Monday, September 29, 2008

Janelle Monae - Many Moons

I can't get enough of this girl.

Another Wakeema Hollis Post

If you blew on her she'd probably fall over but I still love me some Wakeema Hollis.

Chanel Iman, Arlenis and Jourdan may be getting the lions share of bookings among black models but this Memphis born American girl with the angel face is one of my favorites and I am always pleased to see her on the runway. Fortunately for her fans, she's been booking a steady stream of jobs. Well, on US runways anyway.

My excitement was dampered a bit by the fact that Wakeema's signature natural hairdo has been MIA in nearly all her recent runway and editorial work. I posted a little on this before on this blog, and I am aware that sometimes designers have all their models strutting their stuff wearing wigs but c'mon already. Why is it that white models are the only ones that get to enjoy distinctive looks? Mouth breathing top model Agyness Deyn has been sporting the slight variations on that same bleached blond short hair on the runway and in print for as long as I care to remember. Will there ever be a day when natural hair longer than an inch will be commonplace on kinky haired catwalkers? At least one? I'm not holding my breath.

Photos: The Fashion Spot

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chanel @ GUCCI - Don't Call it a Comeback...

Chanel Iman, who has worked an astonishing 40 shows this catwalk season between New York, Paris, and Milan, made headlines when she showed two looks for Gucci Spring 2009.

Fashionologie, reported that she became the first black model in a Gucci show since Tom Ford left and was replaced by Frida Giannini in 2005. Iman was the sole non-white model on the stage that was populated almost exclusively by models with nearly identical blonde shoulder length hairstyles.

Photo: fashionkid90/catwalking

Friday, September 26, 2008

In Other Blogs...Not Much Diversity in Milan

Milan Fashion Week is notorious for its lack of diversity on the runway and this season has brought out more of the same in spite of the universal love for Vogue Italia's "Black" Issue. 

The Shophound is a great fashion blog that has been tracking the presence of Black and Asian models during Fashion Week.

 Bottega Veneta featured the most diversity. Out of the 28 models on their runway, four were black and one was Asian. In second place was Dolce & Gabbana, who had three black models, 1 Asian and 1 South Asian model. A few shows had one token non-white models and many more had none. Read more of the numbers at The Shophound.

Photo: ONTD_fashinfags

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Unfortunately, There is No Red Carpet Event for this Awards Show

Andrea, The Cruel Secretary, has bestowed my blog with the Certified Honest Blogger Award. I must say that I'm really touched.

I am required to give this award to seven other bloggers which was tough because there are dozens of bloggers out there that I read and admire. After giving it a little thought, these are the blogs with which I wish to share my award:

The rest of the requirements for receiving the award are below. Hopefully, I can get all this done by the end of the day today :) 

1. When you receive the award, you must write a post showing it, including the name of blog that has presented you with the award and providing a link to that blog.

2. Choose a minimum of seven blogs  that you feel are brilliant in their content or design. 

3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing them that they were recognized with this award. 

4. (Optional) Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize to.

5. Pass it on!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TRACE: Black Girls Rule

I can never find this magazine on the newsstands anymore but fortunately TRACE is still alive and well and putting out a Black Girls RULE! issue. It's available free (as a .pdf file) on their website. What I love most about BGR is that it always features a few new faces and not just to 1 or 2 black models of the moment.  This issue has been available online for awhile but I thought I'd share it anyway :)

Backstage at Bottega Veneta Spring/Summer 2009


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mini-Rant on Allure Magazine

This month's Letter from the Editor in Allure Magazine takes a swipe at Kimora Lee Simmons and her over-the-top glam persona. In the letter, editor Linda Wells, starts by bemoaning the excess packaging of expensive beauty products and how all that unnecessary plastic and cardboard may be harming the environment while making us more beautiful .

"The packaging of beauty products has gotten out of control," she says. "Whatever happened to the ideal of the French woman who wore the same Yves Saint Laurent jacket for 20 years?" And then "The beauty industry has to move away from the Kimora Lee Simmons approach to luxury." A branding specialist added that "All of that shiny cellophane and metal is not sophisticated."

While I agree with her that excess packaging on all products is problematic her other two points just rub me the wrong way. First of all, I also admire women who can look stylish in vintage clothing or with small wardrobes. Hell, I hope to be one of those women someday but to the best of my recollection, this ideal has NEVER been idealized in fashion magazines which exist to push the latest and trendiest clothing and accessories down our throats. Any celebrity or socialite in vintage pieces in one issue will more than likely show up in the same space the following month wearing something fresh off the runway to coincide with whatever advertiser bought the most ads.

Second, though I have a serious love/hate thing going on with Kimora I was miffed at the insult. For one, her cosmetics line doesn't tout $200 beauty creams and certainly isn't over packaged. Sure, she's as flashy as she is mouthy but criticizing her excess in a magazine the regularly praises all manner of pricey concoctions is a bit hypocritical.

This issue alone pushed a $75 per day juice cleanse diet, a $1,125 fox fur vest, $9K Cartier watch, $4,100 Versace gown, a $700 Garren NY haircut and $925 YSL shoes (that definitely could NOT be worn for 20 years!)

If they really wanted to criticize a celebrity for excessive living they should have looked no further than their August cover girl Victoria Beckham.

Photo: Emilie/TFS

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Michael Kors - Fall 2008

I will readily admit that I never paid much attention to Michael Kors until Project Runway. Now that his Fall 2008 collection is arriving in stores and in magazine editorials, I can't just get enough. One runway review said that this collection had a pronounced Alfred Hitchcock vibe. I don't really see that but what I do think when I look at these pieces is that Kors perfectly captured that grown and sexy quality that appeals to me. It manages to be both classic and current without making the wearer look like a secretarial pool extra from Mad Men. I could easily envision Michelle Obama wearing any number of these looks, this belted floral dress in particular.


Is Fashion Racist? Vogue Readers Say Yes.

Reader chimed in and responded to the article "Is Fashion Racist?" which appeared in the July issue of American Vogue. The "Talking Back" section printed four letters, three of which named Vogue magazine itself as part of the problem. Sandra Robbins from Memphis,TN wrote: "I am a black woman, and one of the reasons I refuse to purchase Vogue is that there are not many people who look like me in its pages...Wake up and smell the coffee." Reader Janna Pankey of Laurel, MD added: " whittle down diversity to simply a case of 'white and black' is not a step in the right direction. It marginalizes other ethnic groups, reducing their significance to something less than 'other.'

Damn. If these are the letters they printed, I would love to read the stuff that didn't make the cut!

The Fashion Spot Interviews EBAY Style Director Constance White

The interview is not what one would call in-depth but might be worth a look if you are a fan of Constance's EBAY blog or have a dusty copy of her book Stylenoir on your bookshelf.  In the interview, Constance talks very briefly about her favorite collections and models this season. 

I was paging through Stylenoir the other day. It's not heavy on color photographs and definitely seems a little outdated but I would love if Constance would publish another style book for black women. It seems there is a new one coming out each week from the likes of Rachel Zoe and Nina Garcia (both of whom published books that I really liked) so why not White too?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Joy Bryant in her Angela Missoni designed wedding gown

The actress married boyfriend, stuntman David Pope, in the Hamptons on June 28th at a private beachfront estate. The former model enjoys a close friendship with the designer. Bryant met her beau while filming Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jada Pinkett Smith Loves Her Some Bangles

Jada and her artfully bangled wrist at the premiere of "The Women" in Westwood, California. I love how perfectly balanced the look is with the right number of small and wide bracelets.

source: aagc

Estelle in Versace Pre-Fall 2008

It looks a little snug on Estelle but the color is beautiful on her. I also love what I can see of her jewelry. What do you think?

S:Fashion_Girl22, zimbio, style

ETA: Vivica Fox in Dior 

I haven't alway been a fan of Aunt Viv's personal style but lately she is looking glamorous and age appropriate. Does anyone out there watch her VH-1 show about stylists? Is it worth tuning in?

S: ConcreteLoop,

Duro Olowu in Vogue Magazine

Vogue's Sally Singer featured Olowu, along with Roberto Cavalli and Tracy Feith, in her short piece about the best "bohemian" designers. Singer also wrote the much maligned article "From Here to Timbuktu" that appeared in Vogue a few months ago, so clearly she is their go-to person for ethnic influenced clothing. Here, she credits Olowo for "keeping wild graphics in check" and praises his "caravan of dreams creations." Ok, whatever. When I look at Olowu's designs and textiles, I just think beautifully layered clothing that a colorphobe like me might fantasize about working into my Beatnik uniform.

Donyale Luna in NYLON

Even though I cancelled my free subscription, I still get NYLON in the mail every month. It's like the Jehovah's Witnesses of the magazine world -- when I least expect it, there it is at the door and I feel obligated to at least look at it though I'd rather be doing something else. 

This month's issue was devoted to "IT" Girls. There were a few black faces inside this month's issue but it still hit the recycle bin in record time. I did pause on this page, featuring a photo of Donyale Luna which I hadn't seen before.

The woman had issues but my she had beautiful teeth.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wakeema Hollis - On the Runway - NY Fashion Week

Her trademark afro is sadly absent from these images but I'm happy to learn that Hollis has racked up quite a few shows at Fashion Week. She will also be appearing in the Project Runway final but I won't spoil it by sharing which designer used her to close the show.

ETA: Apparently all six remaining designers on Project Runway was at Fashion Week. We won't know who is really in the final until the show airs.

Friday Free Post: That Sisterlocks Thing

Between getting my hair did and Peanut starting preschool this week, I haven't had much time for updating my blog.

I was surprised at all the posts about my hair so I've embedding a slideshow here to show off my new Sisterlocks. I spent part of the morning in front of my mirror with the camera and came away with about 100 close up shots of my camera and a few dozen more with only parts of my head showing. I guess I need to learn how to properly frame a shot.

Anyway. I mentioned before that this is my third set of locs. The first time I did it, it was in the traditional palm-rolling method. I'd been wearing my hair natural for several years and it took to locking pretty easily. I went twice a month to a salon called Muriel's in Dorchester, MA to have my hair washed and re-twisted. 

After a few months, the locks settled in and I was able to maintain them on my own. I kept them for about four years before I got the itch and wanted something new. I cut them into a shoulder length bob initially (lengthwise, they were at my shoulder blades) but after a few months of that I just started detangling them. It took about a month (I was only able to detangle about four a day with a metal pick comb.) When it was all said and done (after combing out the shed hairs and getting a haircut) I was left with the shoulder length hair that I always dreamed of. I was throwing that stuff over my shoulder enough to cause neck injury but after six months, I got sick of the upkeep and braided my hair in an attempt to re-lock it. 

It was fine for about two years but I hated that the locks still kind of looked like braids and that my parts were so crooked. I got fed up again and just chopped it back down to a TWA. As it started to grow out I started thinking about getting Sisterlocks. I'd admired the style for awhile and wanted something a little more versatile than my first set of long heavy locks.

I met a woman at Costco with Sisterlocks and she gave me the name of her stylist (a trainee consultant named Valorie Lowe) and I was off. Got my test locks and a month later I was sitting in Valorie's living room, watching movies and joking while she put 400+ locs on my head. It took a total of about 24 hours and I am very happy with it. The price was steep but considering the amount of time it took and the money I won't be spending at the hair salon and on the latest curly hair "miracle" creams it wasn't bad. 

So there you have it. I called this entry a "free post" because I'd love to hear your hair stories too. You know sisters love to talk about hair so have at it and have a good weekend. 

Also, there isn't much there right now but I'll share more pics of my hair on Fotki in the future.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Off-topic post: Sisterlocks

After three days and 24 total hours of tugging on my scalp, I finally have Sisterlocks. My head is killing me. I am so happy the ordeal is over because I was really really tired of wearing my hair in an oversized  afro puff.

ETA: I'll post more information about my hair soon. This is my third set of locs in nearly 10 years and will hopefully be my last:)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Halle Berry in Calvin Klein @ Calvin Klein 40th Anniversary Party

No contest here. Halle wins.

source: ONTD &

Rachel Roy - Spring/Summer 2009

Hmmm. I don't know what to think about this collection. There are a couple perfectly serviceable pieces mixed in there but overall I think this collection is a bit disjointed, especially the way it is presented. The last four looks could have easily come from four different shows. If I could take home any of these looks, I think I'd go for the cream colored jumpsuit paired with the spotted bondage heels in the second set. In fact, I think I like the shoes more than anything here.

Tracy Reese - Spring/Summer 2009

I'm the woman who struggles with adding color to her wardrobe. I mean, I love bright colors and feminine florals, it just seems that when I do buy those things they end up kind of isolated in the back my closet. Tracy Reese has always been one of those designers who I secretly wish was my sister or best friend so I could raid closet without the regret I feel sometimes when I buy something pretty that I never wear. 

The first thing that usually comes to mind when I look at her clothes is "cocktail party at Reese Witherspoon's house." That's not a bad thing, but it's not really me if I'm being honest. That said, there are plenty of beautiful pieces in this collection and many that would be easy to work into an everyday wardrobe, even for the color phobic amongst us.

My favorite item is the green/yellow floral belted bustier like top paired with the green pant.


Friday, September 5, 2008

WSJ: Tracy Reese Talks About the Importance of Diversity in the Fashion Industry

If you have a slow connection or can't play the video. Here is what she said:

I remember seeing other shows and being disappointed or waiting..."Are they going to have a black girl? Are they going to have a black girl? Are they going to have an Asian girl? [Will] there be anything besides white girls?"

What we see on the runway is picked up by advertisers, it's picked up by editorial in magazines. You know, it's obviously being seen by a younger and younger audience. I think of the general public and especially young people, if they only see one idea of beauty then that gives them...a very awful self-image.

It's like, 'the world doesn't accept me the way I am.' You can't overcome this, meaning what you are born with. I think we have to teach children to embrace who they are, their size, their color, their hair texture, whatever it may be.

I've seen my buyers select models that are similar to the ones I've used on the runway to advertise our clothing in their catalogs or in their stores.

They take cues from designers because they want to interpret your vision, you know, when they show your collection to their customers. I think there is all the more reason for we as designers to be really thoughtful and remember that the customer base is broad. I don't think we should deal in people like they are commodities or trends. I think awareness of how it feels to be on the other side of that has to be more broadly based.

Everyone has something whether they are a model or a regular woman walking down the street. I think I'm always interested in that thing that makes you unique or an individual.

S: Wall Street Journal

Elise Neal in Betsey Johnson S/S 2008

I think Elise looks better than the runway model but stripes and polka dots just seem a little too cutsey for my taste.

Photo credit: Style, Wireimage and miss_nyc/TFS

Thursday, September 4, 2008

America's Next Top Model

I will admit that the only reason I watched America's Next Top Model last night was to see Isis, the transgender contestant. I stopped watching the show a few "cycles" back because I just got tired of the formula. After last nights episode, my opinion hasn't changed. Tyra and Co. are more bizarre than ever and the casting of potential models according to the reality show rule book is still in effect. For as much as I liked Isis and Sheena (pictured above)  I won't be coming back for more. I wanted to jump through my TV and strangle the girl who referred to Isis as a drag queen. My heart just can't take the ignorance and exploitation. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thandie in Jasmine Di Milo - Fall 2008

Thandie Newton usually looks head to toe flawless but I'm not feeling this look. What do you think?

Source: Marpessa/TFS

Carlos Campos to Hop on All-Black Model Trend

Using all black models has now become to lazy way to get attention in the fashion industry. Menswear designer Carlos Campos will unveil his first women's collection on September 7th in New York.

He has shared that his inspiration for the show is the jet set glamourous lifestyle of iconic model Iman and her rocker husband David Bowie.

Sigh. Why not just use black, or other non-white models, because they are beautiful and look great in the clothes? 

It's sad that those in the industry have interpreted the success of Vogue Italia as merely a publicity stunt and not the desire of fashion consumers to see more racial diversity in this once groundbreaking industry.

Even Campos' muse Iman expressed concern that black models would be seen as a gimmick after the publication of the July Vogue Italia.

Photo: DailyLife

ETA: Scriptgirl sent me a link to this article on issues of race and Fashion Week. It has a few good quotes from designers like Tracy Reese who remarked:

"I was pleasantly surprised this year. We're always calling up the agencies to say, 'We want to see black girls, Latinas, Asians, everything. ... There were a lot of new faces...For me, it's fun to see how different personalities enhance the clothes."

Designer Pamella Roland added, "Model casting has actually been easier this season. We're impressed by the sheer number and beauty of all ethnicities this time around. The only difficulty will be in choosing which girls we will ultimately cast."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Vogue Letters

I think I've mentioned before that the Letters to the Editor feature is usually my favorite part of any magazine. My own letters are usually way too bitchy to be published but every now and then someone will write one that is after my own heart. 

I wrote awhile ago about the "From Here to Timbuktu" editorial and article that appeared in the June issue of Vogue magazine. This month's issue features three letters that highlight wildly different takes on the piece. 

The first letter congratulates Vogue on "the absolutely respectful mise-en-scene" which apparently, inspired the reader to such an extent that she now plans on wearing her Tuareg men's wallet around her neck instead of on her wall.  A second letter really kills it and tells of the reader's completely rekindled Arabian Nights-esque fantasies.  That one left me wondering if the woman who wrote it did so while was was sitting buck naked at her computer, drinking wormwood and gently stroking the fur on her diamond collared ocelot. 

I honestly began to wonder if I missed something since the article's description of Timbuktu as a playground for wealthy people who want to get away from it all just left a bad taste in my mouth. 

Luckily, Chelsea Cook from Athens, Georgia breaks it down:

I was stunned to see photographs of beautiful Liya Kebede amid what looked to be poor African citizens in the June issue. I was sickened to then read the photos' captions: a $3,915 Cavalli dress...modeled next to people from one of the world's poorest countries...

Just this morning I was reading about a 16 page spread which appeared in Vogue India's August issue in which luxury items were modeled by nameless poor people. In the photo above, an Indian child models a Fendi bib which retails for $100. Manufacturers argue that they are just trying to create aspiration for their brands while raising awareness of the problem of poverty. There is no indication if any of these models for a day received the typical wage that a professional model would earn for hawking the same goods in the magazine.  They just get the typical people-as-props treatment. I guess this is much prettier and editorial featuring the real poor people who make these designer garments for pennies in sweatshops.

Somehow I just don't think that this is amusing or enlightening. 

Michelle Obama is All-American in The Gap

Scanned from Vogue Magazine, September 2008