Welcome to #GIRLGANG.
Although this issue might seem like a feminist movement, in part that is true. This issue is dedicated to the women in creative fields and beyond who not only compete with themselves but the men in their fields too. I remember having a conversation recently with a few friends about the best musicians, producers and the sort to surface from the UK and we all couldn’t name more than two women. This isn’t to say there aren’t female producers, rappers or DJ’s kicking ass at the moment, look at the likes of Lilly Mercer, Hannah Faith and Little Simz. Even though we as women are represented in the industry, I still believe it’s not enough. We’re not aiming to start a sexist war or come across as raging feminists, the Girl Gang issue is only here to shed light on the heaps of talented women we know and support, without the bitchy rivalry that usually comes with being female. Here’s to all those that spoke to us and helped us create one of our most exciting issues to date.
Happy Reading. Umps Machaka Editor
Editor Umps Machaka
Assistant Editor Maria Adegeye
Writers Angela Wereko-Anderson Alice Fiancet Leonie Owiredu Luna Enne Nudes
Special Thanks Helmi Okpara Ndidi Okoye Noah Leroy Oxygen Models Philippa Alice
Apparently Magazine welcomes all contributions.
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The Duo LDN Tej Adenuga Cover Art by: Philippa Alice
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Image > Girls Girls Girls Words > Nude Age Photography Words > The Era Of The Superwomen Image > Girl Gang Feature > Only Girls Allowed Image > Lone Wolf Interview > Misha Meghna Image > Rose Queen Interview > Charlie Craggs Image > Skin Study 0.1 Interview > Nubian Skin Image > Black Pearl Interview > Lis Eriksson Review > Tony Gum END
Photographer Phillipa Alice Models Malaya & Bardha
Words by: Luna Enne Nudes Image by: Cary Fagan
Nude Age Photography
Lets talk nudes. A few years ago during my obligatory ‘girls freedom holiday’ I flashed my tits to a sea of people in a club. I was hammered and supposedly having the time of my life. Did it make me feel good? free? liberated? No actually. I spent the rest of my holiday crying and worrying about what porn sites my face would be on when I got back to England. Why is it, that nudity is a subject people love to tip toe around? One of my favourite moments of 2014 was back in November, after her very own nudes were leaked, fell into the eager hands of the twitter rumour mill and trended worldwide: Jennifer Lawrence was quoted in Vanity Fair: “I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.” I mean; yes there are more beautiful ways of portraying the female anatomy, than Jennifer Lawrence with cum on her face; but why should she apologise for her own body? I mean she isn’t the only woman in the 21st century snapping naked shots for her man. The people expecting her to apologising are the same people googling ‘pics of naked celebs’ every time there’s news of the sort. As the youngest woman in a family of Arab muslims, ‘modesty’ and exposure has always been a hot (or very very cold) topic in my life. Yes, I was that girl who left her house fresh faced in jeans a jumper, with a tiny handbag stuffed to the brim with mini skirts and cheap eye shadow pallets. In a lot of ways, I think the religious influence I’ve had growing up, has inspired my belief in the liberation of the uncovered self. I believe strongly in God; as an artist. Leonardo DaVinci didn’t paint the last supper to have it placed in the Louvre; covered completely, by a sheet of cloth. OK, lets not get carried away. I’m not saying, we should all start prancing around Piccadilly Circus dangling our pudenda all about the place. I’m simply saying, it is important; when it comes to the leafless self, especially in photography be it professional or otherwise, to appreciate it for exactly what it is. Art. We are our own nemesis. It often seems women are split into two rival teams; the feminists and the chauvinists. I wanted a male point of view, I wanted to see things from a similar, but mediated perspective. I reached out to Texan photographer Cary Fagan, his shots of uncovered women are both beautiful and artistic. He was kind enough to give me his time and answer a few questions for me: “Nudity is something society frowns on,” he starts, “I am into nude photography for the simple fact I am against society.” He is open and honest, but curiously enigmatic. “I want my photographs to be limitless to the viewer.” A man whose ‘main source of inspiration for any creative outlet,’ is the female anatomy; (rather flattering when you think about it). What I really wanted to know is what the real
line dividing nude art / erotic photography from pornography. Is appreciation of a naked body not just appreciation of a naked body no matter what form it comes in? “Some people say there is a very thin line dividing the two. However, for the artists working in the nude art segment, and for fine art fans the distinction between these two notions is vast and obvious. Of course, viewing fine nude photographs does arouse basic human instincts. However, the primordial beauty of the human body, its perfection and purity still remain at the key focus of nude photographs.” Purity is the key word for me here. We have become so wrapped up in the sexualisation of the body, we’ve lost the concept of it’s innocence: “Even the naked human body has so many secrets unrevealed. Maybe, it is because the body itself is the clothing for a soul. Unfortunately, the attitude of the mass audience towards nude art is spoiled by many social prejudices, religious dogmas, and fake moral principles. People, who understand this, can understand the real artistic value of fine nude art, looking far beyond and seeing much more than breasts in a photo. Nude photography often accentuates emotions and feelings. Look deeply into the eyes of the models and you will see the whole new world with love and sufferings, joy and sorrow, and the true uncovered sexuality, of course.” It isn’t just the objective audience I’m trying to reach out to here either. It’s you: the doting female aiming to please. Appreciate your own body as you would want a third party to receive it. I have seen the most wonderful professional photographs of women all manners of shapes and sizes. What’s the difference between you and a model the same dress size, or with the same skin imperfections as you? The angle.The female anatomy, every shape, curve, blemish; it’s all craftsmanship. I have a friend, who (long may his luck reign) receives the most exquisitely stylish pictures au natural. There’s something about a picture of a woman who appreciates what she’s been blessed with and honours it in the way she presents it, that is so much more invigorating than say (no offence to my ladies out there) a picture sent upon request; in an old set of lacy La Senza’s, taken at a back breaking angle in the mirror of your parents en suite. To me, that is the difference between art and porn. Be your own master. Take your pick. Love Luna.
Words by: Angela Wereko-Anderson Images by: Nhi Ngo
The Era of The Super Women
From world renowned author Naomi Wolf to YouTube superstar Zoe Sugg AKA Zoella, female individuality has come a long way, not only in its ability to exercise freedom of expression, but its flexibility in terms of choice. There are a lot more career options now for females, and even more opportunities for females to speak out and fight on gender issues and social problems than ever before. More and more women are not only seeking out their own individualities, they are carving their own paths and identities. They are mobilising and proactively changing and shaping their environments to reflect their thoughts, personalities and interests. This isn’t a selfish agenda however, as their openness creates a dialogue that more often than not reflects and represents the minds and hearts of a lot of other females through the various creative mediums that currently exist. The females listed below are reasons why you shouldn’t just take my word for it. These ladies have done nothing but worked hard, and are still striving, to achieve their ambitions and aspirations. Their stories tell me that I have everything to gain and nothing to lose as a female, and I hope they inspire you as much as they’ve inspired me. “I’m always championing my university because I think it set me up in ways that I would never have anticipated. I don’t think I would have been in the arts at all, if I didn’t go to Kent to be honest, because they really encouraged us to go out and make our own stuff”. Having studied at Kent University, Vicki has always wanted to be in performing arts. Vicki Baron, co-founder and director for Empty Photo Theatre, eloquently explains the logic behind her choice of profession. We’re sat at her dining table in her flat (which I’ve already observed to be a great apartment and complimented her as such), having a very interesting chat over coffee about how she got to where is today.
“When I was a kid, I always thought I’d be an actress one day and it was interesting because I thought about that at the back of my mind until fourth year [of university], and as part of the course, your fourth year is the year you select a specialism but at that time they didn’t have acting as an option so I chose directing. I fell in love with directing because I’d realised that as much as I enjoyed being a member of the cast, I was more comfortable in taking a step back and being responsible for the whole picture of something and shaping it”. “The best piece of advice someone shared with me was that if you loved anything as much as you love acting then you shouldn’t focus so much on it because acting takes everything you have and its so demanding and so involving”. Since then, Vicki founded Empty Photo theatre along with a friend and has been running it successfully ever since. “I found acting lonelier than directing. The sense of responsibility of having to stand in front of the stage and justify my character to all these people, scares me more than taking a step back and being responsible for the whole thing- I think its because there’s something about giving a group of actors and the technical team everything you have and helping them to realise their potential. It just made more sense to me as something that I can do more so than trying to stand on my own and be worth their watching I guess”. The company’s first official play was performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012, and therein awaited a whole host of future successes. To list just a few, Vicki has recently worked with the BBC, directed a series of plays including Date Night and Chris is Dead, and is currently directing a play called Tumbling After, which is due to showcase later this year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
“When I was five years old my mum asked me what I wanted to be and I said a window cleaner. It just looked so fun. The windows I clean still have streaks in them till this day. Then, when I was nine, I really liked maths even though I was shit at it. I’d always get the answer however never be able to explain the process. I knew how to work it out in my head, however wasn’t able to explain the process. I always knew the long way of answering but I needed to learn the short way. Then when I was thirteen, I wanted to be an architect/ interior designer however maths was involved, so I had to turn away.” Now there’s a story we can all relate to. It does intrigue me however, that there was always a consistent persistence in finding something new and different to do when the previous aspiration changed. “Hunger (magazine) didn’t get back to me about my internship application, so I decided to create my own magazine. I met a lot of artists that I enjoyed listening to who didn’t have big PR campaigns so I decided to start it up to help them get known”. Three years later, Apparently Magazine is still effective in its original vision, and its founder Umps Machaka, is more or less a leader at the tender age of 20. So, why the choice of profession? “I was passionate about photography and wanted to venture more into it”, and as a high achieving student in both secondary school and college, Umps decided not to allow the frustration of being let down stop her from achieving her dream. She has since worked with the likes of Addidas, Bench, Sewn Agency and more to produce a brand that leaves you wondering whether she really is as young as she says she is. You can imagine that as a 17 year old, going into new waters as deep as this would have been no mean feat. “I was very shy prior to [creating] this magazine. I didn’t know that certain departments like PR existed. Luckily, a PR company contacted me and offered me their clients products for features, reviews and editorials”. That’s where it all got official for Umps. 2013 became the year she grew into herself not only on a professional scale, but on a personal level. “I’ve gained more confidence; people have naturally gravitated towards me and have been very helpful in making this work”, but also growing a brand that is developing into one that should be reckoned with. The process of moving your dreams and visions to reality can be a daunting experience; a fact that Umps, as well as my next superwoman knows far too well.
With her talent in dressmaking being noticed at a very young age by her textiles teacher, Fashion designer and Illustrator Nhi Ngo found herself in fortunate position. The first item she made? “A corset. At that point, I hadn’t [created] anything like that in my life. I had only created samples and designs and because she saw something in me, she said ‘you know what Nhi, lets challenge you to make something’, so I made a corset and a top and it went uphill from there”. It did indeed; Nhi went on to study Textiles and Graphics at college, with the latter subject being a personal preference. It paid off, as she got an A star in it. “Then I took a foundation course at Ravensbourne university for a year, which was really fun as every two weeks we had different types of projects, [ranging from] design to sportswear to recycled fabrics. That was a favourite of mine as I enjoy reconstructing and creating things from scratch”. It was the perfect foundation for her, as it laid down all the options she could embrace as a career. She moved on to Middlesex University, where she is currently studying Fashion Design. She has so far had the opportunity to not only create her own designs, but showcase her work on the catwalk. “It was interesting because I learnt everything myself, I went out and took pictures of my friend as she was modelling for me, it was really fun because I actually got to experience everything first hand”. Having that liberty both on her course and creatively worked together for her benefit, as its given her the ability to manoeuvre around the various areas that encompass both graphic and fashion design. “I realised that I liked menswear a lot more than womenswear [during this experience], because I felt with menswear I could experiment more, whereas with womenswear the clothes are [designed] to be fitted more on the body. I’ve always dressed in layers and loose fitted clothing, as well as being inspired by architecture, monochrome and geometric shapes. I also always enjoy using neoprene for my designs. I’ve used it for the past three years of my course so I’m very familiar with it”. “I really want to create something that everyone can wearsomething that I as well as everyone else will like”; she has certainly achieved that in this collection. The colours bring out the warmness of the fabric’s used, which suggests comfort at the very least to its wearer. The dose of androgyny in Nhi’s designs are weighty in androgyny, yet still achieves its ability to compliment the feminine physique. It’s safe to say therefore, that her influences and ideas are indeed reflected, and very much understood.
So there we have it; an illustrator and fashion designer, a founder and director of a theatre company and a magazine founder. Three very different females in three different professions. What inspires me most about these ladies isn’t just their career choices, but also how hard they’ve had to work to get to where they are. It’s easy to read this piece and ask what the big deal is exactly, as I’ve painted a very rose tinted picture, but one must understand that it it’s not been an easy journey for any of them. They’ve all faced struggles physically, mentally and even emotionally to get to where they are. They all compromised, sacrificed and fought at some point to ensure that their dreams are achieved. The freedom of women to pursue their ambitions are very much alive and kicking, but the pressures they have to encounter in the process is also very much in existence. That ultimately has nothing to do with gender, but rather a reflection on the inherent passion of the individual. When asked what Vicki, Umps and Nhi wanted the world to know, they all pretty much said the same thing with confidence: that everything will be ok. Somehow, I believe them. And that, my dear readers, is why these women are superwomen. I don’t name them as such because of their ability to fly over buildings, or to seek revenge on enemies by exercising their laser vision, but by their amazing ability to use what they have in that moment, from their talents, to successfully spotting the best opportunities, and being brave enough to utilise each talent in aiding their never-ending ambition of achieving success. “I have a big problem with people who say that women should be in the arts because they are women. Women should be in the arts because they are people and people who have things to say. In 10, 15 years time, there are women coming up in the industry now who are going to change the face of things- if they aren’t now, they are going to”. Vicki Baron, I couldn’t agree with you more. You can follow Nhi Ngo’s progress in Fashion and Illustration design by following her on Instagram: @nxnhi Vicki Baron’s Tumbling After is currently in the process of being made. You can support them in independently funding for this project here (http://www.gofundme.com/ tumblingafter) or follow their journey here: http://www. redbellyblack.co/tumbling-after.html Umps Machaka is currently the founder of this magazine, so the best way to support is to enjoy the content that is being posted both on the website and in our issues.
Kim (Right) Wears Jacket & Trousers – Jessica Newall | Trainers – Adidas at Schuh Adelina (Front) Wears Suit – Lizandra Cardoni | Top – Hanger Inc | Trainers – Adidas at Schuh Symara (Middle) Wears Suit – Lizandra Cardoni | Shirt – Jessica Newall | Trainers – Adidas at Schuh
Symara (Left) Wears Jacket – Jessica Newall | Shorts – TASLIMA K | Shoes – Schuh
Adelina (Right) Wears Jacket – Yifang Wan | Trousers – Youjia Jin | Shoes – Model’s Own
Suit – Youjia Jin | Earings - ESHVI
Jacket & Trousers â€“ Jessica Newall | Sunglasses - NYX LONDON
Shirt – TASLIMA K | Trousers – Yifang Wan | Jewellery - ESHVI
ALL JEWELLERY BY ESHVI | ALL SUNGLASSES NYX LONDON
Symara (Right) Wears Jacket – Jessica Newall | Shorts – TASLIMA K | Shoes – Schuh
Kim (Left) Wears Suit – Youjia Jin | Shoes – Schuh
Words by: Alice Fiancet Image courtesy of: Kate Nash
Only Girls Allowed
Feminism is often considered to be a taboo subject, but one singer is working to change this. A new type of gang is forming and it’s all for independent women of the 21st century… In 2007, Kate Nash crept to the forefront of the music scene and started sharing her feminist views through her music. The London-born indie-pop singer believes songs are the most effective way of getting a message across, “It’s the most instant and emotional” and that it was through this medium that she formed her views on feminism, “From the Spice Girls to looking back at Britney Spears and her life in the spotlight and what the media did to her and to Amy Winehouse.” Kate believes she has a duty to her fans and to women across the world to help people understand feminism, “When I first became successful and I saw a crowd of girls looking and dressing like me, I felt a huge responsibility to them and wanted to nurture that.” Kate was a global ambassador for ‘Because I am a Girl’; a global initiative that has sustainable projects in developing countries. The opportunity arose for her to travel to Ghana where she got first hand experience of what the programme was doing to help girls be protected from violence and exploitation, “It was amazing.” Wanting to be a rockstar and an activist may be what brought her into the role she plays today. It would seem that being a revolutionist is something in her nature. At thirteen, she watched a film about a girl who put vodka in her cornflakes and then moved to El Salvador to be a missionary “I was attracted to both sides”. She has been exploring feminism in its various forms but it was only last year that she decided she wanted activism to take a more prominent role in her future. Her latest feminist project is entitled ‘Girl Gang’ and its aim is to bring together girls and create an alliance, “It’s about having an opinion, it doesn’t have to match mine, just have one.” Kate explains how the project helps to encourage women to love and be themselves as well as helping to change the way other people feel and what they think about feminism. She thinks education is key to helping remove the negative stigma attached to the word ‘feminist’ and that it is a great thing that more pop stars are associating themselves with the word, “Pop culture always has a great effect on young people.” She believes it is a lack of education that causes people not to consider themselves a feminist, “Feminism is integral because sexism is ripe on a scale from horrible to horrifying.” Now, Girl Gang has its own platform and Girl Gang TV (GGTV) is growing and a collaboration with MTV has propelled the project into the wider community, “They were really into the idea”. With this partnership, more people will be reached and a greater number of women will be able to associate themselves with the newest gang in town. So what is next for the pop-star turned revolutionist? More GG filming and a new record to look forward to. Will her next album be titled after the revolution she has started?
Photographer Noah Leroy Photographers Assistant Kay Stylist Umps Machaka Model Eve @ Oxygen Models
Baseball Dress - Feldt | Dress - Pippa Lynn | Sunglasses - Kirk Originals
Quilted Jacket & Skirt - This Is Welcome | Shoes - Vans | Backpack - Hemsley
Bucket Hat - Rascalsâ€™ DK | Crewneck - Samsoe and Samsoe | Jeans - This Is Welcome
Bucket Hat - Rascals’ DK | Top & Skirt - This Is Welcome | Trainers - Nike @ JD Sports | Socks - Model’s Own
Shirt & Shorts - Feldt
Jacket - Aigle | Bralet - Native Rose | Culottes - Pippa Lynn | Shoes - Vans | Handbag - Chapman Bags
Words by: Umps Machaka Images by: Misha Meghna
Apparently Meets Misha Meghna
How would you describe yourself in a sentence? I’d like to say I’m peaceful and spiritual. I believe in the whole mantra that the universe works towards you. I’d say my mind is just full of crap that creates the work I do, so I’m a very imaginative person too. When did you get into photography? I started filming and directing when I was young, then I went to uni and I studied Media Arts which wasn’t the plan, but that’s where I found out I was more in love with photography. I’d never studied it but it was just something I’d picked up from learning the craft of editing and directing. I never knew I was good at photography until this one time I took a photo of my friend and it turned out good. I then started putting in more effort and practising and it just turned into something. You just mentioned directing, is that another field you’re into? Yeah, that’s my original field. That’s where I started, it was mainly editing and directing, then I got sick of editing. I like directing but its just finding someone who has the right mind as me when it comes to my films that’s where my video partner comes in. Directing was just something I’ve always loved doing. Where do you think women currently stand in the industry? I think it is hard, the industry is obviously built around men and the females in it are meant to be in front of the camera. Especially for myself, I’m not obsessed with making sure I look great but I do care about style and clothes so people just assume that I’m just a person who dresses
up. For example, I would rather put pictures up of my photography on my Instagram than me; but the way Instagram works, it’s so shallow that people want to see you, they don’t want to see your work unless you’re literally known for your work. There are a lot of photographers like that but, if you’re a female its like why not post pictures of yourself because that’s whats going to get the attention. I’ve never seen a female photographer on Instagram especially, that doesn’t post pictures of themselves. They all seem to have some kind of flare about them. That’s why I think we do have this stigma attached that if you’re a female you should be in front of the camera and you’re always going to have that. But I think it’s changing, hopefully it is. I find it a struggle more so because I’m a woman as opposed to because of my colour or race. Even saying that, you have shot some amazing things. You’ve done something for Vogue? It was Italian Vogue and it wasn’t a full on editorial but I did shoot and they selected the best images. The first one was done in LA and that was one of the most amazing moments of my life, having that appear of Italian Vogue. Then the second was a self portrait of myself which was the second time my work appeared on Italian Vogue. It was really weird and surprising because I didn’t expect that. There were so many other images I thought they’d pick. It’s quite a big deal but I’m still nowhere near where I’d want to be right now. Where would you say you’d want to be ideally? If I limit myself and say I want to shoot for Chanel or whatever it is, hypothetically speaking, then what? Is it to say I’m gonna stop there or do I keep going? I want to get to a point where I’m able to shoot comfortably three times a week, I could travel as much as I want, I could film whenever. Being able to do all that for me is my goal. I’d love to see my work on a billboard or something like that one
day but there are other goals, the main one being able to shoot comfortably. Earlier on you mentioned your directing partner, is that something that’s quite new? He’s an editor, and I’m the director. Our company is called Space6ix, it’s fairly new. Basically I work with his music group and I do a lot of their videos. They met me through someone who suggested I work with them. The funny story is that, Courtney had actually come across my work prior and said this is the girl we want to work with and I happened to meet them and it was all fate that we all managed to click and it’s just a big family now. They do their music and everything is in house for them. So I do their videos and work with them creatively to make sure everything photo wise is on point. I was doing the videos but I didn’t want to edit, it was just too time consuming. Our relationship is more so chiming in where what should go.We both give each other suggestions on our work because he’ll also be there at the shoots and assists and I will edit with him. What’s been the most exciting project you’ve both worked on? The most exciting, there’s two. We did an advert for a children’s book. The reason I say that was exciting was because for them to set up their business they needed a loan and our video helped them get that loan, so it means our work pushed that and helped that happen.For me the result I was most proud of was our video for Christian Rich. We shot them at their concert when they were down here and that was really fun; so far anyway. You also travel quite a lot, exploring new countries and cultures. Do you find that infusing those cultures or being surrounded by different cultures helps define your work?
Definitely. I think you’ll see when I’m in the country looking at through my Instagram because its so dull. It’s not to say that London is not a good place, it’s just that I’ve been to LA so many times for example and stayed out there for a while and I’ve been to countries like India and Portugal. It’s all places that are full of culture and for me I think that’s where I strive. That’s my forte, the sun is everything for me, working with natural light is the best. I’m also not very technical with my camera, so working with natural light is the best. Especially because we all have jobs working Monday to Friday, I’m a real person, I don’t live off of my photo money and I don’t front that either.Its just nice to get away and do creative things in other countries because that’s when my creativity is at its best. Even my own culture, I’m Indian and that fully co-intwines with what I do. It does come across in your work actually. I did an editorial, Part 1 and Part 2 for Babylon Clothing. Part 1 was shot in India and we had these two kids running around the beach and I just asked them if I could take a picture of them with my model. It meant more to me. I’ve seen pictures on Tumblr for example and they’re very simple, weird stuff in front of a shop or whatever, you see it on Instagram too. I love it but, I’ve tried to do that and I find that I’m better at high fashion or more conceptual shoots than I am doing something in front of a shop. I’m obsessed with the Jaws Harpers Bazaar shoot right now. I’ve not felt that way about a shoot in a very long time. And again it was conceptual, there was so much thought put into it and its beautiful. So when it comes to shoots do you work a lot with set designers or anyone else? No, I do everything by myself.
Wow, that must take a lot from you. Yeah. It’s not that I don’t like working with other people, obviously I do but from the get go I’ve never had any connections. I’m one of those people that didn’t have connections until my work got put out there. So I was the one styling my shoots, finding the models, making that connection. I had a partner who unfortunately passed away but she was my photo editor as well, she gave me that input and helped me flourish. But my ideas and for it to actually come alive was pretty much just me doing that. For some reason I got very lucky when finding the models, they ended up being friends so I can now use them again and again. So everything is down to what I’ve thought about. I am starting to try and work with stylists because it is something I can’t take on anymore. The more I work with brands and the more I work with stylists its become a little easier to do things. I don’t use studios, well I rarely do anyway apart from my own studio. With the rise of collectives and a lot more people collaborating ,where do you see the whole creative industry in London going? I think right now, there are so many clicks. It’s cool to have a group and it’s cool to be a stylist or a photographer. Instagram is taking over so many peoples lives. I don’t even like it that much because it drives me insane when I think that people are shooting and making themselves think that they’re photographers. So for me I think it might not be the best time to be a photographer because there are so many. It doesn’t mean I’m going to quit but, I do think it is hard. I think its easier for people to get picked up because they have a couple of good pictures on Instagram and then it’s just a connection they’ve made and get more shoots that way. I don’t think I’ll flourish as much in the UK as I possibly would in other countries.
Having said that, I’ve had a guy from Israel want to by one of my shots, so it shows that a lot of people who follow my work are from a cultural background as well. I don’t feel I really need to be in London to do well, but its my city, I grew up here so I’d love to be established here properly first. Apart from photography, you mentioned you have other jobs, whats your role with SomewhereTo? SomewhereTo are a youth organisation that provide space for 16-25 year olds for free. They’re amazing and adapt well to peoples needs and wants, it’s good for people that are creative that want office space or want to set up an event. I’ve done a series of art galleries and shows with them to help people like myself who haven’t really established themselves as artists. I help them project their work out there and curate for them, so they would come to me with a concept and we’d choose a certain amount of artists.That’s what I’d like to do as well, carry on helping other people because I know how hard it is as an artists. In terms of affiliation, you are affiliated with quite a few people. How would you say that’s helped you grow, would you say it’s important when networking to keep these relationships? Yeah. I started off not knowing anyone and I’ve been doing this for about six/seven years. I was nineteen when I started, it was only when I graduated and started working that I started meeting people and making connections. It definitely helps. Networking is the key and win or lose of the game. It’s not really knowing people it’s more knowing how to know people. The more people you know, the more people will see your work. Who are you inspired by right now?
At this present moment, fuck, I don’t think there’s anyone. If I’m honest culture is huge for me and always has been. Seeing things on Tumblr for instance helps. For me my overall inspiration is Helmut Newton, he’s amazing and skating or some 70’s elements are my other main inspirations. If you were to give advise to someone or share the best advise you’ve been given, what would it be? If I were to give advise it would be that you don’t need to necessarily be at the top straight away, take your time to work your way up. The more you focus yourself on being out there, the easier its going to be for you to fall. Focus on your craft, make sure its perfect work your way up don’t force your way up. The best advice I got, change your work to RAW. My best advise is to take advise.
Photographer Helmi Okpara & Maria Adegeye
Model Masha Esa
Set Assistant Siziwe Sayiya
Choker - Stylists Own | Jumpsuit - AnhHa
Co-Ord - Dark Pink | Jewellery - Lucky Little Blighters
Dress - Lazul
Dress - Lazul
All Jewellery - Lucky Little Blighters | Lace Top - Dark Pink
Words & images by: Umps Machaka
Apparently Meets Charlie Craggs
If you could describe yourself as a song title what would it be and why? Stronger by Britney Spears, because I’m stronger than yesterday honey. Do you feel that society as a whole has grown to embrace the LGBT community in the twenty-first century? We’ve come so far, but we still have a long, long way to go before true equality is achieved. It’s still illegal to be gay in many countries, never mind being transgender - that’s another fucking story. I’d say the Trans Rights movement is a good 20 years behind the gay rights movement, but everything is moving in a positive direction thank God, we’ll get there one day. At what age did you realise that the body you were born with didn’t reflect who you truly felt like inside? I remember being about four or five, saying to my mum that I wished I had been born a girl. It wasn’t until I was going through puberty and developing into a man that I really knew something was wrong. I felt so uncomfortable in my own body that I didn’t want to live anymore. It got so bad that I knew if I didn’t do something about it I’d end up dead. As a transgender woman, currently going through the beginning stages of your transformation, what would you say it’s been like, both emotionally and physically? Sadly the NHS is a bit of a shambles when it comes to caring for trans patients. So even though I went to my GP over a year and a half ago to begin my transition, I’m in exactly the same position I was all that time ago, which is very depressing. Fix up NHS.
Ann Oakley once said in her book Sex, Gender and Society, “Most of the debate about sex differences is angled at proving that women are or are not different from men, rather than proving that men are or are not different from women. If this fact needs explaining, it is enough to point out that the bias of our culture is still patriarchal”. Do you think that society’s views on gender and sexuality are mainly applied from a male perspective? Totally - but I really couldn’t care less what a man, or what anyone thinks. A few years ago you had the honour of meeting and interviewing MBE Christine Burns, what was it like meeting her and how did that encounter affect you personally? Christine is legendary, she has done so much for the Trans Rights movement so it was an honour to even breathe the same air as her never mind interview her. Interviewing her definitely affected me, it put things into perspective for me because even though it’s very, very tough to be transgender today, it’s a million times easier than it was when she began her transition, so when I’m having a bad day I just remind myself how lucky I am. I think whatever community or culture you belong to, it’s so important to know your heritage, history and the stories of the people who paved the way for you to be living your truth today. A few years ago you had the honour of meeting and interviewing MBE Christine Burns, what was it like meeting her and how did that encounter affect you personally? Christine is legendary, she has done so much for the Trans Rights movement so it was an honour to even breathe the same air as her never mind interview her. Interviewing her definitely affected
me, it put things into perspective for me because even though it’s very, very tough to be transgender today, it’s a million times easier than it was when she began her transition, so when I’m having a bad day I just remind myself how lucky I am. I think whatever community or culture you belong to, it’s so important to know your heritage, history and the stories of the people who paved the way for you to be living your truth today.
as Selfridges now breaking the gender barriers?
What defines beauty to you?
What is your favourite thing about any part of the human body?
Having a nice face or body or whatever only makes your pretty, handsome, cute or sexy. Beauty is more than physical. It’s you as a whole; compassion, intelligence, talent, humour, personality, attitude. Beauty is in your soul. What defines gender to you? Gender is between your ears, not between your legs. Simple. What’s been the best advice you’ve been given so far that you would pass on to another young transgender woman/man? My Nana always taught me not to give a shit or take shit from anyone. She is the original bad bitch and is my biggest inspiration as a woman. Name five people (dead or alive) you’d like to meet and have a conversation with. Let’s keep the transgender theme going; Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Christine Jorgenson, Miss Major Griffin Gracy and April Ashley. Five L.E.G.E.N.D.A.R.Y women, If you don’t know, get to know. You’ve done a beauty documentary with Selfridges in the past and are now working with them again, what do you think about a retail store as big
It’s incredible but also about fucking time. I’m so honoured to be a part of such a revolutionary project, I hope it sparks change so that one day it won’t even be considered newsworthy. After all they’re just clothes, I mean if a piece of fabric solely defines or validates your gender you should consider having a sit down with yourself babes.
The brain. Lastly, what’s the most important thing you’d like to share with the world in this present moment? Check out my award winning campaign Nail Transphobia and follow me on social media @charlie_ craggs - I’ll follow you back if you’re cute.
Skin Study - 0.1
Photographer Tej Adenuga Model Aidin Mahoor
Words by: Leonie Owiredu Images courtesy of: Nubian Skin
Apparently Meets Nubian Skin NUBIAN SKIN is an innovative underwear brand which is taking the UK (& world with stockists in Nigeria) by storm. Their services provide â€˜a different kind of nudeâ€™ for women of colour. I got a chance to speak with Ade Hassan, the founder of the brand about her thoughts on the representations of women of colour in the industry. Check out our interview below.
Could you tell us about your brand, who you are and what you do?
What was your biggest fear with launching the brand?
A nude bra and skin tone hosiery are the basics of everywoman’s wardrobe, at least in theory. However, for many women of colour, finding suitable skin-tone hosiery and lingerie has not been an option. Nubian Skin aspires to be the brand women of colour can turn to when they need to find that much needed pair of nude hold-ups or a perfect nude bra. Our motto is “Empowering Women. Embracing Our Colour”.
There is always, the fear that you’ll put the energy and effort into something revolutionary and then a “big fish” with a lot of money behind them will simply copy the idea and do it for much cheaper. But, you can’t live your life ruled by fear, there would be no progress.
Why did you feel that creating Nubian Skin was important to our current market?
I wanted something which really spoke to the history and significance of dark skin, so I chose Nubian. I had originally thought of Nubian Nude, but that can be very tricky when it comes to internet searches, ‘Skin’ just worked.
First of all, it caters to a much neglected market, which is incredibly important. Secondly, I believe it will allow women of colour to remove limitations they may have previously faced when doing something as simple as wearing clothes. I really hope it allows those women to understand how beautiful their skin is and that it deserves to be catered to. I see that Nubian Skin has had great reviews in major publications such as The Independent, how do you feel about the response? It’s been such a blessing. I’m honestly so grateful. We could never have afforded to pay for this kind of advertising, so for it to happen organically has been wonderful. As a person of colour why do you think it has taken this long for a brand catered specifically to those of Nubian Skin to surface? I think perhaps the people making the decisions about what is created simply don’t have that perspective. Often, you have to deal with the problem yourself to come up with a solution.
How did you come up with the brand name and why did you decide to use it?
In terms of the future, where do you hope to see Nubian Skin? Hopefully, we’ll sell well! In addition to producing more sizes, my goal is to get Nubian Skin into retail outlets. I would love women to be able to walk into their local Nordstrom’s, or John Lewis and pick up a pair of Nubian Skin hold-ups or a t-shirt bra. My dream is for Nubian Skin to become a household name. I can’t wait for the day any woman of colour walks into a department store and can pick up a pair of Nubian Skin tights or bra. What are your views on people of colour in the fashion Industry and how important is representation to you in the fashion industry? It’s a fact that minorities are generally under-represented within the fashion industry. The most visual manifestation of this is the limited number of minority models in magazines or on the catwalk. The fashion industry has become more diverse, which is a wonderful thing, but there is still some work to be done. Being able to look at a magazine and
see an image that you can relate to is an incredibly empowering thing. What was the casting process like to find your gorgeous models? It was really fun to call up a modelling agency and say, “I need to meet all your models of colour”. It’s not a common thing for an agency to hear. Despite the fact that there are so many beautiful models who are minorities, it is generally harder for them to find jobs, so it was great to offer a job which needed not one, but four! We were dealing with models, so all the ladies were gorgeous, but I did want to find models with great personalities, because I think that comes across in the images. They were all incredibly excited about the product, and I think we ended up a great shoot.
Photographer Umps Machaka & Cleo Cameron
Set Assistant Siziwe Sayiya
Model Maria Adegeye
Sheer Top - Stefanie Biggel
All Jewellery - Lily Kamper | Duster Coat - Stefanie Biggel | Shoes - Modelâ€™s Own
Words & images by: Umps Machaka
Apparently Meets Lis Eriksson
You founded Sewn Agency seven years ago? What would you say influenced you to start it?
have this sort of tom boyish aesthetic going on, whats that about?
I was working for someone else Buying for women’s streetwear stores, it was really fun but I found myself wanting to do something independent and I felt like I’d reached a point where I couldn’t do much more where I was working. A friend of mine who had his own brand at the time asked if I wanted to help him out with Sales for his brand and another friend had just launched an online store; so I was doing a bit of Buying and Sales. As I built up my Sales contacts Chris, who had the menswear brand, decided he didn’t want to be in fashion anymore. At this point I’d met all these people who I enjoyed working with so I just thought I’d hit up a couple of Scandinavian brands and I got my first brand which was Won Hundred. It’s kind of grown from there. In the beginning it was predominantly menswear, but as we started developing a lot of the brands also started developing their womenswear ranges too; so now we’ve got menswear, womenswear and accessories, It’s all grown very organically.
I think it’s one of those things, where if you spend a lot of time together you end up dressing like each other? We had a girl intern last year and in her first couple of weeks she was like “Am I doing something wrong? Do you have to wear all black?” We’re just quite casual and for a fashion showroom, we don’t all trot around in heels. Its also influenced by the brands we work with and the general vibe of the agency. None of us are girly girls, we’re just a bit tougher.
Speaking of Scandinavian fashion; most of the brands you represent are from Scandinavian Islands, how do you think London has accepted that? I think now we’ve got brands like Hide which is from the UK and KOI (Kings of Indigo) which is from Amsterdam, it’s all become diverse. With the Scandinavian thing I think it was a trend at first and its now grown into an everyday thing in fashion, you’ve got stores like COS as well as Other Stories which submerge the bridge between so many different categories in fashion now. Even if you look at furniture, if you go to Goodhood’s life range section, it all looks very Scandinavian. It’s become a general look. Looking at all the girls that work here, you guys all
You also created your own brand, This Is Welcome. Congratulations on that, hows it going? I’ve been working on it for about a year now but we only launched in April. It’s been exciting so far. I always have to remember that its quite new and I can’t get everything I want to do out quickly enough. But it’s been good, we’re stocked in Urban Outfitters and will be working with more cool stores in the States, Australia and more store stores here. It’s cool seeing the whole girl thing work, with Pam Pam, the new store opposite Slam City Skates in Bethnal Green; stock us as well as cool women’s trainers and other womenswear and accessories. Right now we’re trying to put it in places where people get it. We love the girls who get it, seeing how people wear it is also very interesting and cool. Out of the office, what do you enjoy ding? Hanging out with my friends really, I love eating out. It’s a bit geeky but I get little obsessions. At the moment I’m really into Memphis Milano and such movements so I’ll spend hours just researching magazines and stuff. Mainly spending time with my friends though, especially because my family is in Sweden, my friends become like my extended family so I spend as much time with them. I don’t
have a hobby as much, apart from googling. Which women in London or anywhere else do you look up too or would advise us to look out for? I don’t want to say anyone in particular; I think if you meet someone cool and nice always support them. I think with girls if you meet someone cool it becomes sort of bitchy. We want to bring girls in and collaborate more with girls, like with This Is Welcome we worked with Emerald Shields and on the blog we’ve featured the Buyer from Urban Outfitters, Helen from UO, and Luci Ellis she’s a stylist. I just look up to my mates. I don’t look up to celebrities, its always my mates who inspire me. What do you have planned for next year? Next year, we’re going to crack on with things as we normally do. Step up Welcome a little work on the international approach; collaborate with girls locally and globally so we’ll be traveling a lot with the collection, which is fun. Just trying to be better. That’s our motto. Speaking of travelling, what cities are your favourite and where would you recommend we go? I’ve been to New York a few times, normally when I’m there its work, dinner and shopping, just cramming everything in a short space of time. But this year I stayed at my friends apartment and I just explored the local area like Soho. It was nice to see it in a normal everyday setting. We went out a couple of times but just stayed in a lot and ordered take out. I also surfed earlier this year, I was rubbish but I really enjoyed it. What about your favourite spots in London? My favourite spots? I really love the canal, there’s a restaurant that’s opened called Rotorino, really great Italian food. I tend to stay quite lazy and local
so we spend a lot of time at Ace Hotel, probably shouldn’t. Haggerston in general is quite a cute area. There are really cool restaurants and cafes near there. Story Deli is amazing; they make pizzas that are like a poppadum with your pizza filling and salad on the corner of Redchurch street and brick lane. If we were to spend the day with you, what would we get up too? We’d definitely have a lie in, I’d make a really big brunch and sit on the balcony, just enjoy the city view. One of my favourite things to do which I haven’t actually done in a while is walk all the way down Kingsland Road, through Shoreditch and up through the city during the weekend when it’s completely dead, it almost feels like a disaster movie because no one is there and it’s just the tall buildings. Then go up to London Bridge and Borough Market eating our way through everything. If there’s a new exhibition we’d walk down to the Tate. Then probably meet my friends in a park somewhere near mine and have lots of wine then have dinner later and more wine. Please name your favourite track at the moment, your favourite trainer and favourite person right now. I’ve been listening to The Bangles Walk Like an Egyptian a lot right now, Converse 70’s high tops, I’ve been buying a lot of those as well and favourite person. I love Dafy Hagai! She’s super cool, we featured her in the zine for press day and she’s just released a book “Israeli Girls’. She only shoots girls and she’s Israeli but based in New York. She shoots all these hot Israeli girls, something you’d never expect from Israel. I found her through googling stuff as usual.
Words by: Umps Machaka Images by: Tony Gum
Summer Crush: Tony Gum
Creating images that trigger the viewer to return, whether to examine the depths of the meaning behind the series or to admire the simple yet striking concept of the series, South African visual artist, Tony Gum (pronounced Goom)’s latest series ‘Black Coca-Cola: The Coke Experiment’ is one that surely stopped us in our tracks. Having started out as a blogger at the age of 15, just after her move from the Capetonian township of KwaLanga or Langa as it’s also known, to the suburb of Pinelands, Cape Town; Gum used the internet as a way of exploring, discovering and displaying her frustrations and growth. These very frustrations have lead her to work with New York based artist and photographer, Teff The Don as well as fellow South African photographer Sipho Mpongo on multiple occasions, and stylist Siki Msuseni. The multitalented artist, not only sticks to being in front of the camera or blogging, she has also art directed multiple shoots, created digital illustrations and collages which have gained her national recognition; appearing on African blogs and magazines such as, OkayAfrica, We-Are-Awesome and Super.Selected. to name a few. We can’t wait to see what she does next. Keep updated with her work via Instagram: @tony_gum or her site tonygum.blogspot.com
The Girl Gang issue features in-depth conversations with some of the UK’s most creative women today.