Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beirut, Best Party City?

So CNN is talking about Beirut as a party city? Should I be making a beeline to Beirut? YES! Can anyone expedite my trip?!?! I'd give you unconditional love in return :)

And maybe we can chill here...
or here...
or here!!

Shakira-'She Wolf' Official Video

Shakira's new music video for her song "She Wolf" is fierce! Is it me or does she get sexier and sexier as she grows older. And more flexible! How she moves like that? God only knows. Damn girl. 

Favorite scene: the cage scene.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saudi Designer Dazzles With His Collection

I was certainly in awe as I viewed the pieces from Saudi designer Mohammed Ashi's collection. Coming from ultra conservative Saudi Arabia, Ashi chose a different path from many men in his country and decided to go to fashion school. He then became a contestant on Future TV's Project Fashion, which he then proceeded to win. His fashion journey eventually landed one of his designs on the cover of Elle Oriental.

His collection flows and you can clearly see his inspiration eminating from each piece. His company’s press release states that it “is inspired by the gloomy and romantic image of a blind young boy whose inability to see the world around him, only enhances his ability to feel its powerful forces, the fable of both a simple child’s innocence and a complex look at faith and humanity. In an imaginary garden in black and white, full of followers and colors all too unfamiliar to the mind of a blind youth. All of these overwhelming images are translated into the Ashi collection, attempting to bring all of these unprecedented images to life through the use of luxurious and modern fabrics.”

The designer's pieces are subdued in color, but not in design. His aesthetic is impeccable as well as his attention to fine details. Ashi understands a woman's body and works accordingly, incorporating stunning drapery and rich textiles in the mix. You can see that he thinks of his designs as works of art and treats them as thus. The model is the canvas and everything from head to toe is carefully orchestrated to bring as much beauty to the final product as possible. I must say I think his designs are BRILLIANT!

photography: Vincent Sannier
make-up: Christian
hair styler: Romeo

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Juergen Teller's Marc Jacob Ads

I must admit I am not much of a fan of the new Marc Jacobs Fall 2009 ad campaign. Juergen Teller was the mind behind these raunchy pictures and I have to say that it's a little over the top for my taste and a little American Apparel kitsch as well. The model's look a bit too trashy and are definitely not shown in their best light. I also don't see how showing a model doubled over a scaffolding bar can sell a dress to the regular Marc Jacobs consumer. Maybe it would be enticing to hookers? I could see how Jacobs wanted to gain an edgier look with this ad campaign but I feel that Teller missed the mark completely, making the photos seem less edgy and more trash punk. It's a shame because the clothes themselves are beautiful.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

'MTV Next' Arab American Style

This video is an Arab style spoof of the show 'MTV Next' and it debuted at the 2nd Annual Arab American Comedy Show in Dearborn, MI (a.k.a Arab Central). The main character is Ali "Bulldog" Abdallah who brought even more laughs with his Arab style spoof of the show 'MTV Cribs'. Favorite quote from both shows: "EDIN-IN-OU!!" Watch and enjoy!

And for those of you that might be in Michigan this August, don't forget to check out the Arab American Comedy Show on August 14 and 15. For more information, visit their website here

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some Summer Color

Garance works her magic again with this amazing shot! That top is to DIE FOR! And Viviana wears it with so much grace and playfulness, pairing it with beige short shorts, a green clutch, and those adorable heart shaped glasses. The top is from Micro Giovannini's spring collection. He is definitely a fan of draping and billowing arms as many of his pieces are draped impeccably with full voluminous sleeves. I suggest all stylish women pounce on his website to check him out.

Check out Garance's website as well!

Solange's New Look

I feel bad that everyone is giving Solange Knowles slack for cutting off her brunette locks but I must agree with them. I personally am a fan of the natural crew cut look for ladies but for some reason it just doesn't fit her. Maybe it's the sunglasses?...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Sartorialist Book

Scott Schuman, the photographer and genius behind the world-famous blog 'The Sartorialist' now has a book to his name which is due to release on August 12, 2009. Schuman has become a household name in the fashion industry through his blog and has revolutionized photo blogging with his street-style photos from around the world. His shots have inspired some of my outfit choices as well. 

With this book, The Sartorialist reveals some of his best works from the streets of New York, to Paris, to Florence, to Melbourne. He also includes prominent fashion figures as well. The book can be pre-ordered from Amazon now for $16.50.

Check out The Sartorialist blog here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Manisha Koirala in 'Bombay'

This song has been on my tongue the past week for some reason. I love Manisha Koirala. She's an often understated actress, but I love when she plays either demure or dramatic roles in movies. She always wears her emotions on her face and doesn't have to act too much to get her character across, which makes her roles seem more real and relatable.

This particular song 'Kehna Hi Kya' is from one of her more famous films 'Bombay' which revolves around the love between a Muslim girl (Koirala) and a Hindu man (Arvind Swamy) amid religious tension in Bombay. Their love survived the differences of religion, the Bombay Riots fueled by religious intolerance, and the disapproval of their family. Their heartwarming story shows that love does conquer all.

The Saudi Woman Through A Princess' Eyes

When one thinks of a Princess, the usual suspect is one whose life is filled with glamour and jewels, maids and palaces, perfume and limousines. In her book 'Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia' Jean Sasson gives us just that, but with a Middle Eastern twist. This time stoning and drowning, forced marriage and secrets, mandatory veiling and rape are thrown into the mix.

 This heartbreaking book is a look behind the mysteriously closed doors of Saudi Arabia's privileged class. It tells the story of the hardship the narrator, Princess Sultana, faced as she grew up in the harsh male-dominated environment of Saudi Arabia which is ruled by Muslim Sharia law coupled with Wahhabism- one of the strictest interpretations of Islam. This comes in sharp contrast with the tremendous amount of wealth flooding the country from oil and Saudi Arabia's subsequent "modernization" efforts. 

In Princess Sultana's world, women are not allowed to be seen. They walk the streets cloaked in black and are not allowed to show their face or even too much of their ankle lest they get harassed and/or jailed. They are not allowed to drive, not allowed to speak out against their men, not allowed to leave the country without permission from a male guardian, not allowed to leave the house without a male... Basically they are not allowed to do ANYTHING outside the sphere of the home without a male. This renders them slaves to men who in contrast are allowed to do ANYTHING they want. In Princess Sultana's world, if a man rapes a woman, the woman becomes the scapegoat for being a "temptress" and is stoned to death. Fathers are allowed to kill their daughters for fornication or fancying a foreign man while men are allowed to marry non-Muslim women. Brothers are given free reign to terrorize their sisters as Sultana's brother did...

These stories are covered up by the tremendous money available to upper class Saudis where it is normal to have multiple palaces equipped with myriad maids and drivers, where a honeymoon can last four months and include trips to Italy, France, England, and Egypt, and where Rolexes and Porsches are commonplace. 

I was in awe however, as I read that a girl was drowned in her own swimming pool by her father for talking and having relations with foreign men. What was even more disturbing was that rather than condemning the action taken by her father, the government looked favorably on him for restoring honor to his family. What honor is there in killing your own daughter?How can a country with so much wealth be a bastion for such antediluvian practices?  What hope is there for women in a society that doesn't value them for anything more than child rearing? 

The book brings to light the fact that though Saudi Arabia may be flourishing due to its oil wealth, there are still a multitude of problems plaguing it. With this book, Sultana is pleading with the public to witness the injustice taking place in Saudi Arabia toward women and do something about it. 

I advise everyone to read 'Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia' and openly condemn the medieval practices being carried out in this self-proclaimed "modernized" country and in other countries across the globe where women are being treated as second class citizens.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pyaar Kiya Tho Darna Kya?

"Pyaar Kiya Tho Darna Kya?"... the famous song from the Hindi film classic 'Mughal-E-Azam' no longer has to be the theme song of gays in Delhi. The title of the song translates roughly to "What is there to fear when you have loved?" and it was sung by Anarkali who was a courtesan whose love for a prince was stiffled simply because of her place in society. It popped into my head this morning and as I was humming the tune, I got to thinking. This song is not just about the forbidden love between a courtesan and a prince. This song is about forbidden love universally.

It's lyrics capture the essence of the gay rights movement in India and how long and hard gays and their allies in India have fought for their love to not be seen as a forbidden one. Well their hard work has recently paid off because on Thursday July 2, 2009, a monumental decision was made by New Delhi's highest court. The court decriminalized homosexuality which had been illegal in India since 1861 when the British added a law known as Section 377 of India's penal code which prohibited "carnal intercourse against the order of nature between a man, woman, or animal."

First off I would like to digress and say that grouping gays and lesbians in the same category as beastiality is not only an insult, but a serious lack of judgement and understanding. But on to better things. Although the ruling was only for the city of Delhi, I predict that the legalization of homosexuality will spread to other parts of India as well. The stigma attached to homosexuality in India is cooling but this is mostly only happening in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai where there are gay pride parades and a long history of gay rights advocacy. Rural India still has a way to go, but with this tiny step of legalizing homosexuality, it opens the door for more education on not only gay rights but AIDS and safer sex as well.

I also appreciate the fact that Bollywood has taken steps to add gay themes and characters to its movies. Movies such as Dostana, which is about two men pretending to be gay to rent an apartment, may have silly plots but they do a whole world of good in addressing the taboo subject of homosexuality. It gets Indian movie-goers talking and hopefully learning something as well. Bollywood's acceptance of an open, cross-dressing homosexual, Bobby Darling, as a legitimate actor solidifies its support for gay rights.

India has come a long way from the days of Anarkali in 'Mughal-E-Azam' where even love between the different classes and castes was forbidden. It still has a long way to go, but there is hope in the horizon. One day however, 'Pyaar Kiya Tho Darna Kya?' will not be relatable as a theme song for gays, lesbians, and transgenders in India.

The music video for the beautifully rendered song 'Pyaar Kiya Tho Darna Kya'

The gay themed movie, 'Dostana'
Bobby Darling
Hijras (India's transgendered population) supporting the gay rights cause

Monday, July 6, 2009

Erykah Badu: Queen of Soul

I used to listen begrudgingly to Erykah Badu as a child as my parents would constantly play her music in the house and on car trips. It would suffice to say, that I grew up listening to Badu's ballads, but I never truly understood the astounding rhythm and lyrics her songs held until I revisited her music recently.

She is/was the epitome of soul. Her voice is like no other and it adds a uniqueness to her music, evidenced in the song above. Her song weaves her personal philosophies on life into a rich, multi-influenced rhythm. The lyrics aren't superficial, like some artists I hear these days. They dig deeper into questions of human existence. My favorite line in this song is: "A man that knows something knows that he knows nothing at all." So true.

It seems that Ms. Badu, also takes great interest in choreographing her music videos. The cinematography here is great and I love the setting that she chose for this song. It harkens back to the roots of the southern soul movement that combined R&B with gospel music to create a new style. 

I also appreciate her nods to Africa in many of her clothing choices. She is known for wrapping her head in colorful headwraps and wearing African jewelry and clothing. As someone who would like to see Africa represented more in mainstream America, she does me a great service by mixing her American singing style and notoriety with African influences. No wonder she proudly holds the crown as the "Queen of Soul."

The Queen at work:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Garance's Sexy Tomboy

I came across this picture on Garance DorĂ©'s site and fell in love immediately. This is personal style at its pinnacle. This is photography at its pinnacle. This is a perfect moment at its pinnacle. The outfit is well thought of and put together, yet gives off an air of nonchalance as if she did not even think about what she was throwing on her body. I am a worshipper of the 'God of Harem Pants' and I would sacrifice myself for the ones that she is wearing. These are the first sequined harem pants I have seen and boy do I wish I could run to the nearest store that sells them and grab a pair. Her look screams "sexy tomboy" and I love her vivacious smile and graying hair. And can we look at the shoes for a moment? They are major. 
Here's a closeup:

I LOVE the pearl detailing in the front. This woman needs to befriend me pronto!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Egypt's Female Superstar

I'll preface this post by stating that I do secretly enjoy listening to this song:

I stumbled upon the video for this song by Ruby that I used to listen to a couple years ago. Ruby is basically Egypt's answer to the "modern female superstar." While the Lebanese music industry was booming with female singers like Haifa, Nancy, and Najwa, the Egyptian female singers were being left in the dust.

The solution: Put singers into as little clothing as possible to catch up to the already skimpily dressed (according to Egyptian standards) Lebanese singers.

The product: Ruby.

But I see one problem with this product. I think they forgot to factor in such things as actual talent and performance ability. Though Ruby's song has a catchy tune, it has no substance and her voice has no range. She does not sing with passion. And in this video she's overly obsessed with those hips of hers, but she's not exactly doing anything great with them. Her dancing is lackluster and I don't think thrusting your hips aimlessly is dancing at all. But nonetheless, she's an Egyptian superstar.

She's beautiful but there's more to being a star than looks alone:

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