Holiday Gift Guide Part 4 — For The Citizen Of Erykah Badu’s “New Amerykah”
Whether donning a giant head wrap, ripping her Afro wig off while performing for Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, or rocking a bald head with a hand-painted, black tattoo-like design that extends all the way down her back, Erykah Badu has always valued her artistry above capitalist norms, refusing to abide by the exploitative blueprint the music industry imposes on female performers and bucking tradition without making this nonconformism a gimmick of its own. Over the years, Badu has undergone many a style transformation — from her days wearing Maxi dressed with tribal prints to her current penchant for snug tees, oversize ankh rings, and nerd chic glasses — but she’s always walked her own path, finding different ways to express her earthy, Bohemian, soulful spirit.
In part four of our Holiday Gift Guide, then, we’re paying homage to Miss Badu, with a round-up of holiday gifts that will appeal to those women whose ciphers keep movin’ like rollin’ stones. Ready for some style Baduizm? Read on!
Peace Images 033010 Ring, $38. Available at PeaceImages.Etsy.com
Camille Peace, the San Diego-born designer behind Afrocentric jewelry line Peace Images, designed this solid pewter ankh ring in honor of Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh — in fact, the ring’s “033010” name is a reference to the album’s scheduled release date: March 30th 2010. Featuring an adjustable sterling silver band and measuring 2.75″ in length, the 03310 ring resembles the intricately etched ankh-shaped ring Badu herself has been sporting in recent months.
Junkprints Worldly Pillow Set, $85. Available at Store.Junkprints.com
When Brooklyn-based graphic designer, illustrator, and Junkprints founder Chanel Kennebrew researched interior decor, she found that many designers veer towards extremes, either favoring a regal Versailles-in-the-Marie-Antoinette-era aesthetic; creating Moroccan-inspired oases with textured walls, stained-glass, lantern-shaped hanging lamps, and side tables with hand-painted, kaleidoscope-like motifs; opting for a contemporary style by relying on furniture with clean lines and sticking to a black and white color palette; or favoring shabby chic furnishings for a country inn feel. But what if you want to add some ethnic flavor to your home? Besides hanging up carved wooden African masks and draping sofas with kente cloth, how can a woman create a room that says black pride in a chic and clever way, without resorting to clichéd interpretations of Afrocentrism? Well, Kennebrew is vying to find the answer, and this three-pillow set is the first part of the equation. All three square-shaped pillows feature a profile view of a black woman along their center, as well as the trademark Junkprints collage motif, and a yellow pom-pon trim along their periphery.
Jeff Koons Kiehl’s Limited Edition Creme de Corps Soy Milk Whipped Body Butter, $35. Available at Kiehls.com
Badu’s relationship with Kiehl’s runs deep. Back in April 2009, she designed a label as part of the brand’s Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion Limited Edition Label Art Series, a project that also involved actor Adrian Grenier, pro surfer Kelly Slater and a group art students at Parsons The New School. As an art lover and a Kiehl’s fan, then, Badu would appreciate the new Jeff Koons Limited Edition Creme de Corps collection, which features multiple body creams bearing labels with the floral motifs found in Koo’s 1995-98 oil on canvas painting “Tulips.” In addition to the best-selling Creme de Corps (available in three sizes), the collection also marks the introduction of the Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter, a richer moisturizer that smells like a melted Bit-O-Honey. Though the consistency is akin to that of freshly churned butter, the whipped body butter is absorbed by the skin with relative ease, leaving no balmy build-up and making skin feel all the softer. Plus 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this item will benefit the Koons Family Institute , which Helps the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children locate kids who have been abducted and shepherd them safely back into their parents’ custody.
Katherine Kwei Kate Boston Bag in Brass, $535. Available at KatherineKwei.com
The brassy amber and dark brown colors of this embossed croc and calfskin satchel conjure up the same earthy feeling elicited by the cover art on Badu’s 1997 debut album, Baduizm. As with all of Katherine Kwei’s pieces, the Kate Boston features the designer’s trademark Chinese eternity knots — in this case, on the two belted leather straps running along the front of the bag.
Trop Troop Anorak, $198. Available at Anthropologie.com
Army rugged and Brooklyn cool converge in this hooded anorak, which features numerous cargo pockets with snap button and zip closures, a cinched waist, rolled-up sleeves, and a drawstring along the bottom hem
Lisa Loeb and Tina Fey aren’t the only ones who make nerdy glasses look cool. Thick, Clark Kent-inspired black frames have been incorporated into Badu’s style arsenal with as much zest as her ever-expanding collection of wigs. This particular pair boasts trapezoid-shaped lenses and a retro flat top rim.
Korres Never Enough Holiday Body Care Collection, $35. Available at KorresUSA.com
Though Lay’s potato chips once used the “One is never enough” slogan for its ad campaigns, plenty of people resisted the urge to keep dipping into their foil bags. Korres shower gels and body butters, however, are a temptation most of us can’t withstand. Once you’ve tried one of Korres’ botanical-based shower gels, experienced first-hand how soft and smooth your skin feels after being infused with vitamins C and E, aloe, zinc, and antioxidant enzymes, you’ll want to keep experimenting with new scents — from the powdery, elegant Japanese Rose to the creamy, almost milky Guava. This holiday kit includes five 1.69 oz. shower gels and five corresponding 1.69 oz. body butters in some of Korres’ best-selling scents: Guava, Fig, Jasmine, Japanese Rose, and Basil Lemon. Plus, nature lovers like Badu devotees would appreciate the eco- and vegan-friendly aspects of this limited-edition set.
Dolce Vita Joelle Boot, $236.25. Available at Endless.com
Remember Destiny’s Child “Soldier” anthem? Well, Erykah Badu isn’t worried about whether a man’s status is ‘hood, he carries big things, has low-cut caesars with deep waves, or rides free on the freeway. She’s a one-woman army, a soldier in her own revolution, one that doesn’t involve bloodshed but, rather, an evolving state of mind. To suit up for battle, any Badu-like babe could use these Dolce Vita Joelle boots, which feature antiqued brass hardware, a 4″ wooden heel, distressed leather uppers, rugged brown laces, and a double strap along the shaft for a real combat-ready flair.
Urbanears Plattan Headphones, $60. Available at UrbanOutfitters.com
When listening to the latest album from her boys in The Roots, hip hop soul lovers like Badu can reach for these to these headphones, which come in a rainbow of colors and feature comfy ear cushions and a nicely padded headband.
Linea Pelle Sliced Leather Bracelet, $40. Available at LineaPelle.com
Chunky rings and leather cuffs are key when emulating a modern Badu look. These days, the singer is known to rock a dark brown cuff that practically covers her entire forearm. Stack two of these Linea Pelle sliced leather cuffs atop each other, and you’ll get a similar look, but the slashed strips will yield a more laid-back effect.
Christopher Kane Camouflage Fingerless Gloves, $211.15. Available at MyTheresa.com
Like most children of the hip-hop generation, Badu has a fondness for camo prints. Maybe it’s because of the concrete jungle metaphor with which we were raised, but most of us tend to approach urban dressing as if it were a military operation, incorporating combat-ready motifs. These fingerless, 100% cashmere gloves feature a subtler take on the traditional camo print —plus, since they’re fingerless, you can still show off the bold rings on your fingers.
Rebecca Minkoff Boyfriend Crossbody Mini Bag, $205.99. Available at Saks.com
Minkoff gives camo print a dose of glamour in this cross-body bag, which features two buckled straps with sleek gold-tone accents — from pyramid-shaped buckles to two parallel bars that secure the straps along the center, and pointed tips — and a gold-tone chain strap with olive green leather threaded through it.
Mighty Fine “Don’t Tease My Fro” T-Shirt, $25. Available at WeLoveFine.com
Sure, she may not be rocking her own natural hair but, if those giant wigs tell us anything, it’s that Badu loves a big ol’ Afro. Who can forget her singing, “You betta pick yo’ Afro, daddy/’cause it’s flat on one side”? This adorable T-shirt, featuring Hello Kitty donning a perfectly rounded black ‘Fro, will encourage proper Afro pickin’ so no one side is ever higher than the other.
Kendra Scott Salome Cuff Bracelet in Gold Tone, $150. Available at KendraScott.com
An advocate for freedom — physical, mental, spiritual, artistic, political, and cultural — Badu harbors a fascination for symbols of flight (since, after all, soaring untethered is about as free as it gets). Kendra Scott’s 14k gold-plated brass cuff, with its carved feather motifs, would likely make any Badu kindred spirit think of ascension and hope (since, as they say, “it is that thing with wings”). They may even think of the symbolism many societies bestowed upon feathers, including the notion of them carrying prayers and messages to the deities in the sky.
Fekkai Winter Wonderful Holiday Gift Set, $75. Available at Fekkai.com
Just two months ago, I extolled the wonders of the Fekkai Shea line, which consists of a shampoo, conditioner and hair mask enriched with avocado oil, which restores luster and softens hair; castor oil, which boasts anti-bacterial and humectant properties; guar gum extract, which functions as a thickening agent; panthenol, which locks moisture into the hair cuticle; and almond glycerides that condition and smooth hair. The Fekkai Winter Wonderful holiday set will reinforce your shea fascination, since it includes both the Fekkai Essential Shea Ultra Rich Mask for an intensely hydrating hair treatment and the brand new She Butter Body cream, which targets dry skin, conditioning and softening with a mixture of shea butter, macadamia nut oil, grape seed oil, and sunflower seed oil. Your skin and hair will feel so moisturized and soft, you might be tempted to pull a “Window Seat” move and start shedding your clothes piece by piece (though, of course, we wouldn’t advise you to do so!).
Bluewick Triple Scented Candle in Passionfruit White Currant, $24.50. Available at Bluewick.com
If you’ve ever been to an Erykah Badu listening session, you know how much the songstress appreciates ambiance — and there’s nothing like a fragrant candle to add warmth, not to mention an inviting aroma, to a room. With its mixture of succulent, ripe passionfruit and crisp white, black and red currants, this Bluewick candle will make you feel like you’re sipping a fruity drink adorned with an umbrella straw while lounging on a beach in the Caribbean. And, since you thinking green is a “go,” you’ll appreciate that the Bluewick Passionfruit White Currant candle is made from 100% vegetable-based soy and fis packaged inside a recycled glass and metal container manufactured using wind energy,
Origins Clean Comforts Gift Set, $35. Available at Origins.com
Badu apprentices tend to wear a minimal amount of makeup, focusing instead on revealing fresh, moisturized, soft skin. The Origins Clean Comforts holiday set will keep complexions in check thanks to the three products housed in the snowflake-adorned box: Checks and Balances, a gentle face wash featuring lavender flower water, lavender oil, and chamomile oil, all of which help to calm down redness or inflammation; Clear Improvements, a charcoal mask with myrtle leaf water that helps to unclog pores and remove surface impurities; and Drink Up Intensive, a quenching overnight facial mask featuring rose flower oil, chamomile flower water, bitter orange flower water, myrtle leaf water, apricot kernel oil, bitter almond kernel oil, and a host of other botanical ingredients with humectant properties.
Tom Ford White Patchouli Eau de Parfum, $95. Available at NeimanMarcus.com
Erykah Badu served as Tom Ford’s muse for the White Patchouli perfume, a wildly innovative fragrance that redefined patchouli, an herb that has been ridiculed since the emergence of hippies, giving it newfound dignity and elegance. In the black-and-white ad campaign photos for Tom Ford White Patchouli, a nude Badu is shown covering her bosom, her head tiled backward, her Afro dancing lively in the air, and her near-closed eyes and slightly open mouth conveying a sense of pure ecstasy. When you try the scent, you might feel similarly ecstatic — even if you choose to bypass the pose.
A nature-loving Baduista would appreciate the sentiment behind this vibrant decorative cushion, available at modern furniture store Bo Concept, which features painterly depictions of overlapping tulip buds.
Retrofutura African Woman Turban T-Shirt, $18.49. Available at Overstock.com
Her head held high, her posture impeccable, this Nefertiti-like woman dons an asymmetrical gown and a large black turban with the word “Africa” emblazoned across it.
The Body Shop Cranberry Joy Bath & Shower Gel, $13, Cranberry Joy Shimmer Lotion, $16, and Cranberry Joy Body Butter, $20. Available at TheBodyShop-USA.com
As social activists, Badu devotees would appreciate The Body Shop’s commitment to fair trade in the global marketplace. The limited-edition Cranberry Joy Shimmer Lotion, for example, features shea butter from Ghana and sesame seed oil from Nicaragua. The honey in the Cranberry Joy Shower Gel, meanwhile, is derived from Ethiopia through a local co-operative. From a sensory stance, meanwhile, any groove child will fall for this festive fruity scent — interestingly enough, these body care products smell like a mix of passionfruit and guava, with just a hint of cranberry, making them much more enjoyable than they would be if they centered on the traditionally tart, strong, bitter taste of cranberry fruits.