Now that my new book, Vintage Black Glamour, is officially out of my hands (and hopefully, on the way to your doorstep!) I am getting back on the beauty blogging horse! I'm the type of person who believes in signs so when I heard that Academy Award winning actress, Her Royal Fabulousness Lupita Nyong'o, was finally signed to a world-reknown beauty behemoth, I was thrilled! Lancome is just the right sort of approachable undeniable luxury I'd expect for Lupita. She may be their first black celebrity spokesperson, but Lancome signed black Dominican model Arlenis Sosa in 2008 so, they are no stranger to brown girls. Or, at least, so I thought! Sometimes, you have to remember that everyone is not a beauty blogger or even a beauty junkie like you who feels like Sephora (and Ulta, and Blue Mercury...) is their second home. I was stunned to see so many of my brown sisters on Instagram and Facebook saying, "Yay, Lupita! But does Lancome have makeup for her complexion? For OUR complexion?!"
Well, of course they do! My friend and beauty empress Afrobella addressed this on her site and Facebook page and Lupita & Lancome shared the look she sported in the Women's Wear Daily story about Lupita's deal. The brands who do NOT have colors for darker shades have long been outnumbered. However, unless you are a true makeup junkie, you wouldn't know because too many of them don't put a lot of effort into advertising the range of shades they have made available. It's a shame that it is so rare for darker skin to be touted in the beauty industry that a large portion of potential consumers aren't aware that the right products in the right shades are indeed available to them. That type of assumption does not come out of nowhere - it comes from years of feeling invisible and underrepresented in the global media landscape. Lupita, in speaking about her admiration for model Alek Wek, told WWD, “When she came on the scene, I felt more seen. Having me on a huge campaign like this will hopefully do that for other girls or people who feel unseen or underseen.”
Let's begin with the beginning and the end: Lupita Nyong'o. Killing it softly (or, rather boldly) in Ralph Lauren Collection. The jewels are by Fred Leighton and although Nick Barose did her makeup, I'll say the glow is by her mother and father.
As much as I loved certain looks, Amy Adams in this bi-color Valentino Couture was one of the few that I could actually see myself in. Her hair was beautiful as well.
She went with soft spring colors from Laura Mercier's Spring 2014 collection on her eyes (Ballet Pink) cheeks (Praline - above) and lips (a blend of Discretion and Tangerine lipsticks. Try Discrete if you prefer a gloss). Absolutely stunning.
Well, Cate Blanchett, being Cate Blanchett, was a vision in this tulle and lace Armani Privé couture gown and Chopard diamond earrings.
Australian actressMargot Robbie is another newcomer to the red carpet. I loved her in this white Gucci and can't wait to see more of her in the weeks and years to come.
Amy Poehlerlooked great in custom Stella McCartney all night, beginning with this black cady gown with a symmetric bodice topped by a black belt. The geometric cuff by Karla Welch for Jacob & Co. was the perfect compliment to her look.
I only have one good, "Oh my god, did she really touch my hair?" moment. It was at a party at Le Cirque for the author, Barbara Taylor Bradford, on the occasion of the Grenadines honoring her with a stamp. As an eighties teenager who watched Entertainment Tonight religiously, the party was an unexpected bonanza of over-the-top, razzle dazzle celebrity. Joan Rivers breezed by me as Robin Leach, host of my favorite show in the history of my teenagerdom, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, nabbed two glasses of champagne from the waiter for he and I as we chatted about whatever you chat about at a party in honor of Barbara Taylor Bradford and her stamp from the Grenadines at Le Cirque. It was one of those parties where I was one of only a handful of people of color present - a situation that is often uneventful. However, I remember this night in such detail because another person who I watched nearly every week on television, Jeanne Wolf, an entertainment reporter who did regular segments on Entertainment Tonight, amidst our champagne kiki-ing just, out of nowhere, grabbed a handful of my braids and said, "I just love your hair!" I was too stunned to say anything but, "Thank you," and verify that I sat for hours to get it done. I was hardly traumatized, but that is the story that popped in my mind as I watched a panel a few weeks ago sponsored by Pantene, who partnered with Un-ruly.com for the premiere of “You Can Touch My Hair, A Short Film,” based on the interactive public exhibit that made waves on social media last summer.
I didn't know quite what to make of the film when I watched it last summer, but listening to it's Un-ruly.com founder, Antonia Opiah and some of the participants in the exhibit helped provide some much needed context beyong 140-characters.
As more and more established brands step into the natural hair marketplace, I was pleased to see Pantene take this particular opportunity to partner with Antonia Opiah and her Un-ruly.com team because their natural hair care products are quite good and it gives me the impression that they are serious about taking reasonable steps to understand the natural hair consumer and not just jumping on the bandwagon as sales for chemical relaxers continue to drop dramatically.
The panel, which included the writer and critic Michaela Angela Davis, expanded on the conversation that was started in the film which was, in my opinion, a start. I think it would have been nice to have more diversity in terms of age in the film, something that would have provided some much needed perspective. I felt at times that Michaela, who is fortyish like myself, was the lone voice crying in the wilderness - providing context and perspective from a person who has more than a few adult years with black hair and culture of all stripes. I think it would go a long way for people who may find themselves in awkward situations at cocktail parties.