Hypnotic red and green lights give the room an air of seductive mystique.
Ladies in masks and colorful, eye-catching body suits move seductively under the neon lights of a cage. A burlesque dancer performs in a bathtub as she is drenched by champagne. A model in a cat mask to match her body suit bounces down the runway to the brash sounds of Nicki Minaj.
This is not your average fashion show. And that’s exactly how Brittany and Iris want it.
If you’re one of many people around the world who was fascinated by the edgy and sexy red carpet looks of celebrities Amber Rose and Blac Chyna at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, you’re in for a treat. Welcome to the colorful, funky world of the Barbee BDes Collection, courtesy of Brooke DeShields and ThesePinkLips .
Iris “Barbee” Bonner’s cutting edge and provocative visual art and designs may seem hypersexual and tawdry at first glance, but a second look gives insight into the eclectic work of a creative genius committed to using her work to empower women and confront bullying.
By joining forces with fellow designer Brittany DeShields for this past Saturday’s Freak Show Fashion Event, the two not only raised social awareness for their causes but managed to captivate a spellbound audience all at the same time.
Bonner’s work is far beyond eye candy: It’s more like a decadent three-layer red velvet cake. Imagine one layer of pop art with a second of hip-hop influence and a third layer of women empowerment thrown in for good measure. Simply put, Bonner’s work is mesmerizing.
Between her use of vibrant neon colors and her renditions of women as sexual, powerful characters more so than mere trophy wives and second rate citizens, Bonner’s art is a cultural tour de force in our patriarchal society.
Most impressively, the aesthetics of Bonner’s work are more of a homage to pop art luminaries like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein than they could ever be considered pastiche.
The women in Bonner’s paintings don’t apologize for what they say or how they say it and that kind of powerful message is central to Bonner’s creative process.
“I’m a big advocate of not being afraid of being yourself,” says Bonner of the themes of individualism and female identity that run through her work. “In fact, I’m a fan of being pleased of who you are instead of being afraid of it.”
Brittany DeShields is a designer that is no stranger to criticism herself. As a self-taught seamstress and designer, the Temple University alumna has made a name for herself through her website BrittanyDeshields.com by creating high quality looks that ooze sex appeal.
With celebrities like starlet Angela Simmons and model Bianca Golden singing her praises, Brittany has moved pass the negative criticism of social media.
“I’ve been bullied via social media for the style of clothes I create,” DeShields says. “I learned that words hurt until you use them as the foundation for your confidence. That is what this collection is doing.”
By coming together and collaborating on eight, avant garde pieces, Bonner and DeShields want to make the statement that girl empowerment is key and bullying and body shaming needs to be prevented.
For more information on Bonner’s work, be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @thesepinklips.
For more on DeShields' sultry ensembles, check out http://brittanydeshields.com. You will not be disappointed.
Photography: Molly Rose