Have you ever watched a movie that took you on a ride down memory lane and parked you in a happy place? That’s what watching “Mahogany,” starring Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams, recently did for me.
The 1975 drama follows Tracy (Ross), a young, stylish woman from a poor Chicago neighborhood, as she puts herself through design school and searches for work in her desired field, all while pursuing her dream to become one of the world’s top fashion designers. Along the way she ultimately finds herself in a romance with Brian (Williams), a political hopeful, who forces her to question what it is she really wants out of life.
This movie is a must-see for anyone who loves fashion. I blame my early addiction on my mother. Growing up I watched her create countless pieces of clothing for work and church from commercial patterns she bought from Hancocks; but it wasn’t until I saw “Mahogany” that I knew that this thing called a fashion designer even existed. All it took was seeing Ross, a woman with a brown face like mine, getting paid to do something creative and glamorous, to know that I had found my passion.
Back then I was so in awe of Ross that my mother took me to one of her concerts and bought me a souvenir book. Inside were the sketches the singer-turned-actress drew when designing the garments for the movie. My mind was completely blown! I did my best to copy her design and illustration style, then stuck the finished drawings on the refrigerator and on the walls of our tiny apartment. These days I don’t dabble in design as much as I did in my other life (see the “Have we met?” page for more info). My goal now is to be creative with my words instead of fabric or yarn. This doesn’t mean my love for design has died by any means. That, I don’t think, will ever happen, which is part of the reason why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see this movie again.
This time around I watched “Mahogany” not as a child, but as an adult with a critical eye for plot details. I found that the script had holes in it I’d never noticed before and that much of the acting was slightly less than Oscar worthy; but even with its flaws I still loved it. At its core “Mahogany” is no doubt a love story, but it’s also a story about self-discovery. It serves as a reminder that settling for anything less than what you truly desire is unacceptable. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic, but to me that’s a message that will never go out of style.
One more thing.
Last year the website Shadow and Act reported that a remake of “Mahogany” could already be in the works. Before you go “leave a comment” telling me who you would like to see star in the movie as “Tracy” and “Brian.”
Until next time,
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