Thursday, August 28, 2008

NYT: Women's Fall Fashion 2008

I always look forward to the fashion supplements in the New York Times. They've done a pretty good job in the past picking out key pieces from each season's collections, usually use a more diverse array of models that typical fashion magazines, and have much better articles. 

The Fall fashion report is pretty decent. I always love reading Chandler Burr's perfume pieces and there are a few other humorous articles too, like the one on the volume trend in garments and how impractical manufactured girth is for the average consumer. 

There's also a spread featuring clothing that the magazine thinks offers a great look at a great price that left me scratching my head. I have rich friends and poor friends alike. None of them would think that $845 for a blouse is a deal.

There is a spread photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino featuring dark skinned beauty Adama Diallo but the high point of the issue for me is this homage to Grace Jones. Her name has been popping up a lot lately. I hope we get to see more of her in the coming months.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ethnically Ambiguous is the New Black

According to top model booker Daniel Peddle, two "looks" will rule the runway during Fashion Week -- the tomboy look and ethnically ambiguous models. 

I guess that's the industry's way of getting around casting models who actually look unmistakably Black, Asian, or Hispanic. He mentioned Dominican newcomer Arlenis Sosa (pictured) as one of his new favorites.

"...Another thing this season is trying to discern from all the girls out there the ones that are ethnically ambiguous. Girls and boys that have faces that you can’t just put in a certain place or race or geography. I think it’s very helpful to see those types of faces in our conflicted world because you can see that we’re still evolving as humans and they are the results of people willing to go beyond the socially constructed notions around race. I think that’s really important and were going to see even more of those as the population changes."

Umm, okay. While I personally am for models of all background being represented on the catwalk there is something in his statement that rubs me the wrong way. Yep, we're still evolving as human beings but guess what? In spite of race mixing there are still plenty of "mono"-racial people on the planet and only casting models who appear to be mixed race isn't my idea of modernism. He continues,

With the Internet and the way that everyone is so connected now it’s not something you can overlook anymore. I don’t think its possible to do a modern show and have it be all blondes. I understand that sometimes a designer has an aesthetic that dictates something like that and of course we’re going to work with them to achieve their goals but personally I don’t find that to be a very modern statement.

So that's what we can expect next season. The new "aspirational model" is a woman who is vaguely ethnic but not enough to offend or stand out too much. Forgive me if I'm not doing cartwheels.

Photo: Bianca/TFS

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle Obama Rocks the DNC

Obama, pictured here with one of her daughters, wore a beautiful turquoise dress by her favorite designer, Maria Pinto. Source: LSA

CBS News referred to Michelle's ensemble as a "fashion homerun" but what really impressed me was her passionate speech about her American Dream and her husband at last night's Democratic National Convention. Here is the full text of her speech, which can also be seen on Youtube.

As you might imagine, for Barack, running for President is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother Craig.

I can't tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I've felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.
At six-foot-six, I've often felt like Craig was looking down on me too...literally.

But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn't looking down on me - he was watching over me.

And he's been there for me every step of the way since that clear February day 19 months ago, when - with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change - we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that's brought us to this moment.

But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey.

I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend.

I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.
I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world - they're the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future - and all our children's future - is my stake in this election.

And I come here as a daughter - raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother's love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

My Dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing - even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.

He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child can receive: never doubting for a single minute that you're loved, and cherished, and have a place in this world. And thanks to their faith and hard work, we both were able to go on to college. So I know firsthand from their lives - and mine - that the American Dream endures.
And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he'd grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children - and all children in this nation - to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he'd done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down, and jobs dried up. And he'd been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.

The people gathered together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life. They were parents living paycheck to paycheck; grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income; men frustrated that they couldn't support their families after their jobs disappeared. Those folks weren't asking for a handout or a shortcut. They were ready to work - they wanted to contribute. They believed - like you and I believe - that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.

Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about "The world as it is" and "The world as it should be." And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and settle for the world as it is - even when it doesn't reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we know what our world should look like. We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves - to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn't that the great American story?

It's the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in town squares and high school gyms - people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had - refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.
It is because of their will and determination that this week, we celebrate two anniversaries: the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.
I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history - knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I've met all across this country:
People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift - without disappointment, without regret - that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they're working for.

The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.
The young people across America serving our communities - teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters - and sons - can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

People like Joe Biden, who's never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won't do - that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack's journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.

That is why I love this country.

And in my own life, in my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That's why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us - no matter what our age or background or walk of life - each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.

It's a belief Barack shares - a belief at the heart of his life's work.

It's what he did all those years ago, on the streets of Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and afterschool programs to keep kids safe - working block by block to help people lift up their families.

It's what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.

It's what he's done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs and benefits and health care - including mental health care.

That's why he's running - to end the war in Iraq responsibly, to build an economy that lifts every family, to make health care available for every American, and to make sure every child in this nation gets a world class education all the way from preschool to college. That's what Barack Obama will do as President of the United States of America.

He'll achieve these goals the same way he always has - by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn't care where you're from, or what your background is, or what party - if any - you belong to. That's not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us - our belief in America's promise, our commitment to our children's future - is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.

It was strong enough to bring hope to those neighborhoods in Chicago.

It was strong enough to bring hope to the mother he met worried about her child in Iraq; hope to the man who's unemployed, but can't afford gas to find a job; hope to the student working nights to pay for her sister's health care, sleeping just a few hours a day.

And it was strong enough to bring hope to people who came out on a cold Iowa night and became the first voices in this chorus for change that's been echoed by millions of Americans from every corner of this nation.

Millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams; that Barack will fight for people like them; and that Barack will finally bring the change we need.

And in the end, after all that's happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail's pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he'd struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father's love.

And as I tuck that little girl and her little sister into bed at night, I think about how one day, they'll have families of their own. And one day, they - and your sons and daughters - will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They'll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country - where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House - we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

So tonight, in honor of my father's memory and my daughters' future - out of gratitude to those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment - let us devote ourselves to finishing their work; let us work together to fulfill their hopes; and let us stand together to elect Barack Obama President of the United States of America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America. End of Story

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chanel Iman and Kimora Lee Simmons in Babyphat Phat S/S 2008

No matter how it is belted, I'm just not wild about this girlie dress. I do think that the bright blue looks best against on the darker skinned model.

Photo source: Miss_NYC/TFS and Wireimage

Friday, August 22, 2008

Iman @ Thierry Mugler in 1985

This is a photo of Iman from Thierry Mugler's S/S 1985 runway show in Paris. She has a close association with Mugler (who has a huge African fetish thing going on back in the day) throughout her career. In fact, her final runway show was for Mugler in 1989.

Iman justifies Mugler's thought process by claiming that it allowed her to become a fantastic showperson on the runway. "He was like an anthropologist, re-creating folk couture. He had black girls with their heads shaved as Masai one season, with extended earlobes made for them - prosthetics for authenticity." 

Of this show, Iman said in her autobiography:

I've made many an entrance in my day, but never entered a runway as I did for a Mugler show. For one of his shows, I had two baby leopards in my arms. [For this show] I had a live baby monkey perched on my shoulder... and two gorgeously built black men in thongs walking behind me holding a huge umbrella...There were gasps and nervous laughter, then the roar of applause.

Photographer Eric Boman remarked that "Iman was boldly ethnic" and "made the other girls feel underprivileged not to be from Africa."

Ummm...okay, maybe you just had to be there. I'm curious if there was any criticism of this show in the press at the time but I guess I'll have to get to the library to find that answer. I love Iman and all but if I saw her strutting down the runway with a monkey I think I would have shit my pants. 

Chanel Iman - "Black Break" - Vogue Korea

The pics are nice enough I guess. But really, is it necessary to put "black" on the cover and the spread? We all know that Chanel Iman is black (and part Korean too), that's why she isn't on the cover of US Vogue. Unfortunately, Chanel appears to be the only black model with new photos in the issue. The other "black beauties" spreads are just recycled from July's Vogue Italia. I think I'll pass.

Photographed by Oh Joong Seok
Pics scanned and uploaded by Chrisis511/TFS

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Afrika for Hipsters

I just read about American Apparel's new line of garments and accessories made of their usual stretchy cotton fabric. They're calling the pattern "Afrika" -- I guess that the 'k' gives it a Dutch colonial flair. Stereohyped noted that AA decided not to use any black models to promote the line but personally, I'm glad that no black models were used. I think they're a sleazy company and  their garments are overpriced. If they used black models here it would obviously be to add some kind of legitmacy to the line which would be insulting. Also, the leggings they're selling on the website look like ass.

NYLON Magazine - Ode to Denise Huxtable

I always get excited when I see that my mail carrier has shoved a few magazines into my mail slot. Usually, the only titles that completely snuff out that feeling are Harper's Bazaar and NYLON. I don't know what I was thinking when I subscribed to HB. I think I picked up two issues in a row at the newsstand that seemed decent and just ran with it. Since I've started getting it in the mail, I just haven't been impressed. As for NYLON...well, I've already written about how lousy that hipster rag is. That said, this month's "television" issue isn't completely terrible. I posted an image yesterday from an article about HBO's new show "True Blood" that featured actress Rutina Wesley and there are a few short blurbs in it that reference black TV icons like Claire and Denise Huxtable. I think I've mentioned before just how much I loved Denise when I was younger and I think they've done a good job here capturing her unique style. When I think of all the generic label obsessed teen drama like "Gossip Girls," it makes me appreciate Denise's carefully crafted look. Personally, I could never pull it off as oversized jackets and brooches make me look like the black guy from "Designing Women." 

Monday, August 18, 2008

What I'll Be Watching this Fall

Compared to last year, this fall is looking a little better for black actresses. Here are a few movies and television shows that I'm looking forward to seeing. What about you? Am I missing out on anything here?

"Lakeview Terrace"  trailer 

This movie looks interesting. It's about a cop (Samuel L. Jackson) who loses his shit when a young interracially married couple move in next door. I think this movie would have been a little more interesting (and realistic) if the couple was black and one of their white neighbors gave them grief but whatever, I'll wait and see how this plays out. I adore Kerry Washington and she plays the wife. Can I just say I am thrilled that she's in a role that doesn't have her playing against a Wayans brother of The Thing? 

"The Family That Preys" trailer

I am guilty of dismissing Tyler Perry movies unseen in the past but I have to admit that I've found the ones that I saw on cable entertaining in that Sunday afternoon on the couch kind of way. He is employing more black actresses than anyone else in the game so I can't hate and from the looks of this flick, the quality level is going up. This one stars Sanaa Lathan, who I also think is a beautiful, talented and overlooked actress so I might have to get my butt to the theater for this one.

"The Secret Life of Bees" trailer

I started this book and never got around to finishing it. There's not much to this trailer but I know that Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys also star in the film. I've liked Sophie since her small role in "Dirty Pretty Things." The film is directed by Gina-Prince Bythwood, who also directed "Love and Basketball."

"True Blood" trailer (HBO)

Since "The Wire" went off the air, there hasn't been much of a reason to tune into HBO. This fall a new show written by Alan Ball of "Six Feet Under" fame will premiere. The show is about vampires in a backwoods Louisiana town and it has a black actress in it (Rutina Wesley.) Naturally, she's playing the best friend of the lead character in what will probably be a small role. I'll tune in out of curiosity.

"Dollhouse" (FOX)

"Faith" was my least favorite Buffy character, partially because I don't think Eliza Dushku is a very good actress. No sisters appear to have been employed during the making of this show but what can I say? I am a Joss Whedon fan and I will be watching.

In addition Viola Davis will play the mother of an African-American boy who is sexually abused by a parish priest in the movie "Doubt." Entertainment Weekly seems to think that the role might land her an Oscar nomination. You might have seen Taraji P. Henson is a few scenes of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." They've been promoting that flick non-stop during the Olympics but Brad Pitt isn't a name that gets me in the theater these days.  I also read that Angela Bassett will be on the new season of "E.R." but lawd help me I stopped watching that show 10 years ago and I just can't go back.

Vogue Korea - September 2008 - Chanel Iman

The font on this cover is a little odd don't you think? I didn't quite believe it was real and not someone's Photoshop experiment when I first saw it. This is Chanel's first solo Vogue cover. Arlenis Sosa has a spread in Tyra's issue of Harper's Bazaar and a brief editorial (with two other models) in this month's extremely boring US Vogue.


Here's a rundown of what will be inside the issue (thanks to chrisis511 @ TFS)

Black Break
Model : Chanel Iman
PH : Oh Joong Seok

There's Only One Naomi (a reprint from Vogue Italia)
Model : Naomi Campbell
PH : Steven Meisel

Model Mogul (a reprint from Vogue Italia)
Model : Tyra Banks
PH : Steven Meisel

Trend Atelier 
Model : Chanel Iman, Hyoni Kang, Noh Seung Soo and Kim Bong Man
PH : Hyea W Kang

Fascinating Fall (a reprint from Vogue UK)
Model : Lily Donaldson and Freja Beha
PH : Emma Summerton

Mature Masculine (a reprint from Vogue ??)
Model : Gisele Bundchen
PH : David Sims

Future Reflection
Model : Daul Kim and Song Kyung Ah
PH : Hong Lu

Full Moon Rising
Model : Jee Hyun Jeong, Daul Kim, Lee Ji Yeon and Hyoni Kang
PH : Lee Gun Ho
-(Korean traditional clothes "Hanbok" ed)

On The Road
Model : Cho Seung Woo(Actor) and Shin Min Ah(Actress)
PH : An Ha Jin

Rule To Form
Model : Daul Kim
PH : Oh Joong Seok

A Good Sequel
Model : Lee Ji Yeon
PH : Hyea W Kang

Space Walking
Model : Han Hye Jin
PH : Lee Gun Ho

Urban Romance
Model : Jee Hyun Jeong
PH : Kim Juag Han

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Did You See the Body on that Woman?

I find it amusing when people in the media seem to get very anxious over the topic of what women athletes wear while playing sports during The Olympics. 

How many inches of text have been devoted to the beach volleyball women's bikinis and their ilk every four years? There's also much written about the tendency for top female athletes to gleefully strip off their uniforms to pose in men's magazines. I have a few thoughts on that that topic: 

First, beach volleyball is a "sport" that I will never take seriously or ever want to watch.

Second, although I think an accomplished female athlete posing nude or near nude in a wank mag is tasteless (images of Dana Patrick's truly tasteless shots on the hood of a car come to mind,) I really don't care what someone else is doing with her body. 

Third, I wonder why so much ink is devoted to beach volleyball uniforms when track & field stars have been wearing variations on the same outfit for years. I really do believe that the mindset of the general populace is that dark skin can't be sexualized so it doesn't matter how much skin is exposed in track (unless the track star in question is Amy Acuff, the white high jumper who has also posed in men's mags.) 

One thing that really stuck with me from my youth was something an elementary school teacher of mine told our 2nd grade class. She brought in stacks of National Geographic magazines for some project and later told some of the kids who were giggling over the nude photos that they shouldn't laugh because that kind of skin can't be naked which made everyone shut up for a moment. It was one of those times that I got a twisted feeling in my stomach but didn't really know why.

Now, I confess to being a body gawker myself. I am simply amazed at the beauty of the female athlete's bodies and the weeks following the Olympics usually find me dusting off my running shoes in pursuit of something a mid-section that doesn't jiggle. Do I want to see black athletes in magazine like FHM or Maxim, not really but I do wish that in discussions of enviable celebrity bodies that take place in black media, that these super heroines would come up more than Halle or Buffie the Body.

Pic: Daylife

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Target: Design for All... the Light Skinned Chicks in the House

I am not ashamed to say it. I love Target. If Target was a man I would marry him. I would have his red bullseye logo babies and rub his feet every night. I could seriously go to that store everyday and find something new to buy. When my rebate check gots here, Target was be ground zero for my economic stimulus plan.

I also love that they donate a percentage of their sales to local charities and that they actually appear to be committed to diversity and address it on their corporate site. I was excited when I read that Target would be launching not one but three new cosmetics lines under the umbrella of their "Design for All" slogan that has seen them bring high end designers into their fold to make stylish and inexpensive frocks for the masses. 

What I do not love is that all three of the new makeup labels (JK Jemma Kidd, Napoleon Perdis' NP line ,and Pixi) seem to be targeted only at women with very light complexions, or at least that's the impression to be had from their advertisement for the line debuting in fashion and lifestyle magazines this month. 

The skin color range on the eight models used seems to go from "bisque" to "tawny" and back again. If Sonia Kashuk's successful Target line is any indications, don't expect any of these new foundation shades to be made available in more than six colors tops. 

I won't sweat it too much, as a dark skinned black woman, I'm used to being jilted at the cosmetics counter. Last time I checked, I couldn't even find a nice shade at grandma's Fashion Fair counter that doesn't also feel like a mask. Wouldn't it be something if Johnson Publishing put some money into that tired line and revamped it? 

As for Tar-jay, too bad that they missed an opportunity here to really make that "Design for All" slogan mean something.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Naomi from the book "Unseen Vogue" - 1988

This photograph of Naomi Campbell was taken by Steven Meisel in 1988 for Vogue magazine but was never used. Her face is so fresh in this pic, I can't believe that it was 20 years ago. Just look at that hairline

Blast from the Past: Gail O'Neill

Wesleyan graduate Gail O'Neill is a model whose face I remember seeing quite a bit when I was younger. At age 20, she was "discovered" on a flight from San Francisco by photographer Chuck Baker. Baker's wife, a stylist, sent Gail to Click agency where she was persuaded to leave her job at Xerox and become a model full-time. She enjoyed success very early on and because of her strong family ties and slightly anti-social personality, feels that she avoided the pitfalls that many young models find themselves in.

She said to Barbara Summers in "Skin Deep" that when Elle magazine emerged, it changed things for black models.  "A whole new thing was happening there: the first time you had two Black models in the same issue of a magazine, and maybe in the same spread. It was a really exciting time, no other magazines were doing that."

She went to Paris a few years after her start but didn't enjoy it initially. She found the designers to be pleasant but hated going up the runs and rubbing elbows. She found people to be very nasty in the industry. The success she found there wasn't worth the "emotional expense and its toll."

Of her once trademark long hair. Gail, who is Jamaican (with one Chinese/Jamaican grandparent,) remarked that it took her a long time to appreciate her hair. "I sued to think that unless my hair was was washed and set and 'tamed'...that is was a mess." It wasn't until later in her life, after meeting stylists that taught her how to care for her natural hair that she learned to love it.

"And this is where the role model thing comes in. With models like myself coming in who are portrayed with their natural hair, little Black girl began seeing images that reflected themselves. Roshumba coming in with her own short hair, unprocessed. I think that's so beautiful. I'm not putting down people who have weaves and everything. Having a range is what's important."

The following quotes about representation in the fashion industry were given by Gail back in the 90s but they still hold true today:

"There's a lot involved in putting on that pressure [on the industry.] It's got to be a united, group effort, not only individuals. If we pay attention to designers with our dollars but never hold them accountable for their decisions, why should they spend the extra money? They'd be fools, or Gandhi, and people who are [like] Gandhi don't make it on Seventh Avenue."

Currently, Gail hosts "Mission Organization" on HGTV and was also featured in the July issue of Italian Vogue.

Photos: Simplylovely and Omifan

Thursday, August 14, 2008

O at Home - Winter 2007 - Fatima Robinson's Home

This isn't my personal taste but I really like how it all ties together. I have closets full of things I've purchased on vacation but don't know how to incorporate into my home, she does an amazing job here. Also, I would kill for her kitchen.

ETA: For some weird reason, not all of these pics will enlarge when you click them. Try these links 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

True Beauty

This sloppily scanned image was taken from Beverly Johnson's 1994 book, "True Beauty." The models pictured are Roshumba, Gail O'Neil, Kara Young, and Cynthia Bailey on the left hand side and Beverly Peele, Lana Ogilvie, Beverly Johnson and Louise Vyente on the right page.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Atuai - Represented by Trump Model Management

The 16 year old beauty just happens to be the niece of Alek Wek. That gorgeous smile must run in the family.

Source: TFS/simplylovely

Essence Magazine 1974 - Pat Evans - "The Name of the Game Is..."

The copy isn't great. I just hope it's clear enough to read.

From My Mailbox

I got an invitation code for ideeli to share with everyone. I haven't purchased anything yet but I do like the idea behind it and they have had really good sales in the past. ideeli is members only shopping community that offers deep discounts on authentic luxury items (like these Christian LaCroix pumps which were offered for $195 and quickly sold out.) There are two types of memberships, a free one and one that costs $8 and gives you the ability to shop the pre-sale. I'm cheap so I just have the free one. If you're interested in poking around the site, you can log in by typing "makefetch". If you're not into the invitation thing, there's also a site called that is open to everyone and offers discounted jewelry and clothing (including children's clothing.)

Also, MTV is casting for a new modeling reality show called "Model Makers." They are looking for women 5'9"+, between 17 and 24 years old that are also between 130 and 190 lbs. to "mold" into fashion models with the help of nutritionists and personal trainers. I guess they're going for America's Next Top Model meets The Biggest Loser. I'm just wondering if at some point they'll try to get a 5'9" 145 pound girl to dip below her ideal weight for the competition. This show could either be really good or a train wreck.

ETA: Now that I've used Hautelook (to purchase a coat I found during one of their sales,) I would NOT recommend buying from them. Twelve days after ordering the item, it still has not shipped and when I contacted "customer service" I got a snippy answer saying it might go out by the end of the week. There is no tracking number no nothing and you better believe that my credit card was charged immediately after the sale. Looking around on the web I've see dozens of posts from people complaining that orders were bungled, too upwards of 30 days to be received or worse. I'd say that if you can't resist the sample sale sites that are popping up like mad lately, skip Hautelook and go to instead. I've had much better luck and service with them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Scattered Thoughts

I often wonder if at some point I'll be so turned off by the images (or lack of images) presented to us as women of color that I'll just unplug everything, nail my mailbox shut and  stop even bothering to complain about it. Would that be tacit acceptance of the status quo or a form of enlightenment?

I spend a lot of time on this blog discussing the things about the fashion and beauty industry that I find distasteful. Sometimes I do wonder if I am just waisting my time. The comments that I think I hear often in response to my disgust about the fashion industry are

Why do you care?
Those magazines are for white people anyway! 
Sit down, shut up and read Essence.

I've been thinking about this a lot since I tracked down and read an article by former model Pat Evans that appeared in Essence magazine in 1974.

In the article, Pat Evans states quite emphatically that Black modeling is just another form of prostitution. She goes on to say: 

The black model business is like slave trading - only more refined. You are black and you are beautiful; the first thing you should learn is that your Black beauty should only be appreciated by your own people. We struggle so hard to fulfill out dreams in a white world that we forget this is their game, and if you look like a winner, you can be moved off the board.

Damn, right?

Evans wrote this piece for Essence after she quit her modeling agency. She was disgusted with the fact that she had to check her self and her race at the door if she wanted to work. "Straighten your hair and carry your 'natural' in your pocketbook. There's no room for a Black image in the modeling field." She was also fed up and angry at black male photographers who used their influence in the industry to bed as many women as possible and white photographers, one of whom told her that he'd rather put a black dot or smudge in a photo instead of a black woman because, as he put it, "no one looks at you anyway."

There is a shallow part of me that places a lot of weight on beauty and attractiveness and how black women are perceived by larger society. As a younger person, I just wanted to see proof that being black was beautiful and 'normal.' It didn't matter how many times family members said it because I had to know that other people thought it was true too. 

Reading Evan's essay and her call for black people to be who they are and not obsess over imitation, I wondered if I could be that person who just doesn't give fuck about black models being featured in a fancy Italian magazine or seeing young black actresses in a dramatic role on TV. I know that I am not. I know that I'm even more obsessed with images of black women in the media now than I ever was in my younger years. The Internet is my enabler. Now I can look at more images quicker than ever before.  Hell, I don't even have to hold a magazine in my hands to tell you what's wrong with it.

And so I continue to read, react and blog. I've just accepted that I'm a natural born complainer and I hope that if I am ever blessed with a daughter, she won't internalize the same bull that I have and won't ever need a photograph to convince her that she is the shit like I did when I was a kid. 

Evans ends with:

Woman you are, man you are, it doesn't pay to imitate. Be beautiful in your Black world, be your own image--anything you desire, from Astarte to Nefertiti.... Set the image in your family, be a model man to your woman and vice versa; ... Why should be model what they copied from us...We are the original models.

ETA: There is a fantastic carnival up at Livejournal now. The entries are written by various WOC bloggers on the topic of beauty. Definitely worth reading.

Image source: Daylife

Saturday, August 9, 2008

September 2008 - ELLE Magazine - Ad Review

For some mysterious reason, Jessica Simpson's last appearance on the cover of ELLE was one of their best selling issues ever so the magazine is trying to strike gold again with the big September issue. I don't personally care for the woman but I really don't understand who approved the styling for this cover and the spread inside. I've never thought Simpson was drop dead gorgeous but she's not ugly either, and probably deserved better photos than the unflattering half-deer/half-trout treatment that her face received here. Even the clothes are ugly. But I digress...let's get down to the ads in the issue:

The ads featuring black people seemed to fall into a few categories: The Good, The Celebrity,  The Weird, and The Ugly. Let's start with something positive:

The Good: Sure, a handful of ads in a magazine boasting hundreds of ad pages isn't anything to write home about but the ones below featured actual models (don't strain your eyes trying to find Jessica White in the Maybelline ad.)

The Celebrity: Halle Berry has more pictures in this issue than any black model. Poor Kerry Washington looks a little sad in the Movado ad but I don't blame her, I felt the same way when I saw her in "Little Man."

The Weird:

I don't care that he has a line of hair extensions and has two black women in his ad, there's no way I'd ever let Ken Paves touch my hair.

As for Kimora (at least I think that's Kimora laying on the bed) she's been a little heavy handed with that Photoshop gun lately. She's airbrushed herself into Chanel Iman in this advert.

Speaking of airbrushing...

The Ugly:

A lot has already been written about this Loreal ad featuring someone who looks like Beyonce. I myself had to do a double take when I saw it. It seems to go against the concept of celebrity endorsement to make the celebrity in question unrecognizable. Of course this happens all the time in the media. Black girls who look black aren't aspirational but apparently black girls who look white are.

Which brings me to this Clinique ad. I found it interesting that this stark white ad for what I'm assuming is a bleaching cream underlined the portion of text that says it is for "all ethnicities." I guess an underline is cheaper than a big flashing arrow that reads NOW EVERYONE CAN BE WHITE! Now, as a dark skinned person, I am very aware that things like insect bites, scratches and acne leave dark marks on our skin and that not everyone who uses a lightening cream is doing so out of self-hate but c'mon Clinique! If 99.9% of your products don't mention "all ethnicities" why highlight it on this product?

ETA: This editorial called "Women on the Verge" that features model Moesha. Is it just me or is she the spitting image of Nina Keita?