The Beffta ( Black Entertainment Film and Fashion Awards ) award ceremony that took place on the 27th of October 2012
at the Hippodrome Centre in London. The biggest award for Black and ethnic minority entertainers in Europe was a black tie event and it saw the entertainment industry come out in full in their best suits and frocks.
Published in Entertainment
The Beffta ( Black Entertainment Film and Fashion Awards ) award ceremony that took place on the 27th of October 2012
at the Hippodrome Centre in London. The biggest award for Black and ethnic minority entertainers in Europe was a black tie event and it saw the entertainment industry come out in full in their best suits and frocks.
Published in Entertainment
BIANCA is a stirring one-part television drama that tracks the emotional journey of a workaholic woman who becomes apprehensive of the growing bond between her man and her teenage daughter.
Published in Film & TV
Blacked Eyed Peas performed during halftime at Super Bowl XLV and it included a special appearances by Usher & Slash.
Published in Music
Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Black Girls Do Not Sell...

I was recently interviewed by Sophia Baker for an article she was writing and below is the final article, it is long but I think it is a great read and raises some interesting points, it would be interesting to know whether you agree with the views below or not - feel free to leave your comments.

WRITTEN BY SOPHIA BAKER

In this feature we will be addressing the lack of black model in high end fashion magazines and why that is so. When I first began my research into the black models in the UK and the US, I knew I would come across some unpleasant truths but I did not expect to feel totally deflated by when I concluded my research.

Firstly let us look back to a time when black women were dominant in the media. In Paris 1921, Miss Josephine Baker a performer, with an audience of the rich and white set the standard for others to follow and opened the door for other black women. Of course she encountered opposition and prejudice but generally she was adored, praised, envied and lusted after by both men and women. Paris was more open to different races it would seem and there were black models gracing the runways in the 1940s and 1950s. But although all appeared well, Josephine and other young black women were still subjected to racism and seen as freaks or savages. Similar to what Sarah Baartman experienced when she was brought over from her native South Africa in 1810 and paraded as a freak in a circus because of her big bottom. You might ask well how does that relate to black women today, why is it relevant? Well it helps for us to understand what the audience viewed black women as. Why were they subjected to abuse while their white counterparts were not?

It goes back to what beauty meant at the time. Beauty was something that could was understandable, something conventional and unlikely to offend. A black woman could be considered completely beautiful, have flawless skin, great bone structure but if her skin was too dark, well that was unacceptable and incomprehensible for blacks and whites. Afua Adom features editor of Pride magazine and a freelance fashion stylist says, 'I know loads of black models who have experienced racism in the industry. Apparently mainstream won't be able to relate to a black model'. Who on earth could change the perceptions of the white gaze in the 1950s? Maybe Helen William's, the model who had the aquiline nose, big oval eyes, perfect lips – not too big. The girl who was offensively described as a white girl dipped in chocolate (by other black women). Although extremely offensive, that did not stop William's from breaking through to 'white' magazines. There was a place for dark skinned woman after all and Helen opened the door.


Black women were breaking all kinds of barriers down. In the 1960s, British icon Donyale Luna became the first black model to feature on the cover of UK Vogue in 1966. Beverly Johnson became the first black model to feature on the cover of US Vogue in 1974. Tyra Bank's was on the cover of the best selling Sports illustrated in 1997. There were many firsts before and after these models and to date the Black Issue of Italian Vogue is still their highest seller. 'It was intended to be the worse selling issue but my campaign on Facebook helped it to sell out twice! I had a point to make', explains Sola director of Mahogany International Models.

French designers such as Givenchy, Christian Lacrois and Yves Saint Laurent preferred to use black models at one time but when Spaniard Paco Rabanne used Jamaican model Kelly Williams in one of his shows, there was outrage and controversy. The reaction from the audience was shock and disgust claiming that fashion was for whites not blacks. Hiro, a fashion photographer who worked for Harpers Bazaar at the time, was given an assignment in Kenya and requested a black model. It seemed logical that a black model would suit the surroundings more than a white model. His request was refused and so he turned down that job. Nick Knight is another fashion photographer, known for using unconventional models. In his video 'untitled' he expressed, 'I am virtually never allowed to photograph black models and usually no excuse is given'. Vivienne Westwood and Naomi Campbell have also expressed their views on the lack of black models represented in the industry. It would seem that this is not a new subject and yet there is nothing happening about it.

What is the real issue with using black models? Who are these high end magazines marketing to? The answer is the white and the wealthy. Sola says 'It is purely about money and opportunistic. When Italian Vogue made their black issue, it was around the time of Obama being elected as President and tied in nicely with current affairs. It was never about promoting black models'. This brings us back to the issue of black models don't sell. At least not to the intended market; how could a white woman relate to a black woman's shape, hair, and the way the clothes appear on them? So is it only about commerce or does race play a bigger role? In, 1976 when Iman appeared wearing clothes made by prominent designers such as YSL, Issey Miyake, Versace and many others, she appealed to the masses and was very successful for 14 years. But according to editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965-1997 Helen Gurley Brown, black would offend readers. It seemed like there was one rule for runways and another for magazine covers and editorials. Magazines typically stayed within a standard, and didn't stray too far from it. The publications did not want to alienate its audience. When Harpers Bazaar used Elizabeth Princess of Toro on their cover in 1969, they put a white model alongside her just in case they stood to alienate any of their regular readers. This ultimately diluted the presence of Elizabeth on the cover. There seemed to be a kind of Fascism when it comes to the industry. One has to be of the Aryan race, all blonde with blue eyes to exist. Fashion is all about the unobtainable, they don't want everyone to be able to get the nicer things in life. It is all about commerce and has never been about representing the colours of the world. So why not just accept that? I can't...
The world is so behind. Everyone seems to believe that we have more moved forward in terms of acceptance but in reality, it feels like the button is firmly pressed on pause. Sometimes it plays in slow motion and we get a breakthrough. After all, we have models such as Naomi and Alex Wek who have sustained a long career in this harsh business. Then we have the hopefuls, Jourdan Dun, Ajuma Nasenyana, Chanel Iman, Ajak Deng and Rose Cordero. All of which are stunning us and taking our breath away with their beauty. They reflect a wide range of black women and so therefore do not alienate black woman who do not fit the white girl dipped in chocolate mould. But we need more and soon. Of course there is racism in this business. And maybe there always will be in countries that are predominately white. Although we have had high profile figures in the industry who have spoken about it, no one is speaking now. The media has pacified the black public by making them believe that is has changed. They gave us the Black Issue of Italian Vogue (published only in Italian) in 2008. That was nearly three years ago. Hopefully with the exposure of these new black models they will be used more consistently and it is not just a replay of the 60s.

I think it is important that black models are seen as beautiful models and not beautiful 'black' models. Just why can't the model be beautiful and that is it? As demonstrated on the Channel Four series 'The Model Agency', new face Leomie Anderson was told she was 'one of the top breakthrough black models'. In which she replied 'aww that's nice' and appeared grateful for the title. I could almost hear her thinking why she could not just be breakthrough? Why black?
Fashion photographer Oliviero Toscani, had the right idea for his United Colours of Benetton campaigns. He used all kinds of people. He used people from the streets to reflect everyday life and what Benetton represented, their motto being 'All the colours of the world'. One day I hope to see all these colours because they are beautiful being black is not a trend, we are here to stay!

Published in Mr Mahogany
I know it's now the 27th January and I am only now wishing you Happy New Year when we are already nearly in February, but hey it's me and its better late then never. Last year was a tough year for a lot of us and I do hope that this year will be a great year for everyone.

Sadly though in terms of how people perceive black people things do not seem to have changed very much. I am not sure how many of you are aware of the recent storm that has blown up around the French Elle article, which and I am paraphrasing says that black people knew nothing about style until the Obama's got into power.

Nathalie Dolivo a fashion writer for French Elle wrote an article which was published on the Elle magazine website entitled 'Black Fashion Power' and she stated "African-Americans weren't stylish until the Obama family came into office. "For the first time, the chic has become a plausible option for a community so far pegged [only] to its street wear codes. She goes on to to explain why the so-called Obama renaissance of style is so "chic." According to her assessment, it embraces "white codes" while still making what she calls "a bourgeois ethnic reference (a batik-printed turban/robe, a shell necklace, a 'créole de rappeur') reminiscent [of] the roots."



So let me get this right prior to the Obama's getting into the White House African Americans were walking around butt naked looking like people that bought all their clothes from charity shops - yeah right.

Seriously what is wrong with these European journalist and their views on the black race, if we look back over the last year we had the controversy of the Italian Vogue's trend piece on so-called "slavery earrings" and their French edition's fashion spread of a model in blackface and just last month the Dutch magazine Jackie published a racial slur in a profile of Rihanna. It is so hard to believe that in this day and age people still have an issue over colour and race.

I am so tired of all of this crap that to be honest I can't even be bothered to even give my views on it, I just wanted to keep you all informed of what's going on in town and leave it to you to form your own views.
I will end by saying that it is more and more important that people of colour do their own things and stop trying to reach the West's ideals of beauty, fashion and music.

Fashions Finest London Fashion Week...


This is the Olympic year and is important to us in the UK because it is being held in London and of course there are some great things happening this year, of course starting with London Fashion Week Fashions Finest Season three show.

This year FF LFW show is bigger and better with over 25 designers coming from across the world including America, Zimbabwe, South Africa and a number of new and emerging designers from the UK showing. There will also be two solo shows featuring Yes London and John Peter. It's scary but Fashions Finest keeps going from strength to strength, with both days of shows being held at the Westbury Hotel in Mayfair, very exclsive and very classy.

FF LFW is one of the few shows during London Fashion Week that members of the public can come and watch the shows. so if you would like tickets – APPLY HERE – its free.

Mahogany Bridal Fashion Show – 1st April 2012...

Short and sweet – get your TICKETS for the MBFS. Also if you are a designer or exhibitor and want to be a part of MBFS This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.
Published in Mr Mahogany


Review of Mahogany Bridal Fashion Show

 

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS the bridal show is finally over.

 

I must be honest even though I have been doing this for 13 years, unfortunately it is the one show that we do that I really do not like doing. Yes I did say that and I will explain unlike TMC, Fashion Diversity or other shows that we do, the bridal show is the one show that no matter what you do or how hard you try people will criticise you and do everything they can to tear the show down – now hold on don’t get me wrong you know I have a big mouth and say it as it is, so at the same time I should be man enough and take as good as I give BUT the bridal show is only being done each year because there is no other African Caribbean specific bridal show in the UK and I feel that it would be sad to lose the only one we have, in addition it is not financially beneficial to Mahogany in anyway shape or form so just from a business perspective alone I should not be doing it and as I said above it is the one show that no matter what we do we are just bombarded with a variety of negative feedback. Yeah I know I am feeling sorry for myself and possibly it’s that time of month for me.

 

So I have to review my show and this is of course very hard to do as I must be objective and give both sides of the story. The review is based on feedback and emails and texts that I have received – as I have not obtained permission from some of the people to give there feedback publicly I will not include their names plus one or two were anonymous anyway (why do people do that, no one is going to kill you if you give your name and it proves your motive for the feedback was fair and true and there was no agenda behind it). I have inserted feedback below and at the end I have given my personal review.

 

Matthew from FLYER said: “The range of designs showcased today was spot-on. There was a touching moment when Tarell McIntosh, 15, student winner of Fashion Diversity received a standing ovation for his unique and personal collection introduced as ‘A Dress for the Cultural Bride’.

 

Tarell said; “Today was about the Mahogany Bride, I’m not here to showcase western-fashion, the whole point is to accentuate the Mahogany Bride in its full entirety. It’s also my intention to bring African design and ideology to the forefront of my collection.

 

“It was a good nice for us, in that we loved where we were positioned and it was a good experience.”

 

I was happy with the show it was fantastic”

“The feedback about the fashion show from the members of the public that visited our stand was very very very poor,  l almost wished l could have attended for myself, in terms of constructive criticism for this area l cannot say as it was negative hear say”

 

“Well, you said that i would have a good reaction...You weren't wrong!! I had more than a few screams and loads of; "is it real?" "is it mechanical?" "that's incredible!" Infact i had a lot of great comments and gave out over 150 cards.”

 

“Thanks for having me working on your show today, I really enjoyed it and your team was very good and friendly to work with also. I saw bits of the show and it was a really good turned out, wow! so many people. It was a really good showcase though. I loved it!”

 

“Thanks for the invite yesterday, I thought the show was excellent.”

 

“Overall as I said things went better than expected, usually there is an association with black run organisations and events to be very late and very unorganised and unprofessional but I felt your work at Mahogany proved this perception wrong and I would be happy to recommend it to other designers and exhibitors i know.”

 

In terms of the fashion show for me was one of the best for the variety of the clothing that was on display which was excellent, nice to also see some new style men's suits which I felt has been lacking in the last few shows.

This was better than the last year, not sure that venue is the right for vendors as it not big enough and we all know customer like to see variety. I am also aware its a cost factor, but maybe a bigger venue with more vendors at a price that will pull in more vendors will work, maybe a big sponsor will also could help with this, it's really a number game at the end of it, but I am sure you have already thought about this already and the current financial climate is not helping matters.

 

This is the anonymous email we received and I think as a review it is important that you read it in its entirety.

 

“I attended the 2010 Wedding show, and this e-mail is to voice my disappointment in both the lack of exhibitors and the actual bridal show.

 

I came to this event with high expectations, only to be disappointed. You billed this as 'the largest African Caribbean bridal fashion show in Europe' and that you primarily focuses on the fashion element of getting married from wedding dresses to accessories and includes a small number of exhibitors that cover the other areas of getting married such as photographers, wedding planners, cake makers, makeup artists etc.
 

 

The bridal show seem to be targeted at ensuring that your sponsors were looked after rather than your paying public. To be told that the 'Wedding Show' would be starting at 1.00pm for it to start at 1.45pm was totally unacceptable and showed a lack of respect for your paying guests.

 

I understand things running late, but to be 45 minutes late by any stretch of the imagination is just amateur and does not reflect well on your organisations skills.

 

In addition, no one made any effort to find extra seating for the people that ending up standing, after having to stand up outside waiting to get in. I heard lots of other guests comment and complaint about the lack of 'bridal' wear shown, and if wasn't for the entertainment of Justin playing, your show would have been a complete flop. The audience around me were actually laughing about the dresses falling off the models, and the lack of bridal shoes being worn by the models. I felt embarrassed and found it hard to watch the show.

 

We attended this show last year, and expected this years to show an improvement or at least to be to the same standard. Little did we know that this year would be a shadow on last years event. I've attended other events at the Holiday Inn, Coram Street, but don't think that this venue was really appropriate. Be rest assured, we will not be attending another of your shows, and will let other people know of our disappointment in what is suppose to be the 'largest African Caribbean' bridal show. The exhibitors themselves tried hard, but I suspect they themselves were disappointed and if they actually got many referrals out of the day would be a surprise.

 

I suspect that probably you might not receive many e-mails like this one, as most people probably will not take the time to bother to let you know, but if everyone I spoke too and everyone I heard comment on what a total waste of time this was took the time to tell you so, you would probably realise that you really need to ensure you pay more attention to the details when putting together an event that you are asking people to pay for. I can attend Wedding Fayre's any weekend all across England for which I do not have to pay and I will see better performance on stage and a more varied and inspiring range of bridal wear, as we were attending a 'Bridal Show'

 

If its just your aim to produce a film that can be shown on Wedding TV and to promote your models say so, so that people attending know exactly what it they are coming for.

 

Disappointed from Berkshire.”

 

My Review: Mahogany is not perfect and the same way I may have a go about other shows I will do the same about Mahogany shows.

 

Besides the fact that I have no idea why I do a show I do not really enjoy, I must be honest and say that we had some Whitney Houston X Factor issues during our first fashion show but these were ALL resolved for the second show which I think ran perfectly. For those of you that know Mahogany we do not do late, for the bridal show we never ever give a time when the shows will start cos you know if I did they would start on time – the approximate time for them to start is 1.30 and 4.30 – never ever at 1pm. The 1.30 show did start a bit late due to a health and safety issue that had to be resolved, but bearing in mind we never said when our fashion shows would start by my definition we were not late. A lot of you reading my blog may not know Mahogany very well and as such even though you read the next bit it may not seem relevant but Mahogany is all about promoting goods and services for people of colour and we know that brides go to many bridal fashion shows and see nothing but white wedding dresses day in and day out and we want to give brides that attend our show something different so we actively sort out alternative wedding dresses and  designers that were bold and brave enough to present an alternative. I guess you can see for some people, that did not go down too well.

 

People don’t get me wrong I love feedback good or bad but I do get pissed when African Caribbean shows are held to a higher standard than other shows and as soon as we allegedly mess up people purposely go out and speak bad about you or want to run you down Be rest assured, we will not be attending another of your shows, and will let other people know of our disappointment” when we should be supporting each other, by giving feedback and with your support we can work on improving things.

 

Well just like I have been doing for the past 7 years next year I will once again be saying to myself I am not looking forward to doing the show and may make the decision not to – we will see. I would like to thank all the exhibitors, designers, models, volunteers, Mahogany staff and everyone that attended or sent us good luck messages as well as everyone and there were a lot of you that took time out to talk to me and say great show etc and also to everyone that gave feedback good or bad.

 

Why is it so hard for a Black Woman to find a Good Black Man?

 

I was going to talk about this but the blog is getting to long – so I will talk about this in my next blog.

 

News In Brief:

 

Top Model UK

 

The Top Model UK competition, which is the equivalent version of Top Model of Colour took place on the 13th  14th March at the Hilton Metropole London and our current Top Model of Colour Paula (TMC 09) and our previous winner Vicky (TMC 08) were invited to attend both events as VIP guests and also to open the show with a small presentation on the first day of the competition. Even if I say so myself the models looked stunning in outfits provided to them by Veronique B Couture. They really had fun and were definitely the centre of attention of all of the film crews, press and guests.

 

Bold  Beautiful Seminar Workshops (Nigeria)

LtoR Mary Jane (Top Sleek makeup artist) Makida (Face of Sleek Nigeria)  Paula (TMC)

 

Paula (TMC) was invited to Nigeria to attend and participate in a workshop, seminar and fashion show aimed at young people wishing to get involved in the fashion industry. Whilst in Nigeria she met up with top designers and makeup artists as well as meeting Makida Moka the current Face of Sleek Nigeria. Paula is having a lot of fun as the current Top Model of Colour.

 

 

MOAN OF THE DAY...

 

Normally I have just one moan of the day but I am sorry I have to extend it today as there are just some things going on that WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT.

 

Can You Sing?

 

Singing is becoming like modelling, everyone no matter how bad their voice is believes they can sing. X Factor and American Idol aside, which we all love to watch the fools trying to sing to get their 5 minutes of fame, I can understand. BUT BUT BUT there are toooooooooo many people out there that are soloist or have formed groups appearing on stages and at shows attempting to sing and I use the word attempting very loosely. Now you ALL know someone that you have heard sing that you have been unable to be honest with and tell them that they cannot sing to save their life, if they were told that if they sang well they would win a million pounds, there would be very few millionaires.

 

I have decided that I will be lobbying my MP to bring in new legislation that will enable us to sue or have people arrested that sing in public when they cannot sing, it must become a criminal offence so that we do not have to sit through 3 to 6 minutes of torture and why is it that those that cannot sing always do 3 to 4 songs and the ones that can sing only sing twice. Maybe I am just bitter and twisted cos I have no talent at all and wished I could sing – but if I am saying something that makes some sense wherever you are just say YEAH YEAH.

 

Stop Crying on TV

 

I don’t know about you but this crying on TV stuff is now starting to get on my nerves. Every time I watch a reality TV show I see people crying from the mum, dad, sister, uncle, shopkeeper, cat, dog – EVERYONE for no apparent reason. Now explain this to me your son or daughter is on one of these reality TV programs and you are doing your interview that will be shown during the program and you are talking about how proud you are of your child (no problem with that) and then you talk about the day you were pushing them on the swing when they were 3 years old and you start crying (grown arse men – excuse my language just trying to emphasise a point) WHY, how is that something to make you cry about? Hey, by you crying it is not going to make me vote for your child, I will vote for them because they have talent not because I hear a soppy story. Men are crying more than the women nowadays, is this all about finding their feminine side, if that is the case some of them have moved 100% over to their feminine side – MAN UP.

 

If you want to score some points – when you are with your girlfriend or wife look her in the eyes and start crying and say to her that “just looking at you and being in love with you brings me to tears” – trust me you will score lots of points and may get some as well.

 

Simon Cowell - Wanna Be Girls

 

I am a big American Idol fan but not so big an X Factor fan (only because I believe that X Factor is more of a popularity contest than a singing competition - Leona Lewis and Alexander Burke aside), but have you noticed that on X Factor Cheryl Cole is always rubbing up to Simon Cowell and every time the camera’s are on her she is found whispering in his ea or rubbing up to him. Now when I saw that for a couple of seasons back, I thought it was just one of those things and it was Cheryl being Cheryl but to my dismay Kara DioGuardi (I just had to go on Google and check out her name for some reason I can’t get my head round her name), is doing exactly the same thing as Cheryl Cole.

 

Do they feel that by doing this they will get more media attention or that he will give them more work as it sure won’t be anything else as it seems the man is about to get married, rumour has it that it will be the weekend of September 11th.

 

Hey ladies go make your own fame, be a judge in your own rights and leave Simon alone

 

O well at least he has nothing to worry about from Ellen DeGeneres.

 

Men and Facebook

 

Now I am not a woman as you all know, but ladies I have full and total sympathy for what you go through on Facebook and can understand why some of you lie about  your relationship status. Now as some of you may know if you visit my Facebook page you will see that I have profile pictures sometimes of woman on it. Now for those of you that are educated or take the time to read it, you will know that they are primarily adverts about shows that we are involved in and most times will contain a picture of a beautiful model within the advert. However I am inundated with emails and chat conversations from men wanting to chat me up.

 

HELLO firstly, you do not know me so why are you emailing me saying “hi beauty”, hi sexy I want to get to know you”, “I am the man of your dreams”, “lets get to know each other better”, “you look so beautiful in your profile picture and I am looking for a wife” – I could go on and on. Now I have no problem with men trying to chat up someone they do not know on Facebook as that is there choice but at least do some research first be sure that you are talking to a woman and why not start slowly as opposed to jumping in the deep end and drowning.

 

I love it when I chat back or email them and say “I am a man” – utter silence follows, only one fool ever came back with a retort saying “than why do you have a woman on your profile picture” but as I said above uneducated and did not read the advert but maybe to be fair to him the writng was in Dutch.

 

Guys that are doing this seriously GET A LIFE OR DO IT WITH STYLE!

 

Be good and take care – tomorrows another day!

Published in Mr Mahogany
Thursday, 10 March 2011

Cowell Slams New Idol

Published in Entertainment
Friday, 25 February 2011

Dark Skin Beyonce

Once again my girl Beyonce attracts controversy with her latest photoshoot for the French Magazine L'Officiel to celebrate their 90th anniversary issue.

beyonce black faceI am not sure why it is controversial, as all she has done is gone from a light skin woman to a dark skinned woman wearing African inspired outfits. To me it is only controversial because it is Beyonce and due to the fact that people are concerned that more and more she is trying to come across as a European woman as nowadays she seems to have blonde hair and her skin seems lighter.

For me in this shoot she looks beautiful and portrays black women in a strong positive way and is also promoting Africa, so on this one I am cool with it.

What are your views?
Published in Mr Mahogany
Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dinner with Mr Mahogany

An interview with the CEO of Mahogony International exploring the current condition of models of colour within the fashion industry.
Published in Entertainment
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