[Part 1] – Top 10 Black Fashion Movie Moments

1. Boomerang – Decadence & Glamour

The first time I watched Boomerang I distinctly remember wanting to become some kind of executive when I grew up. Marcus Graham, played by Eddie Murphy made it seem like the coolest job ever. He was a hot-shot, advertising executive that lived the ultimate player’s life – then he meets his match in Robin Givens – a major man – eater. The film  was set in the 90’s where men happily went shopping for suits and fine touches like cashmere scarfs and silk ties.  The women of the time wore clip-on earrings, pearl choker’s, shoulder pads and hair was teased and feathered whether it flowed down your back or was shaped like a mushroom (see Halle Berry).

Other notable moments – anytime Strangé, played by Grace Jones came into the frame & John Witherspoon’s mushroom shirt/jacket/tie “you got to coordinate” moment.

Get into these looks.

2. Love Jones – Dark & romantic minimalism. A poet meets a photographer – swoon. Nina Mosely, played by Nia Long was so chill. She wore a mixture of textures in muted color palettes of black, white,  brown with very little jewelry and always a dark, vampy lip.

Spoiler alert – Music by Maxwell… that’s all!~

3. Mahogany – Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams. Chile…get your life!

The movie was about Tracy, played by Ross leaving Chicago to become a GREAT fashion designer. She ends up in Rome, gag! This movie should be required viewing at every fashion school.

One of the most inspiring songs ever written is from this movie: (Do You Know Where You’re Going To).

True Story: Diana Ross designed some of the costumes in Mahogany

How these so-called “diverse and progressive fashion institutions” continuously miss the significance of this film..

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4. B.A.P.S

If white people can have Dumb & Dumber, and Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion then dammit WE GON’ HAVE B.A.P.S. & Soul Plane!!! Black people, yall gonna let Halle be great!

Anyway, these “Atlanta Diva’s” started out a little rough around the edges, yet remained true to themselves; and after an intuitive trip to Los Angeles they cleaned up pretty nicely.

Listen, Halle was committed to this character.” Billz

Honey, All I know is Halle had ALL the vinyl suits!! Not to mention the most lavish hairstyles and gold teeth!

5. Carmen Jones – The pioneers on which all of the above and myself stand. Carmen Jones was SO mean that in 1992 “the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.The filmed starred Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte, Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll and others. The costume and musical numbers are so well executed I can’t understand why we don’t have more musical films today.

I hope you enjoyed. So often I see post that list the top fashion films and they never include a black and/or minority film.

As if we don’t have careers, interest, or impact within the fashion industry. So I decided to compile my own list. These films continue to inspire and motivate me.

Come back for Part 2 later in the week. Leave a comment an let me know your favorite Fashion Films starring African Americans!

My Fair Lady

I swear it’s taking everything in me not to pass out. I’ve already had a morning cup of joe, later a Red Bull, but I am STILL very much exhausted. The last 2 weeks have been a series of transitions. After Mercury came out of retrograde, praise Jesus, things sped up in my life very QUICKLY. I literally went from having causal conversations about opportunities and/or ideas to them coming together in a matter of days.

Thursday before last I went from a TV pilot call back in midtown Manhattan to shoot a pick – up shot for the ID Channel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, then went BACK into the city, this time the Lower East Side to perform for the 2nd night in the play I was in. I didn’t get home to somewhere near midnight and was up at 5:30am the next day to continue working my new freelance job, Social Media Manager for Black Enterprise. Ironically, the girls I was an afternoon nanny for are upstate for the summer, so the new job was certainly divine timing. I told myself I would not worry about what was next, that God had it all under control and he showed up and showed out! But I am tired. The first week of the new job I did remotely as I was still a nanny and had to perform in the play. This week was my first week in Black Enterprise’s Madison Ave offices. I haven’t worked in a “typical” office since moving to NYC in 2005 and honestly its been so refreshing and certainly challenging with all the new responsibility. I had so many meetings last week at one point I was looking like…

 
 I am in such a bigger position than I have ever been in before and am adjusting, as best as I can.

Am I overwhelmed, YES!

Is it challenging, YES!

Am I enjoying it, YES!

I have to take this opportunity and run with it,  it’s just God taking me from the background to the forefront!

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This Friday I’ll be doing extra work for the new Martin Scorsese – Mick Jagger HBO Pilot. I am pretty excited. Though I am simply a “subway rider” my little dress I got fitted for is super cute and they’ll be blowing my hair out for full Afro realness! After this project though, I am done for the summer, acting wise and will focus on my new position with Black Enterprise and also take some classes: on-air hosting and voice-overs.

My sister and I made it over to see the Kara Walker – “A Subtlety” aka the Marvelous Sugar Baby exhibit at the old Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg last weekend. Smelled like straight sugar and to see the mammy sphinx in all her glory was…remarkable.

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These sad little sugar babies, and the sugar baby corpses (not pictured) were…disturbing to say the least. Nevertheless, remarkable.

Welp, that’s all for now! In the meantime…

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Flawless Has Many Faces…

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I’ve started rehearsals for the multimedia performance of Raw Death, the true story of Anthony Ray Hinton. I play his new defense attorney, as “Ray” was without representation for 13 years. This is the first project that I’ve really had to research. Its rather disappointing reading over his deposition and seeing the amount of suppressed evidence that never made it into the court room. Ray has been on death row now about 3 decades for a crime he did not commit. The evidence fully supports this. His case was recently heard at the Supreme Court which did rule that Ray had “constitutionally deficient” counsel. I am honored to be bringing awareness to this case and hopefully aid in getting some discussion going about our criminal justice system and the racial bias it continues to perpetuate. Below is a picture and a couple of videos of our recent rehearsal. Karen, with the fro is playing Ray with the writer and director Vassilea Terzaki.

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Other than preparing for this project and finishing up the NBC Comedy Playground one, I’m just chill-in like a villain. Enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having and preparing for my 1st Vparty.

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No matter what comes your way, enjoy the day!

 

 

 

Editorials I Love – Elle, November 2012

It’s consistently been over 60 degrees in New York and with this long holiday weekend, I decided to switch out the drag (wardrobe)!!! Plus my mother sent me a huge box of clothes, shoes and other accessories and I’m excited to revamp my look for Spring. I actually love when the Seasons change, any season. I love going through my old clothes and seeing what stays, what goes, what has lasted year after year and deciding what new to add to my wardrobe. In any event, I was at the laundro, flipping through an old issue of Elle magazine and fell and in love with this spread. Leather vest, jewel tones, bold patterns, decadent jewelry and fringe…its everything a girl needs, Enjoy!

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Style Icon – Louise “Weezy” Jeffeson

Recently I brought this subject up with my sisters in our daily group iPhone chat, and these fools, not you Britt, thought that I was talking about Weezy F. Baby.

STYLE ICON + Lil Wayne =

Anyway, it was our dad that introduced me to the Jefferson’s. I can hear his laugh traveling throughout the house at whatever antics the Jefferson’s were getting into that episode.

Louise, who was played by Isabel Sanford, had an iconic voice: abrasive, rough, and loving. It always stuck out to me, as did her clothes. Weezy had a wardrobe filled with essentials.

Side-bar: I really don’t think costume and wardrobe designers get the recognition they deserve. Creating a look for a character takes a lot of time and research. They also have to read and interpret the script, and consider locations, weather, etc. Plus you know designers were not sending over boatloads of clothes for actors to wear back then. But I digress.

Weezy’s wardrobe consisted of a mixture of pants and skirt suits, kaftan’s – both short and long, trench coats, layered necklaces, hooped and stud earrings and stacked rings. She also wore a variety of fabrics including jersey dresses, furs, and chiffon.  To top it all off her manicure’s were always fresh and she wore a variety of hairstyles.

Unfortunately I was not able to get any images of Louise, solo in her drag, however the pics below will give you a sense of what I’m saying. With Spring here and trends like stacking and layering not leaving anytime soon its now very easy and inexpensive to incorporate these look ideals into any wardrobe. Things like kaftan’s and trench coats will be plentiful as many thrift and vintage stores are carrying these right now. You can also try a trench coat with ruffles or kimono style jackets along with a kaftan or two.

Nevertheless, enjoy Weezy and be sure to check out the bonus video of Louise To George Jefferson: “Nigger Please” and a video of the late, great, Sherman Hemsley on “Weezy” Jefferson. They called her “Queen B” back in the day!

 

 

Black Jews Then & Now

A few weeks back, for whatever reason, former Bad Boy artist Shyne was on my mind. His song “Bonnie & Shyne” was in constant rotation in my house when it came out. The video was everything, as ghetto-fabulous as it could get. Cars, furs…you know all this abundance and still living in the projects… #shade.

Nevertheless, I was going through some left-over pictures from my library visit last week, you can click here to check that post out, where I snapped this image of Black Hebrew Jews shot by James Van Der Zee during the1920’s.

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This led me down a rabbits hole, reading articles on the history of the Black Jews and how they came to inhabit Harlem. Somehow I came back around to Shyne and I remembered reading that he converted to Judaism a few years ago. I also remember seeing pictures of him gallivanting around Paris Fashion Week with Diddy in his new-found garb.

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Gearing up for my exotic trip to Istanbul next week has me thinking about traditional dress, and how I can incorporate some of these looks into my own. As I conceptualize my travel wardrobe I can’t help but be inspired by the looks they’re wearing. Satin jackets, variety of hats, and shawls all essential wardrobe staples.

I especially love the below shot of Shyne. There is something kinda sexy about him in this costume, all layered up and lighting a cigar; minus the shoes. He’s even in on the long-running pattern on pattern trend!

The rapper Shyne lights a cigar before the world premiere of his short films in Jerusalem, Israel

Bonus…Bonnie & Shyne  video.

 

Books, Bags, Boots & Baubles

Who wants to dress better, make more money, and excel in their respective field…MEEEEEE!!!

Thanks to my parents gifting me with a ZARA gift card over the holidays I was able to grab a pair of boots, and a new bag. Both of which I was in dire need of. I also want to increase my knowledge of acting and asked for some books I had saved in my AMAZON wish-list since grandmother was a girl. So my parents got me Sandford Meisner on Acting & Stella Adler – The Art of Acting . As an avid reader I decided that THIS year I’d choose 12 books to read over the course of the year, instead of just randomly reading books and barely finishing them. This month I’ve been reading Sandford Meisner on Acting, Acting As a Business,  and I ‘m also re-reading The Pimp Game by Mickey Royal . I’ve learned that scared money, don’t make no money so as I transition into a full – fledge, profit earning entrepreneur I have to take the reins and learn as much as possible about acting and business in general. Hell, Stella has to get her groove back by her own-self!

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In another entrepreneurial move I opened up an online accessories boutique. Introducing Savage Gazelle at Kitsy Lane where I specialize in well-known brands and emerging designers. Accessories have always been my thing, so much so that a few years ago I invested in this jewelry armoire. Very similar to one my mother has had since I was a child. So naturally when the opportunity to open this shop came about, I jumped at the chance. I understand how important it is to have income coming in from multiple sources, and doing work that you love. I have spent years doing work that is unfulfilling while being underpaid and underutilized and those days are over! However, I can honestly say that those particular positions allowed me to grow, and strengthen my commitment and focus on what God has always had in store for me.

Below are some recent acquisitions to my shop…I encourage you to join my email list to be notified of sales, coupons and virtual trunk shows!

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I’m just having a ball, learning and growing. Here’s to 2014 and my world domination.

You’ve been warned!