This month, our curated collection of workwear is modeled by strong women of the Pittsburgh art world. Business as usual is anything but ordinary for these well-rounded gals, meaning a typical day calls for chic and versatile pieces that go from office to opening – all while exhibiting their unique style. Of all the marvelous things they’ve achieved, their magnum opuses are the profound impacts they’ve had in their field and in their communities.
Meet Celeste Smith
Tell us a bit about what you do.
I do a whole lotta different stuff. I am Chief Executive Officer of 1Hood Media, a collective of socially conscious Hip Hop artists and activists. I am chair and co-founder of the Nefertiti Alliance, a cohort of Black women arts administrators vested in the self care and cultural capital of Black Women. I am also an Independent Arts and Community Engagement Consultant weaving connections between various stakeholders; from community to philanthropy to business. Now, I can add supermodel…thanks ModCloth! Pretty much Queen of the Universe.
Who is your favorite artist, and why do you identify with them?
My favorite artist is Jasiri X. But, honestly, I think I’m a touch biased. So, on par with Jasiri is Frida Kahlo. She was so beautifully flawed. Her work is intimate, political, and personal. She was a strong woman who wasn’t afraid to express her mind, sexuality, fragility or love. Though she was hardly a victim, her work speaks to pain and survival. Her legacy honors the duality in us all as we strive to navigate the maze called life.
What are a few fun facts about yourself?
- I love the ” F ” word. It is such a great word that fits so many situations. I would use it right now if it was appropriate.
- Although I am not known as an artist, per se, I am. I consider myself a writer, a painter, and a stylist. I was an artist in residence last summer at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and was recently nominated for the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards, here in Pittsburgh.
- If extremely alebriated and given the opportunity to sing karaoke I would so sing, “Why’d You Come in Here” by Dolly Parton. Dolly Parton is hella talented, but crazy! That songs cracks me up. She said, “…in your high heeled boots and your painted-on jeans, all decked out like a cowgirls dream” like who says that? Is she trying to tell us about her Prince fetish? Just saying…
My personal style is a happy medium between a burka and a mini-skirt.
I love this question. Basically, an art form is a manner of creative self expression. My creative and social media presence is curated under the name Haute Muslim. I came up with this name a few years ago as a fashion blogger annoyed with a fashion industry that ignored the nuanced existences of women who love fashion. There were few fashion campaigns that resonated with my personal style. ModCloth understands these nuances and the companies creation is borne of a similar dissatisfaction. Who we are, whether we like it or not, is translated by our personal style. The colors we love and the clothing we select are unique expressions of where we are in our personal lives. Man, we are walking palettes of joy, pain, our cultural affinities, and our vocations. Have you seen how a fabulous an A-line skirt moves? That’s art…that’s happiness. Have you peeped the construction in an sheath dress? That’s vision.
A friend of mine, Lisa Yancey, who is a bad ass entrepreneur once told me a story about how she took six months off to write the strategic plan for her life while living in the south of France. Now take a moment to let that sink in. I’ll wait. I said this self employed Black woman took off six months off to write the strategic plan for her life while living in the south of France. Not a few days…a month…not in Brooklyn..the south of France…not a strategic plan for a company...for herself. She shared with me how well meaning people tried to dissuade her…how prepared she had to be mentally and financially to take such a step, away from her business and life. Mostly, how she took the time to concentrate on self. To hone in on what were her personal goals, aspirations, and internal motivations. The best advice I received? Stop. Lisa’s advice taught me to take a few moments to figure out who I am and what I wanted to do with my life. As a wife, mother, and someone concerned with community, oft time my focus is more outward, than inward. Check in with self first and then make your decisions. Otherwise, you could end up working your entire career in an environment you hate, with folks you hate, doing stuff you hate.