Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Race & Identity: Actress Merle Oberon, Prince and Jennifer Beals

I was doing some research and decided to google the beautiful and elusive Actress, Merle Oberon -and the following is one of the many interesting things I found out about her. It would seem Race & Identity is still a sore subject for some folks [keep reading -its an eye opener].....xx

Actress Merle Oberon, -insecurities and lies
Actress Merle Oberon, above, was an Academy Award nominated actress who appeared in several hit films with her most memorable being "Wuthering Heights." Oberon's father was British and her mother was East Indian. During her time as a film star, Oberon went to great lengths to disguise her mixed-race (Indian) background and when her dark-skinned mother moved in with her, she masqueraded as Oberon's maid.

In 1929, she met a former actor who claimed he could introduce her to Rex Ingram of Victorine Studios. Merle jumped at the offer and decided to follow the man to the studios in France. However, when he saw Merle's dark mother one night at her apartment and realized Merle was mixed-race, he secretly decided to end the relationship. After packing all their belongings and moving to France, Merle and her mother found that their supposed benefactor had dodged them.

Despite this, Oberon still became successful and married a very rich man who did everything in his power to erase her past which indicated she was of mixed race.
Merle suffered even further damage to her complexion in 1940 from a combination of cosmetic poisoning and an allergic reaction to sulfa drugs (skin bleachers). She was sent to a skin specialist in New York City, where she underwent several dermabrasion procedures. The results, however, were only partially successful; without makeup, one could see noticeable pitting and indentation of her skin.

Her mother died in 1937, and in 1949 Oberon commissioned paintings of her mother from an old photograph, instructing the artist to lighten her mother's complexion. The paintings would hang in all her homes until her death in 1979.

[Scenes from the megahit FLASHDANCE featuring Jennifer Beals and performed by Irene Cara]…

*Actress Jennifer Beals was born in Chicago, Illinois to Alfred Beals, who owned a grocery store, and Jeanne, an elementary school teacher. Her father was African-American and her mother was Irish. According to Hollywood rumor, after the success of "Flashdance," Beals was the new 'it' girl in town until a Hollywood executive was informed that she was bi-racial. This is an unsubstantiated rumor but Beals' career did come to an abrupt halt after "Flashdance." Beals has never discussed her ethnicity publicly.

*Before the film "Purple Rain," was released, it was revealed that Prince was half-Italian. In the movie, based on his life, he even went so far as to hire a white actress to portray his mother. In real life, Prince's mother (Mattie) is black, as well as his father (John). Prince also has a fully black sister named Tyka, a half-sister named Sharon and two stepbrothers who he has never discussed publicly.

*Tai Babilonia was the first figure skater of partial African-American descent to win U.S. and World titles. She is also part Filipino via her paternal family and part Native American. In the late 70's and early 80's, however, her mixed ethnic ancestry was rarely discussed by the media and it remained hidden until the late 80's.

*Actor Vin Diesel has always refused to reveal his ethnicity and has never admitted to having black blood. Allegedly, he is half-black and half-Italian but you didn't hear it from Diesel. [Credit: http://panachereport.com/LittleKnown.htm]

**Note, Dear all -please goggle the rest if you are not familiar with their names. I only want photos of people I love, admire -respect on my blog [the truth is -you will never see a picture of Vin Diesel on here –I just don’t do that man!!!] ..xx

The spirit: T.D. Jakes 5 People In Your Life

Credit: Source: www.youtube.com

The truth is always the truth -and should always set you free! xx

Monday, 26 October 2009

Don’t Believe The Hype: A Black Lara Stone in French Vogue

I have been meaning to write about the latest uproar in Blogland -forever. Lara Stone –mainstream’s model de jour was painted black for French Vogue’s October issue [it was dedicated to supermodels] –and some folks aren’t happy! Shot by Steven Klein and styled by Carine Roitfeld, –Lara is painted all black [and looks great by the way –heheheeh] in what can only be describe as a ‘wannabe controversial’ shoot [goodness knows how folks are suppose to sell glossy magazines in this credit crunch!] entitled ‘Contemporary Blackface’. Personally, I see it for what it really is, -another clever piece of hype –all done in the name of very clever marketing –in [a] very desperate time.

After the uber exposure and the incredible publicity garnered by the ‘All Black Italian Vogue’ –why not a black Lara Stone? I have had this idea forever, –the idea of using Nicola Roberts [the lovely redhead in Girls Aloud] in my magazine aimed the chichi black sister –because she is the very flip-side, the very opposite of the black woman –no?? It’s all about Art, expression –and maybe a little bit of desperate selling –and very clever marketing but not racism as some in Blogland are claiming.

Yes one could argue that French Vogue should have booked a black model for this shoot –but would we be talking about it? No sirree. I don’t think that French Vogue readers or me or you -would have batted an eyelid [well maybe me -because I always get excited when I see black models in the ‘Vogues’ –but you get my point?] If the lovely Lara was left in her natural state –I would have just flicked over to the next page –but because of this hullabaloo, –these images are now firmly stuck in my mind and that I feel is what Carine Roitfeld wanted, –and good for her. What do think folks? xx

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn: The Queen Bee of the 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca'

“In 1997, Sally’s strong desire to become a top notch in Arts and Theater performance, made her travel to Europe, precisely Switzerland, a country famous for its first class banking and good standard of living in the world. TRAINING IN SWITZERLAND By the end of 1997, Sally Kanbonaba, chalked another success, she graduated from Lugarno; the world’s famous dancing school as a professional dancer.” Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn www.montecarloghana.com

I remember running away to Zurich (Switzerland) a hundred years ago –to get over a broken heart and stumbling across the world of wannabe 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca’. I had gone to chill-out with a family friend [I will call her Jan] –and was so disappointed to find this [very] beautiful sister stressed and joyless [and even though she was the life and soul of the party in London; –in Zurich, she was positively cold –stone cold]. Thankful she decided to introduce me to some of her friends –and one of the ladies happened to be her hairdresser [let’s call her Cinthy].
Cinthy -it transpired was the beginning and the end of ‘Black Switzerland’. The first black woman to have her own hairdressers in the centre of Zurich’s chichi fashion district [no small feat ooO], – my fellow Ghanaian sister had the type of contacts, the Mafia would be jealous of. And what Cinthy didn’t know about the good people of Zurich –wasn’t worth knowing. As the only Hot black hairdressers, –she was privy to ‘gosssssssip-p-p [the type, the Bible warns you about] and did not spare me -any details. I spent the last week and a half in her salon –and there was never a dull moment. In those days Zurich was all about Ghanaian; Cameroonian, Nigerian and Senegalese women [and a handful of Costa Rican and Brazilian ladies] –and ‘Third World’ ambition….
Fabulous days filled with ‘Hot African Gossip’ [there’s no gossip quiet like African gossip -folks] –and nights spent in clubs like, The Petite Prince –and bars like the Rex [a cigar bar] – have all left an indelible mark.
I remember sitting in sister Cinthy’s salon one hot afternoon –and watching in awe as an uber skinny Cameroonian woman [nobody eats in Zurich] –jumped out of her turbo [4x4] –and walk into the salon [catlike] in all her ‘I-am-in-Europe’ glory [all tight polyester top and trouser combo] –carrying a large leather travel bag. With her 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' beauty [paid for red skin, big weave-on, ‘God-will-see-me-through’ nails and ‘mummy-needs-medicine’ red lipstick etc], - she walked into the salon [African stylee], -crouched on the floor and emptied the bag – creating a mountain out of fresh, crisp Swiss notes [no coins for this cat!]. Well I never! In her broken Franglais she told her story [I was the only one who didn’t understand] -and the rest of the women smiled [and what a sight, because apart from Cinthy -none of the other sisters smiled]. Some time later Cinthy explained that our uber thin sister [you alone be winner ooOO] had paid a visit to her [special] friend [all special friends in Zurich are old white men] –and he had given her some money to go shopping [nudge, nudge, wink, wink] –and thus my lessons in the workings of the wannabe 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' had begun. But it was not all about special friends –the sisters, Cinthy and I -had some serious fun.
I have fond memories of myself, Cinthy and some of the others dancing in one hot night club –and an old [white] gentlemen coming up to dance with me, –and me giving him the ‘please-leave-me-alone’ look. –And Cinthy and the others scolding me, -telling me to be a “clever girl” and “dance with him” –and “didn’t I know -he was a rich man”! –Off cause I’m older now –and sometimes I wish I had danced that old man [hehehee] –but back then, as a British born Ghanaian gal, –I had none of their needs. I didn’t have to send money back home; I didn’t have to pay school fees, or buy medicine or feed an entire family… and I sooo didn’t need ‘anybody’ to save me [well not then, and certainly not an old white men]. I did meet a very wealthy young Jewish guy who –later became a bit more than a friend but that’s another story –for another time [heheheehe].
I have on a number of occasions wondered what would have happened if I had become that ‘clever girl’ -Cinthy and the others wanted me to be! Would I have my own magazine -now? And it was whilst I was pondering this very question last week, -that I stumbled across the latest photographs of Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn –and I just had to celebrate her.
Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is fierce! -And if Madame Chantel Biya is the ‘First lady’ of ‘winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' –then Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is the Queen Bee of 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' [please refer to past post about Madame Chantel Biya]. Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is a formidable, focused and ambitious lady. With her ‘winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' beauty; her ‘I-can-afford’ dress sense, -Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is the very embodiment of Queen Bee of 'winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca'. Sally lived for some time in Switzerland, –and I provably bumped into her -on a number of occasions on my many nights out in Zurich [because after my first trip –I went back and forth for years [staying for months at a time with my ‘new’ friends, –dossing about as we put it in north London] but like all ‘winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' she doesn’t have a past.
As a business wow-man, Sally owns a fashion boutique, a restaurant and off cause -the infamous ‘Monte Carlo’ Night Club in Accra (Ghana, West Africa) [yes, the name of the night club says it all, -sister Sally and her husband also reside in Monte Carlo], - Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn is part of the ‘I-can-afford’ classes of Ghana. And even though she has the ubiquitous European name of the Ghanaian upper-class [i.e. Casely-Hayford, Spio-Garbrah, DeGraft-Johnson etc] Kleyn I’m afraid she is not one of them. No, -Africa’s Queen Bee de jour is very much part of the nouveau riche, the new ‘what-is-happening-to-Ghana/Nigeria/Senegal’ class. Our Sally; does, wears, says whatever she wants –because unlike the ordinary women of Africa –the ‘winning-woman-of-Africa-ca-ca' are in a class of their own. And even though our sally might have the ubiquitous European husband, the humble beginnings [our Sally hails from northern Ghana, the driest, poorest and most deserted part of the country] and dresses the part [how do these women manage to make designer dresses look like that?] –Sally, like Madame Chantel Biya is a winner, -the winner of all winners.
*Note, if you were privy to Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn’s story, -you too would marvel at her triumph. You too would wonder how in the name of fashion -did a young Sally manage to leave Ghana, –travel to Switzerland as her, “strong desire to become a top notch in Arts and Theater performance, made her travel to Europe, precisely Switzerland, a country famous for its first class banking and good standard of living in the world” etc. -Yes we must celebrate her! We must celebrate Sally as she continues to shock conservative Ghana [a country full of ‘butterflies and Peacocks] –with her wealth; her vast array of cars [a Hummer, Range Rover, Mercedes, an Escalate and counting] and her love of all things expensive,” "unfortunately or fortunately I developed very expensive taste for fashion. Everything to do with things around me, from furniture to clothes is authentic and expensive,” –including her love for Christian Dior, Gucci, and Roberto Cavalli et al.
Personally, I love Sally Kanbonaba Kleyn [we both have an ‘ex friend’ in common]. I am excited by her ambition. Her need to win, her need to give back to the people [she has’ “adopted a maternity ward at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital where I have relieved some of the mothers who are not able to pay their medical bills”] and her need to be at the forefront of Ghana"s hospitality industry – helping to promoting tourism in Ghana. You go girl xx

Saturday, 17 October 2009


“A woman can't be too rich or too thin” Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
“All my friends know that I'd rather shop than eat” Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

YSL A/W 2009

What do Zadie Smith, Cecile de Massey, Desiree Rogers, Susan Fales-Hill, Rachel Roy, Bonnie Morrison, Alek Wek and Genevieve Jones -have in common? Wallis Simpson.
I am often asked about style; -who has it and who doesn’t –and my answer is always the same, -there are people [around the world], who wake up and ‘just are'. Rich or poor, black, white or yellow, small or big: -their sense of style is innate. It’s about their knowledge and sense of ‘Self', -about celebrating their ‘individual thing’ –without fear. Possessing a style that is very much their own –they have nothing to prove, –and lacks nothing [not even the lack of finances can diminish their style].

I truly believe that Style is about celebrating yourself.....-or as Coco Chanel said –"it’s about refusal" and saying no -to the mediocre. Style has soo many components -and this is why I love writing about it.

When I think of style; -there are a few names that always 'spring-to-mind', -a few who have stood the test of time, -and even though I too love the usual suspects [Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn etc], -personally, I love Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor -she is my Numero Uno. Others include: Bjork [she laid an egg on the Red Carpet, who can top that?], Billie Holiday in that black dress –with white gardenias in her hair, Mona Williams [who later became Mona von Bismarck] in that gold lame dress, Elsa Schiaparelli in that exquisite LBD, with five strands of pearls and a white turban, Ebony Bones [so out there, so outside the box], the exquisite Liya Kabede, the late fabulous -Carolyn Bassette Kennedy, Adrienne Fidelin, Tahita Bulmer [New Young Pony Club], the late Alice Coltrane [ Composer] in a caftan [with a badass afro] -and off cause the uber hot Genevieve Jones –and many, many more.

Wallis Simpson –of the, "You can’t be too rich or too thin” fame -always fascinates me. Her waspish appearance was way before it’s time. The dark hair, the pale ‘flawless’ skin and off cause the red lipstick –neat beyond measure. There was nothing desperate or wanting about Wallis’ style. The neat silhouette, the turbans, the bold jewellery, the little waist and the LBD’s -the Duchess is as relevant now –as she was then. Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor is the next big thing.......xx

Fashion et al Hearts Shala Monrogue

I've had my ‘fashion eye’ on Shala Monrogue [fabulous name –don’t ya think?] ever since I saw a photograph of her and her man [uber art dealer] Larry Gagosian at the opening of Dasha Zhukova’s gallery, 'The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture' in Moscow -some time back. This uber stylish lady is fabulous on soo many levels. From her butter-soft leather mac to her beloved LBD's, and the way she moves from 'First Lady Chic' to '80's animal print Diva' is an art form. Not only is Shala always well turned-out; and uber groomed -she was also voted one of the best dressed in American Vogue [alongside our first lady -Michelle Obama, Kim Heirston-Evans, Susan Fales-Hill and our very own -Genevieve Jones]. A Busy bee, -Shala is also working on her own fashion collection, contributes to Pop Magazine [Dasha Zhukova is the editor] -and continues to shine in all her natural hair fabulous-ness. I will keep you posted on her collection. xx

Fashion : Adidas by Stella McCartney's black Ordfox snow boots

I’m not very good in winter –and never do the ‘fashion-over-comfort-thing’ during this season but thank goodness I don’t have to compromise this year! Just feast your eyes on these Adidas by Stella McCartney's black quilted snow boots at Net-a-Porter! Fabulously on trend; –and oh so comfortable, waterproof and well padded –these snow boots are right up my street –and at £120 –they are soooo reasonable. I want them –right NOW -www.net-a-porter.com

Sending you ....love xx

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Fashion: Christopher Kane For Topshop

Now you know why Topshop is soooo crowded -get your Christopher Kane's before they go! Prices start from £50.00 www.topshop.com

Model of the Month: Rose Cordero

What’s not to love about Fashion et al's model de Jour, Rose Cordero. This Brazilian model is hot potatoes -and was chosen as one of the 'Hot 19' models to grace V Magazine September 2009 Issue...... Go Rose !!