Friday, 31 December 2010

Say Hello to 2011

Wow another year has come and gone already and can you believe that I have been blogging for four whole years? Today is the fourth anniversary of The Musings of Ondo Lady. First of all let me start off by wishing you a belated Merry Xmas. I never really got into the spirit of Xmas due to not having much money and the really crappy weather. Wishing for a white Christmas. Really? I don't think so - we practically had one and it was lousy. Well onto the next. 2011 is round the corner and before we welcome the New Year let's reminisce on the current one. Well in 2010 I started learning how to drive, joined a gym and finally got round to decliuttering my house and I also set up a mini office. I was invited to quite a few great PR events and experienced some wonderful perks. I don't have any resolutions for 2011 except to enjoy life and concentrate on doing what I love - rather similar to the image above which I find totally inspiring. Bring on 2011, I am sure it will be a good one!

Getting Away With It: The Inside Story of Loaded by Tim Southwell

To me loaded is right up there with Playboy in the 1950s and Rolling Stone in the 1960s. It changed the magazine industry completely and even more than that it weaved itself into the fabric of society.
Derek Harbinson, editor of loaded between 1997 and 1998.
Who remembers loaded magazine? During my weekly browse through amazon I came across a book called Getting Away With It: The Inside Story of Loaded by Tim Southwell. Along with the infamous James Brown (journalist not the singer) and Mick Bunnage, Southwell created loaded which was a publication that celebrated British men having the time of their lives. Unlike their counterparts, Arena, GQ, Esquire and For Him (later rebranded as FHM and found success as a loaded imitation) which took themselves very seriously, loaded took a lot of pleasure in making fun of themselves. The publication launched in 1994 selling just over 59,000 and went on to sell an almighty 400,000 plus in 1997. This was in an era where men's magazines were relatively new so it is no surprise that Southwell has touted loaded as the greatest magazine that the world has seen and of course being a respectable journo he set out to document his experience in a book which was published in 1998.
As a magazine junkie, I just had to read Southwell's memoirs so I could find out exactly what it was like being part of the loaded experience. I will admit that I was no loaded fan, I think I bought an issue when the magazine was at its peak to find what all the fuss was about but it did not speak to me. However, I did admire the spirit of the brand and the way it captured the current era. The mid nineties was the birth of Cool Britannia what with the explosion of Oasis, Euro 96 and loaded were right in the midst of it all and capturing it. The publication was so influential that not only did male magazines start copying them it also inspired the launch of female publications such as Minx that were aimed at ladettes. Tim Southwell and James Brown became friends in 1992 while celebrating their beloved Leeds United defeat Stuttgart in the European Cup in Barcelona. Whether it was the elation of seeing their team win or the high energy of all the drink and atmosphere in Spain but this got their creative juices going and they came up with an idea for a men's magazine.

Southwell takes us through his experience with loaded from working on the dummy in order to test the viability to working round the clock to launch the first issue and recruting talented writers, editors and designers. He also shares with us the highlights of working on a publication which was a huge cultural phenomenon and  gave birth to the lad culture which became a manifest of the 90s. Interviewing many a celeb and being interviewed by the media to talk about the success of loaded or on lad mania. He comments on what it was like being part of the loaded team with the plethora of titles at IPC towers and how inspiring it was to bump ideas with a crazy, wacky, creative bunch of like minded misfits. The book is a compelling look into the world of magazines especially the synergy it takes to run a successful one. Oh and let's not forget the politics that were involved and creative differences, Southwell bumping heads with Brown in the typical deputy editor does all the slog while the editor takes all the credit scenario. There are stories from members of the loaded crew such as Martin Deeson, Michael Holden and Bill Borrows. Southwell"s writing is just right and his prose is totally engrossing and I was hooked from page one. In addition, loaded really takes me back to the 90s when magazines were being launched all over the place and when things were pretty damm cool. loaded is still being published but is now a mere shadow of itself with circulation figures of 50,000 recorded this August.

Getting Away With It: The Inside Story of Loaded is available to buy from amazon.

Check out the clip above with James Brown from the Inspiring Entrepreneurs event at British Library, called Hot Off the Press from a few years back.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Fashion Forward: Making It

Fashion Night's Out is a genius event which was dreamt up by Anna Wintour, the inaugural event took place last year with a handful of cities taking part and this year cities all over the world joined in the Fashion's Night Out fun. Well this event has been captured in the form of a documentary called Fashion Forward: Making It. Ashley Greene who is best known for her role in Twilight hosted a documentary on what it takes to make it in the fashion industry. New generation fashionistas such as Alexandra Wang and Rag and Bone, outside talent such as Gwen Stefani and Justin Timberlake and insiders such as Tory Burch and Tabitha Simmons are featured. And of course no fashion documentary would be complete without Anna Wintour. Using last September's Fashion's Night Out as a catalyst, Ashley looks at the energy of the fashion industry. We kick off with Alexander Wang and his gradual descendant onto the fashion scene and he takes us through the themes of his collections. We meet Tabitha Simmons, a top stylist who has worked at Vogue and was solely responsible for putting together the huge fashion show that took place at Fashion's Night Out. We see how she got her foot on the styling ladder through a part time job at a shop and then a few years later she went off to NYC and worked on a variety of magazines till she landed the gig at Vogue. We then go to rag & bone aka the Brit duo Marcus Wainwright and David Neville who gave up their mundane office jobs to set up their funky menswear. We get to see the methods in which they create their quality tailored clothing.
So from bona fide designers we moved onto music artists come designers. Justin Timberlake and his best friend, Trace Ayala founded William Rast in 2006 after many hours of dreaming and discussing having their own fashion label. According to Justin Timberlake, William Rast as a little bit country and rock and roll and with leather and jean etching, the label really reflects Timberlake's lifestyle. Gwen Stefani's label Lamb has been going strong for a good few years and is basically an extention of what she wears on stage. What is interesting about Lamb and William Rast is that they have made their labels available in mainstream shops such as Target and at reasonable prices so their fan base can buy into their lifestyle without breaking the bank. There is a also mini feature on Eric Daman who is the costume designer  for Gossip Girl - remember a few months back I wrote about how Gossip Girl were dedicating two episodes of Fashion's Night Out to the show? Well Fashion Forward looks at how the event was seamlessly meshed into the explosive storylines.
The next section looked at three up and coming designers are emerging into the fashion scene. Young talent such as Prabal Gurung who has dressed Michelle Obama, Bibhal Mohapatra is a seasoned designer who has been working on his collection while slogging away for other designers and Alice Witter got hit by the fashion bug when she moved from France to New York. She started running up pieces on her sewing machine and now she has her own label which is inspired by her native Paris. The last section looks at what happens after you have made it. Tory Burch brings us into her life as a successful designer with stores in cities all over America as well as a certain Oprah Winfrey as a fan. She now has her own foundation where she invest in young women with have great ideas for businesses. Fashion Forward is a truly comprehensive look at how to get into the fashion industry with great and vibrant case studies telling us their fantastic stories. Whether you are fashion enthusiast, fascinated by glamorous image of the sector and looking to make a living out of if, this programme has something for everyone.

Those in the US can catch Fashion Forward: Making It on CWTV.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

My Space - Yrsa Daley-Ward from This Will Not Last

It takes a brave chick to up sticks and set up home albeit temporary in another country but that is exactly what Yrsa Daley-Ward did this year when she set off to South Africa. In between modeling and pursuing her acting dreams, Yrsa writes features, short stories and songs. She recently set up a blog which displays her personal and working life home and abroad. This Will Not Last contains Yrsa's random thoughts on drinking, working on a photo shoot and life in South Africa and is really fascinating to read. I caught up with her to find out where she blogs.

Describe the concept of your blog.
There is no real set concept for my blog - it is a very new personal blog documenting my life and experience as a model, woman, traveller...etc. I try to include things which inspire me, annoy me, make me laugh, make me think. Who knows where it will end. As I said, it's very early days but I have posted pictures from shoots and hope to continue featuring things of interest, rants, pictures and accounts of my the places that I go and the people that I meet.

Where do you scribe?
I scribe in my apartment on the sofa, and sometimes in bed.

Why that place?
I am most relaxed when in my own space, in the middle of the day, or on an evening after work.
What is on your sofa at the moment?
My writing pad and my remote control are currently on my sofa. Neither of them have been touched in a while.

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall.
My walls are bare. Brick walls actually. Perhaps I will rectify this. Perhaps then I will have more to write in my writing pad.

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
I am a messy person, but not a messy worker. I always know where my books, laptops and pens are. Everything else...not so much.

You can check out Yrsa's blog here.

You can follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Stylelikeu Trailer from Stylelikeu on Vimeo.
I love checking out new websites especially those on style and fashion and it is really cool to read one that brings such a personal touch. As technology progresses and social media blurs the lines between voyeurism and intrusion the web gives us a variety of content to feast on. Stylelikeu is a site that features stylish people and delves into their lives to find out what makes them tick, their influences, likes and dislikes and motivations. The website contains a profile on each person along with great images, a short bio and quote from the interviewee. However the USP of the Stylelikeu are the wonderful videos made which features the interviewees talking about their wardrobe, (they go through different outfits and talk about why they bought them) music, their careers and most importantly why fashion is so important to them. So while The Satorialist and Facehunter capture people on the street, with a Selby (esq) feel Stylelikeu shows them inside their homes.
Stylelikeu was set up by mother and daughter team, Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum in 2008 in order to provide an outlet for people who express themselves through their clothes. The aim of the website is to provide a platform where these people can connect with like-minded people. Stylelikeu now comprise of a team of 15 who work hard behind the scenes. The brand has become so successful that they have extended into book publishing with their first book to be released next April. I really love this website and find it genius and in an era where everyone and their dog is setting up a website this one really stands out. Elisa is the former fashion editor of US Glamour and has worked as a stylist while daughter, Lily is studying film and anthropology at NYU so they both know what they are doing.

You can check out Stylelikeu here.

You can follow them on Twitter.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

In the Editor's Chair - Abubukar Tafawa-Balewa

Remember back in the 90s in the midst of Cool Britannia when The Spice Girls, Oasis, Blur and Brit fashion designers ruled? Well heading the creastwave was a lads magazine called Loaded which set the trend for so-called lad culture which was really an excuse for men to drink loads of beer, smoke lots of cigarettes (or anything stronger) and behave like overgrown chimps. Loaded was created in 1994 by James Brown, Mick Bunnage and Tim Southwell and was so successful that it caused other male magazines such as FHM and Maxim to follow them. Well Loaded is still at large but nowhere near as high profile as it was and the debauchery that was now in men's magazines has now been replaced with a more stylish and quirky feel that is bordering on geek chic. Publications such as GQ and Esquire are aimed at a more culture orientated crowd and focus on fashion and music. A lot of international male magazines are going down this route as well. Take Mode Men magazine which is a publication aimed at Nigerian men, which focuses on style, gadgets and trends. The magazines was set up by Abubukar Tafawa-Balewa in 2006 when he saw a gap in the market.

How did you get into journalism?
I've always loved magazines after a short stint in legal practice, I decided there was a gap in the Nigerian men's magazine market. I knew loads of men like myself who had to buy GQ and Esquire monthly, I felt the Nigerian/Black man needed something of our own. It started off as a joke and we are about five years in the business.

Describe the concept of Mode men and the idea behind the name.
The concept has always been to have a magazine for stylish men who like the good things of life and who want to be up to date on trends and gadgets etc. The name has been something I had in my head from secondary school funny as it may sound... It was an acronym for 'men of distinctive elements'. It was amazing to see the 'Ugly Betty' series a year after we launched.

The design is very slick, how did you decide on the art design of the publication?
Each edition has a theme, that theme determines the cover. This particular issue is our 'men of the year issue', normally we have multiple covers but this year we decided to feature style mentor, Stan Mukoro alone as he had two nominations. Stan is style and class personified so we went with that in mind for the cover and the result was satisfactory.
Who is behind Mode Men?
Myself and my team. I'm the Editor-in-chief and double as a creative director. I have a wonderful, dedicate team supporting me.

How many members of staff work on the magazine?
We have a total number of ten but we are currently expanding as we go monthly, so we will be hiring a few more hands. We also work with a lot of freelance stylists, photographers, make up artists etc..

Describe a day in the life of Abukakar Tafawa-Balewa.
Two days are never the same for me. As a creative person I work at all and odd hours. Inspiration can come at 2.00am or 4.00am. I'm up early most days, pray, exercise (if I'm up to it). shower and head to the office. From there anything can happen: meetings, photo shoots, interviews, presentations, trips to London, Abuja... I don't have a closing time. I've spent many nights at the office also.

Which blogs do you check out regularly?
Bella Naija, Linda Ikeji and a few men's blogs.

What magazines do you read?
GQ, Esquire, Vibe and Vanity Fair. I also read Ebony and Essence.

What tips do you have for anyone who wants to become a magazine editor?
You need to love magazines, information and reading.

The Dec/Jan issue of Mode Men is out now.

You can check out the Mode Men website.

Monday, 13 December 2010

For Colored Girls

There has been a lot of reviews and discussions on this show all (of which I have read) and one thing that has become clear about For Colored Girls is that it is indeed a contentious film. When you have a director as controversial as Tyler Perry making a film based on the iconic play and book (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When Rainbow is Enuf) by Ntozake Shange which is much loved then you are going to have drama. The thing about books is that they lead itself for the reader to have a sense of ownership; for while films are watched with others you are really reading a book alone. This act allows you to create an image in your head about which you hold close to your heart and it is no different with For Colored Girls. To get up to speed, For Colored Girls actually started life as a play back in 1975 and has been performed on Broadway and in 1977 it was adapted into a book of 20 poems. The theme of the book is expressing the many struggles of African-American women. The play features seven women who represent a specific shade of colour aka Lady in Yellow and Lady in White and hence the title.
Now this brings me onto the film itself which has a wonderful cast consisting of Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Kimberley Elise, Anii Noni Rose, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad. Hill Harper, Michael Ealy, Omari Hardwick and Khalil Kain play the male supporting roles. All nine female characters have entwining stories that link them to one another and each female represents a particular colour. Gilda played by Phylicia Rashad is the busy body manager of a rundown apartment complex in Harlem which is occupied by Crystal who is in an abusive relationship with her partner and father of two child, Beau Willie who is played by Michael Ealy. The other tenants are Juanita played by Loretta Devine who has given her heart to the wrong man and Tangie played by Thandie Newton, a promiscuous barmaid who picks up men and discards them quickly. Tangie has a really destructive relationship with her mother, Alice played by Whoopi Goldberg who is a sanctimonious bible basher and who has placed all her hopes and dreams on her youngest daughter and Tangie's little sister, Nyla played by Tessa Thompson who is about to go off to college. Nyla also takes dance lessons at a class run by Yasmine played by Anika Noni Rose who is a lady full of passion, energy and a light that is about to be smashed to pieces by her suiter, Bill played by Khalil Kain. Joanna played by Janet Jackson is the editor of a glossy magazine and also Crystal's boss. Cold and intimidating, Joanna rules her office with an iron fist but she is unable to keep tabs on her husband, Carl played Omari Hardwick who steps out with other men. Kelly played by Kerry Washington is a social worker who is concerned about the welfare of Crystal's two children but is struggling with the fact that she cannot have a baby with her husband, Donald played by Hill Harper. Tough issues such as sexual abuse, infidelity, rape, domestic violence, abortion and abandonment are covered here but is it a horrific tragedy that brings all of the nine women together and makes them realise their strength.
First of all I LOVED this movie, I can quite honestly say that I have not watched a film that made me laugh and also make me want to cry.  There are some really harrowing scenes that made me cover my face but Tyler's script really draws you in. I also liked the contemporary feel and look of the film and despite blatantly stealing the character of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada (who Joanna is clearly based on) I thought this addition really helped to bring For Colored Girls into the 21st Century. The main characters are instantly relateable although with nine female leads you do find yourself forgetting about the characters until they pop back onto the screen. There are some truly wonderful performances here especially from Kimberly Elise, Anika Noni Rose, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton and Phylicia Rashad.  Kimberly does the ever suffering woman theme very well and takes this role to another level so I was not surprised to hear that she got grey hairs from playing Crystal because all of her scenes were really intense. Thandie is hilarious and provides a lot of laughs as the neurotic Tangie, Anika brings a level of intensity to her role while Loretta provides a sense of compassion. Phylicia's performance stood out to me mainly because I only really know her as Clair Huxtable in The Cosby Show but she really throws herself into this opposing character with amazing results. I thought Janet Jackson was really stiff in the role as Joanna, I do believe that Janet is a moderate actress but I feel that she was really stretched in this film. In the movie each character recites a monologue from the book and while the other actresses deliver theirs perfectly, Ms Jackson leaves a lot to be desired. I personally think that Angela Bassett would have acted the hell out of this role but then Bassett has become rather typecast as the angry Black woman.
Aside from the great characters the cinematography is wonderful with rich and beautiful shots of the women and lush exterior shots of New York. Despite the outcry Tyler Perry's latest offering is not a film about male bashing, it is a story about the perils that Black women face with and without Black men. As for Tyler, he has excelled himself here, I did wonder how he would merge Ntozake Shange's poetry within the film and although in some places it is a bit jerky overall it is not a bad effort and Perry is assisted with the stellar talent at his disposal. However, Tyler excels himself with theme of 'colors' and it is woven into the film subtly through the clothes the women wear along with make up and jewellery.  The verdict is that this is definitely the most mature piece of work that Tyler Perry has done to date.

For Colored Girls is out now in the UK.

Check out the official website.
If the trailer has wetted your appetite then check out the behind scenes mini documentary about the film below.

PS: I saw this film at The Empire with a wonderful group of Black women and I was not impressed with the fact that it was screened in the smallest cinema (approx 30 seats) which was tucked away at the top floor. Not cool Empire cinema!

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Passionistas

Last week Chuck D went off on one while describing his disgust for the music industry and this week, fellow blogger, Wendi B Writes talked about the demise of the industry and frankly how boring it is. However, it is not just the music business that seems to be dying a slow and painful death the film industry is not looking any better either. There is a famous saying that there are only ten original scripts in Hollywood which are recycled year in year out  and add that to practically every book and vintage TV series being turned into a movie then this all adds up to a creatively dire film scene. Despite all this nothing gets my goat than an actor, writer or singer (or all three)  who decides to embark on a passion project. A passion project is a book or TV show that an actor or writer falls in love with, snaps up the rights quickly and then appoints themselves as producer or director. This means that they have a say on the casting and the script and pretty much everything else. It is beautiful to see a person fulfilling their potential and getting out of their comfort zone but when is too much too much? The danger with passion projects is that they too often turn into an act of vanity and cause the person in charge to lose all sense of reason.
Take Terry McMillan, the film adaptation of Waiting to Exhale was superb but sadly her second adaptation, How Stella Got Her Groove Back was not. Why? Well simply because Forest Whitaker directed the film and exercised his critical eye to edit out all the crap but with How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Terry McMillan was a bit more involved and let's say her passion led her astray and what we ended up with was a self indulgent movie that overstayed it's time. My most memorable passion moment was having to endure Drew Barrymore in Charlies Angels. Now I like Drew and I admire her for the way she has rebuilt her career since her drinking and drug days. But seriously do you really think she would have got that role in Charlie"s Angels if she did not own the rights to the film which she produced under Flower Films  - her production company? The same air of delusions of grandeur applies to Queen Latifah. in Just Wright (read a review of the film). She plays Leslie Wright who is the best friend of Morgan played by Paula Patton, a sexy basketball groupie who has her eye on NBA star Scott McKnight played by Common. When Scott is injured Morgan runs out on him and Leslie and Scott get closer. Then Morgan comes back leaving Scott to choose between the two ladies. Guess who wins? Yep, Leslie does which led to a lot of laughter in the cinema because in real life we all know that would have never happened. But hey when you are the joint owner of the production company behind the film then your character can end up with any guy you damm well please.
Passion projects don"t just have to be carried out by actors, those behind the screen can be just as lethal. Brad Pitt was so in love with the memoirs of Elizabeth Gilbert that he decided that he had to turn the blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love into a film (read the review here). No surprise there as a lot of successful books have been made into films (some more better than others) but to me Pitt got too ahead of himself by persuading Julia Roberts to play the lead role. I have not got round to reading Eat, Pray, Love but a lot of people have told me how great the book is and what an impact it made on their lives. This film really had the potential to be a really insightful and moving piece of work but what we ended up with was a glorified, pretentious chick flick trying to be all deep. The main problem with the film was the lead character - a film like that needed an actress who could throw herself into the role and let it take over her. To me Julia Roberts was all wrong because the movie became all about her and not the message that was being conveyed. However there are times when passion projects can be very successful hence Charlize Theron with the mega hit film, Monster which she co-produced and earned herself a Golden Globe and Oscar in the process. Sometimes passion projects do work but you need to keep your head in tact. The next passion project that I have my eye on is Getting Rid of Matthew by Jennifer Aniston. The book was written by Jane Fallon and is about a PR lady who in embroiled in a love affair with a married man. Jennifer bought the rights of the book two years ago and is producing it with her Kristin Hahn with whom she has set up a production company with. Watch this space.

The picture at the top is of Drew Barrymore at her offices of her production company, Flower Films.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Luella's Guide to English Style by Luella Bartley

Being English is not about being obvious or sexy - it is about being interesting and illogically brilliant.
Luella Bartley, 2010
After a good few years of collecting style books I have finally grown weary of them, I mean there is only so much you can gain from reading about how to be chic isn't there?  Last year I kept hearing that hip designer, Luella Bartley was writing a book on English style which intrigued me as I am an admirer of her work but then it went all quiet. Last week while having my weekly browse through amazon I came across Luella's book which is called Luella's Guide to English Style so I snapped it up. Luella actually started off working in fashion journalism before she launched her collection so I was actually expecting the book to be along the lines of The Meaning of Sunglasses which is written by popular fashion journalist, Hadley Freeman which is an A to Z of fashion. In contrary, Luella's book is comprehensive and historic look at English style.
The book is divided into 10 sections which include a lengthy introduction on what English style is. According to Luella the English rose is a "multi- faceted dresser with an unrivalled eye for irony and English grannys for their quirky and batty style. She refers to them as fillies and gives a shout out to Agatha Christie, the fictional Miss Marple, Vivienne Westwood, The Queen and Maggie Thatcher. Luella takes us through her years at Central St Martins and onto her beginnings in the fashion industry where she was assistant at ES magazine to Lowri Turner. She also talks about landing a column at Vogue and eventually following her dream of launching her own fashion label. Then we are moved onto the seven stages of women which explores how the English lady gains her sense of style from her early years and then we move onto the great British Bosom. The next section delves into Birds of Britain where Luella talks about her favourite British birds (stylish brit women) who she defines as possessing all the traditional Brit qualities but are also inspirational. The birds include Princess Anne, punk icon, Poly Styrene, Marianne Faithful, Melanie Ward, Kate Bush, Justine Frischmann (lead singer of Elastica), the Duchess of Devonshire, Vivienne Westwood, Paula Yates, Vita Sackville-West, PJ Harvey, Mary Quant and Lily Allen. The next chapter, Love, Sex and Tomboys looks at the way the English figures deal with intimate things such as underwear, puberty and sex. This takes us to Tribes of Britannia and their different looks and cultures; punk, grime, Teddy Boys, New Romantics, post-punk as well as Hoxtonians where she gives us a fascinating look into the birth of Hoxtonian coolness. We are treated to a directory of English garb which is the lowdown on pieces of the English wardrobe from tea dresses to parkas to duffel coats and much more. Pretty in Pink talks about how iconic the colour pink has been in English fashion from punk, Thomas Pink, preppy pink and princess pink. Luella also looks at the sub cultures in England such as the creatives from art colleges, graduates of street style and the users of taste and irony. Last but not least is a list of iconic shops all over England.
Reading this book makes you realise exactly how well embedded and connected Luella is to various arms of brit creatives. Katie Grand and Giles Deacon were her class mates at Central St Martins and Justine Frischmanm used to be her landlady. These people are some of the most important figures in pop culture in the UK. Well connected or not there is no doubting Luella's knowledge on English style. Her philosophy is interesting; that any decent English fashionista cannot find their real self in a chic department store like Harvey Nicks unless they have served their apprenticeship in markets, high street, charity shops and jumble shops. She raises some really great points such as that young women pick the wrong icons to follow as oppose to following independent and original ones. At last someone who is not afraid to speak up against the invasion of the plastic princesses. There have been complaints that this book is too London centric but I think that is a bit unfair as Luella is London based. Luella's Guide to English Style is a fantastic gem of  a book that covers nuts and bolts in English style as well as the innovators and shapers that lead the way. The look of the book is very clever and is designed in an olde English style with a slightly distressed golden brown cover, there are gorgeous illustration of various English fashion icons but the image I like the best is of a country pile with a St Georges flag raised. The back of the book has words of David Bowie "They'll never clone ya." Which I think says it all.

Luella"s Guide to English Style is available to buy on amazon.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Thrift America

One of the many cool things that America are famous for are their wonderful thrift shops which host an abundance of quirky stuff such as home interiors, books, records and of course clothes. There was a time when only the geeky kid or the poor trailer kid ventured into thrift stores to pick up a bargain but ever since the vintage renaissance every fashionista is in and out of those places. I will admit that thrift stores have caught my attention so I was really pleased when I heard that Alexa Chung will be fronting a new show called Thrift America where she will be travelling round the States looking around consignment shops, garage sales and flea markets for objects of delights. She will be co-hosting the show with Maya Singer, editor of and the duo will be stopping off at cities such as Orlando, Detroit, Nashville, Alabama and Brooklyn. They also go to Paris and London which is fantastic but a bit odd considering that the show is called Thrift America. I am not a huge Alexa fan, her charms are totally lost on me but I cannot deny that she is perfect for this show what with her grungy and quirky(ish) style but this show sounds totally irresistible. For a start the first episode kicks off at London Fashion Week with Alexa helping gothic jewellery designer, Pamela Love set up a pop-up shop and you know how I feel about pop-up shops. Ooohh I can feel myself getting excited as I type.

Thrift America will be aired next summer on PBS. No dates have been set for the UK but as soon as I get them I will keep you posted.

Image taken from Alexachungworld.

She Said, He Said

She is..NYC is one of those blogs that is a one stop shop for stories on fashion, music, film, magazines and celebrity. Like Jezebel, Gawker and Mad News, this blog is one of the places where you stop to grab your quick guilty pleasures. She is...NYC was set up by Elle Morlock in 2008 and since then she has amassed an array of followers. Her use of vibrant images and original editorial has brought her to the cusp of pop culture in the wonderful world of blogsphere. It is no surprise to hear that Elle is indeed a stylist as her great style comes out in her blog. I caught up with her to find out more about her and her blog.

What made you start blogging?
Well I've been writing poetry for the last ten years. I used to post some of my writings online and a friend of mine, Brie suggested I start a blog. It started out one dimensional but now its multi-faceted.

Describe the concept behind She is...NYC.
I never really sat and thought about what the blog would be, what it would consist of... I'm a little bit of a lot of things [laughs], I just wanted to convey that. There are so many gossip sites, I knew I didn't want be an outright carbon copy of that... I mean, I myself sift through a few of those, but they don't sustain me or give me something to think about long after the computer is off. I think my site reflects the real me, not the surface me. Even though at first glance it may appear very surface. If you pay attention to the quality of entertainment features, personal writings and more, readers will see its more than gloss. I want my readers to feel like individuals. To be informed (from a credible source) and be inspired. She Is...NYC I am, a little bit of everything...

Over the last year bloggers have really made their mark in the fashion industry, how do you think they will continue to push the boundaries over the next few years?
We rely so much on technology, namely our computers. At this point the possibilities are endless. Bloggers are doing so much more than just sitting behind a computer screen commenting on designer collections. They're being named Newsweek's most influential, hosting red carpet specials, banking over a million dollars in revenue and shooting major ad campaigns. I don't see a sector where a blogger cannot flourish.

How do you keep in touch with all the latest news in music, film and fashion?
Well me, I live, eat, sleep and breathe all of those things and that's something I've been doing well before I started my blog two years ago. I'm a very expressive person. Music, movies, and fashion have always helped me to understand myself. So I read a lot of magazines, watch a lot of movies and buy a lot of CD's... plus I'm glued to the number 1 information resource on average six hours a day.

What do you do when you are not working on your blog?
I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2006 with two degrees. I'm a credited wardrobe stylist. I freelance on various styling jobs and work with personal clients. One of my ultimate goals is to win an Oscar for costume design, other than work, I spend a lot of time with the people closest to me doing everyday things.

Describe a typical day in your life.
A typical blogging day goes as follows: I wake up at 7:30am or so and see what I've missed during the late night hours. From 9am to 12pm I utilize the resources of the staff from daytime TV. to see if any of the things they're reporting are 'She is...' worthy. From that point on, I could either blog for one to eight more hours depending on my daily schedule. So usually I'm snacking, sitting on my couch with the television on, various magazines open on the floor, with the computer in my lap. It's all about dedication right now.

What are your favourite glossy magazines?
Harper's Bazaar and Elle are my favorites. Town & Country, Teen VogueW and Women's Health are also on my radar but I usually browse through everything.

Name five blogs that you read religiously.
They're not all "blogs" per se, but I love Trend Land, Just Jared, Red Carpet Fashion Awards, The Life Files and Dolce Vita. All very different site, all inspiring and entertaining.

How do you see your blog evolving over the next two years?
I want it to be more interactive. A couple more useful widgets, nothing too crazy. I always want it to look "clean" but not old fashioned. In the next two years I hope to have a site that people feel they have to read religiously!

You can read Elle's blog here.

You can follow her on Twitter.

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Remaking of W

The Remaking of W from LEGS MEDIA on Vimeo.
Nothing excites me more than the smell of a new magazine than the smell of a magazine relaunch. Over the years I have witnessed a few magazine relaunches such as Grazia, Elle, Marie Claire and Ebony as well as the ones that are no longer with us such as She, B and 19.  So when I came across this video about W's new look I found it all very exciting. I am not an avid reader of W but I am aware that it is one of the bibles for fashion and I have been aware of its new look. The Remaking of W is a short film that shows what it is like to work at W and the effort that goes into creating the copy and images that you see on the pages. Editor in Chief, Stefano Tonchi takes us through the rebranding of the publication and talks about the challenges of coming up with a new design. masthead while getting his staff on board and making sure that they are on the same page. Pun intended. We hear from the people who put the magazine together such as the art designer who talks us through the new logo and the writers, editors, photographers and models. Celebrities such as Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Ryan Goslimg, Michelle Williams and Kim Kardashian are interviewed during their photo shoots.

The Remaking of W also takes us behind the scene of many glamorous events such as New York Fashion Week and Venice Film Festival where we get to see the impact that W has on the creative industries. The short film is really lovely to watch and you really warm to Stefano and his staff moreover the documentary also has blow ups of pages from the magazine which you can feast your eyes on.  One theme that runs through the documentary is how important art is to W and how self expression is allowed to run loose at the publication. Which goes to show that a good editor has the courage to stand back and let his or her staff get on with their job without interference.

You can check out the W website here.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Win a Copy of From Notting Hill With Love...Actually by Ali McNamara

If you are a fan of films such as Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually then you will love this book. From Notting Hill With Love...Actually is a book about Scarlett O'Brien who lives her life through movies - she has huge crushes on Hugh Grant, Richard Curtis and Johnny Depp. Her dreams come true when she is asked to house sit a fabulous mansion in Notting Hill which is the setting if all her favourite films leaving her ever so practical fiance behind. However, she gets more than she bargained for when she start to get chummy with her very handsome neighbour and pretty soon she is the star of her very own romance story.

From Notting Hill With Love...Actually is released today and in order to celebrate this those very kind people at Little Brown have given us copies of the book for five lucky readers. All you need to do is leave a comment stating what your favourite film is.

Check out a previous post that I did on the book launch of From Notting Hill With Love...Actually, there is also a short video interview with the author Ali McNamara.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Online Blog Festival: Bloggers Delight

I have been really quiet about this but I am proud to announce that I am part of an exciting new initiative called Bloggers Delight. The project is a radio show which features different bloggers discussing topical issues. Bloggers Delight actually launched in the summer and is aired every Wednesday between 6pm and 7pm on Bang 103.6 FM. Topics ranging from politics, relationships, music, social issues and technology are discussed. Basically if it is in the news and people are talking about it then it will be covered on Bloggers Delight. The show is the concept of Damion Silk and Lorraine Russell from The Lala Report who put their pretty heads together and come up with an audio version of The View except there would be a twists; the show would feature some of the best bloggers in London. As well as myself there are 15 UK based bloggers who contribute to the show on a rota basis. The show is moving into exciting pastures and on Sunday 12th December we will be shooting a live U Stream show at Cottons Restaurant in front of an audience.

You can check out the Bloggers Delight website where you can find out more about the show and the bloggers. Below is a list of the bloggers who part of the Bloggers Delight crew.

Michelle from Fantasy Ride
Leon from Pbleepd
Amber from Phreshmentality
Keysha from The Cocoa Diaries
Yinka from Vex in the City
The Pusha from The Push Musings
Yogi Bear from A Big Man's Perspective
Lisa from Deeper Than Twitter
Wendi B from Wendi B Writes
Jimmy Swagger
Ms Brown Eyez from Brown Eyez
Marvin from Marvin Sparks
DJ Skinz
Sherry from Parlour Magazine
Rich Blk

Well that is the end of the Online Blog Festival and I hope you enjoyed it. In case you have missed some of the posts fear not because you can read them all here.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Online Blog Festival: Style Diaries

I do love a good book about bloggers and Style Diaries is certainly that. The book looks at today's most exciting and influential fashion bloggers and goes deep into what makes then tick. Written by Simone Werle, Style Diaries profiles 50 bloggers from all over the world such as Susie Bubble and Jane Aldridge, each blogger has 10 pages dedicated to them where they talk about their style, influences, likes and dislikes and why they blog. The profiles also contains pictures of the relevant blogger posing in their favorite outfits in various locations. I read this book in one sitting, mostly because I needed to review it for today but also because I found it to be utterly compelling. Not only did Style Diaries allow me to get into the head of bloggers that were familiar to me but it also introduces me to a whole lot of other blogging talent, moreover it is also brings home that we are part of a special community. This blogging community is filled with quirky, geeky, shy, creative, original folks who express themselves via fashion and blogging. Style Diaries celebrates the revolution of fashion blogging and how it has broken down the established fashion networks.

Style Diaries is available to buy from amazon.

This post is part of the Online Blog Festival special which runs over the weekend. Tomorrow I will be featuring Bloggers Delight which is a radio show on Bang 103.6FM.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Online Blog Festival: Love Blogging

A few weeks ago the fabulous Disney Roller Girl announced that she was being featured on Vice Style as part of their Love Blogging season which takes a look at five leading fashion bloggers. Although this piqued my interest I never got round to checking it out. However, when an email from the Vice Style PR team dropped into my mail box I decided it was time to have a good look at Love Blogging. The series consists of five short films which celebrate the the new wave of fashion blogging but there is a twist here; instead of a straight documentary about the said blogger the film also features their fashion muses who discuss the impact that fashion blogging has had on the industry. The concept of Love Blogging was to launch Blackberry Torch (each blogger is seen working on the Torch) and the bloggers were selected by Blackberry XXX and Vice Style collaborator Daryoush Haj-Najafi. The five bloggers are Madeleine Ostlie from Seamless Fashion, Alice Goddard, Letty Schmiterlow & Louise Benson (a trio of independent bloggers), Bip Ling, Stevie McKenzie-Smith from Discotheque Confusion and of course Disney Roller Girl and they talk about what inspires them to blog, what they are passionate about and other bloggers that they admire. The bloggers appear alongside their fashion muses such as Lulu Kennedy, Celestine Cooney, Richard Nicholl and Gillian Watkins.

Each film is really well made, extremely glossy and draws you in and it is really great to see the bloggers at work ie taking pictures, discussing ideas and conducting research. Most of the videos that I have seen show bloggers talking into a camera or at fashion shows so this is really refreshing and to a certain extent rather innovative. Love Blogging actually launched in October with a film dropping each week - the film above is on Madeleine Ostlie from Seamless Fashion but you can catch the other films on Vice Style.

Online Blog Festival

I will hold my hands up and admit that I have been stuck in a rut. Feeling uninspired and ragged from the flu bug I picked up last week but mostly from my lack of exposure to some serious creativity. Well that all changed this morning when I received my delivery from my amazon guy which contained Style Diaries which is a book that features various fashion bloggers around the world. I actually came across the title in this week's Grazia and decided that I needed to have it in my life. Then barely a few minutes later I got an email from Vice telling me about their Love Blogging project which focuses on five prominent fashion bloggers. So not only are bloggers visible at fashion shows and in magazines they are also have a presence in books and viral videos but it does not stop there; earlier this week Facehunter announced that he is shooting a new episode of The Facehunter Show in NYC and add that to Bloggers Delight which is one of the first radio shows to feature bloggers it certainly pays off to be a blogger. Well I decided it was time for The Musings of Ondo Lady to host an impromptu mini online Blog Festival which will celebrate the way blogging is affecting our lives through various mediums. We have the books, online video shows and now a radio show and who knows what the future will hold. The Online Blog Festival will run over the weekend and will kick off later today with Love Blogging and tomorrow I will be featuring be Style Diaries and on Sunday it will be Bloggers Delight.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


The trailer has just dropped yet people are already complaining about it. The general consensus of the epic film about Winnie Mandela is that the accents are off, Jennifer Hudson and Terrance Howard are miscast and the make up is awful. I concur that Jennifer's make up at the latter stage is terrible. The accent may or may not be bad but I am not an expert on South African dialects so cannot vouch for Jennifer and Terence's voices. However, what I can say is that my first impressions of Winnie was that it was compelling, moving and intense and I was drawn in within the first few seconds. Jennifer and Terrence are the perfect pair to play the iconic Winnie and Nelson Mandela - they are both great actors and sort of resemble the couple. I have always been facinated by Winnie Mandela, her story and what drove her during the years of her marriage to Nelson and after their split. Now after the much told story of Nelson Mandela it is about time that we got to hear Winnie's side of the story. The film is directed by Darrell Roodt who brought us Sarafina and has a wonderful feel to it.

We have not seen Jennifer do anything significant since Dreamgirls which brought her the Oscar along with many other top awards well unless you count Sex and the City and The Secret Life of Bees, so it is great to have her back on the big screen. Terrence is an amazing actor who possess that rare fomr of screen presence, I first noticed him in The Best Man where he stole the film but he blew me away in Crash. He has a great body of work which came to fruition when he did Hustle and Flow which earned him an Oscar nomination and hopefully he will get his props in this role.

Winnie is set to be released early next year possibly at the Sundance Film Festival.

Check out an interview with Jennifer Hudson below where she talks about working on the film and her opinion on Winnie Mandela herself demanding a final say on the script.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I Heart Feminism

Back in September Clutch magazine published an article on what it is like to be a Black feminist and the perils that goes along with it, well this got me thinking. Feminism whether you are Black, white or pink is a complex issue. Utter the word feminism and you will get a wide range of reactions from down right horror to sheer passion. Jane Bradley explained this point in a fantastic post that she wrote a few weeks ago. She was at the launch of Levi's website called Shape What's To Come which is an online community for creative women to network, share ideas and support each other.  Jane was in a space where successful business women were sharing their stories about their route to the top and the challenges and joys they had experienced. It was all going so well till Jane raised the issue of feminism and what it meant to women in the room. The reception she got was pretty much on the chilly side.

The ideal of feminism was to provide equality for women on a political, economic and social level. Over the world millions of women fought (and still do) for women to have equal pay and opportunities in the workplace, the right to vote and opposed against abuse in relationships. Today the image of feminism equates to revolutionary women burning their bras and butch looking dykes striding about in dungarees. The second-wave of feminism began in the early 60s and lasted to the late 70s and it dealt with issues such as inequalities, sexuality, family rights, the workplace and reproductive rights. Post-feminism became widely known is the 80s and was set up as a backlash to second-wave of feminism and there has been quite a few arguments on what it actually represents. Some post-feminists say that feminism is no longer relevant in today's society and some women argue that adding the post before feminism gives the idea that equality has been achieved. Some even point out cultural icons such as Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw are post-feminists because they are liberated and enjoy their sexuality. Now in 2010 we are in a limbo state - you know when you have the passionate relationship that all consumed you and now it is kind of over but you still really like it each and you have problems defining your relationship. Well to a lot of women, feminism is just like that. I decided to have a chat with a couple of female bloggers to find out what feminism means to them.

Bim Adewunmi is a freelance journalist and copywriter who runs a blog called Yoruba Girl Dancing.
Feminism for me comes down to 'choice' and freedom to express that choice. The fact remains that women are at the end of a lot of discrimination, purely down to their gender. Factor in other things like race and socio-economic status (which has a lot to do with gender and race anyway) and you're left with a very dire situation indeed. I find being a feminist empowering; it acts as a filter through which I see the wider world, and informs a lot of my thinking. It allows me to question the status quo and to seek ways to make it better and fairer for everyone.
I think feminism is very necessary in today's society. In this age in which we are constantly told that we are living in a post-feminist utopia, a lot of women believe the battle has been won, but it really hasn't. From advertising to popular culture to politics to the work place, women are pushed back into the dark ages, often insidiously and without us noticing. I think that a lot of the things which get touted as 'empowering' or 'freedom' are a result of normalised and internalised oppression and un-privilege. Things like lap-dancing, sex work etc. which have typically been the work of women forced into such work, are rarely truly 'empowering'; but have been adopted by people like Girls Gone Wild and Playboy etc to normalise it. For example, there's a lot of talk about 'being a lady' or 'being unfeminine', often written and said by women themselves. No-one stops to consider why these strictures are not placed on men, or why it seems to matter - it's systematic and has been in place for thousands of years - and oftentimes, we ourselves as women buy into the nonsense. Lots of us operate in a false consciousness, unaware of either our own privilege or the fights we still need to be fighting. Contrary to popular (and really rather stupid) belief, feminism is not about putting down or hating men, nor is it about raising women to a level above common sense. It is about recognising that the system is often patriarchal, with women bearing the brunt of negative bias. Feminism (and feminist activism) allows us to call out the bullshit and seek to level the playing field and make things fairer for everyone.
A lot of the feminists who inspire me on a daily basis and who I respect aren't famous. However, I respect Gloria Steinem's work, as well as Susan Brownmiller and Kate Millett. More recently, writers Kira Cochrane, Laura Barton, and Megan Carpentier have been brilliant. I'm also a fan of several writers in the Jezebel stable. My feminist beliefs are stated quite baldly in the strap-line of my blog, which is pretty much the second thing you see on my homepage - 'Race things, pop culture stuff, feminist doodles'. I make an effort to write about feminist issues, particularly seen through race and pop culture filters, as they are often the first and most common way many of us process the world.  I try to write things which connect with people on several levels but always remind them that the world is grossly unfair and it is up to us to change it.

Jane Bradley is a writer and web editor and runs her self titled blog.
To me, a feminist is someone who is passionate about achieving equality for women, and about promoting and celebrating women's achievements in every field. But, similarly to religion or other ideologies, it's a subject that people respond to very personally, meaning definitions and opinions on it will differ drastically and fiercely from person to person. Feminism has become a problematic term that many people don't want to be associated with. As a label, it's been so stigmatised and misunderstood that it makes people uncomfortable, meaning they shy away from applying it to themselves. But despite all those media clich├ęs about burnt bras and hairy armpits, and reports that insinuate that feminism is redundant in today's supposedly equal society, I passionately believe that feminism is still essential. From cultures where female circumcision is still common to statistics reporting that one in four women have experienced rape or attempted rape, to the fact that 71% of performances at this year's Glastonbury were by all-male acts, we are still a long way from equality for women.
My feminist icons are too many to count, and it changes on an almost daily basis. To name but a few, I love the Guerilla Girls, Barbara Kruger, Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Shelley and Cathi Unsworth. Some of individuals and collectives involved with Ladyfest Ten are incredibly awe-inspiring too; arts collective Storm in a Teacup have been behind several fab projects and events such as Swallows & Amazons and So She Said, and I remain convinced that Annette Barlow of The Girls Are secretly possesses superhero powers - she is doing so much to recognise and celebrate women in music. I incorporate my feminist views into my blog via my books website, For Books' Sake which focuses mainly on books by and for women, and there's a definite feminist slant to it. Although originally the site covered a broader range of books and authors, it's been a natural evolution to what is is now; there were so many passionate women with exciting projects that it made sense to tighten the focus of the site and give those authors, projects and events a platform and a voice. For Books' Sake has also been involved in coordinating the literature programme for Ladyfest Ten, and through that I've met so many other creative, passionate and inspirational feminists that it's completely reaffirmed my conviction about feminism's continued relevance and importance. I also rant about feminism and subjects associated with it on my personal blog. Strangely, my recent post about feminism and one from earlier this year about rape apologists and misogyny in Hollywood have been my two most popular posts ever.

So there you have it. Despite many acclaims it looks like feminism is well and truly alive.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Black Girls Rock! Celebrating the Brilliance of Black Women

Well the release of For Colored Girls seems to have got everyone all rilled up. Tyler Perry's latest venture which is an adaptation of the monologues by Ntozake Shange has got a lot of people all hot under the collar, judging by the comments on Mad News. Like or loathe the film one thing you cannot dispute is that For Colored Girls is a movie that tells the stories of Black sisters which is something we do not get to see very often. In fact positive images of Black women tend to be few and far between in magazines, TV and on billboard posters and this is a fact that Black Girls Rock! are trying to readdress. Black Girls Rock! is an initiative which celebrates the achievements of exceptional women of colour and the aim is to help and empower young women. Their goal is to help girls aged between 12 and 17 with their self esteem and self worth by getting them involved in arts based programs which pushes excellence.

Black Girls Rock! was founded by Beverly Bond in 2006 with the original concept of creating t-shirts which featured images of accomplished Black women. Then she decided that the project had a lot more mileage in it and came up with the idea of having workshops for young women. Beverley joined forces with BET to introduce the Black Girls Rock! event which highlights of accomplishments of Black women. The event which is in its fifth year took place on Sunday 7th November and was hosted by Nia Long with Black icons such as Missy Elliott, Chrisette Michelle, Ruby Dee, Dr. Iyanla Vanzant and Keke Palmer being honoured. There was a huge roster of exciting performers like Jill Scott, Ledisi, Marsha Ambrosius, Keri Hilson, Kelly Price, Keyshia Cole, Monica, Fantasia, VV Brown and Shontelle. Now that is what you call a proper line up. It is so great to see Black women honoured in this way and this initiative reminds me of the Why I Love Being a Black Woman scheme that Essence launched in July as well as the You're Beautiful, Woman! event that I am involved in. All amazing projects that inspire Black women.

Everyone in the UK can watch Black Girls Rock! this Saturday at 6pm on BET. However, if you cannot wait that long or if you miss it you can watch the full show here.

Check out the fabulous Beverly Bond talking about the concept of Black Girls Rock!

Jumping the Broom

At last the gorgeous Laz Alonso finally nabs a lead role in a movie. He stars as Jason Taylor who is set to marry Sabrina Watson, the love of his life who is played by Paula Patton. They have it all planned out; a huge wedding set in Martha's Vineyard with all their family and friends. However the path of true love or of planning a wedding does not run smooth and the couple experience a lot of bumpy rides along the way to the alter. For a start the couple come from two completely different worlds, while Jason comes from a regular blue collar background, Sabrina comes from an elite and rich family. Sabrina's mother played by Angela Bassett is about as bourgeoisie as they come and looks down on the Watson's while Jason's mother played by Loretta Devine is a sassy, hardworking sister who will not hesitate to cuss you down in a New York minute. Needless to say that when the two families meet they clash like two titans. Pretty soon the two mothers are at each other's throat and this tension leads down to the bride and groom and it begins to look like there might not be an actual wedding. The film is directed by Salim Akil who has worked on  TV shows such as Girlfriends, Soul Food and The Game and this is his movie debut. The wonderful TD Jakes who brought us Not Easily Broken acts as producer as well as the Reverend in the film. Jumping the Broom reminds me of Our Family Wedding which starred Lance Gross and America Ferrera but this film looks a lot more fun and relateable.

Jumping the Broom is released in the US on Mother's Day 2011 and on 10th June 2011 here in the UK.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Ebony Rocks

I do love it when magazines get all creative and produce numerous covers for a special issue. There is something really exciting and celebratory about seeing different covers of your favourite mag; it is a bit like putting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. So when I saw that picture of Mary J Blige channelling Diana Ross in her Mahogany mode, I was pretty smitten and then I found out via Harlem Loves that there are a whole bunch of covers featuring current African American stars as past African American stars from iconic issues and you can say I was pretty psyched. We have Nia Long as Dorothy Dandridge, Usher as Sammy Davies Jnr, Taraji P Henson as Diahann Carroll, Regina King as Eartha Kitt, Jurnee Smollet as Lena Horne, Yolanda Adams as Mahalia Jackson, John Legend as Duke Ellington, Lamman Rucker as Richard Roundtree, Blair Underwood as Sidney Poitier, Omar Epps as Muhammed Ali and Samuel L. Jackson as Martin Luther King. The covers are all really vibrant and eye catching. What a better way to celebrate the publication's 65th anniversary. This combined with the super duper double December issue of Essence which features the whole cast of For Coloured Girls means that the US Black magazines are stepping up their game and long may it continue.

You can find these special covers inside the November issue of Ebony which is the 'special collectors edition. 

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Lady Presents

I came across LadyM Presents during the summer when I was covering Clothes Show London as it was one of the blogs that had great coverage on the event. LadyM Presents was created by Rachel Montague-Ebbs in September last year and is a hybrid of fashion, beauty, boutiques, lifestyles and accessories.  As a fruit importer by day and blogger by night you could say that Rachel has the best of both worlds as she is able to work on both passions. Her work has also caught the eye of the media and Rachel has been featured in The Kent on Sunday and on BBC Radio Kent. She took time out to answer some questions about her blog.

What made you start blogging?
My salsa dancing partner asked me one day "what do you do that's creative?" as a fruit buyer by day the answer was "not much, apart from salsa dancing." So I decided to start a blog - originally on Blogspot -
about my daily life.  I realised that the blog was quickly turning to being more about fashion - especially when I did the feature "Dress Challenge - wearing a dress to work everyday" (I work in quite a casual
environment). I met the fabulous Jez of Torpedo Juice who offered to create a brand and design a website for me and Lady M Presents was born.

Describe the concept behind LadyM Presents.
LadyM Presents is an online magazine for fashionistas. I would say that it is turning more into a features magazine than a blog, as it is less about my own style and life now.  I feature up and coming designers who I think deserve some promotion, boutiques both online and with physical stores, beauty professionals and occasionally the odd feature in the lifestyle section too. It's basically a platform to promote amazing talent in the fashion industry, who may lack recognition at the moment and also an
opportunity to explore trends and styles which is something I just love writing about.

Over the last year bloggers have really made their mark in the fashion industry, how do you think they will continue to push the boundaries over the next few years?
The position of the blogger has moved forward in the world of fashion in recent years. We now get invited to fashion weeks, have our own lounges at events such as Britain"s Next Top Model Live. We have to ability to feature collections and news practically instantly and the internet continues to have a strong presence in the industry so the bloggers (usually unpaid) provide a lot of free marketing and an online presence for a lot of events and brands. I followed New York Fashion Week by reading tweets that were sent from the front row of the main catwalk shows, it gets information out there instantly and also widens the audience.  Bloggers are often seen as a lower class in the fashion world but they hold an important place and are the future of new ways of promotion and marketing in a competitive industry.

You are based in Kent, how do you keep in touch with all latest trends in beauty and fashion?
I have a lot of links to fashion houses across the world via Facebook and Twitter. I also sign up to all the main websites such as and Fashion Insight for all the latest news. I work with some leading PR companies across the world to get updates on latest collections from designers and boutiques.  I am also fortunate to be able to attend London Fashion Week and New Zealand Fashion Week and get to see the next seasons trends first hand.

What do you do when you are not working on your blog?
My day job is completely different. I am an importer of berries for major UK supermarkets, I get to travel, sourcing products but its not all glamour, I spend a lot of time in the office programming, number crunching and problem solving. When I'm not at work you'll normally find me on the treadmill or in a spin class as well as salsa classes every Wednesday.

Describe a typical day in your life.
There is no typical day. It depends if I'm in the country or not. Normally I'm in the office by 7am. As we say in the industry "strawberries never sleep", so its a long day. Then I head to the gym, catch up with my friends over dinner and usually head home, check out Twitter for the latest gossip and news, check the analytics of LadyM Presents and email designers and boutiques that i have met at fashion weeks or events who I would like to feature on the site.  Usually I have two evenings a week when I am writing features or researching and then an afternoon at the weekend.

What are your favourite glossy magazines? 
I have a subscription to Vogue, Elle, Stylist and Grazia (the poor postman!) I love the way Elle is written, I think my style of writing is very similar. I love the weekly arrival of Grazia, its a quick taste of fashion and celebrity news that is well put together and their photo shoots are always amazing. Stylist comes with me on any trip or I pick it up at the airport.

Name five blogs that you read religiously.
Clothes, Cameras and Coffee from the very talented Roz, I interviewed her recently and was amazed at her talent considering she is so young. Of course The Musings of Ondo Lady, it's different, well written and fresh. I must admit I'm more of an online magazine and glossy magazine reader rather than blogs.

How do you see your blog evolving over the next two years?
I see it becoming a fully fledged magazine, I hope to take on some contributors as there are not enough hours in the day. I would like it to become more international, so to have bloggers in New York, Paris, Moscow, Sydney - just broaden the horizons. I'd also love to have "house designers" - designers who we follow closely and work with in developing their brand so that we can understand their collections and be on trend all the time.

You can read LadyM Presents here.

You can follow Rachel on Twitter.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

My Space - Thomas Walker from Thom Ticklemouse Make-Up Blog

Thomas Walker has one of those jobs that makes you jealous. He is a make up artist and can be found backstage working on the models during London Fashion Week as well as other glam events. He has been blogging since July this year as a bid to keep his readers up to date on his work. Thom's blog also cover make up trends, product reviews and recommendations as well as the odd post on fashion. Thom Ticklemouse Make-Up Blog is a fan space where you can learn about the life of a make up artist. I caught up with him so he could tell me where he writes his blog.

Describe the concept of your blog.
The concept of my blog is a fun friendly informative approach to make up, I want readers to feel like I am talking to them. I am here to help! I don't like beauty blogs that say 'use this product because it will change your life.' when half the time the product hasn't even been used.

Where do you scribe?
My blog is also a 'follow me' so viewers and readers can read what I have been up too, as my main job is a make up artist. My blog comes second.

Why that place?
I love to research everything so my main time blogging will be my bed. I have a desk but I live in a Georgian house that's pretty cold so I am always under the duvet
What is on your bed, desk and table at the moment?
On my bed right now is my diary, a cup of tea (i am a chain tea drinker) and of course my Blackberry - she's my child. Lol.

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall?
In terms of inspiration I have a large collection of magazines and DVDs. I also have monthly rental subscription - movies inspire me so much. However magazines are wonderful, I am always tearing out pages that inspire me which i will stick above my bed to manifest my own creativity.

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
I am a both tidy and messy. I like the space to be neat but I always work up a mess, I think mess is made by the mind being creative. I like the phrase a beautiful mess.

You can follow Thom's blog here.

You can follow him on Twitter.