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James J. Robinson

The Safire Homme

December EDITION

Featuring James J. Robinson

Interview by Léla Sophia

Léla Sophia: How would you describe your photography style?  How has your style developed?

James J. Robinson: My photography style all comes down to lighting.  Lighting has been such an important part of my development, not only as an artist but as a human in that when I was younger and whenever I was feeling really sad and wanted to process my emotions, as a child who didn’t really know how to process those emotions, I’d always go into a room and first thing I would do would be to change the lighting.  I’d put a shirt over my bedside lamp that would turn the room blue; or turn on fairy lights.  I’d always alter the lights in some way to reflect on the way that I was feeling.  I didn’t realize that was a weird thing to do until a year ago.  I noticed the link between my emotions and lighting, so when I started photographing, if I was feeling really happy or feeling really sad, the first thing I would think about would be how can I adjust the lighting in this image to reflect how I’m feeling at the moment, or to reflect how I feel about or a subject or an object; whatever I’m taking photos of.  I honestly see my photography as coming second to my lighting design.  My style has more to do with lighting than it does to do with photography.  

LS: How did growing up in Melbourne, Australia influence your style?

JJR: I think growing up in Melbourne was good because it’s so supportive for lots of young artists. It’s kind of perfect because there’s a big industry there but it’s made up of people who are all friends with each other.  To come from a city where everyone is supporting each other as artists from the very beginning was fundamental to me reaching the point that I have because it meant that I wasn’t chucked into the deep end when I was younger, and was really given the time to experiment with styles and different people, to see what energy I worked with best.  I think most of my style comes from all the films that I’ve watched more than anything though.  When it comes to photography, I’m always pulling references from old films that I really love, or foreign films that I love.  Melbourne mixed so many different cultures, so I was able to experiment using these different weird films as reference. 

LS: What are some of your favorite films?
JJR: There are so many, and I have them all tattooed on my arms.  When it comes to lighting, Wong Kar-Wai has been a really big influence in my life. He’s this filmmaker from Hong Kong who makes all these amazing films, mostly in nighttime light.  He’s someone who I’ve always thought has had a similar idea of emotion when it comes to lighting.  I love Japanese Cinema, Still Walking is one of my favorite films; I love Taiwanese cinema, Yi Yi is one of my favorite films, lots of different films.  

LS: What is your definition of style?

JJR: I think my definition of style is an external interpretation of your identity.  I don’t think style is something that is defined by trends, or something that’s defined by anything.  Someone can be really, really stylist, you can catch someone on the subway and see the way someone is holding their hands and see how it extends through their posture.  I think style is just so much more than clothing, and more about the way that you hold yourself as an exterior or the way that you embody your flesh.  Someone who is stylish is someone who is authentic to their identity.  

LS: What is the one thing you can’t leave the house without doing?

JJR: I have such specific routines. The second I wake-up, I need to read the news.  And then because all of my friends live in Australia, I always have to reply to my friends in the morning.  I think it’s also mainly just a process of making breakfast for myself and spending the time just being along and getting ready.  I am reading this really beautiful book at the moment by Hans-Ulrich Obrist that has this really beautiful quote and this one line about waking up in the morning.  “Waking in the morning is like staring into the abyss, looking into the universe.” which I think is a really nice way to wake up.  Always keeping in mind the universality of every day.  

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7 Black Owned Businesses You Can Buy Jewelry from Right Now

The Safire Homme

June edition

7 Black Owned Businesses You Can Buy Jewelry from Right Now 

Article by Dillon Firestein

Union LA

unionlosangeles.com 

Union is a well known staple in the fashion community, especially for West Coasters.  Many don’t know that the shop originally opened in downtown New York, in the late 80’s.  The shop is owned by Chris Gibbs, who started by working at the original NYC location.  Union’s focus might not be jewelry, but they’ve got a great selection of vintage sterling silver pieces, as well as designer jewelry from brands like Kapital and Enfants Riches Deprimes that changes season to season. 

Source - Instagram, @chrisunion
Source, Instagram @calvynjames

Cowboy Studios

cowboy-studios.com

Cowboy Studios is a line of clothing and jewelry started by artist Calvyn James.  His designs are simple and versatile, and all have a flare of modernity.  As the name might suggest, James is a Texas native and shows influence of his cultural background in his jewelry and clothing.  His jewelry line is offered right here at Safire Homme, and he additionally has his own website.  The Angels Eye Necklace is a staff favorite.  

 

 

Source - Instagram, @nandi.naya

Nandi Naya

nandinayanyc.com

Nandi Naya is a delicate line of handcrafted jewelry created by designer Hleziphansi Zita.  Her work reflects strong ties to her heritage, and features sterling silver and gold plating.  Even though her line is designed for women, the line’s versatility allows it to be worn by all.  Most pieces are made to order, so your purchase directly supports the artist, as well as ensuring you of the work and care that has gone into the piece that you get.  

Edas

edas.store

Edas is an elegant line of jewelry deisnged by Sade Mims, hence the brand’s name.  The NYC based line speaks volume for the wearer.  Most of her jewelry is made of brass, giving the wearer some flash at an entry level price point.  Wires bent into different shape are a common theme across her pieces. 

Source - Instagram, @sademims

Marche Rue Dix

marcheruedix.com

Marche Rue Dix is a boutique in Brooklyn, New York.  While their products cover everyday essentials from skincare to incense, they also have a gorgeous line of jewelry.  Their finely detailed pieces are all handmade in Senegal, and are made of sterling silver.  Their line also embraces the beauty and uniqueness that comes from a handmade line, emphasizing that no pieces are exactly alike.  Some of the pieces are plated in white gold, and the plating process for these takes place in New York. 

 

Source - marcheruedix.com
Source - Flanelle magazine, issue 20, photographer Steven Milnes

Yam NYC

yamnyc.com

Yam is a handmade jewelry line based in Queens, New York.  The brand is a tribute to the designer’s mother, who introduced her to jewelry making when she was young.  The jewelry utilizes upcycled materials to lessen the environmental impact of jewelry making.  This understated line has a piece for every jewelry collector.

Telfar

telfar.net

If you don’t already know Telfar, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past two years.  Founded by Telfar Clemens, a New York Native, the unisex brand is unquestionably designer “for everyone”.  The brand is widely known for its shopping bags, but they also have a simple line of branded jewelry.  The branding as minimal and tasteful as it is on their shoppers, and the jewelry’s thin and delicate nature makes It wearable with numerous different looks.

Source - Instagram, @oyinda
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Michael Blume

The Safire Homme

March EDITION

Featuring Michael Blume

Interview by Léla Sophia and Dillon Firestein

Léla Sophia: What’s your personal style for performing? 

Michael Blume: Recombination is a good word.  I’m interested in recombining elements of style and traditions that you wouldn’t expect together.That might be traditional with progressive, that might be masculine with feminine, that might be old school with new school.  I’m interested in what it means to recombine different elements of different tropes of style and create new definitions.  {I express myself with} outfits, makeup, silhouettes.  I want to give people enough that they’re familiar with, but also there’s something about that familiarity that’s new.  That doesn’t just go for how I present myself aesthetically, but also I think a good pop song does that.  A good pop song is just familiar enough, but also has a twist or an unexpected piece, so I also take this approach with my songwriting.  

LS: Do you have any pre-performance regimens?

MB: It really depends on the performance or the show.  Nothing super strict, I’m meditating, maybe I’m warming up, drinking a lot of water.  Sometimes I’m more nervous than others, sometimes I just need to be alone, and other times I’m very chill.  I don’t have one of those, “this is what I have to do before I go on stage.”  There’s a lot of prepping, I want to make sure I love the way I look.  I want to make sure I feel confident, definitely trying to get my look right.  Maybe I’m going over with the band, talking through the set, transitions, hits, “Don’t forget in the second chorus that XYZ happens.”  I definitely value the theatrics of it and come from a theatrical background.  I definitely admire musical artists that, for them, a live show is a full project, it’s different from making a record in the studio.  This is a show, it’s only going to happen this one time with this one group of people in this space.  We might do it again tomorrow, but it’s going to be different tomorrow.  That’s what I love about live performance and about theater, is that it’s just this one time.    

Dillon Firestein: How have the ways that you express yourself changed as your’ve grown as an artist?

MB:  I think one way that I’ve changed a lot is I used to feel like I had a lot more to prove, and I used to need to tell the world, “This is me and I’m gonna be me and f**k you if you don’t like it.”  And now I think I accept myself a lot more.  I think I’m a lot more comfortable with who I am, so there’s less of a need to prove myself.  Now it’s more like, ” This is me, I’m going to be me, I’m the only me.  Your’e you, you’re the only you, be you.”  Let’s all just be ourselves and it’s all good.          

 

DF: What’s your favorite song to perform and why? 

MB:  I love performing Manufactured Love, I Wanna Know, and How High.  What I would say about those three songs is they’re all very intimate, more laid back, very honest lyrics.  One of the things I love to do and feel empowered doing with my artistry is sharing who I am with audiences I don’t know.  I think people are’t always used to people sharing so openly.  I think one of the most powerful tools I have as an artist on stage is saying “it’s okay to talk about your s**t, I’m talking about mine and you can too.”  We’re all just humans, we all have a lot going on, it’s all good.  Those three songs in particular allow me to name some of my insecurities, and vulnerabilities.  I like having people have to think and reflect on what I’m saying.  How does that affect their life and their perspective.  At the same time, I love doing a beat dance song where I can see everyone’s having a good time in the crowd.       

DF: Where do you come from and how did it shape you?

MB:  I’m from Montclair, NJ, close by.  I went to public school in Montclair my whole like, and it’s a diverse town, so I grew up with all kinds of people.  I think being around a lot of different kinds of people from a young age, and having close relationships with people who were from different spaces and classes and different racial backgrounds than me, that empowered me to say “people are different, that’s dope, that’s powerful.”  That’s something that has empowered me and taught me to understand humanity, to understand that all of us are so valuable and so different and there’s so much value in our differences.  I think celebrating differences is something that has come Ito my style, songwriting, and overall artistic mission.   

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LoftBlue

The Safire Homme

February EDITION

Featuring LoftBlue

Interview by Léla Sophia

Léla Sophia: You’re currently finishing up your album, what is the inspiration behind it? 

LoftBlue: The album is inspired by the fact that I wanted to create music that essentially came from the heart with no set idea of this system that we have to follow.  So I wanted to create music that people could also understand that comes from a real place that they’ll want to listen to and will relate to.    

LS: Do you have a favorite song or verse you can share?

LB: My favorite song so far is called Ultra Gold.  I talk about my real life, I talk about the process what I went through growing up and my perspective of how I view of the world.  Being able to put that into a song that people can listen to so they can come up with their own perspective on how to feel at that moment.  

LS: How has your art changed who you are?

LB:  My music took away a lot of fear and taught me to love myself more.  It helped me to understand that who I was is something I shouldn’t be afraid of.  It taught me that no matter what I do, the reason why I’m doing this is because it’s what I do and how I feel, and I should always keep that same vision.  I said to myself that if I do this the last time, it’s forever, so I’m keeping it so purely how I feel despite what direction anybody thinks I should go.  I’m working with my friends, and it’s shown me who’s really willing to work, it’s shown me who’s really willing to care about what the fuck I’m doing.  It just gave me a whole new perspective on my life, my friends, my family.  It’s who I am today, as much as who I was yesterday and who I’m gonna become in the future.  It’s been a mirror in front of me the whole entire way.  I think the most beautiful part about this is that eventually all of this fear that I always keep with me, I realized if I wasn’t afraid, like why am I even doing this.  It’s that that reminds me to keep moving forward.        

 

LS: How has being born and raised in Brooklyn influenced your musical style? 

LB:  Being born in Brooklyn gave me a raw perspective, and taught me how to really focus.  At the time, growing up in Brooklyn, it was a little rougher, a little more difficult, even though it was more community based I think.  So when I make music I think about where I’m from.  I’ll always have this fire, and a lot of good and bad trauma, which helped mold who I am today.  

LS: You have released three mixtapes leading up to your debut album, how has each project influenced the next?

LB:  The first tape was the tape that I said, if I’m gonna do music again, I’m gonna do it my way.  I’m gonna make music that expresses how I feel, despite whatever I think people wanna hear.  So my first tape purely came from the heart.  My second tape I made for Brooklyn.  Not just for Brooklyn but it was a perspective on Brooklyn, so when you listen to it, you would be able to feel what it was like to be there in that moment.  The third tape after the OLDBROOKLYNTAPE was a tape that was probably more of a release for me.  I was able to talk more about family issues, I was able to talk more about my love life, more emotional content in a sense.  The album now is an accumulation of all three tapes and the growth and the process in which I’ve been through that I’m able to place all in one space now.      

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Sedric Perry

The Safire Homme

January EDITION

Featuring Sedric Perry

Interview by Léla Sophia

Léla Sophia: You’ve been living in Berlin now for over two years, how has the Berlin music scene changed your music?

Sedric Perry: I feel like it’s allowed me to develop it, or at least my style, like what I want to say and how I want to say it.  Honestly, there’s  a different level of musicianship in New York so I kind of miss that, but I’ve definitely found a lot of freedom in the music by living somewhere else where nobody really knows me.

LS: Between Philly, New York, and Berlin, three key places you have lived, which city defines you most?

SP: I am a man of the world!  Nah, I mean there are moments that I feel definitely like a Philadelphian, I think Philly people have their own way of operating, and just existing in spaces in a way that’s very chill, but also like, okay I’m here.  I think I take that with me wherever I go.  Europe has definitely rubbed off on me a lot, but I get my hustle mentality from New York, so it’s definitely a blend.  Philly is where it all started, that’s where the attitude comes from, New York provided some inspiration, experience, some hustle, and Berlin is just like a different world.  

LS: You’re in a music duo called Fhat, and you also do your own music. How is the process similar or different in regards to writing either for Fhat or for your own music?

SP: I think what I like about Fhat is that we’re very different individually, so two parts make up the whole.  Sometimes when we’re writing we’ll go to separate corners, and we’ll write to a beat and we’ll come back a be like, “oh this all fits so perfectly together, we’re literally talking about the same thing, we’re in sync!”:  Before we were even a duo, we’ve always had this weird synergy thing.  We can’t quite figure it out, but things just kind of line up with us.  We have familiar backgrounds, and similar outlooks on things, with very different approaches, which is what I think keeps it fun.  For my own music, I kind of approach it in a similar way, in that I like to write with other people.  All my releases are with somebody that has touched me in some way, or a new friend, or somebody that I’ve really wanted to work with on a song that I’m featured on.  It’s always very conversational and personal about what I’ve been through, whereas I feel Fhat is a bit more fun, and reflects how I feel about the world.  Music is a very, very personal thing, it can be at least, and it affects people differently, so it’s nice to be able to go into a group setting and see what comes out. 

LS: Do you feel like you write more from your experiences in the moment, or can you draw from past experiences, or make up storylines?

SP: For Fhat it’s 100% personal experiences.  It’s kind of just how we talk, like some of the things are about the drugs, and the nightclubs, and dealing with straight men… that’s very situational and specific and common in our life.  We’re living in Europe, going to nightclubs every night, we’re singing, traveling, so it’s easy to just start writing about that.  Aaron and I had just had out first fight, or more disagreement, we had just gotten into it a little bit in London, and then the day after we wrote Back to Life.  It’s never really on purpose, but yeah, we write from experience.    

LS: There’s a level of confidence and comfortability that comes through in your music and performances, how did you develop that?

SP: I think it’s a Leo thing.  I think we obviously struggle with a lot of insecurity issues, so there’s this projection of real things, like here are things that I’m comfortable with, that I’ve been thinking about today, that I’m okay with… there you go.  And then behind closed doors, we kind of coach ourselves, and constantly sooth ourselves and calm ourselves down, and reassure ourselves, literally like petting a cat.  So I guess that just starts to show outwardly that we’re just comfortable with ourselves.  Right now [Fhat] is in this 70’s vibe, so I think clothing also goes hand in hand, what you’re saying and the way you dress, and the way you act, it reflects that from you so you feel better about what you’re doing.    

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Jared Epstein

Jared Epstein

The Safire Homme

NOVEMBER EDITION

Featuring Jared Epstein

Interview by Léla Sophia

Léla Sophia: Do you have a most favorite or sentimental deal or tenant?

Jared Epstein: My most sentimental deal, and it’s not the biggest by any stretch of the imagination, is the acquisition and leasing of 21-27 9th Avenue in the Meatpacking District, where the original Catch restaurant is located, on the corner of 13th Street and 9th Avenue. I believed in the future of the neighborhood and the importance of this location. It was my dream to have a strong retailer on the ground floor and a triplex restaurant over-looking the meatpacking district accessed by a small side street lobby. My friend was in the market seeking a location for Sephora and we quickly put a deal together for their unique Meatpacking boutique at the base of the building prior to the commencement of our redevelopment. A couple of friends of mine from the nightlife world that recently opened their first successful restaurant shared by belief that an upper floor restaurant could work in this particular building, even though none had thrived before to the magnitude they would need to succeed. The Catch lease was quickly executed and within months the redevelopment of the property began. Catch absolutely knocked the cover off the ball and their volumes continue to rise very year. They are coming up on their 10th anniversary, recently renewed for an additional 10 years and the brand now has outposts in LA, Vegas and Mexico, with many more to follow. The reason that this particular property is so special to me is that it was Aurora’s first investment in the meatpacking district, which was the start of us acquiring over 20 properties in this neighborhood, followed by an additional 20 in the West Village. It all started at 21-27 9th Avenue in 2009. Aurora‘s revitalization of the Meatpacking District wouldn’t have been possible without this first acquisition and the monumental success of our tenants.

Jared Epstein
Jared Epstein

LS: What do you love most about the Meatpacking District?

JE: It’s just the perfect location in the greatest city in the world. To the West you have the Highline, Whitney Museum, and the Hudson River & Park; to the South you have the affluent West Village Neighborhood; to the North you have Google’s Headquarters and the Chelsea residential community. You have a streetscape that’s unlike any other in Manhattan, where all the streets are diverging onto each other, of which many are cobblestone, an incredible mix of preserved historic architecture with modern additions, a vast amount of culture, art, restaurants, shops, and overall great vibes. The Meatpacking District is the ultimate Work, Shop, Play and Stay neighborhood.

LS: What is your definition of style and confidence? What makes you feel confident?
JE: I would say, my business partner Bobby Cayre. He exudes style and confidence. He is a class act, extraordinarily handsome, and very humble. He gets all of the attention, he’s very classy, he dresses impeccably, he’s just got it. I’m confident in a different manor, a downtown vibe with a big heart that makes it easy for me connect with people, but he’s got that business style and he’s super intelligent. We have good synergies, because I’m the downtown networking guy, and he’s a shark that would be the CEO of a fortune 100 company if he wasn’t running Aurora. My Uncle Jeff is probably the elder stateman when it comes to class and style as well. He always looks sharp and has a great personality. My father has a more casual style but his confidence is unparalleled due to his charisma. Everyone loves my dad because he genuinely cares about people and they feel that immediately and throughout their relationship with him. He puts everyone before himself. I am blessed to have these three mentors in my life.

LS: Do you have any memories of you parent’s accessories, or of them dressing a certain way or teaching you how to dress?

JE: The only thing I remember about style and dressing are the brands I would wear as a kid. I remember Skids, large, wide leg weird things. Then there were these hotdogger outfits all the girls would wear that were jumpsuits basically. Then us guys, when we would want to dress fancy, would wear Z Cavericci’s, that had a tag inside of the zipper. What influenced my style the most is one of my favorite movies in the world, which is The Goonies. In the Goonies the kids are all rocking Nike Sneakers, and an old school vibe, which really transcended my style evolution. I always try to be a Goonie. I try to do business like a pirate, and party like a Goonie.

Jared Epstein

LS: Do you have a favorite artist/musician/band?

JE: So many! Right now I’m really digging The Grateful Dead. Which is crazy for me, because my Uncle Jeff was a Deadhead, and had a strong career in the catering business. I was never into the Dead, but now I love them. They’re so relaxing, the music touches my soul in a special way. I fell into one song, and I just started listening to them more and more. I think my favorite song by The Dead is probably Fire on the Mountain. I just dig that one. I love Pearl Jam, my favorite song by Pearl Jam would probably be Red Mosquito which is a random one, but I really like it. Dave Matthews Band would probably be the third, my favorite song being #41.

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Gabriel Brunot

Gabriel Brunot

The Safire Homme

OCTOBER EDITION

Featuring Gabriel Brunot

Interview by Léla Sophia and Dillon Firestein

Dillon Firestein: What’s one accessory you can’t leave your house without?
Gabriel Brunot: “My lion ring on my ring finger on my right hand. Because it was the first piece of jewelry I got from my hometown, and it was the last time I lived in my hometown. And I was in New York the whole time, from sleeping outside and everything, with this ring.

Léla Sophia: Where’s your hometown?
GB: Bridgeport, CT

DF: What’s your pre-performance regimen?
GB: I take really hot baths, and drink really hot tea, with a loud speaker, singing at the top of my lungs, equivalent to stretching before picking up a heavy weight. I do a lot of working out because I’m an entertainer and I’m active, so I have to be able to breathe and project and move around, so I do a lot of calisthenics. I listen to a lot of trap music, and you know, it gets me right.

Gabriel Brunot
Gabriel Brunot

DF: What was the first thing you were proud to buy yourself?
GB: When I first bought high tops, I thought those were fly. I became an adult and I was like, you know, I actually have $180 right now, and I’m not gonna be able to eat for two weeks, but you know what, I’m gonna get these. And it was worth it, because it kind of snowballed and now I have to be the one buying my sneakers and things.

LS: What pieces of jewelry do you remember from your family?
GB: I remember my dad wore watches. That’s the only jewelry he wore. I’m actually the only one in my family with ear piercings and jewelry, because we were raised in church. Going back and forth from this person I grew to be, and seeing my family, it’s a lot for them because they’re so conservative. [Watches are] the only piece of jewelry I’ve seen on anyone in my family, besides the cliché, my mom has earrings on today. But, yeah, watches, and always silver too. I didn’t know if it was because we came from a humble lifestyle and it was budget. That’s why I’ve been on a lot of gold.

LS: How do you define masculinity?
GB: I think there’s a very thin line with just being adult about things, and being honest about gestures, and being solid with your words. I think that’s masculine or that’s just mature. So when people identify themselves as masculine but you’re really sensitive about something, I feel like there’s something else that’s in your spirit. Which is something I work on every day, my mental health and evolutions and things like that. I think masculinity is… if you are, it just reads as so. Being straight up and down is the most admirable way of going. I buried my father in January so I don’t really… I just don’t know anybody in this world like him, you know what I mean? So, there’s this part of me that’s holding up this baton that he passed to me real quick, like ‘I taught you everything I got’, and it’s really just how you move after that. I utilize that fire and incorporate it in whatever masculinity is, or being a solid individual, or being an adult, or being mature, or being respectful. It’s like the principals and morals that I’m raised on. And it comes from the strictness of being Haitian and going to church. My movement is all about solidarity.

Gabriel Brunot

DF: What role does jewelry play in your definition of masculinity?

GB: Because of the creative aspect of myself, I believe in every ounce of statement, whether it’s fashion or your music. And being masculine, is actually, I think, from that perspective, you are masculine because you’re wearing it. I’ve never necessarily had a question about my masculinity, but we’re also in this generation where it doesn’t really matter. It’s just, like, what you’re saying. I’m not even sure the agenda in my mind is to come off masculine. I think what it is, is I like how they read, and this is what I’m saying without having to open my mouth.