I was browsing through the current issue of Marie Claire magazine and I came across the latest Marc Cain SS12 campaign ad.
The model’s afro-esque hair style really caught my attention.
The next day I travelled to central London and as I was exiting Oxford Circus tube station, the new Benetton SS12 ads also caught my eye – again beautiful models – black and white – sporting afro-inspired hair!!!
Natural, afro hair is on the up and up and is being fully embraced by women of colour in droves Recent research conducted by the market research agency Mintel, showed that the natural resurgence in the US has resulted in sales of relaxer kits dropping by 17% over the last 5 years (Black Hair Care US- August 2011, Mintel).
Many African – American celebrities are staunch advocates of wearing their natural hair and Oscar nominated actress Viola Davis’ natural style garnered numerous column inches and commentary as she steeped out onto the red carpet at the recent awards ceremony. My Twitter timeline went CRAZY!! Tweets and retweets flew across cyberspace as natural hair bloggers and vloggers, beauty critics and others commented and congratulated the actress’ stylish mane.
One thing I love about being a black women, is the many choices we have in how we can wear our hair – be it chemically relaxed, in its natural form or accentuated with weaves and extensions. For me, what is more important is the fact that we have the CHOICE to express our individuality, personality and sense of style in the way that feels right to us.
For the month of February, another poster child for the Naturalista’s, Solange Knowles, was British Vogue’s ‘Today I’m Wearing…’ Photo Blogger of the month.
Two of my favourite looks of the month are shown below – her unique, individual style is the epitome of today’s empowered black woman.
On the 27th February, the singer Elisabeth Welch (1904 -2003) was commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque in south-west London. She is the second black women to have received this hounour (the first was Jamaican born nurse, Mary Seacole).
Born in New York, Welch had a rich cultural heritage through her father John, who was Native American and African-American and her mother Elisabeth, who was of Irish and Scottish descent, however like many African-American performers of her time, found greater success in Europe than in the United States.
After starting her career in New York, Welch performed in popular clubs in Paris and London, and, later, in British films.
She settled in London in 1933, which remained her home until she passed away just a few months shy of her 100th birthday.
The 1930s saw Welch become a trailblazer for black women in Britain. It was the decade where Ivor Novello wrote songs for her; Paul Robeson was her leading man in films; and Welch enjoyed popularity as a cabaret star of London’s cafe society.
In 1931 she introduced the famous torch song “Stormy Weather” to British audiences. Watch her singing it here many years later in 1980 (more about this performance is written below).
In 1934 she was the first black broadcaster to be given her own radio series, Soft Lights and Sweet Music, by the BBC. Her many radio shows include two guest appearances on Desert Island Discs.
In the later years of her life Welch stopped the show once again in the 1970 musical, Pippin, made new records, and also gave what was perhaps the most startling appearance of her film career in Derek Jarman’s Tempest (1980), at the end of which she sings a typically poised version of Stormy Weather surrounded by a chorus line of leaping, high-stepping sailors. There were those who thought she was the best thing about that controversial interpretation of Shakespeare.
In high old age, Elisabeth Welch continued to sing with great aplomb; recordings from the mid-1980s indicate greater maturity of interpretation than ever. In 1992 stars gathered at the Lyric Theatre in London to pay tribute to Elisabeth Welch in the Crusaid Concert; where she was given an unprecedented five standing ovations.
She was also known for her style and class as well as for her voice.
Recreate her classic old school, glamorous look.
Create a smooth matte base with Studio Fix compact foundation by MAC (£19)
For decades, a red lipstick paired with strong black eyeliner has been the vanguard of makeup for any showbiz starlet. Accentuate the eye by sweeping a golden eyes hadow across the entire eye, right up to the brow bone. I like Silent Night by NARS (£16.50).
Line the eye with a liquid eyeliner pen for ease of application (Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen in black is ideal, £8.99 ).
Curl lashes and then apply lashings of thickening mascara. I love High Impact mascara by Clinique ((£16) for its intense black pigment.
A show girl must have ruby red lips – and in my opinion Ruby Woo by MAC (£13.50) works well with a lighter skin tone such as Welches, but for a darker tone such as my own, I prefer a deeper red with blue undertones – my all time favourite is Russian Red by MAC. Apply with a lip brush, blot – then apply a second coat.
Finish with an illuminating bronzer, such as the cult classic Shimmer Brick in Bronze by Bobbi Brown (£30.50).
Who will be the next black woman to be recognised in this way? I hope we do not have to wait to long to find out!
The leading Jamaican newspaper, the Jamaica Gleaner (of which I have fond memories, my mum used to order her copy from the local newsagents every week… back in the day!) announced earlier this week that four of the island’s most well-known women have been selected to be L’Oréal ambassadors in Jamaica.
The four women include:
Former beauty queens Joan McDonald and Sara Lawrence.
Joan McDonald is widely known as the first Miss Jamaica World, having won the inaugural beauty pageant in 1978. She represented Jamaica at the Miss World contest in the United Kingdom.
She has also served her country as a cultural ambassador in Europe and in the United States of America.
McDonald has distinguished herself in public service by working with many community groups and non-governmental organisations. She has been a branch director at the Jamaica Red Cross and was a director and public-relations officer of the Lay Magistrates Association of Jamaica and a trained facilitator for Restorative and Community Justice Practices. She is still deeply involved in the beauty pageant that launched her career and has been a grooming consultant for Miss Jamaica World Pageants and Miss Festival Queen competition.
Sara Lawrence was the representative for Jamaica in the Miss World 2006 beauty
pageant. In March 2007, she relinquished the Miss Jamaica World title upon announcing her pregnancy, becoming the first winner in the Jamaican contest’s 23-year-history to do so. (Source: Wikipeadia)
Lawrence was born in Kingston, she went on to graduate from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she majored in biology with an emphasis on pre-medicine.
After winning the Jamaican title in August 2006, Lawrence placed in the first six at the Miss World competition held in Warsaw, Poland, where she was also named Miss World Caribbean.
Upon relinquishing her crown in March 2007, Lawrence said in a statement that she had “taken a deeply personal decision to face up to my responsibilities as one who expects to become a mother later this year. I believe with all that is within me that it is my moral obligation to do what I believe to be ethically correct and follow what I believe in my heart to be right.”
Lawrence, however, received overwhelming support from the Jamaican public for her decision to have her baby. She received the backing of the Miss World Organisation and was allowed to retain both her crowns for the full duration of the reign. I am pleased that she is to be one of the faces of the new campaign…beauty isn’t perfect, we all have had challenges that we have had to overcome in life and we all deserve a second chance from time to time!
The other two women are economic consultant Paulette Mitchell and student Kacis Fennell. I couldn’t find out much information about these two women – but I am sure we will get to know them better as the campaigns unfold.
The announcement was made at a glittering event called ‘L’Oréal Live: Bringing Beauty to Life’ and was hosted by the Pioneer Manufacturing Distribution Company Limited (PMD) – the local distributor of both the L’Oréal and Garnier brand of products . (Source: The Jamaica Gleaner).
In presenting the concept behind the L’Oréal Ambassadors programme in Jamaica, director of PMD, Winston Barrett, said “PMD was seeking to emulate one of the most innovative programmes adopted by the international beauty-care manufacturer. The Jamaican L’Oréal ambassadors will be the faces of the brands both locally and in the rest of the Caribbean”. This marketing strategy, often dubbed ‘Glocalisation’ is a key tenant of the make up giant’s plans for future growth.
Glocalisation serves as a means of combining the idea of globalisation with that of local considerations. In a recent interview with Beauty Inc (part of wwd.com), the CEO of L’Oréal, Jean-Paul Agon, stated that this “new concept” essentially moves “beyond globalisation” and forms an essential part of the firm’s efforts to add 1bn people to its customer base.
“In order to conquer and loyalise these consumers around the world, the idea is to build from the brands that we have,” he said.
“The second step is to make sure that these brands, in every part of the world, have ranges of products that are completely specifically designed, formulated and adapted to the needs and demands of the local consumers. The L’Oréal Paris brand is the same brand in China that it is in the USA or in Europe, but the products are different.”
Agon also argued that such an approach could come to define the next ten years, when 2bn people globally will enter the middle class for the first time.
Agon is building upon the transformation the business underwent when former CEO Lindsay Owen-Jones was at the helm. He led the Parisian company for 20 years (and guess what..he is from Wales!!)
I remember reading about Owen-Jones in Time Magazine back in 2004 (yes, I have been on this beauty thing for a LONG time…), where he was named as one of the 100 most influential people on the face of the planet. He was being recognised for his ambition and success in creating a truly global beauty business that set out to meet the needs of women from across the globe. L’Oréal purchased the hair care brands Soft-Sheen and Carson in 1998 and 2000 respectively and merged the two brands to create the Soft-Sheen-Carson division we know today (brands such as Dark & Lovely belong to the division…but you all knew that right!!)
In 2003 the L’Oréal Institute for Ethnic Hair & Skin Research, a R&D research laboratory that was dedicated to understanding more about Black, Asian and Hispanic hair and skin was also unveiled ….although it now seems like the facility is no longer functioning…I scoured the L’Oreal website for more information…but to no avail. 😦
Despite this, I am really excited that these beautiful Jamaican women will be joining L’Oréal’s diverse global spokespersons such as veterans Beyoncé, Frieda Pinto, Kerry Washington and the latest women of colour to join the roster, Ethiopian born model Liya Kebede.
I will most definitely be keeping my eye out for the initial campaigns!