Friday, January 30, 2009

CNN - Obama girl "look-alike" model in spotlight

S: Daylife, Viewimages

Apparently, Madison Avenue has discovered that regular old brown skinned black girls are cute. Jezebel reported earlier this week that ad agencies are scrambling to find Sasha and Malia look-alikes of a specific age and ethnicity (what does THAT mean, I wonder) to cast in commercials and print ads.

According to branding expert David Rogers the reason for this is simple:

"The most visible, most exciting family in America is this beautiful black family and so people are ready and looking for those kinds of images," says branding expert David Rogers, adding that a lot of Americans want to identify and, "find some sort of connection with this family."

Now CNN reports that 6 year old Brooklynite Ariel Binns who "looks remarkably like First Daughter Sasha Obama" is cleaning up at casting sessions. If you'll recall, the first-grader was cast as a Sasha stand-in for the Harper's Bazaar shoot with Tyra Banks late last year.

There's no denying that little Ariel is adorable and personally, I am all for more brown skinned little girls being cast in advertisements. I've noticed frequently over the years that any ad with a black family usually has the parents toting around racially ambiguous children with them, especially little girls. Sweet face little girls with blondish ringlets are cute but so are girls with kinkier afro puffs and braids.

Other than being small, cute and brown, I don't think this child is not a ringer for Sasha at all. What do you think? Is the "Obama Effect" on pop culture just temporary or will it actually change the way many Americans view black families?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ubah Hassan for Ralph Lauren S/S 2009

S: scanned by Luxx/TFS

The Somalian beauty's career has been taking off since the travel restrictions on her Canadian residency were lifted in 2007. Once that was out of the way she signed with Click and within a month of living in New York she got a call informing her that she was chosen to be part of last July's "black" issue of Italian Vogue. In a Glamour UK interview she remarked:

I still hate the word refugee. It’s associated with being a victim and I certainly don’t feel like a victim. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect my career. For example, I couldn’t take part in Paris Fashion Week because I have no passport or birth certificate. I have residential status in Canada, but travel visas take up to two weeks to come through. But I’m just glad I’m able to make a living. My dad is so proud of me. There is still sadness in his eyes. I often want to tell him that he did his best, and though all the constant upheavals have been painful, none of it is his fault. At least we can get on with living again now. I often think people take freedom too lightly. Being able to pop across to another country for a holiday or go shopping for shoes are things I never take for granted.

I’ve often thought about returning to Somalia but I’m terrified of what I might find. Right now, the best thing I can do is draw attention to the country’s plight. And I hope that my example will give women from other war-torn countries some hope, and go some way to halt prejudices against asylum seekers. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel like the luckiest person on earth. I’m earning my own wage, living a happy life, traveling the world and meeting extraordinary people every day. I was given that chance. Some people might say that fashion is a shallow, frivolous business. You’ll never hear that from me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson @ The SAG Awards

photo source: Lipstick Alley

I think both ladies hit it out of the park this time around. Viola, who's beautiful looks always seem to be downplayed in the movies, is looking quite glamorous in this yellow David Meisterat and Taraji looks so sultry in this white Herve Leroux gown that I've already forgotten how annoying I found her character in "Baby Boy." I cannot wait to see what they wear at the Oscars.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Raven Simone in YSL RTW Fall 2008

Source: and Lipstick Alley

Designers generally ignore the full figured ladies when it comes to sizing but Raven does her best to pull off this YSL look. I think shortening the dress a bit and dumping that awful corset style belt would have been an improvement. She just looks so pinched and uncomfortable.

Does The First Lady Have a "Duty" to Wear Clothing by Black American Designers?

Source: Mrs.O

Some people think she does. In a brief snippet that appeared in WWD, The Black Artists Association is criticizing Mrs. Obama for wearing clothing by Jason Wu and Isabel Toldedo on Inaguration Day and not garments designed by African-Americans.

Organization co-founder Amnau Eele said that she is planning to make a "formal appeal" to Mrs. Obama on behalf of the organization adding that “It’s fine and good if you want to be all ‘Kumbaya’ and ‘We Are the World’ by representing all different countries. But if you are going to have Isabel Toledo do the inauguration dress, and Jason Wu do the evening gown, why not have Kevan Hall, B Michael, Stephen Burrows or any of the other black designers do something too?... She continued, “It’s one thing to look at the world without color but she had seven slots to wear designer clothes. Why wasn’t she wearing the clothes of a black designer? That was our moment.”

Hmm. Though I personally would also like to see the First Lady sporting an ensemble by Tracey Reese some day I just have to call bullshit on this complaint. Inauguration Day wasn't just a moment for black designers, it was America's moment and to me, this complaint just comes across as childish.

Clothing is personal and most people pick clothing that a) they like, b) looks good on them. As much as I like seeing celebrities (of all races) walk the red carpet in gowns by designers like Kevan Hall, not every Kevan Hall dress is going to look good on every body.

I think both of Mrs. Obama's ensembles that day fit her particular aesthetic and since she does seem fond of discovering new designers, I would be surprised if she doesn't eventually wear clothing by up and coming black designers as well.

It seem to me that instead of a harsh criticism, Ms. Eele should be studying Mrs. Obama's style and sending her best sketches to the First Lady's office.

What do you think? Does Ms. Eele raise a valid point or is this just sour grapes?

ETA: explores fashipns "unsettled" relationship with The First Lady.

During the campaign, designers, from Marc Jacobs to Tory Burch, celebrated Obama in a frenzy of T-shirts and tote bags that conflated change and style. But despite such liberal goodwill, the industry is overwhelmingly white, both in its makeup and its view of its customer. Not long ago, Stefano Pilati, the designer of Yves Saint Laurent, saw no problem telling Robin Givhan of the Washington Post that black models just don’t look right in his clothes. Michelle’s rumored cover aside, Vogue has only ever had five black celebrities (including LeBron James) on its cover.

An even more vexing question when it comes to Michelle is the fact that she uses fashion but is not defined by her interest in it. She’s no Jackie Kennedy, whose tenure as First Lady is remembered precisely for her interest in style. This seems an unlikely course for Michelle Obama. Here is a beautiful, well-dressed woman for whom fashion is a sidebar.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Page Six Magazine Interviews Chanel Iman

On difficulties faced by models of color in the industry she vents:

“It’s not just black girls. It’s ethnic girls in general: Brazilian girls, Hispanic. You really don’t see a lot of Asians either. A lot of designers think that if every girl on the runway looks exactly alike, then people will come to the shows and buy the clothes because they won’t be focusing on the models….It’s not even just runway either… us ethnic girls should be getting a lot of the covers too! I would love to be on half of the campaigns these [white] girls are booking, all looking exactly alike. It’s not right. It’s not fair.”

Chanel also talks about her dating life, her relationship with mentor Tyra Banks and all those rumors about her in the upcoming issue of Page Six magazine, which will be inserted into copies of this Sunday's New York Post.

s: ONTD, Concrete Loop,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grace Jones - V Magazine - Spring 2009

Photographed by Jean Paul Goude.

S: simplylovely,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Neighborhood Inaugural Ball 2009 - The POTUS and First Lady

A few posters on The Fashion Spot have speculated that she is wearing a design by Jason Wu. Here is the unembellished version of one of his recent designs (worn by the model with horrible shoes):

I guessed correctly that Mrs. O would go for a strapless number to show off those arms but I am surprised by the embellishments on the gown. I thought she's go for something simple and off-set it with accessories so her choice here is a pleasant surprise. Although personally, I prefer the feather free version above, I think she looks just as elegant as can be.

It seems everyone in the fashion industry has been waiting with baited breath to see this dress. It's funny to me that so many people seem to be pinning the future of the American fashion industry on Michelle when so many of those same people have largely disregarded the diversity and influence of "black style" in general.

So your turn, what do you think of the gown? Is they hype over Michelle's clothing gone too far? How much are you influence by "celebrity" style?

S: Reuters, AP, Corbis, Yahoo, Google, LSA

Allure - February 2009 - "Busy Signals" - Sessilee Lopez

I get really tired of seeing this same drab background used in editorial after editorial in American fashion magazines, but I do enjoy seeing Sessilee get more work. I especially like the styling here.

source: Major Models

The Presidential Inauguration

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Guardian UK: Young, white and super skinny? We don't buy it, women tell advertisers

According to a global survey of women's buying habits, women are more likely to respond favorably to a brand if they models used to advertise it reflect their own identities.

Not surprisingly, the fashion industry's reliance on using "aspirational" imagery has been slow to change. Below are a few quotes from the article which you can read in it's entirety here.

Another key finding was that while women preferred to see attainable images of beauty, this did not mean they were against glamour. "The women wanted models who looked like they were part of the fashion industry but also looked like them," Barry says.

"It made them feel that they, too, were included in the industry and were considered beautiful.

"If you're a big fashion retailer and you're going to hire 10 models, you should make sure that each one of them represents a different aspect of your consumers."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Liya Kebede & Jourdan Dunn - Vogue - Feb. 2009

"It's a Madcap World" - Photographed by Steven Meisel

Sorry for the small images (I'll try to remember to replace them whenever I get the new issue in the mail.)

source: Sansartifice

Monday, January 12, 2009

Barbie Loves Stila

Mattel and Stila Cosmetics will be partnering to bring out a special limited edition product range to be sold exclusively by Sephora beginning next month. The collection includes four "Decades of Beauty" tins decorated with images of Barbie through the years: Ponytail Doll, Malibu Barbie, Jewel Doll, and Foxy. Can you guess which name matches the tin pictured?

I can't hate. I still remember the Xmas that I received the first black Barbie Doll. My mom was miffed that she was wearing that loud ass sequined dress but I thought it was the most beautiful doll in the world and she was...until I tried to hot comb her hair.

The tins will retail for $40 each and even though we're in a recession and Stila makeup has never been on the top of my list, I know that I will break down and buy one of these in the end.

WAD Magazine #34 - The "Girls" Issue

"Urban" fashion and culture magazine WAD wins the award for having the most random photo spreads. This one (titled "Yes We Can!" of course) is taken from their "Girls" issue #34 and features model Lareja Drane, hip-hop artist Medusa, Tatyana Ali, Lil' Mama, and actress Taraji P. Henson. Photographs by Tramber.

Source: WAD

ALLURE - January 2009 - Taraji P. Henson and Paula Patton

I've been meaning to scan these for over a week. These are two actors that I really like, Taraji especially seems to be getting a lot of press lately but I haven't seen "Benjamin Button" (I have a serious case of Brad and Angelina fatigue.) I hope the possible Oscar nomination turns into more work for her. As for Paula, I read that she will be in the movie adaptation of "Push" but I have no idea when that film will hit theaters.

ETA: Another scan I've been meaning to post. Vogue selected Laura Jarrett (duaghter of Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett) for their "10 Best Dressed List." Her selection is a bit random but then so are the wealthy socialites they usually pick for these things.

Source: Allure and Vogue

The Golden Globes Post

Anyone else watch The Golden Globes last night? I'm wondering how model Alek Wek scored the best seat in the house. I'm not wild about the dress but the Dior jewel tone number looks beautiful against her skin on television.

Gina Torres always looks so regal to me. I guess it's fitting then that she went with a purple gown. Sigh... I still miss "Firefly."

Taraji P. Henson is really accumulating an impressive collection of red carpet pics. I like this J. Mendel dress a lot but I think the dark colors and ruffles looked a little drab on television.

Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez both looked great in my opinion but I think they should have switched dresses. Both of them have sported similar looks in the past.

Viola Davis looked so pretty sitting at her table, I was hoping she would at least get to present an award so I could see her dress. She went with darker tones too but I think she still looks very glamorous here.

I'm just not feeling Shaun Robinson's gown. At all.

ETA: Rutina Wesley just looks flawless.

S: mnis/TFS, Lipstick Alley, TV Guide, ONTD, Jezebel