Monday, March 31, 2008

Still On My Bucket List...

The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

Oddly enough, I haven't been. Ever. This is odd because I have so many friends, fam members and even a special... Well, let's just say I have a good amount of folks in the D.C., MD, VA area yet I never seem to make it to the festival. My girl T. who resides in P.G. County (a D.C. suburb) sent a text last week to inform me that the Cherry Blossom Festival officially kicked off on Saturday, March 29th and ends on Sunday, April 13th. Because of prior obligations, I cannot make the festival again this year. I'm actually scheduled to visit MD/D.C. towards the end of April so I will attempt to see what blossoms are left but it won't be the same. What a pity. Oh well, I will try for 2009...

But, in the meantime I am definitely planning to check out the smaller and lesser known Brooklyn Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It's the first weekend in May. Who knows, it just might rival her big sister's in the capital.

I'm sure many of you who have been to the D.C. festival are thinking, "It's not that serious B." True this might be but I still wanna go. These pictures are breathtaking and I need to see all those pretty floral blooms in person so I can tell my future grandchildren about it. Plus I'm thinking it smells divine to be surrounded by that many flowers in bloom. Or they might cause my allergies flare up and force me to sneeze like a maniac. Either way I'll have a story to tell.

What are some things on your bucket list and why?

Sunday, March 30, 2008


So I made the trek out to gentrifying Williamsburg, Brooklyn yesterday. No, it wasn’t to gawk at the numerous condos being built in abandoned factories and warehouses so I can later ask, "They want HOW much for that loft?" It was to sell clothes!

That’s right folks. I chose to spend the day in Williamsburg because I finally released myself of shirts, jackets, sweaters, jeans, belts, purses, dresses, skirts and even coats that I can either no longer fit or can’t imagine wearing ever again. I decided to do my purging at Beacon’s Closet. I’ve done this before at their much smaller Park Slope location. Well, for the six, that’s right SIX, overflowing bags of stuff I brought in, I got exactly $83.37. I was expecting at least a buck and change. But, Beacon apparently didn’t think half of my stuff (the balance ended up going to charity) was worthy of his closet. My chocolate brown suede cigarette pants? No go. The tweed, flat-front, wide-leg Sharagano slacks with metallic detail - no deal either. I now realize that it is better to sell items closer to the season folks are actually buying for. Since it is spring, the folks at Beacon were more interested in my spring/summer things.

My Purge Pile

One of the best things about the entire experience was getting to go shopping in my own apartment! I’m embarrassed to admit that I recovered items I truly had forgotten about. A Lafayette 148 (Edward Wilkerson is such a talented designer) black leather and knit pencil skirt that fits me like a glove. In fact, I'm wearing it to church today. A couple pairs of jeans that I plan to cut off and rock as knee length shorts this summer. A one shoulder sweater with red embroidery along the sleeve. Oh, oh, oh and a super cute indigo denim peacoat that is perfect for this time of year!

In the midst of compiling items for yesterday’s excursion, I remembered how much of a pack rat I truly am. I found clothes from my college days. See, my mother raised me to take good care of my clothes, as well as, how to identify well-made garment. (Some people attribute the latter to FIT but that credit all goes to mom.) Therefore, unless I can’t fit something anymore, it tends to stay in one of my closets. For the record, the only reason I was getting rid of the aforementioned pants is because they are now too tight. Bummer. Guess I was thinking I would squeeze into them again but that isn’t happening.

So, I’m slowly learning to let go -- in all areas of my life. I have to start doing that a little more often to make room for new and improved things. Like those H&M jeans to your right. LOL! Seriously, this experience has shown me just how much I need to continue to scale down. I’d rather have a wardrobe of 25 items I adore than one with 75 items I only sorta, kinda like. Ya dig?

Ahhh, I’m feeling very grown-up right now… Next project(s): my paperwork, cds, magazines and knick-knacks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Daddy's Little Belt Buckle

This belt buckle is one of my absolute favorite accessories hands down. I’ve got the LV shopper tote, Morgenthal Frederics shades, jewelry from across the globe but they don’t even compare. In fact, I don’t know or care who designed my belt buckle. The peanut butter color is super cool and it looks right-on with all things denim. But the real reason I am so fond of it? The belt buckle belonged to my deceased father. I have a few of his personal belongings (a distressed leather wallet with whip stitching is another fave) but I am probably closest to this because my father and I share the same initials.

My dad was a "man’s man" and maintained a simple but well-edited wardrobe. We both loved one-of-a-kind accessories. I’m sure he had no idea that his adult daughter would be rocking this buckle when he purchased it. It isn’t exactly the typical family heirloom and one might suspect that my older brother would be the likely current owner. His initials happen to be B.B. as well but doggone it I got hold of it first. Now, I simply cannot imagine my wardrobe without it.

P.S. - The actual belt did not belong to my father but it is a near perfect match, no? What is your favorite accessory and why?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Anna, You Have Some Explaining To Do...

I just finished posting my fave Black male style icons and unfortunately have to now add my two and a half cents on the April 2008 American Vogue (with LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen)cover. Ironic isn't it? Maybe those folks at Vogue didn't get the memo that Black men actually do wear clothes that aren't athletic. And look good in them too. Wait a sec. They do know that because James was actually styled wearing suits for this issue as well. Someone just decided to let this foolishness be the cover instead.

NBA star LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen

What is most disturbing is that I truly don't think Anna or her team did this maliciously. That is how embedded racism can be. Especially in the fashion and publishing worlds. I mean, c'mon -- the man is dribbling a basketball and his mouth is open. Why is his mouth open? The fact that James was shot next to a blonde model was the icing on the cake. Just imagine Eli Manning suited up with a football looking slightly deranged grabbing a glamourous and picture-perfect Naomi Campbell on the cover of Vogue. You can't can you? It doesn't have the same historical connotations but it wouldn't happen in the first place.

Needless to say this cover has been on the lips of many over the past week or so. Robin Givhan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion editor of the Washington Post and a former associate editor at Vogue was asked to comment on it to ABC News recently. I happen to know Robin and greatly respect her career and her work. I've interviewed her before and normally we're on the same page. This time we are not. Apparently, she doesn't see what all the fuss is about. "It's so exhausting that every time people see an image of a Black person they work themselves into a tizzy that somehow it doesn't adhere to the way in which they think a Black person should be presented," she told ABC.

Hmmm. Am I working myself into a tizzy?

After checking the pulse on this matter with a few of my very confident and intelligent co-workers, I concluded that I wasn't tripping. They share my confusion/frustration on this and I was quite objective when asking them about it. So, I am writing my letter to Ms. Wintour today. I wish I knew someone in LeBron's camp because I doubt he realizes the significance of this cover. Celebs don't get to choose their images for mag covers so he probably had no idea this shot would be the cover. I am sure the 23 year old was estatic to be the first Black man to appear on the cover of what is arguably the world's top fashion publication.

This is monumental alright.

What are you feeling on this? Leave a comment, please!

PPT’s Top Black Male Style Icons

I promised I would do this so here it is. As I mentioned for the female post of Black style icons, there is no way I can include everyone. However, I would love for you to leave me a comment if you think I have forgotten someone major. There were a few strong runner-ups such as Nat King Cole and Run-DMC. And I contemplated on Barack and Kanye

(in no particular order)

Sammy Davis Jr. - Singer, dancer, comedian, actor, musician -- as a member of The Rat Pack, Mr. Davis did some movin’ and shakin’ with the best of them. When he started performing in Vegas during the ‘50s, he reportedly couldn’t stay in the same hotels that booked him for shows. The conked hair (I know, I know but it was part of his signature look). The sharp, tailored suit. The ever-present cigar. The latter might have contributed to his throat cancer. He was a little man with a lot of style.

Andre 3000 - Dang. I dunno even know where to start. This man has swagger for days. Any male who can pull off wearing feathers and a kilt without anyone questioning his manhood needs to teach a class or something. His effortless and out-the-box looks just might be available to the masses soon when he launches his Benjamin Bixby line later this year. (It is expected to hit Barneys stores this fall.) It doesn’t hurt that he’s also half of one of our most prolific hip-hop duos of all time.

Sean Combs/Puffy/Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy - I know some of y’all are gonna hate me for this one. But I had to be objective. I have my issues with him too. Still his impact on popular culture over the past decade or so is undeniable. An entire ghetto fabulous obsession exists largely because of this man. He introduced Versace to Bed-Stuy and the two-step to The Hamptons. Combs certainly didn’t invent it but he did have a big part in bringing it to the masses and Madison Avenue aka the advertising world continues to profit from it. Like it or not, that indicates major influence. He is also a workaholic times ten. (I actually remember, albeit vaguely, when he was a party promoter.) I don’t think my big bro will ever let me forget about City College though…

Pictured here are Langston Hughes [far left] with [left to right:] Charles S. Johnson, E. Franklin Frazier, Rudolph Fisher and Hubert T. Delaney, on a Harlem rooftop during a party in Hughes' honor, 1924. [courtesy of]
(Who knew rooftop parties were poppin' for so long???)

The Men of The Harlem Renaissance - Geez. I honestly couldn’t decide on just one. James Baldwin, Langston Huges, Duke Ellington and all the unsung tastemakers made it hard for me. This era of tailored three-piece suits and slick fedoras forced men all over to step it all up a notch. From the pics that I’ve seen, these cats (of all economic backgrounds) stayed clean. I think they set the tone for how dudes Uptown dress to this day. (Always a little bit "extra".) Part of the reason Harlem Nights remains to be one of my favorite films is because of the costumes and how dapper the men appeared throughout the movie.

Michael Jackson - I almost forgot about the King of Pop! Perhaps I was nervous about most of the men on this list being entertainers but I just couldn’t forget about Mike. Nutty as a fruitcake he might be but Mr. Thriller certainly had everyone in the 80s dressing like him ALL OVER THE WORLD. From zippered jackets to sequined gloves, epaulets to rhinestones, Michael was without a doubt the trendsetter of the Reagan years. Personal Realization: My red Capezio shoes from first grade were probably inspired by this man.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. - They are on this list simply because the revelutionaries always appeared perfectly intact (wearing suits no less) while in the face of some of the most unbearable situations imaginable. Part of their influence resulted from them being very powerful men and their images helped exude that power. I imagine most of us would look a bit frazzled to say the least if faced with the types of pressures these men were under. Something tells me that they would have looked just as polished and authoritative wearing an off the rack suit from Woolworth as they would donning a bespoke number from Saville Row. And the entire time they were fighting for what they believed in. That is quintessential style.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

This fascination I have with the Brits…

Continues. My birthday was a couple weeks back and I treated myself to a copy of British Elle. After dining and dancing at the swanky but never stuffy Hudson Hotel, I popped in an area newsstand to glance at some international titles. Sometimes I get bored with American rags. When I was a student at FIT, I would duck into the school library between classes to read all the French and Spanish Vogues (well, more like look at the pictures) and (you guessed it) British Elle to marvel at how it all came together. The images; the words – it was like a sugar rush. Magazines became a true passion of mine. Somewhere between now and then I got a little jaded (I now work at a magazine and at times get very frustrated with the politics of publishing) and just plain busy (trying to get this work/life balance thing right) so I don’t indulge in this creativity boosting activity nearly as much as I should and could.

March 2008 cover of British Elle

I realize that the Internet makes it possible to view just about everything on the web these days but nothing beats swooning over a hard copy of your favorite magazine. Would I think this way about British Elle if I actually still lived in London? Probably not. Honestly, I even enjoy looking at the freakin’ ads. Marks & Spencer (a discount retailer no less) produces some of the sleekest out. I’m gonna treat myself to British Elle and some lesser known foreign pubs more often than once a year. Sure that copy set me back close to ten bucks (the dollar ain’t worth ish right now…) but I can budget for it occasionally. Reading this issue put some much needed fire under my butt and reminded me of why I went to FIT and wanted to work at a magazine in the first place. I truly do have a passion for this and it isn’t going anywhere. It is way too early in the game for me to be jaded (I’m not close to where I know I can and wanna be) and learning to "properly" balance work and life will probably take me a lifetime.

Leave it to those Brits to help a sis’ get her juices flowing! $10 mag versus $250 therapy session… You do the math.

Fly girl Chloe Sevigny was a guest editor for the issue. I saw her on a NYC subway platform a few months back looking like the epitome of bohemian chic!

Marks & Spencer ad

Saturday, March 8, 2008

America the Beautiful

Earlier this week I returned from a relaxing and much needed retreat in southern Florida. I’ve been to South Beach a few times before and I liked it enough. The sexy (sometimes raunchy) multi-cultural scene is excellent for my people watching tendencies. The weather was in the mid 80s. When I boarded my plane at JFK in NY there was still snow on the ground. I snagged a sweet airfare deal (finally redeemed an American Airlines gift card given to me for my birthday two years ago) and I roomed with my friend who was in the sunshine state for a trade show so my hotel expenses were zip-zero. (Thanks again Esh!)

What more could I ask for? Well, as I mentioned, I’ve been to South Beach before. I like to get those stamps in my passport whenever possible. Honestly, I had been treating my South Beach vacay as a consolation prize. (However, after reading my book under a palm tree at 2 o’clock in the afternoon while drinking a pina colada, I started to change my mind.) As selfish as it now seems, (hindsight is always 20/20) I was a little bummed that I could not afford to visit London for a quick U.K. fix.

Shortly before my trip, I started researching the Miami area to find out what I could do off the beaten path. Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road were NOT going to be the highlights of my stay. I became intrigued by the Everglades and in the days leading up to the trip I was downright excited about the "river of grass" that boasts being the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. Well, I wasn't disappointed. I took a daytrip by myself to Everglades National Park, rode on an airboat, chilled with a few alligators and remembered just how awesome God is. Being in the middle of a swamp with no land in sight can force you to do that. Unfortunately these pics don’t do this place justice so you’ll have to go and see for yourself. ;-)

This trip prompted me to never shun domestic travel again. Within the last couple of years I’ve been blessed to visit places like Sedona and the Gullah Islands (near Hilton Head). There is a vast amount of history and culture in this country that most of us Americans don’t know about. While on my way to the Everglades (it’s about an hour away from South Beach), my tour guide shared some fascinating Native American history with our group. And had I planned my stay better, I could have ventured into Little Habana and/or Little Haiti for a change of scenery from the new money having, spring break going, half-naked crowds of South Beach for minimal cash. Cape Town, Capri and Cairo are still very much on my travel wish list. But there are countless uncovered gems for me right here in America. I just have to dig a little deeper to find them.

By the way, I'm already considering going back in December for the Art Basel Miami Beach festivities!