Culture, Music

Lion Babe – Begin review

Lion Babe - press photo 2015, 3, by Misha Taylor (1920x1080)In the words of director and artist Simon Frederick: “Black is the new black”. And few things this year have brought delight, joy and open-mouthed awe to me than the sight of black sisters rocking natural curls with pride. Alicia Keys, Solange, Corinne Bailey Rae, Fleur East, Nao and Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, to name but a few of the music world’s natural hair heroes.

But what has hair got to do with music – and Lion Babe specifically? More than you’d think. Hair is an express of the self. And anyone who knows what it’s like maintaining an afro, day in, day out, will tell you that – just ask Erykah Badu, India.Arie or Solange. Jillian Hervey, Lion Babe’s majestic frontwoman, wears a mane of golden curls that look as though they were a gift from the goddess Oshun herself.

Hervey’s natural hair journey – as well as the fact she is the daughter of singer and actress, Vanessa Williams – brought her face to face with taunts, teases and pressure for her to conform to her attacker’s standards of beauty. But, as she told Glamour magazine earlier this year, returning to natural hair led her to feel “very comfortable in my skin and really confident about who I was”. The Lion Babe of today could not exist without this comfortable, confident brown-skinned wonder woman.

Culture, Diary, Music

In memoriam: David Bowie

David Bowie mural, Brixton, Jun 22, 2015, by Maureen Barlin (1920x1080)News that David Bowie, the musician, fashion iconic and eccentric innovator, passed away today, after an 18-month battle with cancer, has shocked the world.

As I write, tributes continue to be posted by millions on social media, and if all the Bowie obituaries and editorials that have appeared in the last 12 hours were printed out and pasted together there could well be enough paper to cast a tether into space to rescue Major Tom.

Culture, Media

Inside Vogue

I knew the world of fashion was subjective, but I didn’t realise just how accepted this was until seeing The September Issue (More4, 24.08.10). As part of More4’s True Stories series, which premiers documentaries on social, cultural and ethical issues from across the globe, R.J. Cutler’s rare exposé on the making of Vogue magazine’s September 2007 issue was a real eye-opener.

The documentary follows iron lady and editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, and creative director and former model, Grace Coddington. Although I suspect they got to see even more juicy material that Vogue’s publisher, Condé Nast, probably forbid them from showing, the documentary provides an extraordinary view of fashion journalism in the 21st century and the relationship between Wintour and her production team.

Fashion magazines have always seemed nothing more than glorified catalogues in my mind, on account of them being chockfull of adverts. In the documentary, Wintour decides which new lines to feature, which upcoming designers will get her empress equivalent of influential approval, the photographer who will photograph their Hollywood star for the magazine cover and so on. Coddington conceptualises and completes a range of themed photo shoots that are scrutinised by Wintour – Vogue seems more about aggregating photo shoots than fact checking or copy editing text about fashion.

What this documentary did do is give me a newfound respect for people like Grace Coddington, who formulated the terrifically inventive image above. Fashion journalism is not a science, but, I’ll admit it, there is artistry to it.