Sunday, 27 March 2011

Essex Fashion Week

Some people thought it was a made up event but I can assure you that Essex Fashion Week was indeed real. The event was founded last year by twins, Adam and Simon Ryan and the idea was to make some noise about Essex and show that the county is much more than fake bakes, white stilettos, vajazzles and nail extensions. Essex Fashion Week kicked off last Thursday and yours truly took a trip down to Fairlop to check out Essex's fashionistas. The name Essex Fashion Week was rather optimistic as it only took place over three days. Thursday was press day, Friday was for student's to display their wares and Saturday was the main day were all the celebrities were in tow. Taking place in a spacious marquee, there were a smattering of celebrities such as Jo Wood and a few stars from The Only Way is Essex aka TOWIE, until yesterday I had never seen the show so I did not recognise the TOWIE stars. I am aware that Essex Fashion Week was incorporated into the show as a few members of the cast took part in it.  For such a low brow event it certainly notched up quite a few decent sponsors such as New Look as headline sponsor and Funky Mojoes and I hear that Janice Dickinson came on board as host on Saturday.
New Look were up first with their collection of denim shorts, waistcoats and lycra jerseys for women and bermuda shorts and tshirts that were perfect for the Essex man to show off their pecs on the beach at Ibiza or Barbados. Then there was One Off One You which is the label of Adam and Simon Ryan where we saw blazers accented with colours and worn over bare chests. Cherie"s Boutique was a delightful mix of flowing dresses that would be certain to impress at a cocktail party.  Idol is a new fresh label from New Look which has a vintage feel and they showed off their jumpsuits, boyfriend blazers and printed tshirts. Sweet Boy designed by Jay Lloyd Samuel who is a footballer and it is a cute kids wear which comprises of over sized blazars, shorts and sweatshirts. Believing is a boutique in Buckhurst which contains funky directional wares such as a jackets with pointy shoulder pads, sequined dresses and distressed harem pants. Then we saw A Pot of Marmite which was certainly memorable with ruffled bikinis and provocatively cut out swimsuits - lets say the phrase "You either love it or hate it" was appropriate.
What did I think of the event? Well I applauded the flamboyance and glitz that the event exuded - one thing about Essex is that they do not do things by half and the country certainly has the wow factor. As I mentioned the event took place in a marquee with Fairlop Waters as a backdrop and as well as a champagne reception there was a free bar and a chocolate mountain together with a fruit one. There was a goody bag on each seat which contained a lovely beaded bracelet and matching necklace from 1 and a cute scarf as well as a copy of Celebrity & Style Now magazine. The organisation was a bit mishap with a few technical difficulties with the music and I was quite surprised to hear that Thursday was actually a trial run. You would think that they would invite the press down after all the kinks had been ironed out. Still overall Essex Fashion Week was an enjoyable day and a great way to celebrate all that is fabulous about the county. Now all I want to know is when there is going to be a Kent Fashion Week.

Thanks to Sassi PR for inviting me.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Video Girl

When I came across this trailer on Shadow and Act my first reaction was whoopee, the lovely Meagan Good has found some work. Meagan has been in front of the camera since she was a young girl but made her calling in Biker Boyz and Stomping the Yard. Her actual breakthrough was in Eve's Bayou where she played Cisely Batiste, Eve's older sister. in the much acclaimed film. Since then Meagan's career more ore less went off the boil, a few months ago I came across an insightful comment on Twitter stating that all the leading roles seem to be going to Halle Berry, Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson and that Meagan was finding it hard to live with this company. Well it looks like Ms Good has taken her career into her own hands and has started her own production company called Freedom Bridge Entertainment with fellow acting friends. Their second project Video Girl is about the contentious world of music videos. Meagan plays Lori Walker, a small town girl with big dreams who heads for the bright lights of LA to make it as a video star. Her rise to the top is rapid and soon she is the IT girl in hip hop videos and earning an insane amount of money. Fame calls and she finds herself in demand by producers and the media, however the trappings of fame are only round the corner and Lori finds her life spiralling out of control.

As soon as I saw the trailer I immediately thought of Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans, an explosive expose that documents her life as a leading video girl. Between 2000 to 2002 Karrine was the go to girl for music videos and at her helm she made $2,500 a day. She starred in videos by Jay Z, R Kelly and LL Cool J and also had a bit part in the film, A Man Apart starring Vin Diesel. I remember when the book was released in 2005 because it caused a huge sensation and was covered in the entertainment press such as Vibe and Touch magazine. I only got round to ordering it late last year and it really lived up to my expectations, in fact it exceeded them. Karrine's stories about her experiences as a video girl are salacious, gossipy, scandalous and absolutely hilarious. The tales that stood out to me were:
  • Damon Dash falling over drunk by the pool on the morning of a video shoot. LOL. No wonder Jay Z distanced himself.
  • Her relationship with Shaquille O'Neal that was fueled by sex and cash.
  • Her one night stand with P Diddy that resulted in him dogging her and bad mouthing her to Xzibit (shameless man).
  • Her love affair with Ray J.
  • Her destructive relationship with Bobby Brown.
  • Also the hardcore rapper who whimpered like a baby every time they had sex. LOL
I am not sure whether Meagan and co have used the book as a source but judging by the trailer there are certainly huge similarities. A lot of stories have been told about video dancers hence the documentary, Hip Hop Honeys that was on BBC and the reality series of the same name that aired on BET. It seems that Hip Hop honeys are still big news.

Video Girl will be released on 29th April at selected cinemas in the US.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Ask the Expert - Ondo Lady featured on CMyPassion

I don't do many interviews so when Denise asked me if I would like to be featured on her blog. CMyPassion, my answer was hell yeah! CMyPassion was created in 2007 by Denise Kodia so she could keep in touch with the music scene in London. The blog covers all the stuff that Denise loves such as magazines and music and it is a mixture of news, interviews and reviews. More recently, Denise has introduced a section called, Ask the Expert where she will feature a blogger, journalist, fashionista or creative and discuss how they got into the industry. So I was rather chuffed when she decided to feature me as her first guest. A talented journalist, Denise was editor of Nang magazine and worked at Pride magazine and she is making mad moves.

Check my interview and feel free to leave a comment or two.

Check out an interview that I did with Denise Kodia a while back.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Chelsea Girl is Back in Town

The main message from The Look Show which took place in February was that the 70s were going to dominate the Spring and Summer season. This is even more resonated by the re-launch of Chelsea Girl which is something of a fashion icon. For those of you who are old enough (side eye) Chelsea Girl was the stomping ground of many a trendy lass during the 60s, 70s and 80s who badly needed her fashion fix. The store was the first UK boutique store and stood out from its counterparts such as Topshop and Tammy Girl because of the boho and quirky feel the shops held. The mantra was affordable clothing that was on trend but also fun and exciting. In 1988 we said goodbye to Chelsea Girl as River Island took its place and made their stamp on the High Street amongst the likes of Miss Selfridge, Warehouse and Topshop.

So kudos to River Island who are bringing the brand back with a blast starting with a pop-up shop in Selfridges. Fans both old and new will be able to get their hands on the capsule collection which comprises of 40 pieces for the Spring and Summer. The new range is designed by National College of Art & Design student, Lucy Moller who joined the River Island team after winning an internship and Brand Director, Farida Kaikobad who worked on Chelsea Girl in the 80s. Lucy used old pieces from Chelsea Girl that she found in the archive, ebay and in her mother's attic. Well you cannot get anymore vintage than that can you? Fashion enthusiasts can look forward to mini skirts, shorts, crop t-shirts, wide leg trousers and printed maxi dresses in florals, geometric-inflected prints and wispy fabrics. The clothing line is being pitched as the younger sister of River Island which I think is kind of cool as we all that teens are huge influencers in fashion. Look at Madonna and daughter Lourdes's fashion range, Material Girl which seems to be doing well not to mention teen stars such as Selena Gomez, Emma Roberts, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Momsen whose style is often copied by teen girls.

The Chelsea Girl pop-up shop will be open in Selfridges from Thursday 24th March to Thursday 31st March,.

The collection will be available to purchase from selected River Island stores next week and is also available to buy online here.

Styling by Arieta Mujay and image by Nick Haddows. 

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Ticklemouse Show

Make up artist, blogger and all round good guy, Thomas Walker aka Thom Ticklemouse has launched his own TV show called The Ticklemouse Show. It is a three part series which will cover all the things that Thomas is passionate about. The first episode sees Thom interviewing fashionistas at Somerset House during London Fashion Week and asking them about the shows they saw and more importantly whet they are wearing.  The show is hosted by Street Talk UK TV and is part of their roster of shows that cover urban culture and art.

You can watch The Ticklemouse Show here.

Check out the My Space interview that I did with Thomas last year.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Ok I will be honest, initially the title of this film did not appeal to me at all and I had immediately placed it into the category of Kidulthood and Adulthood with no intention of seeing it ever. Then a good blogger mate gave me the lowdown and explained that Anuvahood is actually a moment in time - it is the UK version of Friday and the first 'urban' comedy to be released in the mainstream cinema. It even had a decent PR budget (rather unheard of with urban films) with director, Adam Deacon appearing in a double spread interview in the Evening Standard and appearances on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 1Xtra and on top of that a celebrity clad premiere at Leicester Square. I decided that as a pop cultural commentator that I owed it to myself and my lovely readers to see this film and report back with my findings. I will point out that I had read no reviews and I had received no press releases so I went in with very little information on the film. All I knew was that it was a send up of young urban culture.

I was going to say lets start with the plot but one of the fundamental issues with Anuvahood is that there is no plot. So I will give you a summary as to what happens Kenneth aka K played by Adam Deacon is a young wasteman who suffers from delusions of grandeur, he seems to be under the impression that he is a hot shot but the sad reality is that he works at a supermarket and lives with his mum on a council estate. After an argument with his boss he quits his job on a whim to concentrate on his music. His possee of friends consist of TJ played by Jazzie Zonzolo, a squealing pansie, Lesoi played by Michael Vu is a PSP fanatic who gets dragged into his friend's escapades and Bookie played by Femi Oyeniran is the so-called sensible one out of the team (but considering they are all buffons that would not have taken much effort) then there is newcomer, Enrique played by Ollie Barbieri, a naive Spaniard who is staying with family friends for a few months. The friends divide their time between hanging out on their estate talking pure nonsense and being terrorised by the local gangster, Tyrone played by Richie Campbell. Things come to a head when K starts selling weed on Tyrone's patch who immediately retaliates by teaching K and co a lesson and steals Lesoi's PSP and TJ's trainers. This leads for the group to fall out with K and turn their back on him. Determined to make amends K breaks Tyrone's flat to retrieve his belongings and also sets up Tyrone so his ghetto baby mother catches him cheating with a blonde bimbo. Outraged by this treachery Tyrone seeks out K to teach him a lesson or two.
Ok where shall I start? This film was cringing on so many levels. I was expecting a comedy film about youngsters in London to be - well funny but this was just painful. There is no sense of narrative and the film is just peppared with slang terms such as 'blud' 'ya get me' 'badman MC' 'on a bigger ting' and 'my size' and not a lot more besides. We are presented with tomfoolery and buffoons you just want to slap the hell out of.  The character of Enrique seemed to serve no purpose, despite being given a big intro into the film he just faded into the background. Also the violence in the film seemed really excessive for a what is supposed to be a comedy. I will stress again that I am aware that this is supposed to be a parody of urban culture but I find it insulting and downright lazy. Making fun of working class kids living on a council estate who aspire to get into music and are involved in gangs and drugs. Yawn - shoot me now. It was just so unoriginal, predictable and dull and just the sort of 'safe' film that the UK film heavyweights would back in order to guarantee their return on investment. This takes me back to 1998 when Babymother was released and everyone hated that - well this is just the same. It is 2011 and this is the best we can come up with as a representation of youth culture? What a waste of talent!

On a positive note props to Revolver Entertainment on delivering a fantastic marketing campaign. Regardless of its many flaws, they created a buzz about the film and got everyone talking about it. I also applaud the way they tapped into urban magazines such as RWD and Flavour and got them to run ads and interviews to promote the film. I also have to admit that the website is very impressive and relevant to what young people are into hence the Anuvahood apps and presence on Facebook and Twitter. Brilliant marketing campaign, shame about the film.

Check out other brilliant reviews of the film below:

Obsessed with Film

On the Box

Movie Vortex

Mad News

Little White Lies

Makeda Wilson

The Lala Report

Anuvahood is out at all cinemas now.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Links a la Mode: Tech - 15th March 2011

These days fashion and technology and pretty synonmous especially the increasing amount of tech porn that is on the market. I am talking iPads, iPhones, Blackberrys, Flip cameras and sexy netbooks. So I was pretty impressed when the Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) launched a tech version of Links a la Mode that features the best posts on fashion and technology written by members of IFB. I was even more chuffed to hear that I had made the cut with my blog post on the blogging tools that I use. You can check out the tech posts below:

  • Relatively Chic: Gettin’ Techy: Google Webmaster Tools
  • Monica: Fashion Techno Frenzy – The Story Of The Love Affair Between Fashion And Technology.
  • TINEEY: How I Blogged My Way Through Fashion Week With ONLY An iPhone.
  • Miss Viki: Fashion Blogs Go Mobile.
  • Ondo Lady: My Blogging Tools: A List of Equipment I Use To Blog
  • Previously Owned: ORGANIZATION: Mail decluttering and such… a tutorial.
  • a la Modest: Retroactivity: Turning Back Technology.
  • Divas and Dorks: Fashions Top Designers Choose The Apple iPad!
If you're a fashion blogger, we'd love for you to join our community join IFB

Monday, 14 March 2011

Female Role Models

Over the last few weeks I have had some heated discussions about the concept of female role models. Everyone has an opinion on what a good female role model is and of course we all have our different critierias. This topic really got me thinking when International Women's Day hit last Tuesday and The Guardian published a pull out in the G2 section listing the top 100 female role models. The list included a lot of great and wonderful women - some of the people I liked were on there but a few were not. So it got me thinking about what made a good female role model so I suggest the topic as a guest blog post for Wendi from Wendi B Writes and you can read it here.

Feel free to go over and have a read, tell me what you think of my little list of female role models and tell me who your own role models are.

Image taken from The Guardian. 

The Goal Trilogy

I am partial to a bit of footie, I got into it after the euphoria of Euro 96 and I have been hooked ever since. Whether it's the Premiership, battle for the FA Cup, Champions League or the golden heights of the European Championships or the World Cup. Goal!: The Dream Begins was released in 2005 to a lot of publicity mostly due to the appearances of David Beckham, Raul, Zinedine Zidane and Alan Shearer. The story goes like this; poor boy who is crazy about football moves with family from Mexico to Los Angeles and gets spotted by a talent scout. He scores a trial at Newcastle and after a successful stint is given a contract. Meanwhile he meets and falls in love with a gorgeous nurse. Santiago Munez played by Kuno Becker is the lead in the film and his girlfriend, Roz is played by Anna Friel. Goal! 2: Living the Dream takes off with Santiago now the star of Newcastle Utd with every team in the world keeping their eye on him. Despite his rock star status at Tyneside he cannot say no Real Madrid when they come knocking. On the personal front he has never been happier, he and Roz are all loved up and engaged to be married. Santiago is an immediate hit at Real Madrid and his style of play fits right in with the likes of Beckham, Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo and Carlos. However the fame gets to Santiago's head as he starts to indulge in the good time which begins to effect his performance on and off the pitch. His relationship with Roz is on the rocks and he is in hot water with the team. Then a face from the past comes back to haunt him. Goal! 3: Taking on the World has a very different focus, for a start it is not just about Santiago but also focuses on the lives of two English players, Charlie played by Leo Gregory and Liam played by J.J. Feild as well as their savvy agent, Nick played by Nick Moran. Charlie and Liam have made the squad for the English team and are on their way to Germany to bring back the cup. Charlie is an optimistic lad with a soft heart who has fallen for Sophia who is a famous actress while Charlie is a hard partying and hard drinking guy who is coming to terms with the fact that he has a young daughter from a past girlfriend.
Goal is played out on the domestic stage, Goal 2 is set on the European stage and Goal 3 is on the highest platform of all - the World Cup. The films really do give you a real idea of what it is like to be a world class footballer and the trappings that go with it. Fame, adulation, fancy cars and designer clothes and on the flipside the media intrusion, the pressure of having to perform week in week out at such a high level. The remarkable thing about the Goal trilogy is the way it merges fact with fiction; all the football events that take place are real and of course real football players are feature but in addition to the fictional character of Santiago and Gavin Harrison. The matches are magnificent and played out on a really large scale with close up to shots all to a thumping soundtrack. The directors did themselves a great service by getting FIFA on board which allowed them access to the top class footballers. The contrast between the fantasy glam world celeb football land is contrasted with the cutting British humour. Rather Rocky(esq) in its feel, the Goal trilogy really is an enjoyable trilogy which will please both men and women. Guys will love the football action and ladies will like the love story.

Check out the trailer of Goal: The Dream Begins below.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

My Blogging Tools

I came across this cute post on Mademoiselle Robot where she talks about the items she uses for blogging and I thought I would do one myself and I managed to rope Wendi from Wendi B Writes and Uche from Lets Go Deeper into doing one as well.

Apple Macbook
This is poignant because I wrote my first ever blog post on here. I love it because I can crank out posts in bed and on the sofa and I can also amend images too. It is quite heavy to take around so I might think about getting a netbook or an iPad.

Fuji camera
I bought this around five years ago when I realised I needed a digital camera to take images with and it has certainly served me well. The images are clear and I have several options that allows me to amend the pictures. I can even film stuff which is great as I have started doing vlogs. The DSLR lens makes it difficult to take a bad picture.

Vauxhall Scout notebook
I got this as a freebie from London Fashion week and it really suits me. I always carry a notepad around with me to jot down ideas when I got the odd brain wave; I am not really fond of tiny notepads (not enough space for all my bright ideas) and the A4 notepads are a bit too big to carry around so this A5 size is perfect and the patterned hardback cover gives it a really lovely feel.

Blackberry Torch
I had the Bold 9700 but upgraded to the Torch a month ago and so far I am impressed. First of all the larger screen gives me an accurate indicator of how much copy I have written in the notes section unlike the Bold which had a tiny screen. The browser is really cool and is pretty fast so I can check out websites and blogs. However it is the camera that pulls the punches; the images are super quality and almost rival my camera.

HP TouchSmart
Occasionally I use my desktop to blog which is nice because of the extra large screen and the inbuilt speakers which allows me to blast out my music.

Additional equipment that would make my life a lot more easier are the iPad, Flip Camcorder and a Netbook. I welcome sponsors with open arms.

Check out the blogging tools that Wendi B and Uche use.

What blogging tools do you use?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Retro TV: My So-Called Life

Angela Chase played by Claire Danes is an ordinary girl who lives in an ordinary town and attends an ordinary high school. Sounds like a pretty boring story right yet My So-Called Life was one of the most popular teen shows of its time. It aired over here in the UK in the mid 90s and I accidentally came across it while I was on holiday from university and I immediately grew to love it. Facing a teen-life crisis, 15 year old Angela dyes her hair red and dumps her childhood friend, Sharon Cherski played by Devon Odessa for wild child, Rayanne Graff played by A.J Langer and Rickie Vasquez played Wilson Cruz who is coming to grips with his homosexuality. She also has a huge crush on gorgeous but dim, Jordan Catalano played by Jared Leto. Her life goes from being mundane to something of a mini roller coaster with Angela, Rayanne and Rickie getting into scrapes after scrapes, some of them fun and some dangerous. My So-Called Life set the precedence for thought provoking teen dramas that spoke to its audience rather than at them. The series was created by Winnie Holzman and produced by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz who had brought us ThirtySomething, and boy it was beautifully told. The display of teen angst was brilliantly portrayed in the show and a lot of teens around the world related to Angela and her pals. It tackled issues such as child abuse, homophobia, teenage alcoholism, homeslessness, adultery, school violence, censorship and drug use.
Angela's insightful narrative really depicted the way today's teenagers thought and how minor issues such as being popular, getting a guy to like you and who is taking you to the prom were such a big deal. It also showed a young lady trying to find her identity and place in life. Prior to this my exposure to American teen life had been the cheesy aspect of cheerleaders, school presidents and jocks or the opposite with the class nerd or social misfit. My So-Called Life was the first show to deal with a regular teen who was questioning life and it paved the way for other teen dramas such as Dawson's Creek. The OC and One Tree Hill. No surprise that it was nominated for four Emmy Awards and took a Golden Globe with Claire Danes winning the Best Actress in a TV Series. It also came 33 on Entertainment Weekly's New Classics TV list of shows from 1983 and 2008 and in 2007 was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 Best TV Shows of All Time. Sadly the show only ran for one season due to many factors such as Claire Danes going onto other projects and low ratings but My So-Called Life will always live in our memories plus there is always the DVD box set.

Check out this fan page for the show.

My So-Called Life is available to purchase from amazon.

Have a peep at the trailer for the series below.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Country Strong

I read a really interesting post yesterday on Bangs and a Bun about the downfall of Britney Spears and how she is a product of the flawed star system. At the dizzy heights of her career Ms Spears was the biggest pop artist in the world, however seven albums, numerous No 1 singles, hundreds of magazine covers. two divorces. two kids and one nervous breakdown later and she is struggling to get back to her best. The fact is that the music scene has moved on without her and the stage is now occupied by likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Rihanna. Like it or not the star system is brutal - you are either hot or you are not. It is a system that was created by Hollywood at the beginning of the 1900s as a way of promoting and exploiting movie stars. The emphasis was placed on image rather than acting abilities and studio bosses, PRs and agents worked together to create a persona. Although it officially declined in the 1960s the strategy is still used worldwide in the entertainment industry today and to much success.

Nowhere is the star system more relevant than in Country Strong in which Gwyneth Paltrow plays country music superstar, Kelly Canter who has had problems with alcohol addiction and has been rocked by scandal. After a stint in rehab she is back on the road headlining a major US tour, however it becomes apparent that Kelly's demons have not completely disappeared and she suffers meltdown after meltdown. To add to her woes there is a pretender to her throne in the form of Chiles Stanton played by Leighton Meester who is a new talent that has burst onto the scene. Chiles is young, beautiful, fresh and unlike Kelly can hold her nerves on stage. Kelly's self destructiveness is not just confined to the stage it also runs through her personal life which is complicated with her relationships with her lover, Beau played by Garrant Hedlund and her husband James played by Tim McCraw. Country Strong sort of loses its way throughout the film but what it does do is demonstrate how brutal fame can be to a young woman. The parallels between Gwyneth and Leigton's characters are interesting; one washed out and the other up and coming, one a feisty brunette and the other a fragile blonde. I thought it was also a nice touch that both actresses can sing a bit too. Overall Country Strong is not a bad film but I would put it down as more of a TV film, I just did not feel that it had enough of the wow factor to be on the big screen. You know how some films could do with editing? Well Country Strong actually needed an extra half hour to be added to the beginning so we could get to know the characters especially the lead role. The hasty beginning does not give us a real sense of Kelly and her convictions - what exactly caused her to have a breakdown anyway and why is her relationship with her husband dead? Country Strong misses a trick by not allowing us to invest emotionally in the characters, so all the dramatic events that unfold are to no avail because despite the dramatic ending I really did not feel the impact.

Country Strong is released in the UK on 25th March.

Check out the featurette below.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Gotham Diaries by Tonya Lewis Lee and Crystal McCrary Anthony

When I interviewed author and journalist, Tia Williams a few years ago she mentioned that one thing that niggled her was that the Black middle and upper class were not portrayed in the media. I had to admit that she had a point - TV. films and books are surrounded with images of working class Blacks, single mothers and men in jail while images of high brow African Americans remain unseen. So when a fellow blogger mentioned a book called Gotham Diaries I had to check it out on Amazon. The book is about the upper elite of Manhattan who lead very privileged lives; characters such as Tandy Brooks who is a respected socialite is admired for her refined beauty and class. Manny Marks an ambitious social climber from Alabama who is bidding his time as a real estate broker, praying that he makes that one deal which will allow him to join the upper ranks. Gorgeous, Lauren Thomas is married to billionaire, Ed Thomas and lives the life of luxury but her husband's wandering eye marrs her perfect life. Together Tandy and Lauren enjoy the traps of wealth and position - with Manny riding at their coat tails - while their peers look on in admiration. However, when Tandy's husband dies suddenly her fortune takes a turn for the worse and she is forced to start selling her possessions. Tandy has worked too damm hard to give up her lifestyle and status and comes up with a cunning plan in order to get her life back on track. Unfortunately this involves ripping off Lauren and roping in Manny. 

I got into this book as soon as I finished the first page. It is totally compelling and seductive to read - the style is not too different from Snapped by Tracy Brown which reviewed a few weeks back as both books possess the bling factor. Gotham Diaries portrays the haves and the trying so hard to haves; the life of Lauren who has it all, Tandy who had it and lost and Manny who is trying to get it. I also love the minor characters such as the oh so fabulous NBA player, Daryl and his delectable wife whose newly acquired millions have granted them a place in the social elite pile. After reading this book I only realised that one of the authors is Tonya Lewis Lee aka Spike Lee's wife. The other author is Crystal McCrary Anthony, former wife of NBA star Greg Anthony so if anyone knows what it is like to mix and mingle with the upper crust of African American society then it is  more these two women. Interestingly enough both Tonya and Crystal are lawyers turned writers and TV producers. It makes sense now though as it is evidence that both women are taking us into their own worlds thus taking upon the best writing advice  - write about what you know. Gotham Diaries is wickedly written and takes cattiness to a new level. You will really dislike all the characters but at the same time be really intrigued by them. The book was actually released back in 2006 and I am shocked that I am only hearing about it now. I really hope someone makes it into a TV series or movie one day because these are stories that need to be told.

Gotham Diaries is available to buy on Amazon

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

My Space - Uche Chukwu from Lets Go Deeper

If there is a topical issue then you can bet that Uche Chukwu has an opinion on it. Lets Go Deeper is an outlet for the views, opinions and passions of Uche whether it be on relationships, politics, race, education or sport - it is all there on Lets Go Deeper. He started blogging in 2008 and since then has amassed an array of followers. An IT specialist when he is not blogging, Uche is working on various projects that involve writing as well as IT. He took five minutes out to tell me where he writes his blog.

Describe the concept of your blog.
I'm still trying to work that out. I keep shifting it and moulding it in different directions, trying to find the right fit. It started out as my travel blog. I lived in Rio de Janeiro for a while and friends kept asking me to blog my life there but I just kept sending epic emails. When I moved to live in New York, I finally got around to it and that's where it all came from. The reaction back home was very encouraging. After the world economic meltdown in 2008 grounded me in London, I found myself back here needing some way to express myself. This is - it's not about any one specific topic and it has no defined agenda. I know this is a problem because sometimes I look at the homepage and think "what are you about?" But my readers seem to like it because it gets a lot of site visits, has a high re-visit rate and my new visitors average about 60% monthly. I'm ready to open it up to guest bloggers now and will shortly start to look for writers who would like to contribute a regular "column" I know what I want to achieve with it but still unclear as to exactly how to do it. I want it to be a news and opinion blog carrying alternative news, or alternative comment on mainstream news. I want to start posting more irreverent observational pieces like Gawker and deliver a humorous spin on the news agenda. I liked Not The Nine O'clock News, Drop The Dead Donkey and the stuff Charlie Brooker does. I guess that's the spin I want to get to, eventually. Will it work? I can but try.

Where do you scribe?
Mainly in my flat now that it's winter with short days and cold evenings. In the summer I take my laptop everywhere and I am very much a coffee shop groupie, sort of going from here to there. As long as they have free Wi-Fi, great coffee and good apple crumble, it's worth considering. When in my flat, I usually write in my spare room which is set up as my office, but if there's good stuff on the TV I'll go and camp in there with my laptop instead.

Why that place?
I need to work at a desk with an office-like feel. I've always been this way. When I was at school the most important thing in my room was always my desk, I didn't have or want a TV in there. When I moved out of home, the first thing I bought was a desk. Always white, always facing the wall and away from the door. I have no idea what that says about me psychologically, but that's how I work best when at home. But in a work environment, Feng Shui kicks in and I have to be facing the door. If somebody can explain that, I'd be very much obliged. In terms of the coffee shop place, well I love the transient nature of coffee shops and the hum of the machines. Along with the aroma of ground arabica beans and my penchant for people voyeurism, coffee shops give me the best combination of social isolation I need to get work done.
What is on your desk at the moment?
My leather-bound journal which I got as a Christmas present from my girlfriend. That's my favourite possession in the world right now. There's also an electronic recorder and digital camera which I carry around everywhere on the off chance of an interview and picture (I always use them too), a pair of Chinese iron balls I've had for about 15 years. They help me relax. Ever since I saw Laurence Fishburne using them to manage his tension in that scene from Boyz n the Hood when Trey goes out with the boys to avenge on Ricky's murderer I wanted a pair. Mine have been around the world with me. I also have a copy of Arise magazine on my desk. I'm not a magazine person, I lost interest in magazines somewhere in my early twenties. I used to read Touch, Source, Vibe, GQ and then I just stopped. I don't think there is any magazine I can really relate to, and as I'm a technology specialist by trade I have been getting my news through aggregated RSS feeds for over 10 years. Until I discovered Arise on New Years Eve in Shoreditch. Then the day after New Year's day I hunted for it all over South London until I found it. I love this magazine. This is how a magazine should be. Oh, and there's an unread copy of The Observer from about 3 weeks ago. I have no idea why I still occasionally buy Sunday papers when I end up reading all the articles on my smartphone. Force of habit I suppose.

What form of inspiration do you have on the wall?
I have a noticeboard in front of me which I've had for over five years with photo cuttings, concert tickets and other memorabilia. I change the items rarely but when I do it's usually quite a sweeping change. It contains photos of some of the best memories in my life and some of the most important people in my life. It really should have more, it used to in fact, but I take bits off to use elsewhere and never replace them. So it has more gaps than it should. I'm now inspired to revisit it and work on getting it back to full content. I'll schedule that for May, or something. Yeah.

Do you keep a tidy office or are you a messy worker?
Usually tidy. I'm a fastidiously tidy person. However, when I'm exceptionally stressed or have just come back from a trip my workspace can suffer and become messy for weeks. I used to be an organised chaotic work space type and my old manager used to try to force me to tidy my desk. She used to invent these "tidy our desks Fridays" which the whole office had to abide by just so I would have to tow the line. I never did, she always ended up tidying it for me. I miss her. But I've improved and now keep a tidy ship. I'm not one for that sinking feeling.

Check out Uche's blog.

You can follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Roller Disco Queen

I was one of the many people cheering when Navaz Batiwalla came out as Disneyrollergirl last month. This was timed perfectly as her new website launched a few weeks later. Navaz has been blogging since 2007 and is now regarded as a revered fashion blogger but then the number of followers on her blog. Twitter and Facebook speak for themselves. Disneyrollergirl has been acknowledged by various media outlets such as and i-D for her services to blogging. She was also featured in The Independent and Grazia recently and The Times has listed her as one of 40 bloggers who really count. Disneyrollergirl covers everything fashion related from shopping, style, catwalk shows, store openings and inside tips. When she is not blogging Navaz works as a freelance fashion editor and consultant for various brands.

What made you start blogging?
In 2007 I was working on a magazine and just liked the idea of having a more personal outlet to share all the extra stuff I was getting to see. As a fashion 'insider' I had a lot of access to behind the scenes that I
thought it would be interesting to share and comment on.

Describe the concept behind Disneyrollergirl.
It's my personal outlet where I can share my opinions and observations of all the fashiony goings-on in my life.

Over the last year bloggers have really made an impact at fashion shows and in the media, how do you think they will continue to push the boundaries over the next few years?
I think it's about continuing to have a personal take on things that your audience can relate to. Whether that's personal style, opinions or even fashion reviews, you need to have a unique point of view. Bloggers tend to be keen to try new things, new technologies, so I see them as taking the lead in terms of fashion media. They can be more experimental too as generally they are one-man-bands so can make fast decisions on trying new initiatives with their publications.

You have a huge following, do you ever get stressed about maintaining such a high standard?
No, I did go through that phase but now I just do what I can when I can.

What do you do when you are not working on your blog?
I do a combination of fashion writing, styling, consultancy and illustration.

Describe a typical day in the life of Navaz Batiwalla.
Wake up, check emails in bed, get up, have a coffee meeting or showroom appointment, do some window-shopping-slash-research, do some writing, answer emails, work on blog, go for drinks/dinner, check emails/Facebook/Twitter. Or I might spend a whole day researching articles or a whole day prepping for a shoot - showroom appointments, model castings, photographer meetings, unpacking clothes.

Where do you source your stories from?
I get a lot of information from Twitter so that's where I get most of my news stories or simply from talking to other industry people and listening like a hawk! Or I go through my archives for old shoots, photos etc because that means I have a good mix of current material and older, more personally-relevant stuff.

What are your favourite glossy magazines?
Fantastic Man, Harpers Bazaar (UK), Vogue, Elle, Red, Teen Vogue, Grazia, Pop, Lula, Self Service and Arena Homme Plus.

Name five blogs that you read religiously. 
Jacky Blue, Style Bubble, Business of Fashion, Fred Butler Style and Into The Gloss.

How do you see your blog evolving over the next two years?
Ooh I couldn't plan that far ahead! I want to have a wider variety of content and do some video content but I haven't decided exactly how. I don't think you should plan too much, it's nice to allow for spontaneity.

You can read Navaz;s blog here.

You can follow her on Twitter.