Not Quite Feeling It
Just One Thing Wrong
Best Use of Color
And, finally . . .
Ms. New Beauty's Pick for Best of the Night
Perfection. The Hair. The Jewelry. The Makeup. Perfection!
I love Iman. I do. There is no other word to describe it. I love her and consider her a friend in my head. Or less a friend, and moreso that really cool auntie or friend of your mother’s that always looked out for you and gave you good advice, but talked to you like an adult, even when you were only 12. Well, that’s what she is to me. In my mind, she’s Auntie Iman, the fabulous woman who taught me about makeup as a child and showed me how a woman can succeed on her own terms.
Born in Somalia to a diplomat father, Iman was discovered in Kenya in 1975 while she was studying at Nairobi University. Always the shrewd woman, Iman only agreed to model for famed photographer Peter Beard if he paid her school tuition and fees. She went on to incredible success in the fashion world, modeling for Yves Saint Laurent and working with photographers like Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon.
While most of the world knows Iman as only the beautiful supermodel, or maybe even as the wife of David Bowie, Iman is a shrewd business woman. Noticing the considerable gap in the cosmetics market for products targeted to women of color, she launched Iman Cosmetics in 1994. A full range brand, Iman Cosmetics offers makeup, skincare, and haircare products to meet the needs of Asian, Latina, African American and multicultural women. Iman has also published several books and spearheaded the “I AM AFRICAN” ad campaign to raise awareness and funds to fight the AIDS pandemic in Africa.
I remember some years ago, hearing the buzz about this new, natural product line that was addicting black women left and right. Everyone raved about it, sang its praises, swore that nothing before had ever affected them so. You know I was intrigued. But I was especially pleased and surprised to find that the proprietor of these wonder goods was none other than a black woman. A sista like myself.
By now, the world knows about the once cult brand, Carol’s Daughter. But many of us do not realize that the woman behind Carol’s Daughter, who actually is Carol’s daughter, is Lisa Price. Starting her business in her kitchen by mixing her products at home, Price turned her passion for fragrance into a formidable beauty company. Beginning with a small boutique in Brooklyn, the quality and care put into every product soon made Carol’s Daughter a favorite among celebrity crowds. The brand was featured on The Today Show, The View, and the guaranteed to make any small business owner into an industry behemoth, The Oprah Winfrey Show. The brand soon attracted celebrity investors, and eventual spokesmodels, Mary J. Blige and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Carol’s Daughter now offers over 300 unique products and is carried in select Sephora stores. The line continues to have legions of devoted women as customers. Lisa Price has traced her hard work and determination on the road to success in her new book – “Success Never Smelled So Sweet: How I Followed My Nose and Found My Passion.”
When you think of Blacks in fashion, the first people to come to mind are probably the first of the black supermodels – Naomi, Tyra, and Iman – or the icon and arbiter of style, Andre Leon Talley. Maybe if you’re a new school fabulous fashionista, you’d think of Tracy Reese, Alek Wek, or Liya Kebede. But, I’m sure very few people know the name Ann Lowe, which is why she’s the first person in my profile on blacks who’ve made history in fashion and beauty.
Born in Alabama in 1898, the granddaughter of a former slave, Ann Lowe was an African American fashion designer. Married by 14, she enrolled in fashion school in New York City at 17. Ms. Lowe began her career working on commission at a boutique and eventually became a darling designer of the rich and famous, designing clothes for society families like the du Ponts and the Lodges. She designed the dress that Olivia de Haviland wore to accept the Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal in “To Each His Own.” Most notably, Ms. Lowe designed the ivory silk dress that Jacqueline Bouvier wore to her wedding to John F. Kennedy in 1953. She continued to design through the 1960s for Madeline Couture and briefly for her own line, Ann Lowe Originals. Ms. Lowe died in 1981, but her contributions to fashion and the doors she opened for future generations are remembered today.
I’ve said before that my sense of style is “70s by day and 40s by night.” But I think that I’m 70s by night too. The clothes, colors and shapes of the 70s really speak to my soul. I’ve never been a monochrome, black on black girl; I look best in orange and yellow. And, Stephen Burrows’ designs just make me swoon. The chiffon, the color, the cut, the draping. These are not wallflower clothes. His designs just proclaim look at me. And, I think I deserve to be looked at. How fabulous would I look in this?!?!
A New Jersey native, Stephen Burrows graduated from FIT in 1966. He quickly became the designer for the club crowd, partying with Andy Warhol and Cher at Studio 54. Burrows’ designs were known for expertly draped and gathered chiffon, bright colors and exaggerated stitches, all embodying the vibrancy of the disco era. After successfully selling his clothes through trendy boutiques, venerable retailer Henri Bendel opened an atelier just for Burrows in the basement of their store called “Stephen Burrows World.” After focusing his work on theatrical costuming following the disco era, Burrows returned to fashion in 2002 with a new showroom at Bendel’s, shows during Fashion Week, and a consumer friendly line for Home Shopping Network.