I promised it so here it is, on the last day of our so-called Black History Month. Peep last year's list here. And do leave me a comment to let me know who I missed.
I honestly don't know too much about Ms. Jones, the Jamaican native who started her career as a model in New York City and Paris. Apparently she was a regular at infamous spots like Studio 54 and became a muse to cats like Andy Warhol back in the 70s. I most remember her for the 80s hit Slave to the Rhythym and her role in the 90s flick Boomerang. But chick is a bad ass fo' real. From sporting a short natural do when everyone wanted long, flowing locks to pushing the envelope with her androgynous look. Every now and again the game needs someone like Grace Jones to shake things up a bit.
I might catch some heat for including RiRi in the midst of this Chris Brown drama. Know that I don't take domestic violence lightly, not in the least. But one thing that Rihanna has demonstrated in her brief career is the ability to evolve and 50 years from now, folks will still be giving her props for being a trendsetter -- trust me. (Hopefully we'll be giving her props for having the strength to walk away too.) When she first came on the scene with her dancehall inspired Pon the Replay, she was heavily styled with the A&R prerequisites for an up and coming R&B singer: long, light weaves, Seventeen mag-friendly gear and an all-around middle-America ready image. It didn't take but a minute for Rihanna to get her mojo together and bring her own distinct fierceness to the world. From her short tresses (yeah, I admitted that she wasn't the first to sport this look but she took it mainstream) to her risk-taking garb. Baby girl looks so much more comfortable now with her rocker edged look then she did during her pop bubblegum debut. Now I sincerely hope she gets her mind right emotionally.
From her days as a Supreme to her memorable role in Mahogany, Ms. Ross has been the boss. When I look back at old pics of her in her hey day I'm in awe. She was bringing it long before artists has professional stylists to dress them. The feathers, the sequins, the platforms...I'm so jealous that her daughter Tracee has access to all this ridiculously fly gear. Even with all her over-the-top costumes, she was equally (if not more) beautiful in shots like the one above wearing a simple tee and jeans. Modern-day divas take note.
I have a confession: I LOVE The Cosby Show. And Denise was the Huxtable who made the show just a little more interesting for me every Thursday night during my formative years. See Lisa is one of those actresses who you know told the costume designer on set, "I got this". To me, she is a pioneer of the boho-chic era of the 90s to present. She never matched, never had perfectly coiffed hair yet still managed to look fly in every episode and whenever photographed out and about. Sure, she was/is pretty but lots of pretty girls still can't pull this off. Then Lisa and her ex-hubby Lenny went and passed that "it" factor to their daughter Zoe. Geesh.
Ja'Net played the beloved Willona Woods on the hit sitcom Good Times in the late 70s. Thanks to TVOne, I've been catching up on some old episodes and I admittedly want everything Willona (and Thelma) wore. Everything. I can't say that Good Times demonstrated amazing acting but Willona's character was probably my first introduction to a strong, independent Black woman on the small-screen (I wasn't around for Julia.). Plus, her character adopted which is one of my life long dreams. All the while she was as sexy as she wanted to be in her body hugging frocks and jumpsuits. HA! It's so good to see that Ja'Net is still out and about too.
Last Christmas, while my family sat around and ate second and third helpings of grub in between games of Taboo, I received a text message from a coworker about Eartha Kitt's death. Initially I was a little annoyed; it was Christmas and I was with my fam after all... But after I shared the breaking news with my loved ones, I actually appreciated the info. The older relatives present began to share with the younger ones about how gangsta Ms. Kitt was. My cousins and I listened in awe of stories about how she spoke out against the Vietnam War at The White House, causing her to lose a lucrative Hollywood career for standing up for what she believed in. Dang, they don't make 'em like that anymore. Sometimes I feel like my generation are such cowards (another post for another day). Anyhoo, Eartha demonstrated such tenacity and grace all the while demonstronating oodles of feminity and sex appeal. She showed that it is possible to rock a sick pair of heels with a booty hugging pencil skirt and still keep abreast of global affairs and be a voice to the voiceless. What a fabulous personification of "smart style".
R.I.P. Eartha Kitt.