Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bring In The Light

Global Teen Leaders are in NYC this week at an annual summit celebrating the work of Global Teen Peacemakers. These kids are part of the Three Dot Dash family, a program founded in the memory and honour of child Philosopher-King Poet Mattie Stepanek. Three Dot Dash is morse code for PEACE.

The thing about youth is the beauty of being so raw, unfiltered and unaffected. From the lips of babes wisdom--always.  Even when it bites, it's a reflection of us facing us and shouting back echoes of ourselves. From my (younger) sister this morning, "BRING IN THE LIGHT". I still feel the first rays of a flickering and growing light from my day with the 2011 class of Global Teen Leaders. So much beauty in that room. And laughter:) And so much, so much blinding has me flying higher than high on the possibilities of who we can be.

Above, Nile & Nancy: The Fire-Fuel of Three Dot Dash. Nile penned the song, We Are Family, after which the Foundation is named. Nancy is We Are Family Foundation's Leading Light. Think i need to get me a blk&white tie on white...LOVE! Photos: Courtesy WAFF.

Join WAFF at TEDxTeen this Saturday, April 2, 2011 in NYC: Global Youth Speaking Out & Up!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Muse of Memory

NY Fashion Week, Spring 2010/ Arise Arrived/ Eric Raisina/ Tiffany Amber. Images: Arise Magazine

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lahore's Long Luscious Lawn Summer Looks

A Mahnoush Lawn, Spring/Summer 2011.

Fascinated by Pakistan's ready to wear spring love affair with lawn--a modern reinterpretation of the traditional three piece jora--which may remind you of a shalwar kameez.  Lawn pieces are made from light Pakistani cotton to keep you cucumber & mint mojito cool in the passionate heat of long summer nights (bring those on please:) Anyways, take a peek at what fashionista trendsetters in Lahore look forward to this spring/summer...

Leading light designer Vaneeza Ahmed modeling her bold print looks below, R. Strutting beauty with barely there (and ever more sexy skin), a Nilofer Shahid design, L.
Cool aside--really beautiful vintage pics from early Pakistan, 1947.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Perfect People Spanx It!

I Know A Little Secret...

Did you know women own less than one percent of land worldwide? No? What about political power--did you know we only hold about 16 % of parliamentary seats (or equivalent) worldwide? How many women entrepreneurs do you think there are? Try 0.8% with employees in Africa! We don't even make a percent! Bleak, right? That's because it is. 

Sara Blakely Spanxing It!
Image: Sarah McColgan.
But there are some crazy woman out it in their minds that they can change all of that.  I just found out Spanx was started by a woman, Sara Blakely. This chic is fearless. She cold-called a Niemann Marcus buyer, flew to Texas to sell her and asked this woman to follow her to the bathroom so she could demo the wonders of butt line-free underwear up close and personal. That was her first client. And the rest is a ten-year story she wrote. The thing I find remarkable and revolutionary about Sara's story is that she's a woman. Making fit a woman's body. The hype around Spanx is not just because it's a brilliant idea, but also because (Gasp!) women designing for women remains a widely crazy, secretly lucrative and bestest brightest , bold idea. So Go Ahead Girl, get us all Spanxed!

p.s. i like. i like--luxury branding+women's entrepreneurship=Cartier Women's Initiative Awards.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

def.Black Art Scholar: Undefined Anomaly

Overwhelmed by Her Beauty & Art. Kenyan Artist Wangachi Mutu for US Vogue. 

If you're black and reading this, chances are you're an anomaly.  Apparently, black people are into the consumption and creation of art, but much less so the study of art (although a strong counter-argument is that creating art is as much a study as scholarly deliberation is and perhaps, a more useful indulgence in art academe?). And what does this have to do with reading this blog exactly? Well, nothing. Sort of. Just a great opening line, don't you think? You are still reading, so...

But seriously, according to scholars at Parsons School of Design, "Black artists and designers are at the cutting edge of contemporary culture, but their cultural histories continue to be a marginal presence in art and design schools." This phenomenon is not just at the professional level, it's also in the student body that makes up prestigious design schools such as Parsons, where diversity (I love that word...translation: black people) is a challenge (translation: are in short supply).

W. Mutu. Epiglotus II. 2007. 

My gut reaction is anecdotal.

How many bright young Africans do you know who are encouraged to study anything outside of math+science? I was just breaking it down to someone recently that my life choices from the age of about 2.5yrs were pretty well defined, and they even came complete with a pre-vetted pecking order package: 1. Doctor 1.5. Lawyer. 2. Some kind of hard science PhD. 3.Engineer, nothing new-fangly like industrial engineering, who knows--you may be tempted to design stuff with a title like that 4. Okey, just a PhD. 5. What five? you see how many choice we've given you here? 

And with that, my friends, I present you the interesting African conundrum I've morphed into.

Also known as undefined=neither of the above.

Laughs aside, Parson's community is coming  together to think through some issues raised here in what promises to be a provocative and pertinent dialog at a two-day conference this weekend, March 26& 27th, in New York.

Stop by why dointcha?

Stephen Kellen Auditorium at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Parsons, 66 Fifth Avenue, New York City.
FREE and open to the public.

And Yes, Please.  Do Rage with Jealousy--the anomaly is apparently just that stunning, celebrated Kenyan Artist Wangachi Mutu dong her thing. Life Magazine Image.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Importance of Being Elegant.

Kingdom of Lesotho's Queen Motsoeneng. LOVE the seShweshwe, a Sotho invention, and the simplicity augmented with gorgeous skin and a beautiful smile. Mad Lesotho Love:)

Yup! That's on Official Hair Attack. 
Cameroon's First Lady Chantal Biya.
So you've heard that Hollywood Royal Elizabeth Taylor died today. I think it's the end of an era, but not of  glamorous women inspired by the likes and legacy of Cleopatra, whom Taylor once played. This got me thinking--who are the Cleopatra's of our day?  Not sure this is anything of an answer, especially because this is nothing of a political endorsement, just an observation on the importance of being elegant. And to borrow from Stacy Schiff's intelligent, compassionate and convincing biography Cleopatra: A Life, "A goddess as a child, a queen at eighteen, a celebrity soon thereafter...Even at a time when women rulers were no rarity she stood out.."

Well, the Cleopatra's of our time. May the plead with the gods and stop this March madness of snowfall in the bud of spring.
And then there was Michelle...
Who even Anna Wintour very quotably, says she looks up to!
Rocking an Alexander McQueen design, R.

Below is Angela, Princess of Lichtenstein. Born Angela Brown in Barbados. Schooled at Parsons School of Design in NYC and started her own fashion design company, A. Brown.

How cool would it be to see what the princess-fashionista would design today?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Labor of Lust

It's official. SPRING! And so my wunderlust begins for all things floral and mad-kanga-inspired designs and something sparkly that's all brazen bling and indomitably bubbly.  So, my spring-splashup infinite playlist goes something like this:

1. Anything Boxing Kitten/Suno (left) /Dedo Azu Designs + Dolce&Gabbana Spring Collection

2. Madhuri Parson Peacock Ring. Madhuri Parson:Thou Art LOVE! (btw, she's gorgeous! and a sixth generation Indian jeweler. That's on point.
3. Balmain Studded Lambskin Jacket + Pearls (of course!)--i string

Image: Getchaown goddamVogue americana already! pg. 485, March 2011. While you're at it, let me know what you make of the high profile tongue in cheek+ curiously timed article on Syria's First Lady. Shout Out to Damascus--Am Dying to go...And guess who's on the cover of Vogue americana April 2011? Yup, Rhi-Rhi...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The K in Kool--Meet KoKOFIFI Women

KoKOFIFI Woman Jerryanne Heath, The Businesswoman CEO & Creative Energy of Conceptlink.

KoKOFIFI Woman Kelsey Montague, The Artist. Fine Art Illustrator & Inspirer, KelseyMontague

The KoKOFIFI Woman has arrived. She is having her moment but in truth, it is always her moment. She captures attention as much for what she utters as what she is without speaking.

She is a creative force re-imagining the world as it should be. She is light catching a room at dusk.
She is water's movement outlining the grace of a swan taking to shore. She is the force of lightening that travels the many worlds she does.

She is Africa. She is New York, Johannesburg, Accra Nairobi. She is KoKOFIFI.
So Fierce. So Loud/Proud.
And so Alive. 

Meet more KoKOFIFI Woman at our boutique website,

KoKOFIFI Woman Kgomotso Mogatwe. The Swag Beauty Queen with IT Savvy. Businesswoman.

KoKOFIFI Woman Amita Swadhin. The Change Agent. Activist/Speaker/Thinker/Survivor.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

46664 Apparel: A Mandela Model

Supermodels & Super Hero. President Nelson Mandela with models Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Mia Farrow, among others. AP Image.
Great Article by Emma Jordan from iFashion. 
So, our good friend and apparent fashionista Kate Otto dropped a little one on us today when she sent a newsclip highlighting the Nelson Mandela Foundation's new fashion line--46664 Apparel--which is the prisoner number by which Mr. Mandela was identified on Robben Island.

Says the Foundation's CEO Achmat Danfor, “When you buy a 46664 shirt, you are not just buying apparel, you are investing in a process that will help spread the legacy of Nelson Mandela by supporting the long-term sustainability 46664.”

The initiative is part of an effort by the foundation to generate revenue for program sustainability from social enterprise. Growing up in South Africa, the president's wardrobe was just as juicy and momentous as the charged excitement  filling the first days of democratic rule. 

We tuned into evening news as much to pinch ourselves and know this was forreal for real--Mandela head of state and apartheid honestly history--as to check out what signature shirt Mr. Mandela rocked out to meet Queen Elizabeth or at the celebration of this or that in the new South Africa.  We loved the unusual eye-candy patterns of his shirts and admired Mandela's boldness of presence and quiet (and beautiful) self-assertion in everything he touched. What a man! Mandela remains haloed by an exuberance of style...can't wait to see how this translates into a full fledged fashion line.

A Young Mandela with first wife, Ms. Evelyn. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To Japan. With LOVE.

Kenzo Takada illustration, Triptico Collage. Image: Guadeloupe Halley, 2010.

Souvenirs du Japon en Couleurs. Preface by famed Japanese designer Kenzo Takada. 
With Francious Cheval & Chihiro Masui.
Rediscovering an old gem celebrating historic Japon's beauty and meditating/praying for Japan today.

Mr. Takada with his work. 

A Room to Read the Beautiful

A Legendary American First--Ruth St. Denis in Costume. She Shaped Dance.
Image: New York Public Library Archives.


Have been thinking of you. How Goes?

And what are you subsisting on to feed that beauty-thirst?

Highly recommended-reroute your trip to include at least one of these pit-stops next time you're in nyc...

You'll thirst no more. 



btw--working on something lovely & luscious for you. details soon, thanks for
stopping by...
Wanna Play The Guessing Game? Image: Dustin Spengler. 

A Clue--An Investment Bank. 
Construction of A Reading Room. 
Down The Hall...Same Reading Room. Okey, Okey. Clue--Sex & The City.  Image: Skunkworks Photography.
Guadeloupean Woman at Ellis Island. Loving that Turban! Image: NYPL Archives.

And the final surprise? Email me and name all three places referenced in this post right
and you'll get a $25 KoKOFIFI gift certificate. Just Like That!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bella MiraBella su Umbrella

Vogue August 2010. Battling The Elements In A Fierce Rodarte Dress & Armored With Umbrella.

Duke of Windsor in Bhopal, 1920. Is it possible his tailor lived in Williamsburg before Billyburg even realized it was to be? LoL...LOVE the tailoring on those pants. Not so sure about the overt power play Image: TheLondonLounge.





New York has gone London on us in huge gulps of grey coming down all day. What's a girl to do?  What to weather in shi(f)ty weather?  Color or something cheerful? Something flattering on the feet or one of those gumboot wellie sink or swim numbers? And of course, the perfect umbrella. Which is something of an oxymoron isn't it, since the root Latin comes closer to shade--something you needed in sunny weather--than something that fully encapsulates raindrops?

Vintage Lace Parasol. Great Finds at Bella Umbrella. 
Did you know those nifty little often black things are over four centuries old, dating back to the ancient civilizations of the fertile crescent and beyond? They became popular in Europe only around the 16th century, long after the Chinese had already perfected the collapsible umbrella, makes you wonder how our English friends were getting on in London before the 16th century don't it? James Smith & Sons opened the first shop exclusively carrying umbrellas in 1830 and if you're really serious about this article, go check them out yourself where it all began, at 3 New Oxford Street in London, England.  And if you're really taking this umbrella thing to heart, why not go the Italian way with a handmade Pasotti Ombrelli design?  Or maybe you're a dreamer like me and would much rather stand under a vintage parasol from Bella Umbrella?  Either way, You Can Stand Under My Umbrella-ella, eh-eh-eh. It's raining!

P.S. Bella Mirabella is indeed a lovely lady's name. And she is actually beautiful, not to mentions how much i'm in love with that name. Bella Mirabella. Ah! Now there's a soulful song for a rainy day...(heart Rhianna too)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Courage In The Heart: Celebrating Women

Nudity/Bathing/As I Am. Zanele Muholi, Self-Portrait, 2005. The South African Artist's Provocative Work Peels Society Back to its Raw Essence, Challenging Assumptions About African Queer Life.
Leaves Everything Emotional Bare.
Annie Escobar PhotographyListenIn Pictures for
Courage In The Heart, BRAC Bangladesh. 
Nothing says effortless style quite the same way as nudity.  There is something still and disarming about allowing yourself to be naked to your very human vulnerabilities, to possibilities and to life itself. This is not a kinky post. Far from it. This is a story about what happens when we shed defenses and allow ourselves to be naked to our own power. This is a story about courage and having the fearlessness to face the ugliest parts of yourself so you can see and be the most beautiful. It's about the kind of KoKOFIFI Women--be they from Bangladesh or from Burkina Farso--who teach us how to do this, so effortlessly, so selflessly, so beautifully. It's about having enough Courage In the Heart to find yourself and be that self, Naked but Clothed in the kind of translucent light fashion forever finds itself chasing. 

We're CELEBRATING The POWER of WOMEN along with the rest of International Women's Day Today. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

B Bold. B Brilliant. B Beautiful.

Be Bold. Be Beautiful. Be Brilliant....Be ME!
Image: Accra(dot)Alt. 

All this creative entrepreneurial energy has me pumping inspiration straight outta my blood.  Straight Up. Going through  last month's notes got me all excited all over again about the amazing work young Ghanains are doing. Take filmmaker Mantse and his ReDD Kat Pictures crew. LOVE the engine red intensity of their color, boldness of thought+design and the undertone of rawness in their pics.  He shot a sweet short ahead of the first Africa World Cup in South Africa, 2010 and is currently working on a feature that will leave your head spin with its roaring nerve...we'll post details when he drops it.
A Shot from  Jaye Davidson's Academy Nominated The Crying Game. Image Courtesy of Accra(dot)Alt.


Then there's Ghana's original rudebouy, Surreal Nana. Primary influence apart from all things inebriating? Dali. Salvador Dali and pretty much all things surreal...thus the name, get it? LoL...

Seriously though, his commercial stuff is early, but his talent is not. Nana is taking every sick thing he learned training rats to do fun stuff in the lab (he's a biochem) and applying it to an acrobatic re-imagination of fantastical urban-wear.
 LOVING the new school redo of old school classic Keds.

Last, def LOVE the collaborative work of Accra(dot)Alt. Self described, "To express /To create, to dare (to be) brilliant/To inform, to persuade to involve others in this dynamic process ...artistic expression. Are you also different, uncharacteristically other and proud to be so?"  

Need I say more?

At L, ReDD Kat Pictures doing their thing--Director Mantse is in white hat, Image Courtesy of Jamana Karbo.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rebel Beauty: The Romantic.The Avant Garde & The African.

Jessica Trosman's Trosman is Argentina's LoveChild--a celebrated brand worldwide, available at Net-A-Porter among other premier retailers. Image: Trosman.

Stoned Cherrie 2011.
Went for a jolt is inspiration with the Endeavor Team today. Three hot fashionistas that should be on your radar: Jessica Trosman, Nkensani and Fatma Ghaly. The work speaks for itself. Nuff Said!

Romantic defines Egyptian Azza Fahmy, how else to describe inscriptions from the Quran and Khalil Gibran in her exquisite jewelry?

Trosman is the perfect counter and I'd love to see the two brands paired together--the designs are all about avant garde and regal, rebel beauty.

And what has not been said about South Africa's style icon and entrepreneur extraordinaire Nkensani Nkosi? High fashion design meets the fluidity and edge of Africa in her brainchild, Stoned Cherrie. Heart.

Azza Fahmy Jewelery for Preen. Photo: Azza Fahmy.