In this dazzling ad, Spoken Word Artist Yasiin Bey and calligrapher Niels Shoe Meulman revisit the words of Muhammad Ali.
I grew up with two brothers who adored boxing. Every big televised fight that hit cable united our usually divided family. We’d sit around our 60″ big screen TV that my father famously bought without consulting my mom, but which she later fell for, and yelled and screamed – mostly at Tyson fights – until the contender fell, bloody from battle. We saw the art in it, somehow. There’s something about boxing. You’re a witness to a moment. Maybe it’s that way with all sports. And, to this day, I still love to watch two men (or women – MMA fighter Gina Carano rules) beat the shit out of each other with studied grace.
My brother fought in the Army and has taught me a thing or two about a right jab and uppercut. I was fortunate enough to meet Ali as a girl. Kinda cheesy, but it was at a department store celebrating the launch of his latest fragrance. He was deep into his Parkinson’s, but managed to whisper to me, at 8 or 9 years old, that I was cute. He asked me if I was a boxing fan. I said yes.
21-year-old singer Banks is no stranger to attention. The young rapper and lyricist, now signed to Interscope Records, was starring in off-Broadway plays at sixteen. Having dropped out of high school to pursue a recording career, the Harlem-native gained recognition fast, when at eighteen, finally ripe and legal, she released an Internet debut, produced by Diplo. Following her debut, Banks signed with XL Records. She would later leave this label due to conflicting ideas; revealing in its early stages, a career built by iconoclasticism. Achieving success via YouTube and topping European charts, the label-jumping star began working with producer Paul Epworth and eventually broke through to audiences in the U.S.
This month, she graces the cover of fashion powerhouse Dazed & Confused with a blown-up condom held to her mouth. It’s caused quite a stir, being banned in seven countries. Personally, with sex-ed in schools being threatened by the promoters of what’s been termed Conscripted Gestation (rather than pro-life), methinks in-your-face images of safe-sex paraphernalia can only be a good thing. Furthermore, from a woman’s perspective, one can’t help but wonder: if she was simply posing with her fingers in a V, symbolizing a vagina, and no condom was in sight, would our desensitized (ready to sexualize a woman at any given moment, but not when she owns choosing safe-sex and, uh, wants the world to see) asses still have our boxer briefs in such a bundle? Either way, she actually has a lot to SAY, about her childhood, the ups and downs faced post-death of her father to pancreatic cancer, and the physical and verbal abuse suffered at the hands of her widowed mother [ie: she allegedly told Azealia she was ugly and hit her and her sister with baseball bats, threw food away].
Banks says, “We grew up in the hood, but we had some money. But I moved out when I was 14 to go live with my older sister, because my mom just had, well… issues.”
Ron Stanley, editor of Dazed & Confused magazine speaks out in defense of the magazine’s condom cover. “Azealia liked it, and we thought it would be fun and suited her because she’s a strong, provocative character,” he said. “I knew this cover would be talked about, but didn’t expect a confident, young woman posing with an inflated condom to cause this much fuss. It’s funny that in a world where extreme images are so accessible, someone posing with something that is used for safe sex is what we get worked up about.”
In other news, an ad for online shopping source Net-A-Porter featuring The Conversation host Amanda de Cadenet looking fabu, is out! de Cadenet says, “I am really happy with this ad I did for Net-A-Porter. Love this company, founded by an amazing woman and they always carry my sizes.”
I always used to daydream about being that famed, far-off, infamous woman whose image was mostly found on T.V., but occasionally in the mothers of rich Valley kids. Long hair, fancy car, skinny cigarette between thin fingers attached to long red nails. Revving home to a sexy bedroom with a lips phone on the bedside table…
Well, now that the age of independence of those young mom’s I coveted is nearing, I’ve reconciled with what is still me (long hair, long nails) and what isn’t (skinny cigarette, Ferrari). And, just as I was beginning to jive with boyfriend jeans at Lucky, women’s fashion took a left turn not unlike a sequel to Planet of the Gapes. A reverb from the 90s is upon us. N-E-O-N! These images from Glamour.com remind me of an old store in the Sherman Oaks Galleria where I’d shop when I was a wee li’l thing, daydreaming about who I’d be when I grew up. It was called Heaven. Picture it. Endless shelves of fold-over white school girl socks with delicate lace trim that probably fueled my future Lolita fashion fetish… colorful candy called Buttons were sold in long reams of rectangular paper and a lips phone was always in stock. It was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for grade school Valley girls with too many crushes to count, and too little pocket space for all the tickets from Time Out Arcade. (All of which I can cop to lovin’ and forgive them for…) but, what’s this now? Being thrust upon us womenfolk like a new sex position where we have to use stretchy-toys before we get into bed:
A neon bright hi-lighter light wedding. Really? Hmmm… let’s consider:
What do you think? Do you dig the new neon craze or are you a primary palette purist? It’s kinda cool and cute, but what say YOU? Is love really all you need, or is a new wedding planner on the day planner…?
Quote of the day comes from 16-year-old fashion blogging phenom, Tavi Gevinson.
Summer is here! ShopShopShopShopShop! Women’s, men’s, luxury, you name it!
As an almost perfectly timed addition to the insurgent arsenal of films assaulting the modeling industry (like Sara Ziff’s Picture Me, a controversial documentary about one model marching through the predatory and rule-breaking industry — rules like 14 year olds shouldn’t be walking around topless and acting sexy; and women should have enough body fat to prevent ketosis) HBO is releasing About Face: The Supermodels, Then and Now.
This angle, however, looks at veteran clothes horses who have gained wisdom, earned respect, and survived to tell their tale.
Skipping staples of the 90s supermodel revolution, like Christy Turlington Burns and Cindy Crawford, About Face, directed by renowned portrait photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, instead highlights their superiors. Carol Alt, Christie Brinkley (whose cameo in Nation Lampoon’s Vacation should have erected her a monument) and Beverly Johnson – the first black woman to grace Vogue in 1974.
“Before, you were just a girl” says Brinkley, now 58. Noting how the industry has changed during her near four decade long career, she continues. “Or a clothes hanger, but now you can have a name. You’re a real person, which is nice.”
Their stories are epic. Rock and roll high priestess Jerry Hall, now 55, whose nine year marriage to Mick Jagger produced four kids and a saucy memoir, reveals how her mother pushed her out of the nest. Employing unusual measures to get her daughter discovered, she packed a suitcase full of homemade dresses copied from the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogue and shipped Hall off to the French Riviera. Risky, but it worked.
The ever defiant Isabella Rossellini, now 59, says that she misses modeling, but fears that the industry has become unrecognizable. The daughter of screen legend Ingrid Bergman, Rossellini began her career in fashion at 28.
“Modeling taught me to be confident and financially independent,” she says. “Now they start so young. When my daughter started modeling at 20, an agent told her she should get plastic surgery immediately. I made a phone call that was one of the most ferocious I’ve ever made.” The lioness protecting her kin. Unfortunately, not all dilettantes are so lucky.
Once considered “working girls,” back in the mid-forties era, supermodels, fashion and runways models, and even reality show sweethearts like Heidi Klum, are now considered business women. Even the lucky ones had to slalom through a landscape rife with eating disorders, rampant drug-use, objectification, pre-teen fetishism, androgyny-worship, and shark-like agents, managers and designers. Add our society, which perpetuates a stigma around aging that is peerless. To see these icons not just pictorializing graceful aging (or injecting youth) – but embracing their stature in society as role models of incredible strength, tireless creativity, and all the while not exporting their femininity, is to me, an act of great heroism. Fuck girl-power. These are wise women sharing their most coveted beauty secrets. None of which can be packaged or sold.
By the way, yes, some have had plastic surgery. But many have not. As Rossellini confides, “I don’t think I’ll do it. It’s too late. My mother once told me that growing older was the only way to have a long life… it’s natural, and it’s beautiful.” Take that, Botox!
About Face: The Supermodels, Then and Now was the Official Selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and will air on HBO in the summer.
Darrah’s note: Beauty CULTure art exhibit at Annenberg Space for Photography in 2011, which challenged cultural norms around aging and beauty has been accepted into the Tribeca Film Fest. See trailer here.