Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Keisha Whitaker

From The Oprah Show - Keisha Whitaker's Favorite Things

Slim Jims
Schwepp's Ginger Ale
Hanes T-Shirts (5 pack)
Neiman Marcus Shoe Sales
Le Creuset Cookware (@ Marshall's)
B. Ella Cashmere Socks (@ Marshall's)
Shabby Chic Bedding (@ Target)
Dominique Cohen Jewelry (@ Target)
Altoids Tangerine Sours
Pond's Exfoliating Cucumber Clean Sweep Towels
Neutrogena Microdermabrasion System
Nyakio Products
Banana Republic Trench Coat
Kissable Couture Lip Gloss in "Forest"
Keri Moisturizing Lotion
Garrett's Popcorn
Ritz Crackers
Victoria's Secret Shapers
Victoria's Secret "Secret Embrace" bra

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kai Milla

Kai Milla and her husband, superstar Stevie Wonder, were featured on The Oprah Show yesterday along with Heidi Klum and Seal. The topic was "supercouples" and how they make it work. Heidi and Seal were, of course, adorable together but it was nice to see Kai and Stevie on the show too. I don't really know much about her aside from the fact that she may have surpassed Tracey Reese and Rachel Roy as my favorite designer. Her stuff is so elegant and wearable. She's one of those rare designers that can put on a show and make me covet every item in the collection. Some of these, including the beautiful parsley green chiffon dress were feature on the show. I wonder if any of this is available at my neighborhood Nordstrom. Not that I can afford to buy anything else right now but a girl can dream, can't she?

Sources: Elle and Oprah.com

BFF: Jennifer Hudson and Andre Leon Talley

By now everyone knows that Andre Leon Talley, the editor-at-large for Vogue has taken Jennifer Hudson under his wing and serves as her primary stylist for her red carpet events. Now, I like Jennifer and Andre's column in Vogue is usually the first thing I turn to when, in a moment of weakness, I break down and buy that magazine. Looking at JHud's red carpet photos over the last year sometimes leaves me scratching my head. His personal taste aside, Andre is without a doubt talented. The frocks that he has picked for Renee Zellweger have been flawless. Dressing Jennifer presents more of a challenge. She' is after all full figured and it's no secret that most high fashion designers don't seem to know that anything over size 6 is an option when designing their wares. Setting aside JHud's Oscar dress disaster, I haven't seen her many show stopping clothes, at best I'd say that she's looking great in about half of the photos I've seen her in. She's pretty and talented enough but on more than one occasion it seems that the fit of her garments has been off or downright unflattering. So, what do you think? Is it time for her to thank ALT for the help and move on, or should she stick with the man who put her on the cover of Vogue?

Photo Sources: Lipstick Alley and The Fashion Spot

Monday, October 15, 2007

Excerpt from Alek Wek's Autobiography

Once, I landed at JFK after several modelling jobs in Europe. At immigration the homeland security officer looked me up and down and studied my passport with extra care. Not again, I thought. I’ve been detained so many times. I’ve come to realise that as a successful black woman – and a tall one at that – I represent something that triggers hostility and suspicion in a lot of people.

He sent me off to the little room they have for suspected terrorists, border jumpers and the like. I’d been there before. It’s like a jail in there. You can’t use your phone to call for assistance. They won’t tell you why you’re being detained.

They took my picture. They checked my green card again. They double-checked my fingerprints. They acted really tough, cold and suspicious. They kept me for 2½ hours.

I’d just flown business class from Frankfurt. I was wearing nice clothes, carrying a bag I’d designed, which even had a little brass tag with my name on it. I had all my papers. Yet still they had to detain me for all that time. Was it because I’m a black woman? I can’t prove it, but experience tells me that my skin figured in there somewhere.

A few weeks later the same guy detained me again. This time he grilled me about my travels. Why was I in Africa? Why had I been to Egypt? Why this? Why that?

“I’m a model. I travel for work.” He looked me up and down like he didn’t believe me. I wondered if Cindy Crawford had these kinds of issues. Another hour passed. I went up to him and told him I knew my rights.

“Your rights?” he said with a smirk. Finally, after 2½ hours, he stamped my passport.

“I thought you were Naomi Campbell,” one of the other officials said.

While I was waiting for my luggage a woman came up to me and said: “You know, you look just like this model. She’s from Africa. She’s got really short hair and she looks just like you.”

“Really?” I said.

“Really,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

I got in the car and put all the bad exchanges behind me. It’s the Dinka way.

Full excerpt from The Times Online

Saturday, October 13, 2007

NYT: Runways Fade to White

IN the days of blithe racial assumptions, flesh crayons were the color of white people. “Invisible” makeup and nude pantyhose were colored in the hues of Caucasian skin. The decision by manufacturers to ignore whole segments of humanity went unchallenged for decades before the civil rights movement came along and nonwhite consumers started demanding their place on the color wheel. Nowadays the cultural landscape is well populated with actors, musicians, media moguls and candidates for the American presidency drawn from the 30 percent of the American population that is not white. Yet, if there is one area where the lessons of chromatic and racial diversity have gone largely unheeded, it is fashion.

...Although black women in the United States spend more than $20 billion on apparel each year, according
to estimates by TargetMarketNews.com, it was hard to discern an awareness of this fact on the part of designers showing in New York, where black faces were more absent from runways than they have been in years. Of the 101 shows and presentations posted on Style.com during the New York runway season, which ended a month ago, more than a third employed no black models, according to Women’s Wear Daily. Most of the others used just one or two. When the fashion caravan moved to London, Paris and Milan, the most influential shows — from Prada to Jil Sander to Balenciaga to Chloé and Chanel — made it appear as if someone had hung out a sign reading: No Blacks Need Apply.

...“It’s heartbreaking for me now because the agents send the girls out there to castings and nobody wants to see them,” said Ms. Hardison, referring to black models. “And if they do, they’ll call afterward and say, ‘Well, you know, black girls do much better in Europe, or else black girls do much better in New York, or we already have our black girl.’”

...“Modeling is probably the one industry where you have the freedom to refer to people by their color and reject them in their work,” she said.
The exclusion is rarely subtle. An agent for the modeling firm Marilyn once told Time magazine of receiving requests from fashion clients that baldly specified “Caucasians only.”

...“Years ago, runways were almost dominated by black girls,” said J. Alexander, a judge on “America’s Next Top Model,” referring to the gorgeous mosaic runway shows staged by Hubert de Givenchy or Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s. “Now some people are not interested in the vision of the black girl unless they’re doing a jungle theme and they can put her in a grass skirt and diamonds and hand her a spear.”

...And some people, said Diane Von Furstenberg, the designer and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, “just don’t think about it at all.” Ms. Von Furstenberg herself has always employed models of all ethnicities on her runways. (This September, she hired seven black women, more perhaps than any single label except Baby Phat and Heatherette.) Yet she is increasingly the exception to an unspoken industry rule.
“I always want to do that,” she said, referring to the casting of women of color. “I can make a difference. We all can. But so much is about education and to talk about this is an important beginning.” But isn’t it strange, she was asked, that she would have to invoke the rhetoric of racial inclusiveness at a time when Oprah Winfrey is the most powerful woman in media, and Barack Obama is running for president?

...There is something illustrative of the entire issue, and the state of the industry, to be found in this September’s Italian Vogue.
Just one image of a black model appears in the issue, midway through a 17-page article photographed by Miles Aldridge and titled the “Vagaries of Fashion.” In it, the glacial blond Anja Rubik portrays an indolent, overdressed Park Avenue princess with a gilded apartment, a couture wardrobe, two towhead children and a collection of heavy rocks. The sole black model in the pictorial is more modestly attired, in an aproned pinafore. She plays the maid.

It's interesting to me how much steam this story seems to be picking up. It reminds me a bit of all the press surrounding the planned NAACP boycott of network television in the early 1990s because of the lack of representation of people of color in prime time.

For awhile everyone was talking about it. The powers that be had their excuses handy but in the end, not much changed. To be fair, CBS offered up City of Angels and quickly canceled it but with very few exceptions TV hasn't changed much.

I suspect the same will happen with this issue. Maybe Anna Wintour will feel some heat and actually give a black model a cover. I wonder if she'll recycle the editorial she wrote when she put Kiara Kabukuru on the cover in July 1997 in which begged readers to accept her and repeated the tired and untrue refrain about black faces not selling issues.

Source: The New York Times

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Independent: Agencies to Blame for Discrimination in Modelling

Fashion industry insiders have criticised modelling agencies for encouraging a culture of "blatant racism" in the business and announced an emergency summit with race campaigners and politicians to try to tackle the issue.

The meeting, scheduled to take place in London next year, has been organised by Dee Doocey (pictured), a Liberal Democrat spokesperson from the London Assembly. Ms Doocey, a former managing director of an international fashion company, believes the fashion world desperately needs to face underlying racism in the trade.

"I can't remember being sent a model who wasn't white," said the former fashion manager. "I don't know if it's racism, or just the fashion industry languishing in the doldrums, but it needs to change. Agencies only seem interested in leggy white blonde girls."

Designers, model agencies, race campaigners and politicians are among those who will be invited to the event, which has been announced ahead of a national contest in November to find the next British supermodel "of colour".

Sola Oyebade, managing director of Mahogany, the model agency behind next month's Top Model of Colour competition, said: "This event will start the debate. We've been trying to get more ethnic minority models into the industry but if you don't hold the purse strings or the power then no change can happen. Everyone looks at Naomi Campbell as the black model who's made it, but ...isn't it worrying that no-one else has come along?

"There are so many good quality black and mixed race-models that would be great, but the agencies and the clients are not willing to take a gamble.

"Non-white people make up about 30 per cent of the population of London but we don't even make up 1 per cent of the models."

Cassandra Lee, 18, a finalist in the Top Model of Colour competition, said her skin colour had been a problem for her in getting work. "You have to try much harder if you're not white," she said. "You have to be perfect to be looked at the same way as a white model. Sometimes you hear straight up that they're not looking for black models. It's quite blatant. " Another finalist, Stacey McKnight, 21, said it was ridiculous that black models were overlooked. "We're British too, why aren't we represented?"

One third of all Londoners are non-white, according to Greater London Assembly statistics, yet the websites of London's leading agencies show there are hundreds of white faces for every handful of models from other ethnic groups.

Maya Schulz, managing director at Acclaim models, an agency that specialises in choosing models from an ethnically diverse range of backgrounds, said: "I always find it more difficult putting black faces out there. The racism you come across is not underlying, it's blatant. People will say things like 'Don't send any more black models', and one designer even said black people didn't suit his clothes. And we're not talking about small designers here; it's all the big ones."

"The colour debate is far more important than the size-zero debate, but it's hardly had any coverage. The Black Girls Coalition was formed in the Eighties to combat it, but no progress has been made."


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Project Runway Canada

I have nothing but love for Heidi Klum but I need to see this show. Episodes are available on the Slice website but US viewers are blocked. I'm hoping that I can watch it tonight on my husband's work PC (if he's able to log onto a Canadian server.) If not, I'll have to wait for some Good Samaritan to upload it onto Youtube. Isn't it funny how the Canadian version of this show has more people of color than any season of the US and UK versions?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Today on Tyra...

Thursday, October 4th

"Model Blackouts"

Has black become unfashionable? Tyra addresses the “Model Blackout,” a recent controversy surrounding the lack of African-American models at this year’s Fashion Week in New York and in the modeling industry overall. Traver Rains and Richie Rich, designers of the Heatherette fashion line, discuss why they like to use black models and why other designers do not. They opened and closed their show with Chanel Iman, a 16-year-old model Tyra mentors. Chanel then joins Tyra to discuss the challenges she faces and what she did to get the editor in chief of Vogue magazine, Anna Wintour’s, attention. Then, supermodel Alek Wek speaks openly about the roadblocks she faced in the industry as a black model and lets cameras follow her to see what a day in the life of a supermodel is really like. Tyra and Alek also share behind-the-scenes footage from their recent Ebony cover with fellow models and entrepreneurs Iman and Kimora Lee Simmons. Alek then talks about her new book that chronicles her struggle as a Sudanese refugee and how she escaped the country to become a fashion model. Plus, Alek shows her new handbag line and surprises one of her biggest fans, a woman who also lived through the civil war in Sudan.

I'm not a big fan of Tyra's show (I think she's a little too egocentric) but this was a pretty good show. Chanel Iman was adorable and it was nice seeing her on the show with her mom (who is Black and Korean) on the show.I always love seeing Alek Wek. It was also interesting to see Trevor Rains & Richie Rich of Heatherette talk about their decision to use 10 (!) Black models on their runway this season.

ETA: Clip of Chanel Iman from the show

Monday, October 1, 2007

What's His Name?

From Fashion Week Daily

(MILAN) ARMANI'S NO. 1 FAN: André Leon Talley couldn't stop raving about the intro to the Emporio Armani show, which featured the EA Diamonds fragrance commercial starring Beyoncé in its entirety. "The beginning of the Emporio Armani show with Beyoncé was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen in my life. Beyoncé as Marilyn Monroe interpreted by Mr. Armani was an original; so very few black people are in fashion doing these things, projecting such energy, that to see these two titans collaborating on something with the diamond metaphor is brilliant. Only Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein with, what's his name? (Djimon Hounsou). Oh yes, him, using a black man."

Shame on you Andre. Isn't Djimon still dating Andre's supposed BFF Kimora Lee Simmons? The man have been nominated for two Oscars, surely he's risen above being a "what's his name?"

DRESS-UP DOLCE: A stunning Naomi Campbell arrived relatively on time for the Dolce & Gabbana show Thursday--on time, if you're on her schedule, that is--and promptly took her front row seat as she was surrounded by bodyguards.

That's just Naomi being Naomi. No harm, no foul. Here is more of Naomi on the Italian version of "Dancing With the Stars"