Friday, October 31, 2008

Every Ghetto, Every City And Suburban Place I've Been

L-Boogie declared that traveling always took her back to growing up in Jersey. Well, I haven't traveled nearly as much as she has but I've done my share of country hopping (toot, toot) and like Ms. Hill, I always think about my family when I do. Like last month after one of my South African safari excursions, I couldn't wait to share the leopard chasing story with my big bro. (By the way, I gotta blog about that; it was a real doozy.) Or when I quit my job to live in London and though I was scared as all get out I remembered what my father always told me about what it meant to have our last name. (It was much more about tenacity and less about the slave name.) And when I saw how green the grass was in Scotland during the middle of winter I wanted my mother to be with me to witness it too. Those of you who read PPT regularly probably know how much I adore my fam but sadly I still take them for granted at times.

Last week, I along with most of you, received a painful reminder of how precious family is when Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother were found murdered. And then Monday when her nephew was found shot to death as well? Shucks, I don't even know how baby girl is coping to be honest.

I decided to share with y'all a little something I have found so much solace in over the last year or so - especially in times like this. Aside from my journal, I keep a gratitude book. Everyday or more like every few days, I write down five things I am grateful for. These things range from getting a raise at work to catching a train I was sure I would miss to having healthy godchildren. Yesterday, after crying on the bus thinking about Jennifer and her recent loss, I made a list of five things I am grateful for about mi familia. Sadly, I won't have them forever and I feel like giving them some roses to smell before it's too late. I highly suggest you do the same for your loved ones.

Sweet Sweet has been with me through it all. And no I don't sleep with him.

1 - I am grateful for my mother's undying support. It is so comforting to know that she is always praying for me.

2 - I am grateful that my nieces know their dad loves them. Hopefully, this will help them spot the real from the fake when they get older.

3 - I am grateful for still having Sweet Sweet. He was a gift from my dad about 25 years ago.

4 - I am grateful that although he has been deceased for 18 years, I am still benefiting from lessons my dad taught me when I was a child.

5 - I'm grateful that my mother has her own laundry room and garage. Sure they are both teeny tiny, but for most of my life she sacrificed not having either. No more pushing carts or lugging groceries for my mama!

6 - I am grateful for the pure joy that my nieces bring to my life. They never fail to make me smile. At five and seven years old, they still get excited over things like bubblegum and butterflies. The teenage years might change that though, huh?

7 - I am grateful for all the wonderful, hilarious and crazy memories my family has to reminisce about like my bro locking himself in the bathroom, the Plantation Inn in Selma, AL and sweat inducing visits to Aunt Julia's HOT house in the dead of summer.

I couldn't stop at just five. Betcha you can't either!

P.S. - I was gonna apologize that this post wasn't about "fashion" but I won't be doing that anymore. Style goes way beyond clothes and gratitude is ALWAYS in style.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beats, Rhymes and Fashion: Q-Tip, H&M and Realizing That NYC Still Rocks!

Thursday night. It was one of those times I am a little more thankful for living in NY and working in media. While I am a proud native New Yorker, I have a growing love/hate relationship with The Big Apple (the working/middle-class here is shrinking fast!) and I’ve already expressed my complicated feelings about my full-time gig here on PPT. But Thursday night made even a semi-jaded homebody like me cheese from ear-to-ear and remember once again how great this (dirty, overpriced, crowded) city is.

Around 6:20pm, my girl Big C asks me if I want to roll with her to a Q-Tip taping for VH1 Soul. WHAT?!?! I’m all about it even after she firmly tells me we have to get there by 7:30pm. Love Tip and the opportunity to hear him spit in an intimate setting is more than enough to make me hustle and finish up my work before we catch a taxi down to 26th Street. On our way there, I remember an email my friend Mija forwarded me about the H&M fiesta for Comme des Garcons. We plan to check that out afterwards. Then C also recalls a "little shindig at Bergdorf Goodman" that we can roll through too if we have enough time. Fashion parties usually have good gift bags. (The next day I read that the "little shindig" was actually the launch of Le Metier De Beaute cosmetics hosted by L.A. Reid. Ha!)

So C and I arrive to the VH1 taping about 15 minutes before Tip hits the stage. The show was dope. He gave the performance his all and while I steadily tapped my foot to his new joints (the upcoming album drops on Nov. 4th by the way) I kinda lost it when he did the classics. Check the Rhime (Q-Borough STAND UP), Award Tour (the soundtrack to my senior year of high school), Vibrant Thing (my first girlfriend getaway to MIA) - I, along with the rest of the place, was two-stepping like it was nineteen ninety something again. Margeaux Watson was there too and also covered the show on her new EW blog. Good, good times.

Before we made our way to the H&M function, one of C’s colleagues tells us about Stephen Hill’s birthday party later on that night. Dang, there is a lot of stuff going on in the city tonight I think to myself. Apparently Stephen’s bday festivities are always loads of fun and he often sings (yes, he sings) for his guests. We continue as planned though and make our way to the H&M party. For reasons I don’t care to go into, I end up doing H&M solo. I wasn’t by myself very long however; soon I see some familiar faces and start chatting up folks. The small but well edited collection is primarily black and white and is very true to Comme des Garcons. I see a couple of pieces I would consider buying but personally the line is nothing to blog much about.

Mr. Allen has styled Selita Ebanks and Takashi Murakami.

Veteran fashion scribe Lynn was a sweetheart and happily posed for my camera phone.

But seeing legendary fashion journalist Lynn Yaeger (that’s her above) and fabu stylist Alexander Allen (he’s sporting the sick Louis Vuitton gear) in the spot? Always worth blogging about. Lynn has been covering fashion for The Village Voice and other publications for over 20 years and never bites her tongue. Digs her. A lot. I bump into Alex pretty regularly but what made my encounter with him Thursday night special was the wisdom he so willingly shared with me. And it had nothing to do with fashion or styling and everything to do with gumption and faith. Thanks again Alex!

After H&M I decided to call it a night and headed to mi casa. Honestly, the H&M gift bag was just eh. And for the folks that hang out at "industry" parties all the time, this is probably the norm (or maybe even lame) but I haven’t really party hopped like this in a minute. For me, getting to hear a member of one of my all-time favorite groups perform and checking out an affordable new clothing line while catching up with genuine folks at a fashion industry party is a beautiful rarity.

All of this and I was still home by 11:30pm in time get a little phone QT in with Mr. TK before bed. Life is good.

Below are my favorite pieces from the Comme des Garcons for H&M Collection which is scheduled to arrive in stores early November.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beyond Barack: We Need To Be More Aware And Get Involved Folks

Other other day Mr. TK said something that has been on my mind kinda heavy since. He was frustrated about a business situation when he mumbled, "Sometimes knowing a little about something is worse than knowing nothing at all." After I let his statement marinate for a bit, I realized how much it related to the way I (and most of the folks I know) associate with politics. While it is fantastic that we are all on Team Obama and eat, sleep and dream about the presidential election, I think most of us have forgotten about the other politicians who have a strong impact on our lives as well. Everyone (even my five and seven year old nieces) knows the importance of voting next month. And it is certainly important - without a shadow of a doubt important. But guess what? The pothole on your block that took six months to get filled? A local politician tends to that. The disgust I often have when shopping in my local supermarket because of a lack of fresh(er) veggies and poultry? A local politician. Your kid's after-school program slipping with quality extra-curricular activities? A local politician yet again.

In light of Mr. TK's comment, I want to make it known that I am far from knowledgable about politics. But, over the past year or so, I have been much more aware of what is going on with the federal government simply because of Barack Obama. And yes, this is a beautiful thing. But, me not knowing who my councilman, congressman, borough president, school district president (it shouldn't matter that I don't have children), local judges, and even the folks who run my co-op board are is pretty pathetic. NEWSFLASH: Even after Obama gets to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, we can't go back to being zoombies. Having just returned from South Africa, I am reminded of how much most Americans take democracy for granted. (Yeah, our democracy is f**ked up but try voting in Jamaica.) Add to that I'm a Black American, and there is an entire extra layer of guilt for me because some of my folks truly fought for me to have this right. And I know they didn't intend for me to just exercise it every 4 years.

Michelle Obama was on Larry King a couple of weeks ago discussing how great it is that this election has gotten people engaged again. As if we have been awoken from a deep slumber. And now I really get what she meant. (Told y'all I have delayed reactions.) I have challenged myself and I challenge you to research your local politicians so that you can really be educated. And after November 4th, keep up with what elected officials are and aren't doing in your 'hood. Yes, I'm busy, you're busy -- everyone is busy. But we all make time for the things we find important.

We've been sleeping long enough.

Sorry I have yet again posted about something not related to "conventional style" but this is what is on my heart and mind to blog about today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

PPT EXCLUSIVE: Beyonce and Solange Rocking MINX - The Latest Nail Trend

Everyone is buzzing about Mrs. Shawn Carter’s new video for Single Ladies (I am predicting a lot of hush engagement rings will be doled out this Christmas…) so I managed to get the insider scoop on some behind-the-scenes action of Bouncy and her younger sis Solange. These days, they are both sporting a new development in nails called MINX. My girl, celebrity manicurist Lisa Logan gave me the 411 on MINX recently and admitted that she is quite excited about this creative treatment because of the versatility it offers. (Know that Lisa doesn’t easily excite.) Obviously both Beyonce and Solange have ridiculous schedules: shooting ad campaigns in Bermuda one week and videos in NYC the next. With MINX, Lisa is able to take her clients from sizzling gold metallic to striking platinum in mere minutes without sacrificing the nail’s health which is of utmost importance to her.

Basically, MINX is a film; not a polish so there is no smudging, no chipping and no drying time. This flexible film is applied with heat and pressure and also allows for logos, graphics and other designs to appear on the nail in much less time and effort than the airbrushing of the 1990s. Plus the nails don’t look fake. Ladies, you can even apply MINX to your toes to enhance a pedicure as Beyonce did with the Gold Lightening film in the pic below. Solange showed her support for our next president Barack Obama on her MINX nails (peep his image in the 5th pic from top) while shooting her latest video T.O.N.Y. How freakin’ cool is that? Guess we can expect a cameo from Cee-Lo in that upcoming T.O.N.Y. video, huh?

The "glove" above made an appearance in Beyonce's Single Ladies video...

For more information about how you can be the first person in your town to rock MINX, click here. Are you willing to try this latest nail trend? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Get Shorty: Victoria "Posh" Beckham's Fab Haircut

Happy Monday! Despite not accomplishing everything I wanted to this weekend (when do we ever), I had such a good time: ate at a cool Brooklyn restaurant that helped me relive my recent South African vacay, partied at a friend of a friend's bday celebration in a sexy little nightclub (I rarely party on the weekends), caught up with some of my favorite folks on the horn, worked on a story and even chillaxed for a bit. Pretty productive all in all.

But this post isn't about my weekend, it's about hair! Victoria "Posh" Beckham's tresses to be exact. With all that is going on in the world, the specifics of Victoria's new-ish haircut seems trivial but I really wanna know how you guys feel about it. I'll be honest that I was a tad late to learn of her cut since she debuted the look during Spring 2009 Fashion Week in NY when I was on the other side of the world. Never one to shy away from risks, Mrs. Posh has long been a chameleon when it comes to her strands. Some people are still debating on whether she or Rihanna are responsible for the infamous bob trend of 2007. (I'm leaning towards Victoria myself.)

Well, the reason for this post is as much as I'm feeling Beckham's new 'do, many are saying that she went too short this time around. I beg to differ. And something tells me that before long, copycats galore will be rocking the same cut. True trendsetters are rarely understood in the beginning. Read what the glamazon had to say to London's Telegraph about her hair:

"You know, I just like to change things up. I get bored very, very quickly and I just fancied a change."

I so dig this chick.

What do you think about this new cut? Love it or loathe it? Leave a comment and let me know.

P.S. - I must come clean and admit that I might be bias since I cut my hair super short earlier this year. Too bad I don't have a hairstylist on call like I'm sure Posh does to help me on bad-hair days like today...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Najwa Moses Fly Accessories Line: Add A Little SALTE To Your Wardrobe

You know that feeling you get when someone you know, and have known for a minute, does something real good for themselves? It’s kinda nice right? Well, I’m feeling like that about a few of my folks as of late. One of my best friends D (I’ve known him since we were 14) just became a father on Wednesday. He’s going to be a great dad and I’m so proud of the man he has become. And then my girls Nicole and Cocoa just purchased homes. (This is the second for Cocoa!) I am always proud of my friends but sometimes there is an extra sense of pride for the amigos, ya know?

Well, my girl Najwa Moses (that's her in the upper left corner) hit me last week about her fly jewelry line and I had that feeling yet again. Najwa and I went to F.I.T. together many moons ago and she has been creating her own path in the fashion and media lanes for a few years now. Her latest baby, SALTE, includes a collection of bold hand-painted, one-of-a-kind earrings, necklaces and other funky accessories. She has given each style cute names like "the blogger", "the stylist", and "the publicist". I like the idea of pairing her unique designs with an understated white tee and blue jeans or even a simple black turtleneck and slacks. Prices start at just $25.75.

So check out Najwa’s SALTE collection and this weekend be sure to tell someone you care about how proud you are of them.

*** Today is the last day to register to VOTE in New York so please, please do so if you haven't already. And if you are registered, encourage someone else. Yes, I'm begging. Click here, for more info.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My All-Time Favorite Hip Hop Moments

This really has nothing to do with style or fashion. Sue me. I was inspired by the VH1 Hip Hop Honors that aired tonight. I couldn’t watch it but a couple of my peeps went to the taping last week and said it was pretty good. I’m sure I’ll catch it later. Hip hop has been with me for most of my life and although I rarely listen to new stuff lately, I have some very fond memories of the genre. Every generation has a golden era and loves to harp on the good ‘ole days, right? I recognize there are some dope artists on the come up - most of whom I’m not up on, but right now I just want to reminisce.

(in no particular order)

2004, Nas and Olu Dara at VH1 Hip Hop Honors, NYC - Since I mentioned VH1 already, I figured I should start with this one. Nasir and Olu Dara crushed stereotypes about Black father/son bonds when they did Bridging the Gap live for what I believe was the first time ever. I darn near cried watching this performance. The love and mutual respect between the two of them was palpable. Nas told us about the complicated relationship with his dad on Poppa Was a Playa so to witness their chemistry as two musicians on stage was incredible.

~1985, Jamaica, Queens - I scored my very first autograph from DMC of Run-DMC while walking with my mother to the store. Living in southeast Queens, I would go on to see the trio countless times later on. (Jay, R.I.P., apparently dated to a girl who lived in my neighborhood.) I was over autographs shortly after that but I will always cherish that first one. D wrote: Go to school don’t be a fool. I know that is beyond corny now but I was a freakin’ kid and that autograph stayed on my bedroom wall for months.

1997 or 1998, Philly - One of my best friends went to the University of Pennsylvania so Penn Relays was a must-do every spring during my college days. I saw the best concert (and I’ve been to some pretty good ones) of my life for all of ten dollars , at most twelve. Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, The Lost Boyz, Redman, The Fugees - there was even a couple of dancehall artists thrown in the mix. The line-up might not seem that hot but the energy each act brought to the stage was the best part. (Tress, help me out on the year. It’s all a blur now, lol.)

Spring 2002, Guinea, West Africa - During my first trip to the motherland, I got into a pretty intense convo with some local dudes about the then Jay-Z and Nas beef. This was such an eye-opening experience for me. Sure, I’d heard/read rappers describe the love they got overseas. But to witness in person the passion these cats in Guinea (a very small, underdeveloped country by American standards) had for the artform was priceless.

Summer 2008, Central Park, NYC - The 25th Anniversary of Video Music Box Concert was without a doubt one of my highlights this summer. And it was free! Anyone who grew up in the NY tri-state area in the ‘80s and/or ‘90s understands the sincere love and admiration I have for VMB. Ralph McDaniels was honored for his contribution to hip-hop and NYC and there were performances from Nice and Smooth, Special Ed, The Lost Boyz (Hey, I’m from Queens.), Naughty by Nature, Chubb Rock (He murdered the stage!), and a bunch of old-school acts my brother would have loved to see. By the way, in the early days of VMB, Uncle Ralph played videos from Madonna (yes, Madonna) to Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. It wasn’t solely hip-hop.

I have many, many more but I gotta go. What are your fave hip hop moments folks?

P.S. - Why does this post feel so Brown Sugar-ish?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Halle Berry Is Going To Have Another Baby?

Halle Berry is giving birth to another bambino soon! Well, sorta kind of. The Oscar winner isn't actually pregnant (that I know of) but WWD reported yesterday that she plans to launch a fragrance in conjunction with Coty. Halle by Halle Berry is scheduled to hit stores in March of 2009 and will be fairly affordable by my standards. Prices are reported to start at $17 for .5 oz.; maxing at $35 for 1.7 oz. A shower gel and deodorant spray are also going to be in the mix.

Top notes are supposed to be Sicilian bergamot, fig leaves and pear blossom; the heart is of freesia petals, hibiscus flower and ultra mimosa, and the drydown is of sandalwood, driftwood, cashmere musk, olibanum absolute and sensual amber. I have no idea what that will smell like. It seems like a lot though. I think I'm sticking to my fave oil, Kai. Anyhoo, the new mother had this to say about her scent: "I have a baby and this baby -my fragrance- is about to be born. If I'm going to call it Halle, it had better be something that I'm really invloved with and proud of."

You guys know how I feel about celebrity designed lines. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Halle is the face/name behind this new scent and not really "creating" anything. Coty produces half (give or take) of all the other celebrity scents on this very saturated market. When I was studying at FIT, there was actually a major called Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing. This is a very serious (and lucrative) business and takes much more skill than 'add a little more vanilla here'. But, I cannot be mad at Halle for this venture at all. Kudos to her for making (more) moves.

By the way, if you are really into fragrances, be sure to check out my friend Barney's blog. He gives the lowdown on all things scent related.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Know What Men Like, Part Dos

So as promised, below is the second part of the candid convo with my friend Anslem in a quest to find out what men truly think about what women wear. In part one, we got an idea of what he liked (sweatpants!) and didn’t like (make-up) among other interesting tidbits. We also played a game of Rate This Look. Here are Anslem’s responses to pictures of some women who generally have a style I dig. Anslem didn’t always agree. Check it out:

Michelle Obama: Michelle falls into like the Wall Street type and that can be extremely sexy. She’s an older woman and she definitely has it going on.

Vanessa Simmons: She looks approachable here. To me, this is sexy even though she’s just wearing a [basic] top and jeans with her hair in a ponytail under a hat.

Rihanna: Rihanna is tricky because she has a lot of different styles. Sometimes she is too much for me. The yellow jeans look is the cutest. I could talk to a girl wearing that. And the white dress on the right is extremely elegant. The haircut works for her too, she has a big forehead.

Lauryn Hill: She just has a beautiful face. Some might argue that she looks like a little boy here [with the hat and scarf] but she has gorgeous lips, eyes and complexion. I knew her style better back in ’98 when she was wearing locks but she’s still an attractive woman.

Kelis: She can be a hot mess sometimes. To me, this is not attractive. She’s trying too hard. That side hike is too high. Sometimes different isn’t good. I had to hold my laughter in when Ans responded to this one. I happen to love Kelis in this dress!

Gabrielle Union: This dress is form-fitting but not too much. She’s wearing it well; the color compliments her skin. When she smiles, her whole face lights up. By the way, Gabby is still my girl crush.

That’s all folks. Some of Anslem’s responses were kinda expected: confidence is sexy, trying too hard isn’t. Ya know, the sorta thing men say "on record" all the time. However other stuff really surprised me: sweatpants and long , flowy skirts can be a turn-on, over-the-top lingerie (often) is not. How many times have I freaked out in the past because (ahem) I didn’t have on a "matching set"! Geez…

Were you surprised by any of Anselm’s thoughts? Why or why not? I wanna know so leave me a comment and share your own opinions por favor.

I Know What Men Like (Garter Belts and Bright Red Lipstick ? Nope. Sweatpants? Absolutely!) - Part 1 of 2

I hoped that title would get your attention. Truth is, I interviewed one man, Anslem (at length) to get his opinion on what women wear - from our hair to our shoes. I got this post idea while having dinner with Mr. TK one night and him calling me out (he’s good for that) about looking another woman up and down. I know, I know: shame on me. But, it got me to thinking that women often check out what other women are wearing much more than men notice what we’re wearing. And just in case you still think that your crush will notice your Nine West pumps are actually Christian Louboutin knock-offs, I interviewed my friend Anslem to prove you wrong. (Oh and if your crush does notice the difference well, you might need to re-evaluate some things…)

I interviewed Anslem because I think he’s honest, has his ish together and is representative of many guys I (and you) know. But again, he’s one man. I cannot confirm that his opinions reflect those of your man or even the man you want to be your man. But, if you continue reading ladies (and gents since I do have some male readers - what up Barney!), I guarantee you’ll learn a few things. I surely did. And by the way, Anslem holds down a blog himself called Naked With Socks On where he skillfully writes about everything from politics to relationships. Good stuff.

So, I started the interview off by asking Anslem what female celebs always make him do a double-take in the style department. Here’s what he said:

Kerry Washington: She glows. And she has a very warm smile and a cute overbite but it works for her. Her teeth are sparkling white.

Jill Scott: She seems real through her voice and her words. She carries herself very well for a full-figured woman.

Jada Pinkett Smith: She’s getting older but she is even more attractive. When I think of her, I think of strength and confidence.

Ciara: Surprised? Me too. Seems Anslem is mucho impressed by Ciara’s maturity and grace. He claims that she is very level-headed for her age. He also said he likes the way her style has evolved from tomboyish teenager to classy young woman.

And although he didn’t mention her during our interview, apparently Res makes him do a triple-take…

Next, I had him tell me his preferences on a few things that almost always seem to come up in grown folks convos…

natural hair vs. relaxed hair - Natural hair is his weakness -- locks, twists, afros, he loves them all. He also appreciates a woman with a short cut. There is a certain confidence that she evokes he says.

lingerie vs. a wife beater and boy shorts - Both have pluses according to Anslem but those over-the-top va, va voom corset, garter belt situations make him think of hookers. Which he goes on to admit might not be a bad thing depending on his mood, but generally isn't his preference.

heels vs. flats - He's not opposed to flats but thinks woman strut differently when they're wearing heels. There is even something sexy about the 'clicking' noise they make.

make-up vs. well, no make-up - I wanna know what you look like says Ans. He no likey the foundation and powder plus he thinks it makes a woman seem like she's trying to cover up something.

I also found out his biggest turn-ons and turn-offs:

turn-offs- [tight jeans/pants that create] muffin-tops
- panty waste (You gotta read his hilarious post about this.)
- ashy feet/heels in sandals

turn-ons- sweatpants (without words or logos on the butt area) - Anslem says, "If you can attract me when you’re wearing sweats, then when you’re really dressed…"
- high heels - They add to her walk, they raise her bottom, draw attention to her calves. Who knew that heels alter the way our butts look????
- long, flowy skirts (The way it moves around the body is what gets him.)

So it looks like men (or at least men who think like Anslem) certainly do notice what we wear and how we wear it but couldn’t care any less about labels or even trends. The fact that you managed to score the same clutch that Rihanna carried during Milan’s Fashion Week certainly might impress your girls. But that cutie pie you’ve been eyeing in the gym? Not so much. And please know that I’m in NO WAY encouraging anyone to dress (solely) for a man’s attention. How lame would that be? Mr. TK loathes my animal print rain boots but that surely hasn’t stopped me from wearing them. But, I do hope that everyone keeps this post in mind when agonizing over what to wear on that date with the cutie pie from the gym. I’m not suggesting you wear sweats (although that just might be what got you the date), but don’t fret because you don’t have a new DVF wrap dress to rock either.

Ladies (and gents), what do you think? Did you learn anything? Are Anslem’s views similar to yours or those of your significant other? Discuss, please. And Anslem, muchas gracias for your patience and letting me pick your brain!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for part 2!