It may have been one of winterâ€™s coldest days thus far, but that didnâ€™t stop Shakira from turning up the heat at our February cover shoot. From the moment she arrivedâ€”in her own traffic-stopping fire engine red coat, jeans, and a sweaterâ€”the Colombian native was ready to rock. With music from The Doors blasting, Shakira applied the same exuberance to the session that she does on stage, whether she was vamping it up in an ostrich feather top from Christian Dior, or striking a (somewhat) demure pose in a snow-white cotton shirt and skirt from Azzedine Alaia. Although veteran ELLE stylist Isabel DuprÃ©â€™s overall style direction for the shoot was "classic and chic" (note the iconic Chanel jacket paired with jeans and a white ribbed tank on the cover), Shakira proved that you can take the girl out of the rocker gear, but you canâ€™t take the rock nâ€™roll out of the girl. Case in point? Shakiraâ€™s favorite item from the shoot, according to DuprÃ©, was also the edgiest: "She loved the beaded-chiffon corset top from Roberto Cavalli that laces up the back." And, although the pile of diamond cross necklaces that she models inside are not in most mortalsâ€™ price range, Shakira is living proof that the most becoming accessory of allâ€”confidenceâ€”is both priceless and within anyoneâ€™s reach.
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Columbian export Shakira has one small request: to be the biggest rock star on earth. With the help of the Fates, an iron willÃ¢â‚¬â€and one very magical bellyÃ¢â‚¬â€what could possibly stand in her way? Mikal Gilmore reports.
IÃ¯Â¿Â½m right at the door of the room IÃ¯Â¿Â½ve been wanting to get into for so long, and IÃ¯Â¿Â½m about to step in," says Shakira, stretching her hand out, watching her fingers close, as if this room metaphor might actually have a door knob she can reach out and grab. It is early on a warm fall evening, and Shakira Mebarak is curled up on a sofa backstage at Arrowhead Pond stadium, in Anaheim, California, discoursing on this rather large room she sees in her mind. It is not a rec room, or even a bathroom: It is nothing less than the arena of worldwide fame, and Shakira, all four-feet-eleven inches of her, is trying to cross its threshold in a way that few artists have accomplished. Of course, there have been numerous Latin sensations in recent yearsÃ¢â‚¬â€Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Enrique IglesiasÃ¢â‚¬â€but Shakira has the musical chops and soaring ambition that may separate her from the pack. Already, she is more Madonna than Menudo: Her 2001 English-language debut album, Laundry Service, has sold over two million copies in the U.S. alone.
Like any heavily marketed singer, there is an army of producers, stylists, image-makers, managers, choreographers, and musiciansÃ¢â‚¬â€as well as Sony Music president Tommy Mottola himselfÃ¢â‚¬â€working to assure her world domination. But Shakira knows that she has an even more powerful ally: The fates apparently own all her albums. "I do what I do not because of an accident," she says, looking at me steadily with her intense dark eyes while absently tugging a stray thread dangling from her frayed bell-bottom jeans. "All my life I had this picture in my mind of me in front of a big crowd. It was like a seed planted in my brain, and in my heart. I would dare say that I was born with some kind of fatal sign, and that now IÃ¯Â¿Â½m meeting my destiny."
ShakiraÃ¯Â¿Â½s really big on talking about this fame-foretold thing. She is, after all, a product of the land that produced the literature of Magical Realism, where peopleÃ¯Â¿Â½s births are always accompanied by strange portents and promises of fate. Even the progenitor of the literary movement, Gabriel GarciÃ¯Â¿Â½ MÃ¯Â¿Â½rquez, eagerly subscribed to the idea of Shakira as a "marked" woman. "She always had the certainty she would be a public personality of world renown," he wrote in 1999. "She did not know in what art or in what manner, but she did not have a shadow of a doubt, as if she were condemned to a prophecy."
At first, I thought those words were a well-intended but outlandish demonstration of MÃ¯Â¿Â½rquezÃ¯Â¿Â½s luxuriant imagination. But then I saw ShakiraÃ¯Â¿Â½s belly. Yes, dear God, her belly. Surely it serves some purpose in helping Shakira arrive at the demands of prophecy. Or at least it doesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t hurt matters.
About twenty years ago, William Mebarak, a Lebanese New Yorker who had moved to Barranquilla, Colombia, to run a flailing jewelry business, took four-year-old Shakira to a Middle Eastern restaurant. It was there that his daughterÃ¢â‚¬â€whose name means "woman full of grace" in ArabicÃ¢â‚¬â€first experienced the beat of the doumbek and the hypnotic moves of a belly dancer. On impulse, Shakira stood on a table, mimicking the dancerÃ¯Â¿Â½s complex hip gyrations and foot patterns with a precocious knack. "It was as if some genetic memory came through her right then," her father recalls. (It wasnÃ¯Â¿Â½t until 2001Ã¯Â¿Â½s "Whenever, Wherever" video that Shakira finally shared this hidden talent with her audience.)
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