Sunday, September 28, 2008

The "Historical" All-Black Vogue Italia: What’s Next?

Alrighty now, let’s get right to it. The all-Black Italian Vogue was nothing short of a phenomenon. If you recall, I certainly had my doubts about the concept initially. And as far as the motivation and philosophy behind it goes; I still kinda do. Again, Black women are not novelties. Although I sorta felt like one when I visited Italy back in 2000 and every third man I passed in the street was calling me "bella" and seemingly undressing me even though I wore jeans and loose tees most of the trip. However, even I can’t deny the significance this issue has made (and continues to make) on the fashion and publishing worlds.

There was a bunch of hype and buzz about the issue from the moment it first hit the world wide web. Then an even greater reaction when it finally got here. (Remember how EVERYONE was losing their minds looking for it?) And now that it has come and gone, I think we’re seeing a significant domino situation. We Americans are great at following… Are we really surprised that Italy beat American Vogue to this? Nah. Think back to all the folks like Josephine Baker who went across the pond in order for their careers to flourish because the U.S. didn’t embrace them. For the record, Europeans most definitely have their share of racial hang-ups. The colorism that exist even between Northern Italians and Southern Italians is real. (Folks in the north tend to be lighter than those in the south.) But back to my point - I wasn’t at all surprised that Italy did something like this before American Vogue. Anna did try to save face with that Is Fashion Racist? feature in the July issue but it was a day late and a dollar short.

The issue itself actually wasn’t all-Black at all which I found umm, interesting. But what I find even more interesting is that it sold more issues than ANYONE expected. As I mentioned here on PPT before, the "J" months are typically slow times in publishing. In January, the perception is everyone is all spent out from the holidays and in June and July, folks are traveling/on vacay. So, advertisers don’t spend a lot of money to be in these issues. The fact that this was a July issue and is reported as being the best-selling issue for Italian Vogue - ever - is amazing. Not to mention, it kills any and all myths about Black faces not being able to sell on mainstream covers. Not only can they sell, but they can sell-out! No longer can a Conde Nast, Hearst or Hachette editor sit in an edit planning meeting and utter the words that people of color "don’t sell". Folks, that is MAJOR!

Below are the biggest and most noticeable events that have taken place since the now infamous all-Black Vogue Italia hit newsstands:

- Dominican model Arlenis Sosa landed the coveted gig as the new face of Lancome. It’s about time the industry recognized that Latinas can be dark brown too.
- Sophie Theallet used all Black models for her Spring 2009 show in NYC earlier this month.
- Chanel Iman scored the cover of the current issue of Time Style & Design.
- People mag put the Obama family on a cover in July. Original photography too, not pick-up. Apples and oranges? I don’t think so. Remember, "trends" in fashion are usually a reflection of what's going on in society. I hope this is more than a trend though.
- More and more brown faces are showing up in features for mainstream mags.
- People of color are increasingly hired in top positions (that they deserve and earned!) at major publications, design houses, model/casting agencies and advertising agencies. Okay so this last one is simply wishful thinking on my part. Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?

Do you think I forgot something? Are you feeling my sentiments about this issue or do you think I’m all wrong? Leave me a comment and let me know.

By the way, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the woman who, in my opinion, started all of this: BETHANN HARDISON. I still don’t agree with all of Bethann’s opinions on this matter, but I’m glad she had the courage to start the conversation. Kudos!

P.S. - I’m finally going to see In the Heights this evening. I’m so excited!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Handbags, Voting and Other Randomness

I wanted to post my (long overdue) feedback to the Italian "All Black" Vogue today but no cigar. I'll try to get it up this weekend. I have an interview to transcribe for PPT that will post later this week, phone calls to return (MJ, are you reading?) and a lucrative but tedious freelance gig to work on. And I have fam (my mom!) visiting me from out of town this week. But this isn't a "woe is me" post. I'm actully feeling good, although VERY sleepy. I love having my fam around me, epecially the immediate folks. Love and my mother's potato salad (she made some for me Sunday) really does conquer all. Plus, I received the sweetest text message from Mr. TK on Monday. It was not too sappy but contained the perfect amount of sugar to make me say "Awwww!" outloud in public.

And then, I discovered the bag below. Isn't she a certified cutie pie? I think so too. She's one of my latest crushes. Surprising too since I'm not a female that typically likes pink. Actually, I tend to avoid it. But here, it somehow works for me.

The size is just right (roomy enough to hold all my stuff), the nickel hardware looks on point against the hue and the "is it or isn't it patent leather?" sheen adds the right amount of panache. I'm on a spending fast of sorts so I have no plans on purchasing this bag. Nada. But my mother taught me that it doesn't cost anything to look. For those of you who aren't fasting in the finance department, she can be yours for $450 bucks. Oh and she's only available via J.Crew's website or catalog. Like most crushes, I'll probably be over this very, very soon but in the meantime, I wanted to share. Cole Haan's accessories this season are pretty sick too...

One more thing before I go, I sincerly home all PPT readers in the U.S. of A. are registered to vote. Seriously. But just in case you aren't and/or know someone who isn't, click here. And to find out exactly when the deadline to register is for your state, click here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The British Are Coming! (Well, a lil' bit later...)

So after all the hype about Topshop coming across the pond, owner Sir Philip Green just announced that the addictive British retailer has delayed their American debut until spring of 2009. Green stresses that the delay has nothing to do with our current economy and everything to do with logistical hiccups. My Mr. TK works on construction/contracting projects all the time so I know all about a job being scheduled for completion a few months before it is actually done. Ish happens.

In the meantime and in between time, folks who can't wait to get their hands on some Topshop finds can head to their new U.S. website. For those of you still out of the loop, Topshop is the biggest and most popular place to shop on the British High Street. They offer everything from earrings and leggings to coats and boots. Shopping there is often just an experience in itself, especially at the flagship store on Oxford Street. I still think part of the thrill of snagging a Topshop find as an American is feeling that it is at least somewhat exclusive - but I digress. And when I go to London next summer (yes, I'm already plotting my next vacay) I'm still hitting up Topshop whether the U.S. store has opened or not. Big C, are you with me?


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Money, Money, Money, Mo-ney: We are in an economic catastrophe but guess who’s still shopping?

FALL MEANS BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING! Don't believe the hype...

Okay, so I didn’t plan to blog on this topic until the weekend when I had a moment to flesh out my thoughts but I gotta get some stuff off my chest. In light of the recent ish that has gone down in the finance world, I needed to post now and find out what others were feeling. In hindsight, maybe my boy Ans was a catalyst for this post. First off, I must admit my knowledge of the financial industry is quite limited. However, one of my friends who traveled with me to South Africa is an auditor and over dinner one night she attempted to explain the significance of the recent Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae events. I still don’t understand most of it but I know that basically, ish is really effed up. And then the news of Lehman Brothers on Monday and AIG yesterday just put alcohol on an open wound. (And am I crazy for wondering where our country got $85 bill from?)

And I’m sure there is more to come.

Hey, I have no right to criticize how other folks spend their dough because my own financial house is not completely in order. I’m trying but I certainly have my moments. C’mon, do I really need a Freakum Dress? (Btw, I am going to find one for much less than $200 now.) I believe in balance and moderation. You know, working hard and playing hard. But folks who break their necks to get spanking new outfits for themselves or their children to wear on September 2nd is bananas to me. In most parts of the country, it is still hot when kids return to school. Who made the mandate that "summer clothes" couldn’t be worn after Labor Day? Said person should be fired! I plan to wear my summer threads well into October and will transition in fall pieces as necessary. Sure I already have my eye on a couple pairs of boots and a coat or two but I know those items will probably be on sale in a few weeks. Most retailers will be aiming to get their holiday merchandise out by mid/late October. And because of the disappointing year most have had in terms of sales, they will be trying even harder than usual to make up for it last quarter.

Perhaps because I wore a uniform to school from first through eighth grade, I don’t get the desire to wear something new the first time a little chill hits the air. Especially since I’m not a trust-fund kid. Truth be told, old money is rarely pressed to show off new wares every season anyway. It is the rest of us (and the new money having peeps) who have accepted that role.

I realize how important image is to most of our careers but as my mother says, I can’t let my wardrobe get on my dinner table. (Leave me a comment if you don’t get that.) In a couple of weeks, I am gonna try to make another trip out to Beacon’s Closet. And I’m keeping my rule of waiting at least 24 hours before I buy something - if it is meant for me, it will still be available the next day. Although I don’t have children of my own, I am not buying any of my nieces or godchildren clothes for a minute. Books, savings bonds, dance/piano lessons are much less depreciating.

How are you trying to save money in our current grim economy but still stay fly? Have recent events with the stock market and such made you rethink dropping a G on that new purse?

Happy Born Day BLB, Sr.!
I miss you much.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Very Own Fashion Week in South Africa

So as I mentioned, I traded in the Bryant Park tents this season for a jaunt in the motherland. My usual recap of the NY shows will resume in February 2009. In the meantime though, I advise those of you who want a fresh perspective (beyond the celeb rehashing) of what went down during Fashion Week in NYC to check out Robin Givhan's blog here. She also covers the Paris and Milan shows. She didn't win that Pulitzer for nuthin' honey.

In the meantime though, I thought it would be cool to compare what I did in South Africa last week to what I would have been doing here in NY had I stayed home and share it with you. By the way, a post (or 2) on the trip itself is coming - I'm still uploading photos and getting my life back in order. *sigh*


1 - I always do a lot of people watching at the shows. What folks are wearing in the tents and the off-site venues is practically as important as what they are wearing on the runway.

1b - I did a whole lot of people watching on my vacay. From the time I left JFK (the airline stewardesses on S.A. Airways were rocking these funky scaves) to the moment I boarded my last flight in Jo'burg.

2 - Everyone at the shows was buzzing about the upcoming election I'm sure. Really, how could they not?

2b - I had no less than three in-depth convos with native South Africans about Obama. It reminded me how much the rest of this world is watching and are anticipating November 4th as much (perhaps more) as we are.

3 - For me, going to the shows is obviously about trend spotting for the next season but it is also a way to get inspired about well...everything. Runway is typically driven by fantasy (things are scaled down considerably for retail) and after viewing a few shows I get all sorts of ideas on everything from how to decorate my kitchen to trying out a new haircolor.

3b - While Cape Town was certainly the more cosmopolitan part of my trip (Madison Avenue has nothing on the V&A Waterfront), I was styilshly inspired by the safari and game reserve leg of my journey as well. God makes no mistakes and the way colors and textures blend and contrast with each other in nature is brillant. Not even the best trend forecasters could pull it off. It is no coincidence that designers are always claiming to get inspiration for their collections from "the bush", huh?

P.S. - My Freakum Dress update and the long overdue Italian Vougue recap posts are coming soon and very soon.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Greetings From Cape Town!

Hey, hey, hey!

It has been a minute since my last post (my bad) but I've had a lot going on over the last week. I had to get ready for my (insert drumroll here) vacation to South Africa! That's right, I finally made that voyage I've mentioned many times before on this here blog. In a word, I am PROUD.

I plan to post a full report on this trip when I return to the States next week. It will be complete with pictures, links and maybe even a video - I told y'all I have a new camera so watch out! Because my girl Cocoa brought along her handy laptop, I had a moment before dinner to check my email and decided to update PPT a lil' bit. Despite the weather (it is kinda cold and raining here), I am having a ball. Today I went to Cape Point (where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet), went to a warm penguin beach, read up on Nelson Mandela at a museum and checked out the V&A Waterfront. And there is still so much else to do and see. I am pumped! Later in the week we are checking out Jo'Berg.

Well, I gotta run. It's time for me to get changed for dinner. I know that I'm missing NY Fashion Week but this is SOOOOOO (yes, I needed all six o's) worth it. Besides, I'm getting a good dose of international style right where I am. Don't worry, I'll blog all about it.

Life is good. Rain and all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What'cha Wearing? Real Style in NYC

I tried to fight it but just couldn't any longer. So, I finally gave in to the urge of taking pics of fly folx on the street and posting them here on PPT. Ya know, finding out who they're wearing, what they do for a living and the like. Time Out New York was the first publication I recall doing this over a decade ago and now it is all over the blogosphere. It's not quite a 9 Questions For... (I will continue with that by the way) but a more organic, hey I just stopped this person on the subway kinda thing. As usual I'm aiming to put my own unique spin on things. The truth is, I am surrounded by way too many stylish people (both known and unknown) to not take a stab at this.

Kicking off What'cha Wearing? Real Style is a woman who understands that fashion isn't to be taken too seriously. Doesn't her blinged out Bugs Bunny tee shirt just make you wanna smile? Find out more about it and the rest of her look below:

Name: Qimmah Saafir

Hometown: Bronx, NY

Currently Resides In: Harlem, NY

Age: 27

Profession: Writer (Check out her dope blog here!)

Spotted: In a Rockefeller Center office building

Tee Shirt: Zara (was purchased about a year ago for fifty bucks or so)

Skinny Pants: H & M (purchased last year)

Shoes: Patent leather Birkenstocks

Gold Satchel: Botkier for Target (was purchased in Atlanta on a recent weekend trip)

Handcuff Necklace: Boutique in Brooklyn (check this site for a similiar style)

What made you put this on today? I wanted to wear a tee shirt that had some character to it and a character on it. (laughs)

Who's style are you feeling right now and why? Lately I'm into the style in the UK. Tee shirts worn under vests with skinny jeans, Converse sneakers and a fedora. [I'm into] comfortable chic.

Why did I wait so long to do this? What'cha Wearing? Real Style is going to be so much fun - HA! Especially since I stepped into 2008 this weekend and purchased a digital camera.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Testing. 1-2-3, Testing. (Make-up that is.)

Last season, my requests for NY Fashion Week tickets paid off two-fold. Not only did I score tix to shows as a blogger, but now publicists occasionally send me stuff for coverage here on People.Places.Things. Now because I work in publishing, I know this game very well but it is new for PPT. Recently, a publicist reached out to me about the make-up line: POP, in particular the Green Eye Cakes line. I decided to test it and post the results here. However unlike the mainstream women’s mags (with a couple of rare exceptions), I wanted to test the line on a woman who actually wears make-up regularly and has dark skin. I get so annoyed when I read a fashion/beauty pub and they feature a story with light, medium and dark skin and the dark skin example is Jennifer Lopez. What the crap is that about?!

Since I know this type of foolishness frustrates you as much as it frustrates me, I asked my girl Tress to test the line. Not only does she actually wear eye make-up pretty reularly (unlike moi), but she without a doubt has some of the prettiest skin…well, ever. No lie, her complexion gets noticed by men, women, people of all races, ages, on other continents even. We’ve been friends since 1990 and I’ve never known her to have a pimple or blemish. And since the folks that rep POP claimed the line was wearable for everybody, I figured I would see exactly who was included in "everybody". Ya dig? Why not give Tress the green eye shadow to test, right? It would have been so lame (read: predictible) to test on someone with light skin and/or eyes. Well, here is what Tress had to say:

Olive Eyes

"I found the shadow easy to use and good to mix and match."
I'm pretty indifferent about this one. But it is good to know that the products are user-friendly.

Linear Eyes

"I really like this one. I used a very thin brush, applied a bit of water and lined my eyes."
This one is my favorite too! The blue/green tint on the eyes is such a pleasant surprise, especially on a dark brown woman. I would love to see this paired with an all white look.

Naked Green Eyes

"The color comes off waaay too gold and unattractive."
Tress liked this one the least and I have to agree with her. The pigment is too strong for her complexion and forces the product to appear caked (excuse the bad pun) up on her eyelids - not cute. It could perhaps still work if blended with a darker shade to balance out the metallic brightness.

POP Green Eyes, $19, or Or, for even more POP Eye Cake goodies, visit their official website here.