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

Winnie


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 fashionista.com 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.