Thursday, January 28, 2010

How real is True Beauty?

Peace My Beautiful Fashionistas,

Michaela Angela Davis speaking.

This past Saturday was well worth coming out; regardless of the on and off drizzles. Moderator Michaela Angela Davis sat along with Tricia Rose, Susan Akkad and Supermodel Veronica Webb to discuss Beauty, Bodies and Blackness at the Open Center in Midtown Manhattan.

Here's my point of view:

There are trends and opinions when it comes to what makes a woman beautiful. Then there are standards when we discuss Black Beauty. Who made fashion editors, designers and hip hop artists the oracles of opinion for they’re superficial reasons as to why Black women aren’t given rave status as being truly beautiful?

Music for African Americans was like a quick escape from the harsh reality of how we were treated and depicted. We’ve gone from field songs to gospel, to jazz, to the blues, to rhythm and blues all the way to hip hop. As our sound evolved, strange hands began to molest our craft in the name of the mighty dollar down to kicking in the backs of those who birth this planet.

Times ago when our music was played, we danced and celebrated the sound. Today, while we may still dance, there’s a celebration of the downplaying of our African American women as not being beautiful or just down right disrespected. What makes this concept amazing is that today young fans of the art are now settling for what’s in heavy rotation on our radio stations rather than having a voice for what is meaningful in the further development of the African American race , especially our Black women who gets dogged in so many ways. Even while they (hip hop artists) chant such lyrics as they do, the subliminal message still reeks of blatant male chauvinism and disrespect to not only Black women but women period, but harder on Black women.

There was a time when men sang of love, hope and the beauty of his woman. Today, when men rap, they glorify what they hate the most, their true lifestyles: The drama they get themselves into, the amount of baby mothers they may have and how much of a *itch their woman is. What happened to the ways of Teddy Pendergrass? Women felt their beauty when they listened to a man describe “them”.Have we become what they rap about? Has the respect for women or the lack thereof, come to this? What needs to be done now realizing love and respect is no longer an element to making music? As far as video casting goes, you may not get played in constant rotation if your concept consists of being too Black cast or as with any other television entity be it sitcoms, soap operas, commercials, etc.

Back in the times of antiquity, black women were trendsetters through the way they wore their eye shadow down to how and how much jewelry was worn. Their wigs were even copied by the common women. Style and Fashion has been in effect as far back as the days of Isis.

We have come so far toward modern civilization and have moved so far away from recognizing how beautiful we truly are. When the Afro was once the staple in defining who we were, it took maybe twenty or so years later for us to be told in so many words that to get ahead, you had to adopt the Caucasian appearance. For many African Americans, in order to get noticed for employment, you had to “look” the position to fill the position according to the standards of white America. That meant the straightening of our hair and numerous other things that influenced us to rid ourselves of our cultural identity, surgically.

Even in the fashion industry where black women were on the come up as role models for many little girls and sex symbols for men, their beauty was either underrated, doubted or ignored by many of the top fashion heads. According to Supermodel Veronica Webb, some make up artists wouldn’t have our shades of foundation, so models would get fewer pictures or get dismissed from the shoots early. Or they couldn't do our hair because they just didn't know how This was a major factor in how the famous Ebony Fashion Fair made its way to the homes of fashion forward African American women. This was due to the lack of resources for the African American models during fashion shows or photo shoots back in the 70s.

The beauty of African American woman has been shunned. We have been told we’re ugly in so many words or actions. Let’s call it being "fundamentally ugly"- a term as quoted by Susan Akkad, SVP Corporate Marketing/Diversity for Estee Lauder Cosmetics.

As we go deeper in defining how Black beauty had been ignored, we must also take a look at how we groom ourselves. There are different areas of beauty when comparing the white race against the African American race. While Caucasian women spend so much time trying to stay physically fit, African American women spend about the same time or even more on their hair. One can argue Chris Rock’s view on what is Good Hair while others say that that was once a discussion held only in African American homes. The one thing a lot of critics of his film say was missing was the history of how we have become disciples to maintaining and styling our hair. How can any young person find beauty in his/herself when there is either few or no one to represent natural beauty for them to see what they look like and to see how beautiful we can really be from how beautiful we really are.

While a lot of people hold fast to what defines outer beauty, Black Beauty still goes unnoticed in the eyes of major fashion houses and record labels. As soon as what was once noticed as an outlet to downplay the African American woman’s beauty and respect is annihilated, then can we liberate ourselves from the mold that never fitted us in the first place.

Here's to being fabulous, (with your beautiful selves)!

Peace Fashionistas,

During New York's Fashion Week, I was honored to have been in attendance for one of the hautest fashion presentations around the venue. Anitra Michelle, designer of Plutocracy displayed a range of must haves for Spring 2010. For those who have never heard of Plutocracy or Anitra Michelle, let me let you in on the newest face of some banging ready to wear styles.

From being an assistant stylist and pattern maker, she was blessed to work with brands for big names such as Vera Wang, Karl Lagerfeld and the haute Lanvin. To add notches to her belt of style and design, Anitra also work alongside the likes of Mr Nigel Barker, famous for America's Next Top Model judging panel and noted photographer.

It wasn't until sometime during 2009 where Anitra decided to exercise her design skills and bring us the ever so haute, Plutocracy which means, Wealth. Consumers and fashionistas need not to believe that to look wealthy you have to buy from European markets. We don't knock other designers but when it comes to the Spring 2010 collections from Anitra, the eagerness to see the pieces in stores are at a level where even Audrey Slater, Fashion Director for Redbook Magazine says, "Great, fresh new voice in fashion. Anitra has created what real women want to wear".

As with every fashion show or presentation, people from all corners travel to get footage and to showcase the collections viewed to the masses of where they come from. Stephany Greene of Fashionably DC said, " Plutocrcay's Spring 2010 collection was much better than what's showing in the tents. The line is gorgeous overall. Anitra has surpassed what's already in the market; she's ready for the larger venues."

I must agree. You don't find too many humbled designers that packs a huge WOW factor in their craft.

Locking in a space at the famous Bryant Park Hotel, I take you in to the world of Plutocracy

Starting out with beautifully crafted ruffle collars on dresses and jabot tiered shirts, the Plutocracy woman is boardroom ready; she's front row of the hautest fashion event; she's who the world wants to familiarized themselves with.

Using bright vibrant fabrics with an African twist, what a haute jumpsuit. Whether she's on the go throughout the City or breezing through a few boutiques, her presence speaks "fashionista"!

Even if the occasion calls for something very sexy yet tasteful, the perfect outfit would be the sheer skinny pants paired with a jabot tiered top and some platform peep toe pumps. I am a fan

Very fashion forward were the pant and short suits. So suitable for a holiday around the most beautiful continent Earth has to offer-Africa! Get ready NY!

Overall, I must contest, while I've seen so many shows, presentations, reviews, etc, women are now ready to be dressed in what they should be wearing. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you where to go to "look the part". We are all wealthy in our own way; let's look like it too!

Here's to being fabulous!

Peace Fashionistas,

The anticipation was in full force for the Arise African Fashion Collective. While standing in line, you can only notice the following that This Day Publications has created. After huge success and rave reviews for their Fall 2009 Collection, it's no wonder why the Arise show was the hautest venue at the Tents.

As the show began, there was this sense of hype that you couldn't explain. It felt like a breath of fresh air along with a fashion rush. Arise Promise of Africa featured four fabulous designers from some of the most stylish backgrounds throughout the continent: Jewel by Lisa Folawiyo, Eric Raisina, Folake Folarin-Coker of Tiffany Amber and David Tlale who all brought extreme fashion to the runway. while alot of designers have become predictable, who knew...?

Let's recap the show!

Jewel by Lisa Folawiyo: Very dainty with an edge. With the combination of beads, Swarovski crystals and sequins added to chiffon, lace, linen and taffeta, Jewel is for that "think out of the box" fashionista who isn't afraid of printed fabric embellished to its beauty. Her full skirt caused a minor Awe attack during the show. As intricately designed, you can really don one of her frocks and not bother with Jewelry; after all, it's Jewel!

Tiffany Amber by Folake Folarin-Coker: Elegance flowed on the runway with beautiful metallic fabrics followed by gorgeously draped textiles. What really added a bit of romanticism were the lace dresses with the printed layering fabric beneath. Most of the collection were in a sense dreamy yet, some new must haves. With the inspiration of an artist's take on Kaleidescopes, Folake made abstracts beautiful, if never before.

Eric Raisina: Layered ruffles and rouching on bold colors were an eye popper from start to finish. Each piece reminds you of (imagine, if you will) flamboyant Peacock feathers adding a bit of Model Star power to it with Chanel Iman gracing the runway. The "Honeymoon in Madagascar" approach brought forth some textiles that showed attention to detail. In a nutshell, Unique and absolutely Universal.

The last to show was South Africa's David Tlale: He brought beautiful beading and embellishment to his collection, tasseled hems, floral essence and something for the men to shop for as well. He gave us beauty with a one-shoulder trumpet gown with rhinestone seams and detail. This collection did not miss a beat from the beading to the knitting, down to Tyson Beckford being a dose of eye candy for the ladies.

What a fantastic show! and what a packed house it was backstage. There, we had the likes of Reggae Super star, Sean Paul, fashion's own Beth-Ann Hardison and Amerie.

Overall, after having gone to so many shows at the Tents, never have I had such anticipation to view a collection like the Arise Promise of Africa Spring 2010 Collection.

We can't wait til February!
Here's to being fabulous

All photo credits go to Jaecyne Howell of

for a complete view of all photos of the Arise fashion show, go to
Diata Wallace

Last Week's Spike Lee Birthday Tribute To Michael Jackson

Wow! As I approach the venue, I can hear Thriller being blasted throughout Flatbush Avenue. While making way to the festivities, you can feel the love, you hear the harmony and you see the togetherness. As I hold my neice on one shoulder and two step with her brother, our eyes were filling up with tears. I can't call why my neice was teary but there were tons of thoughts in my mind from as far back in my childhood to when I first heard any song by Michael. With hosts such as Spike Lee himself along with Tracy Morgan, Fab Five Freddy, Free and Ed Lover, they kept the crowd's vibe as celebratory as they could. You can't go to any event regarding the Messiah without seeing impersonators, imitators and so forth. The crowd sang Happy birthday (Stevie's rendition), they showed a caked that read Happy 51st Birthday Michael Jackson, Brooklyn Loves You. There were karaoke moments, call and response and much crowd participation. As the festivities went on, the rain stopped and the sun shined bright! It felt like Michael was appreciating it in spirit. Above all, that is one event that I look forward to attending again! Can't wait til Michael Jackson Day 2010. Stay Tuned!