February 2016

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Finding the One.

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Dear NoteBrooke,

After launching a full blown career in fashion upwards of one year ago and spending the greater portion of my life (we’re talking at least from toddlerhood and beyond here) attempting to effectuate a level of stylistic perfectionism that could only be categorized as a derivative of some severe form of obsessive compulsive disorder, you’d think that I would have managed to find the perfect “go-to” white T-shirt by now.  Assuredly, such an acute wardrobe staple should hold a ubiquitous presence in the closet of any fashionista looking to birth her own stylistic identity, let alone one who works to create different looks for a living.

But while I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time contorting my limbs into various states of distress, switching from outfit to outfit in the tiniest…and grimiest…of Soho café restrooms (think mysteriously sticky floors), and then emerging from the ordeal(s) looking “freshly powdered enough” to shoot my next post, I still couldn’t manage to ascertain the holy grail of must have items of apparel — that is, a perfectly fitting white tee.

…until I stumbled upon this gem.

So, THANKS, Kate Spade New York!

In celebration of the fact that I no longer have to tip toe into my fiancés closet to swipe one of his oversized monsters, attempting to fold, tuck and maneuver it so that the fabric somehow falls well enough (Is that really the barometer for acceptability in the way of apparel purchases?!) to be photographed for an upcoming shoot, I incorporated my newly acquired and perfectly fitted Kate Spade top into three different looks today. With Spring quickly approaching, I’ve been big on new discoveries of late, including, of course, this long sought after wonder. In fact, I’m seriously lusting after various KSNY goodies at the moment. Take a look for yourselves, my loves, and let me know what you think!

X,

Brooke

Daddyless Daughters.

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I’m a magnet for anything involving Iyanla Vanzant. The very title of her show on OWN contains a command to “Fix My Life!” so I mean, really, what more could a viewer ask for in the way of a reality television spiritual guru.

Although I’ve admittedly scoured perused old Iyanla YouTube episodes with titles like, “A Father of 34 Children Confronts His Painful Past,” and “My Toxic Obsession: A Former Model Battles an Addiction to Butt Injections For Beauty,” it was the five minute segment called “Daddyless Daughters” that rendered me something of a human rag doll — a sudden mix of nausea, full body shakes, tears and snot — lying solo in the fetal position on my bathroom floor.

Sorry neighbors. Sorry readers.

But you see, I am a Daddyless daughter.

That I might possess a societally ordained disguise as a well bred, high functioning woman with two parents who live in the heart of Greenwich, Connecticut, matters little when Iyanla poignantly, and so fucking factually, states the obvious — “Daddy Gone –” encouraging all of the other daddyless daughters in the audience to own the enormity of their pain/hurt/confusion via the use of three short, grammatically incorrect syllables that cut, like a flesh ripping blunt blade, right to the crux of the matter.

Daddy Gone.

Statistics would suggest that I’m one of twenty-four million Americans who grew up in a biological father absentee home and that — for all intents and purposes — I’m decidedly one of the more fortunate byproducts of a broken system.

It stands to reason then that I’ve never allowed myself to bask in an elongated state of self-pity or to feel the residual effects of a rejection that I still can’t even really begin to process myself. Although I was made aware of the sobering, “wow-this-is-really-kind-of-a-conversation-STOPPER” circumstances surrounding the situation, like my father’s apparent demands for my mother to have a first trimester abortion (cat’s out of the bag now, guys!), by the age of fifteen, I was determined to play sleuth, spending my summer vacay hidden away on the desktop computer in my attic and ascertaining all of my Dad’s noticeably covert contact information while blasting Ashlee Simpson’s, “Pieces of Me.” Eventually, I reached out to him via letter (From what I’d been told, we both had a penchant for writing) and we actually corresponded via a series of enthusiastically riddled long distance phone calls.

But for reasons that I can’t quite make sense of, the deeply articulate voice on the other end of the line suddenly slipped away again like a helium balloon passing through the fingers of a credulous child as it soars through the boundless blue sky above. Fly if you must, John, but fix me first. Give me back the piece of myself that you took with you at the outset.

Beyond the absence of my “bio dad,” one could easily assert that I lead a fairly privileged existence, especially because at the age of five, my stepfather arrived onto the scene like a brand new pink Power Wheels Corvette convertible (That was the hot toy car circa 1992) — the pinnacle of big red bow surprises sent straight from the universe.

Offering up an entirely new identity that came replete with a two-parent family, a big white house, pre-paid tuitions aplenty, and a little sister, to boot, surely, I could no longer be categorized as a daddyless daughter.  In fact, even within my household, we rarely spoke about the subject or mentioned the fact that I had another father floating around somewhere within the continental United States.

Here’s the thing: my stepfather provided for me as if I were his own, and I believe that he genuinely intended to view me as his biological daughter. My Dad, as I came to call him, was indisputably good to me for the large majority of my life. That said, there was always a palpable disconnect that existed between us — an unspoken, if not inconvenient and tragic truth, that alluded to the fact that a fundamental piece of our emotional bond was mysteriously absent.

I can’t speak from his perspective, of course, but I can tell you that although I loved him, I loved him, I loved him, I consistently felt largely inadequate beneath the glare of his presence. The relaxed cadence that he seemed to enjoy around my mother and sister quickly dissipated when it came to striking up conversation with me.  Was there something wrong with the way in which I communicated?  Was I boring?  Was I stupid?  Worse yet, was I a subconscious physical reminder of another man — one with dark features and Grecian roots?  As a child, I really didn’t want to be that; the very idea of it sickened me to my core and made me feel guilty, helpless and dirty.

Although I’m deeply appreciative of it and believe that it’s something that shouldn’t just be swept under the rug, I needed more than the financial stability that my stepdad afforded me. I craved some further measure of warmth, expression, cajoling, empathy, humor, love –- anything to break the unyielding glacial barrier that rudely, aggressively, purposely wedged itself between us for twenty some odd years.  If I could have knocked it down by myself, believe me, I would have, but ultimately, it was too strong, and I needed his focus and concentration to dismantle it in its entirety.

Of all the people that I’ve encountered in my life (sans my biological father of course because, well, again, I’ve never actually encountered him), ironically, my stepdad was the only one who I could never quite win over despite my foremost efforts. I always believed that if we could somehow remove the invisible wedge that consistently drove us into an awkward abyss of horrible politeness, struggling at times even to form small talk, we could’ve enjoyed a profoundly rewarding father/daughter relationship.

Recently, my Dad and I decided to go our separate ways. He’s another helium balloon in the bright blue sky now, and regardless of our conclusion, I’ll always pray that he soars safely and peacefully amongst the gentlest of winds.

But I had to stop looking up at the sky in order to face what’s right here in front of me.

At the end of the YouTube segment, Iyanla sat upright in front of the women like some kind of eretheral maternal deity.  She encouraged them to “clutch their pearls,” which is really code for “I’m-Iyanla-Vanzant-and-I’m-about-to-dispense-some-really-fucking-unbelievable-wisdommmmmmm-so-listen-up.”

And then she chided, “You really have to be able to forgive yourself for the things you told yourself as the result of the story that you made up about the reason why your father wasn’t there.”

In doing this — that is, in retracting all of the less than kind words and sentiments that I’ve developed throughout the course of my life about myself, I’m healing.

While I try to reserve most of my blog entries for substantially more uplifting topics, the preeminent reason for creating the written portion of NoteBrooke.com was to normalize either esoteric, unattainable or hard to talk about topics — to make them more chit chat worthy and less… dire.

So, here’s my truth: I’m a Daddyless daughter, and I forgive myself for it anyway.

The Real Deal: Fashion Week from An Interloper in Disguise as An Insider

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[Photography by Alexandra Wolf]

Pre and post the age of Mira Duma/Olivia Palermo/Julia Sarr Jamois permeating the walls of every single lust worthy Pinterest Board scattered across the web, I vaguely recall noticing signs – clandestine, if not purposely whispered intimations – that suggested that New York Fashion Week was lingering near and upon us in the same discreet manner that a dimly lit UFO might if were to make a brief appearance on a grassy plain somewhere in the Midwest.

But as quickly as those denim on leather on cashmere clad uber focused street style strutters could disappear back into wherever they came racing out of in the first place, the elusive production, in all of its unattainable grandeur, was dismantled in a manner that was as brisk as it was discouraging to the industry Outsider (“Outsider,” in this context, was decidedly meant to be written with a capital “O” and to be megaphoned if ever verbalized aloud) who couldn’t manage to comprehend that golden tickets were never going to become available via a magical chocolate factory…or even, like, on StubHub.

When I first attempted to onboard myself to the tenth planet [that is fashion], I was consistently advised that such a feat would be a task on par with assuming the position of a Greco Roman wrestling champ. Regaled with vague idioms about impenetrable walls and impossible growth beyond the retail sector alone, I lucidly recounted only two clear-cut facts in the frustratingly ambiguous haze that I perpetually encountered. Nepotism wouldn’t be an option  because not only had I somehow failed to acquaint myself with a single soul in “corporate” (whatever that actually means, anyway) throughout the course of my life, but invariably, I wouldn’t be considered for anything without at least a Derek Lam internship (or six) listed somewhere immediately prior to tenth grade anyway. That said, I also knew that I had soaked up every element of clothing since my toddlerhood and that I was willing to work harder than I ever had before to prove my worth to anyone that would have me.

No one would have me.

When NoteBrooke was conceived, I had little to no idea that the blogosphere, save for, like, Sincerely Jules, worked so closely in tandem with the fashion industry. Shortly after the time in which I initially met my photographer, Alex, the Spring 2016 shows were closely upon us, and she casually questioned me about which ones I was scheduled to attend.

…c-o-m-e  a-g-a-i-n.

Go to a show? How? Why? And WHO would want me at their acclaimed, insider laden production? True, I’d experienced a mild degree of positive feedback in the way of sharing my personal style posts online, but I never really believed that my passion would equate to any measure of tangible success or liquidity. Alex, in her ever diplomatic but wholly practical manner, suggested that I merely reach out to the requisite PR departments of presenting designers and…ask.

So I did. And I heard back. And I got invitations and seating assignments. What’s more, immediately prior to the shows, street style photographers snapped my looks, and I realized, that I, too, had become one of those denim on leather on cashmere clad uber focused strutters outside of Moynihan Station.

But here’s the thing: as I’ve progressed, attending fittings, pulling items from showrooms, and Snap Chatting from my [sometimes] front row seats, I still find myself silently shrieking: “There’s been a huge mistake here, people! This seat is reserved for someone important, for someone who’s able to intellectualize every single garment that she sees on a passing model and to explain why it’s Fall 2016.  I’m just a girl who lives for the way an outfit can change one’s whole demeanor, one’s whole outlook on any given day.”  And don’t get me wrong — I still have a LONG way to go. Even now, for instance, I have no concept of how girls get backstage at DVF, snapping Kendall and Gigi in their wrap dresses before running back to Tresemme to get freshly milk braided.  But I do get to see my work equate to something that I’ve always desired, so in a sense, I guess those golden tickets really do exist.

 

 

 

 

“You’re Really Like, Um…A Fashion Blogger?”

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[Photography by Alexandra Wolf]

Dear NoteBrooke,

As the slightly wayward spawn of two Ivy League educated, fiscally oriented parents, I was raised to believe that success was something tantamount to a combination of corporate America and intensive/unyielding discipline.

Despite the fact that I spent the majority of my childhood altering my desired career trajectory more frequently than most people change their bed sheets and that my projected job descriptions ranged from Grammy Award winning songstress (That I had no rhythmic ability to speak of mattered little — invariably, I would release an album rivaling that of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits), to public relations mogul (Think Jonathan Cheban status) to corporate attorney, the underlying premise remained consistent. That is to say, I would achieve an expansive, longterm career that equated to mass public credence and a lofty measure of self sustaining financial stability.

I proceeded forth and realized many of my pre established goals. By twenty-three, for instance, not only had I long since graduated from a reputable university, but I also went on to complete three additional years of intensive schooling, earning my Juris Doctorate degree. Ostensibly, that propelled me further towards a tangible piece of paper proof that I was more than just a walking lipstick. And, at twenty-six, I stood smack dab in the center of a New York City newsroom and watched a piece that I produced air on national television for the first time.So, when I opted to become a bloggerwhich is unequivocally the single worst job title in the world second to… hooker…maybe, I never anticipated that I would be nearly as enamored with the endeavor as I am. Garnering a bold base of female followers who corresponded with me about a plethora of deeply personal, intellectual and relevant issues, I found it indescribably gratifying to share my life in all of its edited and unedited splendor.

Then came this gem:

Disgruntled Instagram User #1: “Before you try to relate to people, understand that most people don’t live the way you do yet manage to be as inspiring without it. The “’fans’” who don’t see through you are kind of pathetic.”

Followed closely by:

Disgruntled Instagram User #2: “In fact, on her blog posts, she has never even practiced law…probably because it would be too hard/too many hours.”

Since commencing this endeavor, I’ve been referred to as “SO ugly,” “SO fake,” “painful to look at,” “disgustingly thin,” et.al. People have questioned whether my hair is actually a wig that — unbeknownst to me — was somehow placed haphazardly on top of my head. They’ve fervently insisted that I must spend my days spinning around in the mirror while snapping an endless barrage of selfies. None of these comments have ever particularly jarred me or even warranted a block.

That said, why would the above mentioned sentiments inflict a substantially more serious wound?

The premise of my blog has a lot to do with a self propelled, if somewhat grassroots, effort to stop the incessant marginalization of women. I will never be only one thing — neither will you.  I promise.

So Y-E-S.  In many respects, it’s true: I’ve been blessed enough to lead a privileged life. It’s not as if that somehow evaded my conscious mind, rendering me immune to the sentiments of my readers. But here’s the thing — I’m not trying to portray myself as Lena Dunham’s ultra relatable, female friendly character in Girls either. My privilege is a single piece of a comedically large, overtly complex puzzle – one that a renown psychiatrist strives to put together twice a month before prescribing my recommended daily dosage of Clonopin and Zoloft and standing up to signify that my time.is.really.up. That means:

Get out, Brooke, and reenter the world all by yourself. Whether or not you feel like you’re going to fucking drop dead, face first on the pavement, you’ll survive this one too.

I’m not a character. I’m a real woman.  In the same way that I wouldn’t intentionally overshadow my posts with visions of deliberate ostentatiousness, I also wouldn’t linger on the abuses that I’ve endured throughout my life, the moments of intensive self loathing that I’ve grappled with for decades, or the more cringe worthy decisions that have come to define significant portions of my adulthood.  Because it’s all me.  But I do fervently hope that, in choosing to be rather unfiltered in my writing, my readers will feel comfortable being equally candid with me. While plenty of people perceive blogging as being a thinly veiled excuse to retire early and procreate, I can honestly attest to the fact that I generally work from about 10 am to 1 am, and that I make my own living off of this endeavor, which is both my passion and my career. Listen, I’m not operating under the pretense that what I’m doing is neurosurgery. But I love the idea of creating a space where people can be inspired and feel comfortable to be themselves, and I’m proud to say that this little big blog, and everything that comes along with it, is truly my life’s work.

X,

B