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Michele Savoia

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Categories: Artists, Uncategorized

msavoia1Menswear designer Michele Savoia, who created stylish clothing for movie stars, has died. He was 55.

“Savoia the Tailor” was last seen around 4 a.m. on Feb. 13, leaving Paris Hilton’s party at the Manhattan nightclub Marquee. He was reported missing on Saturday morning by his driver and his body was discovered Sunday afternoon in the icy Hudson River near his house boat.

Cause of death has not been determined, pending an autopsy.

Born in Hoboken, N.J., Savoia originally wanted to become a cartoonist for Disney. He switched gears after an art teacher he adored encouraged him to use his talent for something more serious, like fashion. Savoia’s father and grandfather also inspired him to become a fashion designer.

“My father ran night clubs, and my Sicilian grandfather was a master tailor, who landed in Hoboken from Ellis Island in 1933. Basically, my father taught me how to dress, and Popop taught me how to tailor,” Savoia told Fashion Daily Weekly in 2011.

Savoia graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in the 1970s. He trained under designer Bill Kaiserman, then launched the House of Savoia in 1984. The firm was soon dressing Hollywood stars like Matt Dillon, Robert DeNiro, Chris Noth and Mickey Rourke. Savoia created costumes for Broadway shows as well, including the revival of “Evita” and Nora Ephron’s posthumous play, “Lucky Guy.”

The self-proclaimed “bad boy of fashion” also designed nightclub interiors and owned two clubs — Fat Black Pussycat and The Cheetah Club — until the mid-1990s.

Outside of work, Savoia was an old-school New Yorker with a penchant for the art deco era. He liked to smoke, ride motorcycles, buy accessories on eBay, listen to Tony Bennett, watch crime films and get tattoos.

Savoia is survived by a daughter, Gabriella Rocco Savoia.

Originally published in The Huffington Post.

Michele Savoia for from StyleLikeU on Vimeo.


Vugar Gashimov

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Categories: Extraordinary People, Uncategorized

Vugar Gashimov Vugar Gashimov began playing chess when he was only 6 years old. He would eventually represent his country in four Chess Olympiads and become a grandmaster by the time he was 16.

Gashimov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital city (although the region was still part of the Soviet Union in 1986). Chess was incredibly popular at the time, due to the victory of Baku-native Garry Kasparov against Anatoly Karpov at the World Championship in 1985.

In the Gashimov family, chess was a way of life. Gashimov’s father, a retired army colonel who served at the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, taught Vugar to play the game. His older brother Sarkhan, a solid chess player in his own right, served as his manager.

Like many young boys, Gashimov enjoyed playing sports and watching movies, but he always knew he wanted to become a competitive chess player. After he defeated all of the other children in his age group, Gashimov’s family hired international master Anar Allakhverdiev and Russian grandmaster Vitaly Tseshkovsky to coach him.

Gashimov won a silver medal in the under-10-years-old division at the World Youth Championships in 1996, and became an international master just three years later. However, after winning the 1999 Kasparov Trophy at 14, Gashimov was diagnosed with epilepsy and forced to step away from the game. He underwent three surgeries on his brain before launching an amazing comeback.

By 2002, Gashimov had earned the title of grandmaster, the highest honor for world-class chess players.

A bold competitor and online blitz specialist, Gashimov was known for changing many players’ view of the Modern Benoni opening. He won the Athens 2005 Acropolis International and the 2005 Abu Dhabi International Chess tournament; he took top honors at the Cappelle la Grande tournament and tied for first in the FIDE Grand Prix tournament in 2008. Next, Gashimov won the 2010-11 Reggio Emilia tournament, Italy’s oldest and most renowned chess competition, on a tie-break from Spanish grandmaster Francisco Vallejo Pons.

Alongside Teymur Rajabov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Rauf Mammadov and Gadir Guseinov, Gashimov helped the Azerbaijani team become a powerhouse competitor at international championships, including the Chess Olympiads of 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

“Vugar was certainly the soul of Azerbaijani team. He was a very cheerful person. He lifted us even when we were losing. Besides, he shared his knowledge and really helped to develop. And he shared it with pleasure, and many times helped me personally in preparation for games; he did everything for the team,” Guseinov said.

In fact, it was Gashimov who lead the team to a gold medal victory in the 2009 European Team Chess Championship in Novi Sad. At that point in his career, he was listed at #6 in the FIDE World Rankings and declared the top chess player in his country.

Gashimov was excluded from the Chess Olympiad team in 2010 over a conflict with the national chess federation and Zurab Azmaiparashvili, the team’s former coach. Without his contribution, the Azerbaijani team finished in 12th place.

Gashimov was ranked #10 in the world in 2012 when health problems again prompted him to step away from the competitive circuit. Subsequent testing revealed a brain tumor.

Gashimov died on Jan. 10 while receiving cancer treatment in Germany. He was 27.

“[Gashimov] was a nice person, an excellent friend, and a good fellow in the team. You could always rely on him. He was always ready to help, and he helped,” Azerbaijani grandmaster Gadir Huseynov said. “He was a kindhearted, cheerful and positive person. It is a great loss for us. I cannot still believe it. It is very painful to perceive that one of my dearest friends has died.”


Chris Kelly

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Categories: Musicians, Uncategorized

Chris KellyChris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, one-half of the 1990s rap duo Kris Kross, died May 1 of an apparent drug overdose. He was 34.

Kelly and his partner Chris Smith (a.k.a. “Daddy Mac”), were only 13 years old in 1991 when they were discovered by music producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri while performing at the Greenbriar Mall in their hometown of Atlanta. Dupri’s label, So So Def, signed the boys and sent them into the studio to record their first album.

As Kris Kross, the pair rocketed to stardom a year later with the release of the single “Jump.” The song spent eight weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, became an aerobics anthem and helped their debut album “Totally Krossed Out” go multiplatinum.

Soon Kris Kross was opening for pop star Michael Jackson on his Dangerous World Tour and appearing as guests on numerous TV programs. They recorded the “Rugrats Rap” for Nickelodeon and were listed at number 90 on VH1’s roundup of “The 100 Greatest Kid Stars.”

Kris Kross became a force in fashion as well; the duo was known for wearing their clothes backward during performances, and for a time many youths copied the trend. But it was the combination of their energy and mature rapping skills that earned Kris Kross a strong fan base.

Although future albums failed to match the success of “Totally Krossed Out,” Kris Kross continued to make music for several years, releasing “Da Bomb” in 1993 and “Young, Rich and Dangerous” in 1996. Kelly and Smith recently performed together in February for the So So Def 20th Anniversary All-Star Concert. Other than his talent for rapping, Kelly played the piano and dreamed of running his own record company someday.

Dupri described Kelly as a hard worker and the son he never had.

“His understanding of what we set out to do, from day one was always on point. His passion for the music, his love for doing shows, his want to [be] better than everyone else, was always turnt [sic] up,” Dupri said in a statement.

Smith said Kelly was not only his music partner, but his best friend.

“I love him and will miss him dearly,” Smith said in a statement. “Our friendship began as little boys in first grade. We grew up together. It was a blessing to achieve the success, travel the world and entertain Kris Kross fans all around the world with my best friend. It is what we wanted to do and what brought us happiness. I will always cherish the memories of the C-Connection. KRIS KROSS FOREVER, the ‘MAC DADDY’ and ‘DADDY MAC.'”

On Wednesday evening, Kelly was found unresponsive at his home. He was transported to Atlanta Medical Center and pronounced dead. According to his mother, Donna Kelly Pratte, Kelly had a history of using cocaine and heroin, and had recently returned home to recover from his addiction. A toxicology report is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.


Victims of Hurricane Katrina

Categories: Uncategorized

To the thousands of people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who were killed, injured or displaced by Hurricane Katrina, please know that you are in our thoughts.
For those readers interested in helping the storm’s survivors, consider donating time/money to:
* The American Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund (via — The Red Cross is using donations to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need.
* The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — A donation to the ASPCA Disaster Relief Fund will help animal shelters in the affected areas rebuild facilities and assist in their disaster recovery efforts.


Carl Mydans


Categories: Uncategorized

Carl Mayer Mydans, a veteran photographer who witnessed and recorded historical events for Life magazine, died on Aug. 16 of heart failure. He was 97.
Raised in Medford, Mass., Mydans was still a student at Boston University when he joined the staff of The Boston Globe as a reporter. After college, he moved to New York to write for American Banker, and then to Washington to work on the photographic staff of the Farm Security Administration. There he received notice for capturing the reality of rural poverty during the Depression.
Life magazine debuted in 1936, and Mydans was the fifth photographer the publication hired. A year later, he met Shelley Smith, a writer/researcher who would become his journalistic partner and wife. When World War II began, they were the magazine’s first husband and wife photographer-reporter team to be sent overseas.
While covering the war in China, the Mydanses were captured by the Japanese and imprisoned for nearly two years. The couple was eventually moved to a prison in China, and repatriated in a prisoner-of-war exchange. Undaunted by his experiences, Carl continued covering the war, first in Europe, then back in China. Later based in Toyko, he covered the postwar U.S. occupation and the Korean War.
Mydans’ images were often haunting in their clarity. His elegantly composed photographs of Frenchwomen punished for collaborating with the Nazis, the liberation of the Santo Tomas prison, the Japanese surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri, the 1948 earthquake in Fukui, Japan that killed 1,600 people, and American commuters reading newspapers the day after John F. Kennedy’s assassination remain emblazoned on the minds of anyone who saw them. He also had a talent for creating memorable portraits of historical figures, such as Indira Gandhi and Winston Churchill.
Mydans remained with Life magazine for all of its 36 years as a weekly. He penned several books, including the 1959 memoir, “More Than Meets the Eye,” and won Camera Magazine’s Gold Achievement Award. Mydans in survived by his daughter Misty, and his son Seth, who writes for The New York Times. Shelley Smith Mydans died in 2002.
Watch a CNN Interview With Mydans

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