Friday, December 25, 2009

Vintage Video Of The Week: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Christmas just wouldn't be complete without Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby"!

Have A Happy and Safe Holiday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Andre Leon Talley Comes To America's Next Top Model!

I haven't watched America's Next Top Model in several years, but that may have to change. Why? According to The Cut at NY Magazine, Vogue magazine's Editor-at-Large (and friend and mentor-in-my-head) Andre Leon Talley will be the new full time judge on ANTM next season! WHOO HOO!

Between Mr. Talley and J. Alexander (aka "Miss Jay"), ANTM's next season is gonna be "must see TV"!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Beyonce Brings the "Heat" to the Fragrance Industry

(Photo: WWD)

Passion, love and fever are what Beyoncé Knowles hopes her new fragrance, Beyoncé Heat, will inspire when it launches in February 2010. “A lot of my performances have had fire involved, so we thought ‘Heat.’ Also, red is one of my favorite colors, as is gold,” Ms. Knowles tells Women's Wear Daily in an exclusive interview.

The fragrance is described as having top notes of red vanilla orchid, magnolia, neroli and blush peach, that ease into honeysuckle nectar, almond macaroon and crème de musk, with a dry down of giant sequoia milkwood, tonka bean and amber to cap off the olfactory experience.

(Photo: WWD)

The bottle design is a mix of vintage and modern, an ode to Ms. Knowles's love for antique bottles. "I wanted something with an antique yet modern feeling. Even with my wardrobe, I always try to find things that have a little bit of something vintage, yet still timeless and classic."

Beyoncé Heat eau de parfum will come in three sizes: 1 oz. for $39; 1.7 oz. for $49, and 3.4 oz. for $59, as well as a 6.8-oz. Gold Sparkling Body Lotion for $24. More fragrances are in the works according to Coty, Inc., which licenses the fragrance.

Here's a sneak preview of the commercial:

(SOURCE: Women's Wear Daily)

Vintage Photo Of The Week

Isabel Washington
Actress, Dancer, Civil Rights Activist
(May 23, 1908 - May 1, 2007)

From The History Makers:
Isabel Washington Powell was born in Savannah, Georgia, May 23, 1908, one of five children born to Hattie Washington, a dancer, and Robert T. Washington, a postal worker. At a young age, Powell was sent to a Catholic boarding school run by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Cornwell Heights, Pennsylvania. After finishing her formal education, Powell moved to New York City and followed in the footsteps of an older sister, Fredi Washington, to become a dancer and actress. Powell performed as a showgirl in the nightclubs of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance before dancing, singing, and acting in three Broadway shows in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

In 1934, Powell married Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and assisted him in his election to the New York Council and as senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. In 1944, Powell helped her husband become the first African American elected to the United States Congress from the east coast. In 1945, the Powells' marriage ended in divorce. Powell went on to serve as a teacher's aide in New York's Harlem community public schools for over thirty years.

From 1945 on, Powell had a significant social and community presence on the Island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts; she was noted for bringing together people of various races, ages, classes, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Powell was also recognized for promoting the political legacy of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Powell was the mother of one son, Preston Powell. Powell passed away on May 1, 2007, just shy of her ninety-ninth birthday.
To learn more about Ms. Washington Powell, and her relationship with Adam Clayton Powell, check out her
 memoir, Adam's Belle: A Memoir of Love Without Bounds.


Thursday, December 17, 2009


Well, it has been a year since I opened up the doors to my little cyber corner. My, how times flies!

I just would like to thank all of you who have stopped by WSOIC!, and those who have sent me words of encouragement.

Thank You So Much!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Oprah Winfrey's recent decision to end her talk show in 2011, made me think of this 1989 Revlon ad.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stately Glamour (UPDATED: Mrs. Obama's Jewels)

(Photo: Getty Images)

Michelle Obama stole the show at last night's White House State Dinner, in a custom-made gown designed by Indian-born designer, Naeem Khan.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, awaiting the arrival India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur
(Photo: Reuters)

The champagne-hued gown was a strapless silhouette, made of silk chiffon fabric with sterling silver piets that were sewn on in an exquisite floral pattern, no doubt an ode to the elaborate saris of India. Mr. Khan said that the fabric was entirely handmade in India, and took three weeks and 40 people to make. Mrs. Obama completed her ensemble with traditional Indian bracelets known as "churis", a matching wrap and chandelier earrings made of rubies (another subtle nod to India) and diamonds. She looked absolutely regal and breathtaking!

U.S. President Barack Obama  and first lady Michelle Obama  pose with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur before a state dinner on the North Portico of the White House

Mr. Khan appeared on CNN's Larry King Live last night and said that his idea for the gown was "India, chic, simple, but still very glamorous". He succeeded and is well on his way to becoming a household name.

Hal Rubenstein, fashion director for InStyle Magazine had this to say about Mrs. Obama: "She looks like she's worth her weight in solid gold. What I love about her is that it's a pleasure to watch a woman of size and stature not apologize for her height and know how to stand tall."

And stand tall she did...In Couture!

(Photo: Getty Images)

UPDATE: Women's Wear Daily reports that Mrs. Obama's gorgeous earrings were designed by Bochic, and made of rose-cut amber and tourmaline. Gorgeous!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sparkling Preview

(Photo: Getty Images)

This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at a preview for tonight's State Dinner, in the State Dining Room at the White House. Mrs. Obama was joined by White House Curator, William Allman and Protocol Officer for the Visits Division of the U.S. State Dept., Tanya Turner to speak about the history and protocol of White House State Dinners. Also in attendance were young women from the White House Leadership and Mentoring Program. Afterwards

(Photo: Getty Images)

For this afternoon's event, Mrs. Obama remixed the J. Crew cardigan she wore on her April trip to London, paring it with an ivory pencil skirt designed by Rachel Roy, according to the good folks at Mrs.O, and a silver belt, one of FLOTUS' favorite accessories. Dazzling!

Mrs. Obama speaks with young women from the White House Leadership and Mentoring Program
(Photo: Reuters)

Official Details on The Obamas' First White House State Dinner!

Courtesy of Lynn Sweet, Reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times:

Sample Table Setting For The Obama's First White House State Dinner
(Photo: Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times)
Guests will be at tables of ten.
Linens: Apple green
Flowers: Deep purple
hydrangea, garden roses and sweet peas in a palette of deep plum purple and fuchsia

Services and Place Settings
From the White House historic collections
Eisenhower Porcelain, 1955
Clinton China, 2000
Bush China, 2008-2009

Decor: A tent--more like a pavillion-- is on the South Lawn. The theme is a "garden theme," dedicated "to green and sustainable elements."

Place card (top photo) and Dessert Plate
(Photo: Lynn Sweet/Chicago Sun-Times)

Potato and Eggplant Salad
White House Argula with onion seed vinaigrette
2008 sauvignon blanc, Modus Oprendi, Napa Valley, California

Red lentil soup with fresh cheese
2008 Riesling Brooks "Ara" Wilamette Valley, Oregon

Roasted Potato Dumplings with tomato dumplings
chick peas and okra
green curry prawns
carmelized salsify with smoked collard greens and coconut aged basmati
2007 granache, Beckman Vineyars, Santa Ynez, California

Pumpkin Pie tart
pear tatin
whipped cream and caramel sauce
Sparkling Chardonay, Thibaut Janisson Brut, Monticello, Virginia

Petits Fours and Coffee
Cashew Brittle
Pecan Pralines
Passion Fruit and Vanilla Gelees
Chocolate dipped fruit

Guest Chef: Marcus Samuelsson

Entertainment for tonight's soiree will include Academy Award winner, Jennifer Hudson, award winning composer, Marvin Hamlisch, and Indian film composer, A.R. Rahman.

Michelle Obama Radiates at the Arrival Ceremony for the Prime Minister of India

(Photo: Reuters)
First Lady Michelle Obama looked absolutely radiant in an Indian-inspired ensemble at the arrival ceremony for the Prime Minister of India and his wife, First Lady Gurshuran Kaur, standing next to Mrs. Obama in the photo above. Mrs. Obama's outfit is reminiscent of the Isabel Toledo ensemble she wore for the Inauguration Ceremony on that beautiful day in January.

The ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House, and kicks off several events that will lead up to the Obama's first official White House State Dinner. I cannot wait to see what Mrs. Obama will wear tonight!

UPDATE I: According to Lynn Sweet at the Chicago Sun-Times, Mrs. Obama's outfit was designed by Isaac Mizrahi:
Shortly after, FLOTUS entered with Kaur, who wore a green sari. FLOTUS wore an orange embroidered Isaac Mizrahi ensemble, a coat worn over a dress, with a sash tied in a bow around her waist. The pattern was fall festive, leaves. Her hair was swept back and she paired the outfit with drop earrings and copper pumps.

UPDATE II: Here's a photo of Mrs. Obama sans jacket

First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Mrs. Gursharan Kaur in the Yellow Oval Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2009.
(Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

The Ronettes
(l-r: Veronica Bennett, Estelle Bennett, and Nedra Talley)
(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

With their tight skirts, skyscraper high beehives and thick, black kohl eyeliner reminiscent of Egyptian queens, The Ronettes claimed the title of the first "Bad Girls of Rock & Roll" in the 60s. While other girl groups of that era came across as singing about their crushes to their friends, The Ronettes sung directly to them in such hits as the infamous "Be My Baby" and "Baby, I Love You", driving the fellas wild!

To learn more about The Ronettes, check out The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Check out Miss Diana Ross getting her coordination on!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

(Photo: Roy DeCarava/

This photo, entitled "Graduation", was taken by famed African American photographer Roy DeCaravas who passed away on Tuesday. He was 89.

Feeling that the imagery of Black people lacked the beauty and dignity we deserved, Mr. DeCaravas sought to show the everyday lives of Black people in Harlem during the '40s, 50s and 60s'. "Graduation", which appears in DeCaravas' collection of works, "The Sweet Flypaper of Life"(1955), was considered one of his most famous photographs. The LA Times describes it as:
"...a young woman in a long white gown and a corsage who stands in rubble outside a tenement house. She is in sunlight, facing shadows. The image raises obvious questions about her future".

Read More About Roy DeCarava Here


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michelle Obama: A Vision in Red Glamour!


What a holiday treat! Our beloved First Lady, Michelle Obama, graces the cover of Glamour magazine's December issue. This is the first time in the magazine's 70 year history that a First Lady has appeared on its cover!

It should be noted that this Glamour's annual Women of the Year issue, and the magazine is honoring Mrs. Obama with a Special Recognition Award for her dedication to mentoring young women. In her interview with Glamour (conducted by Katie Couric), Mrs. Obama gives advice on mentoring, style and dating. You can read excerpts of her interview here.

Now, on to the fashion. According to the good folks at, the First Lady is wearing her own red cocktail dress by one of her favorite designers, Jason Wu. Exactly who designed that fabulous necklace is still a mystery, but I'm sure their name will eventually surface. Taking a guess, I say the necklace is one-of-a-kind design by Fenton, whose jewelry the First Lady has worn before.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

This is South African jazz singer, Letta Mbulu. You might not recognize her name or face, but you've definitely heard her voice. She is the young lady that sings on Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl". Ms. Mbulu has also worked with Quincy Jones on The Roots and The Color Purple soundtracks.

For more info on Letta Mbulu, check out her bio here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Pat Cleveland
(Photo: Irving Penn)

This is a 1972 photo of runway diva, Pat Cleveland taken by the famed fashion photographer, Irving Penn, who passed away this week at the age of 92. RIP Mr. Penn.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Etta Moten, Singer/Actress

This is singer/actress Etta Moten showing serious swagger in a cloche hat. She was the first Black star to perform at the White House, and the muse for "Bess" in George Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess".


Monday, September 28, 2009

Ebony Fashion Fair Shuts Down Its Runway For 2009

After 51 years of dazzling runways across the globe, the Ebony Fashion Fair show has called it quits --- for now. Citing economic hardship and the lack of sponsors, Johnson Publishing CEO, Linda Johnson Rice has decided to cancel the fall 2009 shows.
From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Annual Ebony Fashion Fair show is a victim of economy

By Naomi Nix
Inquirer Staff Writer

Mina Dia-Stevens recalls looking around the auditorium of an Ebony Fashion Fair show as a young adult and knowing that there were other African American fashionistas out there, from a cluster of giddy sorority college girls to a group of churchgoing women.

"They are exposing African Americans to world-renowned designers that they may not have known otherwise," said Dia-Stevens, who is an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design and an associate professor at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

And it's coming to an end, at least for now.

After more than 50 years of showcasing the highest caliber of fashion in the industry to mostly African American audiences, organizers of the traveling international fashion show have canceled its fall 2009 installment.

The Philadelphia Cultural Committee Inc., the nonprofit organization that has hosted the program annually in Philadelphia or New Jersey for 50 years, is among 180 organizations that will not put on a show this fall.

"The overall economic climate has presented challenges for many, including our potential corporate sponsors," said Linda Johnson Rice, the chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co., in a statement.

The firm, which publishes Ebony and Jet magazines, hopes to bring back a retooled show starting in fall 2010.

"In the coming months, we will develop a new business model to ensure that the show is a mutually beneficial endeavor," said Rice.

As a nonprofit endeavor, the Ebony Fashion Fair show has raised more than $55 million to benefit largely African American groups nationwide, according to Jeanine Collins, a spokeswoman for Johnson Publishing.

The Philadelphia Cultural Committee uses part of its $15,000 to $20,000 in proceeds to give scholarships to college-bound high school students who are interested in the arts.

Each year it gives $1,000 to five or six students who are pursuing higher education in New Jersey, Philadelphia, or Delaware. The remaining money goes to local charities.

"If we do not have the Ebony Fashion Fair show, it's going to be a deterrent to giving scholarships," said Gwendolyn A. Faison, president of the Philadelphia Cultural Committee.

Faison said the committee is meeting to discuss alternative fund-raising.

Over 4,000 shows have been performed to date in the United States, the Caribbean, and London, according to a representative from the publishing company.

The featured clothing includes cutting-edge couture fresh off the runways of Fashion Week as well as ready-to-wear "extravagant" pieces, said Cheryl Washington, a fashion designer and an adjunct professor at Moore College of Art and Design.

"It is a multitude of talent from all over the world," she said.

The show has exhibited the work of several notable African American designers, including Stephen Burrows, James Daugherty, L'Amour, B. Michael, and Quinton de' Alexander.

It was started in 1956 to support the Women's Auxiliary of Flint-Goodrich Hospital in New Orleans by John Johnson, then publisher and CEO of Johnson Publishing.

But Dia-Stevens says the show is more than just a few models strutting the latest fashions on the runway.

"When you see the show, it's like a performance - it's ambience, it's atmosphere," she said. "It is more theatrical than it is anything."

Thinking of her 14-year-old daughter, Dia-Stevens hopes to keep her family's appreciation for fashion alive.

"It is a special event that I would definitely want to experience with my daughter," she said.
These are trying times for the Johnson Publishing Company. The economy has taken a toll on its crown jewel, Ebony magazine, which may result in the sale of the magazine, and now they are forced to shut down what is considered a rate of passage fpr African American women.

Is this the end of a legendary era? Will a part of African American culture be lost?

Will high profile Black models, such as Tyra Banks or Ebony Fashion Fair show alumnus, Pat Cleveland, step in to rescue the Ebony Fashion Fair show?

Stay tuned...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Irene Cara
(Photo: Philip Michael Thomas/

With the remake of 80's classic, Fame opening in theaters today, I couldn't help but think of singer/songwriter, Irene Cara, who played Coco Hernandez in the original movie. So, as I was getting my Google on in search of pics of Ms. Cara, I ran across this photo of her taken by Philip Michael Thomas, her co-star in Sparkle and of Miami Vice fame.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

ARISE African Fashion Collective - Spring 2010

Earlier this month, the ARISE African Fashion Collective made its second New York Fashion Week appearance to present its Spring 2010 collection. The collective gives exposure to African designers that otherwise would get lost in the fray. This season, the collective introduced four designers: Lisa Folawiyo, Tiffany Amber, David Tlale and Eric Raisina. Here are some pieces that caught my eye.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

It was 26 years ago yesterday that Vanessa Willams made history by becoming the first African American to be crowned Miss America. To commemorate that achievement, I thought it would be fitting to post Ms. Williams' official Miss America 1983 photo.

As a bonus, here's video footage of the historical moment:


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Beyoncé (Finally!) Gets Her Own Fragrance (UPDATE! A&F Files Lawsuit Against Beyoncé!)

Beyoncé with Bernd Beetz, CEO of Coty, Inc.

Coming fresh off her win for Best Music Video at the 2009 MTV Music Awards, Beyoncé Knowles has announced her entrance into the celebrity fragrance genre. Ms. Knowles has partnered with Coty Inc. to produce her own perfume which will debut in Spring 2010 in the Americas, and globally in Fall 2010.

Ms. Knowles had this to say about the new venture:
“For me, fragrance reflects a woman’s attitude and unique sense of style...While I love various perfumes, I haven’t found a scent that truly personifies me as a woman. Working with Coty, I was able to turn my ideal fragrance into a reality by creating an alluring and sophisticated fragrance; one that’s reflective of my inner power.”
While monetary details of the deal haven't been disclosed, one source says Ms. Knowles will make $5 million a year, or $20 million for three years. Another source says that because of the slow down in the fragrance market, and that her previous gigs as the face of Tommy Hilfiger's fragrance, True Star, and Emporio Armani's Diamonds, weren't that successful, the deal is no more than $10 million for three years.

I must say, "What took you so long, Beyoncé?". In fact, I don't understand why Beyoncé settled for being the face of a perfume in the first place. She should've skipped those deals with Hilfiger and Armani, and developed her own fragrance. There were plenty of companies that wanted to work with "the hottest chick in the game". Now, with the celeb fragrance genre waning, it looks like Ms. Knowles may have missed a golden opportunity.


UPDATE! (9/17/09) A day after Beyoncé announced the launch of her new fragrance, reports that Abercrombie & Fitch have filed a lawsuit against Ms. Knowles claiming trademark infringment:
"The teen retailer alleged in a federal complaint filed Tuesday that a scent with that label would infringe on its own Fierce cologne trademark.

But Coty said Wednesday Knowles’ dual personality would not factor into plans for her perfume, which will be sold in department stores globally and launch in the Americas in the spring.

“We can confirm at this time…that the terms Fierce and Sasha Fierce are not being used as names of a Beyoncé fragrance,” a Coty spokeswoman said." (SOURCE:
A&F claims that a "Sasha Fierce" fragrance would cause a "likelihood of confusion" for consumers.

OK, everybody! If you have heard of A&F's "Fierce" cologne before today, please clap.


I'm just sayin'.

Monday, September 14, 2009

She's Baaaaaaack!

(Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Janet Jackson ripped the stage in a moving tribute to her brother, Michael Jackson, at last night's MTV Video Music Awards. Miss Janet dancing with her big brother one last time moved me to tears. You could see the passion and fire in her face. It was as if she was saying to all of the critics, "My brother is the King and you WILL respect my brother. PERIOD." It was a powerful performance.

And I loved her twist on MJ's one white glove! Cute!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Eartha Kitt

I'm not into full on animal print outfits -- a lil' splash of leopard on a scarf will do -- but this outfit is pure FIYAH!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Janet Jackson on the Cover of Harper's Bazaar Oct. Issue!

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(Click to Enlarge Photos)
(Photo Credit: Tom Munro/Harper's

Now this is a pleasant surprise! First, it was announced that Janet will be performing a dance tribute to her brother, Michael Jackson, at the 2009 MTV Awards, and now Miss Jackson is on the cover of Harper's Bazaar magazine! WHOO HOO! It's like Christmukkawaanza in September for us Janet fans! I wasn't expecting to see Miss Janet in the public eye this soon, considering the sudden passing of her brother. Nevertheless, it's good to see Miss Jackson back.

In her first interview since MJ's death, Janet talks about how she's coping with the tragic loss, her memories of Michael, her new status as a single lady (Yes, she and Jermaine Dupri broke up) and her upcoming book.

One of Janet's revelations about Michael that I found interesting was about the ensemble he wore for the infamous Motown 25th Anniversary special:

"Do you remember that black jacket he wore for Motown's 25th anniversary? That's our mother's! He grabbed that from her closet! He loved anything that sparkled."

Can you believe it?!

You can read the full article here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Portrait of a Lady c. 1930
James VanDerZee


Friday, August 21, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

African American Flapper with Fur Shawl
(Photo Source: Jazz Age Black Beauty)

I love, love, love 1920s fashion, so color me excited when I ran across this photo! You don't see a lot of Black flappers from this time period. She looks fabulous!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Desirée Rogers Featured in Michigan Avenue Magazine

(Photo: WWD/Michigan Avenue Magazine)

One of our favorite fashionistas, Desirée Rogers, is featured on the cover of the August issue of Michigan Avenue magazine.

While Ms. Rogers is known for her exquisite taste in fashion and her social activities, this particular article focuses on her philanthropic work in Chicago.

On why giving back is important to Ms. Rogers:
“As a young child in New Orleans raised by two teachers, giving back to one’s community was as important as reading, writing and arithmetic,” she recalls. “My father taught in the public school system and my mother ran the family day care business for children under five. I read to children at the day care centers and [my brother and I] helped my mother at Friday night bingo at the neighborhood church.”
You can read the full article at Michigan Avenue Magazine.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

The One.

The Only.

Josephine Baker!


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Largest Private Collection of African American Art Destroyed By Fire

(l-r) Front view of Peggy Cooper Cafritz's home before the fire. Ms. Cafritz in her entry hall.
(Photo: Sang An/O, The Oprah Magazine)

For over two decades, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, the prominent D.C. political fund-raiser and art patron, amassed one of the largest private collections of African-American and African art in the country. Ms. Cafritz's home and art collection were recently featured in the August '09 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. Sadly, on July 29th, a tragic fire claimed Ms. Cafritz's Northwest Washington mansion that housed her entire art collection.
From The New York Times:

In Collection’s Ashes, a Heritage’s Seeds

Published: August 7, 2009

WASHINGTON — Every morning Peggy Cooper Cafritz steps outside and confronts the wreckage: the acrid smell of her incinerated walls and furnishings, the police tape clinging to a chain-link fence surrounding her property, the rumbling backhoe hauling away the charred remains of her longtime home.

She has been living in the house of a friend across the street from this scene, which she matter-of-factly calls “the ruins.” And for the moment, at least, she is all business, filling out insurance forms, talking to fire investigators and real estate brokers, replying to scores of e-mail messages and letters of sympathy. She has not had time, she says, to weep or grieve.

So, when asked about her loss, Ms. Cafritz hesitates. Her $5.2 million mansion here in the Kent neighborhood of northwest Washington held one of the largest private collections of African-American and African art in the country, more than 300 sculptures, paintings, photographs and other pieces that she painstakingly accumulated over the past two decades, often from artists whose careers she had personally nurtured.

The works of 19th- and 20th-century painters like Edward Mitchell Bannister, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden hung amid contemporary work by artists like Hank Willis Thomas, Nick Cave, Kara Walker and Kerry James Marshall. Virtually everything was destroyed in the blaze that gutted the house on July 29, while she and her son were on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

“I had a wonderful picture,” Ms. Cafritz began, on the verge of a reverie about one of her favorites, and then she paused. “It’s gone. It’s gone. No more pictures, you know.”

“I’m hoping I can be strong enough not to be hit by that ton of bricks, not to become dysfunctionally sad,” said Ms. Cafritz, 62, as she sat on a couch in her temporary home this week. “Right now my emotions are submerged, like under water.”


For 23 years her eight-bedroom mansion served as a meeting place for both the powerful and the unknown. She gave parties for John F. Kennedy Jr. and Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson and local Democrats. She raised thousands for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and was invited to the Stevie Wonder concert at the White House earlier this year.

But Ms. Cafritz — who in the 1970s had helped to found the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public high school here for talented and often underprivileged teenagers — also opened her home to foster children, poor students and struggling artists. And she regularly championed minority artists, buying their work, calling them with words of encouragement and haunting art galleries, art shows and auctions in Washington and New York to find young people with promise.

“When do artists need you the most?” asked Ms. Cafritz, who also collected some works by Latin American artists. “When they’re young. There is greater representation of African-American and Latino artists in these great art galleries and museums now, but it’s not enough. Too many people are unfamiliar with these young people’s work.”

Read More:

NY Times: In Collection's Ashes, A Heritage's Seeds

The Washington Post: Fire Scorches the City's Cultural Landscape, Too

O, The Oprah Magazine: Inside the Home of Art Patron Peggy Cooper Cafritz

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The First Couple Has International Style!

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have made the annual Vanity Fair International Best-Dressed List!

This is President Obama's first time making the list, while Mrs. Obama makes her third consecutive appearance, receiving a record number of nominations. Others who made the list include singer, Alicia Keys, former NFL star and current NBC correspondent, Tiki Barber, Kelly Ripa, France's First Lady Carla Bruni, designer Rachel Roy and actor/philanthropist, Brad Pitt. For the full list, click here.

Noticeably absent from the list is Mrs. Obama's sister in Divadom, White House social secretary, Desirée Rogers. Why the snub? The Black Socialite TM spills the tea: In an interview with The Washington Times, Amy Fine Collins, special correspondent for Vanity Fair, said that although Ms. Rogers received "a significant number of nominations", "I don't think she is known enough. She is not that high-profile outside New York and Washington yet". I'm calling bs on this excuse. Ms. Rogers practically owns Chi-Town, and is well-known in New Orleans. She was featured in Vogue magazine in 2004 (wearing a fabulous black and white Jil Sander trench coat), which is where I first learned about her. I've been a fan ever since. Ms. Collins' excuse sounds like Caucasianese for "We can't have too many negroes on the list".

We Shall Overcome lies...In Couture!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

Singer/Actress, Dorothy Dandridge
(Photo: LIFE magazine/Ed Clark)

Ms. Dandridge's face tells the tale, doesn't it?


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

LEGENDARY: Fashion Pioneer, Naomi Sims (1948 - 2009)

Naomi Sims at Oprah's Legends Ball
(Photo: Kwaku Alston)

The fashion industry has lost one of its legends.

The NY Times reports that Naomi Sims, considered by some to be the first Black supermodel, passed away at the age of 61 from cancer.

As the first Black model to appear on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal in 1968, Ms. Sims was not only a pioneer, but a trailblazer helping to usher in the "Black Is Beautiful" movement. As the late designer, Halston, correctly noted, Ms. Sims was the "great ambassador for all Black people".

And Ms. Sims took this responsibility seriously. In 1972, she was offered the title role in the "blaxploitation" movie "Cleopatra Jones", but turned it down because she felt it was a racist portrayal of Black people.

Ms. Sims was more than a beautiful face. Her ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit provided fashion models with the blueprint for maneuvering one's career beyond the runway. In 1973, Ms. Sims went from runway diva to business woman, creating the Naomi Sims Collection, a line of wigs and cosmetics designed specifically for Black women. The line was extremely successful, with annual sales of $5 million. Ms. Sims went on to write several books, as well as an advice column in Right On! magazine. In a 1969 interview with the NY Times, Ms. Sims said:
“There is nothing sadder than an old, broke model, and there are many models who have nothing at the end of their career.”
Ms. Sims' success in the fashion industry was a victory for all Black women. Every magazine cover, every editorial spread helped to redefine society's concept of beauty, as well as strengthen our self-esteem. As Ms. Sims overcame in couture, she took us along for the ride.

“It’s ‘in’ to use me...and maybe some people do it when they don’t really like me. But even if they are prejudiced, they have to be tactful if they want a good picture.” -- Naomi Sims

Friday, July 31, 2009

Vintage Photo of the Week

The breathtaking model, author and entrepreneur, Naomi Sims on the October 1969 cover of Life magazine.