Thursday, October 15, 2009

French Vogue does blackface: Since when is this OK?

In the October issue of French Vogue, which is dedicated to "Supermodels," there are no black models. No Naomi Campbell, no Tyra Banks, no Iman, no Alek Wek, no Liya Kebede, no Chanel Iman. Instead, Dutch model Lara Stone appeared in a 14-page editorial in blackface. Aside from the fact that models of many nationalities have gained a greater presence in the fashion industry and should have been used in this magazine, today in 2009 we should all know that white people dressing in blackface is offensive.

The thing is, incidences of blackface have been cropping up in the news and pop culture more and more lately. Just last week, Harry Connick Jr. appeared as a guest judge on a live broadcast of the Australian program, "Hey Hey It's Saturday." On the show, five men presented a skit called "Jackson Jive" while covered in blackface paint and afro wigs. The audience cheered and laughed as the group performed, and seemed shocked when Connick Jr. gave the group a zero score."Man, if they turned up looking like that in the United'd be like 'Hey, Hey There's No More Show.'"

Lara Stone in French Vogue

Lara Stone in French Vogue
After taking serious offense to the routine, Connick Jr. was given an opportunity to elaborate on his concerns to the show's host, Daryl Somers. "I just wanted to say on behalf of my country, I know it was done in humor...but we have spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart." We at Shine could not agree more.

This program aired in Australia, and the blackface model appears in French Vogue. Is it possible that outside the U.S., there's less sensitivity to blackface because these countries don't share our unfortunate history of minstrel shows? But on second thought, the Vogue photographer Steven Klein is American. Surely, he must have known the shoot was in the least controversial and at worst would seriously offend many people. While the photos are not necessarily portraying model Lara Stone in a negative way, it could still be considered racist. And while some would defend it as cool or edgy, most would say this fashion spread is just plain wrong.

Roger Sterling performs in blackface on "Mad Men"

Roger Sterling performs in blackface on "Mad Men"
"Mad Men" viewers may have caught a recent episode "My Old Kentucky Home," in which Roger Sterling performs an Al Jolson-like number at his Kentucky Derby wedding party. The show is set in the early 1960s, and back then white people used to perform as black people and perpetuate negative stereotypes and poke fun at their race. Meanwhile, African American entertainers themselves were often forbidden from performing at all.

This scene was intended to highlight the ignorance of people some 40 years ago–the fictional performance left its characters nonplussed. We've made such progress in the battle against racism, is there really any reason anymore to use blackface? How do you feel about all the recent blackface appearances in pop culture?

Source: Articles and image from shine from yahoo

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Giorgio Armani Collection

Giorgio Armani looked towards the East for this season’s collection. Exotic silks, pagoda shoulders, Asian silhouettes with updated interpretations of Chinese floral and cloud motifs were seen throughout the collection. Colors ranged from sedate charcoals and taupe to dramtic lapis blue and reds. Embroidered motifs and knotted tassels embellished garments as well as the handbags. Purse shapes ranged from flat, larger clutches to scalloped evening pouches and delicate beaded bags. Marco Polo returned from China inspired by what he had seen. This Italian designer may also echo the sentiment.

Coach Spectator Leather Sabrina

While I can see the potential of the new Coach Spectator Leather Sabrina, I can’t quite gets past its sporty appearance. I do adore the pale violet color and the contrast against the darker colors, but I generally prefer a more classic approach to the design and color palette of an everyday satchel. This is more of a limited, occasional use carryall that definitely would work on a casual spring or summer day. It’s got all of those functional details that make it appropriate for holding everything comfortably, but it’s not exactly an office-to-dinner style that would suit every occasion.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Claro Rio Summer

Natalia Vodianova, hubbie Justin Portman and their three kids just spent a weekend in Rio for the first annual Claro Rio Summer, the beach collections of Brazil’s hottest labels, masterminded by advertising exec Nizan Guanaes. It was also a model-lover's paradise as homegrown babes Isabeli Fontana, Michelle Alves, Fernanda Tavares, Izabel Goulart, Fernanda Motta, Ana Claudia Michels, Daiane Conterato, Barbara Berger and Viviane Orth stalked the runways. Even the front row was also a gift for the hysterical local press, with Valentino, Hamish Bowles, Hilary Alexander and Colette's Sarah Leffer hitting most of the shows and glittering dinner parties...

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Future of POP

We know that Katie Grand is leaving POP to start a new edgy fashion magazine for Conde Nast UK, but what's going to happen to POP after its founder leaves? And how did this all come about in the first place?

It turns out that Conde originally tried to buy POP — "we kept hearing [the magazine's publisher Bauer] weren't very committed to POP" — but Bauer declined. Instead, Conde Nast poached Katie, who looked at either option — moving POP or just herself to Conde — as okay: "I kind of knew that Condé Nast had put in bids for POP. I thought, if it happens, great. If not, it would also be great to do something new . . . Maybe it's better just to do something that's completely a fresh start."

By the end of her run at Bauer — which does a lot of business with its weekly titles like Heat and Grazia — Katie was feeling out of place: "There was a definite feeling of being a square peg in a round hole. We were acutely aware of doing something different from everyone else. By the end, to be walking through radio advertising or whatever and be openly called 'the weirdos', it was just unpleasant."

She's still currently working on the December issue of POP — likely to be her last — and is taking her whole POP team with her to the new, untitled magazine at Conde Nast. So what is Bauer doing with POP in the post-Katie era? According to David Davies, managing director of Bauer's women's magazines division, this is just a regular editor turnover, and POP will continue to exist: "We'll continue in the more maverick role. Katie has probably achieved what she's going to with the title. POP will be very different going forward and it's very exciting for us."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chace as the new face of Versace

CHACE Crawford has reportedly been lined up to be the new face of Versace.

The Gossip Girl star - who plays Nate Archibald in the hit US TV show - is said to be close to signing a deal to replace Grey's Anatomy actor Patrick Dempsey as the face of the prestigious Italian fashion label.

Versace released a statement pointing out the 23-year-old actor has worn clothes from the company to three big events recently - Fashion Rocks, the MTV Video Music Awards and his Gossip Girl co-star Blake Lively's 21st birthday party.

When the label were approached about the rumours of signing Chace, a spokesperson said: "We have been working hard to develop our relationship with Chace - and that is all we can say on the subject.

"Patrick Dempsey is contracted with us through to Spring/Summer 2009. It is undetermined who will replace him at this time."

Friday, August 1, 2008

Refreshing Green Tees

Recently, new breeds of t-shirt designers are emerging who combine fashion forward sensibilities while being ecologically and socially considerate as well. "We've taken extra effort to design our clothes without cheap shot political messages or cheesy catch phrases," says Joe Maluso, president of Brand of the Free, a family-run business that prides itself on its ethically-aware message. "We aren't out to point fingers or make a political statement. We also don't plan on force-feeding our agenda. We would simply like to give people a fashionable option to support America while remaining socially responsible."

The company sells t-shirts with bold graphics, colors, and slogans that, while thought-provoking, are not obvious. "Our design aesthetic is generally pretty minimal. We utilize clean lines and simple graphics to create a lasting impact. Although the graphics are fairly bold and thought provoking, the concepts usually remain quite subtle. We enjoy taking simple objects or ideas and presenting them in a surprising new way," explains designer Mike Maluso.

Promoting green ideals in this way seems to do the job of educating the t-shirt-reading public in a more intelligent, subtle and subversive manner than emblazoning the usual political mottos on one's chest.