Last Minute Gifts for Kids

Style Noir Gifts for Kids

A selection of gifts for your favorite little ones that are sure to stimulate their natural appetites for creativity and play. Plus a dash of tongue-in-cheek swagger for good measure. Gift guides For Her and For Home are on the way!

The items are (clockwise, from top left): Blume Forever striped tie tee, EyeClops mini projector, retro scooter, Flip Mino HD, Junk Prints Visionary necklace, fabric markers with which your little one can put his or her artistic signature on a pair of crisp white TOMS shoes, Junk Prints rainbow pattern duffle, and a scaled down djembe.

Last Minute Gifts for Him

Still at a loss for what to buy him? Perhaps this gift guide will spark some ideas. Click on the image to be whisked away to product and pricing information. Guides for Her, Baby and Home are forthcoming!

The items are (clockwise, from top left) Kehinde Wiley's latest book, Black Light, a Still Life NYC hat, William Ismael plates, WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie Kansai laptop case, Earnest Sewn x Victor Glemaud Collection sweaters, an Overachievers t-shirt, and a Canon g11.

On Ruud van Empel

Ruud van Empel is a Dutch photographer with a penchant for shooting gorgeous Black children in slightly fantastical, tropical environments. I was first exposed to his work via gallerist James Danzinger's blog, The Year in Pictures:
Van Empel’s trademark pieces are Rousseau-like creations picturing (mostly) black children in the middle of vibrant jungle or verdant landscapes. Created and collaged and using photoshop, they are made up of hundreds of individual photographs so that every detail shimmers with life. The photographs of the children are slightly manipulated in a way that makes them appear fictional. Van Empel’s work imagines a world somewhere between children’s books, paintings, and science fiction.

I understand that many people may feel a little queasy about the political correctness of such imagery, but looking at Van Empel’s pictures of both black and white children, there’s so much more visual oomph to the black subjects it’s easy to understand that the explanation is simply pictorial. Also the children are not so much pictured as unschooled natives but as sophisticated and elegant visitors to their edenic but strange environments.
In this post I've juxtaposed van Empel's work with old family photos shot in Liberia, West Africa circa 1955-1960. Though both images were shot indoors, you can be sure that the landscape just outside was not at all unlike the lush wonderlands depicted in van Empel's photographs. The two little boys are my father and uncle-- sophisticated and elegant yes, but hardly visitors.

Posing Beauty Giveaway Winner

The first ever Style Noir giveaway has arrived just in time for the holidays! Deborah Willis' recently released Posing Beauty: African-American Images from the 1890s to the Present features hundreds of inspired-- and inspiring-- depictions of Black Americans, beginning with the turn of the century and continuing to the present day, and I've got a copy to give away to one lucky Style Noir reader. Keep it for yourself or gift it-- although this will be difficult after you thumb through it, I promise-- to your favorite budding shutterbug.

Entry is simple: leave a comment about the best holiday gift you've ever received by midnight on Friday, December 11th. On Saturday, I'll toss all the gracious participants' names into a virtual hat and randomly select a winner. For two entries and two chances to win, fan Style Noir on Facebook, where I'm prone to posting lil' tidbits that don't appear here.

Bonne chance!

WINNER: Congratulations to AMINA, who doubled her odds by becoming a fan of Style Noir on Facebook. Thank you all for your participation-- some of the answers were truly lovely! Bryant, have fun in China! Amina, email your mailing address to stylenoir at gmail dot com and we'll ship your treasure out to you ASAP. Enjoy!

Esperanza Interprets Lauren

Mark Bradford

2009 MacArthur Fellow Mark Bradford creates massive collages out of found materials he gathers in his neighborhood in South Central LA. End papers, remnants of signage, string and other interesting bits are assembled into modernist master works that suggest not only literal cartography, but also figurative map making of the cultural and psychological varieties.

Bradford's first sale was his painting, "Dreadlocks caint tell me nothing," which was purchased by collector and philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton in 2001.

The artist is represented by Sikkema Jenkins.

Precious Art

Whom do we salute for the outstanding poster art for Precious (which hits theaters on November 6th)? Same artist responsible for the one I posted on Facebook?

Michael Platt

I've been head over heels-- I mean straight bananas-- for these prints by DC-based artist Michael Platt for a while now. Not sure what's taken me so long to post them. Platt calls himself an "image maker" whose work is "grounded in the human condition." I prefer the simplistic but wholly appropriate, "visionary."

Most of this work, which features some familiar faces, is for sale. To view more work from this series or to inquire about making a purchase-- highly encouraged-- visit the artist's website, Platt Studio.

Preston Bailey Celebrates

Today marks Rizzoli's release of Celebrations, the fifth book from floral couturier Preston Bailey. The Panama born event designer moved to New York in 1968 at 19 years old. He worked as a fashion model, then went on to open a clothing boutique. In the 80s, he was encouraged by his friend, interior design icon Vicente Wolf, to create floral arrangements for Wolf's clients. The rest is history. Bailey has used his talent of transforming humdrum spaces into fantastical experiences.

Bailey's roster of celebrity clients is nearly-- but not quite-- as impressive as his vision. Lucky for those of us whose budgets don't yet support putting Bailey and his team under our employ, Celebrations will be chock full of inspiration and ideas for throwing our own unforgettable fetes. Buy a couple copies at your local bookseller-- one for yourself, one for a deserving, party throwing friend. Which reminds me to tell you-- stay tuned for special Style Noir holiday posts and giveaways. You'll love them.

Aquarian Thoughts

A few months ago I had the pleasure of sitting down for a delightfully hearty Ethiopian lunch-- and a half-bottle of Diebolt-Vallois-- with Aquarian Thoughts designer, Nadirah Bostick. Designing since the tender age of 18, Nadirah, who is working on developing and marketing her line, currently lends her design and production chops to a few more established names in the game-- a strategy that will no doubt bolster her own grand entrée.

Nadirah's hand-crafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings are influenced by organic forms and the healing properties of gems. Featured in this photo are her Royal Turquoise necklace and earrings. I'm head over heels for her work because it appeals to my penchant for the delicately dramatic. Stay tuned for more from this emerging designer who will soon add metal work to her repertoire. Shop here.

Modernist Jeweler Art Smith

A piece of jewelry is in a sense an object that is not complete in itself. Jewelry is a "what is it?" until you make it relate to the body. The body is a component in design just as air and space are. Like line, form, and color, the body is a material to work with. It is one of the basic inspirations in creating form.

Art Smith
You made certain to high tail it over to the Brooklyn Museum for the Yinka Shonibare show, which closed on on September 20th. But did you get a chance to ogle any of Art Smith's creations? The modernist jeweler (d. 1982) was active during the middle of the 20th century, when he worked exclusively-- and to great, largely undocumented acclaim-- out of a storied workshop and retail space on West 4th Street in New York's West Village. He worked with copper, silver, gold and semi-prcious stones and was heavily influenced by his jazz musician friends and acquaintances.

21 magnificent pieces, along with some of the Cooper Union trained artist's tools, photographs, sketches, and other archival material are on view at the Brooklyn Museum until March 14, 2010. If you won't be making a pilgrimage to NYC anytime soon, you can get your fix with a purchase of the exhibition catalog, From the Village to Vogue: Modernist Jewelry of ART SMITH.

Photos are from the Flickr stream of egotechnique.

Duro Olowu Spring 2010

My favorite looks from Duro Olowu's Spring 2010 presentation, which took place last week in London. Photos from

Glenn Ligon for J. Crew

Clicked into Habitually Chic today (as I do everyday and from whence these photos were culled) and caught wind that artist Glenn Ligon is featured in the latest J. Crew catalog, along with rising star Lucien Smith and five others. Find out what Glenn and company think about the interplay between art and fashion on J. Crew's Open Studio site.

Frank Bowling

I can't remember when, where, or how I first came across the work of Frank Bowling, but what a treat it is. The Guyanese-born, British painter (b. 1936) has been turning out his ethereal abstract paintings for over forty years. Shown above are, "Sheep's Head (1960)," "Fishes, Wishes, and Uncle Jack (1989)" and, "Flambouria's Choice (1983)," respectively. Bowling is represented by Rollo Contemporary Art in London and in 2005 was elected the first Black member of England's 200 year-old Royal Academy of Art.

"If I hadn't gone to New York [in the 60s]," Bowling says in Rose Jones' documentary on the painter, "I wouldn't have been able to develop as an artist." The consensus in England at the time was that there was "no room" for an "unusual, Black artist." In New York, "there were oodles of artists who also happened to be Black and who were having their struggles with the scene there." Bowling felt an immediate kinship with this group, and also discovered that the "sharpness" of the critical American art world provided-- and continues to provide-- "sustaining energy."

Images culled from ArtNet, where you can view much more of Bowling's work, as well as the work of the other artists in Rollo Contemporary's portfolio.

Endless Summer

I decided to learn how to surf after I'd had recurring dreams about wave riding for at least a year. This decision required that I learn how to swim, which I did, rather quickly and uncannily well. In August of last year, I took my first surfing lesson. I loved it. In February, I happened upon a girl who was looking to unload a longboard. I picked up the board from her apartment in the Village, and carried it for about 20 Manhattan blocks to Penn Station, where my chariot awaited. I'd never made so many fast friends in my life as I had that evening.

Right now it's too cold to surf in my neck of the woods as far as I'm concerned, but I know of one place where the surf's always up and the water's always fairly warm: Robertsport, Liberia. I've made mention of Robertsport a couple of times. The most recent mention was here. The first was to share with you the film, Sliding Liberia, a film about an American kid who "discovers" world-class breaks in the gloriously sleepy fishing village where my father and his father spent their boyhoods, as students at a boarding school perched on a hill overlooking "God's country." Much of the film is dedicated to the story of Alfred Lomax, a young man who becomes Liberia's first surfer after a harrowing turn of events.

I didn't get to meet Alfred during my recent pilgrimage to Robertsport, but I did get to catch up with his brother, whose name-- I am very embarrassed to admit-- I've forgotten. He was a dashing, gracious young fellow, and kind enough to let me capture a few snapshots. He surfs for hours on end everyday, but what he really wants to do, he says, is finish school. He hopes to become a computer engineer.

Monique Péan

I love these bracelets from Monique Péan, who in April became the first fine jeweler to win an Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award. The erstwhile investment banker launched her line in 2006 and has always been committed to sustainability. Péan founded a charity that provides scholarships to underprivileged students in Haiti, and donates a portion of her sales to Charity:Water, for whom she designed a collection inspired by H2O, using recycled gold.

Soly Cissé

I absolutely love these electrifying but still vaguely haunting paintings by Senegalese artist Soly Cissé. His work was featured at the Milan furniture fair last month as part of Stephen Burks' "M'Afrique" installation for Italian furniture manufacturer, Moroso. Read about it on iconeye. Also part of the installation was the work of Nubian artist Fathi Hassan (whom I'll be featuring shortly) and the photographs of architect David Adjaye.

Piper Carter Presents

A sexy little collaboration between photographer Piper Carter and artist Ogechi Chieke. Model is Cody Thronton. Complete credits can be found at Ogechi's space on Vimeo. Piper says this is one piece of a series that will be exhibited-- probably at her new gallery in Detroit.

Three Generations

A couple of weeks into my Liberia trip, my father took me to meet some of the wood carvers from the Liberian Carvers' Association. He'd befriended them when he enlisted their help in acquiring a piece of redwood for one of his many pet projects. The gorgeous little guy is the grandson of the old man, who's showing off a piece of his son's work.

William Ismael

I love these plates from William Ismael, a motion director and graphic artist based in Paris. They're a functional marriage of delicacy and masculinity-- and so would probably make a great wedding gift. Purchase them-- or a smattering of other Ismael-designed products-- from his online boutique.

A global citizen, director/designer Ismael was born in the south of France and raised in Paris, Milan, New York and Los Angeles. And he's a polymath of serious proportions: he's earned a couple degrees, had a record deal with Warner Bros. France at 16, and has appeared in Vogue-- as a model.