Mary J. Blige is adding another notch to her belt: ‘Make the Boy Bad Look Good’

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mary J. Blige headlines Diane von Furstenberg’s new Hamptons fashion show on Sunday, June 3, in Southampton, held at the Southampton Polo Club. Photographs by David Sims. A penchant for the quirky,…

Mary J. Blige is adding another notch to her belt: ‘Make the Boy Bad Look Good’

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mary J. Blige headlines Diane von Furstenberg’s new Hamptons fashion show on Sunday, June 3, in Southampton, held at the Southampton Polo Club. Photographs by David Sims.

A penchant for the quirky, for natural draping, for striking texture and color combinations — these are all but signatures of designer Jason Jules. Most recently, the 31-year-old native of Atlanta, Ga., has been traveling the globe honing his hobby, a fashion and music industry mash-up dubbed The Making of Black Ivy Style. The “influencer” and his band Of the Tallest Men in the World perform to packed houses all over the world, attracting (and provoking) a brand new batch of fans, American and otherwise.

“You have all these social media personalities who are building large audiences,” says Mr. Jules, who launched his web channel, called The Making of Black Ivy Style, in 2013. “I was interested in amplifying those elements of these influential personalities.”

More than half a year ago, Mr. Jules travelled to upstate New York to start his documentary-style series. “We built this woman from a vending machine to being black Ivy League,” he says, referring to (or, rather, the muses behind) Jennifer Hudson, whose attire and interview style have appeared on the show, and Shannon B. “Spring” Brown, a New York clothing designer whose work has been featured in videos about the project.

“These were four talented women who do beautiful, strong clothing,” says Mr. Jules, who earned a B.F.A. in business from Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating, he worked as a camera assistant and, subsequently, in television.

Mr. Jules, however, is anything but camera shy, as the black Ivy webisodes show.

The Making of Black Ivy Style chronicles how Jules, a devoted student of music from the early 2000s, connects the worlds of fashion and culture. In the first episode, titled “Hip Hop Black Ivy Style,” a student who, says Mr. Jules, “doesn’t know anything about art and design” takes to the runway in front of Pharrell, and proclaims herself a “hip hop black Ivy.”

The black Ivy style, or “grown Ivy,” became popular among “older girls” in high school in the 1990s, so Mr. Jules came up with the hashtag for the genre, inspired by a 1982 album by Black Ivy and a 1993 Playboy spread called Wild Ivy, in which a smattering of models wore black outfits.

“I found that by using this hashtag, which was popular on social media, that we were able to connect with some of the younger audience that doesn’t necessarily read fashion, or media, or music blogs,” says Mr. Jules.

The working title for the show was Black Ivy People, and, after it was announced that the web series would be part of DVF’s fashion show, dubbed “A Night of Altitude,” the documentary was shortened to describe its origins.

In part, though, Mr. Jules’s profile has since increased, thanks to the Making of Black Ivy Style show and his participation in Kanye West’s DreamChasers sound-recordings project, a teacher position at New York City’s Young Audiences, and a role as the emcee in the New York rap group Anthony Hamilton.

If the project did have a “logline,” he said, “it would have to be all about empowered women, who are no longer just dressing to please the man, but are changing the game in fashion.”

In another feature of the show, titled “The Business of Angela Rye,” the professional basketball-turned-radio-broadcaster interviews a model of the moment, also a member of Of the Tallest Men in the World, who has collaborated with Off-White on a collection of sportswear.

“These are women who, in their own lives, are able to pull themselves out of poverty,” says Mr. Jules. “And then coming to work with a brand that’s already experiencing success. It’s powerful.”

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