Category: Vintage Lavish Diva (Page 1 of 2)

Tessa Prendergast: Vintage Lavish Diva

Tessa Prendergast was a Jamaican born actress and fashion designer who grew up in London and was pursued by European royalty in the 1950’s. Prendergast was born into a live of privilege and enjoyed the spoils of her beauty, where she constantly received gifts and jewels from her admirers. The beauty, born in 1928, was the talk of royal circles, and had her own scandal, when two princes fought for her heart.

An incident involving Prendergast made headlines all over the world in 1955: An Egyptian King Farouk and an Italian Prince exchanged cold glances and hot words over her attentions in Rome where the curvaceous Prendergast was working on a film. According to reports, the two scions of ancient Mediterranean Royalty clashed when King Farouk attempted to persuade Prendergast to leave the company of an Italian Prince who had been her constant companion in Italy. The Italian Prince called Farouk’s unwelcomed rivalry a personal affront and engaged in such a heated verbal clash with him that it was necessary for police to intervene.

Prendergast famously designed the bikini that Bond-girl Ursula Andress wore as she emerged from the ocean in that famous movie scene. The pic of the design is below:

Ursula Andress emerges from the sea in a Tessa Prendergast designed bikini

Vintage Lavish Diva – Jody Watley

Having recently caught the Shalamar episode of TVOne’s Unsung, I was reintroduced to one of my favorite childhood divas – the unimitable Jody Watley:

Though I was too young to remember her meteoric rise from Soul Train dancer to the female lead of the late-70s and early-80s group, I definitely remember the splash she’d made on the scene when she broke out as a solo artist in the late 80s:

Setting herself apart from the run-of-the-mill dance and R&B divas with her mix of street style and runway glam, Jody set trends in her videos that impacted future style divas such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga. And while her career has winded down a bit since her Real Love heyday, she’s living proof that fifty can definitely be fabulous:

And what better way to celebrate the Diva than with one of her iconic (and my personal favorite) videos – shot on location at the Paris Opera House and featuring some of the best face in video:

And I Quote

Listen to Etta James throw all kinds of shade to Beyonce. It doesn’t get more gutter than this!

“You guys know your president right? You know the one with the big ears. Yeah, wait a minute, he ain’t my president, he might be yours. I tell you that woman he had singing for him, singing my song, she gonna get her ass whipped. The great Beyonce! Now like I said, she ain’t mine. I can’t stand Beyonce! She had no business up there singing. Singing on a big ole, big ole president day and going be singing my song that I’ve been singing forever.

Well I just… damn.


Vintage Lavish Diva: Eartha Kitt

The legendary and unimitable Eartha Kitt left this earth today after a long battle of colon cancer. A true definition of a diva, Ms. Kitt utilized her feline charm and sharp wit to entrance generations of fans while inspiring countless singers, actresses, and entertainers. However, she also used her celebrity for the greater good, whether this meant tirelessly fighting alongside the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights and speaking out against the increasingly unpopular Vietnam war – thus resulting in a ten-year professional exile from America. Through changing tastes and mores, Ms. Kitt maintained her rightful place as a cinema, stage, and television icon until the end – qualities that secure her place as an eternal Lavish Diva.

So, in keeping with the spirit of the holidays and the memory of the fabulous Ms. Kitt, we at Lavish would love to dedicate this tune to all of the Lavish divas out there:

Merry Christmas!

Party Like A Rock Star

Folks, it’s been more than a while since I’ve spoken to you all. (Almost a month!) Not only am I more than sorry about that, I’ll do my best to be better about letting time (and distance) keep me from the wonderful world of Lavish.

That being said, I’ve noticed that the many different facets of black style have been woefully limited to what we see in the mainstream media. While ostentanious fabulosity and afro-boho fashion are great, we bring our special brand of flavor to rock star style as well. In turn, I am paying homage to the current and eternal Lavish Divas of Rock Star Style. Hope you enjoy, appreciate, and become a bit inspired by these sistas who have always marched to the beat of their own drum:

Though Nona Hendryx initially made her name as a third of the super girl group, Labelle, in the 60s and 70s, she soon broke out of the confines to carve her niche in rock music. From funk-rock in the late 70s to commercial rock throughout the 80s, Nona crossed boundaries with her fearless approach to music and her cutting-edge style. Never one to put herself in a box, she paved the way for today’s black rock divas.

A Brit of English and Zimbabwean descent, Shingai Shoniwa has been making serious moves as the lead singer and bassist for the post-punk band, The Noisettes. With her soaring vocals and her pitch-perfect mix of hard rock and cool funk style, she’s quickly becoming the one to watch in the future.

The eternal Lavish rock goddess, Tina Turner. Much has been celebrated about this diva, but it bears repeating. Not only is Miss Tina a legend, she is an enduring survivor who has paved the way for every showstopping diva that graces a concert stage. With a feline grace, a killer voice, and a blissful sense of style, Tina is the definitive diva.


Denise Huxtable: Vintage Lavish Diva

You might be wondering why I’ve cited Denise Huxtable as a Vintage Lavish Diva, even though Lisa Bonet stands as a boho fashion icon in her own right. Well, while Lisa presented herself as one of the original rock-star wives/mothers so effortlessly, Denise Huxtable has always existed as a contradiction to what a ‘young black girl’ was supposed to be on television in the 80s. Sensitive, intelligent, and impulsive, she was unbeholden to what society expected of her to do or be.

Whether it was through her fondness of natty vintage clothing and clashing prints:

or challenging her parents’ standards of success by foregoing college to eventually travel to Africa on a whim:

Denise Huxtable always moved to the beat of her own drum. And while she eventually settled down into adulthood by becoming a military wife and mother, her perpetual ability to see and live life on her own terms is what has ultimately made her a timeless character and Vintage Lavish Diva:

Photo source: Sitcoms Online

In addition, she also paved the way for a future crop of insightful and enlightened young black women on the small screen:

Winifred “Freddie” Brooks in A Different World

Photo Source: Rugrat Online

Moesha Mitchell in Moesha

Source: Students of the World

Cassie Sutton in Lincoln Heights



Josephine Premice: Vintage Lavish Diva

Although I vaguely remember Josephine Premice from her guest-starring stints on The Jeffersons, The Cosby Show, and A Different World (most likely her most known role as Whitley Gilbert’s boss, the haughty Mrs. Abernathy), it wasn’t until I’d come across her daughter, Susan Fales-Hill’s (an accomplished television writer and producer, as well as a notable socialite style icon in her own right) homage, Always Wear Joy: My Mother Bold and Beautiful, that I fully grasped just who she was and what she’d accomplished.

Having been born in Haiti in 1926 to an upper-class family, Josephine moved to New York as a child, where she initially wanted to pursue a career in Anthropology. While she obtained a degree from Columbia University, the strong pull of show business drew her in as a dancer, singer, and, eventually, an actress. Never one to stick to a script as to what was expected of her at the time, she stormed her way through Broadway with her undeniable talent, dazzling style, and charming wit- resulting in her Tony-award nominated turns in Jamaica and A Hand Is On The Gate. So impressive was her personality and style that she’d caught the eye of some of the most legendary French designers of the day, such as Jacques Fath and Hubert de Givenchy. She’d also caught the eye of seafaring scion and Mayflower descendant, Timothy Fales, who taken to her and promptly married her, despite the great scandal that resulted in 1950s America:

Unfortunately, while she’d received acclaim for her starring turns in Bubbling Brown Sugar and The Glass Menagerie, her fabulous effervescence was underappreciated in an era where fabulous black beauty was narrowly accepted in the form of the keener-featured divas as Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, and Diahann Carroll. As a result, she worked sporadically in the theatre and television, unable to garner the same amount of success as her peers. And while she’d passed away from emphysema in 2001, largely forgotten by the mainstream, her daughter took it upon herself to immortalize Josephine’s greatness in print. For not only did she instill a great sense of pride in Susan’s sense of self, she also represented the woman who wasn’t afraid to break the mold of what was considered to be black and beautiful.

That, folks, is the true embodiment of a Vintage Lavish Diva.


Bianca Jagger: Vintage Lavish Fashionista

When one thinks of Bianca Jagger, the first words that come to mind are jet-setter, rock-star wife, and fashionista. And while she’s most famous for being the first Mrs. Mick Jagger, she also epitomized the glamorous cool that was the 1970s. From living it up at Studio 54 in Halston to vacationing in Capri in Gucci, Bianca profiled with trailblazing style and timeless class:

However, underneath the glitz and glamour is a socially conscious woman who utilized her life of privilege to bring attention to world issues. From defending women’s rights in Latin America to helping Bosnian victims of ethnic cleansing, Bianca has been tirelessly campaigning for social justice for over twenty-five years. In addition, she is an active member of many humanitarian organizations as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and People for the American Way, among others. Working towards a better world while showcasing your timelessly fabulous style is, indeed, the definition of a Vintage Lavish Fashionista:

Rest In Peace, Cleopatra Jones

Tamara Dobson, a fashion, beauty, and cinematic icon, passed away this past Monday of complications from pneumonia and multiple sclerosis. While she had begun her career modeling for Vogue, Essence, and Madamoiselle magazines, as well as serving as the face of the Faberge ‘Tigress’, she was best known as the badass, Afro-rocking government super agent, Cleopatra Jones, in the 1973 self-titled movie.

(If you folks never saw or heard of this movie or its successor, Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975), run- don’t walk- to your nearest Blockbuster or Netflix. Cheesy 70s fun, yes, but also a great chance to see a sista command her scenes wearing the flyest of clothes.)

While I’d seen plenty of blaxploitation movies before and since, Ms. Dobson’s fierce beauty, statuesque carriage, and fabulous fashion sense set her apart from the rest of the urban avengers on the silver screen. Never did she look less than her best, even in the rawest of kick-ass scenes.


Vintage Lavish Diva: Phyllis Hyman

Love and pain have always gone hand in hand in beautiful and haunting melodies. And while we’ve all grew, loved, and lost, only to triumph, to the sounds of Mary J. Blige, there was a predecessor in the form of the late, great Phyllis Hyman.

Her grace and style just as smooth as her honey-soaked voice, Ms. Hyman epitomized the tragic chanteuse who was a victim of the very songs she sang. And while it’s been eleven years since she’d left us, her underratedly influential legacy still lives on.


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