Sunday, 29 March 2009

Fashion: Handbags

Nothing screams success, quiet like -posh, high-end handbags, and even though French Vogue editor, Carine Roitfeld was photographed at the A/W 09 shows, -carrying a clutch (this created such a buzz -and had fashion folks wondering, -'is the handbag dead?) -the rise and rise of the designer handbag continues (despite the 'crunch'). A fabulous handbag tells the world just how -'happy, successful, loved and hot you are. It also alerts mere mortals to the obvious, -you are hot and they are not. You do not have to say; 'my children are clever and happy, and go to the best schools in London, or my partner / husband is loaded and my friends are important', -when you have a posh handbag. Even if you don't agree with the above notion, one thing is certain -everyone wants a fierce, functioning handbag. Because, there comes a time in every young ladies life, when her handbag begins to matter -and, not just -'any' handbag will do.
I remember when this happened to me. I had a few handbags I treasured (my lovely 50's gold clutch and a collection of studio 54-esque clutches), some gifts (I was given a lovely white leather clutch with leather flower detail by Matthew Williamson by team Elle. A Kenzo 'ethnic' handbag, -by the lady who inspired me to get into fashion -Claudia Navone at Sunday Times Style, and my first Furla tote by the Lovely Sairey Stemp. But nothing came close to the joys of buying my own (first grown-up, investment) handbag.
I decided on the (bombastic monogrammed) Speedy, -because, like most first time buyers -I wanted designer but did not have a lot of money. I walked into Louis Vuitton -like a woman possessed. With my heart was racing and my palms wet, I felt rich and powerful like an 'upper east side' princess. I descended into the Louis Vuitton concession (inside Selfridges) 'in the spirit'. My walk turned into a strut and I started to flick my hair (I don't know where this came from), and the Ghanaian/African woman in me was unleashed. I wanted to enjoy (and prolong) the moment for as long as possible -and wiggled my way around the store -African style. I enquired about every bag, purse and suitcase in the concession, and just as the very bored 'non plus', shop assistant was about to loose it, I pointed to the Speedy (she smiled), I paid for the Speedy (she smiled some more) and I had a fashion 'orgasm' -and left Selfridges, like a 'bush' girl on crack. Nothing prepared me for the come down. Like a junkie who has just had a hit, my come down was intense. The feelings of euphoria and power started to evaporate -very quickly, and the adrenalin rush, -left me.
I also became afraid. Within minutes of leaving Selfridges and hitting the streets of London -(Oxford Street to be exact) -I started to feel -er...a bit -scared. Suddenly, everyone looked like a mugger -and so, I raced back to Selfridges -and ask the good people at Louis Vuitton, for a plain old Selfridges' carrier bag -and the answer was a resounding -no. Anyway, I have moved on (and even further from the Speedy. I still love it, but I love another bag, even more -now) and I have learnt many lessons -along the handbag highway. The first, buy the handbag you really love and want -because when you buy the bag you truly want (it doesn't matter if you have to save up for it), it stops you from buying lots of cheap impostors, -and waste is so ugly. Remember, there are hundreds of landfill sites, -bursting with cheap plastic handbags that will take -over a thousand years to biodegrade.
Buy classic handbags, like the -black 'Alpine' large shoulder bag by Modalu (£175.00) from Style queen ( -above; or if you are not feeling the 'crunch', invest in the taupe 'Gabriel' Square Pocket Bag from the Renaud Pellegrino Collection (£716.00) at CoutureLab ( -for everyday use. For fun nights out, -the 'Marano' clutch from Anya Hindmarch ( is luxurious and bijou -just right for a few essentials (£695.00) or -the soft yellowy lime, leather 'Oushka Barnet' Large Squashy Clutch Bag (£75.00 ) from John Lewis ( It is on trend and on budget.

Fashion: Next

Take a look at, Next -it is soooo hot right now. I am loving the gorgeous cotton and silk mix, purple embellished volume blouse (£35.00) -above, the silk signature embroidered halter-neck Top (£55.00) and the harem-esque cotton Dhoti Pant (£38).

Beauty: L'Oréal

I am soooooooo happy. On my last visit to Tesco's (yesterday), I came across a number of bargains, but non hit the mark, -quiet like their, 'buy-any-two-for-£4' offer on L'Oréal beauty products and as I use L'Oréal's Dermo-Expertise range (this range is nourishing, gentle and kind to my parched dry skin) - I went a bit mad. I bought a couple of their Re-Nourish Anti-Dryness Cleaning Wipes (very good if you can't be arsed to do the whole, wash, cleanse and tone routine) and a couple of their Re-Nourish Velvety Toner -see you in Tesco's tomorrow.

Food: Get your jam on....from Toast

I was pleasantly surprised, when I stumbled across this yummy jam by Toast -a label synonymous with quality apparel, shoes, bed linen and accessories. You can buy both delicious home-made jams (raspberry) and marmalades (Seville orange and lime) by jam queen, Wendy Brandon (Wendy supplies, jams, marmalades and chutneys to several hotels and restaurants nationwide -including, The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, and Harrods restaurants) from the good people at Toast. They contain, only fruit, cane sugar, water – and are tres tasty. (£ 4.95)

Fashion et al Hearts Sonia Rolland

Actress and former Miss France, Sonia Rolland (born to a Tutsi mother and a French father in Rwanda), has innate style. For the elegant Ms Rolland, -style is all about quality, well cut jackets, a few quirky pieces and red hot, va va voom gowns at film premiers. Fabulous.

Words of Wisdom: Nelson Mandela

''When you let your own light shine, you unconsciously give others permission to do the same''
Nelson Mandela

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Art: Natasha Law

Natasha Law, is the older sister of yummy actor, Jude Law -and the artist behind the above stunning painting. Entitled, Yellow (Reaching in Yellow Knickers) -it is part of the; 'I put my finger on you' range (a large collection of intimate and feminine paintings, prints and silk scarves). Gloss on aluminium, 48 x 48in, 122 x 122cm -is available online and at Matches Marylebone store. (£5'872.00).

Art: Grace Jones

I popped into my favourite charity shop last week and fell in love with an Ercol original. The settee was in excellent condition -and the grey textured fabric, was very chichi (it also had accompanying footstools). Unfortunately, I don't have the space (or money) and had to walk away from it. It would have been lovely, -to be a lady who lives in a pulchritudinous house with original Retro Furniture by Ercol -never mind (it will happen at the right time). Thankful it was not a wasted journey. I bought Grace Jones' Nightclubbing LP years ago but unfortunately, I managed to rip off a part of the cover (when I removed the price tag) -and this put my nose out of joint. Anyway, as I love my covers -perfect, I kind of didn't celebrate this piece of art, as I should have (it was never displayed). Well you can image my joy when I came across another copy of the above in mint condition -I snapped it up, and skipped my way out of the shop. I am now enjoying the latest edition to my art collection. I love this record sleeve, it is fierce -Grace looks like an African carving. Viva Grace.

Friday, 27 March 2009


It is always a pleasure to visit, -they have an 'eye' for what is hot, on trend and future classics. Offering a kaleidoscope of 'investment' and 'statement' pieces, is great for all occasions. I am loving the above three dresses. The first, 'The Scarlett Bow Front Dress' -is an exquisite blue dress with a pretty white bow detail and a removable tulle under-skirt by Manoush (£278.00). A good investment dress, 'The Scarlett' is classic and feminine and very FLC (First Lady Chic). Channel your inner goddess with this show stopping, champagne silk dress with plunging neck line (I love the gorgeous print) by Paul & Joe. The 'Prunell V-Neck Long Sleeve Dress' cost £651.00 and is 'hot-fashion-sexy'. Last but not least -is the gorgeous body-con, 'Yellow Asephia Fitted Dress' (£658.00) by Nathan Jenden. Perfect for, 'day-to-night'. (just add a statement necklace, a clutch bag and fabulous shoes after work, and you are good to go). For more fabulous dresses go to:

Words of Wisdom

"A friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself."
Jim Morrison

Thursday, 26 March 2009

My so called life: Spring Cleaning

I live on the boarders of London and Hertfordshire -in a place I am going to call, the 'Bar'. The 'Bar' is a very small (some might say -quaint) place. Middling and quiet - you can (and many have) be arrested for playing music. A people mentally and physically controlled by the weather -the 'Barians' are a complicated bunch; with ordinary houses, ordinary cats and dogs -and ordinary wants (mainly -a quiet life, a ham or egg sandwich for lunch and a bit of EastEnders of-an-evening, -thank you very much).
Curtain twitching territory, the 'Bar' is full to bursting with catalogue connoisseurs, tin food addicts and people who still call black folks - coloured people (and other 'things' of that nature). But it's not all bad -I can walk out of my house make-up free, with crazy black woman hair and still be all right (something I could never do in Peckham -say, or Tottenham). Also, (apart from the three dogs to one human ratio) the 'Bar' was (a long, long time ago) a good place to sleep. Before I had my son, the 'Bar' made a very good 'bed'. I would do my thing in London; then leave the craziness behind, and run home to my warm waiting bed. I no longer feel this way and will be leaving the 'Bar' when I am grown and 'have-a-pot-to-piss-in.' Plus, there is one very special custom that I truly love about the 'Bar'-Spring Cleaning. The moment the first Daffodil pops in spring -the 'Barians' pull down their net curtains, open their windows and get cleaning, and if you squint -you could almost be on that lovely street in Islington (the street with the different coloured houses -the one without garden gnomes; gortex shoes, or the sound of Coronation Street playing in the background, or 'crazy paving' or 'pebble dash' or rolls upon rolls of net curtains).
I started by de-cluttering my home and as I don't 'do' net curtains -all my energies went into cleaning the windows, the carpet, hoovering (under the beds too), cleaning inside/outside the cupboards, dusted my antique pieces -and did a wee bit of painting. The results are lovely. Even though I clean daily, there is nothing like a good old spring clean -to rid your home of unwanted knick knacks, broken toys and general clutter. I have also framed all my sons art work (they are priceless -see above), filled the house with plants (hyacinths and roses) and brought out my spring/summer bedsheets (this always cheers me up). I buy my sheets from TK Maxx, then I cover them with my growing collection of original retro sheets (see above). I feel that colours are important in spring, and I achieve this with both the sheets and flowers (above). Burning incense (I burn mine in one of my favourite 'blue and whites' -and I use salt to keep them upright) after a good spring clean will help you relax and fill your home with luscious scent.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

My Kind of People: Mothers & Daughters

Some days -I wake up in a tidy bedroom; beaming with sunlight, cosy in my 300 plus thread count bedsheets (from TK Maxx), with my beautiful son snuggled up close -with the smell of fresh yellow roses cascading around me and I feel soooo alive and happy (and wonder if life can get any better). The above photograph of Desiree Rogers, her daughter Victoria, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and her daughter Bee Shaffer at the Marc Jacobs A/W 09 show gives me the same feeling. On trend, exquisite and warm (like a Comptoir des Cotonniers advert); this photograph gives you the feeling -of living in a world that -some how, seems fairer, more just, a world without prejudice, poverty or hate. I truly love this photograph -it is soo 'post black', 'post Obama' and beautiful.

My Kind of People: Lisa Moorish

Controversial, rock 'n' roll and very erm....Moorish – Lisa is one exiting musician. The former lead singer of indie rock band Kill City and a mother of two (a daughter by Liam Gallagher and a son with bad boy, rocker Pete Doherty) -Lisa is an incredible musician (but her talents have long been over shadowed by her personal life). Many of you won't remember but 'our' Lisa started out as a bright young 'thing' in Bros', 'When Will I Be Famous', video. Moorish also sang backing vocals for Wham, was touted as the next 'Neneh Cherry' in the early 90's, released some fabulous singles (remember her cover version of Wham's 'I'm your man' -it was hot) and has collaborated with a number of artists and bands like Ash ('Oh Yeah') and Johnny Borrell ('Fairytale of New York'). I am loving her latest video, 'Motorway Love' – sneak a peek at

Fashion et al Hearts Joy Bryant

What's not to love about the lovely and poised Joy Bryant. Always on trend, Joy's style is feminine and soft -just like her.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Fashion: LouLou Loves You

LouLou Loves You offers (to the delight of men everywhere) feminine, silky luxurious lingerie for flirty boudoir fun. I covet their green signature knickers with a black bow detail.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Art: Mickalene Thomas

There are many things I aspire to (and will definitely have when I grow-up) -like a savings account (with money in); a pension, a mortgage free life, membership to a concierge service (Quintessentially will do), an au-pair, learn to text, buy Lanvin dresses, own a chesterfield sofa from Mulberry, a Lalique lamp, have Zuber wallpaper, buy my stationery from Smythson, sleep in Frette sheets, wash my smalls with Tocca's Laundry Delicate, buy cashmere throws from Hermes and lots of art by my favourite artists. I love paintings by Henry Ossawa Tanner (The Banjo Lesson 1893 -Hampton University), Harry Roseland ('The Writing Lesson -part of Oprah's private collection), Romare Bearden (The Magic Garden 1978 -The Walter O.Evans Collections of African American Art), Horace Pippin ( Domino Players 1943 -The Phillips Collection), Ghanaian Abstract artist Tafa (Looking Back) and my favourite, Mickalene Thomas. Mickalene's evocative and intimate Blaxploitation-esque art explores power, femininity and keeps the 'gaze' firmly focused on the black female. Swoon over 'Why Can't We Just Sit Down And Talk It Over' 2006 (above) -like the rest of her paintings, it is adorned with rhinestones, enamel and colourful acrylics. Love them or loathe them -Mickalene celebrates the African-American female-like no other artist. Another favourite is her latest piece –a painting of 'our first lady', Michelle Obama –entitled 'Michelle O' 2008 (above).

My kind of people -Elisabeth Welch (1909-2003)

Where would we be without the talent and courage of pioneers like Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Alice Coltrane (Composer), Adrienne Fidelin (model and 'it' girl), Dorothy Dandridge, Winifred Atwell (Pianist), Josephine Baker, Sarah Forbes Bonetta (Britain's first Black it girl and the God-daughter of Queen Victoria), Donyale Luna (model), Gordon Parks, Eartha Kitt, Louis Armstrong and many more? Like all originators, Elisabeth Welch, a formidable singer and actress of British film and stage in the 30s and 40s deserves a mention.

Elizabeth's incredible journey begun in a staunch Southern Baptist church choir at the age of eight -spanning sixty plus years and encompassing British films and stage; several memorable guest appearances in cabarets, starring opposite Paul Robeson (another of my favourite pioneers in 'Big Fella' and 'Songs of Freedom'), playing a goddess in Derek Jarman's The Tempest (1979) -in which she sang, "Stormy Weather" (her signature song), playing Cleopatra, reading children stories on "Jackanory" ( in the late 60's) to launching a one-woman show in 1986, at age 81, at New York's Lucille Lortel Theatre (wowing audiences both young and old, black and white) -Elizabeth's career must be applauded. Elizabeth also supported the British war effort by entertaining the armed forces. Her phenomenal talent, bravery, passion and professionalism, in a time when her fellow African-American brothers and sisters were segregated, lynched and riding at the back of buses -allowed La Welch to live her life outside the box.

Thanks to her beauty, style (she was very glamorous, there was non of that sexless 'mammy' maid stuff for our Lizzy), grace and determination -black singers, actresses and artists etc -have less to prove today. To think that in a time before 'No blacks, no Irish, no dogs' and 'Political correctness' -this beauty left America and came to England to do 'her thing' -is admirable. Paul Robeson sung 'Nobody knows the troubles I've seen' and you can bet that Elizabeth would have seen her fair share but her ambition to live, entertain, earn a crust and much more (freedom, self expression etc) -carried her through. You'll be pleased to know that a display of rare photographs of Elisabeth Welch taken in the 30s and 40s by the likes of Carl Van Vechten, Paul Tanqueray and Humphrey Spender (pictured above) has just opened at The National Portrait Gallery (until 31 September 2009). The photos were acquired by the Gallery from her biographer, Stephen Bourne, who has also contributed the text and some memorabilia from his private collection. Elisabeth Welch: Soft Lights and Sweet Music by Stephen Bourne (Scarecrow Press, 2005) is also available from the National Portrait Gallery bookshop. See you there...
P.s If you fancy a, 'Go tell it on a mountain' moment -check out the following pioneers on YouTube: Bill Bojangles Robinson, Elizabeth Welch, Paul Robeson, Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson, Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Marian Anderson and Nina Simone - they will thrill and inspire you.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Art: Benicio del Toro

I am loving this oil painting of the gorgeous Benicio del Toro by artist Lindsey Bull -her work is very rock'n'roll. Check out her other pieces at

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Model of the month: Lyndsey Scott

Not since the since the excitement over Jourdan Dunn at Prada (a few seasons ago)- has there been such a buzz about a new black model. The model in question is 17 year old Lyndsey Scott (Click Management) and the show -(the usually paler than pale) Calvin Klein A/W 09. Even though Lyndsey didn't open or close the show; she was given an exclusive with Calvin Klein. Here's hoping that Calvin Klein will do for her career, what it did for past recipients like Kate Moss and Natalia Vodianova. I love Lyndsey and can't wait to see what the future holds for her (as far as I'm concerned -she is the future of fashion).

My kind of people: Coco Chanel's words of wisdom

1 Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.

2 Fashion passes, style remains.

3 Fashion is not simply a matter of clothes. Fashion is in the air, born upon the wind. One intuits it. It is in the sky and on the road.

4 In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.

5 A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.

6 The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.

7 As long as you know men are like children, you know everything.

8 Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.

9 How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.

10 Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.

11 The best color in the whole world, is the one that looks good, on you.

12 A women who doesn't wear perfume has no future.

13 Elegance is not the prerogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.

14 A woman is closest to being naked when she is well dressed.

15 If a man talks bad about all women, it usually means he was burned by one woman.

16 I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.

17 There goes a woman who knows all the things that can be taught and none of the things that cannot be taught.

18 Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.

19 There is time for work, and time for love. That leaves no other time.

20 There are people who have money and people who are rich.

21 I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like.22 Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress.

23 Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.

24 Fashion is made to become unfashionable.

25 Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.

26 Those who create are rare; those who cannot are numerous. Therefore, the latter are stronger.

27 My friends, there are no friends.

28 Great loves too must be endured.

29 A style does not go out of style as long as it adapts itself to its period. When there is an incompatibility between the style and a certain state of mind, it is never the style that triumphs.

30 Elegance is refusal.

31 Since everything is in our heads, we had better not lose them.

32 I love luxury. And luxury lies not in richness and ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity. Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language. I stay in the game to fight it.

33 Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.

34 Jump out the window if you are the object of passion. Flee it if you feel it. Passion goes, boredom remains.

35 Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.

36 It is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure.

37 I don't know why women want any of the things men have when one the things that women have is men.

38 A woman has the age she deserves.

39 Innovation! One cannot be forever innovating. I want to create classics.

40 Why am I so determined to put the shoulder where it belongs? Women have very round shoulders that push forward slightly; this touches me and I say: 'One must not hide that!' Then someone tells you: 'The shoulder is on the back'. I have never seen women with shoulders on their backs.

41 When I can no longer create anything, I'll be done for.

42 Material things aside, we need no advice but approval.

43 Youth is something very new: twenty years ago no one mentioned it.

44 Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death.

45 I was the one who changed, it wasn't fashion. I was the one who was in fashion.

46 A fashion that does not reach the streets is not a fashion.

47 Scheherezade is easy; a little black dress is difficult.

48 May my legend prosper and thrive. I wish it a long and happy life.

49 In fashion, you know you have succeeded when there is an element of upset.

50 I've never done anything by halves. My reason for choosing diamonds is that, dense as they are, they represent the greatest worth in the smallest.

Beauty: Make-up Trends -S/S 09

I have always loved make-up. I grew up in a household headed by the 'Elizabeth Taylor' of the Ghanaian community and make-up and scrubbing up nicely (think big hair, matching handbag and shoes -Dynasty style), was just something you did. Every special occasion demanded an Alexis Carrington style transformation and even though I have spent a lifetime doing the 'less-is-more' fashion thing -there is still a Ghanaian/African girl inside of me who sometimes wants to 'put-it-all-on-at-once'. I have a couple of days a year when I want to apply make-up that enthersizes both my eyes and lips (a make-up no no) and put on all my designer clothes (I don't have many) and all my accessories (I have too many) and strut. But thankfully that old adage -a Coco Chanel quote about, "before you leave the house, you should look in the mirror and remove one accessory" has been ingrained onto my subconscious since my intern days on the fashion desk of British Elle.
Can you image my surprise when the pictures for S/S 09 started coming in last September? S/S 09 is not about playing it safe. It's time to express yourself 80's style and even though I wouldn't usually advocate bright pink or orange as a lip colour for any woman of colour (regardless of skin shade) this season's eclectic 'in-your-face' vibe means that anything goes and focusing on one feature at a time can be discarded -yippee. This seasons focuses on both the eyes and the lips. Models had bold eyebrows, eyes and pastel lips at Todd Lynn and at 3.1 Phillip Lim, both the eyes and lips popped.
Red lips are also back (a la Sade). Issa, Marc Jacobs, Giles, Zac Posen, Nathan Jenden and Luella all showed varying shades of red lips with subtle eyes but be warned -red is not for the faint hearted. If the aforementioned trends are a tad too much for your beige sensibilities -then fear not. Designers Threeasfour (pictured above, featuring model Shelby Coleman), Vivienne Westwood, Thakoon, Port 1961, Oscar del la Renta, Michael Kors and Proenza Schouler all sent their girls down the run way with subtle, pretty or barely there make-up. For eyebrows -think bold and perfectly groomed (PPQ) or thinly drawn on (Todd Lynn) -but the real secret to getting this seasons trends right is perfect skin, if you don't have clear luminous skin -fake it. Uber make-up brand Prescriptives can mix foundation to match any complexion and with added minerals -Iman's Second to None Semi-Loose powders are good to go.

Fashion: Austere Fashion -2

Are you after something special and unique for an upcoming event -why not try buying one-off originals from the TRAIDremade charity fashion label. Ethical and value for money -the TRAIDremade label is also helping poor communities around the world.

Fashion: Vogue Covers 2009

Is there a revolution going on at American Vogue? After the March cover featured 'our' first lady, Michelle Obama (I love it by the way) I thought the world would probably have to wait until -let say, the November issue to see another woman of colour gracing it cover. I was (and I am sure many of you would agree) under the impression that American Vogue had fulfilled its, 'we-must-give-them-at-least-one-cover-to-keep-them-happy' quota. But would you Adam and Eve it, the lovely Beyonce is gracing the April Issue (that's two magazine covers in a roll people). Anna Wintour must be on a mission because it wasn't that long ago -when enlighten magazine editors believed that if you put a black women on the front cover it wouldn't sell. I for one believe that Anna is hot and on trend and like her adopted country -is feeling the wind of change. Kudos Anna Wintour.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Fashion et al Hearts Naomie Harris

I love actress Naomie Harris' laid back style -she is so natural and chic.