU? 

A: A go-getter! She knows that I love to see women of God working for their purpose and helping others. You know, just being whatever God wants them to be in life. I’m in love with women like that! So, when I saw her speaking on that night, at the Bible study (#JustDoItCrew, Hillsong NYC) I knew I was going to do something with her. So when she brought up that she was interested, actually I said to her, “Let’s do something NOW!” There was not a lot of mystery, it was straight to the point.

Yhaniqua Lopes Fashion Line, Fashion Needs Jesus.jpgS: That’s beautiful. So let us a know a little bit about how long you have been designing. You design for the line Yhaniqua Lopes, which is a beautiful name! Why don’t you also tell us a little about the name?

A: So, Lopes is one of my last names, it is Portuguese. Yhaniqua comes from my first name, Ariane, and Yhani is my nickname, and the Qua comes from the African-American names like Shaniqua, LiQua, and names like that. So, I my friend put together my nickname, Yhani and Qua, and I loved it! I felt it was very African-American, and I am African, so the Lopes coming from Europe, added to that made it a good combination.

S: It’s very global! So what’s the inspiration for your line and how long have you been designing?

A: So I’ve been designing for 3 years, almost 4 years now. unbelievable. I started in Miami and I love a Chanel vintage look, and I try to design all my collections based on that. A chic, elegant, feminine look, as well as my country [Angola], and my continent, Africa. I use a lot of African and African inspired fabrics, that’s the majority of the fabrics that I use. So basically a symbiosis of African inspiration and vintage Chanel.Yhaniqua Lopes Designs-Fashion Needs Jesus.jpg

S: That’s a beautiful combination, you do design very elegant pieces, I’ve had the opportunity to look at your collections and I look forward to getting to style some of your pieces!

With your inspiration coming stemming from Africa and vintage Chanel, how do you feel your line and your brand go in line with your purpose with what God has for you?

A: Besides just designing clothes, I also promote Proverbs 31:30, which talks about the beauty of a woman. That beauty passes away, but if you are a woman of God, you shall be praised. So, I believe that God put me in the fashion industry not only to to dress women, but also to empower them to be whatever God wants them to be in life. So, that’s basically what I do with my clothing line. I design them and promote them, but at the same time if people go to my website, they will somehow see the Proverbs 31 passage, and I hope that they get inspired by that. Yhaniqua Lopes Motivational Streetwear-stylist Sphinx Rowe 2.png

S: That is absolutely beautiful!  Do you just focus on womenswear?

A: Yes, that’s the purpose that God put in my heart.

S: So, you’re also developing a streetwear line! So tell us a little about that. What’s the purpose and the goal of your new line? (I had the opportunity to style her new motivational streetwear!) Yhaniqua Lopes Motivational Streetwear-Stylist Sphinx Rowe

A: So, basically the streetwear line will convey the message that God has put in my heart for those women. Whatever He tells me, whenever He talks to me in my meditation time or the vision and instructions that He gives to me, I believe that by having a streetwear line, allows me to share the message. Rather than just Proverbs 31, I can tell them how to be that woman, and become that woman of God. So, in all my business, I have messages, and phrases that teaches women something, or tells them how to get to their purpose.

S: That’s extremely uplifting, I love that you are empowering and motivating and with your brand! Thanks so much for sharing and we can’t wait to see what more you have in store! 

But wait, loves, there’s so much more to this story and how I connected with this designer and what’s next for us! Follow along to Part Deux! In the meantime, you can follow Ariane’s incredible brand, Yhaniqua Lopes, on Facebook and Instagram!

XoXo,

S

 

 

Seoul (서울)Searching: 5 Soulful Lessons I Learned While Traveling Alone

So, as you all know, I traveled to Seoul, South Korea a bit ago.

Alone.

Just me.

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And my bags. (but that’s a story for another day)

And I learned somethings taking my first international trip, alone at that, so I thought I’d share. Some lessons I learned from the situations and simply being there, others from friends. Either way here it goes:

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  1. “Slowly, slowly.”

My very first lesson came from an older man working at the airport when I arrived at Incheon. I was trying to get some T-Money to take the train to the Metro, and being the New Yorker that I am, I was rushing. For, like, no reason. I arrived mid-week, no one was behind me, and frankly, had I dropped a 50,000 KRW (오만원) for the sake of rushing, it would have a been a sad day. So the older gentleman walking me through the process kept telling me “Slowly, slowly”, to make sure I had everything, to make sure I put my money back in my wallet, and all that jazz. Even on vacay, I had forgotten to breathe. So remember, especially whilst traveling alone, you must look out for yourself. You could be fortunate and have a stranger look out for you, but even so, remember to take your time, take a breath, adjust to your surroundings and take care of what you need to take care of, even if there is a line forming behind you.

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   2.  It’s Ok to Ask for Help. Not only is it OK, it’s a Requirement. 

By now, I’m feeling fancy, I’ve gotten on the metro like the saavy New Yorker I am, and learned to slow down and collect myself. Fantastic. Now, what else was for me to learn? Well, after successfully switching from the local to the express line after a man watched me sit for far to long in my opinion, told whomever he was speaking on the phone with to hold on for a moment, and told me in exactly 3 words of English, “Go, across, go. Express across. Go.” I took his advice, and got off and hauled my luggage across the platform. So thank you kind sir. I couldn’t possibly need more help than that, right? Wrong. That man offered helped, I hadn’t asked, and in the wild, whilst traveling alone, you must learn to ask for help.

My AirBnB was a minute walk from the metro station. And that’s if I wasn’t walking like a New Yorker. Upon my arrival to said metro station, however, I found myself walking in circles. I found a Wi-Fi Spot, I called my sis over Wi-Fi and asked her to look up the address. She was finding a 15 minute walk. I didn’t understand what was happening. Then my sister had my phone turned on for texting, and wouldn’t you know it, I get a text from my AirBnB host saying she was worried, because she was expecting me, and I hadn’t arrived during my estimated time. I remember when she text me. I was crying in front of a Hana Bank 하나은항(don’t worry, this will come up again), while staring at this guy:

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Actor Kim SooHyun 김수현, who played Do Min Joon in My Love From Another Star (별에서 온 그대). Apparently he holds the record for most endorsements in a year cuz he’s totally adorbs. He was literally everywhere in Seoul. And there he was, in an ad in front of the Hana Bank I was crying in front of. Le sigh. I should have just asked for help earlier, because my host found me within minutes of me finding my way back to the metro station. My host must have seen the distress in my face, and swept me up in a big hug upon meeting me. She hauled my huge bag(against my protests) and walked me a minute to her lovely apartment. Lesson learned. Asking for help can save you an hour of your life and some tears.

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3. Identify Your Person

Why was the bank with the South Korean cutie, Kim SooHyun, oh so relevant? I’m getting to that. When traveling alone, you absolutely have to have someone who is, what we call in my family, Your Person. You know, that friend since the playpen, sister, cousin, play cousin, uncle, or whomever who is your absolute ride or die. If you called them from a prison in Mexico because of some plans gone astray during your travels, they’d be on the next flight. They would curse at you the entire drive back, but they’d come break you out, or work their diplomatic connections. I had a few people in the Travel Squad, but my main Person, that I called at all times while freaking out, was my twin. From giving me a pep talk at Seoul Fashion Week, to getting my phone turned on internationally at no extra cost to me, to wiring me money at, you guessed it, the same Hana Bank I was crying in front of the day before my return flight home, she was my absolute ride or die. Your Person will figure out a way to help you, even if it takes using Google Translate and some hand signs to do it. Your Person will encourage the spiritual journey that traveling alone can take you on, and do what ever they can to help you stay at peace, so you can, absolutely, make the most of your journey. 

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4. You will Cry, and it’s really OK. (진짜, 진짜~ 괜찮아!)

Traveling alone has it’s stresses. Even though plenty of people were super helpful, and I got to go on a date with a local, and I had incredible experiences, there is just something about traveling alone. I truly believe no matter what prompts you to travel alone, it’s an a act which ultimately awakens, heals, and nourishes your soul. For me, it’s been the ongoing struggle with the loss of my mother, and the desperate need for magic. Traveling, to the exact place my heart said to go, didn’t mean I wasn’t going to cry, it just meant I was going to cry and cleanse in the right place. You get to let it all out, pray, meditate, and just be in a place, simply being. I cannot tell you how nourishing it is for the soul, to just, cry.

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5. Answer to You. 

This life is ultimately between you and Source. The same goes for your planned or random vacation. The beauty of traveling alone is you don’t have to answer to anyone else’s itinerary or expectation. One of my friends in the Travel Squad, encouraged me over KaKaoTalk, and reminded me that this trip is just for me. I can do every touristy thing imaginable, or I can wander around aimlessly, as long as I was happy. I did way more of the latter. Praying, meditating, smiling at cute locals, and wandering. I got a greater local experience by doing that, and had more opportunities to practice the Korean I spent 3 months learning! This trip is for you, you will emerge stronger, braver, and wiser, so do whatever makes you happy.

I’m sure there are more lessons I learned while traveling alone, but I’m still discovering them, next I’ll post on my practical travel advice! What did you learn traveling alone? I’d love to hear from you!

Drink soju like a boss, dance til dawn in Hongdae, haggle over prices, wear sequins on a Tuesday, whatever, just do what you love. You betta werk! I’m rooting for you!

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XoXo,

S

 

 

 

In These Streets: Seoul 서울 Street Style, That Special Kind of Cool

My heart was not prepared for eye lust my wanderlust would bring about while traveling to Seoul. I fell in love for so many reasons, and one of them easily being that Seoul fashion is, simply put, one of the world’s most beautiful lies. It thrives on expertly executed ease and youthful whimsy while maintaining a duality of utter sophistication.

I. Just. Can’t. Even.

Of course, it’s a major city, and a darling of Asia, so one might easily assume that it carries weight in the fashion world. Even so, assuming, and witnessing, are 2 completely different things. Let’s dig in, shall we?

 

CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE MEN?

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My bestie is convinced one of these gents is giving me “The Eyes”…

Because the men came to slay. While I did snap this at Seoul Fashion Week (서울 패션 위크), I would just see squads of men, dressed to kill on a daily basis.It was the norm, and not the exception, trust me. It made me remember why I am in love with menswear. If more men took the time to appreciate it on mass…I’d die a happy woman. Well dressed men. Just roaming in droves. Men unafraid of color, of slim fit, and of bold patterns. Men whose sole focus was not on their shoes matching their belts. Men who wore suits just to go out for dinner with friends. Men who looked sexy in pink, like, bite your bottom lip and cross your legs, and clutch your pearls levels of sexy…in pink.

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My. Heart.

#ICan’tEven.

#TheDream.

But, seriously, I’m pretty sure that so many stylish men travelled in packs as a result of

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Squad.

the school culture and mandatory military service. The minute you enter middle school(or for some, starting in elementary school), you’re in a uniform. Thus, time outside of that uniform is precious. I would surmise that in the midst of developing, growing, and nurturing friendships, style is simply one of those things that naturally fall in line.  After all, self expression is paramount to self development. If I have fewer opportunities to be expressive in the clothing that you wear, I could easily imagine being attracted to those whose style I admired. Scarcity breeds necessity, no? The result? Roves of men, uniform in their level of style, while still managing to be utterly individualistic. #swoon.

 

 

Next: Couple Dressing is a thing, like, a big THING.

I’m so used to seeing, unfortunately, so many couples whose aesthetics do not match. Thankfully, I live in New York City, and while I do see many well-dressed couples to swoon over, but I’m not sure we have the most aesthetically pleasing couples per capita. Frankly, Seoul couples looked stunning, and often wore articles of clothing that were the same. Seoul is crazy for kicks, but can you imagine seeing so many couples wearing the same pair? I lost count, but managed to snap this couple, whose style suited each other.

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Also, Heels For DAYS!

It didn’t matter how many women I saw doing the MyFeetHurt Shuffle, they were going to stomp the city of Seoul in their heels!

But, it also seems like the heels made in Korea, are way better suited for us city girls. They typically had a thicker and sturdier heel.  #Werk . Yes I drooled over the men, but the women also came dressed to slay!

So much more street style to report, but for now, enjoy some of what I found whilst wandering the streets of Seoul!

XoXo,

S

Seoul (서울) Searching: #BlackGirlMagic, 3 things I learned Traveling While Black

“The world is in awe of your beauty and enchanted with your being.”

-Me, just now (Sphinx Rowe)

Let that sink in, digest it, and let it nourish your soul. Write it in lipstick on your mirror and recite it daily. While I don’t wish to alienate any of my readers, I needed to write this topic. Traveling While Black is an experience, and not the negative one I was led to believe it would be. So I have some lessons for other travelers, especially people of color.

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Lesson 1: Stay Away from “Well Meaning White Folk”

For some reason, Well Meaning White Folk(WMWF), feel the need to tell travelers of color, especially Black travelers, that the world will reject them. After being largely helpful with answering questions about Seoul, out of the blue, I was assured that “Koreans are racist” and even though I was American, my dark skin would make things problematic.Stay Away From Well Meaning White Folk

Why did this White American male feel the need to tell me these things? Probably because he was hold on to his own prejudices and carrying them with him to South Korean, where he now lives. The truth is, there are issues everywhere, but I was largely welcomed, and accepted! This is true, especially once I spoke bits and pieces of the language, and did even the littlest things in a Korean manner, like giving and receiving with 2 hands. Most of the White Folk in my life were nothing but absolutely positive, but this friend of a friend felt the need to be negative. This prompted me to ask loads of other Black or mixed travelers, and, interestingly, the WMWF seems to be a trend, “Oh, you know they’re gonna be racist towards you over there”, the more I asked, the more I got a response similar, said by their WMWF who are carrying their prejudice with them.

Firstly, as Person of Color, how much do we hate that we are lumped into this often ill-perceived category, continually perpetuated by the media? So, who am I to think that of an entire people or even listen to someone who has the audacity to think that of an entire people? It doesn’t sit well with my soul. It’s his own brokenness, because that’s all prejudice is. Brokenness. Take some time, connect with Source, pray and meditate and love people. Are some people going to believe what they see on TV? Yes, but that’s all the more reason to travel and take your #BlackGirlMagic with you! #BlackGirlMagic has allowed beautiful, diverse, women of color from all different shades and backgrounds to share their truth, and not the negative image largely displayed by media. We get to control our narrative instead of letting others continue to control it for us. WMWF are consciously or subconsciously attempting to stamp this out this power when they tell you “X” place is going to be racist towards you. Don’t believe the hype. Everywhere has it’s issues, problems whatever, but don’t allow that to stop you from traveling. I cannot stress how beautiful I felt there(soooooo many photos taken), dark skin and all! I had a blast!

Moral: I’m thankful, because of Jason, the WMWF, because in that brief moment of weakness, I wrote this post, and I did some research and found the fantastic blogger Jenny, of Western Girl Eastern Boy, whom I actually ended up meeting and dancing the night away in Hongdae. We talked about race, dating, and her encounters with WMWF and foreigners. So, because of that foolishness, I ended up connecting with a beautiful soul in 서울. #LookAtJesus

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Lesson 2: Tell Your Story, The World Needs to Hear It

This continues with Lesson 1. You are a vibrant story and culture wrapped up in to skin that drenched in melanin. And honey, the world needs to hear it, see it, touch it, and if you’re feeling frisky, taste it. Firstly, your culture is so everywhere. Hip-Hop, rap, soul, R&B, rock and roll, lip injections, chocolate tanning, braids, locs, style… the Black cultural diaspora is real. We are global citizens, and need to embrace that. It’s really easy for Americans to get stuck, to believe that everyone should speak English, and to not interact with any locals, even when they do travel abroad. Don’t be that way. Listen to their stories, wander off the beaten path, and share your stories. It is incredible to experience the culture exchange that can happen (which I will get into on another post! ). People responded so positively when I did things the Korean way, spoke with a good accent, and just tried. It showed I was respectful of the place I was entering. Also, don’t shame your ancestors, carry yourself well, because you have the divine opportunity to control your narrative.

Moral: Don’t only go to McDonald’s, tourist traps, and only talk to fellow foreigners. If you’re going to be there, be there, experience new things, try new foods, and talk to people, preferably in their language(there are apps for days at this point, blogs, vlogs, you name it, so learn some things to say, and cultural nuances).

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Lesson 3: A Simple Smile Can Be Disarming

Frankly, I’m a lot. I know this about myself. I’ve embraced it. My style(but hey, it got me photographed at Seoul Fashion Week…I mean, I wear sequins on a Tuesday), my big hair (#TeamBigHair #TeamNatural), my piercings…I’m…just…a lot. So, going to a place where piercings or tattoos or whatever isn’t as common, or is associated with things that are inherently negative, is something to be mindful of. Whether you are traveling to Seoul, or anywhere else, take the time to be mindful of the culture you are entering. I wasn’t going to take out my piercings, but for the the few people I encountered with judgement in their eyes, I smiled. It worked wonders. I often got a smile back. So, whatever pre-conceived notions may have been held, may just melt away by you being there and being your beautiful self.

Moral: Smile. It can do wonders to break down barriers. Also, smiling while dancing may just lead to one of the best dates you’ve had in a long time! 

Sphinx Rowe, Doeksugung (덕수궁) Palace, Seoul South Korea

Travel, meet interesting people, do dope things.

The most incredible thing I learned was the importance of being able to control my narrative and sprinkle my #BlackGirlMagic. You should too, and let me know how it goes! I’ll be posting even more photos on the (Insta)’Gram, so follow me @FashionNeedsJesus. Tons, more to write, I haven’t even gotten to the fashion yet, so #StayTuned!

XoXo,

S

 

 

Seoul (서울) Searching: Dancing in Gangnam, and a date with a Korean Guy..

While in search for magic in the land of Seoul, I found myself out on a date. True story. When searching for magic, believe anything can happen, including a touch of romance.

So, my host and I found ourself out in Gangnam on a Friday night. I had fallen asleep and woke up around 9:30 PM, upset because, hello, it’s Friday and I’m in a posh Seoul neighborhood on the other side of the globe.

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Obviously, this needed to be rectified, but since I was on vacay mode, I had determined I would let it be. My host comes to the guest house and we chat for a bit, and she had to return some jeans. Yes, my 3 round date started with saying yes to walking with my host to return her torn denim. #AnythingCanHappen #AllYouGottaDoIsSayYes. So we stroll, and get to know each other more. I told her how I found myself in Seoul and she felt honored that she got to be a part of my healing process and search for magic.
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Then, we found out we both loved to dance. She said all her local (Korean) friends hate dancing. I suggested she get better friends. Dancing is life, if you ask me. Anyways, the streets are jam packed with everyone out and dolled up, so after her errand she popped into an Atrium, which is a make-up store similar to Sephora, and did a little make up and we headed out in the nabe.

putting on make up lipstick red gif-Fashion Needs Jesus blog.gifFirst we went to a booking club, where I had my first taste of soju. #Dangerous. Then we went to a club, and there it happened.

Somewhere between dancing the night away with my host-est with the most-est, and taking a breath of fresh air, he watched me dance for maybe a minute max, before pulling me close with the K-Drama arm tug and saying “I have to buy you a drink”.

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The K Drama wrist grab…Ok, it wasn’t this dramatic…

Then his friend found him with us, we drank together, and danced the night away. At one point he lifted me off the ground into the air while we were dancing. I almost got crowd surfed *clutches pearls*. They asked us to go to dinner so we made tentative plans to meet up a few days later. Now, I don’t know how your nights at clubs normally go, but I was pretty sure this double date thing was all buzzed banter and nothing would come of it.Club Mass-Gangnam 강남, 서울-Seoul, Fashion Needs Jesus.jpg

Alas, I was wrong. Our double date lasted 3 rounds, and it was really fun, actually the best date I’ve had in a long time. (do Korean boys do it better…or…?) So here’s to a night out with cute local with abs for days and a great smile.

 

If it happens to you, just #SayYes.

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Dance well. Get a date.

 

XoXo,

S