Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good girl gone bad indeed

Well... um... goddamn!

Even worldly islandistas like us were a bit dumbstruck at Rihanna's performance outfit for the joint tour she's doing with her boo, Chris Brown.


We are ... not sure how we feel about this here outfit. On the one hand, we nod approvingly at the naughty risque theme - we're definitely fans of keeping it interesting and hot.

On the other hand... wow! That is really putting that out there and it may well be straddling the border between saucy and trashy. I know some dancehall queens that would LOVE this outfit.

What do you think islandistas? Hot or flop?

Just to help you make up your minds, there is another pic below.

(photo credit:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fashion note- frills and folds

(photo credit:

Just a quick note - this is how to wear the trend of origami like folds and frills. Islandistas, don't you just love Rihanna's frilled white bolero? Look for it in the upcoming video for her hit with T.I. 'Live your Life' as this is one of the stills from the video shoot.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama

It's slightly non-islandista news but we figure that it is important enough news to share. After all, Colin Powell is an island man (Jamaican parents) and of course, being well-versed on current affairs is a prerequisite for every true islandista!

There had been much speculation on it for quite some time but today, General Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State (2001-2005) endorsed Barack Obama for president of the United States.

In an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, he gave a really truly eloquent, reasonable and compelling rationale for why he not only supports Obama but deplores the swing to the right that John McCain's campaign has been taking.

To be honest islandistas, we have had our doubts about how a black man, particularly one as intelligent and moderate as Gen. Powell, could have aligned himself all these years with a Republican party that too often has chosen to pander to the most right-wing, base parts of their base. It seemed at odds with the kind of person he is and the more reasoned, balanced views he has held. Worse, we were pained as the George W. Bush administration used him to push a wrong-headed war to the world. He knew it was wrong and we knew he knew.

Still, there is no doubt that he has always been an honourable man. His comments in endorsing Obama reflected that. We were especially moved by his criticism of the sneaky tactic of trying to paint Obama as a 'secret Muslim' as if something was wrong or inherently evil about being Muslim. I'm glad he said it. Too few people have come out and said that not only is it wrong to paint Obama as a Muslim when he is a Christian but it is wrong to use Islam as some kind of slur on a person's character.

We commend you General Powell.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Islandista we love: Pat McGrath

I first read about her in the fall 2007 issue of US Vogue. Even though finding articles among allll the ads that packed out that humongous edition  was a chore (840 pages! It hurt my wrists just to hold it up) I had to delve into it to find out who was the person that Vogue declared to be "the most powerful woman in beauty."

Imagine my surprise when I saw this round-faced, unassuming brown lady - Pat McGrath, hailed by Vogue as being "in a class by herself... literally a star".

(photo credit: New York Magazine, courtesy Pat McGrath)

The beauty industry has often ignored or not been empathetic to the needs of brown women over the years so it was surprising to me that one of us would have risen to the top.  Not only that, she is an islandista - her mother Jean McGrath is described by Vogue as a "single mother from Jamaica who is a Jehovah's Witness obsessed with fashion and makeup."

Pat says she took her example from her mother, who was often compelled by lack of choice to mix her own make-up.

"Obviously, there weren't that many colours for us at the time, so Mother made her own, mixing powders together."

Vogue noticeably doesn't say who 'us' is but islandistas, we know, don't we? We've been there, done that, especially when we've lived in places that were outside of the northern urban mainstream and didn't have many products for brown folk in the stores. Pat grew up in Northampton in the UK - need we say more?

She started out in the flamboyant British club scene of the 1980s, where individuality and outrageous looks ruled the day and actually got her first break when she met the fashion editor of Blitz magazine while out at the WAG Club in soho one night.

Not being a trained make-up artist worked to her advantage as she has admitted, saying:

"I broke every rule because I didn’t know what the rules were. And that’s how you learn and come up with new things."

And how... McGrath became known for her out-there collaborations with John Galliano at Christian Dior and for her wide range of influences from club culture to Japanese Kabuki theatre. Check out one of her fantastical creations below.

(photo credit: Time Style & Design/Christopher Moore Ltd.)
She has become a close partner of top-level photographer Stephen Meisel and is the global creative-design director for Procter & Gamble's cosmetics which includes brands such as Cover Girl and Max Factor.

This has put her in an even stronger position to determine the direction of fashion. For instance, at least two seasons before the trend for bright colours (especially eye shadows) that has now swept the globe, Pat was on it and convinced Max Factor to include a small section of pop-out-at-you green, blue and yellow eye shadow to their collection.

 No wonder Vogue declared McGrath to be "at the tip-top of fashion's power pyramid, the one makeup artist who belongs to the tiny elite of designers, photographers, stylists and image-makers who actually determine how fashion will look."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shontelle's T-shirt video

So Shontelle's video for 'T-shirt' came out recently... tell us what you think islandistas! Love it? Hate it? Indifferent? For my part I would have preferred it to have a bit more to it... most of it is shots of her either in the t-shirt on the couch or in the one coral dress. They could have perhaps showed her going through more outfits and reminiscing a bit more over the missing owner of the t-shirt. Just this islandista's view...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Islandista in the spotlight - Gwen Ifill

Guess what ... the moderator of Thursday night's vice-presidential debate, Gwen Ifill from PBS... is an islandista!

Well, an islandista by descent at least - born to a Barbadian mother and a father who was Panamanian but Barbadian by descent - no doubt one of the many West Indians who went over to Panama to build the Panama Canal or a descendant of one of them.

According to Barbados' Nation newspaper:
Yes - Ifill, who is the well-known host of PBS' Washington Week programme and senior news correspondent on News Hour, is a Bajan. Though born in New York City, Ifill was raised in a Barbadian household, headed by her Barbadian mother Eleanor and her father Urcille Ifill Sr., a Panamanian of Barbadian descent. She was the fifth of six children born to the couple and moved around a lot during her childhood as her father was an African Methodist Episcopal church minister who had to live in several different cities as part of his work. She has credited her parents with piquing her interest in journalism, saying:

"From our parents, we inherited an abiding interest in the world around us. We grew up reading the newspaper every day."

Ifill has previous experience of being in the political hot seat of election debates, having moderated the 2004 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards. That experience however, has not stopped some critics from questioning her impartiality as she is in the process of writing a book entitled "Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama". The book focuses on a generation of rising African-American politicians and critics charged that because of this, Ifill has a vested interest in Obama winning the presidency.

And Ifill is apparently set to receive the ultimate you've-made-it accolade... a parody on Saturday Night Live! and other news outlets have reported that SNL has booked Queen Latifah to portray Ifill if they do a sketch of the VP debate.


Saturday Night Live has royal plans for a possible vice presidential debate sketch: they've booked Queen Latifah to play moderator Gwen Ifill.



Paris fashion week - fade out

(photo credit: Marcio Madeira/

Alone in a sea of white: Islandista Jourdan Dunn has been flying the flag high for models of colour but she's often all alone.

Paris Fashion Week, the last of the majors of the fashion season, is underway now. Diversity-wise it is looking much of a muchness. Most shows are barely trying or not trying at all to include models of colour, at least according to our friends at ShopHound who are continuing with their diversity report. Btw - we cannot give enough kudos to Shophound for taking the initiative to do this, even from afar, as they only directly covered NY Fashion Week. But they have been tracking the others through researching the photos of the shows from and checking to see how many models of colour were used. It takes great dedication on their part considering that other much more powerful fashion publications with greater resources could have done this and didn't - instead, they are referencing Shophound too. So big ups to them.Now... back to the matter at hand... diversity or the lack thereof. It seems in Paris that when they are good about diversity, they are very, very good but when they are bad they are horrid.
Some designers had a significant number of models of colour on their runways and went beyond using just a token or two and also went beyond just using the well-known names like Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn and Lakshmi Menon (often the only dark spots on the catwalks this season) and feeling like they have done their job. Hear this fashion world - tokenism is not the same as diversity. We ain't fooled, not one little bit.  Dame Vivienne Westwood for instanced, had one of, if not the highest DQs (diversity quotient if you're just joining us) of the whole season - 37.5%. She used five black models, Aminata Niaria, Hollis Wakeema, Adama, Thais Dos Santos and Sessilee Lopez, two Asian models, Han Jin and Shu Pei Qui and two South Asian models Puja Battacherjee & Kangana. I like it, I like it a lot.

Sonia Rykiel's actual DQ was low - about 10%, because she had such a big show, with over 100 looks on display but she used 6 models of colour - Lakshmi Menon, Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn, Hollis Wakeema, Hye Park & Liu Wen.

Jean-Paul Gaultier also used a number of models of colour, including 3 black models, Yasmine Warsame, Jourdan Dunn & Arlenis Sosa, 2 Asian models, Liu Wen & Kiki Kang and 1 South Asian/Indian model, Lakshmi Menon. His DQ was 22.7%.

Kris Van Assche only had 3 models of colour - 2 black - Shelby Coleman and Yordano Teshager  and one South Asian, Kangana but he only used 12 models altogether so it was a balanced show.

Dries Van Noten had 3 black models -Jourdan Dunn, Georgie Badiel, Aminata Niaria  and 3 Asian models - Hye Park, Tao Akamoto and Li Hyun Yi.

Other than that - things are looking woeful. Single digit diversity quotients and an appalling number of big fat zeros - Chanel could not fit in one non-white model amidst their huge catwalk of 41 and neither could Nina Ricci among 33. Others with O% DQs thus far are: A.F Vandervoorst, Ann Deemeulmeester, Balmain, Rick Owens and Yohji Yamamoto. Others just had one token black - as if anyone is fooled by that. I find it almost more insulting than the ones who left out women of colour altogether. Among the tokenists were big names such as Yves Saint Laurent (Chanel Iman), Valentino (Jourdan Dunn), Lagerfeld (Sesilee Lopez), Givenchy (Lakshmi Menon), Gareth Pugh (Jourdan Dunn), Christian Lacroix (Chanel Iman) and Balenciaga (Liu Wen).

Y'all really ain't slick. Yuh ent fooling a soul.

We're watching.