Category Archives: Lifestyle

Macy’s Celebrates the Soul Era of Fashion with June Ambrose and Johnetta Boone

IMG_2846Chicago’s fashionistas assembled at the historic Macy’s on State Street on February 19th to see fashion queen and stylist to the stars June Ambrose and costume designer Johnetta Boone for Macy’s Black History Month Celebration focusing on the “Soul Era” of fashion.

Moderated by Chicago journalist Robin Robinson (wearing local designer Barbara Bates), Ambrose and Boone gave their insights and expert opinions on the 70’s soul era and today’s fashion. Boone said during the 70’s, there was an explosion of designers going to Africa and bringing back the styles they found. Ambrose added that during that time everything was over the top and there were more African-American designers then than there are now.

Ambrose and Boone also discussed their respective starts in fashion. Ambrose was originally in the financial world as an investment banker and Boone got her big break as the costume designer for the 2004 film The Notebook. They both agreed that stars like Beyoncé, Solange and Ledisi and Janelle Monae are embodying the soul era.

When asked what their “I made it” moment was, Ambrose said she still feelsIMG_2840 like she’s working towards it, she said when she started, she didn’t think about being celebrated, I thought about making a difference. She said she wanted to be seen and heard, she never thought about the money or getting a publicist. She wasn’t thinking about those things, she said” I was thinking about how do I make this amazing so it can lead to future jobs, how I do I use this to build my brand, how do I recognize the power of my skill set, how do I make a difference in a person’s life.”

Boone added that the reason that you don’t see African American costume designers winning Oscars is because no one goes to see African American movies We need to support one another to be successful. Ambrose said she uses her digital platform to mentor to up and coming stylists and she’s very grateful for that platform.  The ladies ended with discussion stating anything is possible and asking attendees to think about what kind of legacy are they going to leave behind.


The event also included fashion from the 70’s, make overs by Fashion Fair Cosmetics and a photo opportunity with Ambrose and Boone.

More photos posted on UnRated Magazine instagram page. 

Tamar Braxton Launches Clothing Line and E-Commerce Site

Tamar Braxton - Tamar CollectionGrammy nominated singer-songwriter Tamar Braxton launches her first line of apparel that retails exclusively online at Braxton, a self professed fashion shopaholic, developed the brand and shopping experience to address various concerns that she has personally found challenging over the years. As a result, the brand features superior quality, runway-inspired fashion that is available in extended and unisex sizes, all at affordable prices.

“Anyone who knows me knows I’m all about looking fabulous without breaking the bank. So when designing this collection, it was important that the line had a wide variety of looks. A little everyday fashion, but also some runway looks at incredible prices. It is important to me that all of my fans feel like there is something for them,” says Braxton.

Braxton has had an extensive career in the industry which includes executive producing two hit reality shows on WE TV, releasing hit singles like ‘Let Me Know’ from her upcoming album due in early 2015 and most recently co-hosting daytime talk show, The Real. Braxton has now taken on her latest venture with the support of her husband, Vincent Herbert. “He has played a major role in launching my fashion line along with my son, Logan, who inspires me every day,” says Braxton.

Braxton continues to build upon her momentum with her new fashion business and is excited to have another opportunity to engage and interact directly with women across the globe by dressing them in quality, affordable fashions. To create the collection, Tamar has partnered with IconStyle LLC, a NYC based company that specializes in conceptualizing, designing, manufacturing, marketing and selling fashion product on behalf of global celebrities

Tamar Collection is the only US-based fashion brand to use a photo-accurate, virtual fitting room solution in its e-commerce store. This technology enables shoppers to check the fit of any garment on a virtual avatar after entering his/her precise body shape and size. This technology will improve customer satisfaction and help eliminate the frustrating problem that e-shoppers experience of having to return items that do not fit.

To see all of Braxton’s inspired styles please visit,

MAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY introduces the Quincy Icon Collection Honoring Quincy Jones

JonesMAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY introduces the Quincy Icon Collection of custom-designed, hand-painted bags honoring Quincy Jones and his historic contributions to music, culture and improving the lives of others throughout the last six decades.

Quincy Jones says, “I believe that all who have accomplished great things, and all those who aspire to greatness, will agree with the fact that ‘the dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.’  I am honored to join with a great brand such as MAYBACH to launch their inaugural “Icons Collection”, as it represents our shared values of working hard to realize one’s full potential and celebrating the intrinsic beauty of those accomplishments.”

The Quincy Icon Collection includes signature eyewear, business bag, travel bag and messenger bag made from naturally tanned leathers sourced from Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Each hand-stitched bag is meticulously made by one of six master craftsmen who embrace the materials’ unique characteristics to create an exclusive collector’s piece reflective of the bespoke values of MAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY.

Quincy’s personal luggage set has been hand-painted by award-winning artist Nate Giorgio, inspired by Quincy’s iconic style and career, which include 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammy wins, and international travel that has spanned the globe.

Co-founder Ulrich Schmid-Maybach, says of the collaboration, “Quincy is the quintessential Maybach icon. He has lived a legacy of excellence in the spirit of my ancestors. And he always travels in style.”

The collection will be unveiled to Quincy Jones and friends, celebrities and Maybach car owners during a private event in Beverly Hills on November 22.

MAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY is a German-based boutique luxury house specializing in individually hand crafted eyewear and leather accessories for the genuine connoisseur. Each piece pays homage to its heritage of outstanding design using only the most exquisite materials. For more information, visit

Pharrell Williams for G-Star RAW

Pharrell-Williams-for-G-Star-RAWG-Star’s RAW for the Oceans collection is now available at Mall of America (south avenue on the first floor). In partnership with Bionic Yarn, the Vortex Project, Parley for the Oceans and curated by Pharrell Williams, the collection is made from ground-breaking Bionic Yarn – an eco-thread of fibers derived from recycled plastic bottles. Fittingly from the innovative denim brand, the range will include the first ever denims woven from Bionic Yarn. 

The RAW for the Oceans collection is the forefront of sustainable fashion. Environmental organizations Sea Shepard Conservation Society USA and Plastic Pollution Coalition, amongst others, highlighted the seriousness of plastic in our oceans.  
An issue of ocean plastic grows – each year alone, three times as much rubbish is dumped into the ocean as the weight of fish caught – so does the need for a solution. G-Star has joined forces with its partners, using ground-breaking technology to not only retrieve plastic from the oceans, but transform it into a new generation of denim.

This first collection of the RAW for the Oceans initiative has already innovated over 10 tons of the problematic ocean plastic. 

Containing men’s and women’s pieces to support the cause while becoming a part of the solution – style is uncompromised. Matching their internal innovation, the Bionic Yarn denims are printed with an original pattern. Using the initiative’s mascot, Otto the Octopus, the pattern morphs his organic form into classic prints like houndstooth. An element of discovery is brought to the garments through the prints, especially with their internal application, only revealed with the subtle cuff of a pant.

Venturing beyond outerwear, the RAW for the Oceans collection includes jeans, t-shirts, sweats, caps and more – all constructed from Bionic Yarn. Colored in intense shades of mazarine indigo blue and black, fabrics have soft hand feels and durable handles. The range signifies the beginning of a long-term collaboration between innovators Bionic Yarn and G-Star RAW. A standout piece of the men’s range is the A-Crotch Trench, a modern trench coat cut from the striking printed, Bionic Yarn raw denim. For women, the Fallden Bomber is a go-to piece for Autumn/Winter – transforming the printed denim into a wardrobe staple.

For more information, call G-Star at Mall of America at 952-883-3608 or visit us on Facebook at 
or Instagram #GStarRAW #RAWfortheOceans.

The Autobiography of Rick James Now Available

Rick JamesRick James and acclaimed music biographer David Ritz met in 1979 in Marvin Gaye’s studio while Ritz was interviewing Gaye for a biography. Intrigued, James urged Ritz to interview him, too, for a biography. Decades of those interviews and research have become GLOW: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RICK JAMES (Atria Hardcover; 978-1-4767-6414-6; July 8, 2014; $26), a posthumously published memoir-in James’s own words-of the tumultuous life of the disco-age music superstar.

Famous for his shamelessly raunchy dance songs, Rick James never made a secret of his sex- and drug-loving lifestyle. In GLOW, he narrates his life from the setting of Folsom Prison, where he spent time in the 1990s as part of his sentence for assault and kidnapping. There, he met a fellow inmate named Brother Guru, and GLOW is written as a conversation with Guru, whose probing questions forced James to assess his past behavior.

Little James Ambrose Johnson was a voracious reader and musical prodigy whose mother worked as a cleaning lady and ran numbers at night to support her eight kids in Buffalo, New York. Noticing his interest in music, she sneaked him into nightclubs-where, hidden underneath cocktail tables, he was mesmerized by the performances of jazz musicians such as Etta James and Miles Davis. Years later, he would wander to Toronto, where he ended up playing with Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, and then California, to ultimately create music that led him to become a household name in the 1980s with hit songs like “Super Freak,” “Mary Jane,” and “17.”  Later in life, his unstoppable addictions to sex and drugs led him to prison.

In the pages of GLOW, readers learn of Rick James’s connection with dozens of music industry icons, including David Crosby, Marvin Gaye, Berry Gordy, Teena Marie, Prince, Diana Ross, Stephen Stills, Steven Tyler, and Stevie Wonder. He describes his epiphany, as a young man, at seeing John Coltrane and Jackie Wilson on the same night; explains the inspiration behind many of the tracks on his albums; shares how Stevie Wonder was the one who suggested he change his name to Rick James; reveals that the story crediting Diana Ross with discovering the Jackson 5 was fabricated-and who really discovered them; admits that he had several secret overdoses and sought one of the many Beverly Hills “Dr. Feelgoods” to prescribe pain pills; and regrets how he ruined a precious sketch of himself just created by the great artist Salvador Dali.

In GLOW, Rick James describes himself as “A rebel, a renegade, and artist-singer-writer-producer-bandleader intent on branding my identity in the most dramatic terms. My music was about me-a man deep into drugs, sex, and funk.” Yet, despite his bad boy behavior, Rick James was an undeniable talent and a unique, unforgettable human being. His “glow” was an overriding quality that one of his mentors saw in him-and one that will stay with readers who taste this wildly entertaining, profound autobiography of the man who left an indelible mark on American popular music.

RICK JAMES (1948-2004) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer, best known for popularizing funk music in the late 1970s and early 1980s with million-selling hits.



For more info, visit

Real Housewives of Atlanta Baggage‏

Copy of Housewives bookGriffin Scott Press announced a late September release date for Cynthia Bailey -Thomas’s and Peter Thomas’s urban memoir. The book chronicles the couple’s journey of courtship, marriage, financial comebacks and blending a family of six children.

Bailey-Thomas shares, “Peter and I did not write a book to give other couples relationship advise.  Our story is biographical and we hope it will serve as an inspiration to other couples finding love in the second half of their lives. We share the nitty-gritty of what it looks like to maintain passion in a mature relationship while balancing children, business and finances.”

The book’s title is a playful euphemism that defines all the moving pieces that come along with mid life marriage. The chapters delve into everything from Cynthia’s and Peter’s first date that was fifteen years in the making to their formula for successfully managing six children and five co-parents.

Readers will be stunned to learn how the ex-supermodel and restaurateur/entrepreneur shot to fame and joined the ensemble cast of Bravo’s hit reality show, The Real Housewives of Atlanta. “Carry-on Baggage” will inspire, provoke and make the reader laugh out loud as they take Cynthia and Peter’s nonstop flight to finding marital bliss.

MINI Night Out debuts at Lollapalooza!

Copy of Mini1Celebrities and influencers alike came out this weekend to experience MINI Cooper’s NEW Mini Paceman and check out some of the hottest Lollapalooza after parties including VIP passes to the ASOS Rocks event held at The Hard Rock Hotel, exclusive performances from Salt’N’Peppa at The Untitled and a special DJ performance by Ryan Cabrera at Ay Chiwowa!

Lollapalooza performers Imagine Dragons and Atlas Genius took the NEW Mini Paceman to their performances on the coveted Lollapalloza stage, Extra host Ben Lyons hopped a ride as he left the Hard Rock Hotel to partake in the festivities and DJ Ryan Cabrera even took his MINI Paceman to his set at Ay Chiwowa!

Upon reserving a ride for this coveted nightlife adventure, a nightlife chauffeur picked upMini2 guests in the brand new MINI Paceman, and took you to the hottest spots in Chicago whereupon they enjoyed a one of a kind VIP experience inside, all courtesy of UrbanDaddy and MINI.


“Love Comes In Every Shade” This Holiday Season At Gap

This holiday season, Gap’s new global marketing campaign, “Love Comes In Every Shade,” celebrates the colorful, optimistic holiday product Gap is known for and illustrates some of the many forms of love, from puppy love and married love to best friend love and sibling love.

Wearing the must-have gifts of the season in a range of colors, the campaign features a diverse group of actors, musicians and their loved ones. Each group represents a different relationship, including true love with actors Michael J. Fox and wife Tracy Pollan ; fatherly love with rapper Nas and his father, blues musician Olu Dara ; modern love with the cast of NBC’s “The New Normal”; self love with actress Aubrey Plaza ; puppy love with actor Jack Huston and his dog Orso; best friend love with director Gia Coppola and actress Nathalie Love ; and married love with musician Rufus Wainwright and artistic director Jörn Weisbrodt.

“This campaign features some well-known actors, musicians and their loved ones, all wearing clothes from our new holiday collection,” said Seth Farbman, Gap’s Global Chief Marketing Officer. “Their personal relationships help remind us that every family is unique and often goes beyond just those we’re related to—it also includes the people we share our lives and deepest passions with. This campaign celebrates these diverse, optimistic views on family and the many forms love can take.”

Sharing the Love

As part of the campaign in the U.S. and Canada, Gap is spreading love digitally through partnerships with online communities Postagram and Pinterest. Starting November 7, consumers can visit Postagram’s Facebook app to turn their photos from Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere into real postcards that will be mailed to their loved ones at no cost, courtesy of Gap. Then on November 12, users who pin Gap’s favorite holiday items to their Pinterest wish lists through an app on Gap’s Facebook page will be automatically entered to win a Gap gift card. Five winners will be selected each week through December 24., Gap’s digital catalog collaboration with well-respected fashion and lifestyle websites, continues with new content for the holiday gifting season. Each partner, including Refinery29, WhoWhatWear, Lookbook and Rue, will curate holiday gift guides from their own point of view. The gift guides will be based on different personality types, like ‘For My BFF’ and ‘For My Skater’ and utilize pieces from the Winter Icons collection alongside other covetable gift ideas specific to each personality.

The campaign will also appear in December issues of national magazines including Vogue, Lucky, InStyle, Glamour, People StyleWatch and Vanity Fair; outdoor in key markets including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago; and in digital advertisements. To follow the content, visit Gap’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram communities and join the conversation with the hashtag #GapLove.

Poet Young Flame, Blazin the Biz with Chicago at her Feet

By Sommer Thornton

Early spring, I got the chance to attend the Verses and Flow event sponsored by Lexus. Two great things happened that evening. I got to watch crooner Robin Thicke perform his sexy ballads, and I was introduced to a Chicago spoken word artist and her inspirational poetry. Antoinette Houston, aka Young Flame is a young woman with a lot to say about life, love, and her history, and she’s uninhibited when she’s performing.

 What sets Young Flame apart from a traditional spoken word artist who undulates their voice and uses boisterous gestures to animate their perspective, is that Young Flame takes complex topics, and breaks them down to their simplest form, making it stimulating and therapeutic. Her poem, I Don’t Wanna Be in Love, I Just Wanna Be In Like reacts to the complicatedness of falling in and out of love, and made me realize things about myself that, well, I hadn’t realized before. And another piece of hers, Fantasy is a romantic piece put to a smooth melody, where Young Flame almost sounds like she’s flowin.

 I got to chance to chat with Young Flame on a lovely afternoon about her inspirations, her roots, and her artistry:

UnRated: When I watched your performance the first thing I thought was “damn this girl is FIRE.” Is that how you got your name?

Young Flame: I was doing a show at All Hype City and after I performed someone in the audience said, “hey, that was fire.” The definition for me though is more than just a name. I was hoping to spark somebody. I wanna perform for people and have someone say, wow that drove me to do something, or drove me to say something.

UnRated: What I really enjoy about your art is that it’s relatable to me as a young black woman. What are some compliments from some unexpected supporters that you can recall?

Young Flame: Recently I did this piece called Sista You Mad and it was for this conference at UIC and the whole preface to the poem was to be to Sisters not meaning black women, but sisters meaning Women. And at the conference you had Black women, Caucasian women, Asian women, etc. And this Asian woman came up to me and she was like 18 or 19 and said, “I really liked your piece. I can really relate to your piece.” I wanted that but to hear it was like, wow.

 UnRated: Is most of your content factual or a mixture of fact and fantasy/fiction?

Young Flame: It’s real life. I think that’s the best way to be. So everything I say has either happened to me or happened to someone around me. I speak it out there in hopes that someone will feel it and to relate as well.

UnRated: How did you land that great gig with the Lexus, Verses and Flow?

Young Flame: I had heard about the show on TVOne. So I found the Talent Agent on Linked-In. I sent her an email telling her about myself and my bio, and I sent her a link to my video for I Don’t Wanna Be in Love, I Just Wanna Be In Like. Two weeks later she emailed me back saying, “wow your Facebook video was nice. I really appreciate you reaching out.” One week later she sent me a message saying, “We’re doing this event in Chicago, by any chance would you be in Chicago this particular weekend?” I happened to be in Chicago that weekend. I thought, wow, to represent my city for that particular platform, and for Lexus to be the host, I couldn’t think of anything better.

UnRated: Is doing poetry therapeutic for you?

Young Flame: Yes. It started as my diary when I was 11 years old. I didn’t know what poetry was at 11. It wasn’t until I was about 14-15 when I was like “whatever this is, I’m liking what this is.” It was my therapy to get out everything going on in my life.

UnRated: Who are some artists/ poets that have inspired you?

Young Flame: Definitely Jill Scott. I feel like she’s a storyteller. Lauren Hill is a landmark. Also Erykah Badu. Not just because they are in the category of neo soul. They are African American women I look to keep inspiring me within my art.

UnRated: Since you are so talented at changing your tone to blend with background vocals and you can ride a beat so well, do you sometimes find yourself flowing?

Young Flame: I’ve done improv for 5-6 years and I would do what’s called battle improv with one of my cast mates and he’s a rapper. A lot of times to keep up with him, I would switch my flow up. I didn’t want the audience to think, “guy against a girl, he’s gonna demolish her.” I wanted them to know I can throw the heat too.

UnRated: What is one piece that you perform that is the most emotional for you?

Young Flame: My first project was called “Boiling Point” and I called it that because I had a lot that I wanted to get out. And one of the signature pieces of Boiling Point was called Dear Mama. It was about me growing up with a mom struggling with substance abuse. She’s 7 years clean and sober now, but with that piece, I wanted to write a letter to my mom and to any young person that has gone through something like that and not had a strong enough voice to get those feelings out. Whenever I perform that piece, whether it’s for a small group, or whether it’s for people my age, it’s emotional because it’s real.

UnRated: I see the entertainment, advertising, and music industries opening their doors to incorporate spoken word into a number projects. Where do you see the most opportunity for you to grow as an artist and make money?

Young Flame: The sky is the limit. After that [Versus and Flow] event, a woman in charge of entertainment for Boeing came up to me and said she liked the piece so much that she asked would I be interested in doing something for them. To me it’s just an affirmation of, you never know whose watching. So I try and make my poetry something that is not just relatable, but have a feeling like it can fit in different elements, whether that’s a school, comedy show, or business like Boeing.

UnRated: What musician would you love to collaborate with?

Young Flame: Jill Scott and Common. Common because as an artist. I feel like he represents Chicago well. He’s a true lyricist. Both of them are strong performers that I would love to work with.

UnRated: Where are you from in Chicago?

Young Flame: I was born on the West Side, and I stayed there till I was 5 years old. Then my mom moved over to the South Side.

UnRated: How has where you grew up shaped your work?

Young Flame: Whenever I write or perform, it’s all based on Chicago. The culture and the landscape is always gonna be true to me.

UnRated: Do you think there are many opportunities to grow in Chicago?

Young Flame: Absolutely, to me Chicago and New York are the top cities for art such as this. You got the LA’s and the big markets for other things, but for hip-hop and for poetry, just the whole “real” element, I think that Chicago and New York are the main two markets.

UnRated: What advice would you give to a female artist residing in Chicago?

Young Flame: I would let her know not to try to fit a particular mold, to be what she wanted to be. Once you’re that, everyone will flock to you because they are feeling what you’re saying. Don’t try to be gimmicky.

UnRated: What’s on the horizon for you in 2012?

Young Flame: I just finished filming my EPK. That will give people an insight into who Young Flame is, what I’m doing, and where I’m trying to go. I record this weekend with a hip-hop artist from Chicago. He liked my piece I Just Wanna Be in Like so much that he’s doing a piece called, In Like. He flipped it and he wants me to write a piece talking about what ever happened to old school love, why is everybody liking each other instead of truly being in love. I’m hoping that my performance on the TVOne Live event will give me a spot on their Season 2 of Verses and Flow. I just got signed with a talent agency that will give me more print work, modeling, and acting projects. I’m also working on my next project, Journey of a Thought which I’m very excited about.

UnRated: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Young Flame: I hope that my poetry is branded in such a way that I finally get to perform with Jill Scott or Common, or at least they know my name. And I see myself making an impact on both young people and people my age as well. If I can do that, I’m winning!

Visit to check out more of Young Flame’s work!

Peep Young Flame performing her piece Swag -right in the epicenter of downtown Chicago!


Venting May Be Good For The Soul!

By Wendy Simmons

The one man show,”Wendell Tucker Hates the World, written by and starring Wendell Tucker is a hilarious yet intensely deep account of one man’s battle between the world and his sanity.

Tucker, also of the hip hop tribute “I Still Love Her”, once again produces an eye opening hard hitting punch to your psyche. In this rant of a play, Tucker discusses everything from love to the killing of Trayvon Martin, the economy, as well as his deep bout with depression. The recollection of his depression is what draws you into this man’s mind and helps you to understand why he may “hate the world”. This is an extremely well flowing, well transitioning way to hear how one person can see his surroundings and the massive amount of current events that are encompassing you daily.

But it’s not all about complaining and bashing…he offers and encourages suggestions on how to make this world better. It’s not for kids but it may give you ideas of what you should discuss with children afterward. Hurry and check out Wendell Tucker-Hates The World at the Provision Theater. Definitely worth the time and will spark conversations that you can take to the bar.

I give this $$$