Monday, June 30, 2008

Naomi for YSL Fall '08


The collection won't be in stores until July 8th but here is a sneak peek at the ad campaign featuring Naomi Campbell.  The ads were photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin and they should be commended for making those sequined genie pants look so good. I didn't care much for the collection as it was presented on the runway. It felt like it was designed for women from the future who listen to techno music and don't like to smile. That said there are still two or three pieces that I would shove in my bag if they fell off the back of a delivery truck. Take a peek at the rest of the collection on Style.com or here.

ads scanned and uploaded by oh jane (thank you!)

Lots of Ink Devoted to Italian Vogue



The issue still hasn't hit the stands in the US but it's garnering a lot of attention.

Stereohyped asks "Is Going the All-Black Route a Superficial Answer to Fashion's Problems?"

The Telegraph devotes space to the issue with two new articles: "Prêt-à-rapporter: A black and white vision of modelling" and this piece.

Jezebel wonders if the issue will solve the "black model" problem once and for all.

I'm already tired of talking about it, I just want to see it already!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jada Pinkett Smith and Keisha Whitaker @ Nelson Mandela's Birthday Celebration




I absolutely adore this peacock inspired dress by Monique Lhuiller on Jada Pinkett Smith. Once again, a garment that looks merely passable on a runway model comes to life on a real life woman. I would never have thought that this particular shade would look so lovely on darker skin. Also, heavens be praised Jada's hair seems to have recovered from her disturbing Foghorn Leghorn period.
I have slightly mixed feelings about Keisha Whitaker's choice here. I've always admired her style and I love the Lanvin dress but I think it would have been nice to see her wear it in a brighter color, like the red version on Lily Donaldson. The black just looks a little too somber for the occassion.
source: Dlisted and DeonDiva

She's Got the Look: Trapeze Episode


Last week on America’s Next Top Lady Model with a Mortgage….

According to the voice over, the ladies gained “new respect for Roxanne” which leaves me wondering if I’ve missed a few crucial scenes. I haven’t and the camera flashed back to Roxanne crying about getting divorced. Now I realize that divorce is a painful thing but you know what else is painful? Getting stabbed seven times. If I gained respect for anyone it’s Tanya because if I was stabbed by a pack a girls juiced up on Haterade, I wouldn’t leave my house.

The voice over continues that front-runners Roxanne and Bahia were in danger of being eliminated until Paula stomped off the runway for the last time. Uttering the words “front-runner” and Roxanne in the same breath leaves me wondering if a fix is in. What exactly is “the look” that this show is going for? Pretension while looking older than one’s actual age? I just don’t get it.

I try to imagine where Paula is now and what she’s doing. No matter how tightly I close my eyes, all I get is an image of her clipping her toenails while waiting in line to be cast for another reality show.

This week’s show opens with an overly perky blonde blowing a whistle in the apartment. Is this reality show staple is supposed to be funny? I can tell you that if anyone tried to wake me up that way, the next time she wanted to blow it, she’d have to start farting.

Roxanne offers Perky some coffee to which Perky replies: I’vealreadyhadmycoffeeIhavetoomuchenergysocoffeemakesmegoWOOOOOO!! Suddenly I remember why I have Denise Austin so much.

Umm, okay. Turns out the Perky is the Fitness Director for SELF magazine. She makes the ladies gathering round for some product placement disguised as a workout. The product in question is called Jump Snap. Essentially, it’s two handles without a rope connecting them that allows one to do fake jump roping without the inconvenience of knocking shit down all over their apartment. Hope says it best when she remarks:

Just give me a [real] jump-rope lady.


About this fitness lady... not only does she not come close to possessing the best body in the flat, she kinda sounds like she’s been sucking on Lucky Strikes for the past 10 years.

Later, Kim Alexis’ pre-recorded voice mail message to the women tells them to pick an emotion and bring it with them for that day’s highflying challenge. There’s no mention of where they are supposed to stick their emotion for the journey.

The ladies head off to New York’s Trapeze School. The last time I saw this school featured on TV was during a “where are they now” show on Supermodels that aired many years ago. It showed Veronica Webb taking lessons. I recall that my husband, who I make watch all these garbage shows with me, just turned to me and said, “Wow, she really has nothing going on does she?” Really, it seemed kind of pathetic.

Cut to Roxanne, bragging that the challenge will be no problem for her because she hangs upside down all the time. So do bats, Roxanne. So do bats. The next time they show Roxanne she is balancing her groin on the edge of the trampoline practicing poses. Someone needs to tell her that feminine itching isn’t an emotion.

Bahia, of course, is terrified of heights. I say “of course” because since this show debuted, they have been showing previews of this show and Bahia’s meltdown. Now that I’m watching it in “real” time, it feels like a rerun.

Melissa is up first. The thing about Melissa is that I always forget she’s even on this show until they show her. She’s wearing a sports bra and a harness that grabs in all the wrong places. Her emotion is fear or pretty fear or something.

Photographer Bradford Nobel reminds me a lot of Will Forte from Saturday Night Live, especially when Forte does a character with a really shrill, really irritating high pitched voice, which apparently is Bradford’s natural speaking voice. Also, he has a bowl cut.

He thinks Melissa is a lioness but needs to be a cub. This makes zero sense to me.

Now it’s Tanya’s turn. Her emotion is confidence. She is scared but I’d be scared too if I’d been stabbed seven times for thinking I’m cute.

Bradford, who I am convinced has never picked up a camera before coming to work on this show, gives her the definition of confidence which comes from the dictionary that has never been updated and exists only in his mind.

Confidence (n.) Fierce eyebrow liftin’ looking at me like I’m hot stuff.

I can’t remember what Hope’s emotion was but Bradford thinks she’s today’s Tootie (from the Facts of Life.) I think Today’s Tootie would make a great name for a feminine spray.

Karin, who is Swedish but sounds like Gretchen Kraus from “Benson” does as fine job portraying longing as Celeste does with surprise.

Roxanne looks a bit like David Caruso the way her hair is slicked back. This is disturbing to me because I am deathly afraid of red headed men. When I see a redheaded male all I can think about his seeing him naked because I’m always picturing people naked and fire pubes are just about the least appealing thing on the planet. Her emotion is passion but she just looks constipated.

Now comes Bahia, who is still terrified. If the whole trapeze thing isn’t bad enough, they’ve made her hair look like she’s been sleeping in a boxcar for the last three weeks. Let me say that fear of heights is a very real thing and while it is funny to mock the 18 years olds on ANTM who have this fear, I feel really back for Bahia who is visibly shaken. She tries twice to get up to the platform but has to settle for doing fierce poses on the ladder. Her emotion is anger.

During all of this, the other women seem legitimately concerned for Bahia and shout words of encouragement. Roxanne is mostly off camera during these cuts but when Bahia comes down the ladder the first time, we see Roxanne hurrying over and around the group to plant her face next to Bahia’s for the group hug/camera shot. The one time they show her yelling up to Bahia, Roxy has all the enthusiasm of a chicken sexer trainee.

Back at the apartment all the women walk in wearing black. No explanation is given so I assume it’s an editing thing. They find a rep from Jenny Craig in their kitchen. To me, this is a nightmare but the ladies take it in stride and manage to find nice things to say about that cardboard food. Listen, I know that they have to do product placement to pay for this show but why can’t they use products that models actually need like stool softener, vodka and cigarettes?

Next we see Tanya and Hope. Tanya asks Hope who she thinks might go home. I hate things like this because you can never tell how much it has been edited. Hope says that she thinks Melissa will get the boot because she’s too sexy for this show. Tanya immediately defends Melissa, which begs the question, why did you ask that wack ass question in the first place?

The final challenge this week is a cougar and diamonds photo shoot posing with two male rent a hunks from the Wilhelmina agency named Jason and Jarod. The women are given tacky jewelry and a tackier gown designed by Sherry Hill, who Tanya excitedly shares is BIG in the pageant industry.

Unfortunately for Bradford, the photographer this time is a portly fellow named Fadil. He’s shot such lovelies as Cheryl Tieges, Halle Berry and Beverly Johnson. Interestingly, they didn’t have a copy of the photo he took of Halle Berry which suggests to me that he photographed her while hiding up a tree outside her house in Brentwood.

Fadil wants Hope's hair to be in an up-do. He wants an Audrey Hepburn look but you know like a black Audrey because Hope is black. He also hates Hope’s tramp stamp and keeps covering it up between takes with her shawl. Why she doesn’t have some Dermablend on hand is puzzling as why they just can’t airbrush that shit out. Hell, I could do that in MS Paint.

The camera keeps cutting to Roxanne who is seconds away from getting a curling iron lodged in her ass by the hair stylist. Roxanne thinks the stylist is making her look like Phyllis Diller. Yeah, she wishes.

I forgot to mention that they had to think of stories to go along with the photos. I don’t remember what Hope’s story was but Celeste is a jewel thief and Tanya is a black widow and Bahia is confused about something. Ummm, okay.

Melissa is done up in a slightly draggish gown that makes her boobs look artificial. She’s also getting a bit too turned on by the male models. Honey, they probably rode to the shoot on the same moped, so don’t waste your O-face.

Karin’s story is so long and drawn out that it belongs on a Fiona Apple album and I have no idea what Roxanne’s was but she and Fadil (who called her Roxy) seem to have made a love connection, they both love Roxanne.

After the shoot the ladies are informed that two chicks will be going home.

Photos from the trapeze and cougar shoot are unveiled. Really, I think that most of the women look great with Tanya and Karin’s photos coming out the most model like. The judges make the usual remarks adding that Roxanne’s trapeze shot made her look dead.

I won’t spoil the ending but the two women that probably deserved to go home went home.

I should add that all of the episodes are now available for viewing online.

Next week: Acting with Daisy Fuentes. Why does this show give so much away in the previews?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Editor's Letter - July 1997 - Vogue Magazine

Letter from the Editor
Fashion's New Face

Within limits, Americans are exceedingly tolerant. We pride ourselves on our "live and let live" ethic, and it's probably safe to say that we show more respect for racial diversity than any other country in the West. The kinds of hideous public insults that Jackie Robinson endured 50 years ago are now virtually unknown in the United States, although they can still be heard on Saturday afternoons at rowdy soccer matches in Great Britain. While there continue to be unrepentant racists in the States, of course, they do not have the necessary mainstream support to mount major political parties that capture significant portions of the vote - as they do in France and Germany.
That said, American is a country of people with varied backgrounds, many of whom are not above exposing their racial biases. In terms of fashion magazines, for example, it is a fact of life that the color of a model's skin (or hair, for that matter) dramatically affects newsstand sales. Although it is rare for an issue of Vogue to go to the printer without one or more black models featured prominently inside, black models appear less often than I, and many of you, would like on Vogue's covers - which, no one will be shocked to hear, are designed to appeal to as large a group of potential readers as possible. This month, we feature a young, fresh-faced black model named Kiara Kabukuru on our cover, and I am crossing my fingers that Kiara will be embraced by magazine buyers everywhere - not because she's black but because she's beautiful.

Anna Wintour


Eleven years ago, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, featured Ugandan model Kiara Kabukuru (photographed by Steven Meisel) on the cover of the traditionally low selling July issue of American Vogue. I excerpted her letter here because it’s something that I find myself referring to often on this blog and I wanted everyone to be able to read Ms. Wintour’s words as she wrote them. What is interesting to me is that in spite of the fact that Wintour believes Europe is so much more intolerant that the United States, Kiara appeared on several fashion magazine covers there, including the French and Spanish editions of Vogue. To the best of my knowledge, neither of the editors of those magazines, printed letters begging their readers to “embrace” Kiara in spite of her blackness. Also, as a magazine editor with control of which models appear inside the issue as well as outside, Ms. Wintour puts the onus for change and acceptance directly onto the reader and not herself.

In the July 2008 issue of Vogue, which features an article called “Is Fashion Racist,” Ms. Wintour doesn’t refer to the piece, or this 1997 cover at all which surprised me. For all the criticism heaped on Vogue magazine lately, and Vogue Italia’s decision to dedicate their July issue to black models, I thought for sure she would use this issue as an opportunity to stand on her studded Balenciaga soap box and pat herself on the back for being so inclusive.

But there was nothing, which is probably just as well since really, after 10+ years what could she possibly say?



Photo Source: TFS

Saturday, June 21, 2008

NYT: Caribbean Fashion Week


Carribean Fashion week may not be as well known at those in New York, Milan and Paris but it sure looks like it would be a lot more fun to attend. C.F.W. is a rarity in that it shows no signs of androgyny. Yanking up their bold Yardmanstyle t-shirts, the Jamaican male models flashed physiques that caused mass hysteria in the audience. And the heavenly bodies of the vari-hued Nubian catwalk beauties appeared to be silicone-free.

It remains to be seen whether Caribbean designers can achieve the same level of success that the region’s models are currently enjoying. As T & T’s Meiling said, summing up the spirit of the week: “Versace, Vuitton, Gucci — they all use Caribbean motifs and Caribbean music is everywhere. Now it’s time to make it happen in fashion for ourselves.”


Source
Thanks Camille for sending me the link!

caribbeanfashionweek.com

Friday, June 20, 2008

Vogue Asks, "Is Fashion Racist?"


"Are we still talking about this in 2008?" asks Iman in an irate voice kicking off the "Is Fashion Racist?" article in the July issue of Vogue. I've certainly pondered that question myself over the past few years and I am sure that many other fashion enthusiasts have as well.

Really, why is it that an industry such as this one known for embracing a variety of outlandish personalities and ideas is so blind when it comes to putting new faces in its clothes, on its runways or in its magazines. For example, I’ve lost count of how many times I've seen designer Philip Lim glorified on the pages of fashion tomes but I struggle to remember when I last saw and Asian model featured in a multi-page editorial. In spite of the fact that Pat McGrath, Andre Leon Talley, photographer Mark Baptist and designers like Tracey Reese are influential enough to sit at the proverbial table, that diversity hasn't tricked down to model employment office. This seems to suggest that people of other races are welcome to provide the glitz for a shoot but must never be the one to wear the accessories.

I think about this topic often and it's become the main focus of my blog because it wasn't like this when I was growing up and first became enamored with fashion. I still remember the day my English teacher brought in a stack of old ELLE magazines to give away and I got my first taste of it. I spent hours pouring over those images back then. It was superficial and I knew but I didn’t care. It still meant something to me. Seeing the Beverly Peele on the cover of Seventeen when I was in high school back then made me feel good. It made me feel included in that fabulous something even though my bi-level two toned jheri curl was decidedly not happening. Side note: I still haven’t forgiven my mother for making get a jheri curl. I honestly think of it as child abuse.

My fashion jones followed me to college where I always had the latest pictures of Naomi Campbell tacked to my mirror for fierce make up inspiration. But then it seemed, things started to reverse themselves. Instead of marching forward and including larger cross section of ethnicities, fashion started marching backwards. The change was slow but deliberate. Black models became less visible as lighter skinned, more racially ambiguous Brazilian beauties hit the scene. They started dropping off too, save Gisele, in favor of Eastern European models, each new batch even more nondescript than the previous seasons.

Nowadays, when I talk about how it used to be I feel like an old woman rocking on my porch talking about the good ole' days when they let us colored folk take pretty pictures.

In the article the author, Vicki Woods, writes that "[Vogue] magazine exists to inspire women," but I wonder is she's actually been looking at the same magazine that I have. Except for the odd issue that gets is right, most of what I see in Vogue is far from inspiring. While I will admit to coveting certain pricey items but I don't think I've looked at a model in Vogue and wanted to trade places with her since the Summer’s Bare Necessities shoot and that was in 1992.

I agree with Woods where she suggests that one simply cannot compare the supermodels of the 90's who "looked equal but different as they thundered down the runway" to the unhappy mass of similarly styled European models "who look pretty much alike." Even Sarah Doukes of Storm Models remarked "It's a naughty thing to say, because I've got some beautiful Eastern European girls, but to be honest, when I go in cars with them in Paris, I do get snow blinded."

Bethann Hardison was so angered by the situation that she emailed Iman writing "Did you realize that over the last decade black models have been reduced to a category?" The two called a series of town-hall style meeting titled "Out of Fashion: The Absence of Color" held at the New York Public Library. Countless models told stories about being rejected for jobs, not because their particular "look" or walk was a problem, but solely based on the fact that they were black. Liya Kebede shared that she has had "experience with people who did not want to work with me because I was black..really, truly." In any other industry, that would be a racist remark, and you would be taken to court for it!" After those meetings the wheels started to turn and the issue garnered more attention.

Models, especially the ones lucky enough to be earning a living as models, are reluctant to name names. So when Jourdan Dunn famously asked, "why are our catwalks so white?" it made international fashion news. Except that she didn't actually say it, professional celebrity offspring Kelly Osbourne did. Jourdan shares "She was at the Topshop show, and she said it to a journalist, who ran out and did a telephone interview with me. She said, 'Do you agree?' And I said, 'Yes, it's true."

Even as models of the moment like Jourdan Dunn, Chanel Iman, and blazing Dominican newcomer Arlenis Sosa, are making inroads, they still face opposition but from where? This is where the article falls short, unable to point the finger at anyone in particular. Certainly not at Anna Wintour, who isn't even mentioned in the piece and presumably prefers to let her covers do the talking. Wintour doesn’t even bother to mention the article in her editorial.

So back to the blame game... Is it the photographers? No, according to Mario Testino. He says that photographers just "react to the supply." Is it the designers then? Some of whom seem to think black bodies are all wrong for the clothes. Alber Elbaz of Lanvin says no no, not him. "I try all different dresses and when I see only the face of the girl-and the dress disappears-I know it's the best dress for her." Huh? He goes on to say that he was "trained" to use black models. "I loved them from the time I worked at [YSL]; he always used black models." Because I'm thinking something is lost in translation there so I'm not going to go on too much about why someone has to be trained to see black people as a viable option. It's getting a little too Haley Joel Osment in here for my taste.

Well, that leaves the casting agents (the gays are spared the finger pointing in this article.) Russell Marsh, who does casting for Prada and is very influential in the industry isn't asked why there was a ten-year gap in between Naomi's last walk for the design house and Jordan Dunn's. He's asked why he chose her. His unsatisfying answer pays lip service to her elegance and confidence being right for that particular show and then goes on to talk about how important it is that the clothes are not overshadowed as they were during the age of the supermodels.

Seriously, people talk about the AGE OF THE SUPERMODELS like it's prehistoric or something. Last time I look around, most of those big names were still making money and to the best of my knowledge no one has successfully performed carbon dating on Naomi Campbell. Iman rightfully called bullsh*t on that saying, "You don't want to look like these [current] models, you don't want to emulate them." Models exist to be muses and to make women want to buy the overpriced clothes they wear.

James Scully, who casts for Tom Ford blames celebrity culture. "When it's tough for models, it's really tough for black models." While it is true that it's rare to find a model and not an actress on a fashion magazine cover these days, Hollywood has it's own problems when it comes to diversity.

Anyway, it seems the bottom line is that dour faced robotic beauties are in and models with unique looks and personalities are out. My question is that if designers really believe that their clothes are best represented on blank canvas models. Why is the canvas always white? Why not runway shows populated by say, Asian models of similar builds, styled the exact same way or black models grouped together for the similarity in their features? They are certainly not above exploiting a model's race to grab attention. How can a group of professionals famed for thinking outside the box be so narrowly focused at the same time?

So where does that leave someone like me? While I am pleased to see models like Arlenis getting a break my enthusiasm for these things has dampened considerably. Often I will read comments from people who are puzzled as to why people like me bother getting upset about these things in the first place. "Why should I care about that white magazine and whether or not they put black people in it?" is a common refrain. I admit that there are some days that I feel the same way. Especially nowadays when I'm more informed and entertained by fashion blogs than I am by print magazines.

On the flip side, another part of me still longs for a time when I can pick up a magazine on the stands, read about fashion and see an array of images representing all types of beauty not just black or white. I don’t feel that any kind of change like this will occur if people stop complaining and give up. These old habits die hard. So while I am still hotly anticipating getting my hands on a copy of Italian Vogue, I still reserve the right to complain about it once I've seen it for myself. I can’t help it. I'm old and cranky and I’m a decade away from yelling at kids to get off my lawn. At the very least, I know there are people who feel the same way that I do and I know how comforting it is to read bitching online that could have come from ones own mouth. So this is for the two dozen of you who read this site and feel like I do. Cranky is the new black.

The Vogue Files

Source: Television Without Pity

Erykah Badu for Tom Ford's White Patchouli


Gorgeous and aspirational. I normally hate the smell of pathchouli but I really need to smell this juice after eyeballing at this Erykah Badu advertisement. It was shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and will debut in September issues of fashion and lifestyle magazines. I like this so much better than those sweaty body part ads for Tom Ford's other frag. Damn, I can't stop looking at this picture.

Image source: kimair

Thursday, June 19, 2008

She's Got the Look: Runway Challenge


Yeah I know. I said last time that I wouldn't do regular recaps of TV Land's modeling reality show, "She's Got the Look." But after the whole Paula debacle from last week, I felt the need for some kind of closure which we all know, is best done via blogging.

For one, I still can't believe that Sharon, the spunky 63 year old is gone. Her absence makes me call bullsh*t on this entire competition. I mean, she was lovely, had lots of personality and a good back story. Don't these people know how reality shows operate? She should have won the whole thing!

Anyway, it turns out that I wasn't alone in my grief because at the beginning of this week's show, super svelt model Karin is visibly upset about Sharon's ouster too. Karin (who has an accent that up until now I've never noticed) tearfully remarks that she and Sharon had become good friends during their time on the show (which I'm guessing was three days max. ) She is incensed when resident bitch Roxanne plops herself down on Sharon's now vacant bed because, in her own words, she was too lazy to make up her own bed. Karin thinks this is extremely disrepectful and sobs while telling Roxanne to move her ass. Karin kind of reminds me of Sveltlana, the one legged Russian with whom Tony has a brief affair on The Sopranos. I really miss that show and I loved Svetlana so now I'm warming up to Karin.

Later Celeste, the hot 50 year old who won't let you forget she's a hot 50 year old, reminds the ladies that this is a competition. Why is it that on every competitive reality show there always one contestant that feels the need to remind everyone of this fact over and over again?

House mother Tanya thinks Celeste has a certain "hardness to her" and asks her why she keeps reminding everyone that this is a competition when it's pretty damn obvious with, you know, the challenges and cameras and all. Celeste mumbles something about it being a competition (again) and not taking these little relationships seriously. She actually says in an extremely annoying voice "It's a comp-e-tition BAY-beeeee" and she draws out that eeeeee sound for dramatic effect. It makes me want to slap that ugly ass argyle sweater off of her impressively hot 50 year old body.

At the site of the first challenge 80s model Kim Alexis (wearing a turquoise blue satin short sleeved button-up blouse in a snakeskin print that looks as busy as it sounds) reveals to the women that the challenge will be of the runway variety. She introduces a special coach and guest judge...none other than Roshumba.

You know what I think is weird? Roshumba sported short natural hair when no one else was rocking it and now that you can't walk ten paces at the mall without smacking face first into someone's two strand twists, braids, afro puff or locs, Rosumba is wearing a relaxer. She looks good though and hasn't aged a day, unlike her ex husband Gary Dourdan who's been looking a bit musty lately. Anyway, she explains different types of walks to the ladies including the "new school" walk which apparently is all in how you cross. The challenge is that the women must fashion a dress out of burlap and rope and then make it work on the runway. Haven't we seen this type of challenge a million times already?

When all is clipped and done the looks are unvieled. Hope (who has found her niche as the show's comic relief) takes the stage in an outift no doubt inspired by those old 1960s Hercules movies. Her walk is old school Cruella DeVille and when Roshumba asks her who she is wearing she says Versace, but she pronounces it Ver-saw-shhh which reminded me of Nomi Malone in "Showgirls" and her VERS-ace dress.

Karin takes the stage like a cracked out disco gypsy much to everyone's amusement. She finishes by doing the robot which only made me love her more because she was being serious. Tanya's dress looks like it was made by the wardrobe mistress from 10,000 BC. Bahia, inspired by 60s Chanel, manages to put together something decent. She said a few things but I get so enraptured listening to her smokey voice that I forgot to write it down. I don't remember anything about Melissa's dress but the woman has great legs. Celeste manages to walk and silently judge everyone in the room at the same time. She's like that woman at church on Easter Sunday who goes out of her way to make sure she has the biggest and most unique hat and when people compliment her on it she's like "what? this old thing? I almost threw it out!

Then there's Paula, who shares that she bought her first pair of heels 6 months prior to the show. To put it nicely, the woman walks like a cat with a severe case of rickets. Because everyone is still afraid of her from last week, no one says anything catty.

Back at the apartment Beverly Johnson drops by. Remember when Bev was dating Mr. Big? Anyway, she comes over and brings a big box of wigs with her.Tanya dives headfirst into the box and emerges with a sassy and short blonde wig. Roxanne puts a longer blonde wig on her own head and somehow comes out looking 15 years older. The camera then shows Paula fussing with a cropped reddish wig. Even though Bev picked this wig especially for Paula she doesn't like it and thinks it makes her looks like Aretha Franklin. She clearly wants a longer wig and in the end slaps a shoulder length number on her head to salve the pain.

Now it's time for Bev to sit everyone down to play a game of self-exploitation and reveal something no one else knows about them to the group (and the 12 viewers of the show.)

Celeste volunteers to go first and tells everyone that she's 50. Just kidding. She reveals that she plays the saxophone. Big whoop. Bahia shares that growing up in a Muslim family, she wasn't comfortable being a girl at times and still doesn't know quite how to express herself. Karin feels her pain and shares that she too had these issues because her father a farmer and a boxer or something but then she starts crying and I can't understand what she's saying but she and Bahia hug so I guess they felt healing.

Tanya shares that people always thought she was pretty growing up and then one day when she was 13 some girls jumped her and stabbed her 7 times.

I know, HOLY SH*T, right?

How do you feel about sharing your sax story now Celeste? Thanks for opening up about that one.

Who can share after that revelation? Paula tries to steal some shine and adds that she didn't know that that kind of stuff happened to pretty people and oh, by the way, she doesn't feel pretty either (yeah, we know Paula!) Roxanne, whom I am sure thought that she would finish big, shares that she was in a loveless marriage and didn't believe in divorce until you know, she got divorced. She's wearing Paula's discarded wig (which makes her look 60) and does her best to cry her way back into the spotlight but it ain't working. Did your husband stab you 7 times? No? Then STFU!

Final challenge time. The ladies must impress on a runway for a real audience of unenthusiastic production assistants and the judges. They are introduced to their host, runway coach Paul Morton. Paul has a headful of bouncy reddish brown ringlets like Rachel True. He must go through a tub of Curly Pudding every three days.

Immediately, we discover that Paula has a problem. Remember those heels she bought 6 months ago? Well, it turns out that they aren't actually heels, they're more akin to a broke down pair of Payless wedges and she's going to have to learn to walk in the real thing for the show. Isn't this something that should have been taken care of during the auditions?

Celeste feins surprised that the contestants will have to wear swimsuits on the runway. "Oh my God," she say, "who told them to put swimsuits on models over 35!" Then we see her in a two piece and she looks incredible, she also gets to share with the fitter that she's 50! Can you believe it? Celeste is like that hardbody chick in the dressing room at Target that feels the need to pop out and examine her body in the three way mirror in full view of everyone. She's only doing this to get compliments. "My ass looks so big in this doesn't it?...No? I look amazing and flawless...okay well, if YOU say so!" These women are bitches to the bone.

That beauty salon guy from last week is back and getting his revenge on Paula. Not only is her foundation a good 4 shades darker than it should be but he slaps a blonde wig on her head. Here's something about Paula that maybe you didn't notice at first. She has no neck and what little she does have is completely hidden by this wig. The overall effect makes her look like Hightower from those Police Academy movies sans the mustache.

Onto the show. Roxanne makes an ass of herself, slinking onto the stage like an extra from Bordello of Blood. Celeste walks like she has a bladder infection. Karin is akward as hell and Paula...well, we knew this was coming, Paula clomps onto the stage like a Clydesdale in kitten heels. It is truly awful and very comical. Roshumba can barely hold her sh*t together watching the display. Worst still, at one point it looks like Paula may be winking at the audience but it also kind of looks like an eyelash just came loose.

I promised myself that I wouldn't laught at Paula this week and yet here I am, on the floor cracking up. I won't spoil the ending for you but dayum, there is just no defending that walk.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

NYT: Conspicuous by Their Presence




The irony in fashion is that it loves change but it can’t actually change anything. It can only reflect a change in the air. But what changes fashion? What would finally move American designers to include more black models on their runways? That 30 percent of the country is nonwhite? That black women spend $20 billion a year on clothes? That an African-American is the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party?
The answer is the individual eye. NYT


Naomi Campbell, according to the article, was set to appear in just four photographs for the highly anticipated July Vogue Italia issue. That number magically turned into twenty. Mr. Meisel was allotted 100 pages for his project.
While I'm sure that all of the photographs of Ms. Campbell are beautiful but I'm bothered that in an issue that is supposed to celebrate diversity, the go-to model is still the one black model that ruins the curve for the rest of them. Naomi is a pop icon and a bonofide celebrity. Although she is incredibly beautiful and an amazing model, she has also been the only bonofide superstar of her hue in this industry for a very long time. While designers routinely give six figure contracts to no name European models, Naomi is the only dark skinned girl that has that kind of earning power. Because she is a household name and an instantly recognizable face she is safe. People may snicker about her run-ins with the law and personal problems but, like Kate Moss, she is an undsiputed fashion champion. Her inclusion and prominence in this issue is representative of the "tokenism", "laziness" and "paranoia" that this industry has been soaking in for years like a manicurist's bowl of Parmolive.
Other models featured in the issue include Iman, Naomi Campbell, Alek Wek, Liya Kebede, Pat Cleveland, Jourdan Dunn, Sessilee Lopez, Chanel Iman, Veronica Webb, Tocarra Jones, and Karen Alexander.
When asked about the inclusion of Sessilee Lopez, Meisel remarked that he used her because "Because nobody gives her a chance.” I couldn't help but wonder after reading that if other relatively unknown models would be given that chance in this issue. It comes out on Thursday in Europe and soon after in the US. I'm anxiously awaiting the issue, of course, but I wonder if any of the faces represented will also appear in the phone book sized September issues of Vogue.

Vogue Italia July 2008



Okay so this morning I talked to a guy at a magazine distributor in my area who assured me that the July issue of Italian Vogue wouldn't be in stores of for another week so there was no reason for me to make a special trip yadayadayada...he lied.

The first pics from the highly anticipated "black" issue have hit the internets so here is a peek. I've decided to withold judgement until I've seen the entire issue for myself. The usual suspects (namely Naomi, Jourdan, Tyra and Liya) are present but so far there is no sign of the rumored shot of everyone's favorite plus sized cheesecake model Tocarra of ANTM fame.

In response to Steven Meisel's challenge, American Vogue has run an article and editorial called "Is Fashion Racist?" in this month's issue (exceedingly plastic Nicole Kidman on the cover.)

The editorial features "white" hot Jourdan Dunn again with Chanel Iman. The answer to this question of course is yes. Everybody knows it and I hate that Anna Wintour always feels the need to explain why she is using black models instead of just, you know, using them in normal everyday unimaginative spreads that US Vogue is known for. I'm still mad about her editorial apology the year the Kiara Kabukuru was on the July cover several years back.



Will this change anything? The pessimist in me says no but we'll have to wait and see if fashion editors willingness to feature black models and models of other non-white ethnicities (in the lowest selling month for magazines across the board) will carry over.

Stay tuned.

Photo source: fashinfags, NYT, and Luxx @ TFS.

What She Wore: Michelle Obama



In case you missed today's airing of The View. It's already online.

At first, I thought Michelle's dress was by White House/Black Market (which made me laugh in that tongue in cheek way) but is also sold on the site of WHBM designer Donna Ricco. It retails for $139 and $99 depending on which site you buy it from and there are still a few left so godspeed MichelleOphiles!


ETA: The dress is now sold out. Better head to EBAY. Article about the surge in demand for the frock.

The Obamas Cover Us Weekly


At first glance, I thought this loving embrace was captured on an Ebony Magazine cover.

The moment I took my eyes off of Michelle and Barack and saw the Hogans on the inset photo, I realized I was looking at a celebrity gossip magazine that had just used a photo similar to the one Ebony used just a few months ago.

I read the taglines again. Why Barack Loves Her. Could this be right? It's not negative. It's not salacious. It's not exactly misleading or is it? I think a better title would have been "Of Course Barack Loves Her and So Should You!"

So, what the heck is going on here? On the heels of many articles in the press deriding Mrs. Obama and her alleged "image" problem I was shocked to see such a positive spin for the future First Lady, especially coming from a celebrity gossip magazine.

After all, isn't this the woman that some pundits are trying to portray as a smarty pants corporate rainmaker on the verge of bubbling over with racist rage?

I just remembered something. I wrote awhile back about the lack of coverage Beyonce and Jay-Z's marriage received from celebrity magazines. Aside from People Magazine, the only rag to feature Beyonce as the main cover subject was Us Magazine.

Its editor Janice Min, the only non-White person to helm a major celebrity magazine, has argued in the past against the notion that black faces don't sell and added that the two Janet Jackson covers of Us Weekly were bestsellers. So I'm giving Min a pass for now. Her business may be shifty but at least she's equal opportunity.

Back to Michelle. Part of me hates that it seems her intelligence and acheivement is being downplayed to make her appeal to the masses but at the same time a woman can be a go-getter and a kick ass mom so I'm torn. Also, she shops at Target people. I LIVE at Target. The Obamas...they're just like us!

Today she will appear on The View as a special guest host. I know she'll be just as poised and impressive as ever, even if Elizabeth Hasselbeck starts foaming at the mouth. Hopefully Obama's apperance will go a long way towards allaying the fears of all those odd women out there who are afraid of her.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

She's Got the Look


This blog entry is for the 11 other people who actually watch TV Land's new ANTM rip-off, She's Got the Look. I have no intention of doing weekly recaps of this show but I had to post about last night's episode (which I'm sure will be replayed many more times this weekend on TV Land.)

Last night's competition had the 10 mature beauties break into groups of two (the pink team and the blue team) for a revealing photoshoot.

As any seasoned viewer (or former viewer) of ANTM knows, before the real competition begins, the model wannabes need to git their hair did. Kim Alexis and company take the ladies to the Warren Tricomi Salon salon and we're not even two minutes into the scene when it becomes apparent that this pricey beauty palace is no place for women with kinky hair.

While the white contestants get tips on how to enhance their image, the viewer is almost immediately informed about what is wrong with ethnic hair by the stylists and modeling agency reps. Sharon, the oldest woman in the competition, is told that her hair (bleached blond and worn in short twists) was "too out there" adding that it was "fried, dyed and twisted." Thank you Captain Obvious. Her hair is immediately dyed dark again and shaved within an inch of her scalp. Apparently, in the modeling world black women are not allowed to have any color but black or dark brown.

The color issue comes up again with Hope's hair. Her reddish hair color is also unacceptable. The horrified stylist commenting "I don't like the color, I don't know what it is or how it got there!" In spite of his protestations, she leaves the salon looking almost exactly the same. Celeste, the ravishing 50 year old is immediately called out for her wavy weave. The solution? To trim it and erase any signs of texture. "

Paula, the butchest contestant of the bunch (who is frequently compared on the Television Without Pity forums to Marvita from last season's ANTM obstensibly because they are both dark skinned with short hair) gets the worst treatment. Her snippy stylist doesn't even attempt anything with her hair. He says that he's just "not feeling the fro-hawk." Okay, I'm not 100% sure he said fro-hawk or faux-hawk but that's besides the point. "This kind of hair can scare a client, they're not going to get it." I'm left at home scratching my head because I've seen that hairstyle on dozens of models included mouth breather Agyness Deyn.

He slicks Paula's hair down with a tin of Dapper Dan pomade and huffs, " I'm not even going to cut it, there's nothing to cut...get some wigs so you're not so one dimensional." His tone is so unnecessarily nasty that I wonder if he was beaten up by popular kids every single day of junior high and high school and maybe that's why he's taking it out on Paula and her hair.

In the next scene we have Paula's mini-confessional in which she shows the first in what will be a series of wounds. She shares, "I feel ugly, my hair is short and damaged and I don't feel confident."

The only one of the black ladies spared the hair critique is Tanya. The agency reps only seem to have a problem with her false eyelashes which were completely undetectable on TV. Do I have to mention that she had some of that "good" hair?

Later, the show's resident bitchy contestant Roxanne gets first pick as the teams are divided into two groups. She chooses Sharon, Karin (the razor boned blonde,) and Paula. Paula lack of self esteem show again. She seems to think that she and the other women were chosen by Roxanne because Roxanne thinks they are less attractive, remarking that Roxanne would do "anything to get on a pedestal to make herself stand out." I'm half heartedly going to agree because Roxanne has a stank attitude.

At this point, I'm starting to get that uncomfortable feeling. The one I get when I think that I've identified the reality producer's special aka "the crazy black woman" in the cast. I sit back and wait to see how it will unfold.

Onto the shoot. It is very obvious that this show has about 1/100th of the budget that ANTM enjoys. The ladies are wrapped in sheer fabric clinging to each other for dear life. The pictures are comical but the pink team manages to pull off the meaningless victory.

Now for the real meat of the episode. Paula is not happy and she says so. "I wasn't happy about that. Everyone can't be blonde and have blue eyes." This is true but it is also worth noting that there was only one blonde on each team of five. But I digress, now is not the time for specifics. It is about Paula's pain. You know when you're cooking something on the stove but you're only half watching it because you're on the phone or your kid is doing something potentially destructive so you take your eyes off of it for a minute and then suddenly you hear that hiss right before everything bubbles over? Paula just hissed. It's pretty obvious that she's never felt comfortable in her skin and now she's mad as hell.
Back at the apartment, the blue team sequester themselves into their bedroom to hash out the their defeat while the winning pink team stand around in the kitchen chiding the blues for being sore losers. When the blues re-emerge, Tanya is in tears and tells everyone that Paula has something on her heart that she needs to share.

This is the cue for everyone at home to grab their popcorn. In the absence so far of a Youtube video of the speech, I've tried my best to dictate what she said (all while wearing a wife beater) to the best of my ability:

I'm gonna tell y'all something...(pacing the kitchen)...let me just calm down, let me just calm down. This hurt very...I...I want to know why you won...Huh? Oh, the pink team wins? WHY?! You can't tell me it's not superficial...you can't tell me that. This is society! I'm mad, because you have to (Paula pounds fist on counter for emphasis) crush those barriers....because they take what they see...because if it doesn't turn you on right here (grabs crotch)...because if you don't have these (grabs breasts)...it's gotta be (touches chest again)...women got to cut themselves (makes slashing motion across chest) to be this? Congratulations because (interrupted by Celeste)...no, you want me to talk?

Celeste interjects that the pink team would have been happy for Paula had her team won. Bahai points out comically that Paula wasn't the one rejected, her entire team was.

Tanya, who has firmly established herself now as the mother hen of the group, add that Paula is being asked to accept her unique beauty and by losing the challenge, her beauty has been rejected.

Paula continues,

Believe in me because I have a story to tell...it ain't all about being beautiful. People want to hear what the f*ck you've been through...I've been through some shit...for what? Because I didn't turn you on? Because I got too many muscles? Because I walk hard? Because you're intimidated. [note: I can't properly convey Paula's body language here but yeah, this chick is intimidating like a motherf*cker] Yeah, I'm gonna take it personally.

In her wake Paula leaves contestant Kathy in tears babbling about not being able to take it anymore and wanting to go home. [Side note: if it wasn't for Paula's misdirected outburst, it would have been easy to label Kathy as the show's crazy person. Earlier, she admitted that she canceled Christmas over a bad haircut she received and later in the program she shared with the other contestants that she made her sons sign contracts pledging that they would never love another woman more than her. In short, Kathy you owe Paula big time.]

In spite of her angry take on Sophia's "all my life I've had to fight" speech. I feel for Paula, I really do. And I can relate. It is hard sometimes to feel attractive in a society that traditionally favors only one type of beauty. That said, I still found this whole exchange funny. I mean, I felt a little bad for laughing at someone in pain but I had already had a few glasses of wine and my husband was giving me that look that says "Why the hell are we watching this garbage?" It seems like Paula went on this show to prove something and to get validation which was a mistake. Reality shows aren't in the business of making anyone feel good, they exist to provide cheap entertainment by mocking the ambitions of people foolish enough to appear on them.

So Paula, I'm sorry I chuckled because everything you said was true but maybe next time, you should just start a blog.

Monday, June 9, 2008

NYT: She Dresses to Win


Michelle (wearing Maria Pinto) and the family photographed for Vogue Magazine.


The New York Times ran an article about Michelle Obama's image and style yesterday, oddly comparing her, in one aspect, to the two matronly Bush First Ladies. Both of those women, says the piece, used humor to make their spouses seem more relatable. Taking it a step further, the author claims that Michelle Obama also uses her clothing to temper her high falutin' education and credentials by wearing feminine lady like ensembles instead of corporate lawyerly power suits. That part puzzled me because honestly, I've known a few rainmaking women in my work realtionships and trust me, they are not all into severe pulled back hair and pant suits.

Says Vogue's ALT:

“Everyone knows that people respond to the way you look when you run for office,” André Leon Talley, an editor-at-large for Vogue, which featured Mrs. Obama as an “It” girl in its April issue, said last week in an interview. “A black Camelot moment is the right moment for the Obamas,” he added. “And so the faux pearls, the A-line dresses, the Jackie flip are obviously all part of how her image strategy has evolved.”

Mrs. Obama's penchant for sleeveless sheaths and shifts, that now coveted Azzedine Alaïa belt, large pearls, and knee length dresses have evoked the Jacqueline Kennedy comparison on more than one occasion. The shift dress she wore on the cover of Newsweek some months ago was similar to one that Jackie wore on a trip to India in 1962. Barack himself jokingly referred to his wife as "Jackie O from the hood" last summer and Radar magazine wrote that Obama's mimicry of the famous First Lady's style has everything to do with try to "underline their candidate's dignity and cross-racial appeal."

When Barack wrapped up the nomination last week, there were three things on the minds of many. First came the pride filled "OMG! OMG! OMG!" exclamations from the masses, then (for the unhip) the comical hullabaloo about the fist bump and lastly the, chorus of "Where did she get that dress?"

From the NYT piece:

What Ms. Taylor [Mikki Taylor of Essence Magazine] read in Mrs. Obama’s appearance on Tuesday, she said, was a message that she is primed to become first lady, although not necessarily first hostess. “Every woman I talked to was saying how she has this confidence that is empowered,” Ms. Taylor said. “The purple dress, the legs that I have to believe were bare and not wearing the prerequisite suntan stockings, all say, ‘I’m here to do business.’ ”

Of course, a public figure like Michelle Obama is scrutinize very closely, her every movement, word and gesture is immediately dissected. I wrote previously that the would be First Lady has enjoyed a relationship with sophisticated designer Maria Pinto for years. In my view Michelle Obama is fortunate enough to know what type of clothing best accentuates herself. If her classic style harkens back to Jackie O's unfussy elegance then she is in good company.

ETA: Now in Fashion: Michelle Obama from Fashion Week Daily.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Is a Dress Just a Dress?

Regarding Camille's comment in the last entry about this article posted at The FADER . Zachary's Smile is a vintage boutique that also produces clothing for its own label. This season the boutique is mad for African prints, particularly those of the Ivory Coast:

...the new printed dresses are made from fabric exclusively from the Ivory Coast. There is an endless choice of prints—from hot and tropical florals to a particularly fetching heart print—in a limited fabric run with something to tickle pretty much any girl's fancy.

That kind of cultural appropriation annoys me but then, my eye starts to twitch anytime I see a non-Asian woman dressed in a Qipao with chopsticks in her hair at some party.

There is just something about traditional clothing that is sacred to me. I'm not bothered by small elements, like a scarf or jewelry woven into an outfit. I myself have worn clothing with kente cloth even though, according to my National Geographic DNA test, my ancestors probably didn't come from Ghana. What gets me are the head to toe ensembles, and we've all seen it. You know the type, it starts off innocently enough with someone buying a conical straw hat to wear in the garden and then BAM! All of a sudden she is shopping exclusively at Uwajimaya and her wardrobe is full of mandarin collar jackets that she bought at Chico's. And black folks are not immune from this behavior, Lawrence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes I am looking at you.

But I digress. All I really want to say is that I had to roll my eyes when I read this. First of all, the assertion that because of X designer, tradition clothing is fashionable, is offensive. I hate the idea of someone buying up a bunch a fabric from the Ivory Coast to make cute little size 4 dress (only to be dumped onto a clearance table when it's pronounce "out") for the Gossip Girl set. And yeah, I'm also annoyed because really, boho black women in the US have been incorporating traditional textiles and clothing into their wardrobes forever but things like this it only seems to be noticed when white women adopt it. Cornrows? Bo Derek invented that beach ready hairstyle in the 80s. Velvet tracksuits? That's the terrain of Juicy Couture. Nameplate necklaces?* Carrie" from SATC. Remember when Carrie referred to it as her "ghetto" gold? Also no one had big ass lips until the day the heavens parted and Angelina Jolie was born.

But I'm a hyprocrit too. If the retailer was Black I probably be filling my online shopping cart with those frocks.
*as the child of a black Panamanian woman, I was issued one at birth.

ETA: Read another blogger's take on it here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This is Not Your Grandma's EBONY Magazine


Is there some new blood over at Ebony shaking things up? Because this doesn't look like the Ebony I remember. You know, the one that every other black beauty salon in the country has had a subscription to since 1972...and they kept every issue? There was the nicely executed "Fashion Issue" last year and then young heartthrob blood Chris Brown on last month's cover. These days the content seems to be skewing to a much younger demographic. Seeing Serena Williams and her glorious booty gracing the cover of the July issue is definitely a head turner. First of all, I have never seen her look better and secondly, the photo is not a crappy composite shot or something lifted from a photo agency.If I didn't see that iconic red and white Ebony logo in the top left corner, I would have mistaken this for an issue of In Style. I just wonder if there is an ad for Fashion Fair's Vantex fade cream in every issue.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Naomi and ALT at the CFDA Awards


My eyes don't know where to land on this picture.

I don't even know who I am more mad at -- Naomi for those sequined harem pants or Andre for, well everything really.

In Naomi's defense, she is wearing clothing from Yves Saint Laurent's Fall 08 collection as an homage to the recently deceased designer. Andre is wearing a hand towel, my grandma's favorite house slippers and two albino anacondas accessorized with a fancy silver eyeglasses case from Claire's boutique.

The awards, which honor outstanding contributions to the American fashion industry, were held last night at The New York Public Library.

For a list of winner and more pictures click here.

Photo source: Dlisted

Monday, June 2, 2008

Fashion Blackout: The Play by Play

Photo: Models at Heatherette. When it comes to runways show it seems Blacks and Asians need not apply.

There's a brief clip from BET's Fashion Blackout on Jezebel today. I finally watched the half hour special this evening and while it wasn't perfect, it was better than I expected from BET. I was hoping for a little more analysis from the likes of Vogue's Andre Leon Talley but microphone-shoved-in-face-at-fashion-show "interview" didn't really add to the topic.

Here is a rundown of the highlights for anyone who missed the show (please note that I've paraphrased many of the quotes here, my shorthand sucks and my toddler really wasn't into this show):

The show seems to have been shot during NY Fashion Week. The opening sequence is a melange of images from the runway and backstage. The voice over notes that, judging from models used at these show, "black is definitely out."

Runway stylist Kithe Brewster comes on and remarks that it is time to take a stand against this blatant discrimination. The stylist, who has worked for designers (Rubin Singer), actresses (Halle Berry) and on Project Runway, remarked that season after season the same people in charge only look for one or two black faces. Brewster made a point of hiring several black models for the Rubin Singer show and hopes that his actions will set an example for other designers.

One of the models he cast named Lily shared that because the Eastern European look is hot, that black models can't catch a break. Another model, Britnee said she was very aware during the show of how much she and the other black models stood out compared to the white ones. Model Ayan, shared that upon her arrival in New York for Fashion Week, she went to a couple agencies, one of which said that they "already have a black girl who looks like you." She retorted that the agency represented 150 white models who are styled in the exact same way and are working.

Popular designer Tracey Reese shared that she had to specifically request black models or the agency wouldn't send any to casting. "If black girls aren't going to castings, they won't get booked!" The top tier black models like Jordan Dunn and Chanel Iman are immediately booked for high end shows and Reese noted that she never gets the opportunity to hire them for her shows.

The voice-over adds that in 2008 Blacks are reaching unprecedented heights in the media industry but the fashion dinosaur lags behind the times.

Roman Young, the white Director of New Faces at Elite Models, said that fashion editors have told him quite explicitly not to send Black or Asian models to castings.

The voice-over notes that "black" style is pivotal to American culture.

Constance White, Style Director at Ebay and a former editor at ELLE, WWD, and The New York Times, recalls that Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy once used many black models on their runways--superstars like Veronica Webb, Beverly Peele, and Yasmin--and that "we took it for granted [that they would alway be represented in shows.]"

Roman Young linked the downward spiral to the grunge movement in culture and fashion in the 90s. "Grunge was not ethnically diverse" and the fashion at the time started to reflect that. Also, when stylist began to become more prominent, color started fading from fashion. Andre Leon Talley noted that "sameness" became the rule.

Bethann Hardison shared that in her view, the "white eye" doesn't understand black beauty and if the new vanguard, European designers like Prada and Balenciaga, aren't using ethnic models then that discrimination will trickle down and become the norm.

Claude Grunitzky, Editor in Chief of Trace Magazine, puts the blame on the "three or four editors in Times Square" who dictate fashion for a living.

Somewhat echoing remarks made by Stefano Pilati, Bethann Hardison said quite bluntly (and inaccurately in my view) that "the body of a black girl" can't compete with that of an Eastern European model. "These people haven't eaten for generations (laughs)...generation-wise these people are very lean...that is why West African models get work now, because of their very narrow hips."

Model Lily comes on the screen to add that a new black model walking into a casting isn't viewed as a fresh face, she is viewed as the black model. They only see color.

Model Ayan notes that as black people we buy clothes from these same designers and yet they won't give us the chance to do a show. We are very beautiful people.

Voice-over comes on and states that black women spend $20 billion on apparel each year.

Kithe Brewster again: "We have to be conscious of our buying power - if you don't see yourself represented in their ads, don't buy their clothes."

Roman Young then shared this piece of information that made me want to put stiletto heeled boot in someone's ass:

[Agencies] are concerned with "am I picking the right one?" -- meaning the acceptable black model. They have used the term "bushy" to describe "African looking" black models. "She's so black and so severe that she must be The One." She looks so different that she must be beautiful.

Bethann Hardison shares that the fashion industry is a very exclusive almost elitist environment that has become "quite fascist right now."

She continues, adding that fashion is mainstream now and not a tiny island like it once was. It strikes a cord when people talk about this discrimination because this country has a history of fighting against such things and asking why is this happening? This is dumb.

Constance White adds that for a designer or editor to say that he or she would use a black model if they could find one "smacks at the heart of this whole issue of racism."

The show ends with highlights from the Sean John men's runway show in which he used all black models of diverse colors, looks and fits.

Hardison ends by noting that "we" need to do our part as well and adds that she is there ready to cultivate the talent.

Roll credits.

Well Shut My Mouth!

Photo: Campbell and Pilati attend a party at The Met (InStyle)


Stefano Pilati, the creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, has finally found a black body with "Caucasian anatomy." The Mail on Sunday has announced that Naomi Campbell will be replacing Kate Moss in upcoming ad campaigns for the label. Her contract is rumored to be worth about £200,000 (roughly $388K.)

Naomi worked with YSL in the 90s and last walked the runway for the label in 2001, when Yves Saint Laurent, the label's namesake, retired. She was quoted as saying ‘I’m blessed and grateful to be working with YSL again – a house that gave me a start in my career.’

Hey Look! A Black Girl on TV - 90s


I don't know if it's because it's Monday or if I was busy doing something other than watching TV in the 90s, but coming up with a list of memorable black women on TV from that era has been really tough. I guess this was the decade when we started going out of style.

Whereas, the 80s had a number of sitcoms centered around black actresses like A Different World, it seems the slow decline of the black themed sitcom started taking a toll in the 90s.

Here is what I came up with:

"Maxine Shaw" - Living Single

Might as well start at the top. Many people, myself included, believe that Living Single, was the inspiration for a certain other sitcom with two groups of professional singletons living together in the same building. I just bought the first season on DVD and I can tell you that it is just as much fun to watch the second time around. The disks are worth the price for the theme song alone. I have based my life on the teachings of sarcastic queen Maxine Shaw. Not only was she sexy and smart but she ate constantly and, unlike the other girls, had her own apartment.

"Judy Hoffs" - 21 Jumpstreet

The inspiration for these lists. She one was a rarity. Not only was Holly the sole woman in the cast but she was hot too. I will always envy her for getting to work so closely with Johnny Depp while he was still bathing regularly.

"Rhonda Blair" - Melrose Place

Poor Rhonda. All she ever got to do on that show was say hello/goodbye and go to her aerobics class. Then, all of a sudden, she got married and was written off the show. Aaron Spelling has not been good to black people.

The Black Chicks of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

Okay, so lets get this all out of the way...Kendra the Vampire Slayer was a wuss and left a LOT to be desired with that Ja-fakin' accent, Phina Oruche was wasted as Giles' girlfriend Olivia, the First Slayer had a ratty weave and was often referred to as "The Primitive," Ashanti was woefully miscast as "Lissa," Rhona the slayer trainee was annoying, and finally flashbacks of Nikki the Vampire Slaying single mom made us long for another show just centered around her. Whew! That said, I still loved this show more than cake and ice cream so I had to work it into the list somehow.

T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh and Kim Wayans - In Living Color

It's hard out there for the black female comic who has to deal with the racism and sexism while trying to be funny yet these two women did it with did it with élan. T'Keyah was the cute and funny girl next door while Kim Wayan proved with the Grace Jones sketch that she would do (or wear) almost anything for a laugh. Wayans was suspended from the show at one point for refusing to appear in a skit she found degrading. In the end, The Fly Girls probably got more attention but these two ladies definitely paved the way for another variety show funny lady...

Debra Wilson - "MADtv"

A lot of the sketches on MADtv are just plain unwatchable but Debra Wilson has always been the show's standout performer. Her impersonations are hilarious. I don't know why Saturday Night Live hasn't tried to steal her away. Fred Armistand's Obama is weak and Kennan Thomson is too heavy to pull off Michelle. What's Lorne going to do come election time?


"Lisa Turtle" - Saved by the Bell

Okay, technically this show started in 1989 but I forgot to add Lark Voorhies character to the last segment. Truthfully, I was only a casual viewer of SBtB but I watched enough to know that the only thing Lisa Turtle seemed to do on that show was shop and avoid the advances of Screech. Further proof that TV execs don't know what to do with pretty black women on the tube.

Honorable Mention

Vivica Fox from that episode of Beverly Hills 90210 where Brandon dates the town black girl.

Whatever became of poor forgotten Sherice Ashe? Was her family run out of the Hills? Did she moved in with her auntie and uncle in Bel-Air? Whatever the story Sherice, you made an impression on me and girl, you were too fly for Brandon Walsh anyway.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

RIP Yves Saint Laurent



After months of ailing health, legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent died Sunday evening at his Paris home. His long-time partner Pierre Bergé was at his side. He is credited with being the first designer to use Black models in his runway show and one of his most famous muses was model Katoucha, who passed away earlier this year. Unfortunately the label's current fashion director, Stefano Pilati, doesn't share the founders vision. When asked about the lack of black models working YSL shows, he remarked:

"To me, it is a matter of proportions and the bodies I choose. My fit model was a black model," he says. "When I wanted to translate what I put on her, it was a disaster. It would need 13 times more work in the atelier to modify it to put on a more Caucasian anatomy."

Yves Saint Laurent was 71 at the time of his death. May he rest in peace.