Tag Archives: fashion

Black Freaks, Black F**s, Black Dy**s: Re-imagining Rebecca Walker’s “Black Cool”

By Guest Contributor Darnell L. Moore; originally published at Feminist Wire

15037_10151311871680791_1210328814_nEnter Scene: I am walking in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn—where we do more than die, by the way—rocking a close fade with two parts on the side, a full beard and mustache lined up perfectly, eyes protected by a pair of fresh chocolate browline frames (I was two blocks from Malcolm X boulevard, after all). I am donning a fitted button-up white shirt, closed off with a pink and gray striped bowtie, form-fitting charcoal gray blazer, dark blue kinda-skinny jeans, and a pair of hot pink and silvery gray kicks.

Passerbyer 1 checks out my footwear.

Passerbyer 2 offers up the obligatory, “Yo, son, your kicks are hot.”

Passerbyer 3 is looking at me like I’m way off, as if to say, “Really, you got on pink sneakers, sucka? That’s gay as hell. You are doing way too much!”

Passerbyer 4, my neighbor repeats, like he always does, “You cool, brother.”

My representation as a certain type of black man often transgresses the accepted boundaries of black masculinity. The ways I cut my hair, shape–or refuse to shape–my beard, style my clothes, walk, talk, and gesture tend to confound some folk and, on occasion, anger others because of my seeming transgressions. Sinning ain’t easy.

Indeed, some will stare at me as I make my way down any street rocking a beard, frames, “man bag,” and a little less than loose clothing because my gender presentation seems to be read as a sign of non-heterosexuality, deviance. In fact, most folk are okay with what they “see” until they notice that I am wearing something like hot pink (!) sneakers. According to some, a black man wearing hot pink sneakers, like a black woman wearing a suit, ain’t at all “cool.”

The notion of “black cool,” in particular, seems to be limited, limiting, and quite “straight” (as in hetero and rigid). I am thinking, for example, of one of the inspirations that motivated Rebecca Walker’s investigation of “Black cool.” She mentioned during an interview on NPR that an image of then-Senator Barack Obama exiting a black Lincoln Town Car during the 2008 campaign “was really, at that moment, the epitome of black cool.”

She went on to say that she was “drawn to that image because [she] wanted to decode it and to see where it fit into this Afro-Atlantic aesthetic.” And while that image is but one of Walker’s inspirations (and while her book, Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness, actually includes critical and beautiful essays that think through the gendering of “black cool”), that particular picture of Obama locates the quotidian “black cool” in a male-bodied, masculine, straight black man and leaves me to wonder: does coolness exist anywhere beyond black masculinity, maleness, and heterosexuality? As some of the writers in Walker’s Black Cool argue, I think so.

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Beauty In Color: Oscar Highlights

by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour

Quvenzhane Wallis and Halle Berry bond at The Oscars. Image via Buzzfeed.

We’re trying something new here at The R. In coverage of awards shows I’ve noticed fashion writers tend to completely ignore people of color, since there are so few nominated for the big awards. This holds true much more so for white-centric awards like The Oscars–less so for The Grammys. Unless you’re Halle Berry (and even then), beautiful people of color have to clamor for the spotlight. That’s where I come in.

There’s so much beauty in the world and, while I love Jennifer, Anne, and Jessica, I would like to shine a light on Inocente, Quvenzhane, and Octavia–some of the best dresses of the night. Beauty in color, under the cut.

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Suggestions For The Future: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour

Emily DiDonato in Namibia. Image via SI.com.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard or you’ve read articles about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition fail that swept like wildfire through the tubes and pipes of the internet. We have enough “WTF, mate?” articles about this most recent cultural appropriation fail, and unless I’m breaking a story–which I’m clearly not since this happened last week–I like to add something new to the conversation. I took a look at the (offending) pictures from this shoot and, frankly, regardless of the use of race props, most of the (again, offending) pictures are just terrible.
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Inauguration Fashion: Highlights

by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour

From E! Online.

Just a quick note (“quick” is a bold faced lie and I know it) to show you that we Racialicious denizens leave the roost sometimes and branch out!

Yesterday, we celebrated the swearing in of our first African American president, for the second time (woo!) We also celebrated the confirmation of four more years of Michelle Obama looking ferosh all the time in the public eye, so I was asked to participate in a Huffington Post Live hangout where a few people would talk about the highlights of the inauguration ceremony from various angles. The guests were:

  • Reverend Deborah L. Johnson, Founder of Inner Light Ministries, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Molly Darden, Managing Editor of Azizah Magazine, Atlanta, GA
  • Dr. Christopher House, Dir., African American Worship Service at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
  • Tim Byrnes, Professor of Political Science at Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
  • J.J. Colagrande, Professor at Miami-Dade Wolfson and HuffPost Blogger, Miami, FL
  • Joseph Lamour, Fashion & Entertainment Editor at Racialicious.com, Washington, DC
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C’est moi! The drawing behind me is by yours truly as well. Cross promotion!

Let me just tell you: I did not expect to be seated amongst tenured professors and ministers. I was taken aback (and feel honored to be even thought of for the same discussion as the above people). I was so taken aback that I forgot my opening line! I had dubbed yesterday African American Awesomeness Day, and it really was. I promise I’m not talking about myself, either. I’m being humble (for once). To have Martin Luther King’s birthday fall on the same day as the re-inauguration of an African American President with his African American First Lady at his side was truly, truly, awesome.
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Victoria’s Secret Does It Again…Again.

By Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour

Victoria’s Secret will never stop fetishising race will they?

Michael K of DListed joked,

“Love, kisses and woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woos – VS”

That is the exact statement Victoria’s Secret is going to release after everybody freaks out about the mess of an outfit they put Karlie Kloss in.

You have to joke to keep from crying sometimes, right?

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Victoria’s Secret Does It Again: When Racism Meets Fashion

By Guest Contributor Nina Jacinto

In case you missed it, Victoria’s Secret recently launched a new lingerie collection. Entitled “Go East,” it’s the kind of overt racism masked behind claims of inspired fashion and exploring sexual fantasy that makes my skin crawl.

From the website: “Your ticket to an exotic adventure: a sexy mesh teddy with flirty cutouts and Eastern-inspired florals. Sexy little fantasies, there’s one for every sexy you.” The collection varies in its level of exoticism. The “Sexy Little Geisha” is a perversion of its reference, featuring a sultry white model donned in lingerie, chopsticks in her hair, fan in her hand. Other items in the collection include red sleepwear and nightgowns with cherry blossoms. I might have glossed over some of these pieces entirely–except the catalog descriptions had me reeling. “Indulge in touches of Eastern delight.” Translation: “Buying these clothes can help you experience the Exotic East and all the sexual fantasies that come along with it, without all the messy racial politics!”

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Fashion As Resistance: The Case Of Mali

by Guest Contributor Eren, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post discussing the attempt among Muslim leaders in Russia to prove that Russian Muslim women are modern and fashionable, unlike Muslims elsewhere. Soon after, fashion made headlines again, this time in the case of Mali, with Yahoo! News reporting on Dakar Fashion Week 2012.

Design by Alphadi. Image via Mirage A Trois.

The event, which takes place in Senegal, has been attracting designers from all over Africa for the past ten years. The event has been reported to attempt to bring Africa forward in the fashion world, and to counter Western fashion houses stealing African aesthetics and motifs.

Nonetheless, the Yahoo! News article focuses on Malian designers and the fact that fashion seems to be too colorful and perhaps too showy for the Islamists. Mali, a country that is rarely featured in the fashion section of the news, went through a coup d’état earlier this year, and now the northern region is under the control of Ansar Dine, a group commonly identify in the Western media as Islamist rebels, who have also recently attacked Timbuktu.

The article suggests that fashion is too “cool” for these Islamists, as they have taken the conservative approach in endorsing hijab and banning trousers for women. To some degree, the article portrays angry Islamists getting back at fashion designers and perhaps even women. Nonetheless, the issue may be a bit more complex than Yahoo! News analysis. The issue with fashion may be not its colors and uncovered arms, but what it represents. In an interview, designer Sidahmed Seidnaly, aka Alphadi and also known as the Magician of the Desert, expresses his discomfort with the situation in Mali and the push for Shari’ah law in the northern region. Similarly, designer Mariah Bocoum made her five-piece collection to represent the struggle of Malian people and as a way to resist the restrictions now imposed in Mali’s north.

Designs by Mariah Bocoum. Via Tumblr.

Fashion in this setting has become a symbol of resistance, and it is a powerful one because fashion these days is quite mobile. It travels from east to west and from north to south and it is easily picked up by the media, as previous MMW posts have shown. In addition, this fashion is mainly guided towards a female market, and as scholars like Nira Yuval-Davis and Jasbir Puarhave theorized, in nationalist struggles women’s bodies are the first ones to be controlled, secluded and excluded. In situations of conflict, women become a source of either pride or defamation as they also become symbols of the nation.

Thus, the current situation in Mali is perhaps following the path that many nationalist struggles follow in terms of gender (more in Gender and Nation): women become symbols, and the resistance that fashion brings along may be threatening for an Islamist movement that just gained power. Although perhaps ironic, because fashion in the Western world and in other places like Latin America may just do the opposite, Mali’s designers seem to bring a new proposal for countering the situation.
Unlike the Russian and the Chechen cases, where fashion is being adopted by religious institutions and governments (who then engage in the fashion world in order to put forward an image of the “appropriate” ways for Muslim women to dress), the situation in Mali is following a different route. Fashion as resistance is something what we do not get to see very often, but perhaps it will be a successful way to engage the international community with the situation in Mali, especially the Western world, which can be oblivious to other types of resistance, but seems to respond well to the runways.

Since When Do Pants Come in “Latino?”

By Joseph Lamour, Fashion Correspondent

I seem to have found a rather telling typo on Temperley London’s website. Temperley, if you do not know is a couture house that clothes stars for red carpet events (like Jennifer Lopez), and while perusing their website (I was curious about how much Molly Sims dress was on The Rachel Zoe project) I found something called “Latino Leather” pants in a…. very tan… hue…

Am I hallucinating? Or…

See the above image. I also see them spelled as “Lantino leather pants” so I was hoping Lantino was a type of fabric… or something in another language… so I googled.

0 relevant results.

I yahoo-ed.

0 relevant results.

For god sakes, I even bing-ed.

0 relevant results.

Shouldn’t someone at Temperley explain this? Are there no people of color viewing their website other than me? Jennifer? Jennifer’s people?

Out of exasperation I google translated. “Lantino” is Latin for Lantin (say that three times fast).

Lantin is a word meaning “radiant wrapping” in Inca. I found that little gem in an online Inca dictionary. I doubt that’s what they meant, but even if that’s what they did mean, it still leaves the INTENSELY unfortunate “Latino” typo. Am I being crazy or is this actually something? Did they actually name these leather pants after the skin tone of a race of people? And even if they didn’t and this means something relating to fabric, why didn’t they name them something else?