As the title of this post suggests, I am a voracious reader–have been since I was a child. The daughter of an English professor and poet-cum-doctor, it was hardly surprising to find my head stuck in some novel (or two), my imagination propelled into adventures and storylines miles and miles away from my suburban environs.
As if by rite of passage, the Black model archive is filled with trials of hapharzard handling of one’s hair. Left in the hands of hairstylists deaf to the temperment of Black tresses, Black fashion pioneers have recounted tales of their coils and strands being stretched to their breaking, frayed ends; scalps carelessly permed, harshly scorched, battered with color, and left to be restored by weaves, wigs, and the shearing of frazzled locks.
These haunting experiences are now often shrouded in frustrated one-off tweets, or woeful interview admissions from present-day Black fashion favorites Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman, messages that acknowledge a problem, but rarely hold few responsible. This while Black model stalwarts Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks have fought the effects of alopecia publicly, Banks raising significant awareness to the damaging toll modeling has caused to her hair by going completely natural in 2010, even urging Larry King to feel her restored scalp in an on-camera 2009 interview.
It is uplifting then to see the newest pack of Black models storming the catwalks in full embrace of their natural hairstyles, from cropped Afros, flat tops, to buzzed scalps–and in turn being embraced by the industry that has typically approached Black hair with skepticism and harsh critique.
Click here to read the remainder of my first VOGUE Italia piece on the natural hair trend I spotted on the FW12 runways.
Photo of Herieth Paul courtesy of Ryan MicGinley for the EDUN Spring 2012 campaign
The first time Sadia and I ever met, we ate gourmet donuts and lamb chops, and imbibed three rounds of fancy cocktails. We spoke of Isabel Marant, love interests, and our backgrounds, all of it in an irreverent tone that suggested a familiarity that pre-dated our meeting. The Germans call it “kismet”; Sadia calls it “a radical belonging.”
I think bell hooks wishes she had thought of that idea first.
If we are to believe the late, great Michael Jackson, Liberian girls have a history of coming and changing one’s world. Unsuspecting suitors and laymen, alike, fall susceptible to the enigmatic personas and ethereal allure of these “precious pearls,” forever altered. Certainly the stuff of love songs, but in so many ways, Jackson’s tale was pointed and true.
I never met the very Liberian girl I was named after. She was to make her homegoing years before I was to make my entrance, but my parents assured me she was a woman to know.
Whip smart, popular, outgoing, friendly, a presence; she was putting herself through law school and was the only woman my parents could conceive as my namesake. A feat, as I come from strong lines of matrilineal descent on both sides of my family tree.
Caroline Issa x MFW
While I work tirelessly on my new LADYPANTS project (one I think you will love), I still remain inspired by the happenings in fashion that are occurring around me. Fashion month is, of course, a focal point of mine at the moment, but I am finding that so much of the excitement is happening off the runway these days. I am admittedly inundated, swept under a deluge of fashion, what with the constant stream of collections (Fall/Winter, Spring/Summer, Resort, Cruise, Pre-Fall, Pre-Spring, select collaborations, next! next! next!), that it’s harder to suss out the mediocrity and make the proper edits. I often think of what designer, Azzedine Alaia once said of it all: “Today I believe designers are asked to do too much, too many collections. It’s inconceivable to me that someone that creative can have a new idea every two months. Because if I have one new idea in a year, I thank heaven.” Only the greats can get away with such candidness.
Julia Sarr-Jamois x MFW
However, I have found inspiration in the little spots of genius like the new Barney’s New York’s Spring campaign, “Tree Time.”