Saturday, February 27, 2010

In the Trenches: Vogue Goes Military

Models Liya Kebede, Isabeli Fontana, Lily Donaldson, Sasha Pivovarova
for VOGUE Magazine Military Issue
Photography: Mario Testino
Fashion Editor/Stylist: Marie-Amelie Sauve
Makeup Artist: Linda Cantello
Hair Stylist: Oribe

Carrying on with with the trend of military inspired garments, fashion makes a nod to military in a more literal approach with the March issue of American Vogue. Michael Jackson-like looks like that of the ever present embellished Balmain jackets have been traded in for more muted hues and looks reminiscent of traditional attire. The same can be seen with Rose Cordero's Vogue Paris shoot which I posted here. It's interesting to see the different approaches taken with the same concept in French versus American issues of the magazine.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Daily Tea: Focus on #1

“If you aren't good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you'll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren't even giving to yourself.”
Barbara De Angelis, American researcher on relationships and personal growth

It's cliché to say that loving yourself is the greatest love of all. Sometimes we forget that. In the quest to find love or in the process of devoting time to family and friends, we often forget to love ourselves. If we seek to be generous and giving, we often overextend. Being selfish is not ideal but being selfless has its pitfalls as well. Take time for yourself. Catch a matinee alone. Grab some ice cream and watch a little television in your pajamas. Schedule a spa day or a quiet dinner for yourself. Whether it's retail therapy or just thirty minutes in a dark room, we all need time to learn about ourselves. Take the same approach to loving others when loving yourself. Start a journal or read your favorite book. The way you treat yourself will determine how well you treat others.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pure Imagination: Abiah Hostvedt

Model Abiah Hostvedt
for Imagine Magazine
Photography: Bin You

for Wonderland Magazine
Photography: Benny Horne
Styling: Way Perry

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Video Premiere: Kanye's "Coldest Winter"

Kanye West
Coldest Winter [Video Premiere]
Director: Nabil Elderkin

One big ball of awesomeness! The video mix of the song actually works better than the original. Despite his awful attitude, Kanye is truly a visionary in the music game and can never be confined to the box of hip hop.

Compose Yourself: Mail Order Hugs

If you thought your snuggie made you look foolish, wait til you get that Hug-e-gram in the mail! At least snuggies are functional. These hug-e-grams are the most foolish invention I have ever seen. Mickey Mouse hands on a flexible piece of foam? How long did that take to come up with?
Better enjoy your hug-e-gram. If you are seen wearing it, it will pretty much guarantee that you will never get anything more than a hug again. haha

If you wanna risk it, order your own from the website HERE.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oscars Nix Best Song Performances

Ok, so I haven't done an Oscar post. Mostly because I haven't seen most of the nominated films. Therefore, I can't really make a judgment about possible winners.
I do find the changes to the nomination process and the telecast interesting. For the first time in Academy Award history, the Best Picture category has a whopping ten nominees. The category usually recognizes the five films that voters find to be the best and typically caters to drama. However, it has been expanded to accommodate different types of films. The Golden Globes have been splitting the drama category from the musical/comedy category for years but the Oscars have typically been reserved to only "serious" films. Fantasy films, animated films, musicals and comedies are often shut out of Oscar glory. There are instances such as Lord of the Rings and Chicago where the top film happens to not be a traditional drama, but in most cases the winning film tackles a serious topic or is carried by a stunning dramatic performance by the cast.

This year the Academy Awards has set out to include films that normally wouldn't be included. The moving animated film Up is nominated as well as Blind Side which was not necessarily critically acclaimed but became a massive box office success because of word of mouth promotion and Sandra Bullock's performance.
The Oscars and other award shows are losing viewers and there seems to be a disconnect between what people want to watch and what the shows offer. The Oscars have always been a stuffy affair but they have made a conscious effort to liven things up with more popular hosts and big opening numbers. This is the same process that has happened with the Grammy awards. A show that used to be for adults has been influence by its audience, paving way to honor more contemporary artists and spotlight star power. Popular artists who are heralded as icons have been shut out in the past. Therefore, allowances have been made to honor Dance, Hip Hop, contemporary R&B, and Pop. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Janet Jackson have fewer Grammys than their contemporaries not due to lack of talent but due to the fact that a category didn't really exist for them. These days, popularity and record sales factor into the process more than before. How else would we explain Taylor Swift's album of the year trophy. She had the top selling album but certainly not the best creatively. Art is subjective though. We could argue all day about what should be valued.
The same has happened with the Oscars. Meryl Streep may see her films being nominated alongside blue aliens more often.
As I said, I understand the need to focus on image and to connect with viewers and consumers. Fashion magazines and cosmetic campaigns do the same thing by casting celebrities instead of real fashion models. They have to sell a product. They have to keep people watching. Though I see the motivation, I'm still not sure how I feel about it overall. Especially with the Oscars...

In other Oscar news, this year's show will not feature performances of the Best Song nominees.
[Excuse me while I go and shout expletives]
We all know that songs can make a film what they are. Titanic's "My Heart Will Go On", Breakfast at Tiffany's "Moon River", and Purple Rain's title track have been embedded in our heads as part of the film landscape. In the past years, the Best Song category has been tweaked many times. Original performers have been pushed aside for big name stars to sing instead (Beyoncé, Antonio Banderas) and more recently the songs have been shortened to medleys to take up less time. What are they doing to my awards show??? I now see the frustration that a friend of mine had with the Grammys. I don't mind that the Oscars are stuffy. They have always been and I have liked them anyway. What else do you expect from Jeremy Irons and Helen Mirren?
This year's song nominees come from French movie Paris 36, The Princess and the Frog, Crazy Heart, and the musical Nine.
Hopefully, they bring the music back one day.

[READ more about the Best Song performance absence HERE]

Model City channels Rat Pack

Models Nelson Nieves, Ibrahim Baaith, Wendell Lissimore, Shawn Sutton, & Salieu Jalloh
Cast of Centric's Model City
for UPTOWN Magazine
Photography: Sumner Dilworth
Styling: Memsor Kamarake

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Get into Marsha Ambrosius

Marsha Ambrosius, formerly of Floetry, has released a mixtape as a teaser for her upcoming album. It's been reported that her official first single will drop at the top of April, with the album coming in June. The mixtape Yours Sincerely includes features from Glenn Lewis and Angelique.
Glass is my absolute favorite cut from the effort. The lyrics about heartbreak and fragility...I went in...The song really hit home. Anyway, if you loved the smooth sounds of Floetry you will love this. Check it out!

[DOWNLOAD Marsha Ambrosius Yours Sincerely Mixtape]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Solange Covers Groove Theory

with Brooklyn rock band Dirty Projectors
Tell Me [Originally sung by Groove Theory]

Little Miss Solo sang the hit by 90s band Groove Theory at Opening Ceremony’s party for the opening of their store at the Ace Hotel this weekend. You have the love the more fun and free Knowles sister.
[On a side note, is it me or are they deliberately cutting the other female vocalist out of the camera shot?? haha]

My Icons: Blue Eyes

Icon: Frank Sinatra, American jazz legend

“I'm not one of those complicated, mixed-up cats. I'm not looking for the secret to life.... I just go on from day to day, taking what comes.”
“Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.”
“I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day.”
-Frank Sinatra

Sinatra, the son of Italian immigrant parents, came to personify the big band sound and the image of male sophistication. After getting his start in the swing era, he became one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful artists of all time. Always a social being, Sinatra fraternized with various celebrities as well as President John F. Kennedy and was a founding member of the famous Rat Pack.

Sinatra's mark was not only on the music scene. He established quite a career in the film industry. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity, and he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Man with the Golden Arm. Sinatra was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1985 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. Sinatra also won eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Trustees Award, Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Below are clips of two films in which he starred. Both of them have been remade starring today's equivalent actors in terms of star power and sophistication.

Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Remade in 2004 starring Denzel Washington, Liev Schrieber, and Meryl Streep

Ocean's Eleven (Ending Credits, 1960)
Remade in 2001 starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, and Andy Garcia

Sinatra lived a rather troubled personal life and suffered from depression and alcoholism. His turbulent love life was also a source of ire for him. His classic song I'm a Fool to Want You was co-written by him and inspired by his whirlwind love affair with stunning film goddess Ava Gardner. Gardner, known for her rampant affairs, broke his heart. They were the Ben and JLo or Brangelina of their time with heavily documented dramatic twists in turns in their marriage. The relationship drove Sinatra to attempted suicide on more than one occasion. The lyrics of the song are haunting and true and speak to the true nature of love lost.

I'm a Fool to Want You (1957)

Lady Gaga: The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again

From Lady Gaga's Official Haus of Gaga youtube channel:

Francesco Vezzolis black-tie-soiree-as-performance-art, Ballets Russes Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again), featuring Lady Gaga and Prada-clad dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet, was undoubtedly one of the highlights on last years contemporary-art calendar. If you missed the spectacle of spectacles, created for MOCAs 30th anniversary gala, the Swedish filmmaker Jonas Akerlund captures the extraordinary night in this exclusive new video, Ballets Russes, Italian Style — Coming Soon.

It made sense, given Francescos taste for art , which has made use of fake movie posters and fake perfume campaigns, says Akerlund of the videos cryptic title. I thought it would be really cool to create a trailer of sorts for something that has already happened and will never happen again. Akerlund, who has also directed Gagas Paparazzi video and the coming one for Telephone, captures all of the front-of-house and backstage dramedy from the night, which culminated with everyones favorite media monster performing her new song, Speechless, on a rotating pink grand piano painted with blue butterflies by Damien Hirst. Enjoy

Here is video footage from the actual performance:

I love how the lines are blurred and the genres of pop and classical art are being blended here. Gaga, a classically trained pianist, seems to really understand the connection between pop culture and artistic expression from more "serious" mediums. She tends to draw influence not only from her pop predecessors but from high fashion, film, and art. This is what sets her apart for me as much more than a pop musician.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hot Under the Collar: Drake for GQ

Rapper Drake
for GQ Magazine March 2010
Photography: Paola Kudacki
Still Lifes: Tom Schierlitz

The Advocate: Mo'Nique's Speaks on Homophobia

Academy Award nominated actress, comedienne, and late night talk show host Mo'Nique recently made waves when singer Miki Howard appeared on her BET talk show.

Howard, the "Love Under New Managment" hit maker brought up the gay community as it relates to the church -- and bringing up the late Rev. James Cleveland who was closeted but known to be gay, which is the story for many in the black church. Howard said, "One good thing that I really wanted to talk about in the book is the gay aspect of church that we don't talk about in our community. I grew up in the James Cleveland church and it was really gay." Howard continued, "We didn’t know that people thought that was bad. We didn’t know that outsiders thought that was bad."

Monique added a message to her fans:

"To all of our gay brothas watching, we love you this is the no judgment zone. You are always welcome and you are always loved. If you're in the church and you're gay, God is not judging you. Be who you wanna be."

Mo'Nique has been a long time supporter of the gay community as well as an advocate of AIDS awareness. Journalist Clay Cane sat down with the actress for Advocate Magazine.

From the Advocate:

Advocate: Why is it important for you to be inclusive?
Mo'Nique: Because love conquers all. Who you choose to live your life with — that’s not my concern, nor is it my business. I think we should just love each other as human beings. We get caught up in the foolishness. I believe if we would just start loving each other as human beings, we would be in a much better position.

Advocate: Recently on your talk show you had R&B singer Miki Howard as a guest. Both of you said you grew up with gay people in church and there wasn’t anything wrong with it. That was so refreshing to hear. Could you elaborate on your experiences with gays in the church?
Mo'Nique: I actually was not a person that grew up in church — that’s what Miki was saying and I was agreeing. Now, I know a lot of folks that go to church and are gay. I tell them, “God don’t make no mistakes, baby, and we keep using it when it’s convenient.” If we are all made in his image, there are no mistakes. I think it’s absolute foolishness, just in my humble opinion, when people make statements like, “It’s blasphemy and you’re going to hell!” Really? And I’m a child of God — do you think God set me up? I’ve never bought in to it. With gays and church, I think there are so many of our brothers and sisters that’s in pain because they go to a place to receive nurturing, the love of God, and you start hearing that you’re going to hell because of who you were made to be. I just don’t buy that!

Advocate: I interviewed Lee Daniels in September and he said he feels very much alone in the black community being openly gay. We know not all black folks are homophobic, but what do you think it will take for some sectors of the black community to have a shift in consciousness when it comes to the gay community?
Mo'Nique: Love. That’s it; there is no special formula. People that have a platform, if they start speaking about love — we are creatures that latch on, may it be negative or positive. So imagine that if in all of the black churches they started saying, “Let’s love each other unconditionally. Let’s not judge.” That’s it! You can have members be openly gay! Not “Well, we think Troy is gay, but you know! Yes, he switches, but we’re not gonna say nothing!”
...To all of my gay babies, free yourself. Be free to be who you are, and watch how life works out for you. With no apologies!

I love Mo'Nique for always being honest, open, and unafraid to step on toes. It's nice to see people addressing these issues on a stage where it can be seen by those who need the message. As the Advocate pointed out, some stars only stand up for the GLBT when they have a gay audience. I'm glad that Mo'Nique is not one of those.

[Check of the FULL Piece at Advocate's Website HERE]

[Check out Clay Cane's BLOG HERE]

The Daily Tea: Push Forward

"Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness."
-James Thurber, American author and cartoonist

Pardon mon Français, but life can throw you a lot of bullshit. We all make mistakes. We also find ourselves victims of the mistakes of others. Even if we try to live life in the best way that we can, there will be times when we slip and feel like we have failed. We get hurt and become weighed down with regret. We must resist the urge to look back and become jaded and cynical. If someone hurts you, learn from the situation. If you fail miserably at something, do it better next time. More times than not, we get second chances in life. Take those second chances and push forward. Our past can dwell in our hearts and cause us to be fearful. Are you bitter about relationships and have baggage? Are you afraid to get out into the job market? Seen a few too many rejection letters in the academic field? Or have you simply burned bridges in your personal life?
It's never too late to make life work for you as long as you are aware of what you can do to make the next time different. Be coherent and observe the changes one needs to make to shape one's own life. Don't act out of fear that things won't be different. Act out of faith that they will be.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rose Cordero for Vogue Paris

Model Rose Cordero
for VOGUE Paris
Photos: Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

Rose Cordero graces the cover of the March issue of VOGUE Paris clad in Vuitton. Rose is also the first black model to get a solo cover of Vogue Paris since Liya Kebede back in 2002.
Good look.

Kobe for GQ Magazine

Athlete Kobe Bryant
for GQ Magazine March 2010

The controversial sports figure described his feelings of being misunderstood and lamented the idea that his on the court attitude is a reflection of how he behaves every day.

“What people see on court is another side of me; it’s not me. That dark side that’s coming to get you – ha ha! I’m not losing this fucking game – that’s not who I am. That’s part of me. Off the court, I’m completely different.”

[Check out the full interview HERE]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Peek at Gaga's Telephone

Here are three official stills from the highly anticipated video from Lady Gaga for Telephone. The music video featuring Beyoncé and directed by Jonas Åkerlund is set to be released at the end of this month.

Glam rock band Semi Precious Weapons spoke to MTV News about their cameo in the video:
"We do have a cameo in the 'Telephone' video, which was when we walked on set and there was Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, all at once. It was pretty magical," frontman Justin Tranter shared with MTV News. "Obviously, Gaga's one of the greatest music visionaries of our time, and Beyoncé is one of the greatest visions of our time. She is a music visionary too."
While the glam rockers are used to Gaga's visions, Tranter was struck by the sight of Beyoncé in the flesh. "Her body is like Jessica Rabbit," he said. "It's like a cartoon. She's so hot and perfect." [source]

Details about the video are under lock and key. Gaga spoke recently about feeling "sorry" for the Bad Romance video because people were bound to forget it after seeing this one. Sounds promising.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Composure Mixtape: Pop Covers

I love covers. I love them to death. So, I decided to compile some of my favorite covers from pop artists singing not-so-pop songs as well as lesser known artists tackling huge hits. I like most of the tracks but they tend to completely reinvent the song. Who know Just Dance could be opened with lulling piano intro? A couple of my faves are Australian singer Sam Sparro's slinky take on Estelle's American Boy and a bouncy rendition of Beyoncé's Crazy in Love sung here by The Puppini Sisters. I have posted a couple of the songs before but here they are in one place. This Amy Winehouse Someone to Watch Over Me takes me places. Anyway, enjoy the tracks. The original artist's names are in the parentheses.

[DOWNLOAD Composure Mixtape: Pop Covers HERE]

1. Rehab FrankMusik (Amy Winehouse)
2. Crazy Daniele Magro (Gnarls Barkley)
3. Don't Stop the Music The Bird and the Bee (Rihanna)
4. Stronger 30 Seconds to Mars (Kanye West)
5. Always Be My Baby David Cook (Mariah Carey)
6. Smack Into You Jon McLaughlin (Beyoncé)
7. Heartless Kris Allen (Kanye West)
8. Single Ladies Keaton Simmons (Beyoncé)
9. Black & Gold Katy Perry (Sam Sparro)
10. American Boy Sam Sparro (Estelle)
11. Frontin' Jamie Cullum (Pharrell Williams)
12. Someone to Watch Over Me Amy Winehouse (Jazz Standard)
13. Fever Beyoncé (Peggy Lee)
14. Just Dance Gary Go ft. Mr. Dialysis (Lady Gaga)
15. Womanizer Lily Allen (Britney Spears)
16. Live Your Life Just Jack (T.I.)
17. Umbrella Scott Simons (Rihanna)
18. When Love Takes Over Pixie Lott
(David Guetta feat. Kelly Rowland)
19. Crazy in Love The Puppini Sisters (Beyoncé)
20. Icebox FrankMusik (Omarion)

Details Mag: Rob Pattinson's Allergy Confession

Actor Rob Pattinson
for DETAILS Magazine
Photo Essay: The Remasculation of the American Man
Photography: Norman Jean Roy

Actor Rob Pattinson of Twilight fame talks about his love of '80s porn, reveals a fascination with tropical diseases, and dreams of being groped by a lady elephant—again. The star made some interesting comments about his female photoshoot costars. The remarks have made waves:

"I really hate vaginas. I'm allergic to vagina. But I can't say I had no idea, because it was a 12-hour shoot, so you kind of get the picture that these women are going to stay naked after, like, five or six hours. But I wasn't exactly prepared. I had no idea what to say to these girls. Thank God I was hungover."

In a time when a sound bite can cause you major trouble (See John Mayer), I find this funny. Anyone can take this out of context. Anyway, read the full interview and view photos by clicking the link below.

[Read More at DETAILS Mag Website HERE]

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cast of Model City for Honey Magazine

Models Henry Watkins, Ibrahim Baaith, Wendell Lissimore, Nelson Nieves, Salieu Jalloh
Cast of Model City
for HONEY Magazine

Honey Magazine gives us a closer look at the cast of the hotly anticipated television series Model City which chronicles the ups and downs of male modeling. The show which will air on BET's new network CENTRIC boasts a cast of all male models of color and the issues surrounding barriers in the industry. Tyra Banks once made expressed that she had toyed with the idea of an America's Next Top Male Model but she didn't feel that there was an audience for it. Who does she think watches ANTM? Generally, women and gay men. Anyway, it will be interesting to see the way the cast of Model City interacts. We aren't terribly accustomed to see the competitive side of male modeling and the egos that come with. Of course, it's not exactly a competition and the cast is primarily managed by the same agency. The show premieres on February 18th.

[Check out more Pics and Details at HONEY Magazine HERE]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Daily Tea: Giving Up

"Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak; sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go."
-Author Unknown

We are taught that quitters never win. Staying the course is often the road that is celebrated. However, true strength is shown when one can muster the strength to walk away from old habits. Whether it is drug abuse, a bad relationship, or a career change, it's hard to make a change in life even if it's for the better. The true sign of wisdom is knowing when something isn't working for you and having the focus to let it go. Walking away sometimes means abandoning one's past in order to preserve one's present and embrace one's future.

Fashion Designer Alexander McQueen Commits Suicide

[Alexander McQueen, photographed by Martin Godwin]

According to newly published reports, famed British fashion designer Alexander McQueen has been found dead in his home, the victim of an apparent suicide. The 40 year old designer had recently lost his mother. Those around McQueen noticed a grim change in him surrounding his mother's death and he was quoted as saying:
"From heaven to hell and back again, life is a funny thing. beauty can come from the most strangest of places even the most disgusting places."

McQueen also lost his dear friend Isabella Blow in 2007. She committed suicide as well after several attempts. Blow, a fashion power player herself, discovered McQueen and supported his early efforts.

Alexandra Shulman, editor of VOGUE, said:
"He was the most brilliant designer of his generation and his influence can be seen in the way that women dressed over the last 15 years. It is an incredible loss not only for British fashion but for fashion the world over."

McQueen became known early on for his rebelliously avant garde designs. He also, described himself as the "pink sheep" of his family being openly gay and having recently wed his longtime partner.

It's a sad, sad scene as his death comes just days before the start of London Fashion Week and weeks before he was due to unveil his new collection at Paris Fashion Week on March 9.
He had recently become good friends with Lady Gaga and styled her on many occasions.
People are leaving here like crazy. Cherish life while you can. Rest in peace Mr. McQueen.