The Mainstreaming of Urban Culture

Today I was browsing target.com and I ran across a pair of gold toned, chunky, bamboo earrings.  I was kind of floored to see them.  I remember that style of earring being popular in the late 80s and early 90s.  Big, bold, gold hoops were once only popular among Black and Hispanic women in urban areas.  They were lampooned for it.  Big hoops were thought of as ghetto, uncouth and too flashy to be chic.  So are they still ghetto now that suburban soccer moms and hipsters will be wearing them?

target model

I’ve seen this before.  I grew up in the 80s and 90s outside of Detroit.  The fashion industry has promoted styles within the last ten years that I remember inner city women and men wearing thirty years prior.  Back then that style of dress would have made a person unemployable.  So it’s interesting to see urban styles marketed as chic and trendy when the fashion industry is actually decades behind the trend.

I ran across this article a few years ago in Lucky magazine a few years ago.

zoey deschanel

Sorry but Zooey Deschanel is the last person I think of when I think of nail art.  No celebrity comes to mind when I think about nail designs.  The popularity of nail art has grass roots.  Grass that sprung up in between slabs of concrete.  Nail art has been a fashion staple across America’s big cities for decades.  It was hood until Zooey Deschanel and Lucky magazine said it wasn’t.

I’m not one to get angry about cultural appropriation because I live in a multi cultural society and cultures rub off on each other.  But it’s unfair the way that anything that is associated with Black Americans is looked down on and but a White stylists or buyer copies an urban fashion, brings it to the White masses who think that it is something new and all of a sudden it’s a new trend and it’s origins are forgotten.  And then people tell African Americans that we have no culture.

We have culture but we often turn our noses down at it in order to assimilate into the dominant culture.  Instead of Blacks passing it down to our own children another ethnic group ends up selling our culture back to a different generation of Black Americans.  It’s honestly our own fault and we should know better by now.  But we keep falling for the okey doke.  This cycle also happens in music and the restaurant industry.

russian hairstyles  ghetto hairstyles

Black people need to appreciate their own creativity and originality.  Stop joining in the chorus of folks labeling something as ghetto in order to fit in to polite society.  Something is either tacky and uncouth across the board or it isn’t.  The marketing is the difference.  Black people should protect their culture and proudly claim it.  Don’t wait for a White reality star to make you chic.  Learn to market your own culture instead of complaining when someone else figures out a way to make a buck off of it.

I’m sure glad that I saved my gigantic Turkish link gold hoop earrings from the 90s.

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Naomi Campbell

Happy belated birthday to Naomi Campbell.  The hardest working woman in fashion turned forty eight on May 22.  Naomi is from the era of the super models and hasn’t slowed down since the 1990s.  Naomi has challenged beauty standards in the fashion industry for decades and continues to do so as she nears fifty.  Naomi Campbell has been a hero of mine for many years.

I remember the first time I ever saw Naomi Campbell.  She was doing a seductive dance in Michael Jackson’s “Keep it in the Closet” video.  She was an absolute sensation in my middle school suburban Detroit social circle at the time.  Me and my young girlfriends were fascinated by this dark skinned exotic beauty and her waist length hair.  There was some debate among us whether the hair was real or not.  I was on team weave but it didn’t even matter.  I loved that woman.

She was a stunning Black woman with African features. Her contemporaries were Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and another favorite of mine Tyra Banks.  There had been successful Black models before but none as dark and lovely as Naomi at that time.

Some of you may be unaware that lighter skinned, European featured beauty is highly favored in the world.  Even in Black communities light skinned, straight haired looks are praised over dark skin and kinky hair.  I had childhood experiences that involved me being teased for being dark.  As an adult it’s been clear to me that most men prefer lighter, European women over African looking ones.  So it meant a lot to me as a young girl coming of age to see someone with dark features in the limelight.

Other models from the super model era have either retired or play different roles in the fashion industry now.  At forty eight years old Naomi is still working the runway better than anyone and I mean anyone.  Young models of the day can’t match her stage presence.  In April 2018 she was on the cover of “GQ” magazine.  Ms. Campbell shows no signs of slowing down.

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Naomi has a bad reputation.  She’s been accused of abusive behavior and has served time for her crime.  She paid her debt and hasn’t had any legal problems in years that I know of but I believe that Naomi is misunderstood.  It’s hard for Black women to stand up for themselves without being seen as being combative or aggressive.  Unfortunately, Black women, even tall and glamorous models are forced to defend and demand their worth themselves often in this world.  The world doesn’t just give people of African descent respect we quite often have to demand it.  I think Naomi may have just been demanding to get the respect she deserves.

Despite Naomi’s notorious temperament she seems very polite and gracious to me.  She doesn’t seem to take her lot in life for granted and she has worked very hard for all she has.  I also respect a person that is able to maintain long term friendships.  Friendship is under appreciated in this world and Naomi is still friends with some of her modeling colleagues from the 90s like Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista.  I respect and admire people that maintain long lasting friendships.  She also has a long term relationship with P. Diddy that I find to be, well, intriguing.

Happy belated 48th birthday to Naomi Campbell.  The diva, queen of the catwalk, hardest working woman in fashion, muse and one of my personal heroes and an inspiration to millions.

 

 

 

Nothing is Promised

Last week supermodel and America’s Next Top Modelfinalist, Winnie Harlow a.k.a Chantelle answered questions from Bravo’s Andy Cohen that set off, I won’t say controversy but a bit of social media cattiness from former America’s Next Top Model contestants and fans.  Winnie said that the show didn’t do anything to help her develop her career.  Other former contestants and fans think she’s being ungrateful.  But a few ANTM alumni agree with Winnie.

The first winner of America’s Next Top Model Adrianne Curry said years ago that the show didn’t do anything for her career.  Other models from early seasons said that the show not only didn’t help them become successful but it was a hindrance to getting signed with an agency.  Other former contestants on the show credit ANTM for giving them their start in the business and giving them a platform from which to speak.

I don’t have a problem with Winnie telling her story and giving her opinion on the matter.  But I do take her words with a grain of salt.  I watched her season of the show and she didn’t come across as a very likable character.  There was an arrogance and sense of entitlement about her and she wasn’t well liked by other cast mates in the Top Model House.

It’s hard to gauge how effective ANTM is in launching careers because there aren’t many super star models anymore.  Fashion magazines use actresses, reality show stars and the children of famous people in their ads.  The models that don’t fit into those categories may be successful but they aren’t household names like the super models of the 80s and 90s.

I am a long time fan of America’s Next Top Model and while viewing each season I have questioned whether many of the girls could really go on and model.  The contestants that are chosen are people that look good on TV but they don’t really look like people that you see walking in fashion shows or in fashion magazines.  I don’t think that it matter much because each season thousands of hopefuls audition to fill fourteen spots on the show.

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Tyra also uses the show as her own personal soap box.  She has used the show as a platform to challenge beauty standards and she picks models accordingly.  Yet, fashion models are overwhelmingly tall, thin, young and European.  ANTM has featured contestants that speak well to Tyra’s beliefs but I’m not sure they are what the fashion industry is looking for.

Nonetheless, I have seen ANTM contestants acting on TV programs and in print ads.  I follow many of the former contestants on Instagram and they seem to have entertainment careers.  But I’ll admit it’s always hard to tell who is successful and who isn’t from Instagram pages.

I’m sure being on a show like America’s Next Top Model is a great learning and opportunity for young models especially in the social media age.  But just like American Idol, The Voice and other talent finding competitions there are some contestants that are successful once their season is over and others that are never heard from again.

So it seems that being a contestant on ANTM is a lot like going to college.  You show up with hopes and dreams for the future.  Your experience in the program may give some valuable lessons that will help you achieve your goals but winning ANTM, American Idol, making it to the NFL or NBA draft does not in and of itself promise success.  Often times people that struggle in the initial stages of their career become stars.

When you hear Jennifer Hudson’s powerful voice remember that she was an American Idol loser and she only got as far as she did in the competition because Randy Jackson saved her.  Tom Brady wasn’t a top NFL draft pick and Michael Jordan didn’t make his school’s basketball tryouts one year.  You just have to make the most of your opportunities and keep plugging away at your goals.  I believe that people that don’t give up achieve a measure of success but stay humble because nothing is promised to anyone.

winnie

 

 

Kansas City Fashion Week

Kansas City Fashion Week was October 8-14.  The event took place downtown Kansas City, MO at Union Station.  I went to the Thursday night show after work and I was able to buy a ticket at the door.  I enjoyed the show and I was impressed with the production.  It was a fun, glamorous event and I am likely to attend next year.

The work of the featured designers was exciting and contemporary.  Some of them are local, regional and even nationally known designers.  I was glad to see several African American fashion designers in the line up.  I’ve often wondered why there hasn’t been a Black designer to hit it big in the fashion industry.  African Americans influence fashion globally but there is no Black designer that’s on par with Tom Ford or Calvin Klein.  It would be great to see someone from the Midwest blaze that trail.

My favorite designers were Miranda Hanson and Travis Cal.  Miranda Hanson is a seventeen year old dress maker.  Her designs are feminine and ethereal.  She used soft pastel colors and fabrics that look like satin.  I can see them being worn for formals and in weddings.  Her models wore baby’s breath in their hair and they all kind of looked like little pixies.  Her show was beautiful and her story is inspiring.

I loved Travis Cal’s show.  Travis Cal went to high school in Kansas City and he clearly had a great deal of support from the crowd.  His collection is urban, hip, sexy and trendy.  He used several African American models and his collection was influenced by African art.  He used a bold color palate and and a lot of metallic elements. I loved it!

If you like to support the arts and creativity in Kansas City you should come out for Kansas City Fashion Week next winter for Spring 2018.  Tickets ranged from around $30-$90.  It’s a great event.

Travis Kelce’s 87 and Running Walk the Walk

Capture+_2017-06-14-13-43-01-1-1Last Thursday I attended Walk the Walk in downtown Kansas City, MO.  Walk the Walk is a fashion show that is sponsored by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce that benefits a children’s charity called Operation Breakthrough.  I learned about the event on Travis’ Facebook page and decided to go.  I like to go out to various events in the city and I thought it would be fun to be around and maybe meet Travis Kelce.

I have had a crush on Travis for about two years now.  I think it all started when I saw him Hit the Quan in the end zone that one Sunday a few season’s back.  So I decided to test God’s will and see if it is in His plan for us to be together.  I figured I had to put myself in position to be hit on by Mr. Kelce.  Well evidently Travis isn’t my happily ever after because his girlfriend was there.

After buying my ticket for the event I found out that Travis had one.  I felt a little cheated and I thought about not even taking the time to go.  But I decided to go and support the children.  Why not?  It’s something out of the ordinary to do and it was a charity to benefit underprivileged children after all and not spinsters looking to date much younger professional athletes.

If you’re thinking about going next year and you would like to meet Travis you should.  He makes himself accessible and he works the room.  He’s not shy at all and is quite the talker.  After the fashion show he said that he would stay around to meet everyone and take pictures.

I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity.  He’s in a relationship now and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by fan girling out too bad.  I’m unsure of how I would have reacted if I made direct eye contact with him.  If he was unattended I may have had something to say but with his date in the room I had nothing.

But anyway, it was a lovely event that supported a great cause.  Drinks and finger foods were served and the fashions were nice.  I would actually considering going again next year regardless of Travis or my relationship status.