Vanessa Williams: A Long Overdue Apology…Ramble

Social media has shined a light on misbehaving, injustices and the downright ridiculous ways we treat each other as human beings. Not all of us are reality stars, learning or ignoring lessons on our mistakes caught on camera, yet, social media brings back the opportunity for all that “lost footage” and all the “private” conversations we’re having using our smart phones to be broadcast to the world.

Fat-shaming. Body-shaming. Beard-shaming. Can’t we treat each others like human beings? It was with grace that Vanessa Williams relinquished her Miss America crown in 1984, forced to by people who took offense and tried to shame her for Penthouse publishing nude photos of her- she didn’t pose for them to be published.

These days “Scandal” is not only the name of a hit show, it’s how Kim Kardashian transformed her entire family into reality stars and cash generators. Isn’t it time we treated people like human beings and be decent to one another, instead of saying, “Gotcha! I have a way of taking you down? I’m going to use this to bash you in a moment that wasn’t your finest, even if I don’t know the backstory?”

The sad thing is when you compare how men who have been violent towards women like Kobe Byrant and Chris Brown, they have legions of fans, didn’t have to “go quiet” to wait out the scandal and go into self-doubt. Hitting Rihanna gave Chris Brown street credibility, with many big name artists lining up to work with him on a track. Even Kayne West, who said he doesn’t understand award shows at this year’s VMA’s stood up and applauded Chris for winning an award, while his long-time collaborator Jay-Z, remained, understandably seated.

For this I admire Vanessa Williams and her ability to go on to be an award-winning actress, beloved even when she was delightfully bad on “Ugly Betty,” hats off to you, Vanessa Williams for having the class to both accept and forgive the Miss America Pageant, and then support them by being a judge in the contest. What a class act!

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Rebel, Rebel…Ramble

There are signs everywhere in London, to REBEL. The dictionary defines a rebel as a person who resistant any authority, control, or tradition. The 1950’s, which gave us Jack Kerouac’s second book, On The Road, and 1955 classic film, “Rebel Without A Cause,” amongst others, popular culture has glamorized being a rebel. Even my the ice coffee wants me to be a rebel. I don’t mind rebelling from war over processed food to the below delicious treat.

  
Personally, I prefer today’s rebels in the dome of women, standing up and calling out the sexism and discrimination. Although female empowerment books from Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In to Nastygal.com founder, Sophia Amoruso’s Girl Boss, and proof that women over 55 are best suited for strategic leadership, numbers this week revealed the amount of women in tech is down to under 30% and the women on tech boards are not in the leadership chairs. Is the rebellion working? Can it only succeed when famous women support the cause? Can awareness lead to change?

Rebel. It’s all around us. It’s the name of a gym I frequent. During classes we are all called rebels, to incite and inspire us to work harder, go against the grain. A teacher said “if there’s no pain, you’re not changing your body.” (Cut to me screaming in pain from pulling out my arm during the weight lifting portion of the class.)

  
Be a disrupter, a rebel. Yet, it’s taken social media to vent truthfully about shit people say about women directors getting the ultimate sexist treatment, being a given norm. That’s why I loved when Julianne Moore said no to the nail cam E! added to their inane red carpet coverage. Rebel against the nail cam, that is, unless you launched your own nail line and you are promoting it.

REBEL! Against women getting paid .70 cents to the US Dollar for doing the same jobs as men.

REBEL when so-called ‘women’s magazine’, Allure called reality star, Lauren Conrad, a ‘basic bitch,’ but she gave the most girl boss answer to a question pulled from a listeners at random, during a radio interview, asking her her favorite position, by responding “CEO.”

Recently, Oscar winner and single mom, Gwyneth Paltrow rebelled against her lifestyle site, GOOP.com being compared to other actresses’ brand extensions. She’s right, but press likes to pit women against one another, put people in boxes.

  
 For instance, Jessica Alba’s Honest brand sells safe eco-friendly baby products, which has netted her $1 billion dollars. Seriously. That is some seriously impressive work for a girl who grew up clipping coupons. Honey, you are the one laughing all the way to the bank, but The Honest Company has a different audience from GOOP.com, which offers recipes, city guides, clothing & accessories, mostly for women, and advice for women on everything from nutrition to how to self-promote– like a rebel.

Launched in early May, Reese Witherspoon’s website, DraperJames.com is a strictly e-commerce site for women who want modern Southern style. It doesn’t go too deep, even in the ‘meet’ section of the site, but has a sweet questionnaire about Southern style. A lot of people want to look pretty and be entertained in small doses. They don’t want to know what you’re reading or the latest palatable way to eat kale, and that’s where Reese comes in, providing charm and charming outfits.

Kate Hudson’s website sells strictly athletic gear (and yes, I have some, terrible name Fabletics, but really high quality product) on an ala carte or subscription basis. Again, that is a different business demographic. One does not attend a Southern tea party in athletic wear!

At the end of the day, rebel against comparisons and carve out your own niche. Do you. Always. And if any snakes are around, blast Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ to let them know what kind of rebel they are dealing with – one who sees the enemy, faces them, and triumphs, passing the bad juju back to the original snake.

Madewell + Spotify = Irresistible…Ramble

J. Crew- owned brand, Madewell, has been making some interesting partnerships since their inception in 2006, stalled a little and now has been slowly building into one of those brands that is growing faster than their parent store. They are now sold in Nordstrom’s and the week that Spotify announced it’s partnership with Starbucks, the Madewell partnership got lost in the shuffle.

As I’ve mentioned before, while the streaming war is heating up, using celebrities to attract new paid subscribers being a lure by both Tidal and Apple (Drake, if you weren’t adorable before, that $19M paycheck for DJ’ing for Apple makes you the smartest one at the end of the day. Tidal wave crashing in 5, 4, 3…), making a move in a different direction is a smart play. Instead of trying to compete with all your competitors in the same exact way, for the same consumers, Spotify made the smart move to become the next level of Starbucks’ music strategy.

  
Spotify also made a partnership with Madewell stores which made my heart thump a little faster. Madewell held Spotify parties in their select stores the same week the Starbucks deal was announced. The Madewell website has a navigation button dedicated to their Spotify partnership, which includes spotlighting three new female artists – twin sisters – Lucius (when I read that quickly, I was thinking EMPIRE’s Lucius, when is that show back?!), LA’s Kelela, and Sharon Van Etten, all of whom have created playlists and look books. The bonus? You get 60 days of Spotify Premium gratis for shopping those looks and there’s a contest for a trip to LA.

  
Smart move Spotify. Partnering with Madewell expands Spotify off-platform again, one that wasn’t obvious and I applaud you. Keep it up and you’ll be following in Victoria Beckham’s footsteps, who went from Posh Spice, to having her own Posh fashion line, as well as having designing a Range Rover, which puts her into a class all of her own.

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty… Ramble

When I worked in Soho, NY the models going on go-see casting calls looked like fairies, dotting the often grey weather that fall. Since then, my interest in fashion has had a more concentrated interest. The colors and cuts of Alexander McQueen have made me sigh in wonderment many a time, none more so than at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.    My eyes fluttered. Here was magic, a different kind of spark than other fashion exhibits I have seen or even Fashion Week events. While the exhibit is based on one from The Met, which I didn’t catch, in 2011, only a year after McQueen’s death, the space and layout were extraordinary.  While the Death Becomes Her, mourning garments throughout history curated by Anna Wintour, at The Met, was historically interesting, there’s nothing I like more in fashion than drama, a real show. The McQueen exhibit includes quotes that enhanced the exhibit as to his own mix of self-awareness and inner turmoil. He was precise. He knew he was making a mark and he wanted to create conversations, arming women with a feminine touch. (The result of witnessing and also a victim of his older sister’s abusive first husband. She only found out about Alexander’s own abuse when he became an adult.)  It was a creative kick in the soul. I’m here, on this earth, go big. I wrote about the recent triad of deaths of men on the music & technology world. The McQueen exhibit was the exclamation point. So, whoever you are, be it a famous Olympian or a school teacher, everyone struggles, turn that struggle into a positive. Express it. Move in this life, not through it colorless. Those dreams, the ones you had once, but life got in the way, it’s never too late to make them a reality.

Americans have a tendency to value ourselves by our job titles, responding within a few minutes when a senior executive needs an answer. If you’re creative the world is your stage, exposure and criticism is expected, welcomed – at the same time, it can be a lot of pressure. Don’t let that pressure to fit into an easier pace of life, trap you into not taking creative risks. Thank you Alexander McQueen for the magic you shared with the world. Hope your tormented soul is laughing – you made your mark. Now, it’s my turn to do the same in my own life.