Estelle Estelle

VV Digital Cover March 2012: Estelle, All Dressed Up In Love

Estelle wasn’t always this confident. Picture a spindly teenager with protruding boobs and a booty most women (and men) would slaughter for. “I always thought I was too skinny. And then I started getting boobs and I stayed skinny. I got a butt and I stayed skinny. And then I could fit all the couture clothes and I stayed skinny. It was great!” She chuckles. “Growing up skinny, you get called a rake, a mop. It’s as much as the chubby girls. I got some shape and I was like, Okay I’ll rock out with it.”

Curvy and well fed nowadays (thanks to her wildly successful 2008 stateside debut, Shine, and mentor John Legend), the U.K. import once teased for her crooked teeth exudes coolness and certainty. Her heartbreak-laden yet cheery LP All Of Me depicts a chick who’s grown balls, both through other’s mistakes (see: the Akon-penned anthem “Thank You”) and her own.

Tonight, we’re face to face in an Atlantic Records conference room in New York; it’s the stock record-label backdrop for promo-hungry artists. Chic and petite, Estelle’s sporting a designer hodgepodge—camel-colored cropped leather coat, Helmut Lang pants, black Top Shop tee and Chanel boots, accessorized with a Tory Burch belt, Hermes bracelet and vintage turquoise ring. She’s trying to pinpoint her top three white boy crushes. “Ryan Gosling, Ryan Gosling and Ryan Gosling,” she jokes. When her little sis suggests Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, a smiling Estelle silently rejects. They dissolve into laughter. Doting on her most introspective album to date, Vixen takes an icepick to the cocoa-skinned singer-MC’s brain about music, love, the best of times and the worst. Clover Hope

VIXEN: You’ve talked about how this album is your emotional release after a breakup with your boyfriend of three years. Why did you decide to sing about it and not keep it in?
Estelle:
It wasn’t really a choice. It was happening while I was recording the album, unbeknownst to me. I ended up writing about somebody I’d break up with at the very end of recording. I kind of got the balls to do it right at the end. An epiphany hit one day coming back from the “Break My Heart” video shoot. I was like, “I deserve better.” And that was it. And then I listened to the album and I’m going into it, like, this really feels like the story of my breaking up with this guy.

What was the biggest issue that made you question that relationship?
I didn’t feel good. I didn’t wake up in the morning smiling. In a relationship when that starts to happen, you might want to push them while you’re in it. They say through thick and thin, but when it’s always thick and it’s always bad and it’s always negative, it’s never really going to turn into something. You know it’s going to be wrong but you’re like, no I want to stick around. It’s a waste of your life.

A lot of people say they like certain artists better when they’re sad, like Mary or Keyshia.
Well, I fall into the category of having had “American Boy.” That’s the happiest song on the planet. So I don’t know; people love both. What I always wanted to do is give a balanced opinion and viewpoint of what a real life is like. It’s not always sad. It’s not always happy. It’s a bit of both. I just talk about how you get through both.

Were you surprised with the “Thank You” reception?
I was surprised because in my head it hasn’t been out that long. But when I did the tour this entire month, people have been singing it word for word, the entire room, men and women. That surprises the hell out of me. That makes me cry now, where before it would be the song would make me cry. That reaction makes me cry, like, 'Oh my God, so we’re all in this together? I’m not crazy?' It kind of affirms and reassures me of my choice.

People love to hear songs about heartbreak, especially when they’re going through the same thing.
When people sing “Thank You” to me, with the lyrics, it’s a different spin. It’s talking about what really happens every single day and not settling and not just being party to that stuff. And not in a facetious way. More in an “I’m cool. I’m actually cool” way. And the part that people sing out most is: “Sometimes I wonder/If she was more of a woman to you than you were a man to me.” That’s something that’s never been said in a song before, that real and that directly. People scream that bit at me and I’m like, So you understand! People are saying that like they never had the chance to say that before. They never had the option or the words to say those words to somebody before.

Did you speak to the guy after the song came out?
He loved the song. I sung it, so he heard it and then two weeks later I broke up with him. So he had heard it and liked it. He was like, “This is a beautiful song” and didn’t think it was going to be the song that helped me through therapy, through his situation. Life is funny. It will throw you a curve ball when you think everything is great. It really will.

VV: Do you think that heartbreak theme has helped your fellow U.K. star Adele?
E: I don’t think we are even on the same page as far as music. She does what she does. I do what I do. I’m just happy we’re both here releasing records in a climate that doesn’t let you release records after the first album. I’m just happy I get my third album, official fourth, but third album, second worldwide.

Do you believe in marriage?
Absolutely do.

Do you want to get married?
Hell yes! I would be a fantastic wife. [Laughs]

How so?
I’m all in.

Ride or die?
Yeah, I will have slept for three hours and still go and try to find some kind of food or check my dude. I’m real attentive, and I definitely have one of these [referring to her big heart]. And it’s to my detriment.

Have you been close before or thought you were close to getting married?
I thought I was. He actually proposed to me minus the ring, so it kind of was like, Are we really…

The “Thank You” guy?
Yeah. Minus the ring. When you’re ready to really holler, I guess yes… When you’re serious, let me know. And that was part of the thing. I tried to always look at us and he would only see him. And even when he tried to look at us, he could still only see him. So it was kind of like, we ain’t on the same path. We’re not on the same page.

What’s the hardest thing about being in a relationship and being famous?
You’re carrying some kind of weight whichever way it goes, you know? If they don’t understand your life, they look at you like you’re you. You should be happy. And when they get into your life and they see you, they’re like, Well, I did all of this for you that no one else sees. So you can’t win either way. You’re going to pay for it for who you are somehow. I won’t complain. I love my life, I love my job, I love what the hell I do, and I love who I am. This is my existence. This is what I do. But it’s a tough thing to have to deal with always having that hung over your head, that feeling of well, he might throw that at me that he cooked for me today, like that’s not standard. I didn’t cook for him the entire week because, well, I’m me and I should be lucky that somebody wants to do that for me.

The spoken interludes on the album remind me of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
That was intentional. I think people need to talk. They need to have the conversation that [Lauryn’s] album had. They need to have that pull together that the album had and remind people that skits are fun, too. And it reminded me that I wasn’t alone, again. If you’re in a relationship and I’m who I am, sometimes I had to ride that out alone. Not a lot of people supported it. A lot of people were like, “What are you doing with him?” And then some people were like, “Well, you don’t deserve him.” And it was like, what? We like each other so what’s wrong with that? To a point, I felt alone a lot. So it just reminded me that we’re all going through the same shit. It was just five of my friends in a room talking in my front room. As much as we’re busy and we’re friends, my life is drastically different from theirs. So it just reminded me that I’m not too far off emotionally from what everyone else in the world is dealing with.

Let’s talk beauty. What hairstyles did you rock when you were younger?
I had everything. I had a blonde Mohican. I had a bowl cut with blue stripes in it, purple stripes in it. I had the fingers ways, the pushed up waves. I had short-slicked Halle Berry. I had the short-slicked Nia Long. I’ve had every hairstyle—braids, you name it.

What’s your favorite look?
My favorite look is when I had a bob cut like Regina King in Friday. It was slick, smooth and it moved. It just went from side to side. I was proud of that [laughs].

Worst hair experience?
This lady gave me like a spaceship. My hair gets really thick if you don’t relax it properly so I think she reckoned she relaxed it but she cut my hair into a space ship, a flying saucer kind of haircut. Do you remember the earlier Cynthia in Sex and the City when she started in the ’80s? Well, it looked like that but it was dry and brown. Ooh child, I was so angry. I think I tied it down.

What’s your facial cleansing routine?
Mario Badescu cucumber facial soap—all his products. I get a clearing facial every month just to re-up and clear up skin. As much makeup as I wear, and as much as I have to be turned up every single day, I try to take it down once a month. Take it all off.

Celebrities have access to so many different regimens and procedures. What’s your favorite?
The crystal, clearing thing is pretty good. It’s at Bliss Spa, if you go to a W Hotel. It’s the best most affordable clearing mask, scrub, peel, whatever. They run $500 and up, but this one is like $200 and you’ll see the difference. Your skin will actually lift a shade because it’s just a bunch of dead skin, especially for Black skin. It’s the absolute best.

Do you do your own make-up?
Sometimes.

Do you have a favorite line?
Make Up Forever is pretty incredible for all skin tones. Oh my God, they have every shade. A lot of people say MAC, but I say Make Up Forever. I’m going against the grain. I like NARS as well, as far as lipsticks, eye shadows and body oils.

Are you a frugal person?
I am, when it comes to things I know I can get for cheap. I’m definitely the girl that’s like, “Oh, that’s in Wal-Mart. I’ll go in Wal-Mart and buy that.” I love my shoes; I love my products—I don’t skimp on that. Because I know I will use them everyday. Shoes I collect them. Their products you can give them to your kids.

How many shoes would you say you have?
Someone told me I need an intervention.

What’s your favorite type of shoe?
At the moment, sky-high stiletto wedges or platforms. I’m all about that. I’m short; I’m like 5’5, 5’6 or something. I look short, too. People always think I’m taller than I really am so I’m always in heels. Put me in the sky; let’s go.

Do you guys hit on you now more, or less because they’re intimidated?
Well, now more for some reason, because I’m single I think, putting out pheromones apparently. A lot of them are intimidated, a lot of them don’t quite know what my deal is and I’m not in the rush to tell them. I kind of want to see their whole M.O. It takes a special kind of guy to really talk to me because I’ve heard it all, seen it all, and I’m definitely not here for the bullshit and I can see a through a lot. Sometimes I want to be like, try me. I might be in a good mood. I might be tipsy today. It always ends up nowhere but it’s fun to watch the attempts.

Who are your top three girl crushes?
I always lean towards fashion, so I would say Kate Moss. What she wears is everything. Iman is another one. I want to be her when I grow up. And Rachel Roy. Iman and Rachel are really good friends of mine. I look up to them and I want to be them when I get grow up. They’re beautiful women; they’re amazing.

Favorite place to shop?
Dover Street Market in London.

Does London has better stores?
Hell yeah! Than anywhere else in the world.

Top Shop got imported here.
The one here is like ugh, I guess. The one in London is just everything. Westfield is good, too. It’s like a million stores in one. It’s like the biggest mall ever.

What you want people to get from this album?
That it’s the same ish, different currency. We’re all going through this stuff together, and I think they’re getting it. It’s real life, though. It’s not just a bunch of records. This was really the most painful, stretching, intimidating experience of my life and I made it through it. So I just want anyone that’s going through it to have a guidebook, to have a bit of help.

What advice would you give girls who are reading Vixen right now who might be insecure about their body?
Hug yourself in the mirror with just your underwear on because you’re beautiful. Everyone says that, but do it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. God made you this way. I say it in a song, “I’m nice in my skin/I love every color/I got the body God gave me, don’t want another.” That was the most profound thing I feel like I’ve said on a record ever. People hear that and they’re like [gasps] because they feel like, “She must have done this and that.” And I’m like, no I work out because I want to be healthy, but listen if I put on some weight I’m cool with that. I’ll find some bigger clothes; they sell them. As long as I’m healthy, I’m good. All that stuff is overrated. Just live, man. Live. You’re beautiful.

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Andrea Kelly Says She's Been Attacked For Calling Out R. Kelly's Behavior

Andrea Kelly has found it hard to march for women as they continue to support her polarizing ex-husband, R. Kelly.

The former choreographer shared her sentiments on an upcoming episode of Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta shared on Entertainment Tonight. Speaking with close friend Debra Antney, Kelly tearfully expressed her frustrations with her ex-husband and praised Antey for sticking by her side.

The former couple was previously in a child support battle for their children Joann, 21, Jay, 19, and Robert, 17. During the time of filming, Kelly owed $161,000 in back child support to his ex. In May, it was reportedly paid off by a mysterious donor.

"When I think about the ways that I have been abused by Robert, from being hogtied, having both of my shoulders dislocated, to being slapped, pushed, having things thrown as me, the sexual abuse, the mental abuse, words can't even describe," she said.

In addition to the child support case, Kelly was charged with 11 felony counts of sexual assault. He's pleaded not guilty despite reported evidence of videotapes that reportedly show the entertainer engaging in sexual acts with minors. Andrea tells Antey how difficult the process has been for her since speaking out about Kelly's behavior in the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly. 

"Here I am, putting myself in a position because I want to help women, and they are attacking me," she said. "There's some things that I don't even speak anymore, that I feel like, once you give it to God, you better leave with God, because if I don't leave it with God, I'm definitely going to be somewhere with my hands on the glass, visiting my children every other Sunday."

Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on WEtv.

Watch the clip here.

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Courtesy of Baby Tress

Baby Tress' Edge Styler Ensures Women Of Color Will Always Shake The Beauty Table

"Do you have edge control in here?"

It's an inquiry my niece asked me over the weekend as we got ready for our cousin's graduation. Atlanta's heat is friendly but mixed with nimbus clouds, frizz (and thunderstorms) are on the horizon. Given the circumstances, a high bun seems to be the best choice for me and my niece, a slick-back style with extra attention to our baby hairs. It's typical for either one of us to grab a toothbrush to slick and swoop our edges with pomade or gel, but with The Baby Tress Edge Styler, the process is easier and equally as stylish.

Created by boutique communications agency Mama Tress, the styler is everything baby hair dreams are made of. It's also a testament to the rise of the "style" in popular hair culture. With a dual comb and brush top, its pointed tip elevates a consumer to baby hair connoisseur.

But the styler isn't something created to appropriate black culture or piggyback on what boosts the most likes on social media. The handy styler was created by Mama Tress CEO Hannah Choi and her team consisting of other women of color like public relations coordinator Mariamu "Mimi" Sillah. The New York native tells VIBE Vixen the styler was made as a gift for an event they hosted but its intentions to propel black hair were always present.

"We try to make it clear that this is for women of color. Because we all understand the history of baby hair, we all have connections, we all have stories, we all do it differently, some people swoop it; if you see some of my coworkers they do the swirls," she said. "This is a product that we want everyone to see and think, 'I don't need to be using a toothbrush. I deserve more than a toothbrush.' This is a tool made thoughtfully with women of color in mind and we are women of color who came up with the idea because we know what we need."

Coming in six different colors, the styler's bristles are stronger than a typical toothbrush and give anyone's edges a look all their own. Over the years, styled baby hairs have gotten the white-washed celeb treatment. From the runways of New York Fashion Week to fans of black culture like Kim Kardashian, its recent love affair among popular culture crosses out its rich roots.

Many have attributed the actual rise of baby hairs to the '70s with pioneers like LaToya Jackson and Sylvia Robinson of CEO Sugar Hill Records sporting their luxurious edges with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas being the all-time queen. Recent entertainers like Ella Mai and FKA twigs have made them fun and creative. There are also the many Latinx and black around the way queens who have kept the culture alive.

 

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A post shared by Ebony Brown (@wildcatebonybrown) on Jun 3, 2019 at 1:31pm PDT

“Our tool is more than a beauty product, it’s a conversation starter," Choi, who is of Korean descent, previously told fashion site Beauty Independent. "There are nuances of someone’s world that you won’t see if you’re not part of that community. And we felt that the conversation around why this market is so underserved should be brought to light and talked about. We are seeing such a big change now in fashion and beauty in terms of representation, and we want to be able to have that conversation without it being heavy. We want it to be approachable. Our brand is very approachable.”

When it comes to moving in the black hair space, Sillah feels empowered at Mama Tress. It also makes it easy to develop black hair tools like the styler. "I feel like my voice is listened to because I am a consumer of all these things. It's empowering to be in a position to have more control," she said. "If we're being honest, a lot of the black hair spaces are not owned by people who look like us. To be in a position where I can say "No, don't create this product, we don't wear things like this,' or 'Actually you should name it this because this resonates with this community,' I'm an advocate for my community. That's part of the reason why Baby Tress was created because it's about a larger conversation, about things not being thoughtfully made for us."

Baby Tress' next steps are to make the styler accessible to consumers and create even more products dedicated to black women.

“We need to be in retail spaces because this is a product you need to see up close and touch it and play with it,” said Shannon Kennard, account executive at Mama Tress tells Glossy. “Everyone who tries it falls in love with it.”

Sillah is more than ready for women of color to elevate their beauty regimen, one creation at a time. The future of Baby Tress includes an array of more products designed with women of color in mind.

"Anything that has to do with baby hair, we can bring to Baby Tress and make it beautifully designed and effective," she said.  "That's what this is about. It's about that step up. Again, we should not be using a toothbrush anymore."

Learn more about Baby Tress here.

 

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Beyonce Readies New Line And Serves As Muse For 'Lion King' Makeup Collection

Beyonce is keeping her fans quite busy this week. Yesterday (June 4), the latest trailer for the forthcoming The Lion King live action film gave the masses a first listen of Beyonce as the voice of Nala. To add on to the Disney film's energy, Beyonce's longtime makeup artist Sir John has revealed a special Lion King makeup partnership.

According to The Cut, Disney's Sir John x Luminess Lion King Limited Edition Collection includes "a 6-shade sculpting palette, a 12-shade eyeshadow palette, two matte lipsticks, two liquid lipsticks, a tinted lip balm, and a highlighter." Neutrals, pinks and shimmer jewel tones are all named after characters and other movie references, with various women (including Beyonce) modeling the new work.

 

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From day to night, statement or muted.. I love that there’s so many different looks you can create with this 8 piece collection 🙌🏽 I’ll be posting a few tutorials this month to show you guys some really cool things you can do with these products. & be sure to check out #TheLionKing in theaters July 19!  #DisneyLionKing #SirJohn #LuminessCosmetics

A post shared by S I R J O H N (@sirjohnofficial) on Jun 2, 2019 at 3:05pm PDT

 

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No filters needed ⚠️ Can’t Wait To Be Queen Eyeshadow Palette working that good light 👑✨ #TheLionKingCollectionbySirJohnXLuminess #SirJohn #LuminessCosmetics

A post shared by S I R J O H N (@sirjohnofficial) on Jun 4, 2019 at 9:18am PDT

While that was happening, Bey also caused a stir amongst the BeyHive with the announcement of her own forthcoming merch line. The "BeyHive" range officially hits her website on June 11, right in time for all the summertime functions.

Beyoncé's new "beyhive" range has been sent to several members of the BeyHive is promotion of her new merch line, launching June 11. https://t.co/zIkzJ9B8Qq pic.twitter.com/Ql9yWXKNDR

— BEYONCÉ HUB (@theyoncehub) June 5, 2019

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