Best of 2017: The COLLECTIV | Monica Blaire

One of the primary qualifications for anyone selected to be featured in The COLLECTIV series is to be truly authentic. I mean down-to-the-bone true in the way they create, deliver, and live their gift in this world. Singer/Actress/Songrwriter and everyone’s favorite soul sister, Monica Blaire has one of the most authentic souls I’ve encountered in my lifetime. Believe me, one listen to her music and a read of the following interview…will make you an instant fan.

-Crystal Lariece

Originally posted  June 1, 2017

Photography | Clifford L. Johnson  Make Up | Natalie Nicole Johnson  Styling | Crystal Lariece

If my words were to fail me and I was only able to define authenticity through sound, it would be her. Despite growing up in neighboring cities, our paths did not cross until we were both well into our adult lives and I subsequently had my LIFE given to me as I delved into the melodic world that is Monica Blaire. At at time when music leaves so much to be desired, the freedom that erupts from her art is breathtaking and much appreciated.

Please allow me to introduce to you to our first 2017 Honoree of The COLLECTIV, Monica Blaire.

Crystal Lariece (CL): Where do you draw most of the inspiration for your music?

Monica Blaire (MB): From life, when the water is running, when things are happy, when things are challenging, friends, family, conversations, travel, people watching…LOL, from EVERYWHERE. For me creation is more a constant rumination in spirit than anything else. The goal as an artist is to stay open and in the flow of awareness. Inspiration is everywhere when you stay open to access it and are willing to drop whatever you are doing to receive it.

CLAs an Independent Creative, what has been your greatest challenge in developing your brand?

MB: ​My greatest challenge has been trying to convey the randomness of my creative process to my audience. Commercialized creativity is a homogenized version of what true creativity is all about. It’s a refined shadow of the range of emotions, effort, and work that an artist puts into their work. People often only experience the final product. When art is your life, and creativity is happening moment to moment, the end result can look disjointed especially when you create in more than one medium. My biggest challenge has been connecting the dots for my audience so that they fully understand the why and the how of what I do.

CLDescribe your Creative Renaissance. When did you recognize your creative purpose?

MB: ​Very early on…let my mom tell it I sang before I spoke, LOL. I’m not certain that there was an “aha” moment for me because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to do this or I wasn’t working towards it. I always wanted to create. It was always cathartic and I always wanted people to feel free in the presence of art and sharing it with an audience.

Actually giving words to my platform as an exercise in freedom and love came much later. When my first project came out (‘Portraits of Me’ Silent Riot 2006) I was very much championing women and young girls to be multifaceted instead of the one dimensional model of women that society perpetuated. That journey has brought me to where I am currently which is self-actualization through my art. Being able to own and love my individuality no matter who is present in my life and what is going on around me. I guess the answer to your question is creative renaissance happens over and over in an artist’s career if they are continuing to grow in their art.

Commercialized creativity is a homogenized version of what true creativity is all about. It’s a refined shadow of the range of emotions, effort, and work that an artist puts into their work.

CLMillennial Creatives are often faced with ridicule when it comes to pursuing a non-traditional career path, what would be your best advice to those who are ready to take the leap, but is ​​ fearful of failing?

MB: ​My best advice would be to listen to your inner voice. Creatives are so tapped into that little voice because it’s where the art comes from. Listening to that voice will inform you of all you need to know and how you can make it manifest in the world. Most people do not commune with themselves in this way and are fearful of those who move on things yet to be seen. If you create a plan out of what you know to be your path and stay consistent with the plan all the nay sayers will turn into cheerleaders. Be true to yourself and create your own convention. Nurture it and watch it grow and watch the conversation around what you do change.

….creative renaissance happens over and over in an artist’s career if they are continuing to grow in their art.


Eclectic is the way to describe Monica Blaire. Classical, Rock, R&B, Soul, Gospel, Funk, Hip-Hop, Techno, and Pop playfully coexist freely in the world she creates one stage at time. In every performance, her need to connect with the listener comes first. After becoming a 2010 Kresge Artist Fellow in the Performing Arts and touring in 2014 with Tyler Perry’s Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned (available everywhere on DVD) Monica Blaire is gearing up to take the world by storm with her powerful performances and uncanny musical expression.

Monica has worked with artists ranging from Roy Ayers, PPP, her own band the RackPack, Dwele, Black Milk, ZO!, and rocked historical venues including Joe’s Pub (NY), The Shrine (CHI), and the DIA (in her hometown, Detroit). Her latest project is experimental music with a minimal approach that is dubbed “sound art”. She is playing with the everyday around her and creating audio snapshots of her experiences. This music and the process of making it is introducing Ms. Blaire as much more than just a singer. She is solidifying her place as an ever evolving creative presence.

Video courtesy of Monica Blaire | Filmed by Clifford L. Johnson

Experience more of Monica’s music on SoundCloud here.

Instagram | @mBthelight
Facebook | Monica Blaire Music

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Best of 2017: Elemental Style

One of my highlights of 2017 was contributing a style post to one of DC’s rising dating blogs, LoveTailsKC.com, headed by my long time friend Kia Corrine. It also was a favorite of CHF readers. Here’s a look back on my take on dressing to attract the ‘sign’ of your dreams!

-Crystal Lariece

Originally posted on August 18, 2017 at LoveTailsKC.com

It seems like zodiac signs and dating go hand-in-hand. For some, a potential mate’s sign can be a deal breaker before they even reach a first date. If you’re one of those people, this post may not be for you. I’m here to talk about that crucial first date and how your date’s sign may give a clue to what you should be wearing to make a lasting impression.

All twelve zodiac signs are divided into four elements of nature: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. These elemental designations are believed to shed light on the personality traits of those born under a particular sign.

FIRE signs of the zodiac are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. People who fall under these signs are all about energy. For them, words are nothing without action behind it. Leading and taking action for things that they want is second nature to them. We’ve seen these characteristics shine through President Barack Obama (Leo) and Grammy award-winning artist, Chance the Rapper (Aries).

Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage


Men born under a fire sign are most compatible with a partner who falls under a water sign. Fire is most attracted to the sensitivity and passion that water awakens in them. All the signs that are within the fire element find it hard to resist women with confidence that takes pride in her appearance.

Rihanna (Pisces) exemplifies what a man of fire is looking for and she effortlessly reflects it in her style. For a dressier night out, choose a look that is feminine, yet edgy. Showing the right amount of skin has never hurt anyone. Just be careful to not choose a look that is too tight, too short, or too revealing . The goal is to exude confidence and passion, not easy and desperate.


EARTH signs of the zodiac are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Commonly known as the stubborn signs of the zodiac, these signs signify materialism. They are the most interested in the practicality of a relationship. They are grounded and methodical. Often the person with the most reasoning in chaotic situations. Two of my favorite men who fall under the Earth signs (other than my man) are Hip-Hop legend, Nas (Virgo) and Oscar Award-winning actor, Denzel Washington (Capricorn).



via rap-up.com
via GQ


If there is one word that sums up the style that is most attracts a man of the an earth sign, it is ‘femininity’. And, they often find it in mates who are born under a sign in the air element. Men of earth signs are grounded and often critically particular about the outward appearance of themselves and their mate.

via damesmodebarendrecht.nl

Aside from her fantastic styling as Olivia Pope, actress Kerry Washington’s (Aquarius) off-screen style is full of ladylike silhouettes, polished and proper. Remember, men whose zodiac falls within the earth element are methodical and prefers things to be in order. That includes his mate’s style. Choose looks with clean lines, tasteful color palettes, and accessorized with subtlety.

AIR signs of the zodiac are Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Communication is key for these signs of the zodiac. If you have ever dated one, you know that one of the flaws common among these signs is indecisiveness. They are literally comfortable with wherever the wind takes them. The air element signifies ideas. Clear communication and the sharing of ideas builds trust in a person that falls under this sign. Actors, Michael B. Jordan and Will Smith are two handsome men who are leading in the air sign category. I know Will is taken, but word on the street is Michael is looking for his Mrs. Right.

Getty Images © 2014
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images


As explained in the previous matchup, mates who fall under the air and earth element make the most compatible match. Now, we look at the style that is most attractive to a man born under the air element. His love interest must be intelligent and creative. Being a man of communication, he seeks someone that is stimulating and energetic.

via Instagram

Communication shows itself in many forms, one being an outward appearance. So, it should come as no surprise that men of the air element are attracted to style that is unique and fearless. UK Actress, Naomi Harris (Virgo) is not shy when it comes to style. If you are looking to spruce up your personal style with a Gemini, Libra, or Aquarian man in mind…it’s ok to push the limits. Add bold colors and prints to your look. Be careful not to overdo it! Understand what compliments your body and what pieces best complement one another.

WATER signs of the zodiac are Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. I am a Scorpio, so if it’s one sign I know first hand it is this one. Water signs are all about emotion and passion. Most if not all of our decisions are made on emotion, when we love, we LOVE hard and expect the same in return. Another Water sign that I’m most familiar with is Cancer. It is shared by my mother, father, brother, and son. So, I can confirm through experience that Water signs share many of the same personality characteristics. Music mogul, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs (Scorpio) and Actor/Activist, Jesse Williams (Pisces) are two men under the water sign that have shown passion in their art and for their women (let’s save Jesse’s divorce for another time, shall we. Note: He was with his wife for over 13 years).

2014 © Danny Moloshok/Reuters
via GQ


I discussed the attraction between fire and water at the beginning of this post. Men born under the water element are most responsive to style that evokes passion. The sexier, the better. Sexy does not equal slutty. There is a line and these men respond accordingly.

Girls’ Trip actress, Regina Hall’s (Sagittarius) look is a perfect example of sexy as defined by a Scorpio, Cancer, or Pisces man. Keep his attention with the details. Choose a shoe that will carry the look. It saves you the headache of trying to overthink the rest of your ensemble.

First dates are meant to be fun and explorative, and so should the pre-game. This little guide is not to be strictly followed. It is to ease the anxiety and encourage you to get out of your style comfort zone. Feel free to include some of my tips with your personal style, because what’s most attractive to any man-no matter the sign-is authenticity. Be YOU, Love, and you’ll surely snag the right one.

To learn more about the compatibility about the elements, check out the links below.




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The COLLECTIV | And the Nominees Are...

Since launching in 2013, CHF has remained true to its mission in celebrating exceptional talent in the style and art industries.

The COLLECTIV recognizes those who create with passion and not for popularity. Honorees represent a rare breed in today’s ever changing and rarely authentic creative fields. Our list of honorees include photographers, fashion designers, and musicians, to name a few. Sharing their stories have inspired other Creatives to fearlessly pursue dreams that are often believed to be impossible.

CHF is now accepting nominations to join this highly influential roster for 2017-2018.

Who are we looking for?

CHF seeks to highlight women, men, and collaboratives who have personal brands or businesses in the following areas:

  • Fashion Design (women, menswear, and accessories)
  • Photography
  • Makeup Artistry
  • Style Bloggers + Influencers
  • Visual + Performance Art

How to Nominate?

Nominations may be submitted for consideration by email ONLY to submit@coldhardfash.com.

Submissions must include the following:

Subject Line: The COLLECTIV Nomination

Your Name
Name of person(s) being nominated
A link to website or social media profile of nominee
Nominee’s email contact information

Final selection of honorees are chosen by Editor In Chief, Crystal Lariece. If selected, the nominee will be contacted by Crystal to discuss next steps in the process.

Honorees receive a featured interview on ColdHardFash.com, spotlight posts on on all CHF social media accounts, and may be selected as a future cover feature of CHF Magazine.

Learn more about honorees of The COLLECTIV here.

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Grow with CHF

Cold Hard Fash is a life and style media brand for the Creative Millennial.

We are currently seeking talented writers, bloggers, and photographers to join our blog and magazine teams!



Men and Women’s Style

Beauty and Grooming


Entrepreneurial Business

Interested in learning more or to pitch a story? Email submit@coldhardfash.com today!

Please allow at least 48 hours for a response.