Thursday, November 29, 2007

BG Jurnee Smollett's Journey to Stardom

You may remember her as the cute kid from CBS’s hit TV show Cosby, not The Cosby Show, but the show that came after the pop culture hit. Whether you remember her from that show or as the precocious young girl in Eve’s Bayou or the sassy teen in Roll Bounce, you’re sure to remember 21-year-old Jurnee Smollett after what seems to be a riveting performance in the Oprah Winfrey produced and Denzel Washington directed film, The Great Debaters.

Inspired by a true story, the movie tells the story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas who encourages African-American students to form the school’s first debate team.

I’ve only viewed an extended trailer of the upcoming film, but the clips that I have seen, have shown Jurnee performing an excellent portrayal of an impassioned lawyer and orator in the South during the mid 1930s.

With the undoubtedly helpful Oprah and Denzel promotion and influence, I’m sure that the film will be a box-office hit, which will surely make her the hottest young African-American female actress in Tinseltown.

Watch the Great Debaters Trailer here:

Here are 5 Facts about Jurnee:

She has 4 brothers and 1 sister and all of their names begin with the letter “J.”

She did a TV show with her brothers and sisters called, On Our Own on ABC in 1994.

She’s been in front of the camera since she was 10 months old.

She appeared on ABC’s Full House several times.

She is on the Board of Directors of “Artists for a New Africa,” a group dedicated to dealing with HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meet Joan Vaccianna -- A Fashion Icon In the Making

Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenburg, Donna Karan, Tracey Reese, yes we have all heard of these phenomenal female fashion designers, but some of you may not be as familiar with Joan Vaccianna, but that will soon change. Her sexy, sophisticated and ultra feminine line, Vaccianna, is sure to make all the true fashionistas and style mavens stand up and take notice. Her keen eye for detail, while keeping her silhouettes and color palettes basic is remarkable.

She’s already shown her line at the highly lauded Brooklyn Fashion Week(end) in New York City.

At the rate she’s going, her elegant designs will surely grace the bodies of some of our favorite BG celebrities as they grace red carpet events around the world. Look out because here she comes!

BGG: When did you start the Vaccianna Collection?

JV: My first season was fall 2007 and the collection was debuted in Brooklyn Fashion Weekend show in March of this year. That was the beginning of the Vaccianna Collection.

BGG: Where are you from?
JV: I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn. I grew up in Canarsie, but lived in almost every borough. There’s no place in the world like Brooklyn, and that is where I live now.

BGG: How old are you if you want to disclose your age?
JV: My birthday was in October, and I actually forgot how old I was going to be this year, so … that’s how old I am; I’m at the age of forgetfulness (laugh).

BGG: Did you go to design school? If so, where?
JV: I am always asked this question and the answer is yes I did go to school for Fashion Design. However, I have a tendency to skip that question because I believe some designers are taught to become designers and then there are the rare few that are born designers … it's innate.

BGG: Describe your collection.
JV: Sophisticated funk, Romantic rock and roll … these are the words I use to describe the Vaccianna Collection. The collection lends to the look of today’s trends but has many classic elements in the design.

BGG: What materials do you like to use the most? Why?
JV: I have a great affinity towards denim. I think denim has recently honed versatility in fashion that women are not giving up anytime soon. I love to use denim in silhouettes that are usually seen in high-end designs. It thrills me to see a fabric that is used for casual wear transition into couture pieces.

BGG: Describe your customers.
JV: My collection caters to women who are young in age, heart, and spirit. The woman that wears this collection is confident, sexy, and sure that she is a showstopper. The Vaccianna women’s contemporary collection is a beautiful addition to her already existing wardrobe that is fabulous.

BGG: Describe your biggest challenge breaking into the fashion industry.
JV: In one word … Finances. It costs to participate in shows, produce a line, and continue the business consistently. Money matters are always a challenge when getting a break in any industry.

My biggest challenge also was in believing I could do it in the first place. Many people never follow their dream and they live with the “what if” syndrome. I couldn’t live with the “what if “in my life. With that said, in all honesty there are many things that you could come up against in starting a collection in the industry, but isn’t that the same with everything in life … so if you dare to dream it … you might as well do it and don’t give up when you do Brown Girls, don’t give up. Every success story starts and ends with resilience.

BGG: If you could dress one BG celebrity, who would it be? Or if you've already dressed her, who is she?
JV: It would be an honor to dress the one and only songstress Sade. She is a Brown Girl (woman) who I would love to see back in the limelight and wearing one of my pieces. She is the epitome of the Vaccianna woman … Beautiful, Sexy, Classy, and Timeless.

BGG: Where can customers buy your clothes?
JV: At this time, anyone interested in the Vaccianna Collection can email me at to purchase. Although my website is under construction at this time, I have a wonderful myspace page under that has both Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 collections. Feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Feminine Touch on Oxfords

Because I take all of my BGG readers' requests, questions, comments, etc. seriously, I’m dedicating this post to loyal BGG reader Yummy411. She inquired last week about the brand of Oxford shoes that were on display under my tights posting. Unfortunately, I was unable to find out the designer for those particular Oxfords, but here are a few others to choose from! Enjoy!

Jessica Simpson "Ramona" Oxford Available at Nordstrom: for $108

MAXSTUDIO 'Cooper' Ankle Boot Available at Nordstrom: for $198

Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B Oxford pump Available at for $410

BCBGirls 'Tosca' Oxford Available at Nordstrom: for $109.95

Marc by Marc Jacobs Perforated Boots Available at Saks Fifth Avenue: for $337

Nine West "Naso" bootie Available at for $79

Bountiful Beauty Gift Sets

Now that the holiday shopping season has officially started, it’s time to shop ‘til you drop! I love the holiday season because it’s the only time of year where you can find super cute beauty gift sets. Not only do you find unique sets that are only available during the Christmas season, but they’re usually reasonably priced. From hand creams, to eye shadow sets, you’re sure to find the perfect gift for the girly BGs in your life.

Check out some fabulous sets I’ve come across:

Blockbuster Palette available at Sephora: for $48

Victoria's Secret Ultra-moisturizing Hand & Body Cream Coffret for $12.50

Fresh Sugar Tart Gift Set available at Sephora: for $58

L'Occitane Hand's Best Friend Hand Cream Trio available at Sephora: for $25

Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B fragrance available at Sephora: for $55

Available at Victoria's Secret: for $12.50

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Favorite Things!

In the true fashion of the charitable media mogul herself, Oprah Winfrey, I’m listing my favorite things like she does on her annual “Favorite Things” show, which airs today. The only difference is that I can’t share them with each of you! Enjoy!

Super girly and chic makeup bags from Sephora: for $18

She's a great singer and songwriter. Ms. Keys' CDs never disappoint! Check

My Giiiirlfriends...there through thick and thin!! Girlfriends Second Season DVD Available on for $30

What BG doesn't love a classic pair of gold hoops? These are from Macy's: for: $165

A friend gave one of these to me and I've been hooked ever since. It's less stickier than the M-A-C one. Bobbi Brown, Crystal Lip Gloss. $16

I LOVE taking photos, I don't know what I'd do without my camera! Kodak Easy Share Vseries: $199.99

I'm a true Chicagoan...Garrett popcorn is a must!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Turkey Day Travel Tips

If you’re like many Americans, you’ll be traveling to be with your family on Thanksgiving. Because I will be one of those millions at the airport on Wednesday, I thought that I would offer some advice to make your traveling experience less aggravating as possible.

Since 2007 has been one of the worst years in airline travel for various reasons, it is in your best interest to pack patience because you’ll need it. I traveled several times this year and none of my experiences were pleasant. There was always something causing a delay whether it was the weather or a computer glitch, it just seemed like the airline Gods were frowning down on passengers consistently.

So here are a few tips that I hope will help ease your traveling woes:

1. Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to take off during the security checkpoint.

2. Empty the loose change from all of your pockets to speed up the security check process.

3. Bring a good book or magazine (too bad there isn’t a BGG magazine…yet!) to help pass the time.

4. Subscribe to an airport Internet service (typically no more than $8.99/month) for your laptop. That way you can always have BGG at your fingertips!

5. Bring healthy snacks to munch on while you wait. Remember, everything sold at airports is ridiculously higher than neighborhood drugstores, etc.

6. Be sure to fully charge your iPod or MP3 player the night before your trip. It will help you relax and tune out annoying passengers.

7. Don’t check your bags if at all possible. This will save you a lot of time and in some cases, your belongings. With the insurgence of bags being checked due to the 311 rule, (liquids no larger than 3 oz. in a clear plastic bag) more bags have been lost a result.

Lovely Leg Wear

A few months ago, I stressed the fact that I love a great pair of tights. Ever since high school, I have always received compliments on my sometimes unique, but always fabulously fashionable leg wear.

Now that the air is getting nippy, it’s really wise to cover our gorgeous gams in style. Tights can range in style from opaqueness to texture. Whether worn with a cute skirt or dress, they can immediately add sophistication to your look. Keep in mind that tights look best when paired with mid-calf leather boots or this season’s booties or Mary Janes.

Also, a thick pair of tights can be worn as an alternative to thermals under your pants to add a layer of warmth during the winter months.

So head to your local department store and stock up on a few pair of trendy tights. In fact, while you're there, pick up a pair or two for some of the fashionable BGs in your life and use them as cool stocking stuffers for the holiday season.
This pair is from Nordstrom: Available at for $18

This pair is from JC Penny: for $10

DKNY tights from Nordstrom: for $12.50

Donna Karan silk blend tights from Nordstrom: for $60

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ring in the Season with Style!

Nothing spruces up one’s look for the holiday season like an elegant cocktail ring. They are the perfect accessories to complement this season’s fashions. I must admit, I haven’t always been a fan of costume jewelry, but I’ve started to explore this trend in recent weeks.

I’ve learned that the key to looking chic and not gaudy is to keep your overall look minimal. For example, wear a beautiful onyx ring with a nice black turtleneck dress and stud earrings. It will add that extra flair that will make you look stylish and pulled together. If you aren’t a fan of onyx, there is an infinite variety of gemstones and styles that will suit your taste.

The benefit of purchasing cocktail rings is that they can make you look glamorous without breaking the bank. Of course, there are always exceptions, but generally you can find a great cocktail ring for $100 or less.

Trust me, flaunting fabulous fingers will get you noticed!

Check out some of my favorites.

Ariella Collection Oversize Cushion Cut Ring for $78 at Nordstrom

Kenneth Jay Lane Crystal Headlight Ring for $150 at Nordstrm

Xhilaration® Gold Ring with Large Pink Stone for $8.99 at Target

Xhilaration® Mod Square Fashion Ring - White/ Black for $8.09 at Target

Kenneth Jay Lane Pavé Ball Ring for $98 at Nordstrom

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Helping Fellow BGs Worldwide!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a launch/fundraising event held by the Batonga Foundation in New York City. The organization is a US-based non-profit charitable organization that gives girls a secondary school and higher education so they can take the lead in changing Africa. Their mission is being implemented by granting scholarships, building secondary schools, mentoring, advocating education awareness, etc.

The event was hosted by the beautiful Liya Kebede (supermodel), Vanessa Redgrave (actress), Donna Karan (we fashion-savvy BGs already know who she is) and Angelique Kidjo (singer) at the vast, Bohen Foundation. It was great attending a spectacular event that raised funds for the education of our young and less fortunate BGs in Africa.

It’s important for all BGs around the world to give back. There are a myriad of national and international charities, foundations and mentoring opportunities where we can either donate our time or money. If we don’t give back to our communities, who will?

For more information on Batonga visit:

For information on becoming a mentor in your area visit:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Get to Steppin'

I try to eat foods that are good for me, but that isn’t always as easy it seems. Especially, due to my unyielding craving for sugary candies like gummi bears, sour watermelon slices and Skittles. So when I feel that I’m beginning to pack on a few unwanted pounds, I put my foot down – literally and hit the pavement.

Walking is my favorite form of exercise because it’s relaxing and allows me to shed pounds while taking in the scenery. Because I live in New York, which is the preeminent walking city, it’s easy for me to keep my weight down because we walk everywhere!

If I need to go to the store – I walk; if I want to go out to dinner – I walk. So for those of you who don’t live in pedestrian-friendly cities like me, get out of your cars and start walking. Maybe you can take a walk to your local drugstore, doctor’s office or your child's school instead of driving. Or, grab your beau and suggest a romantic walk in the park. Whatever you decide, walking can get your heart pumping.

With the holiday season upon us, walking can definitely be an effective weapon against those pesky pounds that are sure to sneak up from eating all those delicious dishes at Big Momma’s house.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Breathtaking Brows!

Having well-groomed brows is essential to looking chic and polished. Great brows can enhance your face and complement your makeup instantly. As I wrote before, your eyes are the windows into your soul. Why not make them as gorgeous as possible? Your eyebrows actually frame your face and when they’re improperly groomed your entire look can falter as a result.

You can achieve a nice arched brow through various methods such as: tweezing, threading or waxing. I prefer tweezing because it’s the easiest and I can do it at home. Plus, it seems to last longer than waxing. I cannot comment on the threading process because I’ve never tried it, but some of my BG friends have and they’ve said that it’s a great alternative to tweezing and waxing.

So once you achieve your desired arch, you should add brow powder to define them even more. Makeup artists always stress the importance of brow powder because it gives you a more natural appearance as opposed to other products. So ladies, if you’re guilty of filling in your brows with pencils, please stop now! Rocking the Foxy Brown barely-there-drawn-on brows is not a good look.

Here are a few products that will help you get eye-catching brows!

These award-winning Tweezerman tweezers are a must-have in all the makeup artists' beauty bags. You can find them in a variety of colors at: for $20

I came across this cute LORAC brow pack and feel in love immediately. It has two different powder colors so you can get that perfect blend, as well as wax to help keep your brows in place.

Available at Sephora: for $22

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cultural Treasure

All the blogs and magazines that represent and cater to the African-American demographic owe all of their success to one publication – Ebony magazine. This trailblazing magazine paved the way for all of our voices to be heard. Founded by the late, self-made entrepreneur John H. Johnson back in 1945, the magazine has successfully documented all aspects of African-American life from the civil rights movement to the latest fashions. Ebony has informed and enlightened us whether we read at the beauty shop, at our grandparent's house or at the doctor's office. Throughout the years it has consistently been there reporting our news and entertainment.

Creative Director, Harriette Cole.

Over 60 years since it's debut, Ebony is still thriving and even better than ever. Under the creative direction of media-savvy, Harriette Cole (who was appointed Creative Director in early 2007), the magazine has made major improvements artistically. The new look and feel of Ebony is sleek, current and cutting-edge, but still packed with all the photos and stories that BGs (and guys) like me have always enjoyed about the magazine. Ebony has always had a strong presence on newsstands, but now it’s even more eye-catching and I've definitely taken notice.

Be sure to check out the latest issue (also a Collector's Edition) featuring the living musical legend himself – Michael Jackson. Say what you will about Mike, but there's no denying that he helped pioneer the music that we hear today.

Ebony magazine and Michael Jackson, two powerhouses; you just can't get any bigger than that!

Visit for behind-the-scenes at the MJ photo shoot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pucker Up!

You’ve seen her donning some of the most elegant dresses on the red carpet, but she’s not an actress or singer. Keisha Whitaker is an entrepreneur and wife of Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker. This mother of 3 recently launched her own line of lip glosses called, Kissable Couture. The line consists of a variety of “dreamy hues” that will make your lips what else…kissable!

Her flair for fashion has made her a celebrity in her own right. With a style that’s chic and classy, Keisha is definitely on her way to becoming an A-List Hollywood fashionista. Although she always looks like a million bucks, she’s a self-proclaimed bargain shopper. She even confessed on Oprah that two of her favorite stores are Target and Marshall’s. With a serious sense of style like hers, you'd never guess!

You can buy her lip glosses online or if you’re in the NYC area, they will be available at Henri Bendel’s starting tomorrow (11/8).

"Forest" named after her husband retails for: $22.00

"Chris" is a peachish color that retails for: $22.00

"Dylan" is described as pink perfection and it retails for: $22.00