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23 Sep

Design Your World: The Billie

As you all know, Billie Holiday is one of my heroes. When I listen to a song of hers like “God Bless the Child” or “Them There Eyes,” it strikes this feeling in me. It is so emotional and so real and it makes me feel inspired and alive. I really appreciate that about her.  

There is so much history and myth surrounding Billie Holiday. To design my new look, The Billie, I made sure to do my research. I stepped back in time as I learned about Lady Day and the jazz of her time on the West Coast. I imagined the Fillmore District when the streets were dotted with Jazz joints from the Alabam to Jimbo’s Bop City. It was an era when North Beach, Fillmore, the Tenderloin, and the Waterfront were all jumping to the beat of Jazz. And in my mind, I dressed to a T and went out on the town.  

I was sad to learn, however, that San Francisco wasn’t easy on Billie. Known for her tough edge, she had various run ins with the police throughout her life. In San Francisco, she was investigated and harassed by the police which lead to her arrest at the Mark Twain Hotel downtown.

But the spirit of this town remembers Billie for the amazing artist she was. Comstock Saloon is one of the few remaining places in San Francisco that still has live jazz music every night of the week. It is a North Beach gem with an unrivaled jazz vibe where the music and cocktails bring you back. What better place to pay homage to one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.

The picture of Billie wearing a beautiful checked dress has always stood out to me and I knew I wanted to incorporate it into this look. Although I don’t often design clothes with many colors or prints, I’ve challenged myself to do so this year! I have paired a red and black checked wrap front-tie top with wide-legged cropped trousers. Both of these items are really versatile. Billie’s feminine attributes are translated into the top while the trousers bring in a masculinity representative of the male-dominated jazz industry of her time. Come follow me down the block next week as I explore the flat-iron architecture of the Sentinel Building!

#designyoworld #thokitafeni

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