The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, in Washington D.C. recently curated a new exhibit which aims to define what it means to be “cool.” The exhibit traces the evolution of cool, running the gamut from Billie Holiday & Miles Davis to Faye Dunaway and Jay Z. Within this exploration of who the cool kids are, 96 other iconic influencers are highlighted — those who have helped frame a moment in cultural history with an original artistic vision, and a “stylish stoicism.” Not everyone could be included, clearly, but it did get my wheels spinning. Who would I include on that list? I sometimes put on my leather jacket and feel cool-ish, or sip a single malt scotch and fancy myself to be kinda cool, but it’s not in my bones. Some people are just born that way.
Meet Lizzie and Darlene Okpo, founders and designers of the much adored label, William Okpo. These NY raised, daughters of Nigerian immigrants, with a penchant for style and realness, are arbiters of cool. Juxtaposing indigenous style sensibilities with a nod to current American culture, their designs evoke the perfect balance of honoring where they came from, and celebrating where they are going. With their line at Opening Ceremony, and fashionista supporters such as their best mate, Solange Knowles on speed dial, these broads have much to celebrate, indeed. They’re gonna go far, and where they end up will undoubtedly be (yep, you guessed it)…cool. I asked the girls to share their TIG Insider’s Guide to Brooklyn, NY, their stomping ground du moment. From foodie finds to the perfect stop for gardening goodies, these ladies have Brooklyn on lock.
Saraghina – The ultimate brunch place on the weekend. The cutest backyard for eating! Sometimes I forget I’m in Brooklyn. When friends are in town this is their first choice for eating. Everyone brags about the pizza and it took me a year to give in and try it. Once I did I couldn’t turn back. So good. Usually I order brunch – ricotta chocolate chip pancakes. Unreal.
Madiba – Usually we have to wait 20 minutes for a seat inside, and 45 minutes for a seat outside. But it’s worth it. Nothing but beautiful people eat here for its cute South African cuisine and beautiful interior. Madiba fully embodies South African aesthetics. Everyone with taste in Brooklyn has stopped by this restaurant to indulge in a salmon burger at some point. If they haven’t, they have definitely put this on their list as a place to eat soon.
Black Swan – We bike here once a week to indulge in Thai sweet chicken wings. The whole place is painted black but still has the best lighting. I take my guy friends here as it has a tough guy, but super sweet feel to it. My friends love it. They always thank me because they end up taking their dates/girlfriends to Black Swan afterwards. That’s what friends are for.
– This dangerously delicious doughnut shop will be the reason for my round belly. After Black Swan we walk around the corner and order two doughnuts per person and cut them up in pieces so we can all sample and indulge in each other’s doughnuts. The doughnuts are sooo good you can’t just have one flavor. There’s passion fruit, hibiscus, and my favorite, coconut! We are guilty of waiting in a 15 minute line for these doughnuts. The shop is super tiny and so cute!
Alice’s Arbor – When friends are in town and we want to eat brunch in the neighborhood we all mutually agree to go here.
**TIG Tip** – The menu here has everything from a potato crab hash to a sandwich aptly called “The Yum Yum” (a grilled delight of organic chicken, tomato confit, mozzarella, and pesto pressed between sourdough). Wash it down with a “Mayday” (their lillet, honey, and sage infused cocktail).
Cloak and Dagger – Owned by Brookelynn Starnes, who sells every cute designer brand you can imagine. She has some cute Karen Walker glasses and Opening Ceremony Mary Jane sandals. The interior decor at the shop makes me want to redo my bedroom. Such an inspiring shop.
Seasons – At the beginning of spring we run around the corner to redecorate our apartment with new plants from the garden shop. The owner of the shop will convince you how wrong you were for ever thinking it was okay to buy plants from Home Depot. She is brilliant. And her flowers and plants will have you thinking you can transform your apartment into a real jungle.
Here are some cool finds in case you were wondering “Where Brooklyn at, where Brooklyn at…”
Photos via: Saraghina, Madiba, Black Swan, Dough, Alice’s, Seasons, (& Rog Walker)