Thursday, 30 September 2010

From Notting Hill With Love...Actually - The Book Launch

You know there are some books that you just hear about and you know that it is the one. The book that you are going to get stuck into and really going to enjoy. From Notting Hill With Love...Actually is that kind of book. The novel is the debut by Ali McNamara and is inspired by Brit chick flicks such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pretty Woman, Love Actually and Notting Hill. From Notting Hill With Love...Actually is the story of Scarlett O'Brien who is totally infatuated with romantic films. In fact she spends most of her time with her head stuck in the clouds and dreaming about a knight who will come and sweep her off her feet. In reality Scarlett's life is not so exciting; she has a nine to five office job and is engaged to the loyal but ever so practical David. However, when she is asked to house-sit a glamorous mansion in Notting Hill she is ecstatic as this allows her to live out her film fantasises. She also gets to rub shoulders with the flamboyant Oscar and her handsome neighbour Sean. Pretty soon she is engrossed in her new life and reluctant to go back to her previous one.

On Wednesday I attended the launch of From Notting Hill With Love...Actually which took place at The Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill - you know that travel bookshop which Hugh Grant's character owned in the film, Notting Hill. Pretty cool huh? Author, Ali McNamara was in attendance as were the lovely team from Little, Brown and chatted with journalists and bloggers. The publishing team really went to town with this launch and even had a mini red carpet as well as a couple of photographers who took pictures as soon as people arrived. Of course there were complimentary glasses of champagne on offer as well as popcorn and cupcakes. Ali also read extracts from her book and kindly took time out to answer a few questions.

From Notting Hill With Love..Actually is available to purchase from amazon and all good bookshops on 25th November. I will be posting a review of it nearer to the time of publication.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

My Space - Ire Okojie from Sober in The Cauldron

Eclectic and funky are the words that come to mind when I look at Ire Okojie's blog. Her blog, Sober in The Cauldron covers culture, art and her witty observations. I came across it last week when she dropped me a line to say hi and I am ever so glad she did because as a certain Ms Cole shouted on X Factor a few weeks back - Ire's blog is right up my street. Ire started Sober in The Cauldron back in January this year and when she is not banging out posts she is busy being an art critic for Precious Online. I caught up with her to find out where she writes her blog.

Describe the concept of your blog.
Ecclectic, random, quirky. Marauding through the cluttered mind of a culture junkie.

Where do you scribe?
At my bed, desk and kitchen table.

Why that place?
My bed because I travel in comfort from there to anywhere in my imagination. My desk gives me a temporary feeling of organisation. The kitchen because food talks to me from the fridge and sometimes I answer.
What is on your bed, desk ad kitchen table at the moment?
My bed has books. I sleep with them! (I've run out of space on my book shelves and cupboards). My kitchen table is naked but normally has a deep blue flower patterned table cloth. My desk has some of my younger brother's character designs and my sister's poems. I like to pretend they come to life, recite the poetry and tell me things to write about.

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall?
It doesn't  necessarily inspire me but tickles my skewed perception...An image of an inseperable Macaque monkey and a pidgeon holding each other in China. Somewhere out there is a parallel universe filled with incongruous images and it makes me smile.

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
I'm a messy worker. I try to be tidy but it's fleeting, though in that wierd chaos eggs are hatched.

You can read Ire's blog here.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Westfield London Car Boot Fair

I heard rumblings about The Westfield London Car Boot Fair  on Twitter about a week ago but never really took much notice. I assumed that it would be an average car boot sale with knocks off in a grubby car till I read a post on Coco's Tea Party' about it. The pictures looked amazing with the shiny, sexy looking Hyundais. So on Friday when I went to see Eat Pray Love in Westfields I decided to have a browse. Over 20 retailers such as Bobbi Brown, Myla, Swaroski and Wolford have taken part in the event and each car has an exciting design as well as being filled with bargains galore.
Each day features different shops showing off their wares and on Friday I saw brands such as Whistles, Foyles, Topshop, Oasis, Ted Baker, Reiss and Donna Ida. Topshop went the whole hog and even had retro suitcases on the top of their car, There was even some lovely cupcakes from Buttercup Cake Shop and of course the Mary's Living & Giving car which is the baby of Queen of Shops, Mary Portas. All the shops have really used their imagination on this project; all the displays are wonderful. Some brands have mannequins dressed in the store's outfits dotted around and some have sofas placed alongside the car. It makes you want to shop and shop. The Westfield London Car Boot Fair  started on 21st September in order to celebrate London Fashion Week. It actually ends today but if you missed it fear not because I am sure it will be back next year.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Eat Pray Love

Liz played by Julia Roberts is suffering from a year of discontent; unhappy in her eight year marriage and uninspired by her life she is having some sort of a crisis. After leaving her distraught husband, Steven played by Billy Crudup and ending a doomed rebound affair with a young actor she decides to take stock of her life. Liz decides to take a year out (as you do) to travel to Italy, India and Bali in order to find herself. What a cliche eh? Well keep reading because the cliches keep coming thick and fast. In Italy Liz quickly makes friends with Sofi played by Tuva Novotny, a sassy Swede who has been in Rome for six weeks. She is introduced to the Italian way of life and spends many a time gorging pizzas and pasta dishes. Then she moves onto India where she spends most of her time praying  in an ashram and meets up with Richard played by Richard Jenkins, the worldly, wise and slightly tragic Texan who teaches her to treasure life. Pretty soon, in fact before you can blink Julia is in Bali and exploring the tranquality of the place. It is here where she meets Felipe played by Javier Bardem who is a free spirited Brazillian. The two are drawn to each other and predictably have a love affair. However, Felipe is serious about Julia and wants to settle down with her but is she brave enough to take the jump?

First of all I would like to point out that I have not read the book; it is on my TBR pile so I have nothing to compare it to. I would also like to point out that I was vey miffed about Julia Roberts playing the lead part. I am really no Roberts fan and apart from Erin Brockovich, Julia Roberts only seems capable of playing Julia Roberts. I really wish Hollywood had had the guts to get a unknown actress to play the part. Secondly I found the movie to be one big cliche - unhappy woman jacks in job and marriage to travel round the world. How many times have we heard that? Alas Eat Pray Love had nothing else to add to the story. I did like the scenes in Italy as it showed Italian culture and Liz emersing herself in the country and bonding with her tribe. However the scenes in india and Bali left me cold. I found them quite patronising. Alarmingly, a lot of the scenes in the book made no sense such as why two women in their 30s who are eating their way round Italy would be squeezing themselves into skinny jeans. Why not buy a pair that fit? These are fully grown women not teenagers. Also there is no inclination about Liz's career as an author and how successful she was before she took off on her travels. I mean she had written successful plays as well as the script for the film Coyote Ugly. Thirdly and more importantly I found it hard to relate to Liz, she just seemed so blah - I did not hate her but she just irritated me. For me to get into a film I really need to buy into the main character but I could not empahaise with Liz at all. This is mostly due to the fact there was no back story about the protagonist.
The whole point of a book, play or film is to see the main character go through a rites of passage and come out of the other end a different person. Liz did not seem to change at all. She just seem to go from man to man and not learning very much at all. The cinematograpjy was beautiful and Italy and Bali looked sumptous on the screen but then considering the budget it shouldn't look anything else. Eat Pray Love is yet another example of Hollywood's brand extention where they tap into an established market and produce a film that is nothing more than glorified chick flick. If this is what you are after then you will enjoy it, if you are looking for something more substantial then I would really not bother. I spent the last 60 minutes praying it would end soon. 

Eat Pray Love is out in all UK cinemas now.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Marie Claire Presents the Maybelline Pop-Up Shop

You all know I love a pop-up store so I had to get down to the Maybelline Pop-Up Shop presented by Marie Claire which is in Covent Garden. The store which has been created specifically for London Fashion Week is the first of its kind in Europe. Maybelline Pop-Up flung its doors opened on 16th September in Covent Garden and they have been inundated with visitors since then. The store is a 600 square feet emporium with a smooth white alabaster exterior and a very light and airy interior. The wooden floors and white walls meshed with the brightly coloured make up and branding materials provide a sense of intimacy without feeling cramped. The treats on offer are complimentary manicures, makeovers and eyebrow threading. You can also purchase the latest limited edition of Marie Claire (you know the one that the subscribers get and we ordinarly folks don't) as well as the latest make up items. Pinned up on the wall are images of models donning the latest make up looks from the catwalk which the Maybelline make up girls are on hand to recreate. It is also a place to go to get lots of advice on the
The lovely Yrsa and I took a trip to the shop and had a very nice wander. The make up artists were very nice and friendly and keen to help. I had a manicure done which was pretty top notch and Yrsa had her eyebrows threaded and she did not feel any pain at all. Now I have been getting my eyebrows threaded for a good few years and always feel it so I was amazed when she told me this. This place is a must for all beauty junkie and for any respectable lady who wears make up.

The Maybelline Pop-Up Store is open till Sunday 26th September so make sure you get in there. The address is 18 Shorts Garden, Seven Dials, (just off Neal Street) Covent Garden, London WC2H 9LD.

Press Lounging

One of the fun aspects of attending London Fashion Week was roaming round Somerset House having  a look at the exhibition and I love having a peek in the press room at the British Fashion Council (BFC) tent. As well as being full of loads of information about the shows and designers, the press room is also a space where journalists and bloggers can bang out their copy while sipping a cup of much needed coffee.
What I love about the BFC press room is the way it always look completely different every season. The look for this season was Scandinavian Modern with wooden floor boards, chic white work desks and benches as well as round sofa's stylishly dotted around.
The media rooms at Vauxhall Fashion Scout and On/Off are always equally stylish and all the press/media rooms are equipped with laptops. The concept for Vauxhall Fashion Scout is the minimalism look with shiny lacquer white desks and white leather sofas. The furniture made a perfect contrast to the classic parquet flooring. I didn't make it down to the press lounge for On/Off which I am gutted about because I heard that it was amazing and contained some funky knitted chairs and decadent lampshades by designer, Melanie Porter which are pictured at the top. They look amazing don't they?

The picture in the middle is of the BFC tent and the one at the bottom is of Vauxhall Fashion Scout.

Tech Touch Style

Technology and fashion seem to be going hand in hand these days like bread and butter and Abercrombie and Fitch. One of the sponsors of London Fashion Week (LFW) are Hannspree who donated netbooks for use in the Bloggers Bar. Sony Vaio provided laptops for the media room for Vauxhall Fashion Scout and of course there is the relationship that HP has with the industry ie the Vivienne Tam netbook. After having no access to internet during my stint at LFW (left laptop at home and had no time to blog while rushing from show to show) I couldn't wait to get home and type all my posts up on my HP TouchSmart 300 which is in my office. The PC is a multi touch screen and comes with Windows 7 as well as fantastic a 20 inch full HD display screen. So it is one hell of a beauty. As I am not really too keen on touching the screen (I feel that it is too sacred) it is great that a keyboard and mouse included. The sound from the HP TouchSmart is superb and I tuned into BBC Radio 1Xtra while I was cranking out those LFW posts. There is enough speed to store images and videos which is great for when I am selecting which picture to use for a blog post. It also allows me to retouch and crop images easily which is essential as I have been taking a lot of images at LFW. As my office is right next to the bathroom I tend to indulge in playing my iTunes selection while I am relaxing in the bath. So the HP TouchSmart works well for both work and play.

The picture above is taken from the launch of the HP TouchSmart which I attended back in July (you can read my blog post about it here) where Project Runway finalist Emilio Sosa talked about how he uses the PC to work on his designs.

Untold Season VII

I came across Untold during the summer at Clothes Show London and I was pretty impressed with the work from the designers. Untold Design is a community interest company and social enterprise which offers new and emerging creatives who specialise in various aspects of design a space to show their work. Untold pay a lot of lip service in collaboration and collective showcasing where all the designers work together which brings down the cost aimed at the creatives. The Untold story began in 2007 with just three designers and now three years later the collective has seen over 300 designers and creatives go through their doors. On Monday all doors led to The Design Museum where Untold Season VII took place in conjunction with The London Design Festival and London Fashion Week. There was a pop-up boutique on the old routemaster double decker bus parked outside of the venue where you could buy special editions of prints by Victoria Scott as well as a variety of illustrations. On the top deck there were collections by Eki Orleans and Zanaib Vandu-Chikolo. The designers showing off their collections on the runway were Tijana & Mila Popovic, Ross Paul Keenan, Jasmine Howard-Evans, Eki Orleans, Ricardo Ramos and Karla Sabina.
The idea behind the Tijana & Mila Popovic collection is to unite ethics and aesthetics drawing from new age elements and fashion, graphics and interiors. This was a gorgeous collection with chiffony dresses, leotards and lots of PVC. Despite having being trained on Saville Row Ross Paul Keenan wanted to rebel against this and as a result his collection was based on the concept of football and the Brixton riots. Ricardo Ramos's collection was based on his inspiration of India hence the use of saris, cottons, Madras checks and diplomat stripes. This was quite a dusky collection with flashes of vibrant colours on dresses and pantsuits.
Eki Orleans brilliantly uses West African prints on silk materials and turns them into smock tops, floaty maxi and shift dresses. I loved this collection and it was refreshing to see the prints used on silk as opposed to other materials. With the use of two dimensional and three dimensional design, Jasmine Howard-Evans creates her collections with a holistic approach, creating prints and pieces that interact together. I thought this collection was fabulous and I really liked the way the models were sent down the catwalk with a tiny camera where they pretended to take pictures of the audience and the photographers. Very cute. Karla Sabina's collection consists of handbags and jewelley which tells a story of sensibility, experience and maturity of someone who has learned to trust her senses. The necklaces were very elegant and the tiny shoulder bags were tres chic. Untold created a fantastic evening with a wonderful celebration of fashion and it is great to see so much talent in this country. The evening was topped off with a serving of tea and cupcakes. Well what else?

You can find out more about Untold by visiting their website.

Pics are supplied by Untold. Middle pic is of the collection by Tijana and Mila Popovic, the bottom pic is of Jasmine Howard-Evans. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Look Show 2.0

Another season and another exciting installment of The Look Show returned in conjunction with London Fashion Week. Once again it took place at The Saatchi Gallery and there were the delights of free champagne and canapes as well as various pamper treatments. There were also performances by Gabriela Clini (in the pic below), Diana Vickers and hip US group, The Like. Apparently there were numerous C-list celebs in tow such as Jamelia, X Factor's Jo McEldery, Shane Ward, Martine McCutheon but I only spotted a bleary eyed looking Callum Best. I met up with the lovely Yvonne from Pretty Stylish London and we indulged in a makeover courtesy of Benefit.
The Look Show is organised by Look magazine and the aim of the event is to showcase the new season's trends from high street stores. The event made its official debut last February and was a huge success (read my previous blog review here) and as LFW concentrates on what we will be wearing for next Spring and Summer it is refreshing to see what the trends are for this season. High street brands such as M&S, Oasis, French Connection, Mango, Dorothy Perkins, River Island, Warehouse, H&M, Office, Monsoon, New Look and Next all showed their wares for this autumn and winter. The looks that I saw were the inevitable camel shades and aviator jackets; I wouldn't throw those ankle boots or shorts away just yet as they are still going strong. There were still a few capes around and jumpsuits as well as maxi dresses. Office employed the use of dancers to show off their 60s sci-fi themed shoes. I did see some really lovely pieces; such as the gorgeous crepe shifts, floaty tunics and jersey dresses from French Connection and Dorothy Perkins had a selection of wonderful prints on maxi and midi dresses and vintage florals. Monsoon never fail to impress me with their exotic colours, beautiful fabrics detailed finishing and their a/w 10 range has not let them down. It is full of lots of delights of quirky prints, wonderful hues with draped chiffons, fluid sheers and sequin embellishment. The fashion show takes over just under an hour but it is well worth it, with great models and a thumping soundtrack, this is one of the most fun fashion shows I have ever been to. To top that off we were given a goodie bag rammed full of beauty products and accessories. Not a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon.

Keeping up with the blogging trend, Look magazine also ran a blogging competition where they invited several bloggers to come down and review the show. You can read all about the comp and all the reviews here.

Fashion Diversity

London Fashion Week kicked off last Friday with the usual glamourous fashion shows, after parties, celebrities on the front row and various launches. Over six days there has been a huge plethora of designers showing their offering for next Spring and Summer but the catwalk shows have not just been restricted to the BFC tent; other partners such as Vauxhall Fashion Scout and On/Off have been drawing a huge crowd with their shows. However, LFW was given a huge boost with the announcement that the British fashion industry is worth nearly £12 billion (yes billion!) proving to be the one of the most creative industries. The irony of this statement does not escape me  as life in the Brit fashion industry is far from rosey. I was having a BBM discussion with Janice from Mad News about the position of London Fashion Week in comparison with the other fashion weeks such as New York, Milan and Paris. Jan was under the impression that LFW was up there in the echelons when in reality the event is very low down the ranks. LFW is seen as the quirkier and edgy sister and the place to go for ideas and trends but in terms of sales that is all done in New York, Milan and Paris. Most of the top editors skip London after New York and head straight for Milan along with most of the top models. Reason being? Well simply - cold cash or rather lack of. As slick as the British Fashion Council may appear to be there is a serious problem with finances within the British fashion scene. A lot of new designers in this country struggle to get their business off the ground and even when they do it is a constant struggle for them to get the next collection out. Initiatives like On/Off and Vauxhall Scout Fashion were set up to provide new designers with a platform to show their work which would hopefully lead them to bigger and better things and have done a fantastic job and now there are other collectives that are set up to promote up and coming designers.
Fashion Diversity, Fashion Mavericks and Untold are just a few organisations who are showcasing new designers. Fashion Diversity has been running for two years and their objective is to re-addrress the balance of diversity during London Fashion Week by raising the profile and supporting designers and models within the UK fashion industry. This took place in the form of a two day celebration of fashion which consists of a press launch and a VIP gala show, a fashion show featuring the work of students and graduates as well as a fashion show for the public. Last Thursday I went down to the press launch and gala awards which took place at Islington Metal Works. The event was a collaboration between Mahogany Model Management and Untold Design CIC and featured the works of Mong, Nias World, Aaron Purean Khan, Arif Khan, Aamaa Couture, Bibi Grafitti, Chichia London, Blaq by Sasha James and Kevin Patrick. The designs were a mixture of modern designs with shells and embellishments as well as African prints. Designers, Adebayo Jones, Jolaby and Patrick Kevin were rightfully given awards to honor their careers and success in the fashion industry and both Adebayo Jones and Patrick Kevin showed off their collection for us to see. I was really impressed with the quality of the designs as well as the elaborate make up and it is great to see designers with a much smaller profile getting their props.

For more information about Fashion Diversity check out their website

Monday, 20 September 2010

London Fashion Week September 2010

I was planning on attending New York Fashion Week but well that didn't work out so I decided to make the most of being in the UK and spend a few days at London Fashion Week. Unfortunately I didn't apply for tickets for the main catwalk shows and I wasn't in the mood to gatecrash so I decided to attend the events I did actually have an invite to. All of these events were off schedule (which means shows that are not taking place at the British Fashion Council tent) and darted across different parts of London. On Thursday there was Fashion Diversity at Islington Metal Works, Friday was The Look Show at The Saatchi Gallery, Saturday was Fashion Mavericks at The Strand Palace Hotel and Monday was Untold at The London Design Museum. I will be covering these events during the next few posts and filling you in on all the details.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Just Wright

Last night I went to the screening of Just Wright starring Queen Latifah and Common. I first saw the trailer for this film a few months back and thought it looked charming although rather unrealistic. The film is about Leslie Wright played by Queen Latifah who is a single and 35 year old women who has a heart of gold. She loves her job as a physical therapist and loves her family and also has a huge passion for the New York Nicks. Her gorgeous best friend, Morgan played by Paula Patton is the complete opposite from Leslie - vacuous and self-centred, her main goal is to bag an NBA star and she puts an awful lot of thought and time into landing one. NBA star, Scott McKnight played by Common is Morgan's target and when Leslie has a chance meeting with Scott at a petrol station it looks like the two of them might have something special till Scott lays eyes on Morgan and falls for her hook, line and sinker. Before you can say put on a ring on it, the two are engaged and Morgan is planning their glitzy wedding at The Plaza. Then tragedy strikes and Scott is badly injured during a game and it looks like his glittering career is over. Before you can say through sickness and health, Morgan takes off leaving Scott to pine for the loss of his lady and his career. Enter Leslie who is determined not to let Scott wallow in his pity and even more determined to get him back in the NBA. With sheer grit, discipline and inspiration, Leslie has Scott ready for the NBA and with everyone falling at his feet - including Morgan. This proves to be a bit of a problem as Leslie and Scott have got very close over the last few months. So who will Scott choose?
I thought this was a very entertaining and slick film; there are lots of laughs and fun moments but then this is only to be expected from Sanaa Hamri, the lady who brought us the brilliant, Something New. Queen Latifah is her usual home-girl charismatic self while Paula Patton is great as the bimboesque, Morgan. I can see the logic in casting Common as he adds a lot of pull to the movie ie he provides the eye candy for the ladies and thus his male fans will probably give the film a look. However, he did nothing for me in the film - first of all he is too damm short to play a basketball player and his acting skills leave a lot to be desired. They should have just gone the whole hog and casted a real NBA star - I am sure LeBron James would have fitted the role perfectly. Now to the real crux of the matter -  I am just going to say it - Just Wright was a great film and Queen Latifah is a lovely lady but there is no way that those two would have ended up together. There was a lot of tittering amongst the audience during the love scenes between Common and Queen Latifah's characters and I think the general consensus was that the film was just a huge fairytale. Like I mentioned before, Just Wright is a lovely and fun film and I will definitely be getting it on DVD when it is released.

Just Wright is released on Friday.

The event was organised by Rapture Film Club who put on screenings of urban Black films such as Why Did We Get Married and Not Easily Broken. You can check out their website here.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Featured in Style Sample Magazine

I have always been a huge fan of Style Sample which is a fantastic magazine written by bloggers for bloggers. Started by Tamia Stimson in 2008, Style Sample features interviews with fashion bloggers around the world, technical advice for your blogs, design tips and also profiles stylish cities for you to visit. So I was pretty chuffed when Tamia contacted me asking me to contribute an article to the ninth issue. My task was to profile Japanese style blogger, TV host and author, La Carmina which was a lot of fun as well as being very insightful.

You can read my article here - just flick to page 28 to find it.

Style Sample is available to read online but you can also order print issues from MagCloud.

Fashion's Night Out 2010

Fashion's Night Out kicks off tomorrow over here in the UK with a huge boganza of pop up stores, product launches, music performances and makeovers. Practically every shop worth its salt is putting on something special for the event which will be mirrored in various cities around the world. However as can be expected it is the Yanks who have gone the whole hog; as well as hosting the biggest fashion show in New York history there will be lots of parties, live performances and shopping events taking place over the Big Apple this Thursday. To celebrate this event, CBS are making a one off documentary about the build up to NYC's Fashion's Night Out. The programme will show the staff from Vogue and how they work with stakeholders such as CFDA and NYC & Company as well as various celebrities and designers on the big night. It looks like Fashion's Night Out has really caught the imagination of the public because the new series of Gossip Girl will be dedicating the first two episdoes to the event. Serena, Blair and co will be seen taking part in various fashioney activities in Manhattan. Vogue editors, Hamish Bowles and Lauren Santo Domingo will also make a cameo in the episodes. Talk about art imitating life. The concept of Fashion"s Night Out was created by Anna Wintour in a bid to get people shopping again despite the recession. The first Fashion's Night Out was launched last year in New York and London and was an amazing success so no surprise that it is being repeated this year and rolled out to different cities. 

This time last year I was in New York for their Fashion's Night Out (big sigh of reminisce) and there was a really great atmosphere. My mate and I went in and out of the shops in downtown Manhattan listening to the music being spun by the DJ's and sipping the complimentary drinks. The event has really moved up to another level with a slick website for each country taking part and great social media presence but my only concern is that maybe the event has got too big too fast. I find it hard to find the events on the NYC and London websites and the number of events seem rather overwhelming. Navigating the West End is a feat in itself but doing so while trying to get to events for Fashion"s Night Out will prove very challenging. 

For more information on Fashion's Night Out in London click here and for events on NYC Fashion's Night out click here.

Fashion's Night Out will be aired on CBS on Wednesday 15th September in the US. Not sure when it is hitting the UK but as soon as I find out I will send out a tweet or two. 

Friday, 3 September 2010

Almost 5'4"

I came across Isobella Jade's book while doing my usual browse in my local bookstore and it jumped out to me for many reasons. A story about a model who is unconventionally small is interesting and the fact that she wrote the whole book in the Apple Store is particularly fascinating. Almost 5'4" are the memoirs of Isobella Jade who is a jobbing model in New York City and it shows the less than glamorous aspect of the modelling industry. While the supermodels enjoy a life of film premieres, champagne, designer clothes and glossy magazine shoots, the reality is all very different for Isobella. She has to slum it on public transport and struggle to meet rent each month. Almost 5'4" was published in February this year and was met to critical acclaim in the press. I caught up with Isobella to talk about books and blogs.

What was the inspiration behind the book? 
I first wrote the memoir as a personal keepsake to hold my memories of my early modeling pursuits. However, after writing it, the memoir started to have more than a personal meaning, and as the internet-age inspired more girls of all sizes to want to be models and search on the internet for answers, the book became a story of a model these girls could relate to. Also there weren’t any books out there about modeling from a shorter girl’s perspective so I figured it was about time! Fashion is not everything in modeling. Measurements are not everything in modeling.

You wrote the book in the Apple Store in Manhattan (which I find amazing) how did you manage to get away with that?
I’d go to the store daily, and soon I became a regular. I had already been using the store for about nine months when I started writing Almost 5’4” there. Writing it at the store was just adding something to my daily do-it-list while using the computers to check my email and update my social media. It felt comfortable; the environment was very innovative, creative, and alive.

How long did it take you to write the book? 
I wrote at the store for about four months.

How did you go about getting your book deal? 
I first self published my memoir Almost 5’4” and self promoted it to the press and media. Writing the memoir and promoting it taught me that it is possible to do-it-yourself, and that putting yourself out there can lead to great things. I gained the belief in “building and creating yourself.” Which I had done in modeling, but doing it publishing cemented my belief that it will be work, but it is possible to build a dream.
After the rewrites and editing, how much input did you have in the marketing of the book? Did you have any say on the cover design and the title? 
Authors are their best marketers. It can help to have a PR team working with you of course, but whenever I work on a book project I already have in mind the marketing I hope to accomplish. I like to postal mail my books, include a handwritten note and personally sign them when I mail them to reporters, magazine editors, etc. Almost 5’4” comes from the height that reads on my modeling comp card, 5’4”. I am really shorter than that actually, hence the “Almost” in the title. For the US edition the cover is a photograph from my modeling pursuits taken by Michael McCabe, for UK edition of Almost 5’4” my publisher thought an illustration inspired by that photo would look nice and I approved it.

What advice do you have to a budding novelist? 
To not be afraid. To aim high and don’t think you are not capable of getting great features in magazines or publications because you are “a new author,” – so what! It is a must or authors to be marketers, if you want a certain feature in a magazine or newspaper, then get out there, research, mail, hustle and get your book to the right editor or person. Take a chance on yourself. I also suggest “knowing yourself and your work and knowing who would like it.” Ask yourself “What type of person would read this book?” I think knowing your reader, knowing what else they read, knowing the magazines and blogs they read it is a good idea. Authors have to be more than writers to build a business and brand around themselves, however I think it is important to hold on to the “reason you write.”

Who are your favourite authors? 
When I read I want to be inspired or learn something, I want to learn about someone else’s journey and life, whether it is big or small. I love biographies and memoirs. Chanel: A Woman of Her Own by Axel Madsen, Half Broke Horses and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I also love reading about the roots and history of companies, businesses and brands, What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. I also like the honesty in books by Jonathan Ames.

Describe a typical day for you. 
My day starts with coffee. In the morning I write for a couple hours, update my blog, social media, put together my press kits, run to the post office to mail magazines and publications that I want to be featured in. Or reach out to people I want to work with, go to modeling castings, have meetings with my photographer friends about collaborating on projects, on the train write in my journal notes, make a video blog, set up my podcast segment for my podcast, and write, research, write, research, write, research, and somewhere in there I eat. I work on more than one project at once because my energy needs to be used. Right now I am preparing to publish a new book of unpublished modeling stories called Short Stuff in the fall, and also I am working on a fictional teen novel, and a how-to-modeling book based on my blog. I’d love to see my memoir Almost 5’4” become a film or TV series so I have been preparing a screenplay. So I have a lot of visions running through my mind. Usually I get in bed at 12:30am or 1am. and read books on my iPhone or toss and turn until 2am.

You are such an inspirational as both an author and a model. What is next for Isobella Jade?
Among my books, and my advocating through social media and Web 2.0, I think my future will be in inspiring girls to do what they want to do and to stay realistically ambitious and to have a goal and dream to chase. I plan to share that message in many formats. I really love chasing the chance that each day brings, I love the possibility of success. I love starting with an idea; a thought, a wonder, and seeing it come to life. I wake up for that. To prove to myself and others that it is possible, but you really do have to give yourself a chance.

You can buy 5'4" from amazon.

You can read Isobella's blog here and you can check out her website.

You can follow her on Twitter.

Check out the trailer for Almost 5'4" below.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Will Packer

A funny thing happens when you start making money outside of Hollywood. Guess what? People started to care 
Will Packer 
Takers opened in the States last week and hit the number one slot in the box office. Takers is a heist film in the vein of Ocean's Eleven and has a stellar cast of Idris Elba, T.I, Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Hayden Christiensen and Zoe Saldama. The film was directed by John Luessenhop but the man behind the hit film is the producer, William Packer (known as Will Packer) who has a great body of work behind him. Along with his partner, Rob Hardy, Will formed Rainforest Films and they have produced films such as Chocolate City, Trois, Trois 2: Pandora's Box, Motives, Trois 3: The Escort, Stomp the Yard, This Christmas and Obsessed.
William was born and raised in Florida and graduated from Florida A&M University in Electrical Engineering. It was at Florida University where he met Rob Hardy and they began to make films together and this along with an apprenticeship with film director, Warrington Hudlin who brought us House Party and Boomerang wetted Will's appetite for the film business. Will Packer's USP is being able to produce films that are extremely successful outside of Hollywood and his first four films are testament to that. His first film, Chocolate City was released in 1994 while he was still at college and did well enough to earn them a distribution deal. After graduation Will and Rob moved to Atlanta where Rainforest Films were born with the aim of making films that would appeal to a Black audience who were eager to see films in different genres starring people of colour. So enter Trois which was the duo's first theatrical release and became the fastest million dollar grossing film distributed by African Americans. After that Hollywood came calling and Rainforest Films signed a deal with Columbia Tri-Star to produce and distribute urban films. Trois 2, The Gospel and Motives soon followed as well Lockdown which became one of Columbia Tri-Star's top selling independent releases. The more successful Will and Rob got the more clout they gained and pretty soon they had enough pull to attract top stars for their films. Hence Loretta Devine, Chris Brown, Idris Elba and Delroy Lindo for This Christmas, Chris Brown, Columbus Short and Meagan Good for Stomp the Yard (which is their biggest success and grossed $75 million) and Beyonce Knowles for Obsessed. So with the release of Takers it looks like Will Packer has come of age and I can only expect great things from him. Expect a sequel to Stomp the Yard in September and a screen version of Steve Harvey's book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Currently Will is working on a biopic of Kemba Smith - an inspiring lady who was sentenced for 24 years in jail but served six years after being released by Bill Clinton in 2000 after he stood down from the presidency. Will has been acknowledged on several high profile lists, including ten producer's to watch by Daily Variety magazine, The Giant 100 by Giant Magazine, Who’s Hot To Watch in 2008 by Jet Magazine and Black Enterprise’s Most Powerful Players Under 40.

Will Packer lives in Atlanta with his family.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

How She Move

I fell in love with this chocolate-skinned girl. It was like, she is chocolate-skinned - it is not all about light skinned and long hair.
Rutina Wesley
A good mate and I were discussing the genre of street dance movies and their lack of main Black characters. Like Black people can't dance. Purleaze. She then told me about How She Move which is a film that dispels all that and the curious person that I am decided to check it out. After watching it I am really glad that I followed her recommendation. How She Move is the story of Rayanna played by Rutina Wesley ie the Black chick from True Blood. The film is a low budget one set in Toronto and kicks off with our protagonist having to leave her prestigious boarding school because her parents have spent all their cash on her older sister's rehab bills. Tragically this is to no avail as her sister dies before finishing the rehab programme. These traumatic incidents leave a bitter pill in Rayanna's mouth as she has to return to her local state school and the hostility of her former school peers. However, she has a plan in order to get back to her old school and that is a scholarship which means that she has to sit an exam to qualify. Back at her old neighbourhood she is reacquainted with her old friend Bishop played by Dwain Murphy who is part of a street dance group. Sparks fly but Rayana is determined that nothing will get in her way of that scholarship. However, during the exam she has a mini breakdown and with all her hopes dashed she has to find a back up plan to get her gear into check. The second plan is the highly competitive Step Monster Contest where all the best dancers compete with the winners receiving $50,000. This is the competition that Bishop and her former best friend, Michelle played by Tre' Armstrong are going for. Her relationship with Michelle is very rocky because Michelle feels that Rayanna abandoned her when she got into boarding school and the two girls bump heads often in the film. Michelle is the complete opposite to Rayanna who is studious and focused to Michelle's party going and smoking ways but the two ladies still share a deep love for dancing. After another combative episode at school, Rayanna is ordered to tutor Michelle. The duo sort out their differences and Michele offers Rayanna a slot in her dance group to compete at Step Monster. The thing is girl groups do not do well in the competition and Rayanna knows that if she stands any chance of securing her future she needs to be in a boy group and that means persuading Bishop into letting her join his so they can become the first mixed-sex group to win the competition.
While the cinematography is not as slick as the Step Up movies, the script and storyline of How She Move really grips you. You really fall in love with Rayanna and her gut wrenching determination in this film. The dancing which consists of stepping is awesome but then that is hardly a surprise as a lot of the cast are trained dancers and all put in seven hours of training each day. The film explores interesting dynamics between siblings such as Bishop's relationship with his younger brother, Quake played by Brennan Gademans is slightly turbulent due to their personality differences. Quake is a geek with an aptitude for dance who yearns for his much cooler brother's approval and acceptance to the group. There is the feudfriendship with Rayanna and Michelle and there are Rayanne's parents who are struggling to pick up the pieces after their oldest daughter's death. How She Move is a coming of age film about a lady who finds her path in life after experiencing many setbacks. The films is very endearing and I fully enjoyed it.

You can buy How She Move from amazon.

That Dapper Blogger

Terence Sambo is certainly a die hard fashionista; as well as being a Junior Fashion Editor for FAB magazine he is constantly tweeting updates on the fashion industry and updating his two blogs. Men's Fashion and Lifestyle Afficionando was launched in 2008 and looks at the true elements of style and One Nigerian Boy was launched earlier this year and covers arts, music, style and fashion from a Nigerian perspective. I caught up with him to talk about his blog, One Nigerian Boy and his inspirations behind it.

What made you start blogging? 
I can't exactly point out the main reason why I started blogging but I happened to get bored during the research for my final year project and started spending loads of times reading blogs. One blog in particular I Luw Fashion which is now known as Berkeley Magazine and now defunct use to be one of my fav reads. It was written by a Black Swedish boy of Ugandan descent, Hassan Luwalira. Reading his blog motivated me to start mine as I felt I had something to contribute to the fashion industry.

Describe the concept behind One Nigerian Boy
Its like my mirror into the world of African fashion and Style. I also add reasonable doses of myself into the blog.

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? 
Most people see blogging as a fad which will soon fade out. That's so untrue, if anything I think its print media that will fade out. Blogging is a lot more personal and give the readers a more direct contact with their favorite fashion writers. Even magazines and businesses have started their own blogs and bloggers are now getting front row seats at fashion shows besides 20 year industry veterans. The future can only be brighter for bloggers.

You come up with a lot of unique stories on your blog, how do you get your inspiration? 
My inspiration is drawn both from my environment and my online journeys through various blogs and even sometimes interesting topics being discussed on twitter.

What do you do when you are not working on your blog? 
I'm junior fashion editor of FAB magazine and times I'm not blogging it's either there's work I'm doing for the magazine or reading. I hardly watch TV in fact I prefer You Tube because I can watch it while doing other things online. I'm also learning French at the moment so that keeps me busy.

Describe a typical day in the life of Terence Sambo. 
When I wake up, I reach for my Blackberry, reply to emails, go on Twitter (yup, twitter addict) head downstairs turn on my laptop (I converted my dining room to my work station) and check comments on my blogs and reply them. I check new updates from blogs I follow, check updates from Facebook, post my blog links on Facebook and invite people to join my blog network. After that, I prepare my to-do list for the day, freshen up, walk the dogs and settle down for some study (usually via audiobooks on my ipod) After that, it's blogging, tweeting facebooking and basically social network whoring if I don't go to the book club or I don't have french classes that day.

What are your favourite glossy magazines? 
I.D, Dazed & Confused, Super Super, FAB, Essence, Arise, Vogue Hommes, GQ UK and Wonderland.

Name five blogs that you read religiously. 
Just Jaiden James, I'm The Only One On My Street, Jak and Jil, Paris Most Wanted and Dapper Kid.

How do you see your blog evolving over the next two years? 
Hopefully I gain a lot more daily hits and maybe turn it into a profit generating medium. I also intend to change it to a dotcom site and change the outlay to a magazine type. Then an online magazine and maybe an annual issue. Who knows.

You can read Terrence's blog here.

You can follow him on Twitter.