Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel

Alek: From Sudanese Refugee to International SupermodelAlek: From Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel by Alek Wek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had some time to spend before a meeting in DC, and decided to take a walk. It was then that I happened upon the clearance rack that was outside the World Bank bookstore. In the clearance rank, I found the book Alek: My Life from Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel. At $3.00, the book was a steal.

The fashion angle is what drew me to Alek: My Life from Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel initially. Alek Wek is a trailblazing model. Before her, there had been many models of color, but most of them had “acceptable” features, that is, European-like features, but with darker skin. Alek Wek is said to have an “African” look; however, she rightly notes that there is no typical African look. Appallingly, as you key in “Alek Wek” in Google, one of the top results is “Alek Wek is ugly.”

My fascination and curiosity about world cultures are what drew me into the book. Alek Wek is from southern Sudan, and is an ethnic Dinka. She relates many customs of her Dinka culture. The cow is central to Dinka culture: in this way, I was reminded how central the cow is to villagers in India.

As an aside, she talks about what happens to the clothes that we dump into collection boxes.

The civil war between Arabs in northern Sudan and blacks in southern Sudan goes back decades, but never had the high visibility of the human rights catastrophe in Darfur. Alek Wek and her family fled their town to find shelter in a village where distant relatives lived, but had to trek to another village after learning through bush telegraph that fighting had spread to their original destination. She later bluffed her way to Khartoum, and from Khartoum, she went to London, where she was discovered in a London park.

In the second half of the book, Alek Wek discusses her career as a model. Her big breakthrough was making the cover of Elle, and she talks about the fight to put her on the cover. In the last quarter of the book, she talks about using her fame to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis in southern Sudan. The book concludes with an emotional homecoming to Sudan.

Alek Wek comes across as a well-grounded person, and this can be attributed to the influence of her father and her resourceful mother.

I hope that I haven’t shared too much of Alek: My Life from Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel to dissuade you from reading the book. On the other hand, I hope that I’ve whetted your interest in reading the book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Karen Murrell lipstick shades

In last week's article Karen Murrell ECOCERT-certified lip color, I promised to show readers Karen's latest shades.  Here they are:

New Karen Murrell lipstick shades
L to R:
  • Coral Dawn
  • Carnation Mist
  • Sandstorm
  • Fuchsia Shock
Karen's latest lipstick shades features the demi-matte finish that I liked so well in her original shades.  

Karen says that she will have another 10 shades out in 2013. I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Karen Murrell ECOCERT-certified lip color

Karen Murrell's self-named product line is a product line that has obtained ECOCERT certification for organic ingredients. Karen draws her inspiration from the natural beauty of her native New Zealand.

I was pleased to receive Karen’s elegant presentation box, which contained four lipsticks, a lip conditioner, and her skin and body care products. The outer boxes for the products are made of recycled paperboard and feature romantic, sensuous illustrations.

Over and over, I write that I am not a purist when it comes to cosmetics ingredients. When I try natural or organic cosmetics, I want to find out if they perform as well as conventional products. More often than not, I am disappointed.

When, however, I had read in Thread (NZ), that Karen Murrell lipsticks compare favorably with MAC in look and feel, I took notice.

Karen Murrell lipsticks.  Credit: Thread (NZ)

I've said it before, I'll say it again: makeup-wise, there's nothing as glamorous as opaque lipstick with a creamy to demi-matte finish.  And Karen's lipsticks have great color payoff.  They compare favorably with other lipsticks, such as those from Australian Poppy King.

Here are swatches of Karen's first lipstick collection:

Karen Murrell - the first lipstick collection

Colors (L to R) are:
  • Cordovan Natural (nude)
  • Pink Starlet
  • Red Shimmer – not as shimmery as the name might suggest, but that’s a plus: real reds should not be shimmery
  • Violet Mousse
Karen now has secure online shopping on her site. And yes, she ships internationally.

Watch out for an upcoming feature on Karen's latest lipstick shades: Coral Dawn, Carnation Mist, Sandstorm, and Fuchsia Shock.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mica Paris - My One Temptation #MusicMonday

Last week's #MusicMonday feature of the Hal David/Burt Bacharach song I Say a Little Prayer for You, as performed Dionne Warwick, inspired me to select My One Temptation, which has a Bacharach-esque intro, as this week's feature:

My One Temptation was composed by Peter Vale, Mick Leeson, and Miles Waters.

Although My One Temptation received play time on VH1, Mica Paris never really broke out as a star in the U.S.  In her native England, she continued to perform, succeeded Trinny and Susannah on the Beeb's What Not to Wear, and even wrote a self-help book.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Dionne Warwick - I say a little prayer for you - #MusicMonday

I pay tribute to lyricist Hal David, who died last week at age 91, in this week's #MusicMonday feature.  Hal David was best known for his collaborations with Burt Bacharach.  In the 1960s, Dionne Warwick interpreted many of their songs.  Here's a video, actually a montage of pictures of Dionne from the sixties, that features Bacharach/David's "I Say a Little Prayer for You":

And the relevance to what's ostensibly a beauty blog? Check out the opening verse:

The moment I wake up 
Before I put on my make up 
I say a little prayer for you 
While combing my hair now 
And wond'ring what dress to wear now 
I say a little prayer for you.