fredag 17. juni 2016

Goals: The Style and Influence of Nina Simone

It is no secret that I am a die-hard of the legendary Nina Simone. I was introduced to her music by my mother when I was 11 or 12 years old and it changed my life. "Feeling Good" was the song I would reach for whenever I needed to be reminded of the beauty in the world and my agency to choose happiness. The song seemed to match perfectly with the gorgeous greens, blues, and light orange hues of the landscape of my Norwegian village on sunny day.  "Ain't Got No ... I've Got Life" got me through the fickle nature of teenage years, keeping me grounded and reminding me that was big wide world out there waiting to be explored.

 As dark-skinned black woman with decidedly West African features, Nina existed beyond the frames of mainstream Western beauty norms. In the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates,"Simone was in possession of nearly every feature we denigrate as children. And yet she somehow willed herself into a goddess." She not only crafted and performed songs that centred the black struggle, she also elevated the black body and celebrated its beauty

In addition to being one of the greatest musician and artists of all time, Miss Simone was also an incredibly stylish woman and a lover of fashion. She used it to present herself in a way that way that made her feel confident while performing and that would capture the ambience she was trying to set in each concert, whether that was shock, glamour, or a little bit of both. In a 1968 interview with Lillian Perry, she said: "I love clothes [...] Yes, I do. I mean if you come out and you look the way you want to look, you will create a mood even before you open your mouth. And sometimes that can be enough to get your audience exactly in the groove where you want them."

For the stage, Nina loved experimenting with evening gowns in a variety 
of fabrics, textures, and shapes.

As her music took a more political turn in the late 1960s, she began to embrace an aesthetic that harkened to the Black Panthers and stylings from across the African continent. 

 Whether her hair was kept in a short 'fro, woven into elaborate bejeweled styles, or cornrowed to match her daughter, Lisa, Nina's coif was always on point. 

She was also a master of the headwrap, rocking them in a myriad of ways, both on and off the stage.

Not to mention her strong hat game. I searched for and purchased a brown wide brim hat
after seeing this picture. So good.

Nina was an incredibly beautiful woman and often accentuated this through her trademark eye jewels and winged eyeliner. Also her brows were #onfleek, even back in the day. It's been interesting to observe artists like Laura Mvula draw inspiration from Nina to create their own make-up looks.

In an article on Nina Simone, Ta-Nehisi Coates said, "I have always known that Nina Simone means something much more to a specific kind of black woman than she ever can for me." While I know and believe that Nina's artistic reach is far and fan base incredibly diverse, Coates statement resonates deeply. She is particularly important to dark-skinned black women because she represents the opportunity for and realization of radical self-love in a world with a devastatingly myopic aesthetic lens. And she had one heck of a sartorial sensibility! All hail Queen Nina!

Images c/o Google

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