Tag Archives: Jess Hille

Cocktails X Couture 2015

Originally posted Thursday, January 15, 2015 by Tampa Bay Times:

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Moving away from Tampa Bay Fashion Week may boost the profile of Cocktails X Couture
Robbyn Mitchell, Times Staff Writer

Flamboyance and fierceness will be on tap Saturday night at The RITZ Ybor as the venue kicks off the year in fashion with the Cocktails X Couture event.

Eight local designers will showcase small collections on an 24-foot by 8-foot runway specially constructed for the evening in the Ritz’s theatre. There will be live performances by musicians, dancers and showcases of art.

“Our theme this year deals with gender identity but it’s not an overarching banner,” said Okesene Tilo, a spokesman (and event organizer) for The RITZ Ybor. “We will have themed cocktails for each room of the venue including male and female interpretations of the Moscow Mule.”

Sassy drink names like Gin Kardashian and Whiskey Brinkley are just the start of the interesting offerings for Saturday’s event. The RITZ Ybor in partnership with Tribeca Color Salon has been hosting the Cocktails and Couture party during Tampa Bay Fashion Week since 2012. Fashion week organizers decided to postpone 2014’s event in favor of spreading the fashion love to other months.

“The idea was to move the party away from Fashion Week to January so there would be fashion week events all year long,” Tilo said.

Tribeca will be styling the manes of all the show models. Sponsor Kevin Murphy will be providing hair product swag bags for all VIP ticket holders. The $50 VIP admission includes reserved seating nearest to the runway and two drink tickets.

The RITZ crew spent six months planning the event, which is expected to have more than 800 attendees. Kicking off at 8 p.m., there will be three runway shows featuring entertainment and designers. The final show at 10:30 p.m. will be an avant garde extravaganza, Tilo said.

“It’s going to be very Lady Gaga — some sexy moments but nothing too racy,” Tilo laughed. Some Little Monsters will even be wearing their Sunday best to the cocktail-attire event.

Cocktails X Couture is one of several events that The RITZ Ybor donates the proceeds to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Last year, the venue raised $105,000.00 for the charity through various events.

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The RITZ Ybor Photos: Machine Gun Kelly

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Machine Gun Kelly at The RITZ Ybor
on Saturday, July 19, 2014
Photos by Nicole Abbett

Check out more photos online RIGHT HERE.

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Pride & Passion 2014: an avant garde wedding

Yet another Pride & Passion event gone by!

In its 8 years, the event has slowly transformed into a fashionable night out downtown to dress up and party.  This year’s theme was an avant garde wedding celebrating the union of art + community + diversity.  I decided to play with the theme, and turned the pimp factor level up a few notches when dressing as my interpretation of an avant garde groom.  And that’s one of the many things that I love about Pride & Passion: how one can be decked out in leather and fur with opera goggles in Florida during the summertime, and not one person bats an eyelash at the ridiculousness of it all.  Pride & Passion is a night to play dress up, and an evening to play with one’s Uncle Karl Lagerfeld André Leon Talley Okie Fierce alter ego.

However, the true importance of this event is the $75,000.00 net that was raised from just one evening for the Tampa Museum of Art, its exhibits and community programs.  As an avid supporter of the arts and of Tampa raising its profile, I applaud this year’s Chairs Kevin Reder and Rick Scherer, the Museum staff, and the Pride & Passion steering and host committee for a spectacular event.

P.S.  Next year, I plan to dress even more ridiculously!

Photos courtesy of Nicole Abbett, Owen Hunt Photography, Todd Montgomery and Nicholas Cardello.

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“I Can’t Keep Up” by Tourist featuring Will Heard:  There’s just something in the way that Will Heard sings SANGS this song that does something to my soul.  When the frenetic pace changes up at the 3:00 mark, the song becomes pure, unadulterated audio ecstasy.

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Festa Italiana Weekend 2014

Four days of food, wine, cocktails, bocce ball, and live entertainment.  Months upon months of planning, securing, scheduling, ordering and promoting.  Years upon years, 17 to be exact, of culture, heritage and tradition.

This year’s 17th Annual Festa Italiana (i.e. the Italian Food & Wine Festival) opened with the Wines of Italy tasting event and concluded with the main Festa Italiana event in Centennial Park.  Over 20,000 attendees flooded the historic Ybor City district in celebration of Italian culture, the Italian community and of course, wine and pasta!

18th Annual Festa Italiana Weekend
Save The Date:  April 9 to 12, 2015
www.festaitalianatampa.com

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“Jerk Ribs” by Kelis: God Bless Kelis Rogers! Unhappy with ever becoming yet another one-hit wonder, or the girl who sang that “Milkshake” song, or even the ex-wife of Nas, she has consistently reinvented her sound and image to stay relevant with the current musical landscape.  She fully embraced dance music on 2010’s Flesh Tone album, and now reveals a new electro-soul sound with her recently released, concept FOOD album.

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GIFF it to me

Another year, another Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF).  This year’s Closing Party FINALLY took place at The RITZ Ybor historic theatre, where I’ve always said that it should take place since I attended my very first one four years ago and not because I work there.  It only makes sense that Tampa’s independent film festival kick off and conclude at this city’s oldest theatres that are still in operation: the historic Tampa Theatre built in 1926 and the historic Ritz Theatre built in 1917.  Hats off to GIFF for making that magic happen this year!


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“Artifice” by SOHN:
  My latest song obsession is “Artifice” by British singer-songwriter-producer Christopher Taylor who performs under the moniker SOHN.  One listen to SOHN’s gentle, delicate vocals singing the chorus lyrics “Somebody better let me know my name, Before I give myself away… Somebody better show me how I feel, Cause I know I’m not at the wheel…” gliding across a lush, layered electronic backdrop, and you’re instantly hooked.

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Nude Nite Tampa 2014

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An Ybor City Warehouse recently transformed into a three-night art exhibition celebrating the beauty of the human body.  The reason was for Nude Nite, the popular art event that began 14 years ago in Orlando and that eventually expanded onto Tampa Bay’s art scene shores.  The event is a total imagery overload from the “WOW” art of all mediums to the live body painting and performance art to the fun and interactive installations.  Each and every year, I look forward to seeing what Nude Nite founder Kelly Stevens and company will unveil for the thousands that flock to this event.

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What I love most about Nude Nite is that it’s not just another art event, but a true sensory experience.  I love the variety with changing locations each year.  I love the rock & roll feel of taking over empty buildings and abandoned warehouses.  I love how big city the event becomes with its diverse audience and art-buying patrons.

An experience, and not just an event.  That is something that I, an event organizer myself strive for each and every time with any of my own events.  The art and the performances at Nude Nite are on display just as much as the entire Nude Nite event is.  When most event organizers seek to bring that experience-factor to their events, Nude Nite always triumphs because the event in itself is a stunning and true work-of-art.

Definitely add this event experience to your 2015 calendars!

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Bow Ties & Clutches 2013

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Earlier this month, I attended the 2nd Annual Bow Ties & Clutches event at the Florida Museum of Photographic Art (FMOPA).  It was my first time attending the Best of the Bay Award-winning event (which required all guests to either sport a bow tie or clutch) and stepping foot inside the FMOPA downtown.  Bow Ties & Clutches, presented by a local fashion events and marketing company The Fashion Movement was an enjoyable evening of fashion, cocktails and mingling.  Proceeds from the event benefited the Friends of Joshua House Foundation, Inc., an organization that provides a safe haven for abused, abandoned and neglected children.

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For the fashion event, I channeled my inner Lexx Miyake-Mugler and went for a K.Pop boy band meets Rhythm Nation look.  And YES I sported a bow tie… conveniently pinned to my coat.

Bravo to The Fashion Movement for hosting a wonderful event that benefited such a valuable cause.

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“Drunk in Love” by Beyonce with Jay-Z: Despite her obvious Rihanna impersonation in the music video, I just cannot get enough of Mrs. Carter’s new single. In fact, I cannot get enough of BEYONCE, her surprise album and music video collection that was quietly released to iTunes last Friday without any announcement or promotion. Love her or hate her, you have to bow down to Bey’s marketing genius behind this album’s surprise release. She relied on word of mouth buzz to spread the word of her new album’s availability, gave fans no option but to purchase the ENTIRE album, ensured that her entire album was listened to by releasing an accompanying music video to every single track, and sold nearly a million copies in a mere three days.

In today’s social media era of creating gargantuan hype around a project with trending hashtags, teaser photos and videos, release date countdowns, and “surprise” album leaks, Beyonce’s risky gamble of no promotion paid off BIG TIME. BEYONCE: The Visual Album sold more in its first three days than the COMBINED first-week sales of superstar Miss Spears’ Britney Jean, Katy Perry’s heavily-hyped Prism and Lady Gaga’s overhyped ARTpop , proving that you don’t need a golden semi-truck, a helicopter dress, or numerous “personal” Twitter Q&As to sell quality music.

To you Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, I gladly bow down.

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Halloween Temptation 2013

Since I was a child and even as a candy-addict adult, I just never got into the whole concept of dressing up in costume, trick or treating, getting spooked out and celebrating Halloween.  In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve ever dressed up, with six years ago being the last time that I donned a costume.

With Tampa’s largest Halloween party called Temptation taking place at my work on Halloween night, along with one of my best friends hosting a Halloween party at her abode the weekend after, I decided to get into the All Hallows’ Eve groove and break tradition by dressing up.  I constructed my first Halloween costume (Fifty Shades of Grey) from Home Depot paint sample color cards for the Temptation party, and lazily threw together whatever I could scrounge from my closet (Dirty Hipster Sex meets Ooooooohhh… on the TLC Tip!) for Jess’s party.

Two Halloween costumes in one year?  Sometimes, I spook myself out.

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Temptation Halloween Party: The Haunted Theatre
@ The RITZ Ybor on October 31, 2013
www.temptationhalloween.com



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Jess’s Halloween Party
Saturday, November 2, 2013



“Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly: Hands down, Mother Monster’s most hypnotic and BEST single since “Pokerface”!


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Jessie Ware + Mikky Ekko concert @ The State Theatre

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I first fell in love with Jessie Ware after listening to her critically-acclaimed Devotion album.  I first fell in love with Mikky Ekko upon hearing his silky-smooth voice gliding across Rihanna’s blockbuster single “Stay” (that he also co-wrote and produced.)  What a thrill it was to see both of them perform live at The State Theatre in St. Pete this past Wednesday.


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Mikky crooned his way through current single “Kids” and of course the #1 hit “Stay” which he reminded the crowd that he performed at the Grammy Awards earlier this year…. and rightfully so since it was hands down the performance highlight of this year’s Grammy night!

Jessie kicked off her set with a cover of Martika’s “Love This Will Be Done” and kept the cover train going with Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love” and Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You,” the latter perfectly interlaced with her debut single “Running.”  I can forgive her for not performing the heavenly”Taking In Water” because the rest of her set which consisted of staples “Wildest Moments” and “Imagine It Was Us” along with a brand new song were just as divine.  I remember once trying to describe Jessie Ware’s sound to a friend of mine, and could only remark that she is this generation’s Sade… classy, sophisticated and just cool.

It was a welcome embrace to witness two newer artists in today’s crowded music scene solely rely on genuine talent and artistry rather than gimmickry and media stunts to entertain a crowd.


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Working in the concert industry, one thing that I love and admire is when an artist emerges from backstage to mingle with the crowd and their fans.  I was able to meet (a very friendly + laidback) Mikky Ekko who mentioned that he is still working on his album which should see a release date sometime early next year.  He was also a good sport for allowing Rod, Shane O’Neil and I to sing our song that we wrote together in front of him.  Granted, Rod sorta ambushed him with this spontaneous performance, but he seemed to find the intended hilarity in it all.  (SEE TWEET EXCHANGE BELOW)


Mikky Ekko Tweet

DEFINITELY take a listen to Jessie Ware’s soulful debut album Devotion, check out Mikky Ekko’s catchy “Kids” music video below, see them both on tour while you can, and read my friend Carole’s review on tbt Soundcheck that perfectly sums up the night (and where I “borrowed” two of the above photos from for this post.)



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The RITZ Ybor Photo: Olly Murs

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Olly Murs LIVE at The RITZ Ybor on Wednesday, May 8, 2013

You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to receive this photo!  THANK YOU to Christina for resuscitating it from digital limbo and sending it my way.

And if you’re looking for a fun and catchy pop album to listen to this summer, check out Olly’s stateside debut album, Right Place Right Time.  Jess described his album best: “Olly sounds like a charming mix of Bruno Mars meets Maroon 5 meets Gavin Degraw!

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