Archive for the ‘Beauty Refined’ Category

Dido Elizabeth Belle

Posted by Winifred on June 5th, 2014  •  No Comments »


We had waited patiently, knowing that what was in our minds would one day come to fruition. We had waited patiently for nowhere had we ever been portrayed in the way we know us to be. Not any of our models, actresses, icons, or role-models anywhere, had ever been captured the way we knew they should have been. None had ever received the treatment, that of adoration, that which captivates, that which brings to life the delicate and rare flower that resides within. Of course there had been the ordinary. Patronizing and often condescending portrayals of sexiness, glamour, power, strength, some better than others. But we had never been able to find the words for what was missing, until they were said by Amma Asante, Director of the film Belle.


Asante said, “I wanted to put a woman of colour on screen with visual value, with mental and psychological value, and not have anything that would take away from that…” Value, mental and psychological, is what Asante gave us in her film about Dido Elizabeth Belle. Greater still, in creating Belle, Asante also gave us, long suffering women of color who have been consistently disappointed in our portrayal, a portrait of ladylike elegance, refinement and grace heretofore unseen in cinema or mediums of any kind. She gave to us an era, a time and place – eighteenth century aristocracy – from which we had always presumed to have been excluded. This may be the next important event to have occurred for us since Michelle Obama became First Lady.


Belle is a gorgeous film with all the storybook details of Jane Austen, except it tells the more important story of the British slave trade, by way of the Zong Massacre trial. The trial was presided over by Lord Mansfield, in which 142 diseased African slaves were thrown off a ship, the Zong, in 1781 – worth more dead, with an insurance payout, than alive. The insurers refused to pay. Lord Mansfield meanwhile, is also the guardian of his niece Dido, a mixed race child who’s mother was a slave. For the most part she is raised with the same education, introduction to society and status as her cousin who Lord Mansfield also cares for. We would have been more than pleased simply leaving this film with visuals of the beautiful Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido.


But sometimes the camera and the story telling serve as vehicles to draw out the exquisite beauty, of its subject the way artists in other mediums do. The camera was there to draw out the character’s full value, as Asante said. And so she did. From Dido’s regal stride, the arch in her back, the length of her neck, the softness of her curls, the delicacy of her complexion, her cultured ways, her refinement, her essence as a lady, no detail was spared in conveying, lineage, status, breeding. But more remarkable, was Dido’s strong sense of pride in her African lineage and a desire for the life and privilege she was awarded to be shared by the African slaves from which she came. As she starts to question the laws that allow her privilege, yet limit her future, the Zong Massacre Trial, serves as an opportunity to change the world. Lord Mansfield was instrumental in bringing about the end of the British slave trade, an act one cannot help but attribute to his own black bloodline.

Once Asante offers us the rewards of Dido’s refinement and grace, she does not allow it to be snatched away with a romance not befitting Dido’s status. Her husband-to-be is an abolitionist lawyer and their romance also becomes her political awakening.


Belle is a very satisfying film and for us vindication. We knew the need was urgent, for a black woman to show up in this way and it turns out that desire was not ours alone. In addition to our own gushing, proud and elevated response to the film, we witnessed that of other black movie goers as well. Gugu Mbatha-Raw has said to have experienced the same from fans who have thanked her for what she has given them.

Amma and Gugu, the breadth of our gratitude is infinite, your service indescribable. The best we may do for you is to share everywhere we can the gift of Belle….

Posted in : Beauty Refined, Classic Films, In an Ideal World..., Vintage Fashion  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nina Mae McKinney, superstar…

Posted by Winifred on May 16th, 2014  •  No Comments »


It was totally by accident that the TV was turned off and left on TCM and that we at the right moment would turn it back on to find ourselves stopped short at what looked like a very early film with an all black cast. It was from 1929 no less! The film was Hallelujah, directed by King Vidor featuring a beautiful, magnetic, sassy, raspy voiced star named Nina Mae McKinney. She jumps off the screen immediately, with her doe eyes, her pouty lips, her decisive but feminine moves. Who was she? Why had we never heard of her before and why was she not on our Pinterest boards?

Nina Mae, (pronounced Nine-ah) was born in Lancaster, South Carolina. She had moved to New York as part of the great migration and was discovered on Broadway in the musical Blackbirds of 1928 by Director King Vidor. What is so remarkable is that Nina Mae was only 16 when she starred in Hallelujah, thus she had everything ahead of her. She had beauty, energy, playfulness, she had sexy, spunk and glamour. She should have had it all.


She was the first black actress to star in a sound film, and was even signed to a 5 year contract with MGM after the success of Hallelujah which included an Oscar nomination for best writing. This, however, never led to any significant roles and she soon left for Europe where she starred in several British films and also performed in cabarets. In Europe they called her the black Garbo. And that she was.

That there are not many photos or even all of her films in the American archives serves us well. That way, we will not mourn for what could have been and not question why she was not a ultra glamorous, divine and richly chronicled star. Without the interference of less flattering photographs and unflattering film roles to mar the thrill of our discovery, we can construct the image of her that we prefer. A great beauty and enduring star.


In our view of her, Nina Mae McKinney has her hair perfectly set and waved, ultra thin long silky lashes make her already large eyes, sparkle. Her lips are ruby red, a shade of russian red just for her. She is in an Orry-Kelly gown, very low in the back, semi low in front, sequins lighting up her tiny frame and curves. Her nails, also red, holding a long cigarette of course, like all elegant ladies of the 1930s should. And in her photographs, shadows play up her beautiful skin against dark backgrounds, her eyes the stars that mesmerize and seduce. Her days would look like this and her glamour shook up the world…

Images Via pocinclassicfilm

Posted in : Beauty Refined, Classic Films, In an Ideal World...  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Golden Eye – 24kt Skin Care

Posted by Winifred on May 7th, 2014  •  No Comments »

Surinamers love their gold. Our jewels have cultural meaning and we select most of our pieces based on what our spirit (our “yeye”) tells us we need. Usually protection, guidance, strength, love. We rarely seek spiritual meaning behind our skincare routines. Now comes an opportunity to do both.


Recently, we discovered KollagenX 24KT gold eye serum. A collagen and nano gold (tiny particles of gold) infused serum that is said to smooth away signs of aging and dark spots. We do love serums for their concentration and for their fluid texture which penetrates the skin. Though we were amused by the concept of gold infused skin care and felt the packaging would make a lovely addition to our beauty shelves, we did not expect to find the product very compelling. Nonetheless, we were open to try the serum. When we came across the KollagenX line, we first tried the face mask. It too is gold and in addition to appearing like a cross between a mardi gras mask and Friday the 13th, it has a quite slippery texture.


The mask is packaged in rosewater, and once one gets past the slippery, almost creepy texture and feel, you are left with a cooling sensation that starts to feel fresh and soft. We left ours on for a brief 10 minutes, but we did feel at the very least, there were possibilities for cooling and relaxation after a stressful day and perhaps a freshening of the skin. This got us hopeful about the serum which we sampled at home over several days.

Can we just say we love it? The serum truly hydrates sensitive under eye skin, leaving it brighter, softer and firmer. Particularly when the eyes are a bit puffy or not quite as rested as they should be, we found the serum offered a nice, instant perking up of the skin. We felt protected, almost as if the serum gave us the ability to take the skin back to its former state, undoing the damage from the night before. KollagenX’s About Page, claims their Nano Gold Technologies were in fact discovered as an alternative to plastic surgery. We cannot speak to that just yet, but let’s see if we have other experiences with their products and notice their claims to be true…

In the meantime, we adore the serum and are sad to see our sample go. Once in a while when we use it, a fleck of gold stays on the skin. A new kind of birthmark for us, apropos for our yeye…

Posted in : Beauty, Beauty Refined, Jewelry  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How we came to love the hat….

Posted by Winifred on April 28th, 2014  •  No Comments »


It seems timely to go over what it means for a little girl to discover her first role model and how the very existence thereof forever informs her life…

We were probably 7, maybe 8. Born and raised in the Netherlands, we also lived in Spain and then spent several years in Suriname, where our parents were born. After Suriname, we returned to the Netherlands. It was still an innocent time, few outside influences, a culture of little television, few magazines and we were too young for peer pressure. No outside world telling you you weren’t good enough. In fact, in our house, being an outsider was what we celebrated. Our parents spoke Surinaams, we ate Surinaams, we adhered to our culture of respect for elders, family values, entertaining big and celebrating big. Oen mek presirie, always. Dutch culture was for us often a bit of a joke. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be Surinaams, even as we recognized the greater opportunities for education and earnings potential of Holland.

Then, already cocooned by our Surinaams family, we allowed one snippet of influence to come into our home. That snippet was our first glimpse of Miss Diana Ross on Dutch Television. At that time, it took quite a while for American imports to reach Europe. We had never heard of ‘Mahogany,’ and were too young to know the Supremes. So our first introduction to Miss Diana Ross was in the much later part of her career. There she was, thin, brown, with big eyes and big hair. She was beautiful, she was famous, she was glamorous, she was rich. She was a big star and everybody loved her. And she looked like us. And in that instant we were programmed. To be thin, brown, have big eyes and big hair was the ultimate in beauty, fame and possibilities. We would never want to be anything else, but what we were: the Surinaams version of that very image.

It seems so timely to share this now, as we notice how often attempts are made to shake that programming. Whether in the media, or sometimes closer to home. And we feel bad for the many people impacted, young girls especially. It reminds us how lucky we are to have received the gift of Miss Ross, but also of our parents. First, the gift of parents who gave us so solid a foundation and connection to our roots that in a time when the Netherlands was not so multicultural, we never questioned the richness of who we were. And second, that before society was able to work on us, in came Miss Ross to forever sear in our minds, an image of beauty, glamour, elegance and style that ’till this day continues to inform, inspire and guide us.

When asked how she manages the negativity of the press, Venus Williams responded that she had from her birth been brainwashed by parents who only told her she was amazing and could achieve anything she wanted. She has no ability to think anything else. We could not be more grateful for being brainwashed…


Image Via Villagevoice

Posted in : Beauty Refined, Head wear, In an Ideal World..., We digress  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Vampire Facials & real treats for the skin…

Posted by Winifred on April 9th, 2014  •  No Comments »


We had the best time talking bridal beauty with our friend Dana Butler of Days Desk the other day! After attending the International Beauty Show we couldn’t wait to sit down and go over our experiences with an audience of soon to be beautiful brides. Take a listen as we fawn over some of our favorite brands and hash it out over Restylane, vampire facials and how soon a girl ought to become a regular at the Medi Spa.

A curious caller also asked about the Vampire Facial, a procedure in which the body’s own platelet rich plasma (PRP) is drawn then, first applied topically to the skin followed by aeration of the skin with a DermaPen. The Dermapen perforates the skin with near microscopic holes, which allows for a deeper delivery of the plasma. The growth factors in the PRP are said to re-energize cells to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving the skin’s tone and texture. Following the DermaPen a second layer of PRP is applied allowing for maximum benefit.


A cursory glance at different news outlets leads us to still stand by our hesitation with this procedure. When asked by CBS News if she approved of the procedure, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Michele Green said, “it makes no clinical sense that this would help at all, I think it’s literally crazy.” To prevent skin aging, she points out “people can wear sunscreen and reduce their time in the sun, eat a healthy diet or use moisturizing products.” She adds that $2,000 could purchase other more widely used laser and chemical skin rejuvenation treatments, or injections of FDA-approved products such as Botox, Restylane and Sculptra. “Lots of things you can do to turn back the clock instead of putting blood in your face,” she said.

We couldn’t agree more, especially as it pertains to blindly following each new fad and constantly attacking the skin with more and more radical and invasive procedures. We felt especially vindicated when even Dr. Brandt, a visible proponent of injectables, peels and lifting told the New York Times, “there is a tendency among Hollywood stars and countless others increasingly plagued by the cultural obsession with youth and beauty, to cut too soon, to overfill, to go too far. When there’s too much pulling, too many procedures, you lose the softness along with the personality of the face, its old familiar landmarks.”

To our caller who we feel certain looks as lovely as she sounds, we hope you will be good and gentle to your skin and do not do too much long before it is truly called for…

Images Via Pinterest, CBS News

Posted in : Beauty Refined  •  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jaboneria Marianella Patchouli

Posted by Winifred on August 12th, 2013  •  No Comments »


Though we take many cues from the past, mostly we do try to move forward, enjoy change and express gratitude for the future. On the rare occasion, we admit, we tend toward the nostalgiac, having found something that is perfect the way it is, we refuse to accept that it can be made better, or requires any change. We are having such a moment with a line of soaps that we first became acquainted with in 2008. Jaboneria Marianella was a soap unlike any that came before it. The scent that stole our devotion was Patchouli. We had really never been a fan of any soap bar other than Dove, and had never before been attracted to the scent of Patchouli. Then we received a gift of Marianella soaps, in packaging from the line’s early days: a simple, yet elegant cotton pouch tied with a ribbon. The soap bar inside wrapped in a sheet of wax paper.

The scent was beautiful, it was soft, like milk, fresh in a powdery way but smoother, clean. There was a buttery honey like note to it, delicious, but not sweet. The look of the bar instantly conveyed the experience. There were three different colored layers and the texture was soft and buttery, in the way of natural butters like shea and avocado. It lathered with such a creaminess, richer than anything that sounds as harsh as soap. It was soft, it was beautiful, it was luxurious, it was the most refined piece of soap we’ve ever had, and we’ve had all kinds. And we were devastated when after enjoying Patchouli soaps for years, we went for yet another order and it was gone.

There has been no scent like it, nor a texture like it. There has been no experience as rich or refined. We have quietly rooted for this company, as they relaunched their line, pared down the number of SKUs (look at us, always thinking stock keeping units), upgraded their packaging, built a gorgeous and sexy website and created successful partnerships with among others, J.Crew. We love the evolution of their business and the success of their new brand. And we cannot let go of Patchouli, not in our minds, and not of the tiny little last bar that we have left, from which we slice just a sliver to lather up with for only a special occasion.

We write this for our own need for closure, perhaps a gentle nudge to ourselves to move on and as a way to commiserate with those who have experienced this kind of loss. How do you cope when your favorite things are discontinued, swiftly and with finality, as you helplessly stand by…?

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