Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another Reason For My Mother To Shop At Wal-Mart

Hola! I just read that the grandmother of all suburban super-stores is adding yet another lower-priced designer line to their inventory. Norma Kamali recently brokered a deal with Wal-Mart to design clothing for women, children and accessories for the home. Details on exactly when the new gear will hit stores has yet to be released but if I don't find out via WWD my mother will tell me. She regularly heads to Wally World (apparently that is what folks in the south call it) for everything from say socks to brooms to eggs. Now she can pick up the latest creations from Ms. Kamali as well. Good stuff. Kamali is probably most known for her OMO line but I admire that she designs clothes for women with real bodies. You know, jersey sportswear with a sexy, feminine edge. Very tasteful threads and now available to those on a budget that don't live in cities where sample sales are a dime a dozen. The suits over at Wal-Mart seemingly have a lot of faith in the veteran designer. Perhaps it is because of their popular designer collection, George ME by Mark Eisen. I quite like the George stuff too - for what it is - and have the cutest cable knit sweater from the line given to me by (surprise!) my mother.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It Never Rains In Sedona, Arizona

The last few days of my life have been filled with not-so great ups and very confusing downs. But I know that without tests there would be no testimony. Through all of this I'm growing and learning.

Earlier today, while chatting with my mother on the phone (our Saturday morning ritual) I gave her an update on my current drama. She patiently listened, offered her wisdom and then listened some more. She always does. She is never too busy for me. Ever.

In December 2006, we took a vacay to Scottsdale, AZ and while we were there a daytrip to Sedona. We both marveled at the gigantic red rocks and stood in awe of how different the scenery was there from what we see on the daily back on the east coast. It was peaceful and theraputic -- squared. Well, I don't have the means or the time for an Arizona jaunt right now. But thank God for memories, pictures and telephones to call amazing mothers like mine!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

PPT’s Favorite Black Style Icons


They say it's Black History Month... So I thought it would be a good time to post some of my favorite stylish ladies who happen to be Black. Of course this could have easily been posted in October or May. I think I'll follow with the dudes.

Again, this is a partial list. There is no way to include everybody but do let me know if you think I'm missing someone BIG.

Angela Davis - The Rebel

I’ve been told (by a very reliable source) that she actually dislikes being lauded as a style icon. I can understand why. The work that she and the Panthers did being marginalized to physical appearance is an insult. But I had to include her in this list. Like everyone else I chose however, the work she did (does) is a large part of the reason she’s even on this list; clothes aside. Her signature afro is legendary and the black leather jackets partnered with bell bottom jeans always managed to be the perfect marriage of femininity and toughness.

Billie Holiday - The Not-So Quiet Storm

Who knew that a flower could be so doggone powerful? Neatly placed alongside a perfectly coiffed hairdo, that simplistic white lily is now immediately tied to the historic singer. Something so simple and inexpensive has now become synonymous with sophistication and effortless style. The blues hasn't looked this good since.

Lauryn Hill - The Door Buster

My style maybe you could rent it but it still won’t be yours/Kinda like the clothes in your videos you return to the stores… L-Boogie warned us about her flyness but still few could predict the New Jersey native would cause the ruckus she did both in and out of the fashion industry. She kept us guessing as she effortlessly moved from b-girl bombshell to uptown fashionista to thrift/vintage maven. During her peak in the 90s as front woman of The Fugees and eventually a solo artist, she managed to land the covers of British GQ, Details, Elle, Rolling Stone and Time Out New York. Too bad she now seems to be as crazy as a bedbug. *sigh*

Queens Cleopatra and Nefertiti - The Originators

Elizabeth Taylor my ass. (I normally don’t curse but I simply could not help it in this case.) Hollywood might want us to think Cleopatra was White but we know the truth. It’s no accident that the noses of ancient Egyptian artifacts are so often "removed". These two historic and quite savvy women arguably became just as powerful as the men they were attached to, kept a fly hairdo and understood the importance of accessories. For proof of the latter, check out the Egyptian exhibit at the MET pronto. It’s an accessory lovers dream…

Josephine Baker - The Fire Cracker

Too hot for the United States to handle, this banana skirt wearing diva took her show to Paris. Many claim that she became a minstrel show of sorts but I maintain that she was truly groundbreaking in the entertainment and style worlds. Not afraid to take chances, she rocked her hair short and wore revealing costumes to show off her curvy frame. Her confidence seemed palpable. Dang.

Lena Horne - The Original "It" Girl

Her quiet sex appeal matched with genuine talent and grace are undeniable. But what I really appreciate about Ms. Horne is that she exudes such polished, sophisticated style. That old-school glamour. Like most Black women in her time, she mastered being able to look fabulous (always) with very little resources. Remember, her peak was before entertainers had professional stylists and huge wardrobe budgets. Couple that with the fact that she was forced to use sub-standard dressing rooms and not able to shop in top-notch stores that only allowed White customers because she was Black. (You thought she was exempt from all that because she’s light? Nope.) But, when you got it, you just got it.

Salt ‘N Pepa - The International ‘Round the Way Girls

One word: asymmetrical. Two decades ago, this dynamic duo made spandex and leather (Push It video), ripped denim and tees (Shake Your Thang video) and doorknocker earrings (Tramp video) appear on many a brown girl's wish list. They were flyness personafied. They also fearlessly opened the door for countless female hip-hop artists. But I wouldn't expect much less from two chicks from Queens. :-)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

TALES FROM THE TENTS: New York Fashion Week Fall 2008

Drumroll please... Presenting my overdue re-cap of the NY Fall 2008 shows. Enjoy!

While most of the major shows take place in the "tents" set-up in midtown's Bryant Park, some of my fave shows were off-site. James Coviello held his intimate show at the Prince George Ballroom in Chelsea. The ultra feminine cardigans, tie-neck blouses and pencils skirts immediately reminded me the costumes Jurnee Smollett wore in The Great Debaters. And the hair at another Chelsea show, ThreeASFOUR (braids cascading into a bun) was so refreshing in a sea of shows with boring, safe hair dos. I predict that some celebs will recreate this hair on the red carpet.


James Coviello
Speaking of celebs and hair, there were plenty out and about during NY's fashion week. Rihanna (sans bob) debuted her new do and made it out to the BCBG Max Azria and Proenza Schouler shows -- in the front row of course. Sidebar: are y'all feeling the Marc Jacobs bag named after Miss Ella? I hope she's getting a cut. Marc Jacobs apparently started his 7p show at 7:17p!!! This is indeed news since his shows typically begin at least an hour behind schedule. Celebs also packed the front row for Rock & Republic. I however was booted to watch the show on a monitor. Genevieve Jones (I'm still in awe at how sister girl became a socialite) sat with Hollywood hipsters like Sophia Bush to view what was a lot of hype for nothing. One of the few lines that shows menswear and womenswear, it lacked cohesiveness. But, this purple gown was a plesant surprise! I predict teeny boppers across America will be wearing the A.B.S version for their proms in a few months.

Marc Jacobs "Rihanna" Bag

Rock & Republic Gets Glam

The always a party Baby Phat show was full of celebs again this season. (Joss Stone, Tyra Banks and Vivica A. Fox) But, a little birdie informed me that the fashion director of a premiere magazine was booted from the front row because of a seating dispute. Said fashion director was made to feel like a second class citizen before she and her staff just existed the Roseland Ballroom. (to the left, to the left) This might not seem like such a big deal except that Star Jones was also in the front row and was of course treated like royalty. No offense to ole’ girl Star but she doesn’t cover fashion for her gig. She is there to get her picture taken. The folks that view the shows for their actual jobs, i.e. mag editors, buyers and stylists have become chopped liver for celebs at the shows. Tsk, tsk. Oh and there were no looks worth mentioning shown at Baby Phat. And even if there were, they wouldn't be available in stores come August. Just expect the same recycled embellished denim and screen printed tees for your tween-aged niece.

In keeping with the latest philanthropy trend, Madonna partnered with Gucci (haven't they been busy?) for a black-tie gala that was a definite highlight of fashion week this season. Anna Wintour, Diddy, a very pregnant Jennifer Lopez, Nelly Fertado, Rihanna (who performed) and Timbaland were all in attendance. Over 5 million dollars was raised for Malawi, the birthplace of Madonna’s youngest son. I think my invite was lost in the mail...

Another highlight was Robin Roberts walking in the Isaac Mizrahi show. A breast cancer survivor who recently completed chemo, Roberts exposed her bald head on the runway wearing a red sequined frock. Talk about style going way beyond clothes. Go Robin!

Survivor Robin Roberts Struts The Runway

My favorite show (that I actually viewed personally) was Tracy Reese. I honestly prefer Tracy's spring collections over her fall lines because of the color and print usage she has become notorious for. But this season she didn't disappoint with sweet ruffled tops, menswear inspired trousers and jewel-toned beaded blouses. Tracy's collection was also filled with these adorable beret meets headband concotions that are super-cute. (I hope they actually make it to stores. Often the accessories from from runway shows aren't sold at retail and are more like props.) And Tracy's show is sorta like a homecoming for the Black press. I always have a good 'ole time. A close second to Tracy would have to be Vivienne Tam who was in a Disney state of mind when designing her fall line. She incorporated Mickey Mouse (yes you read correctly) into several of her pieces. I thought it was a fun way to update clothes that we've honestly all seen before. I read that she was inspired by 2008 being the year of the rat in Chinese culture. Whatever her inspiration was, I love it. If fashion designers can't take chances then who the heck can?

Tracy Reese

Vivienne Tam
Read on for additional trend highlights for fall 2008.

the color purple - It was simply everywhere. Even Calvin Klein’s black collection was peppered with at least one violet-hued dress. It looked especially new when paired with emerald green like at Tracy Reese and James Coviello.

waist management - Defined waists will be even more prevalent next season.

get shorty - Hemlines are shorter stopping just at the knee for many designers. Perfect since there was also lots of opague hoisery on the runways.

Black Boys Rule! - Mr. Combs only used Black models for his Sean John menswear show (The first in years). The looks were very grown and sexy -- fitted pants and jackets, clean lines, not a hoodie in sight.

Have Diddy and Bethann been talking?


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Late, but not Lost

My fashion week re-cap is coming. I promise. It will post this evening. Now you can breathe again. But in the meantime I had to share this:

Apparently Gucci is on their New York Ish too. Great minds must think alike. HA! I thought this campaign was just as cute as a button, especially with Gucci re-opening their Fifth Avenue store last week and donating proceeds from the sales of this collection to the Playground Partners Central Park Improvement Program. Seems to me they were showing the Big Apple some love.

Well, I guess love ain't got ish to do with it because New York City's Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) is challenging Gucci's use of the slogan on its new limited edition bags. Apparently Gucci didn't get proper premission to use the slogan. There's probably a lot of legal stuff to further explain this situation that is the gist of it. And it all comes down to money.

Geez. I bet the knock-offs down in Chinatown aren't even on the shelves yet.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I’m On My New York Ish

Hey, the Giants won the Superbowl – I couldn’t resist that title!

Truth is, I’m not a football fan (at all) but Sunday night was a proud time for New Yorkers far and wide. I must admit I got more than a little pumped by the win. And who doesn’t like to root for the underdog? Which leads me to the real point of this post. (You really didn’t think I was gonna blog about football did you?)

Friday, February 1st was the official kick-off of Fall 2008 NY Fashion Week . This season I decided to request tickets for shows as a blogger. And I received some! Certainly not loads but enough to get me excited and make me do a funky little dance. Sure, dozens upon dozens of blogs are covering the shows and are now seen as reputable press outlets but who knew ole’ People.Places.Things could roll with the big dogs… PPT is sort of an underdog in the blogosphere. However, I realized a while ago that I’m a marathoner; not a sprinter. And this marathoner got herself a seat at the Vivienne Tam show. Okay, it was in the last row but still.

I managed to get second row at James Coviello!

So, I will provide a full re-cap of the Fall 2008 New York shows this weekend. I prefer to see everything and then access the trends to give a comprehensive overview. (Reading WWD, viewing and watching the Metro channel doesn’t hurt either.) Fashion Week is only at the mid-way point but so far I’ve already had a friendly chat with the Simmons girls (Angela and Vanessa) at the Tracy Reese show, was forced to watch the Rock & Republic show on a monitor after a 45 minute hurry-up and wait episode and partied with Jermaine Dupri at the launch party for a high-end luggage (Samsonsite) line.

Only in New York.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

9 Questions For...Kasha Esque

Don’t we all know someone who is consistedly wearing at least one thing we want? As far as style goes; she always has next. She's a true trendsetter. The type who will rock a pair of leather pants, a boy scout uniform shirt and a string of pearls to school...just because. Well, Kasha Esque is that chick. While the 30 year-old Howard University grad has an image that constantly turns heads, she spends most of her time capturing or manipulating the images of others. This accessory loving Capricorn is a photographer, video editor and owner of her own burgeoning production company. Now based in Los Angeles, Kasha is also a self-described "east coast gypsy" having lived in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Washington, DC. Miss Esque shared with PPT her second-hand store shopping secrets, why our mothers sometimes really do know best and the importance of smiling.

PPT: Who are your fave people?
KE: My mom. She was always very particular about how she looked. She taught me about putting a look together. Nothing is by chance. Everything has been conceptualized. It wasn’t about money. She taught me that you don’t have to follow the crowd. Thanks Mom! [laughs]

PPT: Where are your fave places?
KE: Oxford and Carnaby Streets in London. They were like a concrete catwalk. Inspired me to not have limits; not be afraid. Also, thrift shops in Dania, Florida. You can get thrift anywhere now but there stuff is always in really good condition. Dania has a big retirement community so the stuff typically didn’t originate in Florida.
London's fashionable Carnaby Street

PPT: What are your fave things?
KE: A photograph in my house. It’s one of my early works – of two older women going to church. You don’t see their faces. It reminds me that sometimes all you need is a hot shoe and handbag.

PPT: What’s been your biggest splurge?
KE: Hmmm. Usually when I splurge I just black it out. [laughs] I guess my Mac laptop. I could have gone with a [less expensive] Dell or a pc.

PPT: Now, how about your ultimate budget find?
KE: A one-of-a-kind necklace from a Mali, West African jewelry designer. I bought it from a street vendor in D.C. around K and 17th Streets, downtown. It was probably like ten or fifteen bucks.

PPT: What’s the last book you read?
KE: Selah’s Bed by Jenoyne Adams. It was given to me as a gift. It is about the power of sexuality and a women’s body. I’m still reading it and so far I’m enjoying it.

PPT: Who are you listening to?
KE: Alicia Keys, As I Am, Talib’s new joint [Eardrum] -- one of my favorites. And soul music from late 50s and 60s from a compilation cd of various artists. I’m a big fan of soul music -- my iPod is filled with it.

PPT: Your last vacay was to (not work related)?
KE: New York City. I was all over the 5 boroughs (except Staten Island) and Long Island. I went to Queens to get my hair done. [laughs] Oh and Florida over holidays (Ft. Lauderdale area).

PPT: What’s your definition of style?
KE: Confidence. I live in La La Land so it’s nothing for people to drop a couple grand on an outfit. People often only like what they’re told to like. I wonder if some people like things because they cost a lot of money or because a celeb is wearing it. I judge my clothes based on how I feel when I’m in them. Am I gonna have a smile on my face when I’m wearing this? That smile can be your best accessory.