just plain sara: March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

Style Flashback: Grace Jones

Grace Jones is the undisputed queen of androgyny but that doesn’t mean she ain’t sexy! Over the last twenty years she’s graced our magazine pages and blared over our radios, but more than anything who could forget her strong presence on the big screen? Born Grace Mendoza in Spanish Town, Jamaica, she moved to New York in 1965 with her family where she became a successful model and studied theatre at Syracuse University. Despite her education, Grace didn’t begin her career in acting until the 80s. First she secured a record deal with Island Records in 1977, which resulted in a string of dance club hits and garnered a large gay following. Towards the end of the 70s Grace embraced a dramatic visual makeover, created in partnership with stylist Jean-Paul Goude, with whom she had a son though never married. They created her staple androgynous look with square-cut hair and angular, padded clothes. A star was born and Hollywood soon came calling. Grace co-starred with NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer in 1984, played the infamous 007 nemesis in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill (1985) and who could forget Strangè of Boomerang (1992)?! These days you can find Ms. Jones hanging out in London with cool kids Kate Moss and Stella McCartney or sitting front row at an Alexander McQueen show. Icons don’t rest you see.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington on stage at the First Annual Essence Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon, at the Beverly Hills Hotel on February 21, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California.
Kerry Washington recently attended an Essence event wearing a stunning Elie Saab Spring/Summer 2008 Couture outfit. Tracee Ellis Ross needs to watch her back because Kerry is fast becoming the new style icon in our community - I guess we can have more than one! I have to say I don’t like the clutch she picked for this look but that’s a minor “flaw” in what is an otherwise perfect outfit.

Steal Kerry’s Style...

Top: Pink Silk Top by Tara Jarmon, $535, www.my-wardrobe.com
Skirt: High-waist Silver Sequin and Pearls Embroidered Satin Skirt, Spring/Summer 2008 Collection, www.eliesaab.com

Heels: Nina Pelle, $79.95, www.ninashoes.com
Ring: Sterling Silver Crown Ring, $16, www.asos.com
Bag: Silver Oversized Faux Snnake Skin Clutch, $46,
Watch: Silver Original G Watch, $65,

Before you freak out at the price of these items I have included a much more budget friendly look below. I just wanted to include the exact outfit this time for those few who can actually afford these fabulous straight-off-the-runway looks. The look below is more for daytime but you can dress it up with accessories for instant evening glam.

Best of the Rest...

Left to right: The Pencil Skirt by Rachel Pally, $163, www.standardstyle.com; Banded Bottom Lace Top, $19.50, www.wetseal.com; Cocco Open Toe Pumps by Madden Girls, $39.95, www.endless.com

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hair Stories: Quench My Thirst

Tanika Ray, Yaya DaCosta and India.Arie show off their luscious natural hair - big earrings are optional!
1. Kizzi Stay-Put Hair Pomade, $9.50, www.carolsdaughter.com; 2. Curly Pudding, $38 for 16oz, www.missjessies.com; 3. Citrus Shea Butter Whip, $16.50 for 2oz, www.tuliaskincare.com; 4. Greg Juice - nourishing herbal leave-in, $9, www.oyinhandmade.com; 5. Whipped Butter, $5.75, www.anitagrant.com; 6. Amla & Olive Heavy Cream for 8 oz, $16, www.qhemetbiologics.com; 7. Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo, www.elucence.com; 8. Happy Nappy Styles, $19, www.blendedbeauty.com

Afro hair is a slave to dryness and with summer fast approaching you’d better stock up on heat defying products. The key is to add moisture, moisture, moisture to your hair (as well as good protein treatments for strength). Whether it’s a shampoo, conditioner or styling product make sure you pick at least one moisturizing version of your staple brand. Above are some of my favorites, most of which were produced by black-owned companies for black hair.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What Say We?... Yay or Nay?!

Tracee Ellis Ross attending the Los Angeles screening of Trembled Blossoms presented by Prada on March 19, 2008 in Beverly Hills California.

Tracee what happened? You usually get it so right. While each individual piece looks great i.e. the top, skirt and heels, together they scream "I dressed in the dark." And the necklace's proportions are all off. This look could have worked had she gone with more delicate shoes but when all is said and done, I'm inclined to give Ms. Ross a nay. Don't worry Tracee, you're still my style icon!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Celebrate Fashion & Diversity…

Unity always trumps division and in the true spirit of solidarity CatchTheDesigner.com aims to uplift up-and-coming designers of Black, Asian and Latino descent. Sponsored by music mogul Russell Simmons, Macys and Pepsi, readers can visit the site to get regular updates on their favorite minority labels. Russell himself has a blog which he updates monthly. I think it’s a fantastic idea to have a one-stop venue for emerging talent. The designer profiles, interviews and event photos can’t be found anywhere else and the best part is if you’re a struggling designer/model yourself, there are listings of networking events and educational programs that will interest you. The Asian and Latino sections haven’t been launched yet but you can start your obsession with the site here at the Black designer corner.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

ZomCon patches

I was able to pick up a quick commission through the PA (Serenity) Browncoats group. One of the members needs to spice up his zombie coveralls with a couple of nifty Zomcon patches. After about two hours of design time and 3 hours of sewing, I produced these and they'll be shipping out today.

I had no idea what Zomcon is so I searched and discovered this delightful company that provides zombie services for your every menial task. Don't like moving? Hire a zombie! And don't forget to get your zombie a maintenance package that includes facials and body wraps. You don't want your zombie getting ripe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jeans 101: Dare to Bare

Kelly Rowland visits MTV's "TRL" in New York City, March 26, 2007.
Lauren Conrad of “The Hills” at the Mark photo shoot for Avon, October 26, 2007 in Malibu, California.
Ashanti attends the Giuseppe Zanotti NY store re-opening party at the Giuseppe Zanotti Design Boutique in New York City on September 7, 2007.

If you’re anything like me you’ve already been working out in anticipation for spring. I’m particularly motivated by the prospect of wearing a denim skirt for the first time in almost five years! This season denim skirts are smaller than ever (see Kelly above) but don’t be a slave to fashion, wear what makes you comfortable. If you like to bare a little leg but don’t want to worry about flashing every time you make a move, opt for a length like Lauren’s. Pick a dark denim, knee length skirt for night time glamour. Just add a floaty top for understated elegance like Ashanti.

My Picks!

Left to right: Recycled Denim Skirt, $34, www.azjeans.com; Lurex Denim Mini Skirt, $22.99, www.azjeans.com; Grey Mini Skirt, $19.50, www.wetseal.com; Miranda, $59.50, www.abercrombie.com
Left to right: Porkchop Pencil Skirt, $27.50, www.westseal.com; High Waist Denim Mini, $27.80, www.forever21.com; Indigo Denim Mini , $88, www.jcrew.com; Star Denim Skirt by Alexander McQueen, $223, www.shopbop.com

Denim obviously comes in many colors but I’ve always been drawn to darker and “dirtier” hues of denim like the mini from Abercrombie above. That said, a nice baby blue denim skirt is a classic and provides the perfect contrast to the bright, block colored tops that are everywhere this season. Make sure you get a skirt that isn’t too tight. Though it may look good in the store once you start walking it’ll continually ride up. Go for a slightly bigger size that will shrink in the wash to the perfect size.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Gabrielle Covers Vegas Magazine…

If this is what 35 looks like, sign me up! Gabrielle Union reminds us you can be flawless in your thirties in the latest issue of Vegas magazine. Whilst I’m not sure what the connection is between her and sin city, the article makes for a good read. I had no idea people close to Gabrielle call her “Nikki”…

"Anyone who has known me for a long time calls me Nikki," Union says, explaining the name comes from her middle name (Monique) and the fact that her grandfather had difficulties pronouncing Gabrielle. "It has just been Nikki, literally since birth. I answer a lot faster."

Read more snippets from the article here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shop Cute!

Rihanna goes shopping with girlfriend and new dog DJ at Fred Segal and Barneys New York, January 5, 2008.
Halle Berry shopping with her Mom in Beverly Hills, May 25, 2007.
Meagan Good at a recent shopping trip in Los Angeles, California.
Elise Neal attending the Diesel opening of the Melrose Place Flagship Store, May 31, 2007 in Los Angeles.
Kelly Rowland was out shopping at the National Jean Company in Washington DC, March 12, 2008.

Ah there’s nothing like a day of retail therapy. Now that the weather is warming up we have the perfect excuse to update our closet. Some say it’s best to wear clothing that is easy to put on and take off, but I’m a firm believer of looking good at all times. Celebrities have to constantly be on their toes just in case the papparazi catch them on an off day. See the ladies above. All of them are about to drop serious dollars but they look good doing it and so should you!

My Picks!

Cardigan: Cardigan with Tie Front by Hannii Y, $640, www.brownsfashion.com; Bag: Ashlee Simpson Inspired Top Shelf Croc Clutch, $599, www.anyknockoff.com; Dress: Border Stripe Floral Dress, $120, www.warehouse.co.uk; Earrings: flower hoop earrings, $75, www.isharya.com; Bangle: Grooved Wood Bracelet, $4.80. www.forever21.com; Flats: Opener Patent Flats, $19.99, www.flyjane.net
Waistcoat: Stripe Waistcoat, $60, www.topshop.com; Tee: Banded V-Neck Tees, $14.50, www.oldnavy.com; Jeans: 5 Pocket Skinny Jean, $39.50, www.wetseal.com; Bag: Knox Manyana Shoulder Tote, $535, www.ravinstyle.com; Braclet: H81 Mosaic Bangles, $8.90, www.forever21.com; Necklace: Wooden Block Necklace, $7.80, www.forever21.com; Sandal: Plait & Saddle Strap Thong, $44, www.warehouse.co.uk
Earrings: Sea Pirate Charm Earrings, $18, www.rimistyle.com; Top: Malay Tunic Blouse by Leaves of Grass, $225, www.net-a-porter.com; Short: Perry Solid Short, $29.50, www.delias.com; Platforms: Three-strap platforms, $98, www.gap.com; Sunglasses: Classic Aviator Sunglasses, $9.50, www.oldnavy.com; Bag: Hayden Harnett Beatrice Satchel, $485, www.ravinstyle.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gingham Anyone?

Ashanti at a recent appearance at 106 & Park.
Veronica Webb, Genevieve Jones and Amerie pose in their gingham frocks.

This summer do things a little different. While most will seek out floral and print summer dresses, opt for bold gingham instead. At first glance it can seem like an awkward fabric choice but if you get the right dress, the pattern really lends itself to the perfect summer frock. If you're worried you'll end up looking like a picnic table cloth, go for a smaller gingham print like Ashanti. Either way, you're sure to stand out from the crowd. Don't believe me? Check out this picture of Veronica Webb during Fashion Week in New York. Tres chic!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Get Skirty...

Kerry Wahington arrives at the 2008 Film Independent's Spirit Awards held at Santa Monica Beach on February 23, 2008 in Santa Monica, California.
Left to right: Three Tiered Skirt, $22.50, www.wetseal.com; Geo Print Mini Skirt by Marc Jacobs, Approx. $1120, www.brownsfashion.com; Hues Of Hibiscus Skirt, $88, www.freepeople.com; Daisy Cotton Skirt, $22.80, www.forever21.com
Left to right: Kimcji & Blue Scarf Print Pull on Skirt, $58, www.urbanoutfitters.com; Necessary Objects Printed Sateen Skirt, $48, www.shop.nordstrom.com; Mossimo Black Pocketed Skirt, $19.99, www.target.com; Iris Shoots Skirt, $128, www.anthropologie.com

Spring is a'coming and the stars are already dusting off their summer gladrags. If you haven’t started already, now is the time to update your wardrobe for the new season. Key items will be harder to find once the sun comes out of hiding and everyone starts to shop. On your shopping list should be a floral skirt, but forget paisley prints or pastel colors. This spring it's all about bold and bright hues paired with geometric shapes and flowers. Take your cue from Kerry Washington who attended the 2008 Film Independent’s Spirit awards in a stunning blue and green fifties style skirt - perfect for day and evening!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Erykah graces the cover of Essence....

It's about time Essence put someone else on their cover and who better than Ms. Badu diva extraordinaire. Rocking a ginormous 'fro on the April 2008 cover, Erykah talks men, music and what it is to be a mom. I haven't heard her new album "New Amerykah" yet, but knowing it debuted at number 2 on the Billboard charts lets me know it's good! Pick up a copy when it hits newstands on March 12th.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

First Dragonskin Castings

This is to describe the steps I took in making simple rubber shapes which I intend to use as cosplay belt buckle pieces; they won't be working buckles but rather attached to vinyl belts to give that classic superhero look (like Superman's simple yellow oval).

After experimenting with Flex Foam 3, I decided to try a different rubber compound for my belt buckle castings. My friend at Smooth-On, Jason recommended their Dragonskin product (you've probably seen it used on Mythbusters). It's a two-part equal ratio mix. It can only be pigmented not painted so that was also a new thing for me to try. The Silc-Pigs are pricey but a little bit goes a long way so it actually works out to be a relatively inexpensive thing when you break it down.

To begin, I wanted to go with simple shapes. I think I was trying to run before walk when I sculpting with wax and making molds for F4 and Tech Support. I pulled myself back and bought things in the shapes that I wanted: the circle was a 3" metal button from the sewing department of my local craft store; the oval was a cardboard oval container with a lid which is the part I used. I used a cardboard box as my mold container. The box had a layer of masking tape inside and then smothered with petroleum jelly. I used the duoMatrix Neo instead of gypsum for the mold. It's great to work with even for a beginner like me.

The Dragonskin is great because it's a 1:1 ratio and I don't have any precision measuring devices or scales. I basically eyeball stuff that I mix. For this project, I used a small cup that I would guess holds an ounce of liquid; first poured in the A part, dumped it into a paper cup, then poured the B part into the small cup and added that to the paper cup. With no expansion, it's much easier to handle than the foams and you can take the time to mix and pour whereas the foam dries within seconds. Then comes the pigment - I just used a popsicle stick to dip into the Silc-Pig and then just used that stick to continue mixing the Dragonskin. It took maybe a teaspoon at most to color my two ounce mixtures.

I sprayed my mold with Krylon's Crystal Clear before pouring the Dragonskin. The spray dries quickly within 15 minutes. When I did the blue ones, I added one step: to the circle mold, I lightly brushed a layer of Cast Magic Goldfinger casting powder to added a gilded look to it.

I think my yellow castings came out best. When it came time to do the blue then red, I found that I should have let them set a lot longer. My blue and red oval shapes are a bit "chewed" up on the sides because they weren't ready to be demolded. My circles are really good but I noticed that they are lopsided from a side view because using my washing machine as a work surface is not at all level. However, for a costume piece, I actually don't think anyone would notice this.

Since the hero I'm working on next has a plain buckle, I don't have too many ideas yet for how to get more complex in my casting. I think the first one I will try that's more than just basic, will be the Legion of Superheroes logo.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

For the Goddess in You!

Above: Kalifa Earrings, $25, www.goddesszuri.com Left to right: Queen T-shirt, $23; Dacia Hoops, $18; 100% Natural T-shirt, $22 all available at www.goddesszuri.com

With spring threatening to make an early appearance (at least here in D.C.!) it’s time to stock on cute tees and pretty hoop earrings. Lucky for you I have just the right starting place. Visit www.goddesszuri.com and begin lining you closet with cute tees that express your naughty or natural style! Founded by Candace, a marketing professional who decided to wear her hair natural five years ago, the site offers graphic t-shirts that celebrate natural beauty. Zuri means “beautiful” Swahili and with so many cut options to choose from the goddess in you won’t feel anything short of stunning!