Review: ‘House of Gucci,’ starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino

November 22, 2021

by Carla Hay

Jared Leto, Florence Andrews, Adam Driver, Lady Gaga and Al Pacino in “House of Gucci” (Photo courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

“House of Gucci”

Directed by Ridley Scott

Culture Representation: Taking place from 1978 to 1997, mostly in Italy and New York City, the dramatic film “House of Gucci” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with one Latina and a few Asians) representing the middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: After middle-class Patrizia Reggiani marries into the wealthy Gucci family, family members start to battle over the Gucci empire of luxury goods, resulting in one of the family members getting murdered. 

Culture Audience: “House of Gucci” will appeal primarily to fans of the movie’s star-studded cast, the Gucci brand and tawdry true crime movies.

Jeremy Irons in “House of Gucci” (Photo courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Just like a fake Gucci item, “House of Gucci” is a tacky sham that quickly falls apart. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a high-quality movie, just because of the celebrity names and Oscar pedigrees of the movie’s headlining stars and director. The movie looks good, when it comes to production design, costume design, makeup and hairstyling. But the screenplay is atrocious, the acting is uneven, and director Ridley Scott helmed “House of Gucci” like it’s an idiotic melodrama made for mediocre television, but with a much higher budget than most TV-movies will ever have. (“House of Gucci” even has some laughably bad freeze-frame shots as lazy ways of putting emphasis on a particular emotion.)

It’s all the more reason for viewers to be disappointed that several Oscar winners and Oscar nominees have stepped into this “smoke and mirrors” cesspool of a movie. We all know that the fashion industry is all about image and how someone looks on the outside. That doesn’t mean that a movie about the Gucci empire’s biggest scandal needs to be shallow and superficial too.

The weakest link in “House of Gucci” is the screenplay, written by Becky Johnston and Roberto Bentivegna. They adapted the screenplay from Sara Gay Forden’s 2000 book “The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed.” The “House of Gucci” movie is slipshod in certain details, by getting some basic facts wrong about this notorious murder case. And many parts of this movie are surprisingly dull. Don’t expect there to be any riveting scenes of a murder trial in “House of Gucci.” There aren’t any. There’s a poorly written, anti-climactic courtroom scene that’s rushed into the movie.

The Gucci murder case involved a complex group of real-life people, who are mostly reduced to caricatures in the movie. However, a few of the “House of Gucci” cast members make the film watchable because of their performances: Lady Gaga, Jeremy Irons and Jared Leto. They stand out for completely different reasons.

Lady Gaga is compelling to watch as the scheming Patrizia Reggiani, who was at the center of the Gucci scandal because Reggiani was convicted of masterminding a murder plot. The details of the Gucci murder case are well-documented, but in case anyone reading this review doesn’t know anything about the case before seeing the movie, this review won’t reveal who was murdered. (Although it’s pretty obvious, when you consider who would have to die for Reggiani to inherit a large share of the Gucci fortune.)

Lady Gaga’s performance as Patrizia Reggiani takes a deep dive into campiness, occasionally comes up for air in earnestness, and sometimes lounges around in limpness. Overall, Lady Gaga has the type of on-screen magnetism that even when Patrizia is doing awful things, it’s with the type of villainous charisma where you know this character is capable of convincing some people that she did very bad things for very good reasons.

A campy performance isn’t necessarily a problem if the rest of the actors are on the same wavelength. Unfortunately, “House of Gucci” director Scott failed to bring a cohesive tone to this movie. Other “House of Gucci” actors give performances that are not campy at all but come across as if they truly believe this is a serious, artsy drama worthy of the highest accolades in the movie industry in every top-level category.

That’s the kind of performance that Adam Driver gives in “House of Gucci,” where he portrays Patrizia’s beleagured husband Maurizio Gucci. Maurizio met Patrizia when he was a law student and had no intention of joining the family business. Driver’s portrayal of Maurizio has the type of personality transformation that actors usually relish.

Maurizio goes from being mild-mannered and easily manipulated when he meets Patrizia while he was in law school to becoming a ruthless and recklessly spending businessman who casts Patrizia aside when he decides to move in with his mistress Paola Franchi (played by Camille Cottin) and divorce Patrizia. Their divorce became final in 1994.

“House of Gucci” makes it look like Maurizio abandoned not only Patrizia but essentially neglected their daughter Alessandra after the divorce. The three actresses who portray Alessandra in “House of Gucci” are Nicole Bani Sarkute (Alessandra at 3 years old); Mia McGovern Zaini (Alessandra at 9 years old); and Clelia Rossi Marcelli (teenage Alessandra).

In reality, Patrizia and Maurizio had two children together: daughters Alessandra (born in 1976) and Allegra, born in 1981. The erasure of Allegra from the movie is just one of the many details that “House of Gucci” gets wrong. The movie also changes the timeline of when Patrizia and Maurizio met and got married. In the beginning of the movie, Patrizia meets Maurizio in 1978. In real life, Patrizia and Maurizio met in 1970 and got married in 1972.

In the “House of Gucci” movie version of Patrizia’s life in 1978, she was working as an office manager for her stepfather’s truck transportation business in Milan, Italy. Patrizia and Maurizio meet at a nightclub party of one of his friends. Maurizio is standing behind the bar, and Patrizia mistakes him for the bartender, so she asks him to fix her a drink. Maurizio thinks that she’s confident and sexy. He tells her that she reminds him of Elizabeth Taylor.

Patrizia seems much more interested in Maurizio when he mentions that his last name is Gucci. Patrizia asks Maurizio if he wants to dance. He says no. The scene then cuts to Patrizia and Maurizio dancing together on the dance floor. Patrizia’s persuasive personality sets the tone for much of their relationship.

It seems like the “House of Gucci” filmmakers decided to change this couple’s courtship to take place in the late 1970s solely for the purpose of having disco music in the movie’s scenes that depict the early years of their relationship. After all, Lady Gaga looks better twirling or slow dancing on a 1978 dance floor where there’s a disco ball and Studio 54-type of partiers, instead of a scene at a 1970 party that would probably have to be staged with a bunch of rich-looking hippies.

Therefore, the “House of Gucci” soundtrack serves up its share of disco music, such as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls,” Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” and Donna Summer’s “On the Radio.” Later, when the movie’s timeline goes into the 1980s, the soundtrack features songs such as the Eurythmics hits “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “Here Comes the Rain Again.” The soundtrack songs often blare in “House of Gucci” in music-video-styled sequences that further cheapen the look of the movie.

The first sign that Patrizia is willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants is when she stalks Maurizio on campus at his law school. She follows him into a library and pretends to “coincidentally” run into him again. This scene is like something right out of a Lifetime movie. Maurizio has no idea that he’s being targeted, so he goes along with Patrizia’s seduction and is eventually convinced that their relationship is true love.

Irons gives an understated and believable performance as Rodolfo Gucci, Maurizio’s widower father, who is the only Gucci family member who holds on to his dignity in this movie. Rodolfo is immediately suspicious of Patrizia and her intentions for his only child. Rodolfo doesn’t come right out and use the words “gold digger” when he warns Maurizio not to marry Patrizia, but Rodolfo expresses his concerns that Patrizia is not a woman of substance and that she seems to be latching on to Maurizio because of the Gucci family fortune.

Even though Rodolfo vehemently disapproves of Patrizia, it turns out that Rodolfo and Patrizia actually agree on something: They both think that Maurizio should go into the Gucci family business. However, Maurizio’s refusal to follow his father’s wishes leads to him being estranged from Rodolfo for a while.

Maurizio is kicked out of the family home and cut off from his family’s financial support. With nowhere else to go, Maurizio moves in with Patrizia and her parents. Maurizio gets a job working for Patrizia’s stepfather Fernando (played by Vincent Riotta), who’s depicted in the movie as someone who engages in shady business practices.

To put an emphasis on how much Maurizio is estranged from his former life, when Patrizia and Maurizio get married in a church, the movie makes a point of showing that the pews on the bride’s side of the aisle are filled with her family members and friends, while the pews on the groom’s side of the aisle are almost empty. George Michael’s 1987 song “Faith” is played in the movie’s soundtrack after Patrizia and Maurizio exchange vows and walk happily out of the church. This soundtrack choice is an example of more of the movie’s carelessness with details, because the wedding took place years before “Faith” was released and before Michael was even a pop star.

Meanwhile, Rodolfo’s older brother Aldo Gucci (played by Al Pacino, hamming it up in the type of moody roles he’s been doing recently) doesn’t trust Aldo’s dimwitted son Paolo (played by Leto) to be in charge of any part of the family business. Aldo reaches out to Maurizio to come back to the family fold, but Maurizio still hesitates. Patrizia eventually joins forces with Aldo to persuade Maurizio to reconcile with his family and become part of the Gucci business empire. Maurizio eventually agrees, because at this point in his life, he still wants to please Patrizia. For a while, Patrizia and Maurizio made their home base in New York City during Maurizio’s rise in the Gucci business.

More scheming and manipulations ensue, exactly like how you expect them to play out in a movie that is plagued with clumsy clichés. Patrizia and Maurizio are not shown having any meaningful conversations that are not about his family, money or business. In other words, the movie falls short of convincing viewers that Maurizio and Patrizia had a deep emotional love that would make him blind to her gold-digging ways.

Maurizio and Patrizia have a passionate sex life in the beginning of their relationship, so the movie implies that lust, not love, was what really brought this couple together. The sex scenes in “House of Gucci” aren’t very sexy because they look more like parodies of soap-opera-styled sex. Items on tables are shoved aside and crash on the floor to make room on the table for whatever sex act occurs. Any vigorous thrusting doesn’t look erotic but looks more like someone having a robotic workout routine at a gym. And the orgasms sound very fake.

It’s not much of a surprise that “House of Gucci” is a very “straight male gaze” movie where only women’s nude private parts are shown, not men’s nude private parts. And speaking of people in “House of Gucci” in various states of undress, this movie has a semi-obsession with Patrizia being seen in bathtubs or saunas. Apparently, the filmmakers want viewers to think that life is supposed to be more luxurious if you take baths instead of showers.

The supporting characters in “House of Gucci” are either over-the-top ridiculous (Salma Hayek as Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma, a self-described psychic who befriends Patrizia), or bland as bland as can be (Jack Huston as Gucci financial advisor Domenico De Sole; Reeve Carney as fashion designer Tom Ford) with no intriguing personalities. Pina is a stereotypical con artist who gives vague predictions to Patrizia (“I see a big fortune coming your way”) and mystical-sounding advice, such as telling Patrizia that Patrizia should wear more red for “protection” and more green for “cleansing.”

The fashion industry is a mere backdrop to the betrayals and lies that usually originate from Patrizia and spread like a virus to other members of the Gucci family. For example, “House of Gucci” wastes an opportunity to give a fascinating insider’s look at the Gucci empire. Instead, the movie gives trite portrayals of the massive reinvention that the Gucci brand underwent from the 1970s to the 1990s. The movie serves up a fast-food version of what happened on the business side of the Gucci story.

“House of Gucci” unrealistically makes it look like it was only Patrizia who had the business sense to tell the family in the 1980s that it was devaluing the Gucci name by licensing the brand to cheap-quality merchandise, and that they needed to go back to Gucci being synonymous with luxury. The Gucci brand was then repositioned as “hip/trendy” (not old-fashioned) luxury. For all of her supposed business skills, Patrizia isn’t actually showing doing any real work as a so-called Gucci powerhouse. According to this movie, all she seems to be good at doing is telling people what to do.

The “House of Gucci” role of fashion designer Ford, a native of Texas who is credited with helping further reinvent the Gucci brand in the 1990s, is literally a walk-on role: The most memorable things that he does in the movie is give the traditional end-of-show designer stroll on a runway after showing a collection, and when Ford reads a newspaper article that praises him, he walks out of the room to say that he can’t wait to call his mother.

At no point in the movie is anyone in the Gucci empire shown having a strong relationship with Ford, even though he was a driving force at Gucci, where he worked from 1990 to 2004, with most of those years spent as Gucci’s creative director. There are some hints that De Sole had his own agendas and ambitions, but the character is written in a completely boring and hollow way. Unless you’re a fashion aficionado who knows about De Sole and his further ascent in the Gucci empire, you might have a hard time remembering his name after watching this movie.

“House of Gucci” is also problematic in how it portrays women, because the three female characters with the most prominent speaking roles are either villains (Patrizia and Pina) or a mistress (Paola). Vogue magazine editorial executive Anna Wintour (played by Catherine Walker), actress Sophia Loren (played by Mãdãlina Ghenea) and Paolo’s wife Jenny Gucci (played by Florence Andrews) have meaningless cameos in “House of Gucci.” Even back in the 1970s to 1990s, when this movie takes place, women were so much more important in the fashion industry than what “House of Gucci” makes it look like.

Out of all the portrayals of the Gucci men in “House of Gucci,” Leto’s performance as Paolo is the flashiest one. Much of the performance’s standout qualities have to do with the top-notch prosthetics that Leto wears to make him look like a completely different person who is heavier and older than Leto’s real physical appearance. However, Leto does show some actor panache by having an amusing Italian accent, and he plays Paolo’s buffoon role to the hilt, bringing some intentional comedic moments.

Leto’s performance is only marred by some silly-looking scenes, such as when Paolo does an awkward dance of jubilation with Patrizia when she deceives aspiring fashion designer Paolo into thinking that his horrendous fashions are fabulous and worthy of being part of the Gucci brand. It’s the type of scene that looks like something Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd would’ve rejected for their Two Wild and Crazy Guys act on “Saturday Night Live.” Paolo’s words and actions get more cartoonish as the movie goes along. A low point is when Paolo urinates on a Gucci scarf in a fit of anger.

Unfortunately, the best performance efforts by the “House of Gucci” cast members can’t overcome the very cringeworthy screenplay that ruins this movie. In one scene, when Patrizia and Maurizio have an argument, she chokes up with tears and says: “I had no idea I married a monster.” He replies coldly, “You didn’t. You married a Gucci.” In another scene, Pina snarls at someone, “Don’t fuck this up, ’cause I’ll put a spell on you!” In another scene, Paolo says, “Never confuse shit with chocolate. They may look the same, but they’re very different. Trust me, I know!”

The Paolo character might want to warn people not to confuse defecation with chocolate, but viewers should be warned not to confuse “House of Gucci” with being a superb film. For a movie that’s supposed to be about a haute couture/luxury fashion brand, it wallows in the muck of cheap gimmicks, sloppy screenwriting and a lack of self-awareness about how horrendous the worst parts are. The end result is a tawdry mess. And you can’t erase the stink from that.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures will release “House of Gucci” in U.S. cinemas on November 24, 2021. “House of Gucci” is set for release on digital and VOD on February 1, 2022. The movie’s release date on Blu-ray and DVD is on February 22, 2022.

2021 Met Gala: Event Photos and Videos

September 13, 2021

The 52nd annual Costume Institute Gala, also known as the Met Gala, took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 13, 2021—18 months after the 51st annnual Met Gala was cancelled in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 edition of the Met Gala was the first to be held in September, since the Met Gala previously was held on the first Monday of every May. The event’s theme in 2021 was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” so guests were encouraged to dress in American-inspired fashions. The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. This year, the Met Gala was co-chaired by actor Timothée Chalamet, poet Amanda Gorman, singer Billie Eilish and tennis star Naomi Osaka. It was the first time that since Anna Wintour did not co-chair the event since she became Vogue editor-in-chief. Instead, she was an honorary chair with Tom Ford, and Instagram chief Adam Mosseri. Here are photo and video highlights from the event.

Gemma Chan at the 2021 Met Gala’s at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 13, 2021. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

HBO Max debuts streetwear fashion competition series ‘The Hype’

July 21, 2021

Marni Senofonte, Offset, and Bephie Burkett of “The Hype” (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

The following is a press release from HBO Max:

HBO Max has released the trailer and key art for “The Hype,” a streetwear competition series debuting Thursday, August 12, 2021, where fashion visionaries elevate their designs and entrepreneurial sense to avoid elimination while remaining authentic to their style. Produced by the Emmy®-winning team at Scout Productions, Speedy Morman hosts the eight-episode season, which will feature co-signers, including Grammy nominated recording artist and designer, Offset; creative director and founder of Bephies Beauty Supply,  Bephie Birkett; and Emmy® nominated costume designer and renowned stylist, Marni Senofonte. The panel of judges will critique the competing streetwear’s unique DNA, combining fashion, music, art and lifestyle to refine the idea of a “runway” and the balance between art and commerce. The series will also feature special guests including A$AP Ferg, Cardi B, Dapper Dan, and Wiz Khalifa.  

“The Hype” is produced by Scout Productions, the team behind the Max Original ballroom competition series “Legendary” and Emmy®-winning series “Queer Eye.” Scout’s David Collins, Rob Eric and Michael Williams developed the series with Emmy® winner Rachelle Mendez (“Undercover Boss,” “Leah Remini: Scientology & the Aftermath”). Collins, Eric and Williams will also executive produce with Mendez, Jay Brown and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith. Emmy® and Grammy®-winning producer Rikki Hughes (HBO Max’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Reunion Special”) will showrun and executive produce.

Nordstrom provides grant to the Trans Lifeline x FOLX Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Care Fund

May 17, 2021

The following is a press release from Nordstrom:

As part of Pride month, Nordstrom announced today it will be providing a grant to the Trans Lifeline x FOLX Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Care Fund, to support transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming individuals. For anyone struggling to access hormone care, this fund will underwrite their choice of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) care through FOLX, with 75% of funds reserved for Black and Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC)

Additionally, Trans Lifeline is the giveback partner for our BP. Be Proud brand with 10% of net sales being donated towards the peer support and crisis hotline, and microgrants providing financial resources directly to transgender people across the U.S. and Canada. Between these efforts, Nordstrom hopes to give $350,000 in support of the Transgender community.

“We’ve long believed that we’re all made better by the diversity that exists both within our communities and our workforce. Our values are centered on the notion of creating a place where every customer and employee is welcome, respected, appreciated and able to be their authentic selves,” said Farrell Redwine, senior vice president of human resources, Nordstrom, Inc. “This year, we are honored to partner with Trans Lifeline to extend those values and support the transgender community in accessing resources that make their lives easier.” 

“Trans Lifeline is thrilled to be partnering with Nordstrom to invest in the transformational power of peer support and redistribute resources to trans people,” said Bri Barnett, director of advancement, Trans Lifeline. “This historic gift will be instrumental in helping us answer over 25,000 calls this year and it will also provide 100 people with a year of life saving medical care.”

Nordstrom will also be highlighting brands founded or designed by the LGBTQ+ community. It is Nordstrom’s priority to support the community year-round by offering a dynamic assortment of products and experiences, including:

The BP. Be Proud collection features a range of silhouettes for people of all gender expressions. The lead designer for this collection is queer and we engaged different members from the LGBTQ+ community to provide insight on what they see as missing from the current apparel landscape. Sizes range from XXS – 4X and prices range from $25 – $59.

MANTL, co-founded by Karamo Brown – the best-selling author, producer and Emmy-nominated host on Netflix’s Emmy-winning series Queer Eye – will be available at Nordstrom. Karamo created the skincare line for both the face and scalp after going through his own balding journey, with the mission to empower the bald and balding to live their fullest lives comfortably and confidently.

Packaged in pink and conceived beyond the gender binary, Boy Smells makes loving your identity a daily ritual. Co-founders and real-life partners Matthew Herman and David Kien created Boy Smells as items they’d want to use on a daily basis and products that were fluid and essential.

Leeway Home launched in March 2021 and is launching on Nordstrom.com in May. Leeway Home celebrates everyone at every stage of life and offers products to fit them. Founded by partners Sam Dumas and Lyle Maltz, they’ve leaned into the way real people live and offer everything you need to set your table your way. 

Leeway Home (Photo courtesy of Nordstrom)

Nordstrom is kicking off an ongoing partnership with The Phluid Project with an exclusive Pride capsule featuring gender-free accessories including hats, bags and socks starting at $12, launching at the end of May. The Phluid Project launched in March 2018 in NYC and online as a gender free fashion brand and is known for breaking the binary. The Phluid Project joined a movement of humans committed to challenging the ethos of traditions of the past that inhibit freedom and self-expression.

Year-round, Nordstrom provides grants and funding to LGBTQIA+ organizations like the Hetrick-Martin InstitutePride Foundation God’s Love We DeliverHuman Rights Campaign and more.

Nordstrom’s celebration of Pride Month and support of the LGBTQIA+ community are a part of the company’s broader efforts and commitments to diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIB). The company recently set goals to guide its DIB efforts and reports annually on its progress. To learn more about the company’s DIB strategy, goals and programs visit Nordstrom.com.

ABOUT NORDSTROM

Nordstrom, Inc. is a leading fashion retailer based in the U.S. Founded in 1901 as a shoe store in Seattle, today Nordstrom operates 357 stores in the U.S. and Canada, including 100 Nordstrom stores; 248 Nordstrom Rack stores; two clearances stores; and seven Nordstrom Local service hubs. Additionally, customers are served online through Nordstrom.comNordstrom.caNordstromRack.com and TrunkClub.com. Nordstrom, Inc.’s common stock is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol JWN.

ABOUT TRANS LIFELINE

Trans Lifeline connects trans people to the community, resources, and support they need to survive and thrive–building a resilient trans community through trans-led direct services. Trans Lifeline’s Hotline provides peer support and crisis support, and their Microgrants program provides low-barrier grants to trans people in need of legal name changes and updated IDs, HRT, and funds for incarcerated trans people.

ABOUT FOLX HEALTH

Launched in December 2020, FOLX Health is an LGBTQIA+ healthcare service provider built to serve the community’s specific needs. The company delivers a new standard of healthcare that’s built to serve LGBTQIA+ people, rather than treat them as problems to be solved. For more information, visit folxhealth.com

Review: ‘Subjects of Desire,’ starring Ryann Richardson, Alex Germain, Seraiah Nicole, India.Arie, Amanda Parris, Cheryl Thompson and Carolyn West

April 29, 2021

by Carla Hay

Contestants in the 2018 Miss Black America Pageant, including Alex Germain (far left) and Ryann Richardson (far right), in “Subjects of Desire” (Photo courtesy of Hungry Eyes Media)

“Subjects of Desire”

Directed by Jennifer Holness

Culture Representation: Taking place in various parts of the U.S. and Canada, the documentary film “Subjects of Desire” features a predominantly black group of women discussing the intersection between beauty standards and what it means to be a black female.

Culture Clash: Several people in the documentary say that black beauty characteristics are often co-opted when white people benefit from cultural appropriation, but the same characteristics are used against black people, who are subjected to racist ideas of what is considered “beautiful.”

Culture Audience: “Subjects of Desire” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in an impactful and honest examination of how racism plays a role in how black females are perceived in American society.

Contestants in the 2018 Miss Black America Pageant, including Ryann Richardson (second from left) and Alex Germain (front row, in pink), in “Subjects of Desire” (Photo courtesy of Hungry Eyes Media)

The empowering statement “Black is beautiful” first emerged in the 1950s. And since then, a lot has occurred in civil rights for black people in the United States. However, the insightful documentary “Subjects of Desire” shows how black women feel about the still-prevalent and damaging racism in how black females are treated and perceived by beauty standards in American society. Astutely directed by Jennifer Holness and narrated by Garvia Bailey, “Subjects of Desire” had its world premiere at the 2021 South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.

Grammy-winning singer India.Arie talks about the impact of her breakthrough 2001 hit “Video,” a song about how she accepts how she looks, even though she’s doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of a light-skinned video vixen. “That song taught me a lot about people. The whole time I was writing it, I thought, ‘This is how I want people to understand who I am.’ And then [the song] came out, and people were telling me, ‘That’s how I felt!'”

“Subjects of Desire” has the 2018 Miss Black America beauty pageant (the event’s 50th anniversary) as a central focus of the documentary. The movie includes footage of behind-the-scenes pageant preparations, as well as interviews with several of the contestants. However, the documentary also gives a cultural overview of how systemic racism affects people’s perceptions of what is considered “beautiful” or “desirable” in society. Only black women are interviewed in this documentary, so that their voices are heard and not drowned out by people who haven’t lived the experience of being a black woman their entire lives.

The only exception is an interviewee who has lived her life as a white woman and as a black woman: controversial activist/artist Rachel Dolezal, a woman who is biologically white/Caucasian, but she began self-identifying as black around the time that she wanted to have Afro-centric jobs. Dolezal, who was born in 1977, used to be the president of Spokane, Washington’s chapter of the NAACP, and she taught Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. The controversy over her race made headlines when she admitted in 2015 that she was born to white parents and lived as a white female until sometime in the mid-2000s, when she began living as a black woman.

In 2002, when Dolezal was still living as a white woman, she unsuccessfully sued her alma mater Howard University (a historically black-majority school) for racial discrimination, by claiming the university denied her a job, a scholarship and other opportunities as a white woman. Dolezal doesn’t talk about that lawsuit in the “Subjects of Desire” documentary, but she does complain about being misunderstood, and she compares her situation to experiences of transgender people. “I get a lot of hate from different groups,” she claims. “I cancelled my white privilege.”

Dolezal’s presence in this documentary doesn’t take up too much screen time (only about 10 to 15 minutes in a 103-minute film), and she doesn’t say anything new that she didn’t already say in her 2018 Netflix documentary “The Rachel Divide.” Dolezal seems to have been included in “Subjects of Desire” as part of a necessary but uncomfortable topic discussed in the documentary: White people co-opting aspects of black beauty culture for their own self-benefit. Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are frequently mentioned in the documentary as celebrities who are guilty of excessive appropriation of black culture to get attention for themselves.

“Subjects of Desire” does an excellent job of explaining the current dichotomy in beauty standards for women in American society, where many white women try to look more “black” and many women of color try to look more “white.” On the one hand, physical characteristics that are usually attributed to women of African biological heritage—darker skin, fuller lips, a more pronounced rear end—have become desired characteristics in how numerous women alter their physical appearance through tanning, lip fillers and butt implants.

African-styled braids or Afro-Caribbean-styled dreadlocks are other Afro-centric beauty characteristics that have been co-opted by people who are not of African descent. Even the hair perms that were popular in the 1970s were based on a desire to have hair resembling black people’s natural hair. It’s pointed out in the documentary that the rise of the Black Power movement in the late 1960 and 1970s coincided with the rise in popularity of these hairstyles until they became more accepted in mainstream society.

On the other hand, several people in the documentary point out that black women and women of color are often treated better based on how close to “white” they can look. Skin bleaching, having straight hair (through chemical treatments or hair weaves), having blonde hair and wearing blue or green contact lenses are all mentioned as examples of how black women alter their appearances to try to look more “white.” The natural hair movement (the practice of black people wearing their hair unprocessed and not straightened) has popularity that goes up and goes down. But what hasn’t changed is the fact that how a black woman wears her hair can determine what types of employment or other opportunities that she gets or is prevented from having.

“Subjects of Desire” has footage of a group of black teenage girls (of various skin tones) who discuss how beauty standards, particularly when it comes to hair and skin color, affect their self-esteem and any sense of power that they might have. The girls give some real and raw insight into how acutely aware they are that how they wear their hair will affect how a lot of people will treat them or perceive them. And the “white preference” bias doesn’t just come from white people. It also comes from many people of color who’ve internalized the racist belief that anything to do with non-white culture is inferior to white culture.

Although there are people of many different races, beauty standards in the United States are often seen in terms of black and white. Broadcaster/author Amanda Parris explains: “Because of racism, that [beauty] binary also included the binary of black and white. And that led to black women being on one end, and white women being on the other.”

Because the Internet has provided larger mass communication than ever before, today’s young people have grown up more accustomed to cultural differences than previous generations. And therefore, society’s views of beauty are more intertwined with race and political issues than ever before. The rise of Instagram, YouTube and other social media—where everyday people can become their own influencers instead of leaving everything to the usual elite gatekeepers—have also caused a massive shift in who gets to define what is “beautiful.”

“Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal” author Heather Widdows, a professor of global ethics at the University of Birmingham in Alabama, comments on this cultural change: “Appearances were becoming more and more dominant in young women’s lives. And this was an issue of justice too. Beauty has become an ethical ideal.”

However, old stereotypes remain. Dr. Cheryl Thompson, an assistant professor at Ryerson University and the author of “Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture,” has this to say about the racism that still exists in beauty ideals: “In beauty culture, black has to be minimized as much as possible, or exoticized in a certain way, so that you really see the difference.”

Thompson says that this racism has been taught for generations because of the United States’ shameful history with slavery and how that has affected people’s perceptions of white women and black women: “Getting married was kind of difficult [for black people] during slavery, so we’re already seen as ‘immoral’ and not holding the sanctity of womanhood … The history of black womanhood and white womanhood, it is so overlayed with labor and issues of purity and domesticity.”

Lighter-skinned black women in the slavery era were more likely to be chosen to work in the home, while darker-skinned black women were more likely to do the hardest labor outside. The repercussions of white slave owners enacting this favoritism based on skin color (also known as colorism) can still be seen and experienced today. Several people who comment in the documentary point out that black people who rise to the very top levels of high-profile professions tend to be lighter-skinned than the average black person.

Beauty pageants have come a long way in being more diverse and inclusive, when it comes to race. Black women weren’t allowed to compete in the Miss America Pageant until the 1950s, but the pageant didn’t have its first black contestant until 1971. It’s why the Miss Black America Pageant (founded by the black entrepreneur J. Morris Anderson) launched in 1968.

“Subjects of Desire” mentions that 2018 was a historic year for black women in beauty pageants: For the first time in beauty pageant history, Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA were all black females in the same year. However, the Miss Black America contestants interviewed in the documentary say that these breakthroughs don’t mean that they do not experience the same racist prejudices inside and outside the beauty pageant circuit.

Miss Black America 2018 winner Ryann Richardson says that she learned early on in her beauty pageant experiences to put on makeup that would tone down her African-looking ethnicity, such as contouring her nose to look thinner. She makes no apologies for it and explains: “It was a means to an end. I never believed that I needed to look that way to be beautiful, to be Ryann, to be great to be excellent. But I did it to win.”

Richardson acknowledges that even though some judges still might prefer black contestants to look as “white” as possible, black women in beauty pageants are now given more freedom to wear their hair in different ways, compared to the hair restrictions that black beauty contestants had to adhere to in previous generations. Richardson adds, “I am a product of what Miss Black America inspired [by launching] in 1968, so it’s really interesting and really cool to think that 50 years later … I could be part of that Miss Black America legacy.”

Other contestants from the Miss Black America 2018 pageant who are interviewed in the documentary are first runner-up Alex Germain and second runner-up Seraiah Nicole. Just like the other contestants interviewed in the documentary, they both say that the best way a contestant can approach being part of a beauty pageant isn’t to see who’s judged as more “beautiful” than others but to build confidence and appreciation for an individual’s unique qualities. A beauty pageant is supposed to be a learning experience on how contestants, whether they win or lose, want to present themselves to the world.

Germain reveals another motivation for her to enter the world of beauty pageants: “I needed to feel as though I mattered and my voice mattered.” She remembers experiencing racist bullying when she was a child, when some boys from her school lined up and made monkey noises at her.

Germain comments on these painful memories and any racism she still experiences: “I had to be strong in myself and let those voices go … There are times when it still gets to me. You have to be your biggest motivator.” She adds, “You see the shifts in the North American beauty standards, but on the backs of black women.”

Like it or not, perceptions of beauty also spill over into how people judge other people’s personalities and intelligence without even knowing them. For black women, the stereotyping goes back to slavery and is often perpetuated by images in the media and in entertainment. “Subjects of Beauty” mentions three main stereotypes of black women, with video clips and photos used as examples:

  • Mammy: Nurturing, subservient (usually to white people) and sometimes sassy. In entertainment and media portrayals, she is usually a maid, housekeeper, nanny or some other type of servant.
  • Jezebel: Sexually promiscuous, usually dressed in revealing clothing and obsessed with being perceived as sexy. In entertainment and media portrayals, she is often a singer, actress, model, stripper, prostitute or other sex worker.
  • Sapphire: Quick-tempered, usually hostile and often a bully. In entertainment and media portrayals, she is the “angry black woman.”

Dr. Carolyn West, a psychology professor at the University of Washington, comments on these stereotypical images that don’t apply to all black women: “The Mammy, Jezebel and Sapphire stereotypes are deeply rooted in history. They haven’t gone away. They’ve just changed and morphed into different stereotypes.”

In “Subjects of Desire,” it’s pointed out that the Mammy physical stereotype (as illustrated by the controversial Aunt Jemima logo) is historically inaccurate because photos from the slavery days show that the house servants who helped take care of the kids were usually young and thin, not middle-aged and overweight. “Subjects of Desire” director Holness wrote the script used in the movie’s voiceover narration, which mentions that the Aunt Jemima brand “wasn’t just selling pancakes. They were selling the Mammy fantasy.”

The voiceover continues: “The de-eroticization of Mammy meant the white wife and, by extension, the white family [were safe]. But in truth, the Mammy was re-imagined to hide an extensive history of sexual violence and rape against black women.” The Jezebel stereotype was created to justify this sexual violence. The documentary mentions that it wasn’t until 1959, with the Betty Jean Owens case in Florida, that white men in the U.S. were given life sentences for raping a black woman.

And the Sapphire stereotype comes with a whole other set of issues. If a black woman is confident and asserts herself in the same way that men are frequently allowed to do, she is labeled “difficult.” Men can yell and scream on the job, but if a black woman does the same thing, she’s labeled a “problem” and is more likely to be fired because of it.

Simply put: The “angry black woman” stereotype has worse repercussions than the “angry white man” stereotype. In the documentary, black actress/singer Jully Black recalls the heated debate that she and white TV journalist Jeanne Beker had during the 2018 Canada Reads event (which is televised in Canada) as an example. In a clip shown in the documentary, Beker was quick to try to label her as an angry black woman on the attack, even though Black was being calm, articulate and reasonable.

“Subjects of Desire” asserts that white women also benefit from white supremacy when it comes to what is considered “attractive” in American society. A woman’s physical appearance can determine how she’s perceived and how much agency she has in public settings. White women can cry on the job, but if a black woman does it, she’s more likely to be labeled “out of control” and “unprofessional.” Crimes against white females are given higher priorities in media coverage than crimes against non-white females. And there’s no need to rehash obvious statistics of how black women are rarely allowed to advance to the top levels of an organization.

And that’s why representation matters. When people see only one race dominating as the gatekeepers of an industry, it creates a vicious cycle of racism where people think other races are not capable of doing just as well or better than the dominant race. And when it comes to female beauty standards, the general consensus in “Subjects of Desire” is that there’s been some progress in racial representation in front of the camera, but not enough progress behind the camera with people who make the major business decisions.

Thompson comments, “There’s a quote by [American feminist] Peggy Phelan: ‘If representation equaled power, then white women should feel like the most powerful people in the world, because that is actually the [beauty] image you see the most. White women are everywhere.'”

India.Arie says, “We all feel insecure about something. We live in this world that tells us that somebody is perfect, and you’re not.” The documentary mentions the Black Girl Magic movement, created by CaShawn Thompson in 2013, as a big leap forward in celebrating black female beauty. Black Girl Magic includes mentorships and other programs intended to help black females embrace themselves for who they are and not believe the racist lies that people are superior or inferior because of skin color.

If there’s any takeaway from this documentary, it’s that real change can only come when people push for it and stop supporting the people and practices that demean one race in order to elevate another. Cosmetics, hairstyles, clothing and plastic surgery are all personal choices. However, they shouldn’t come at the expense of people feeling devalued because of their race.

Germain says in the documentary: “The eyelashes, the lipstick—that doesn’t mean anything. I think when people see a pretty girl, you think they don’t have issues. But when you don’t love yourself, you don’t love anything.” And that’s why self-respect and healthy self-care are probably the biggest beauty assets of all.

BET Her launches ‘Urban Beauty TV’ series

March 26, 2021

The following is a press release from BET:

(Photo courtesy of BET Her)

Urban Beauty TV, the first syndicated show dedicated to health, beauty, and style told through a multicultural lens, premieres Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 10 PM EST exclusively on BET Her. Hosted by model and media personality Midori Amae, Urban Beauty TV shines a spotlight on some of our culture’s most innovative style architects as they share the stories behind building their successful brands.

R&B superstar Monica appears in the premiere episode alongside Michelle Rodriguez, Founder/CEO of Mielle Organics; Tahirah Carter, Founder/Owner of The Faded Beauty & Barber; Brianna Walton and Ashley Williams, Noire Beautè; Dr. Nia Banks, plastic surgeon; and Ms. Bling, Owner/Designer of MsBlingBling.com. Each week viewers will discover the latest in beauty products, trends, and routines from leading experts and pop culture staples including Yandy Smith-Harris, Serayah, Deborah Cox, and more.

ABOUT BET
BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

BET partners with Vaseline for Equitable Skincare for All video series

March 18, 2021

Tai Beauchamp (Photo courtesy of Vaseline)

On March 24, 2021 at 3 pm EST, BET (a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc., NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), the nation’s leading provider of quality content for African American audiences, and Vaseline® are partnering to host a powerful Zoom discussion for consumers featuring award-winning director and actress Regina King around skincare equity for skin of color.   

“Over the past year, we’ve seen the challenges that people of color face in achieving equitable health outcomes and unfortunately, the dermatology practice is no different,” said Louis Carr, President of Media Sales at BET. “Through our partnership with Vaseline®, we’re committed to increasing awareness of the importance of health through skincare. We’re honored to have the opportunity to partner with and lend our platform to amplify Vaseline’s Equitable Skincare for All campaign.”

The Equitable Skincare for All discussion will highlight the healthcare and skincare inequities that negatively impact Black and Brown communities, the importance of bringing true equality to care for skin of color and how individuals can make a difference.

Skin health needs for Black and Brown communities continue to be underserved and without access to proper care comes the likelihood of misdiagnosis or no diagnosis leaving them at risk for long-term consequences.This is in part the case as nearly half of dermatologists say they were not adequately trained to treat skin of color. Representation is also an issue in dermatological care with only 3% of practicing dermatologists identified as Black and 4.2% identified as Latinx.1

For over 150 years, Vaseline® has been committed to helping heal dry skin everywhere, but this goal can’t be achieved if part of the Vaseline® community doesn’t have access to equitable care. That’s why Vaseline® has teamed up with BET to bring awareness, education and drive meaningful discussions around healthcare and skincare inequities that negatively impact Black and Brown communities.

Hosted by veteran beauty expert Tai Beauchamp, Vaseline® spokesperson Regina King along with other guests such as prominent doctors, experts and skincare enthusiasts, will share their experiences with inequity, current inequities Black and Brown people face, the consequences of these disparities and the importance of properly treating Black and Brown skin.

“As a heritage brand, our goal is to achieve equitable skincare for all,” says Kevin Tolson, Senior Brand Manager for Vaseline. “As part of that larger commitment, this event not only seeks to highlight the problem, but also arm Black and Brown communities with effective tools and immediate solutions to work toward skin equity now and for the next generation.”

To expand this important conversation, BET and Vaseline® have worked together to create a video content series to further educate people around the issues of skincare inequity in addition to the Zoom event. The first video of the Equitable Skincare for All series will air on BET.com, and across BET’s social handles on March 18, 2021.

BET seeks to leverage its position as a leading provider of entertaining, engaging and empowering content and its partnership with Vaseline® to contribute meaningfully to the current conversation about racial equity in healthcare, while equipping our audiences with tools and resources to take control of their own health.

To register, consumers can visit BET.com and submit their questions ahead of the event using the #Skincareforall hashtag. 

About BET

BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in 125 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

About Unilever North America

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 2.5 billion people every day. We have 149,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of our footprint is in developing and emerging markets. We have around 400 brands found in homes all over the world. In the United States and Canada, the portfolio includes iconic brand such as: Dove, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Magnum, Axe, Ben & Jerry’s, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, St. Ives, Suave, TRESemmé, and Vaseline.

Our vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and to demonstrate how our purpose-led, future-fit business model drives superior performance. We have a long tradition of being a progressive, responsible business. It goes back to the days of our founder William Lever, who launched the world’s first purposeful brand, Sunlight Soap, more than 100 years ago, and it’s at the heart of how we run our company today.

The Unilever Compass, our sustainable business strategy, is set out to help us deliver superior performance and drive sustainable and responsible growth, while:

  • improving the health of the planet; 
  • improving people’s health, confidence and wellbeing; and 
  • contributing to a fairer and more socially inclusive world.

While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognized in 2020 as a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and – for the tenth-consecutive year – as the top ranked company in the 2020 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey.

For more information on Unilever U.S. and its brands visit: www.unileverusa.com

For more information on Unilever Canada and its brands visit: www.unilever.ca

Canada Goose launches exclusive spring capsule collection with first guest designer: Angel Chen

January 15, 2021

Left to right: Convertible Snow Mantra for Angel Chen and Cropped Snow Mantra for Angel Chen (Photo courtesy of Canada Goose)

The following is a press release from Canada Goose:

Today, Canada Goose launches its first-ever capsule collection, created in partnership with guest designer, Angel Chen. With her experimental approach to design and color, coupled with a fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics, Angel Chen is one of fashion’s brightest young talents. Through her design language, she brings Eastern elements and traditional techniques to life, creating a contemporary collection without boundaries between countries, age and gender. This capsule collection combines the traditional with the modern, highlighting functional expertise and unique style. With digital-first innovation at the forefront, Canada Goose and Angel Chen are bringing this campaign to life through both augmented reality (AR) and Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI).

“Over the years, we have worked with some of the world’s best. This season, we introduce a new type of partnership with Angel Chen, our first ever guest designer,” said Woody Blackford, EVP Product at Canada Goose. “In our approach, we look for unique and creative perspectives, drawing inspiration from distinct aesthetics that challenge us. Our brief is to reinterpret and reimagine our core design DNA through their eyes. Angel has done just that, putting her signature spin on our most iconic products.”

Cropped Snow Mantra for Angel Chen in Plum Blossom (Photo courtesy of Canada Goose)

Initially revealed during Shanghai Fashion Week in October 2020, the exclusive 13-piece collection for women and men follows the transformational journey of the garments from winter in Canada to spring in China, showcasing the evolution of Canada Goose’s most iconic parka: the Snow Mantra. Putting her signature twist on the brand’s most comprehensive offering in outerwear, Angel Chen creates two distinctive pieces within the collection: the Women’s Cropped Snow Mantra Parka for Angel Chen ($1,595 CAD), which can be worn upside down for a discerning look and the Men’s Convertible Snow Mantra for Angel Chen ($1,795 CAD), which can be worn four ways by experimenting with the removable lower half, sleeves and hood. This collection leverages Canada Goose fabrics and technologies, which were developed for the harshest weather conditions and proven in the field for decades by scientists, arctic workers and explorers. Angel Chen interprets the brand through her unique perspective, not only through modern silhouettes but also with vibrant colours. Unique colourways, including a bold new red and two new shades of pink, are included to further honour Angel’s culture and heritage.

 “Canada Goose is iconic, the reference for outerwear in the world, and it was so exciting to work with their heritage pieces, reinterpreting them through a new lens for this collection,” said designer Angel Chen. “Visiting the brand’s headquarters and touring their archival collections was so inspiring! This collection represents the transition from winter in Canada to spring in China. It is a dream watching it come to life through my eyes on the runway to seeing it uniquely styled in the city.”

Convertible Snow Mantra for Angel Chen in Fortune Red and Northstar White (Photo courtesy of Canada Goose)

This collection further extends into Lightweight Down, Windwear, Rainwear, Knitwear and Accessories categories. The women’s collection features the Chaka Vest ($795 CAD), the Mordaga Rain Jacket ($1,295 CAD), the HyBridge Knit Jacket ($895 CAD), the Logo Sweater ($595 CAD) and the Serdang Down Jacket ($895 CAD). It also includes the versatile Crossbody Bag ($595 CAD), which easily converts to a backpack and the Mini Crossbody Bag ($350 CAD). The men’s pieces feature the Arxan Bomber Jacket ($995 CAD), the Mogan Rain Jacket ($1,495 CAD), the HyBridge Knit Hoody ($950 CAD) and the Logo Sweater ($695 CAD). The garments are designed to be layered, mixed, matched and transformed for a truly distinctive style, as well as provides custom warmth and protection no matter the conditions.

The Angel Chen for Canada Goose in-store visual display includes design elements that bring HUMANATURE to life; Canada Goose’s purpose platform, which unites the brand’s sustainability and values-based initiatives. The majority of materials used in these displays are recycled, recyclable or biodegradable. The brand is also incorporating an augmented reality (AR) experience to its store windows globally. Starting at the end of January, guests can unlock natural elements, such as blooming flowers by pointing their camera at a QR code on the window. This AR experience will also unveil product features and buying options through hotspots available on the screen.

The Angel Chen for Canada Goose Spring 2021 collection is available starting January 15, 2021 at select Canada Goose retail stores and select wholesale partners, canadagoose.com, TMall and WeChat.

About Canada Goose
Founded in 1957 in a small warehouse in Toronto, Canada, Canada Goose (NYSE:GOOS, TSX:GOOS) is a lifestyle brand and a leading manufacturer of performance luxury apparel. Every collection is informed by the rugged demands of the Arctic, ensuring a legacy of functionality is embedded in every product from parkas and rainwear to apparel and accessories. Canada Goose is inspired by relentless innovation and uncompromised craftsmanship, recognized as a leader for its Made in Canada commitment. In 2020, Canada Goose announced HUMANATURE, its purpose platform that unites its sustainability and values-based initiatives, reinforcing its commitment to keep the planet cold and the people on it warm. Canada Goose also owns Baffin, a Canadian designer and manufacturer of performance outdoor and industrial footwear. Visit www.canadagoose.com for more information.

About Angel Chen
Angel Chen is a Chinese designer whose colourful approach to fashion coupled with the brand’s core-concept of fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics, has made her one of the country’s brightest young talents, stocked internationally at 80+ retailors. Chen is part of a new wave of young Chinese designers making an impact locally and globally.

Pierre Cardin dead at 98; French designer was a pioneer in 20th century fashion

December 29, 2020

by Daphne Sorenson

Pierre Cardin (Photo courtesy of Utopia)

Pierre Cardin, a pioneering French fashion designer of the 20th century, died on December 29, 2020, at the age of 98. According to Associated Press: “The French Academy of Fine Arts announced Cardin’s death in a tweet. He had been among its illustrious members since 1992. The academy did not give a cause of death or say where the designer died.”

Born on July 7, 1922 as Pietro Costante Cardin in San Biagio di Callalta, Italy (near Venice), he moved to France with his family when he was a child. While living in France, he began going by the first name Pierre.

At the age of 14, he began is fashion career as a clothier apprentice. He moved to Paris in 1945 and worked for fashion house of Paquin, as well as for designer Elsa Schiaparelli. In 1947, he became head of Christian Dior’s tailleure atelier. And by 1950, Cardin began his own fashion house.

Cardin was best known pioneering “mod” fashion of the late 1960s and the 1970s. One of his best known creations was to combine the concepts of miniskirts and maxiskirts by having short dresses or skirts with cascading designs. He was also one of the first fashion designers to license his brands worldwide for not just clothes and accessories but also fragrances, luggage and other household items. At the time of his death, Cardin’s company (which remained privately owned) still held hundreds of licenses, although he had sold off many licenses over the years.

In his personal life, Cardin never married or had children. He reportedly had affairs mostly with men and sometimes with women. His most high-profile relationship was a four-year romance in the 1960s with French actress Jeanne Moreau.

Cardin was the subject of the documentary “House of Cardin” (directed by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes), which made the rounds at several film festivals in 2019 and was released in several countries (including the U.S.) in 2020. It is unknown at this point who will inherit Cardin’s vast fortune and how this inheritance will affect the leadership of his company.

HBO Max reveals first trailer and premiere date for ‘Stylish With Jenna Lyons’

November 19, 2020

Sarah Clary, Jenna Lyons and Kyle DeFord of “Stylish With Jenna Lyons” (Photo courtesy of HBO Max)

The following is a press release from HBO Max:

HBO Max debuted today the official trailer and key art for the new Max Original “Stylish with Jenna Lyons.” All eight episodes will be available to stream on Thursday, December 3, 2020 on HBO Max. 
 
As president of J. Crew, Jenna Lyons became “the woman who dresses America”—a formidable business and style icon. Now, Jenna is experiencing a rebirth, and her reputation is on the line. Like many others in 2020, her lofty plans required some adapting and rethinking. From this emerged her very first beauty line, LoveSeen; a ground-up build of a boutique hotel in the Abaco Islands; and several soon-to-be-revealed creative surprises. In a refreshing mix of elevated documentary and formatted competition, “Stylish with Jenna Lyons” follows Jenna as she tackles design projects that will help define her future business. These include renovating her friend’s Brooklyn townhouse, hosting mobile fashion makeovers, designing her new office, and launching LoveSeen—her fresh take on false lashes. Along the way, she’ll test a diverse group of creative associates, all vying for a life-changing spot in Jenna’s growing team. Jenna’s staff, including her chief-of-staff Kyle DeFord and stylist Sarah Clary, join her in this ambitious new venture, delivering a masterclass in taste, design, and fashion with every episode.

To complement the series launch, Jenna is also creating a virtual pop-up shop featuring covetable, handpicked home, beauty, and fashion goods from local makers that highlight Jenna’s discerning point of view. The pop-up shop will be open from November 26 through December 18, 2020. More information can be found on @popupish’s Instagram.

“Stylish with Jenna Lyons” is produced by Our House Media with OHM’s Simon Lloyd and Matt Hanna serving as executive producers, along with Lyons, David Tibballs, Paul Storck, Hillary Olson, Jae Goodman, and Michael Bloom for Bongo Pictures.