How well do you know The Fashion Spot Forums? The designers, stylists, bloggers, models, photographers, industry insiders, and dedicated fashionistas that contribute daily help make the fashion world spin while commenting passionately on every aspect of the industry. But exactly who are the women and men behind the usernames? In our new series, we'll profile some of the most interesting members of this invitation-only community to give you a peek inside the tFS forums.
Forum member Luxx, whose real name is Janelle Okwodu, is not only a valuable tFS contributor and moderator, she also successfully runs her own blog, sansartifice, is the Beauty & Fashion Editor of models.com, and has a loyal following on Twitter.
Having been a tFS member since 2005, fellow tFSers know and love her for her witty and beautifully written analyses of magazine covers and campaigns. As a fan of natural beauty, she was full of praise for the recent Vogue Italia with Isabella Rossellini on the cover and also declared her love for the Prada LG Phone 3.0 campaign with Daria Werbowy and Edward Norton in the forums, these being just two examples of her many contributions that will make you smile and nod in agreement simply because these posts ooze with enthusiasm.
Forum readers also appreciate that she occasionally shares her gorgeous and non-retouched pictures of top models such as Daria Strokus and Joan Smalls (below).
Janelle is equally enthusiastic about her jobs and new opportunities in the fashion industry and is always seeking new challenges. When she answered the questions for this member feature, she had just gotten back from Budapest where she served as a judge for a modeling contest for the first time saying, "It was very fun and gave me a chance to meet a lot of wonderful agents and scouts. I find that side of the industry so fascinating because it is really about discovering that diamond in the rough and then developing him or her into something great. There is an almost Pygmalion-esque side to it — it seems so fantastical in a way."
In our interview with Janelle for this profile, she shares what her main interests in the fashion world are and why the community character of tFS is a perfect resource even for people like her who are deeply connected with the industry themselves.
The Fashion Spot: Janelle, what do you like most about tFS?
Janelle Okwodu: I love the honesty and openness of the tFS community. So often in fashion you're only privy to sugarcoated viewpoints and it is difficult to find out people's real opinions. On tFS everyone has an opinion and isn't afraid to broadcast it loudly, which can be good or bad but is always entertaining and worth reading. I love pouring through the comments on brand new collections and campaigns to see the reactions from my favorite posters.
tFS: What are some of your favorite threads on tFS and why?
JO: I think my favorite threads are the ones where members get a chance to express themselves creatively. Things like the Vogue Cover Challenge or What Would You Wear Today are filled with a lot of interesting replies. As an accessories addict, I'm always pouring over the threads in Handbags looking to see what is the latest and most exciting new release — I also love to read the replies in Fashion In Depth. There are some really lovely and thoughtful discussions going on in there.
tFS: Which aspect of fashion interests you the most and why?
JO: Magazines and the creation of editorials have always interested me. There is so much exciting work that goes on behind the scenes, so to see the final product is really a treat. With a truly good magazine issue you really get a taste for all the best the industry has to offer. There are some fashion editorials that are on par with art — when I see one that is truly amazing I save it, either on my computer (probably why I'm running out of hard drive space) or in a giant binder I've been building for years. When I need inspiration, I go back and I look at those images.
Runway fashion is also a big focus of mine. Nothing is more exciting than seeing the collections every season and watching as designers evolve and change. I also have to say that I love the breakneck pace of fashion week, the models, the street style photographers, the makeup artists and hair stylists — so much creativity everywhere you look and such energy.
Oh, and I like models too.
tFS: How did you get involved in the fashion industry?
JO: I had always loved fashion, but I never really considered it a career. I always felt like the people involved in the industry were all preternaturally gorgeous socialites, or glamorous former models — I didn't really feel as though there would be a place for a regular girl from Long Island. I figured that I could maybe start a blog, or have fun posting comments online, but I'd never be able to actually experience fashion from the inside. Luckily, I had the pleasure of doing some internships in college that really opened my eyes and made me see that the people behind the scenes come from all over the world, all different backgrounds, etc. Style is always important, but not everyone looks like they stepped out of the pages of Vogue Paris. Ironically enough, it was working in the modeling industry that let me see the variety of different people working within the business. I've learned so much from the whole team at Models.com, Betty, Stephan, Wayne — they've all really contributed to my start in the biz and taught me so much.
tFS: What is your motivation for contributing to tFS in addition to running your own blog and working for other websites?
JO: I just want to continue learning new things and sharing with the members here. I've made some wonderful friends on tFS over the years and learned so much just by reading through threads and hearing what members have to say and looking at what they have to share, either about fashion or just about themselves. My only hope is that my contributions have been valuable and possibly helped someone else out who is learning about fashion or modeling.