Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Interview With a Lady

The lovely Kwana Jackson has featured moi on her blog, KwanaWrites. In the interview I discuss my blog and the event that I am helping to organise, You're Beautiful, Woman. Check out the full interview here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Noisettes

What can I say? I love her style, her voice and her rhythm and there is no doubt that Shingai Shoniwa from The Noisettes is a star in the making. The Noisettes are an indie rock band who consist of guitarist Dan Smith, drummer Jamie Morrison and of course singer, Shingai Shoniwa. They have been plugging away since 2003, playing gigs all over London till they hit the big time South Londoner, Shingai is of Zimbabwean and English descent and has been described as one of the great front women of her time. I agree, she has definitely got the wow factor.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Links à la Mode: July 23rd

Check out the latest offerings in the world of style and fashion from the Independent Fashion Bloggers network.

  • A Typical Atypical: A look at the unexpected fashion gems on offer at this year’s new designers exhibition in London – cut-out dresses, paper-like jewelry and more!
  • Bonne-Vie: Pincurl project – experimenting with glamorous retro style techniques to create a saucy updo!
  • Confessions of a Fashion Editor: Polling for the next Vogue Cover Girl – Bonnie Wright’s first fashion shoot.
  • Denimaniac: Camo’s SS 2010 “Horses” collection and thoughts of Meryl Streep…
  • Dramatis Personae: Celebrating a two year anniversary with a great giveaway – $50 gift card to!
  • Duper: Interview with Raoul Keil, founder of NINETEEN74 and Schon! Magazine.
  • Fashion Cents: How to get glam for a movie date so that there is real life lights, camera, action!
  • Fashion is My Crush: It’s a mosh pit: A studded DIY belt, some jellies from the kids section at Payless and some concrete comfort.
  • Fashion Pulse Daily: Hand-picked favorite looks from 10 of the Paris Couture collections.
  • Fasshonaburu:Finding a new hair dresser and how to break up with your old one.
  • Idiosyncratic Style: A design board of inspiring comparisons of cool sorbet treats and summer fashion choices.
  • Retro Chick: Sunglasses to flatter your face.
  • Shop Diary: Cozy up with a snood for fall and how to improvise in these recessionary times.
  • Style Symmetry: Interview with Cammila of Dressed Up Like a Lady.
  • The Coveted: Turning Red, How to go monochromatic…
  • The Musings of Ondo Lady: A look at Style Sample Magazine – featuring articles about a wide variety of bloggers across the world.
  • Unfunded: Drooling over the sexy styles of Brandon Boyd and Robert Pattinson.
  • V is for Olive: Inspired by a road trip through the American West - taking color palette ideas from nature and applying them to your own summer wardrobe.
  • WorkChic: Teamed with Polyvore to show examples of a blouse makeover by style and your office type.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

When Black Became Beautiful - Part Three

Out of Africa

Era - 1975 to 2004 Commentators - Mikki Taylor, Marcia Ann Gillespie, Susan L. Taylor, Naomi Campbell and Iman

1975 witnessed the explosion of Iman onto the America fashion scene and boy did she cause an uproar. Some African Americans opposed her fanfare stating that African American women could never be perceived as beautiful and in order to find an example of Black beauty it had to be brought in from elsewhere. Hence the controversial and I think unfair acidic comment from Marcia Ann Gillespie, Editor in Chief at Essence who described Iman as looking like she was dipped in chocolate. Total ignorance I say as all she had to do was nip over to countries like Sudan and Ethiopia and she would have seen men and women with features just like Iman. However, this decade and the one after saw a series of breakthrough by Black men and women on both sides of the Atlantic. 1983 saw Vanessa Williams making history and to become the first lady to be crowned Miss America. We saw groundbreaking ads from Benetton that featured people of all ages from all nationalities and skin colours. I used to detest these ads because I thought they were cheesy but when I look back at it, these adverts were actually very pivotal in the way commercials are created these days. I mean where would Gap be of it was not for Benetton? So from embracing natural Black beauty the 80s moved onto embracing unconventional looking Blacks such as Mr T, Whoopi Goldberg and Grace Jones.

The 90s was when Naomi Campbell exploded onto the scene, Veronica Webb became the first black supermodel to win an exclusive contract for a major cosmetics company and Ford models signed their first Black model. Tyra Banks was seen on the cover of the coveted swimwear issue of Sport Illustrated. Fast forward to the late 90s with hip hop now in the mainstream it was also leading the way in beauty ideals. Enter Tyson Beckford who was an instant hit after landing a cover with Source magazine. He landed a contract with Ralph Lauren and helped to change the traditional rules of advertising. If Naomi was one of the supermodel of the 80s then Alex Wek represented the breed of the 90s. A lot of fuss was made over her ‘traditional’ African features and she appeared on glossy magazines all around the world. She never made the cover of Brit Vogue though, why? Because according to Alexandra Shulman, Ms Wek was too simply too skinny. O.K.

Since the 50s the paradigm has shifted and editors of magazines like Vogue no longer dictate the ideals of beauty because it is now directed by pop culture. Now we have had an all Black Italian Vogue and the magazine has repeated the all Black theme but this time have used Black Barbie dolls instead of models. I absolutely LOVED When Black Became Beautiful, I missed it when it was aired the first time but I managed to get a copy from my local library. It was so wonderful to see an in depth look at the way Black men and women have been represented in fashion, film, TV, magazines, music and sport. How we have transcended from being one dimensional, broken through the barriers and now we are in a place where all shades all of the spectrum are being represented. Tyra Banks sums it up beautifully.

“Right now you have Ashanti, Mary J. Blige and Beyonce and it is great because they can all co-exist.”

When Black Became Beautiful was produced by Tim Pritchard Productions. Click here to read the production notes on the documentary.

You can listen to Chantal Benjamin, a consultant on the programme and The Guardian journo, Hannah Pool discussing the show on Woman's Hour here.

PS: While we are on the subject of beauty, I am part of a group of wonderful women who are organisng an event called You're Beautiful, Woman which celebrates Black beauty in all forms. There will be talks, presentations, pampering sessions and workshops. It takes place on Saturday 15th August at Highgate Newtown Community Centre in North London from 10.00am to 6.00pm. Tickets are £5. Please come down to suppport. For more details please go to our website here.

When Black Became Beautiful - Part Two

Cornroes, Afros and Anything Goes

Era - 1960s and 1970s
Commentators - Pat Cleveland, Cicely Tyson, Marcia Ann Gillespie and Susan L. Taylor and Beverly Johnson.

Now this is when Black really became beautiful. Fashion was suddenly very youth orientated which was a complete contrast to the severe look of the 50s. In the 60s Donyale Luna became the first Black fashion icon and made the cover of Harper's Bazaar as well as becoming the first African American to grace the cover of Brit Vogue. This era would be known as where politics and civil rights merged with fashion and beauty. Sick of being treated like second hand citizens this is where young African Americans decided to stand up and shout out. This lead to the birth of the Black Panthers and the rhetoric, Black and Proud. A Miss Natural Standard of Beauty pageant took place where the aim was to celebrate the beauty of African American features. The contest had a no make and no straight hair policy and was very well received. Cicely Tyson took the natural look onto another level – onto East Side/West Side a popular national TV show where she rocked an afro. The Afro became an expression of Black pride. 1968 saw the creation of Essence, a magazine that put Black women first and celebrated their beauty and presence. This period saw the Afro move from being a political statement to a fashion one. Hence Marsha Hunt being featured in Brit Vogue wearing nothing but her Afro. Finally all forms of Black beauty were established and being represented. Also the catwalk finally caught up as well and in 1974 Beverly Johnson became the first Black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue.

Click here for Part Three.

When Black Became Beautiful - Part One

On Monday the lovely Rachel Christie made history by becoming the first Black lady to become Miss England. Although some might state that it is 2009 and too little too late, some would point out how far we have come in this country. The concept of Black Beauty has always been a contentious one, a point comprehensively explored in the documentary, When Black Became Beautiful which was aired on BBC2 in 2004. This three part series looked at the impact African Americans and African Caribbeans have made on fashion and arts and how the world came to accept that beauty is not only skin deep. The series kicked off in 2000 when Iman gathered 15 other Black supermodels to be photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the cover of her book, I Am Iman. The likes of Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Oluchi Onweagba and Noémie Lenoir were all in attendance for the momentous occasion. The rest of the documentary discusses the history of Black beauty from 1940s to the present era.

Blonde Ambition

Era -1940s and 19503
Commentators - Diahann Carroll, Mary Wilson, Helen Williams and Dorothea Towles.

Part One talked about the impact that Josephine Baker had on French society. It looked at the derogatory images of African American women in films who were either portrayed as mammies or maids. It talked about the social acceptance of lighter skinned Blacks and examined the introduction of hair straightening and the popularity of skin lighteners. In the late 50s Ophelia duVour set up her own model agency where she discovered Helen Williams, the first African American model to appear in mainstream magazines. The programme also goes on to talk about the birth of Ebony and how it reflected African American life while on the music scene, Motown artists such as The Supremes were being groomed to perfection in order to conquer the charts.

Part Two is continued here.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Style Sample Magazine

The Satorialist revealed his much anticipated book on his blog and let me tell you the support he received from fellow bloggers was overwhelming. When the self named book is released in a few weeks I am sure it will gallop into the bestsellers list. The power of the blogger has grown immensely over the last few years with us gaining access to VIP events, being featured in glossy magazines while a few of us have even been taken on as consultants for hip brands. The growth in bloggers has created a community which inspires one another hence the Independent Fashion Bloggers aka IFB which is one of the largest blogger networks in the world. IFB was introduced by Jennine Tamm in 2007 and is a wonderful online forum for fashion bloggers to meet, exchange ideas and offer each other gain support.

Now that practice has been taken offline in the shape of Style Sample Magazine which is written by bloggers for bloggers. I stumbled across Style Sample a few weeks back when I was just browsing and was riveted by what I saw. The publication features articles about a wide variety of bloggers across the world. It was set up by Tamia Stimson earlier this year and already amassed an impressive following. I decided it was time to catch up with Tamia and find out what the deal was with Style Sample.

How did you come up with the name Style Sample?
I did an event a few years ago called Sample Designer Collective, and decided I wanted to stick with the Sample name. I also wanted my blog's initials--TSS--to be the same as my initials. Since the magazine was sort of a spin-off of the blog, I kept the name.

Is the magazine available in hard copy?
Yes, Style Sample Magazine is available online at MagCloud, an online print on demand service and you can order as many copies as you'd like. Currently, MagCloud only ships to the US, UK, and Canada, but they plan to offer shipping to other countries soon.

The digital format is an exciting one – what made you decide to use it?
The idea of digital publishing really appealed to me because I'm a bit of a geek and tend to spend a lot of time online. I became aware of the flash-based flip magazine format a few years ago and knew I wanted to take advantage of the technology some day--obviously the magazine presented the perfect opportunity to do so.

How many people are involved in the production of the magazine?
I believe there were 25 bloggers who contributed to the June/July issue. All of the content--from writing, to editing, to photography and illustrations--is produced by the wonderful bloggers who are featured as writers, editors, and subjects in the magazine. I do the design and layout, proofread all of the articles, find and edit additional content and images, and write whatever is still needed after the contributors do their part.

Reading the magazine I can see that you have featured an interesting range of bloggers; how do you decide which blogger to feature?
I look at a number of variables, the most important being quality content. Bloggers with a clearly defined personal style and sharp writing tend to be able to express themselves well in articles and interviews. Since fashion is aesthetically driven, the look and layout of a blog is also important as it helps draw readers in. I try to include a variety of styles and personalities and feature bloggers from diverse locations in each issue to mix things up, so hopefully there's something for everyone.

How long have you been blogging and what made you start?
I created a site called Coquette Style back in 2004 or so, before I even knew what blogging was. I posted pictures of my outfits, inspiration...pretty much the same things I post about today, now that I think about it. That lasted about two months because updating was really tedious. I started in November of 2008 because I missed having that creative outlet and wanted to get back in the game, so to speak.

What is your day job?
I work in marketing for a biopharmaceutical company.

Describe a day in the life of Tamia Stinson.
I get up and go to work. I spend way too much time picking out clothes, but I usually head out the door around 7:45am and walk to the office--it's only a few blocks and I hate driving. During the course of the day I try to engage in social media via Twitter and various blogs I follow, check and respond to my email regularly, and keep up with the latest tech news--I'm a bit of a geek in that respect. After work, I head to the gym to work out or straight home if I have a lot of work to do. I try to knock out a blog post or two, take some pictures with my boyfriend (he's my main photographer and is very patient, thank God!), work on the magazine, do some social networking on Facebook, Chictopia, TheFashionSpot or one of the many other sites I frequent, or catch up on my list of "read later" items. If I'm in the mood to cook I'll make dinner, and if not I'll go out and grab a bite or get something when I'm out at a meeting or event--I usually have something I have to attend at least once a week. I make my to-do list for the next day, take care of my cat, hop in the shower, and get in bed with a magazine for stylish dreams...

Name your top five blogs - He just seems like such a nice guy and has great ideas and insights into the world of social media strategy. - A graphic designer who does the kinds of amazingly creative work I like to think I'd do if I was a "real" designer.
jezebel - Alternately snarky and socially conscious girl-talk for hipsters.
smashingmagazine - Useful and inspiring web design tips, tricks and techniques.
The Cut - New York's mag's blog has a cleverly twisted take on fashion news and info

What are your favourite glossy magazines?
I subscribe to Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Fashion Mini, and Lucky right now. I love treating myself to overseas mags like Russh Australia, L'Officiel Paris, ViVi (Japanese mag), and Jalouse when I can afford it.

If a blogger would like to be featured in Style Sample, how would they go about it?
Fashion bloggers are welcome to sign up to contribute at Style Sample, all they need to do is click here. All submissions are reviewed and contributors are determined according to the criteria above.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Intern

Breaking into magazines is not at all easy and before you can even think about clinching a cushy career as an editor many many hours as an intern must be put in. Ah the intern, a lowly underpaid and over worked wannabe journalist who has recently become the source of fascination for reality shows such as Running in Heels and The Fashionista Diaries. While I was feng shuing my home and organising my film collection a few months back I came across a film that was made back in 2000 that featured the shallow world of glossy magazines. The Intern is the story of Jocelyn Bennett played by Dominique Swain who is fresh out of college and lands a role as an intern at uber cool fashion magazine, Skirt which is based in New York. She finds herself surrounded by the most self centred, crazy and egotist people on earth and performing the most minor of duties. However there is a jewel in the crown in the shape of art director, Paul Rochester played by Ben Pullen. When a spy begins to hand over Skirt's fashion spreads and story ideas to rival Vogue, Jocelyn sets out to nail them.

The Intern is a total send up of the fashion magazine world with fantastic sub zero one liners and bitchy antics. Screenwriters Carolyn Doyle and Jill Kopelman, both former magazine interns themselves display their knowledge of the intricacies of magazine life. More excitingly, The Intern features cameos by a whole range of top notch fashionistas such as Diane von Furstenberg, Tommy Hilfiger, Elizabeth Saltzman, Kenneth Cole, Andre Leon Talley, Kevyn Aucoin and Gwyneth Paltrow. I think this film is a total undiscovered gem and I get the impression that this is what Ugly Betty would have been like if it had been released a few years earlier. The Intern and Ugly Betty both share the same humour and campiness plus neither of them take themselves too seriously. If you are fascinated by the workings of magazines then you will find this film a lot of fun to watch.

Picture taken from

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Corinne Day Diary

She has been described as the most important photographer of our generation; love her or loathe her there is no way you can ignore Corinne Day. She is one of the most successful women photographers in the UK and is probably the closest thing we have to the iconic Annie Leboivitz who I blogged about here. She came to light in 1991 when she took those immortal images of Kate Moss, those pictures not only made the cover i-D magazine and were featured in The Face but they made a star out of Ms Moss. Few would argue that Corinne has changed the perception of fashion photography. Corinne feels that her contribution to fashion photography is changing the picture from being about the photographer to being about the subject. Yesterday I watched a documentary that was aired on BBC 4 in 2004 which took an intimate look into the world of Corinne by following her during a year of her life. At the launch of her Diary Exhibition at the Photographer's Gallery in 2000 Corinne's work is unveiled to a packed house. This exhibition represents 10 years of her life where she kept pivotal images of her friends, family, experiences and places she has been to. The work is striking but creates very strong reactions from the visitors at the launch which range from disgusting, sympathetic, raw and sad.

Corinne had a very happy and idyllic childhood growing up with her grandparents and brother. Her parents had spilt up when she was very young and her mother had taken her and her brother to live with her grandparents knowing that they would be cared for. Unfortunately school was not such a breeze due to her learning difficulties and she left at the soonest opportunity. She fell into modelling for catalogues and beauty shoots, travelled and lived in California for two years. The turning point of her life was meeting Mark Szaszy, an up and coming director in Tokyo, they quickly became a couple. Mark taught her how to use a camera and that was that; pretty soon she had found two great loves - Mark and photography. The couple moved to Italy where they were surrounded by starter models so she began taking images of them in their flats, surrounded by copies of Vogue magazines, smoking a spiff and swapping stories about their latest job. In 1992 back in London she found her next subject in the shape of an androgynous looking Rosemary Ferguson. She played up Rose's boyish features by putting her in masculine clothes like suits and tomboy tshirts. These pictures were featured in American Vogue in article which talked about how fashionable it looked to be on drugs. This was when the term 'heroin chic' came to the forefront and in an unlikely from of Bill Clinton. British Vogue editor, Alexandra Shulman define the term heroin chic below.

"Heroin chic was s a very clever and canny speech writer's phase for Bill Clinton to describe the glamorisation of the drug culture in the media."

Addressing a group of city mayors about the US drugs policy Clinton condemned heroin chic for glamorising drug use. The Guardian jumped on the bandwagon and used her pictures with asking for her permission and pretty soon the whole media had something to say about heroin chic. However, Corinne had gained a fan in the form of Alexandra Shulman who really took to Corinne's idea of femininity and felt that she represented a change in the mood of fashion at that time. She commissioned Corinne to shoot Kate Moss for Brit Vogue and the end result were pictures of an 18 year old Kate dressed scantily while posing on a bed and sofa. Those images caused an outrage in the media accusing Vogue of exploiting vulnerable young women and promoting child porn. After all this drama, Corinne decided it was time to take a step back from the fashion industry and she began following indie band, Pusherman. She followed them on tour and took images of their professional and personal lives and their lifestyle became her lifestyle drugs and all. Shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with a brain tumour which she was hospitalised for and this almost fatal incident helped her to kick her drug habit.

These days Corinne still takes photographs for fashion magazines such as British, Italian and Japanese Vogue. As well as the Photographer's Gallery her work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, Tate Modern, Saatchi Gallery, The Science Museum, The Design Museum, Gimpel Fils London and included in The Andy Warhol exhibition at the Whitney Museum NY. Interestingly enough in 2007 she was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to take a selection of images of Kate Moss as part of an exhibition called Face of Fashion. The photo that stood out to me where the head shots of Kate using a variety of facial expressions; anger, happiness, surprised, annoyed, sad these images were featured in all the newspapers and really showed Corinne for the genius she is.

You can check out Corinne Day's work at her website.

All images taken by Corinne Day.

Links à la Mode: July 16th

Check out the latest offerings in the world of style and fashion from the Independent Fashion Bloggers network.
  • 39thandbroadway.comNYC vs LA – The Fashion Week Debate
  • Fabulous Finds Gal – Who doesn’t love a gorgeous pin-up? The pin-up poet’s gorgeous and creative new amazing book and insightful interview with the author.
  • Fashion Dare – A Nautical Nod
  • Fasshonaburu – Everyone has a list like this, places to go before you turn 50, a “bucket list” of things to do before you kick it, etc. Well, it sounds shallow and superficial (and by “sounds” I mean “is”), but I have a list of things I want to buy before I enter my nex
  • HiFashion – The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Good Health
  • Hong Kong Fashion Geek – Wide-leg pants and how to make them work for you
  • Independent Fashion Bloggers – Not Buying It: How has the recession affected your fashion blog?
  • Mademoiselle Robot – A London Girl’s shopping guide to Stockholm.
  • Meilily – Island Style Pick: Wood & Bead Bracelet
  • Our Ocean – A colourful review of the clothes in An American in Paris.
  • Retro Chick – Lulu Guinness Holiday Resort 2009 Collection
  • Shop Diary – 2 days ago, the renowned antiques site, just launched a vintage couture, fashion and accessories designer section.
  • The Capitol Fashionista – Modern Fashionista Travel with Vintage Luggage: What better way to add a little touch of class than packing it all up in vintage luggage.
  • THE COVETED – Gorgeous New, More Affordable Denim from A|X and a 0 A|X Gift Card Giveaway
  • The Fashion Planner – ShoeDazzle – Review of Kim Kardashian’s shoe club.
  • the musings of ondo lady – Mention the word Biba and you can bet that any decent fashionista will go all starry eyed. This is because along with Mary Quant, Diane von Furstenberg and Twiggy, Biba is right up there as one of the iconic fashion brands of the 60s and 70s.
  • The Recessionista – 2 days ago Essential Summer Style Tips–Tips for essential summer wardrobe staples: Tips from The Recessionista Blog and Jones’ New York Style Guru Lloyd Boston
  • Think Thru Fashion – Agate Accessories: Find affordable ways to wear the trendy crystal.
  • threadbared – How the Uniform Project highlights fashion’s one constant — the tension between individuality and standardization
  • tickle – Fresh Catch! tickle grills the designers of Delirius, a line as flirty as NY girls
  • Unfunded – All Eyes on%u2026Hayden Panettiere%u2026and Lace!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


So the MediaGuardian 100 power list was published this Monday and featured the movers and shakers in broadcasting, newspapers and magazines, digital media, advertising, marketing and pr and the media business. Jane Bruton, editor-in-chief of Grazia magazine, the country's top weekly glossy made the list for the third year running. Life has been a roller coaster for Bruton since the launch of Grazia in 2005 which has included winning award after award, being named 'media icon of our times' by the PPA. The nation's favourite weekly also went one step further by publishing the magazine live in a perspex pod at Westfield shopping centre last November.

However, Bruton and her posse better watch their backs because there is a new pretender to the crown. Stylist is a fashion and style magazine that is set to challenge the mantle. It is aimed at career women aged between 20 and 40 who lead very chic and affluent lives and will contain topics such as travel, relationships and careers. The publication is published by the same company who produce Shortlist (which is aimed solely at men) and will be distributed free in hip cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

Stylist will be distributed every Wednesday from October.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

I Heart New York

Last week I was raving about Sophie Kinsella’s fantastic book trailer for her new title, Twenties Girl which I thought was an innovative way to market books. However yesterday I was sent to the chick lit heaven when I came across I Heart New York in a supermarket. Yes the book is set in my favourite city of all time and it is about a sassy chick lit about a thoroughly modern Millie who shuts up shop and moves to a new city. Angela Clark takes off to New York for fun and adventure after discovering that her boyfriend is cheating on her. She checks into a hotel, quickly makes friends with Jenny who gives her a makeover, starts dating two cute guys and lands a job on a fashion magazine writing a blog about her life. Very Carrie Bradshaw me thinks. What blew me away was the concept of I Heart New York; it is a chick lit come travel guide all in one that sells an aspirational lifestyle in a chic city. You only need to have a look at the website to see this, for instance there is a blog that keeps you up to date with the protagonist, a link to LoveFilms and Angela’s top ten movies set in NYC and a guide to the hip places in the Big Apple.

The idea is that you buy into Angela as a real person and therefore go out and buy the book including the pending sequels; I Heart Hollywood and I Heart Paris. Lindsay, an editor and brand manager at Harper Collins has clearing put her branding experience to good use by using similar brands such as LoveFilm as tie ups. Furthermore there is talk that companies such as Starbucks, WHotels and Bliss are to come on board. While Lynne Drew, Publishing Director for Harpers who signed up Lindsey will draw on her expertise in working with pop titles such as The Devil Wears Prada. When she is not penning mouth watering books, Lindsey also writes a blog called Beauty Mecca which you can check out here.

I Heart New York is out in paperback now. Look out for I Heart Hollywood in January 2010 and I Heart Paris in July 2010.

Check out a short interview with Lindsey Kelk here.

PS: R.I.P Borders on Oxford Street, I have spent many a blissful hour there leafing though magazines and books while waiting for many a late friend. Therefore I was truly saddened to hear that the store will be one of five stores in the UK that are closing. An end of an era I say.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

10 Things I Hate About You

Back in March I did a retro review of 10 Things I Hate About You and I mentioned that there would be a TV version on its way. Well last Tuesday the small screen version made its debut on ABC Family. The premises is still the same with two contrasting Stratford sisters who represent extreme sides of society at school. Kat played by Lindsey Shaw is a feisty feminist who takes no prisoners and Bianca played by Meaghan Jette Martin is a social butterfly who yearns to get in with the hip crowd. However, the storyline differ slightly from the film; here Kat and Bianca are newcomers at the school while in the film they had been there for years with Bianca being the creme a la creme. Also Bianca has a much sweeter disposition than the character in the film.

Now no school drama would be complete without a baddy so enter Chasity Church played by Dana Davis, the most popular girl in the school who has all the students and teachers eating out of the palm of her hand. She automatically locks heads with Kat over a parking space which is bad news for Bianca who has been scouting Chasity on Facebook in her attempt to bowl her over. Meanwhile Kat finds herself the object of attention by social outsider, Patrick Verona played by Ethan Peck (Gregory Peck's grandson) and makes friends with a graffiti artist called Mandella. The comedy value is provided by ultra geeks, Cameron and Michael who devise a strategy to get Cameron hooked up with Bianca. Their dad, Walter Stratford is played again by Larry Miller who is the only actor from the film.

I downloaded the pilot on itunes (which is free) and really enjoyed it. The dialogue is just as sharp as it was in the film and both Kat and Bianca are compelling characters to watch. I find it interesting that a TV series has been made 10 years after the film hit the screen but with the fascination that we now have with the 80s this show will slot right in.

Check out the preview to the show below.

10 things I Hate About You airs on Tuesdays on ABC Family.

Beyond Biba

Mention the word Biba and you can bet that any decent fashionista will go all starry eyed. This is because along with Mary Quant, Diane von Furstenberg and Twiggy, Biba is right up there as one of the iconic fashion brands of the 60s and 70s. Biba is a store which was created by Barbara Hulanicki, a glamorous Pole who ran the famous outlet with her husband. To be frank, Biba changed the face of UK fashion by making clothes that were seen on catwalks around the world accessible to young women. According to Barbara, typical Biba customers were ‘postwar babies who had been deprived of nourishing protein in childhood and grew up into beautiful skinny people: a designer's dream.'

Wikipedia describes the phenomenon of Biba below:

'The shop's main appeal was that an average woman in London could for less than 10% of her weekly earnings share the look of the most glamorous woman in Europe. What could be seen on the catwalks in Paris could now be bought with a Biba twist for much less money. As the Biba logo became more and more recognizable, the more and more people wanted to be seen in it.'

In 1974 the Biba brand was extended into a mail order catalog and new lines for men and children were created along with a food and book range. Sadly the Biba phase came to a demise in the late 70s when punk was all the range and the brand failed to react to the changing trends. However we had not seen the back of Biba and in 2006 the brand was revived under Bella Freud. A new collection made it's debut at London Fashion Week with plans for a new boutique.

As for Barbara well she continued to work in the fashion business and went on to design a line for children that was very successful. She also moved into the interior business working on projects for a variety of famous people such as Ronnie Wood and musich honcho, Chris Blackwell. Barbara has added another string to her bow by designing a wallpaper range for Habitat and Graham and Brown. She is now collaborating with Topshop on a Biba (esq) creation which are doing very well thank you very much. She lives in Miami where she has made a significant contribution to aesthetics by playing a huge part in the regeneration of Miami Beach. With an amazing career like that behind her it is no surprise that a film has been made about Barbara Hulanicki. Beyond Biba is a documentary gives us a rare insight into Barbara the woman; looking at her tragic childhood in Poland, the powerful impact of Biba, the impact her husband had on the brand and her thoughts on modern America.

Beyond Biba is being screened on Friday 17th July at 7pm at the Victoria and Albert Museum. A Q&A with Barbara Hulanicki will take place afterwards.

Check out the Beyond Biba blog here.

Here is a preview of the documentary below.

Beyond Biba Trailer from November Films on Vimeo.

Also check out this interview with Barbara on along with a really cool video.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Topshop NYC in 24 Hours

Have you ever wondered what Kate Moss was really like underneath all that glitz and fame? Well you will get a chance to find out in a riveting documentary that shows the chaotic build up to the opening of Topshop store in New York. Moss opened the New York branch of the hipper than hip shop in April to much fanfare and media hype. The programme also features Topshop boss, Phillip Green and it shows the manic preparations that took place in order to get the huge US flagship store ready to open on time. You get to see a la Moss in her real form, laughing, joking and taking the piss out of herself. I know we have reality shows coming out of our ears but you have to admit that this one looks a bit special.

I love this picture of her, I think the outfit she is wearing is really glamorous; the dress is very sexy with the split at the side but the leather jacket adds a new twist and makes it it look funky. Love her or hate her, Kate certainly knows how to put an outfit together. I am also loving the British references painted on the box with the Union Jack crown.

You can check out a preview of the show here.

You can catch Topshop NYC in 24 Hours on MTV One on 19 July at 9pm.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Twenties Girl

With the success of her novel turned film, Confessions of a Shopaholic you would think that Sophia Kinsella would decamp to a beach somewhere exotic and live the life of riley. But oh no, this determined Ms is back at work and has a new book out called Twenties Girl. The story is about Lara whose life is in a bit of a mess, what with a floundering business and a business partner/best friend who has gone AWOL. To top that off she has just been dumped by her boyfriend - yes life really sucks for poor Lara. So when she is visited by the ghost of her great aunt, Sadie life seems to take a turn for the better. Sadie is a glamorous all dancing Charleston lady who lives life to the full and adds a lot of fun and delight into her niece’s life. However, Sadie has one request – that Lara will help her to look for her long lost necklace. As a big time Sophie Kinsella fan, I am quite looking forward to this book but what made it stand out to me is the marketing strategy. I think it is so cool that Transworld Publishers have decided to use the book trailer (read my blog post about book trailers here) to promote the title. The quirky little video uses wonderful animation with a voiceover from the protagonist set to Charleston music. I really love the images of the book pages flicking over. Great use of viral marketing.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

We Love Magazines

I am still reeling over the demise of Vibe magazine. Although we are in the midst of a recession and magazine galores have been falling to the wayside, I just assumed that Vibe's corporate investment would ride them through. Obviously not, as news broke last week that the publication would be folding due to lack of revenue. I used to buy Vibe between 1995 and 1999 because to me it was a magazine that simply celebrated and embraced Black urban culture. Yes we had magazines like Echoes, Blues and Soul and Essence but no one did it like Vibe. The format of it alone stood out; it was bigger, bolder and simply better than the rest with it's sexy covers, catchy headlines and well written features. I stopped buying the magazine because I felt that it had lost its way and was not delivering what it started out to. Vibe became a saturated pop magazine with very badly thought out features and scandalous covers. For all that, one thing that you cannot take away from the publication is the passion of the editorial staff and the hours they put in to get the magazine out each month.

Passion is a vital ingredient that is needed in the magazine land. It is what gets you though those early mornings when you need to go across town to do an interview and those late evenings when you need to proof read layouts. We Love Magazines is Colophon2007's love letter to all the magazines they love in the form of a book. It takes a good look at the magazine industry by profiling some of the best magazines in the world. Whether they are mainstreams produced by massive publishing houses or tiny niche titles made by small indies, they are all here. Topics that are covered are the changes in design, advertising, distribution models and creating a great editorial concept.

We Love Magazines was published in conjunction with Colophon2007 which is a two day extravaganza that celebrates the creativity and energy of magazines. The event takes place every year in Luxembourg and features talks, seminars, portfolio shows and conferences about the medium. The last event was in March this year and was attended by 2,000 magazine peeps. Colophon2010 will take place next year and looks to be bigger and better and I plan to be there. There is also another book dedicated to magazines called We Make Magazines: Inside the Independents which features over 100 independent magazines from around the world. There are interviews with founders of some of the titles, quirky Q&As and wonderful imagery of the publications. Both books are collectors items for magazine geeks or anyone working in the industry and I love them dearly. You can buy both books at amazon.

Check out the video for the Colophon2009 event below.

You can watch the full movie here.

Retro Review: Some Kind of Wonderful

With his love of art, a part time job in a gas station and a tomgirl for a best friend, Keith Nelson played by Eric Stoltz is the school social outcast. In a teen culture where looks and money are considered high importance, Keith's working class roots do not cut it at his clique high school. So he spends his time with his best mate Watts played by Mary Stuart Masterson, a sassy lass whose activities include playing drums and spouting feminist rhetoric. However, Keith and Watts are broken out of their solitary existence when he falls for Amanda Jones played by Lea Thompson. Amanda is a gorgeous IT girl who rolls with the popular crowd and is also dating one of the richest guys at school. When Amanda breaks up with her boyfriend Keith takes this chance to ask her out on a date. Unknown to Keith, Watts is secretly in love with him but nevertheless helps him with his plan to woo Amanda.

Some Kind of Wonderful is produced by the legendary John Hughes who brought us The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Pretty In Pink and Sixteen Candles so I had very high expectations before watching it. I can safely say I was not disappointed and Some Kind of Wonderful was a great film to watch. The storyline is not the most original but the script and dialogue makes up for it. Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson and Lea Thompson put in fantastic performances and really gel in this movie. I admit that Mary Stuart Masterson's character, Watts does steal the limelight with all her wise cracks and sarcastic comments but Lea Thompson brings a lot of warmth to a character that you are just yearning to hate. Amanda may be popular and beautiful but her embarrassment of her working class roots demonstrates that things that look perfect on the outside are not always so. Eric Stoltz is great as the guy who does not fit in, this is a little unconvincing in the looks department but he plays the part very well.

This film is a gender revised version of Pretty in Pink which was made a year earlier but with the ending that John Hughes - along with many others - wanted. You see the suits at the films studio pressurised John Hughes into changing the ending of Pretty in Pink so Molly Ringwald's character would end up with McCarthy when he really wanted Ringwald to end up with Cryer's character. So apparently John Hughes wrote this film in response with the ending he really wanted. He did a really good job as I much prefer this version which is uplifting and really celebrates teenage years while Pretty in Pink was somewhat depressing. This film was well received by the critics but did not do that great at the box offices.

Images taken by

Friday, 3 July 2009

Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion

If the documentary, The September Issue is anything to go by, Anna Wintour is not an easy lady to please. So it is interesting to read her complimentary words in the forward for Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion. I came across this book in a post by The Capitol Fashionista and having written a blog post on stylists a few months back I was piqued with interest so I decided to check it out. The book does not just cover stylists who dress the rich and famous; it goes much deeper than that. It looks at characters who have created some of the most powerful images in magazines, fashion shows, TV and advertising. Stylist is full of image makers, editors, taste formers and visual provocators.

16 top stylists are featured in this whopper of a coffee book and were selected by editors of because of their original ideas and iconic status. The lucky 16 are Polly Mellen, Camilla Nickerson, Carine Roitfeld, Grace Coddington, Karl Templar, Alex White, Melanie Ward, Joe Zee, Brana Wolf, Andrea Lieberman, Paul Cavaco, Venetia Scott, Tonne Goodman, Lori Goldstein, Edward Enninful and Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele. Stylist is written by Sarah Mower, contributing editor of Vogue (recently appointed ambassador for new talent by the British Fashion Council) and really goes into the nitty gritty work of the stylist but it is presented in a way that is beautiful and ever so glamorous. Between 16 and 20 pages are devoted to each personality with photo spreads of their work displayed as well as images of the stylist and a mini bio. This book is a must have for anyone who is passionate about fashion.

Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion is available to buy at amazon.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

It's a Mad Mad World

When I am feeling down and need a bit of cheering up I log onto Mad News and it never fails to make me laugh. Founded in 2008 by former freelance journo, Janice Spence, this witty blog gives us the skinny on the Black entertainment scene. While some entertainment websites just publish breaking stories as they see them, Mad News goes the extra mile by taking an observational slant that inspires debate. She must be doing something right because after five months of its inception, Mad News was number 258 on the Black blogger ranking list. A prolific character on twitter, when she is not finding stories for Mad News Janice works in the healthcare communications industry. All this makes Janice one busy lady so I was delighted when she took time out to fill me in Mad News and other ventures.

What made you start blogging?

Necole Bitchie, Concrete Loop and Bossip are the blogs that inspired me the most to first start blogging back in 2006. I loved what they were doing. So one day I logged into my MySpace account (which I set up in 2004 but totally ignored up until this point) and decided to turn the blog feature into a news source. I began posting entertainment news stories on a daily basis and to my surprise managed to build up a huge following. Then in 2008 I decided it was time to set up a blog site as a separate entity away from MySpace, and Mad News was born.

Describe the concept behind Mad News.

The concept behind Mad News is more than just about providing visitors with the latest in entertainment news, music news and gossip. It’s to also give those who don’t know much about events happening outside their own waters, an insight in to what’s happening socially, culturally, politically in the UK and worldwide.

How do you think bloggers have made an impact on the media?

Bloggers have impacted the media immensely, to the point where prominent news organisations now look to them for scoops, particularly from within the world of entertainment. Blogs offer minute by minute news updates/coverage and are usually the first to receive major scoops. The print media seem to be relying more and more on the blogs to provide leads and news stories. I always pick up The London Paper on my way home from work in the evenings and it’s obvious that the editorial staff spend part of the day scanning the blogs for news and the latest photographs of celebs. Bossip and TMZ are clearly favourites (lol). Also such is the impact that there’s a real fear the print media could soon become obsolete.

What do you do when you are not working on your blog?

I hold down a 9-5 job, read trashy novels, watch TV and wonder why British television has just become a sea of tired “reality” shows. I also socialize with friends.

Describe a typical day in the life of Janice Spence.

A typical day involves fulfilling my 9-5 editorial duties by assisting a team of medical writers, researching and collecting medical material online and at the library, and
when I get home I search for material for Mad News and update it then.

You always seem to be on top of the entertainment news, where do you source your stories from?

The London Paper, The Metro, The London Lite, The Mirror, BBC News. The Guardian, The Times Online, The Daily Mail,,, and the new love of my life Twitter.

What are your favourite glossy magazines?
I haven’t purchased a glossy magazine in over a year. But I used to always pick up the Queen of gloss mags OK Magazine, and I know that this may not necessarily be considered a ‘glossy’, but Closer magazine for the sheer comedy value.

Name five blogs that you read religiously

Rhymes With Snitch, The Gossip Jacker, Gyant Unplugged, The Musings of Ondo Lady, and The Cocoa Diaries.

How do you see Mad News evolving over the next two years?

I would like to see Mad News evolve in to becoming the UK’s answer to TMZ, which has steadily become the number 1 news source on the Internet and has now branched off in to television. I would like for Mad News to achieve that level of success and recognition, BUT Mad News will be less intrusive, less intent on destroying pretentious celebrity’s life (but who sort of deserves it) lol and more responsible with regards to content. I don’t want to spend my days worrying and losing hair over lawsuits.