Friday, May 21, 2010

Vintage Video Of The Week

Most people think the late Lena Horne's first movie was Stormy Weather. Not true. In 1938, when Ms. Horne was 19 years old, she starred in a musical called The Duke Is Tops (re-released as The Bronze Venus in 1943). These "race movies" were prevalent in the 1930s and 40s, usually low-budget and made strictly for the African-American audience.

Above is a scene from The Duke Is Tops/The Bronze Venus with Ms. Horne singing "I Know You Remember".

SPECIAL NOTE: Tonight, the Turner Classic Movies channel will pay a special tribute to Ms. Horne with a collection of films from her movie career: The Duke Is Tops, Panama Hattie and Cabin In The Sky. The tribute will begin at 8pm EST. For more info, check out the TCM website.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

FLOTUS STYLE: Stately Glamour II

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife First Lady Margarita Zavala before the White House State Dinner

First Lady Michelle Obama turned heads at last night's White House State Dinner in a stunning sapphire blue gown designed by Chicago designer, Peter Soronen.

The gown, a one-shoulder silhouette, was made of layers of chiffon with whispers of lamé for sparkle. A fully-boned corset and a pavé belt, Mrs. Obama's sartorial signature, accentuated Lady O's svelte waist.

An ebony halo of curls, sapphire and diamond drop earrings by Sutra Jewels and peep-toe kitten heels finished completed the look. Simply regal!

Oh, and President Barack Obama didn't look so bad himself! Aww...They're so cute!

Friday, May 14, 2010

LEGENDARY: Lena Horne, Our Bronze Venus (1919-2010)

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne
Singer, Actress, Civil Rights Activist
(June 30, 1917 - May 9, 2010)

Stormy Weather was the first all-Black classic film that I had ever seen (and helped to establish my love for Black classic films). When I was a kid, the local television station would, once or twice a year, air this classic, and I would stop whatever I was doing to watch it. My favorite part was when Lena Horne's character, "Selena Rogers", sang Ms. Horne's signature song, "Stormy Weather" as the great Katherine Dunham danced in the background. Like everyone else, I was in awe of her beauty and the classy way she carried herself. Ms. Horne as a glamourous, sophisticated leading lady was a welcomed depature to the maid and "mammy" roles I was accustomed to seeing Black actors play when watching films from yesteryear.

It wasn't until I got older, and read more about Ms. Horne, that I learned that she was more than a pretty face. She was a pioneer who broke barriers for Black performers, becoming the first Black actor to sign a contract with a major Hollywood studio. Ms. Horne was also a fierce advocate for Civil Rights, working with Paul Robeson (which caused her to be blacklisted during McCarthy's Red Scare), refusing to perform for segregated audiences at USO performances, participating in the March on Washington in 1963 and, my personal favorite, throwing at lamp at a customer who made a racial slur at a Beverly Hills restaurant. In Brian Lanker's book, "I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America", Ms. Horne said, "I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn't work for places that kept us out. ... It was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York, in Hollywood, all over the world".

Thank you, Ms. Horne, our Bronze Venus, for showing the world that Black is beautiful, strong, elegant, classy and courageous.

"I don't have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I'd become. I'm me, and I'm like nobody else." - Lena Horne

Suggested Reading:

The Hornes: An American Family  by Gail Lumet Buckley

Friday, May 7, 2010

Vintage Photo Of The Week

The Legendary Nicholas Brothers with their mother Viola



Thursday, May 6, 2010

LisaRaye Explains Why She Always Wears White

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

OUT & ABOUT: The 2010 Costume Institute Gala

It was a night of fabulousness as fashionistas gathered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Spring 2010 Costume Institute Gala, hosted by Vogue. Held every year on the first Monday in May, this year's gala celebrated the Costume Institute's new exhibit, "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity". Media goddess Oprah Winfrey co-chaired the event along with Vogue editrix Anna Wintour, and Gap Exec. V.P. of Global Design, Patrick Robinson.

Of course, our fashionistas were out in full force, as you can tell by the slideshow above.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

FLOTUS STYLE: The Dining Diva

(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Reuters)

Our First Lady Michelle Obama looked ravishing at last night's White House Correspondents Dinner in a form-fitting red jersey dress by Prabal Gurung, spotted by the good folks at Mrs.O.

Here's what the dress looks like from the back, albeit in white:


Mrs. Obama chose two gorgeous cuffs to accentuate her ensemble: A white Bakelite cuff, with gold filigree and rose-cut diamonds from Bochic's Arabesque collection, and an 18 carat gold cuff with a 10 carat raspberry tourmaline stone, surronded by rose-cut diamonds in a star burst motif, designed by Sutra Jewels.

The Bochic cuff:


(Photo: Getty Images)

Mrs. Obama's black jade and diamond earrings were also designed by Bochic, according to Mrs. T at Mrs.O.