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AUTUMN/WINTER 2010/11

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Committed to following and inspiring creative journeys

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Escapists

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yesha Charles Editor, writer and Creative Director of Platform Magazine ayeshagcharles@gmail.com +44 7985325339 dandizettecharm.wordpress.com

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elicity Marriott Photographer, The Best of Both Worlds

elanie Manning Graphic Designer, cover design, Platform Magazine. mx2designs@hotmail.com

aolo Torrisi Sicilian Photographer, Sicilianita

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ahara Charles Fashion illustrator, The Cocktail Hour and Diane Von Furstenberg Catwalk. Creative consultant, Platform Magazine.

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am O’ Donoghue Sequentai art illustrator, Scarlet Island

‘Desire is a powerful weapon,’ Peter Dundas Emilio Pucci.

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The Escape Route

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have always found solace in the world of fiction, literature and film. My love for these has kept me, I like to think, fairly grounded. Amongst the drinking, dressing up and heavy social life there is something that is particularly satisfying to know that I can retreat into the creative worlds of other minds and find just as much pleasure here. My love for literature has enabled me to travel to all the corners, creases and crevices of the imaginative world, whilst luring me to the lands I read about in actuality. Ottavio Cappellani’s Sicilian Tragedee evokes a sentiment due to my ties with the island, Fitzgerald evokes a nostalgia and a pleasing sense of admiration and Carlos Fuentes is the reason that I am so intent to visit the border town, Ciudad Juarez of Mexico. Marc Jacobs spoke about nostalgia, Diane Von Fursternburg created a collection that exuded the spirit of the 1920s and Christopher Bailey, the genius that he is, evolved the archived Burberry aviator shearling jacket (creating possibly one of the most stylish and snug coats of the season). The collections seemed to offer a journey of escapism and protection from a world that might seem abrasive, cold and immediate. I sensed a desire for connection, for warmth and intimacy and decided there was no better way to provide this than to tell a story. My story explores the stories of the most suggestive inspirations of the designers. I watched over fifty catwalk shows and collected some of the most beautiful and strange tales of the designer’s creative journey. Dsquared created the Fashion Manga girl, so I ventured to the land of Marvel and DC comics. I studied super heroines and collaborated with sequential art illustrator, Sam O’ Donoghue. Together we created our own comic concept, Scarlet Island, inspired by the ‘Fashion Manga

Girls’. She illustrated an amazing interpretation of ‘The Story So Far’ that I had written and gave us an insight into the workings of her mind. A mind that sounds haunting and fantastic. Dolce and Gabbana entitled their collection this season ‘Sicilianita’. I delved into the heart of Sicily and spoke to the island’s most eminent creative figures of the moment. I travelled to one of my favourite places in the world, the airport and watched people that were thrilled by their travel endeavours. This proved to be as intriguing and peculiar as people watching on Fulham road. Some of the characters are as eccentric and outlandish as those spotted and illustrated by the dreamy and insightful Jean Philippe Delhomme. Diane Von Fustenburg’s collection and the making of The Beautiful and Damned film released next year posed the perfect opportunity to explore fashion illustration and the Jazz Age. Sahara Francoise Charles illustrated the Cocktail Hour and I took delight in the Fitzgerald flapper. Creative minds are particularly sensitive to their surroundings, their minds like sponges. Swelling at the moment of absorption, squeezed and they release their creative juices. This is the intent of Platform, to swell the minds of the creative and give them a Platform to release. Every story has aPcreative journey and every journey is a creative story.

Ayesha Charles, Editor

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Sicilianita

‘Goes back to the heritage the house was built on.’

Sicilianita’ The Forgivable Sicilian Monster Sicilian Treasure Cuisine of Sicily

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Elevation

To explore Sicily and have no interest in the Mafia is like loving the Island but hating the cuisine. They are both very much intrinsic and integral to this amazing and mystifying land that we see in the great visions of Martin Scorsese or read through the page turning words of Mario Puzzo. Films, sitcoms and books often depict the Sicilian/Italian American way of life – often peppered with Mafia dealings. Usually the women are unbelievably sexy and sassy, the men macho and adulterous and the fashion flashy and opulent. Photography by Paolo Torrisi

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S icilianita’ T’amero ppi sempri

or some, The Godfather, The Sopranos and other Italian American media portrayals may be the closest they’ll get to the sizzling culture of Sicily. Fictitious and glamourised accounts of a culture and a land that for its media popularity is comparatively obscure in actuality. It is almost prerequisite to mention Sicily and the Mafia in the same breath, something that the proud Sicilian may not be too proud of. There is so much more to Sicily beyond the fascination and criticism of the Mafiosi. It is a land that is just as fascinating and attractive outside of the Hollywood movie scene. Sicilian authors, designers and photographers add a great depth to Sicily, taking their subject to the classic and traditional capital, Palermo, the bustling, contemporary city of Catania (home to one of the largest clubs in Europe), to the rustic foothills of Mount Etna, to the Greek mythology that lingers on the seafront of Aci Trezza and the beautiful terracotta

pottery of Caltagirone. Sicilians live a life that is just as rich and admirable as the Italians, appreciating all the finer things in life. The people are colourful, vivid and defiantly respectful, with an overwhelming sense of generosity. The temperament may be a little more passionate and the land more condensed with all its contradictions, but Sicily, regardless of its location (just off the toe of the boot that is Italy) is the true spirit and dialogue of Italy. Sicily, for many centuries was the host and participant to the torments of war, colonisation and conquer. The now Italian island has been under the rule of Greek, Arabic, Norman, Austrian, French and Spanish monarchies, kingdoms and empires. Towards the final years of the lands turmoil it was even a protected state of Britain. On May 11th 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian custodian, fought for the unification of Sicily and Italy, battling with the island’s Spanish oppressors. After fighting for several days, the British, Navy,

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Photography by Paolo Torrisi

omnipresent as always, interceded and called armistice, the Spaniards surrendered and Sicily became favourably united with Italy and henceforth Italian. The history of Sicily not only remains extremely intense, but there is an extraordinary sense that it remains extraordinarily close to the present. The centuries of war and colonisation is so prevalent it can be heard in the language and witnessed in the architecture. Sicily’s battle has created a wonderland for the enthusiast of life, love, cuisine and a palpable and rich playground of history, architecture, etymology and genealogy. The language is a fusion of Italian and that of its predecessors’, although most Sicilians are bilingual in Italian and Sicilian, Italians will struggle with the comprehension of the Sicilian language. The history, like the mestizo race, is evident in the aesthetic of the Sicilian people, the further and further south of Italy one ventures, the greater the mix of skin colours and hair textures becomes. The darkest of Sicilians have skin the colour of Indians and hair that curls so tightly that if they were black it would be called afro, yet the lightest of them, so fair, they are as blonde and blue eyed as any Aryan. Like the language and the people, the architecture and the land itself are just as diverse and intermixed. There is an architectural juxtaposition due to both the unrest of wars and an unfortunate natural disaster, which was the great volcanic eruption of Mount Etna; many buildings take the shape of Arabic and Norman influences disseminated throughout the island. An assemblage of Arab castles altered to the Norman tastes form breathtaking palaces, churches and cathedrals, the Palazzio dei Normanni situated in Palermo (the capital of Sicily) is an example of this. Meanwhile, Sicily’s infamous Mount Etna’s 1693 earthquake, coined Earthquake Baroque, wiped out the southern part of Italy, killing two thirds of the Catanese population and with it many of the island’s construction - this initiated the construction of the highly ornamental

style, Sicilian Baroque . There has only been one eruption of this kind since the Earthquake Baroque, which took place in 1928, nevertheless the volcano stands proudly setting the scene for the eastern region of Sicily. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe and the inspiration for many of the world’s great thinkers, writers and poets. Frequently molten lava seeps through Etna’s flank, painting the night Sicilian sky with a great crimson red streak - sat in the Piazza Catanese at night against this back drop is a remarkable sight, foreigners are often unable to peel their eyes away from the assertive looming existence of the Sicilian volcano. Like Jorge Luis Borges’ The Aleph, the Aleph was the central point at which all corners of the universe met and could be witnessed without any disorder or confusion. This great, powerful phenomenon in the world was kept hidden in an old man’s basement, away from the exposure of the world. Many have said the same about Sicily, maybe not in the poetic language of the Argentine literary, but the essence remains the same; in this respect the universe is Italy and the Aleph, Sicily – lost in the eclipse of Italy, obscured by its shadow. Italy has a wealth of diverse characteristics that allow for prosperity and whilst remaining true to its essence, Italians, like the French, have mastered the art of good living – their method: to find enjoyment in the experience of luxury and beauty, whilst being respectful of tradition, remaining classic and adhering to form. Travellers venture to Italy to witness the chic and sharpness of the distinguished Milanese fashion, to take pilgrimage or be spectator to the masterpieces of Leonardo DaVinci at the Vatican city, to celebrate love and float along the canals of the sinking Venezia or travel south to indulge in the simple pleasures of life – good people, good wine and even better food. Nevertheless, it was the great Goethe, along the lines of Borges’ Aleph that wrote, ‘Without seeing Sicily it is impossible to understand Italy – Sicily is the key to everything.’ P

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Photography by Paolo Torrisi

Dolce & Gabbana

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t is impossible to speak with the Sicilian artist about their work without them slip into a profound nostalgia of their land and it’s spirit in their creations. Their devotion is thrilling, poignant and undeniably powerful, all the core ingredients that created Dolce and Gabbana’s collection this season. The two Italians managed to communicate an affectionate homage to Sicily and the fashion house’s core essence by creating classic Dolce and Gabbana; perfect tailoring and seductive femininity. The show was entitled ‘Sicilianita’, translating Sicilian-ness, the quintessence of Sicily.

Amidst the minimal chic humdrum, it had seemed that the woman had been robbed of her real meaning. Thankfully, Dolce and Gabbana served up a beautiful myriad of dresses, made from Sicilian lace, velvet and satin that brought sexy back. The dresses were breathtaking to the eye, made from materials that were sumptuous to the touch. Knee length fitted leopard print and polka dotted dresses, form fitting and to the knee were extraordinary. Underwear as outerwear appeared in an array of sensuous 1950’s inspired body suits. Bustiers and French knickers peaked out beneath tailored jackets and caramel coloured corsets were decorated with contrasting black

lace. The theme here was not minimal, but intense and dreamy, just as rich and alluring as Italian ice cream. There was a constant dance between logic and emotion, romance and reality. Whether the Dolce and Gabbana woman wore the classic tailored short suit, or played on the under wear as outer wear, in feminine lace and sheer materials, there was a sense of the strong Sicilian woman in every ensemble. The Italian Sicilian duo redefined and distinguished, with total clarity all that is exquisite about the continent, the island and the woman. It was an assemblage that set apart the Dolce and Gabbana woman from any

other woman this season and presented her with what it truly means to be a woman’s woman; sexy, sensuous, classy and elegant. The collection kept its strength, it remained Sicilian, it remained classic and extremely ‘sexy woman.’ If there was ever a moment for the Sicilian to be proud, now would be as good as any. With Miss Campbell taking respite from her diamond debacle on the island, Sicily is only seconds away from becoming the next destination a la moda. P

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Photography by Paolo Torrisi

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World Literature Platform meets the author of acclaimed cult novel Chi Ha Incastrato Lou Sciortino?, Ottavio Cappellani for a glass (or two) of Prossecco in Catania. The fluffy haired Sicilian Catanese writer talks about the extremities of Sicily, the Mafia, the Sopranos, all to which are present in his third English translated novel, Who Framed Lou Sciortino?. He reveals the mind of the writer, his journey to creating beautiful words and his strange ability to transform into a monster. In the words of David Leavitt of the New York Times Cappellani is ‘the heir of the great Italian Literature,’words that have made the great Sicilian literary emotional.

An Interview with Sicilian writer Ottavio Cappellani

W The Forgivable Sicilian

Monster

equivalent to X factor) for which Cappellani sits on the panel of critics. Cappellani never made it to the set that night due to an approaching deadline, but insisted we meet after the show. We met at Scenario Pub. Li. Co, the Catanese equivalent of London’s Southbank art’s centres, committed to the literary and theatrical pursuits of Catania. The bar inevitably was occupied by the creative class; writers, directors, comedians and musicians – the sort of characters one might expect to meet in Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises. However, I doubt that even Hemmingway had the imagination to write a character quite like Ottavio. He’s

ith my demonstrated fascination with Sicily, my frequent travels to the island and my love for World Literature I was advised to read the work of Sicilian Catanese writer, Ottavio Cappellani. The first book I read, written by the Catanese writer was The Sicilian Tragedee, his second novel to be translated into English – the first paragraph and I was hooked. Like the island, his work is thrilling, vibrant, beautiful and sexy. He deciphers the language of the land and transcends this into the vivid, multi - layered, innate language of his voice, a voice which is time altering and entertaining in both literature and in sound. Instantly Cappellani transforms the reader to his land and does so with the utmost attention to detail and an authenticity that brings pleasure to the reader that is fond and familiar with Sicily and evokes a hunger and discovery for those that are not. I was more than happy to take my fourth trip of the year to Catania when Cappellani agreed to meet with me. He had arranged to have me watch the Festival della Canzone Siciliana at the ABC theatre in central Catania (a cheesy fifties live singing contest, the

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“a dead man” tall with a chaotically wild mound of curly grey hair and a full beard to match. His hair seems to act as his symbol of protest against conventionalism and his tendency for anarchism. On his entrance he is welcomed by the bar’s patrons with congratulatory handshakes and familiar greetings, he does his round of hellos before finding me sat away in the corner. After exchanging the obligatory kisses and settling down with a glass of Prossecco and a cigarette he launches into full blown conversation that makes no room for small talk. He’s delightfully talkative and unashamedly enjoys making people and his self laugh. He retells hilarious events that took place when he attended boarding school and divulges that he is having trouble deciding the title of a novel that is soon to be published. He’s funny and frank, naturally he is full of witty and comical stories and he interviews like a dream, with responses as beautiful and lively as his writing.

Q: What is your favourite piece of Sicilian literature and why? A: My favourite author is Nino Martoglio. He is a playwright and also directed a movie at the beginning of the 1900s, but this has gone lost. He is not very well known abroad however, because he used to write in Sicilian dialect, unfortunately this is not translated in English, but in my opinion he is the best.

Q: What literature would you recommend a foreigner read that would give a complete and authentic depiction of Sicily and its people? A: Vitaliano Brancati is the best in describing the Sicilian ambient, Paolo il Caldo and il Dongiovanni are master pieces, but to know the real Sicilian soul you need to read the works of Martoglio.

Q: How long have you been writing? A: I think that somehow you are born a writer, maybe the question should be, ‘How long have you been a published writer.’ There are a lot of writers that cannot get their work published, being a writer has nothing to do with having your work being published or recognised....at least this is my belief. My first book was published in 1988, a philosophy book called, ‘La Morale Del Cavallo,’ (The moral of the horse). The preface was written by Manlio Sgalambro, a famous philosopher and theologist in Italy. The publishing company was named NADIR, the same publishing company that published the works of Pietro Toesca, who is considered the intellectual head of the Italian anarchist movement; the publication of this book shut me out of the university world, however I was very happy about this as it gave me the chance to focus on my romance writing, which I believed was something I needed to do if I were to live my career fully as a writer.

Q: How many books have you written? A: La Morale Del Cavallo, (The Moral of the Horse) Chi e’ Lou Sciortino? (Who is Lou Sciortino?), Sicilian Tragedee, Chi ha Incastrato Lou Sciortino? (Who framed Lou Sciortino?) The latter is the prequel to Chi e’ Lou Sciortino.

Q: In general, how long does it take for you to complete a book? A: It takes a year and half to have the novel clear in my mind, during this period of time I write nothing, not even notes. I only follow the inspirations and paths that I believe could be useful for me to write the story I intend to write. I then sit down in front of my computer and physically write the novel within three months,

at least this has been the process and timing for my published romance novels thus far.

Q: When do you know your book is complete? A: There is a point during the writing process where my characters take a three-dimensional form. I see them as though they were alive and at this point they are the ones leading me through fiction. The work is finished when the writer disappears and all that is left are the characters and their stories.

Q: How long did it take you to get your first completed book published? A: The first romance novel I wrote in three months. I sent it out to several publishing companies by mail, after a few months I received two positive responses from two different publishing houses and was left to choose between them. It sounds an easy and straightforward path, however there are many difficulties a new born writer must face.

Q: How did you go about promoting your work? A: I had the luck of being contacted by an agent from London who was able to sell my first romance novel in 30 countries. I am useless at promoting any of my work, luckily press and event departments of publishing companies exist.

Q: Are there any motifs / recurring themes in your books? A: I would say the Mafia, which represents the biggest literary metaphor of power in all its forms. Also the cinema and theatre which represents and stores our general history and forms the way in which we analyse

our present. The imaginative world of Mafia, of cinema and theatre have taken the place of what in the past was called the lyric opera; literature, philosophy and theology, a sort of pop that now has the duty of expressing and narrating our times.

Q: Is Sicily a stimulus for your writing? / How important is Sicily to your writing? A: Immensely. Sicily is not a geographical region, it’s a place of the spirit for its history and position. Sicily is a metaphysic and literary place. It is also a place where feelings, both good and bad are somewhat made extreme due to our heat, our sun, our wine, our food, our men and women, our civilisations melting pot, our sea and for all those reasons that I cannot list, as there are so many. Nowadays I think there are only three literature inspiring places in Europe at the moment; these are London, Berlin and Sicily.

Q. What is your general writing process? A: I try to picture a story that could represent at its best all the things that I want to express at that time. Then as said above, I take a year looking around, gathering inspirations, reading, watching movies, travelling and then at some point the story anchors itself to something I have deep within myself, like all the pieces of a puzzle taking their position, then that is when I start writing things I never imagined I could write about. In my latest romance work this process has been taken to its extreme, reading it all over again there are chapters I did not even remember I had written - a splendid surprise!

Q: What are your ambitions as a writer? A: To be able to discover a literary language capable

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A: I am writing a book about Catania, a sort of touristic guide seen through the eyes of the “monster” (writer) mentioned above. In June last year my romance novel titled, Ulisse con Piscina (Ulysses with Swimming Pool) was published with limited copies. In this piece I make an encounter with mythology that populates my land with the so called “postmodernism”. A movie producer liked it so I am now writing the screenplay. Because of the legal agreements I cannot speak much more about this am afraid, but I can tell you it’s a project I am very passionate about. Then, a novel titled Viaggio al Nord (A Trip to the North) is due to be published. In this piece I narrate Scandinavia from the eyes of a man from the “south” (Southern Italy). Finally it’s in the pipeline to create a contemporary western film set deep inside Sicilian inland; a dry land and yellow in its horrific shadows. In October Chi ha Incastrato Lou Sciortino? (Who framed Lou Sciortino?) will be available in English.

Q: How pleased were you with the reception of Chi ha Incastrato Lou Sciortino in Sicily?

to work within the cinema without losing its literary depth, maybe in the future, to be able to describe ‘this’ Europe at the end of its civilisation as we know it thus far. I would also like to be able to sell many copies of my more complicated works, those unsuitable to be published. Also to terminate the Apocalypse, and to pilot a helicopter!

The worst thing about being a writer is having the sight of a monster, a beast which lives within the writer. This monster has a lucid view of life which affects all human relationships. This monster is called The Writer.

Q: What does being a writer mean to you?

A: A dead man.

A. To have upon me an immense responsibility and at the same time acknowledging the fact that this is a responsibility I cannot live without. Being a writer, to me also means that I can have the irresponsibility towards common duties of life, when she (life) betrays me or lets me down, I can take my revenge and anger out by writing. It is an unrenounceable joy, being able to create a world with my writing that can be seen and accessed by many, now and in millions of years to come.

Q: What is the best and worst thing about being a writer?

Q: If you weren’t a writer what could you imagine yourself being?

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: Chi Ha Incastrato Lou Sciortino? (Who Framed Lou Sciortino) has become a cult. It feels funny to see a book only written two years ago already considered a classic. It has not yet been translated in English, this usually takes a few years, but Chi e Lou Sciortino, (Who is Lou Sciortino) which you know has been published in English had great reviews. It’s set in Los Angeles in the seventies, the birth of American Indi cinema. It’s full of Italian-American names and has been compared to The Sopranos.

A: Stop writing and look for an honest job.

Q: What are the perks of being a writer? A: The possibility to express whatever you feel, being able to say it in your own way with your own words, in your own time, to the broadest public possible. To have in your hand a weapon, [language and the word] that can be more powerful than the conventional weapon. Also the fact that I can smoke, drink and sleep around without having a “social” stigma, as to writers many things are forgiven! Many glasses of Prossecco and Amarro later Ottavio Cappellani readies himself to leave, he advises me of a restaurant that I must eat at, Don Mimo. He looks at me expectantly and smiles when he sees that I am familiar with the name from reading his novel, The Sicilian Tragedee, in which the characters frequent the restaurant. We exchange our good byes and he promises to send me a copy of his third translated book. My host and I soak up the final remnants of Cappellani and decide that we like him and Scenario Pub.Li.Co very much. My host takes himself to the bar to pay for our drinks and returns placing his money back in his wallet with the look a father gives when his son does him proud, ‘That was on Ottavio,’ he smiles. Ottavio Cappellani’s third novel, Chi ha Incastrato Lou Sciortino? (Who Framed Lou Sciortino?) will be available in English on the 1st October. P

Q: What accreditation have you had so far as a writer? A: In 2007 I was listed in the ‘Reading the World.’ A shortlist of 40 books published in the States voted to be the best in the world of the respective year by book store owners and publishers. The year I was listed I was the only one of the forty writers not to win a Nobel Prize. I have also had David Leavitt dedicate a full page article in the New York Times to my second novel The Sicilian Tragedee, in which he states; “[Ottavio Capellani] He is the heir of the great Italian Literature w ith a surprising intimacy with Shakespeare.” His comments made me emotional and gave me so much joy.

Q: Any advice to aspiring writers?

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World Fashion

S icilian

Treasure

Words by Ayesha Charles

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Marella Ferrera is possibly one of Sicily’s most influential and inspirational fashion designers still living and working in Sicily. Sicily always at the heart of her artistic endeavours, Marella Ferrera has provided the island not only with its very own claim to high fashion, but possibly one of the most imaginative and intelligent fashion designers to date.

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arella Ferrera is an acclaimed Haute Couturier and Prêt a Porter designer who began her career in 1974 after attending the Accademia di Costume e di Moda (Academy of Costume and Fashion, Rome). She has won numerous awards across Europe that have crowned her ‘Best Couturier’ and given her recognition globally. The precious works of Marella Ferrera are not only the proud possessions of Sicilian art and fashion, but are the treasures of Sicilian culture, history and geography. It is in the creations of Marella Ferrera that one can truly begin to decipher the distinction of Sicilian fashion from Italian. ‘True Sicilian style is not related to the clichés of “Mafia, coppola (1) and lupara (2)”, but it is the unique and elegant melange of tradition, heritage; all the conquerors that signed the identity of this land,’ Marella explains. Using materials that are rustic, raw materials that are geologically Sicilian and materials that may not necessarily be associated with fashion design at all gives Marella her distinctiveness. A Marella Ferrera creation not only acts as an emblem of Sicilian fashion and art, but gives her designs an unmatched exceptionality. The core of a Marella Ferrera design, beyond its sicilianita’ is her desire to create, ‘garments unlike anything you would normally see,’ she says.

A Marella Ferrera dress might be embroidered with terracotta or embellished with thin clay flowers. She incorporates lava rock, rock crystal, copper wire, papyrus, textile paper, cork and palm roots, to name just a few, into her designs. ‘For my professional fulfilment I have always trusted in the potential of my birth land. I have never cut the cord that ties me to Sicily. Sicily is my creative limb.’ The bodice of a Marella Ferrera dress can take up to one month to be created, she describes the process of making a terracotta dress, ‘it must be painted, then it is broken, pierced with holes, and crocheted together like a piece of embroidery.’ The final result is a dress that one might assume to be heavy or stiff due to the materials used to create it. Surprisingly a terracotta dress weighs only a hundred grams. Using science and geography to create pieces without a mind that continuously seeks knowledge and takes on experimentation might seem impossible, but Marella persists to take on challenges to make new discoveries and push physical boundaries. The advances in technology are paramount to her designs, as this provides her with the tools that allow her to reinvent and present the innate materials of Sicily in original ways. Her creations have a sensitivity about them that evokes

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(1)The Coppola, Image from the Best of Sicily (2) Lupara, Pronunciation/ noun A sawn-off shotgun, especially used by the Mafia

her spirit and her sentiment. Her work is poetic and picturesque, whilst remaining romantic and sensual. Marella’s designs can transform any woman in to a goddess, so much so she designed the wedding gown of Princess Elvira Grimaldi di Nixima, the cousin of Princess Carolina of Monaco and frequently sells her creations to Arab princesses. Her designs are favoured as wedding dresses and ceremonial events. A Marella Ferrera dress is for the occasion that is to be memorable, worn by women who want their garments to have significance and discourse. It is clear to see that she is a couturier at heart. Placing a Marella Ferrera design in the middle of a room transcends its purpose, from protection and functionality to a piece of art ornamenting a space – a memento of her dreams, her childhood, her travels and her origin. She creates designs with such intricacy and attention to detail that she is any fashion technicians dream. Her fashion design and creative process is just

as intriguing and inventive as that of the wondrous Karl Lagerfeld or the talented and late Alexander McQueen. One might indeed find a likeness comparing the work of Marella Ferrera to an artist or a sculptor and this is what makes both her and her work so unique and enchanting. Marella’s designs are a castle in the air, a wonderland or a fairy tale that has been miraculously brought to reality. The utilisation of outstanding technique and an approach to fashion design that is out of this world creates designs that are literally like no other thus far. Marella Ferrera truly is a Sicilian treasure. P

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Marella Ferrera’s Atelier, Museum and Fashion – Piazza Duca di Genova. Tucked

Photography by Paolo Torrisi

away from the busy Catanese city centre is Marella Ferrera’s atelier come museum, The Museum and Fashion, located in the Palazzo Biscari. This sentimental edifice is just as dear to Catania as Marella Fererra herself. The Baroque palace was built by the Princes of Biscari in 1702 and admired by Wolfgang Goethe on his travels. The Museum and Fashion combines art and fashion against the backdrop of Sicilian, Catanese history. The public can witness the creative process of Marella Ferrera in her very own work space. Fashion illustrations are displayed on the walls next to art instillations and colour charts and fabric samples are juxtaposed against folkloric puppets and masks. The composition takes a nostalgic look back at Catania’s history, whilst celebrating the creativity of Marella Ferrera. P MF Museum&Fashion Piazza Duca di Genova, 27 Via Museo Biscari, 16 95131 Catania

Jesus protect Catania

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treats

S icilian Cuisine “The cuisine of Italy is simple with bold flavours. Pasta is to be cooked according to the taste of the head of the household (which is usually a very masculine figure). Bread is to be brought home fresh and laid on the table, food is to be flavoured not seasoned and most importantly – meals must always be consumed with love.” Buon Appetito di Sicilia

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Pasta alla Norma From Catania, with love Ingredients for four Servings 750 ml of Tomato Passata 2 Aubergines 5 cloves of garlic A handful of fresh basil Olive Oil Salt and Pepper A pinch of bicarbonate of soda *or a heaped teaspoon of sugar 500g of Dececco Rigatoni Preparation 1 Remove aubergine stalks. Wash and dry the aubergines and slice half an inch thick. Set aside. 2 Peel the garlic cloves and leave whole. Set aside. 3 Wash the basil leaves and set aside. Cooking Heat a table spoon of olive oil in a frying pan, place the aubergines into the pan and cook the aubergines till deep brown on both sides, remove cooked aubergines and set aside to make space for the remaining. Once the sliced aubergines are cooked remove from the pan and drain any excess oil. Pour the tomato passata into a large saucepan over a low fire, add the five garlic cloves and the bicarbonate of soda or sugar to reduce the tanginess of the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper according to taste. Put the basil in the pan then cover and leave to cook on a low heat for fifteen minutes. Once the tomato sauce is cooked roughly tear the aubergines and drop into the sauce. Fill a separate pan with water and place on a high fire bringing to the boil. Add a pinch of salt and a table spoon of olive oil to the water. Once the water begins to boil add the rigatoni and turn down the fire, stirring every few minutes with a wooden spoon. Allow the rigatoni to cook according to taste and then drain with a colander. Pour the rigatoni back into the pan it was boiled and spoon the sauce into the pasta, stirring in evenly.

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Cotelette alla Palermitana From Palermo, with love

Ingredients Four slices of thin cut chicken breast fillets 300g of breadcrumbs 50g of grated parmesan cheese 50ml of Olive Oil A dash of balsamic vinegar Oregano Salt and Pepper Preparation 1 Pour 50ml of olive oil into a bowl and add a cap full of balsamic vinegar. 2 Pour the breadcrumbs into a separate bowl and add salt, pepper, oregano and parmesan and mix with fingers. 3 Cover a baking dish with foil. 4 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Cooking Take a chicken breast fillet and dip into the olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture. Allow excess oil to drip from the chicken and then coat the chicken in the seasoned breadcrumbs. Place the coated chicken breast on the baking dish. Repeat this process with the remaining chicken breasts and then place them in the middle shelf of the oven and leave for twenty minutes (there is no need to turn them).

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Photography by Paolo Torrisi

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Cat

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REPORT

burberry

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waist allowing the lower part to be detached. Christopher Bailey was inspired by an old aviator coat in the Burberry archive which developed the theme for the show. ‘This is a good moment to feel sexy with strong protective pieces on top,’ Bailey said. He has prescribed the kind of ‘Protection’ we all desire for the winter; a dazzling coat that can define any ensemble, whilst keeping delightfully warm. To compliment these godly coats models wore boots in sexy thigh high or more aviator style, shearling lined, heavier set buckled boots. Many have built a religion on the perfect coat and are devout to Burberry to provide them with their winter insulation. When the times are bitter and the rain falls, Christopher Bailey most certainly is the man to worship to stay stylishly protected. P

ea is for the Perfect Coat

P You will want to be out in the cold this season just to have an excuse to purchase one of the luxurious and inviting coats of the most consistently exciting outerwear collections yet. Christopher Bailey had indeed bought coat heaven to earth and with this collection it was impossible not to covet. Coat after jacket after coat spilled on to the runway, one after the other, each as fascinating and as different as the one before. Shearling Aviator coats and jackets in olive green and cream with black leather trappings and dramatised collars were a marvel. Big brass buttons against navy blue wool breathed life into more simple coats. The show stopper however, as clever as the Aviator coat and as classic as the Burberry mac was the pea coat that doubled up as a jacket. The coat featured a gold exposed functioning zip running horizontally around the

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Photography by Paolo Torrisi

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.� Leonardo Da Vinci

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Up in the Air

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here are numerous reasons why many of us dedicate our days to hard long hours of work. Aside from the fact that work gives us a purpose and a sense of satisfaction, it also gives us the means to acquire many of life’s luxuries; bigger houses, fancier cars, expensive clothes and quality food. There is one particular luxury, however that our body literally calls out for after being the victims of capitalism for long periods at any one time. It can’t be decorated, driven or worn, it is indeed the vacation. Undeniably, there is a strange allure to a pap picture of Victoria Beckham in the airport – how does someone so concerned with her exterior and so intent on being fabulous fly? What does she wear? How is her hair? What luggage does she carry? Flying is indeed a glamorous affair and when embarking on our travels, let’s be honest – we do it with as much flair as possible. For many women Victoria Beckham sets the bar for fabulous flying and so we do what we can to match it. In an ideal world we pack Louis Vuitton Luggage and book a first class ticket. Upon arrival of the airport we shove our sunglasses up our noses and keep them on until ushered to the VIP suite. We have a manicure and a pedicure accompanied with champagne and our tax free shopping is bought to us by our assistant. Well, no. For most of us flying doesn’t happen that way. We pack our modest, yet classy Samsonite and head to the airport with our economy ticket. We check in like the rest and spend our hard earned cash in the

Vacation Definition: A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, or relaxation, especially one with pay granted to an employee.

departure lounge. There’s no VIP suite, Champagne or manicures, maybe a cheeky McDonalds, a coffee and a magazine. But it is undeniable that we feel brilliant knowing we are about to take flight. It all starts in the airport. The departure lounge is invigorating. Tax free shopping combined with the prospect of flying is a perfect concoction to induce mind blowing expenditure. We head to the Mac counter for makeup, Accessorize for bikini’s and end up in WH Smiths selecting what light read we want to tickle our vacant minds for our flight entertainment. This is naturally all done dressed in outfits planned with military precision. The perfect flying outfit is universal; it doesn’t crease or crumple and is suitable for climate changes from the UK, to the plane and to the said destination. Once called to the gate the excitement kicks up a notch. We watch the planes gracefully land and take flight as we walk towards our gate number. A flutter in our stomachs stirs up a sense of nostalgia and wistfulness mixed with the pleasure of heading somewhere new or returning to a destination that holds fond memories. Once we’ve seen cabin crew do their infamous preflight security demonstration, a demonstration that at least once in our lives we have attempted to mimick or have atleast found delight in, we are indeed ready for takeoff. Whether it be the in-flight Champagne, the Friends episodes we have seen a hundred times over or the food that comes out of a foil container, everything feels much better at thirty thousand feet. “I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favourite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending,” was the words of Fred Rogers. For most the flying season may be over now and incoming chilly winters, but at least we have our Burberry Flyers jackets to remind us just how fabulous flying really is.

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ESCAPE

Could you be enroute to New York with just 5 hours to prepare...? New York and back in 72 hours. 1 suitcase, 2 outfits packed. 1 show on Broadway, 20 hours shopping and a 12 hour delay. Phew.

New York By Numbers

Ayesha Charles recounts her brief encounter with NYC.

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Home - South London At 12.30pm I have 5 missed calls from 2 best friends. With 1 rapidly approaching deadline the Blackberry is on silent and 0 calls are being answered. 2 years of working as a full time writer and at least 1of 5 best friends call at 12 midday to ask, ‘What are you up to today?’ I now automatically count to ten before politely explaining, for the 100th time, ‘I WORK.’ Better still, put said phone on silent. Speaking of Blackberry, it lights up in the corner of my eye. All 20 million potentially creative, ideas replaced by 1 thought, ‘Who is it?’ I watch Frequent Flyer’s name flashing on phone for 2 seconds, contemplating whether to pick it up. I think it’s Fate that tells me to do so, and 2 seconds later I do. 1 call answered. ‘What took you so long?’ Best friend with bad attitude demands. She’s Virgin Cabin Crew, so let’s call her Frequent Flyer. 1, 2, 3, 4, ‘Err... believe it or not, I do actually wo-,’ ‘Listen, I’m flying to New

York at 6, the flight’s practically empty. 2 nights 1 day. My friend has got 2 spare tickets to see The Lion King on Broadway tomorrow. Can you be at the airport in 3 hours’ 1 pleasant surprise. ‘I can be there in a New York minute,’ I say. Cheesy line, but ever so apt. Airport – West London I arrive at airport, check-in 10 kilo suitcase. Receive an upgrade from Economy to Premium – thank you Frequent Flyer! Meet said Frequent Flyer in Starbucks, drink black Americano, she drinks Frapuccino. Talk about how excited we are. She goes to staff check in and I, to security. Ample accessories holds up security checks as usual, remove belt, bangles, earrings and ring. Security finally certain I am armed with nothing but costume jewellery, I am left to find bliss in departure lounge. Admire women shopping in

Louis Vuitton, envy women shopping in Hermes. Buy 1 bottle of Champagne, not to drown my fashion sorrows, but a celebratory drink on arrival at hotel. Manhattan NYC - 1st Night 1 am NYC Eastern Standard Time. 9 hours and 3 glasses of in flight champagne later we arrive in Manhattan. Drink said bottle of champagne. Calculate 10 hours of shopping and 2 hours needed to get ready for Lion King tomorrow. Alarm set for 7am.

1st Day – Manhattan 6 hours later we are on 5th Ave, far too eager to shop and not wanting to waste a New York minute. It’s 8:30 in the morning and 0 shops are open. We kill 1 hour at Starbucks, fascinated by calorie counting menu I order my standard 20kcal Americano and she orders her Frapuccino –she’s not counting. 4 hours buying dresses, 3 hours buying shoes, 4 hours buying cosmetics and 1 hour

behind schedule we decide to hail a taxi back to hotel. 3 taxi hailing attempts and 0 taxi obtained 1 nice young man hails a taxi for us. Traffic gridlocked, we move barely 3 inches before jumping out of said taxi and running the rest of 5th. 2nd Night Manhattan 1 hour later, 2nd taxi taken and we’re in Time Square. 30 minutes to kill before show starts. Realising we’ve eaten nothing since arriving we buy 1 bottle of Prossecco and 1 garlic bread. We eat and drink quickly and head to theatre. We hail our 3rd taxi back to the hotel after watching 1 amazing show and drinking 1 bottle of Prossecco in Time Square. 8 hours left in New York Start to get a bit sad – definitely not ready to go home yet. We arrive at the hotel. Bump into another cabin crew member. She informs us that tomorrow’s flight is delayed by 12 hours. Frequent Flyer checks flight

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information on laptop and confirms delay. 20 hours left in New York Maybe there is a God. 1 extra night in New York and 1 extra day to shop. We order 1 bottle of champagne from room service to celebrate - fall asleep before champagne arrives. 2nd Day in New York 9am Shopping day No2, dedicated to buying presents. We attempt to take subway, can’t figure out tickets, not wanting to waste another New York minute, we hail our 4th taxi to China town. We spend 4 hours buying trainers. 2 hours spent in a shop that customises Nike Air Force Ones, talking to the owners. 2 hours buying more cosmetics. Bump into 1 hairdresser from South East London. We have our 1st meal in 2 days on Mulberry street, Little Italy. We eat outside and watch

the Italians parade Saint Giusseppe - 1 cultural event. 2nd man from London, eating alone opposite us says, ‘I couldn’t help but notice you guys are from England.’ He joins our table and persuades us to get a dessert. 3 chocolate cakes and another bottle of champagne later, he offers to take us to a club. We’re reluctant. ‘It’s very Sex and the City,’ he says. 1 offer we can’t refuse. 5th taxi to a chic part of town and we’re on the roof of a chic members club. Things are a bit champagne hazy, but if memory serves correctly, it reminds me of the roof top at Shoreditch house. 6 hours left in New York After many luminous coloured cocktails in vase looking glasses we jump in our 6th taxi back to hotel.

calculated hours of sleep. 3 hours left in New York Check in, upgraded from Economy to Premium. Suitcase weighing a worthwhile 23 kilos. Goodbye New York, Thank you Frequent Flyer and Thank you God...?

6 dresses, 2 pairs of vintage sandals, 1 pair of pumps, 1 pair of denim shorts, 5 pairs of earrings, 10 rings, 6 bottles of OPI nail varnish, 1 YSL French manicure set, 1 Beauty Flash balm, 1 Gentle foaming cleanse, 1 tinted moisturiser all from Clarins, 2 mineralise eye shadows, 1 blusher, 1 eyeliner, 1 foundation brush all from Mac, 1 set of Christian Dior lipsticks, 3 pairs of Nikes, 1 Converse All Stars gym bag, 2 bottles of Prossecco, 5 taxis, 1 theatre ticket, 1 meal, 2 Londoners, 2 coffees, lots of Champagne, 72 hours.

The High Life

Virgin has released a new package holiday that allows flyers to travel in complete and utter indulgent style. The Virgin Rockstar Service does exactly what it says on the tin. It all begins with a Virgin wakeup call, followed by a chauffeur driven blacked out car that collects you from your home and takes you to the airport. Your luggage is tended to by Virgin staff while you have full access to the VIP lounge. You will fly Virgin’s spectacular First Class, with fold out beds, complimentary Champagne and a meal of your choice from the first class food menu. On arrival of your destination you will be picked up in a limo and taken to your hotel. Here you will have your every need met by your very own personal cabana boy. Talk about indulgent. You don’t even have to top up your own glass. The best things in life always feel so wrong. info@ virginholidays.co.uk/info/about/ rockstar_service/offers.aspx

Suitcases packed and 3

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Photography by Felicity Marriott

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DISCOVERY

The Best of B Worlds

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Poppy Roberts is a fifteen year old singer song writer and frequent flyer from South London. Her chosen destination is St. Lucia. The tiny tropical island located in the Caribbean, a stone throw away from Martinique. As luxurious as this tiny Caribbean island may be, Poppy’s frequent flying is not a pursuit of luxury, but a way of life. Poppy talks to Platform about her music, fashion and St. Lucian travels.

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n assortment of trinkets fills the bedroom of singer songwriter Poppy Roberts. The brica-brac is emblematic of a girl who is simply high on life. A life that would appear to draw on a great breadth of experiences and cultures (not necessarily the traits one might associate with a south London teenager). A clothes rail jammed with vintage goodies in one corner, an antique chair reupholstered by her mother in another and her guitar, which she tells me she collected from the menders today for her travels, sits on a leather cushion, also made by her mother. Tomorrow Poppy will fly to St. Lucia for the second time this year. Like the perfect young lady, she is multitasking, packing her suitcase, talking ever so charmingly, showing off her impressive vintage collection and debating what to wear for her Platform shoot. She hands me a delightful cup of tea and then begins to rummage through her wardrobe, giving me the back story of each of her most precious vintage pieces. Obviously these are all designed by the great fashion houses. ‘This is from a charity shop around here actually,’ she says. She holds up an eighties Christian Dior shirt, ‘I won’t tell you where though.’ Round here is South West London, where Poppy lives with her English mother, an ex London College of Fashion student, property developer and photographer. Poppy’s St. Lucian father, an entrepreneur in the leisure and tourism industry, moved back to the island when Poppy was eleven to continue his business ventures. It was inevitable that her ties with the island and her St. Lucian heritage would deepen once her father moved back home. She took her first flight alone when she was just eleven years old and has since become a frequent solo flyer. ‘I’m looking forward to seeing my dad – I miss him,’ she says with a hint of nostalgia. Her flying habits resemble Photography by Felicity Marriott

that of an expat, visiting home for all the festivities and holidays. How does she find spending her holidays away from her friends in London? ‘Sometimes I take friends with me,’ she says. ‘It’s nice for them to see the other side of me. I feel like I have a double life.’ Poppy admits she likes travelling back and forth, particularly to St. Lucia. The diminutive Caribbean island still remains relatively humble in comparison to Jamaica or Barbados. ‘I think I’m lucky,’ she says, without sounding at all boastful. In fact, for someone as talented and beautiful as she is, she has the modesty of a grownup, complimented with an endearing youthful inquisitiveness. ‘It must be lucky to get to travel as much as I do and have a second home somewhere like St. Lucia,’ she decides, ‘But I miss my dad, so –.’ Her voice trails off with her thoughts. Her loyalty to her father is sweet. Every time she revels in her love for St. Lucia and her travels, she makes sure to mention that she misses him. It’s as though she doesn’t want to take her situation for granted or make her travels about anything other than seeing her father. When Poppy is on the island and isn’t hanging around with her father or helping out at any one of his businesses she is catching up with her friends. They are a wealthy set of expat kids that have become devoted followers of her music. ‘My friends are really supportive, here and in St.Lucia,’ she says gratefully. Her musical talent, her well known father and friends in high places has landed Poppy a gig in the Cotton Bay Hotel, belonging to one of her friend’s parents. ‘This will be my scariest performance ever. I played to a St Lucian musician last time I was there and he said I was really good,’ she says, with that completely unassuming nature, ‘but typical St. Lucians don’t really get my music. I suppose expats are more worldly.’ In London, Poppy has accumulated a small fan base from playing at local community and open mic events. She sings

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The Pitons mountains, St.Lucia

Photography by Felicity Marriott

witty, cleverly written poetic song lyrics. She sings in a voice that is enchanting and multi – dimensional. Rich layers of texture, at moments gentle and velvety break into strong thick tones. In London people tell her she sounds like Diane Vickers, Adele, Florence and the Machines and one she winces at, Kate Nash. ‘I am flattered that I sound like recording and selling artists,’ she reasons, ‘It’s hard because I don’t try to sound like these singers, I want to be unique. In St. Lucia my sound is definitely different.’ Poppy defines her music as Indie, poles apart from the Calypso, Socca, Souk and Ragga music which the Lucian people may be known for traditionally listening to. ‘I don’t mind being different. I like not being able to be defined. People really use music and

Poppy wears a vintage Christian Dior shirt and dress from Hennes

fashion to pigeon hole you,’ she says, giving a small tip off that this might annoy her. Even though Poppy is an Indie artist she has an eclectic and somewhat refined musical taste. ‘Ultimately, I am inspired by people that make me feel things. Amy Winehouse, John Legend, Al Greene, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye, but I also like other artist.’ She lists Rihanna, Mumford and Sons and Plan B. Her music preferences have found herself in contrasting friendship groups. From a young age Poppy has loved legendary Jamaican Ragga and Reggae and is famed at school and amongst her friends and family for her Caribbean dance abilities. ‘It’s only because of the complexion of my skin why people make such a fuss,’ she says dismissively. However she can’t help but show

a little delight in the compliments and attention she receives for her dancing. She pulls a dress on over her black cutaway shorts, tights and Breton stripe t-shirt outfit. She stands in the mirror and contemplates whether to put the dress into her now over flowing suitcase. ‘A friend from St. Lucia sent me this, but I’m not sure if it’s my style – it’s very girly.’ She decides against it. For a London girl the fashions of the Caribbean may not get the juices flowing the same way the music might and in this respect, Poppy is a bona fide London girl. ‘I love London, I love the shopping – I will always love London.’ Is she tempted to move to St. Lucia? Can she ever see herself packing up at the age of eighteen and moving to St. Lucia like her mother once did many years ago? ‘I have the best of both worlds,’ she decides. ‘You can do everything in

St. Lucia that you can here in London, just at a much slower pace. But as long as my mum is here I will always live in London and as long as my dad is there, I will always fly to St. Lucia.’ St. Lucia is home to one of the world’s greatest Jazz events; the St. Lucia Jazz Festival. The event hosts global Jazz, Calypso and R’n’B artists and has seen performances from the likes of Luther Vandros, Patti Labelle, Earth Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight and Incognito. The coming festival will celebrate its twentieth anniversary. St. Lucia Jazz Festival. 3rd – 10th May 2011 www.stluciauk.com P

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In a slightly more demure approach to the ‘sexy woman’ was louis vuitton’s 1950s inspired collection, think Marilyn Monroe and Park Avenue chic

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NOSTALGIA

Illustration by Jean Philippe Delhomme

It would seem that the fantastical world of fashion illustration is a world that has sadly been forgotten. In the Golden Age of fashion illustration, illustrated magazine covers charmed the readers into their sensational visions, but today these symbols of fashion and fantasy barely make the pages of the magazines. Platform celebrates the wonderful and sadly forgotten world of fashion illustration.

T You should have told me you’d be wearing your Vitkor & Rolf - I brought the Porsche!

A Brush with Fantasy

here is a delightful and indescribable emotion evoked by the spectacle of beautifully dreamy and fabulously glamorous fashion illustrations. A glance at the visions of David Downton, Jean Phillipe Delhomme or Gladys Perint Palmer is instantly breathtaking. The contrast of whimsical brushstrokes juxtaposed against the accuracy of the garment’s design makes the impact of this art form almost haunting. Many find themselves lost in the illustrator’s world of colour, technique, style and imagination. The illustrated Vogue covers of the golden age have a collector’s value and are beginning to find their homes in frames displayed on the walls of fashion and art aficionados. It’s a wonder why these tokens of art, fashion and fantasy no longer grace the pages of the magazine covers and pages the way they once used to. There was a time when the world of fashion moved a little slower and the rapid turnaround of fashion design, production and the associated media happened over a lengthier period. Today collections are created to deadlines, fashion bloggers and journalists go toe to toe to relay the latest stories and have a number of media platforms to choose from to access the public in the quickest form. Fashion resides in a breakneck world and those not on its heels risk losing their relevance. It was only inevitable that the presence of fashion illustrations in our glossies would grow scarce after the development of the click and snap nature of photography. ‘Illustration is still extremely popular with designers and the public alike,’ says David Downton, ‘but remains generally under the wire.’ What a treat it would be today to purchase a magazine that only featured

Words by Ayesha Charles

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fashion illustration. No doubt this would be a magazine that would sit proudly on the coffee tables of fashion lovers amongst the Valentino and Vogue collectors books, but it seems almost impossible to imagine that magazines with purely illustrated images ever existed. During the Golden Age of fashion illustration, Vogue publisher Condé Montrose Nast was the custodian for illustration. He invested in a team of Vogue illustrators that would illustrate every Vogue cover from 1910 till the beginning of world war two. Condé Nast’s admiration of fashion illustration was enthused by La Gazette du Bon Ton, the French fashion, lifestyle and beauty magazine published from 1912 - 1925. The French publication centred itself around the creation of fashion illustration and employed some of the best illustrators of the art deco era, Paul Iribe, Gearges Lepape and Pierre Brissaud to name a few. Each edition would feature ten illustrated couture designs, seven of which were the illustrations of couture designs and the remaining three, which allowed the illustrators to envisage and illustrate their own designs merely to excercise and display their own illustrative minds. Many of La Gazette du Bon Ton’s illustrators worked on the covers at Vogue including Helen Dryden and George Wolf Plank, but the end of La Gazete soon rendered these artists without a place to execute their fashion fantasies on the page. Nast required illustrators to portray the garments in their most realist form in order to provide the reader with the most accurate vision of the design, while the illustrators naturally longed to implement their artistic freedom. Sadly, fashion illustration began to contradict its very existence. A world that seemed to survive off the imagination, fantasy and art desired the utmost realism and truth. Carl Erickson and Rene Bouet were illustrative pioneers for creating illustrations for which realism was the essence, it was not long before the two set the bar for this fashion illustration form. Inevitably Edward Steichen’s colour photograph in 1932 would provide the industry with exactly what it wanted. By 1936 Vogue sales proved that the photographic images that replaced the illustrations on the covers sold more copies. Since the golden age of fashion illustration its presence in the fashion publication has fluctuated. The works of the Puerto Rican major fashion

illustrator Antonio Lopez became a fixture in Vogue and other high fashion magazines throughout the sixties and seventies, even though both decades were particularly dominated by photography. During this period magazines such as Honey (the first British magazine to feature black models), Jackie and Petticoat all featured fashion illustration. Nevertheless, on the whole the art form struggled and didn’t see its next surge till the eighties. An advert illustrated by Jean-Philippe Delhomme for Barneys New York inspired an enthusiasm around the medium once again. La Mode en Peinture 1982, Condé Nast’s Vanity 1981 and Visionaire 1991 created opportunities for a new generation of fashion illustrators. Today the presence of the fashion illustration is out of the ordinary and merely peppers the pages of the fashion magazines. What was once the super glue of the magazine is now barely a garnish, decorating the white spaces of magazine editorial. On the upside of this, the fashion illustrator of today is no longer constricted to the magazine and works in a number of different mediums. Gladys Perint Palmer, a Central Saint Martins graduate and one of the last students of Muriel Pemberton, the inventor of fashion education, says, ‘depending on the illustrators style depends where they will find their work.’ Gladys is the proof in the pudding that fashion illustration, even though it isn’t celebrated in the fashion publication, is indeed still sought after. ‘I am on a heavily impending deadline,’ she says, ‘I am currently working on a book titled From Eve to Yves. There is plenty of work. I am swamped.’ Albeit, it is a shame these little slices of art are absent from the fashion magazines, but at least the occasional glimpse in an ad campaign or on the cover of a book, is a moment that remains just as special and fantastical as the last. Fashion and art lovers can witness the illustrated collections of Chanel, Dior, Poiret, Lacroix and McQueen in their original form, illustrated by some of the most famous illustrators at the Design Museum. Lepape, Gruau, Antonio, Mats, Gustafson and Francois Berthoud are a few of the greats that will grace the exhibition with their works of art. Drawing Fashion, an exhibition at the Design Museum begins 16th November. P

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CATWALK REPORT

21st Century Flapper

‘A woman can be a banker, a biker or a ballerina,’ were the words of Diane Von Furstenburg, which summed up the pick n mix of treats in her collection perfectly. It was a gorgeous array of sparkles and sequins, bright coloured chiffons, frills and feathers that created the model image of female frivolity. It was sexy without being overtly suggestive, feminine without being too girly. The essence of the compilation was the tug of war between masculinity and femininity. Many of the tailored and more serious garments were paired with a playful light heartedness. A dazzling electric blue sequined sheath dress was worn with a black pinstripe blazer that had been embellished with feathers of the same colour. A dove grey A-line dress cut above the knee with graduated folds of chiffon was worn beneath a charcoal grey blazer. Suit jackets had been embellished with chiffon rosettes and heavy knit cardigans were thrown over mini dresses. As the show continued it was clear that the women won this battle. Dresses were accompanied by a more feminine outerwear; foil printed and golden velour slouchy jackets and fur coats. Many dresses took the shape of the nineteen twenties silhouette with short drop waist dresses. A wonderful black and beige dress, embellished at the waist line with black jewels that fell into folds of draped material was innovative and elegant. Metallic lame dresses and burnt orange and black geometric printed cocktail dresses were for the more stylised party girl. The piece de resistance, however, was a black lurex bias cut evening gown that without a doubt would make heads turn. DVF’s impetus has always been to liberate women through her designs and this particular collections inspiration was, ‘To live a man’s life in a woman’s body, freedom of comfort...yet the wonderful aspect of being a woman and being seductive.’ Sounds like a fantastic idea. The collection most certainly brought the sparkle to this season’s trends. It was youthful, it was celebratory and most certainly had the teasing nature we might expect from the young lady of the Jazz Age. P

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Jazz Baby

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n commemoration of Fitzgerald, Platform celebrates the twenties, literature and the great author, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald.

Trumpets drone and Jazz music plays Flappers flick their legs, with a martini haze, They tap their T-bar shoes as they jiggle and shake In slinky tube dresses with low slung waists, Feathers and sparkles show opulent taste And bejewelled cloche hats illustrates an impertinent face, With lined doll like eyes that ignite the night They do the Charleston with no end in sight, They embrace a gathering as it were a surprise And celebrate being a Dame like receiving a prize, Seeking attention from a Slicker’s roaming eyes They roll nude stockings half way up their thighs, They work the party like an actress on stage Wisecracks and sharp talking like their reading from a page These little flappers never fail to amaze. It’s 1920, it’s the prohibition, it’s the Jazz Age. Poem by Ayesha Charles

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The l Hour TheCocktai Jazz Age

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A Love Story Ayesha Charles tells the story of her journey through literature and fantasises about the cocktail party she will never attend.

I watch the infamous party scene from The Great Gatsby with the exact same intensity I watch a Lanvin show. With that bottled up combustible excitement. Each and every time I am completely bowled over. The amount of fabulousness all in one place is overwhelming and deliciously tempting. Oh how I would still do anything to be at that party, amongst all that glitz and glamour. To wear those dresses and pile them up with the fanciest of accessories, drink those cocktails, smoke from those cigarette holders (even if I think smoking is ghastly) and dance the Charleston in the Roaring Twenties. I learned and fell in love with the roaring twenties; the flappers, the slickers, the slang, the excess and the scepticism that came along with it through reading the literature of the man who wrote it to perfection. I can’t imagine this glittering era without my mind instantly painting a picture that has been conjured up by language as evocative as a John Held illustration. It is indeed the astounding Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald that I have fallen in love with. I liked him in Jelly Bean, Bernice Bobs her Hair and A Diamond as Big as the Ritz. I was infatuated by him in This Side of Paradise and Tender is the Night and by the time I read The Beautiful and Damned I had decided it was a full blown wondrous affair- as exciting and passionate as any flapper romance or cocktail party. The books of my Fitzgerald collection are like indexes, with self adhesive tabs that I use to indicate all the reasons I love the twenties, literature and Fitzgerald. How I had read myself around the world, Roberto Bolano and Paulo Coelho of Spain, Melissa Panarello of Sicily, Gabriel Garcia Marques of Colombia, Carlos Fuentes of Mexico and Isabelle Allende of Chile, before reading the man that would change the way I read literature forever is a wonder. He is, to me, the great novelist that puts into context all the other great novels of the world.

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CLASSICS

The Beautiful and Damned

F.SCOTT FITZGERALD AND WIFE, ZELDA

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. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul Minnesota, in 1896. His debut novel, This Side of Paradise, was published in 1920. It was the first novel that would delineate the younger generation and possibly even helped to shape it. The 1920s was the earliest era in which children were relieved the duties of adults. Teenagers had the luxury of their adolescence and youth began to form its own culture. The impact of this debut novel could not have been predicted, it became a bestseller in just two weeks. Fitzgerald became the name that was on the tips of everyone’s tongues. The media celebrated him, the debutantes formed their lives around him and parents winced with the hope that this new flapper, that he wrote unabashedly, was just a fictitious character. She attended petting parties, she enjoyed flirting, she was at her best when the centre of a man’s attention and took great pleasure in watching herself being admired. This was a completely different mindset to the Victorian parents of these children and their reaction may explain why Fitzgerald’s novels were rejected in the outset. Fitzgerald wrote continuously throughout his childhood and managed to have plays, short stories and musicals published in school publications, staged in school productions and eventually in his local theatre. But it wasn’t until 1917 that Fitzgerald would begin to pen the novel that has made him the famous literary that he is today. Fitzgerald wrote one hundred and twenty thousand words in just three months. The novel was titled The Romantic Egotist and like many of his novels was a semiautobiographical tale. Unfortunately the novel was rejected, with a letter accompanying the manuscript stating that, ‘It was too crude and too incoherent.’ B. F Wilson for the Smart Set wrote in 1924. Desperate for money and keen to write, Fitzgerald applied to work as a News reporter, but was unsuccessful in finding work. Eventually he found a day job as a Copywriter for

Barron Collier and wrote short stories in the evening. Fitzgerald collected over one hundred and twenty two rejections of his short stories from editors. He tried his hand at writing advertising concepts, poems, songs and movies but this was with no avail. Still determined to be published Fitzgerald quit his copywriting job and put his heart and soul into rewriting The Romantic Egotist, which soon became published as This Side of Paradise. Two months after Fitzgerald found himself the literary celebrity. All nine of his short stories were printed in magazines, even one that had been previously rejected. He made his sweetheart, Zelda Sayre his wife the same year his novel was published. The couple began to live out the material which would be the life line of his novels. They had a great hunger for life and lived it with an enthusiasm that was almost limitless. They were icons in New York, became part of the literary expat crowd in Paris and the Riviera, where they socialised with the likes of Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein and John Dos Passos, and flocked to Italy where Fitzgerald wrote. Just two years after Fitzgerald’s claim to fame he published his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned. The novel documents the romantic and tragic story of his life and love for his wife, the flapper he made iconic. Fitzgerald was crowned the chronicler of the flapper, renowned for his sensationalism of this young girl. He wrote them with a faultless and astute observation. Although at times this new modern girl may have exasperated him, he was undeniably intrigued by her and all that she thought she was afforded. With the power of literature, the press and publicity Fitzgerald had created the flapper that every girl wanted to be and every man wanted to marry. The most enviable and coveted flapper was indeed a Fitzgerald flapper - she was Mrs Zelda Fitzgerald (Grace Patch), the woman he marries in The Beautiful and Damned. Between the artistic couple they have documented the flapper’s readings, her dancing, her fashion and her makeup. They critiqued her morals, made observations on her love life, debated her ambitions and made her one of the most fascinating women in literature and history today. It would appear that the fast life caught up with Fitzgerald, he died in 1940 of a heart attack at just forty years old, leaving his novel The Last Tycoon unfinished. Follow the sparkles, the cocktails, the love, loss and literary story of the Fitzgerald’s in The Beautiful and Damned. The Beautiful and Damned film, starring Kiera Knightly as Zelda and Leonardo Dicaprio as Fitzgerald is set to be released in the US 2011. Date TBA. P

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Flapperdom A Guide to the Flapper for the Twenty First Century doll...

In the words of Fitzgerald

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irls, for instance, have found the accent shifted from chemical purity to breadth of viewpoint, intellectual charm, and piquant cleverness. It is natural that they want to be interesting. And there is one fact that the younger generation could not overlook. All, or nearly all, the famous men and women of history – the kind who left a lasting mark – were let us say of broad morals views. Our generation has absorbed all this. Thus it is that we find the young woman of 1920 flirting, kissing, viewing life lightly, saying damn without a blush, playing along the danger line in an immature way – a sort of mental baby vamp.” “Personally I prefer this sort of girl. Indeed I married the heroine of my stories. I would not be interested in any other sort of woman.” Fitzgerald in the Shadowland (January 1921) “

Clara Bow

‘Clara Bow is the quintessence of what the ‘term’ flapper signifies as a definite description. Pretty, impudent, superbly assured, as worldly wise, briefly clad and “hard-berled” as possible.”

Joan Crawford

“Joan Crawford is doubtless the best example of the dramatic flapper. The girl you see at the smartest night clubs – gowned to the apex of sophistication - toying iced glasses, with a remote, faintly bitter expression – dancing deliciously – laughing a great deal with wide, hurt eyes. It takes a girl with actual talent to get away with this in real life. When they do perfect the thing, they have a lot of fun with it.’ “It’s rather futile to analyze flappers. They are just girls – all sorts of girls. Their one common trait being that they are young things with a splendid talent for life.”

In the Motion Picture Magazine, printed 33 July 1927 Fitzgerald speaks to Margaret Reid on the actress’s interpretation of the flapper in film.

Constance Talmadge

“Constance Talmadge is the epitome of young sophistication. She is the deft princess of lingerie – and love – plus humour. She is Fifth Avenue and diamonds and Catalya orchids and Europe every year. She is sparkling and witty and as gracefully familiar with the new books as with new dances. She is the flapper de luxe.”

Colleen Moore

“Colleen Moore represents the young collegiate – the carefree lovable child who rules bewildered and but adoring parents with an iron hand. Who beats her brothers and beaus on the tennis courts, dances like a professional and has infallible methods of getting her own way. All deliciously celluloid – buy latform 79 why not?

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Slang of the 1920s Apple sauce: Flattery, nonsense, i.e. “Aw, applesauce”

Kisser: Mouth

Bank’s closed: No kissing or making out ie. “Sorry, mac, bank’s closed.”

Lollygagger: (1) A young man who enjoys making out (2) An idle person

Baby vamp: An attractive or popular female

Moll:A gangster’s girl

Butt me: I’ll take a cigarette

Moonshine: Homemade whiskey

Cash or check?: Do we kiss now or later?

On the lam: Fleeing from police

Deb: Debutant

Petting party: Social gatherings devoted to group kissing and touching

Edge: Intoxication, a buzz. i.e. “I’ve got an edge.” Face stretcher: An old woman trying to look young Flat tire: A bore Giggle water: Alcohol Hope chest: Pack of cigarettes Insured: Engaged It: Sex appeal Joe Brooks:A perfectly dressed person

Pos-i-lute-ly: Affirmative, “pos-i-tive-ly” Rhatz: “How disappointing!” Speakeasy: An illicit bar selling bootleg liquor Spiffy: An elegant appearance Vamp: (1) a seducer of men, an aggressive flirt (2) to seduce Water-proof: A face that doesn’t require make-up You slay me: That’s funny

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SCARLET ISLAND

Blood on th

e catwalk

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IMITATES

The Story So Far ...

ux and Ora had come to the end of their Fashion Studies and were displaying their designs in a fashion show they put together when they met The Boss. He was attending New York Fashion Week – it was these kinds of events that he would find women that qualified to live on his island. To the bosses surprise he found the two women he’d been in search of in their own independent show. The girls, having both struggled with their design careers were easily swayed when The Boss promised them success on Scarlet Island. On the island modelling work was rife for Lux and Ora. They were crowned the most beautiful women of the island and became celebrities because of this. Ora embraced the attention, but Lux was disappointed. She never wanted to be a model or a celebrity, just a fashion designer. Ora was thrilled to become a model and devoured all the attention her and Lux attracted on the island. Eventually she devoted more time to the powers her beauty gave her on the social scene than she did the modelling circuit. She soon ended up with more admirers and less work. The Boss had noticed that Ora used her beauty and seductiveness as a power, her power was like nothing he had ever seen. He wined and dined her with the hope that she would fall for him. The head of Science at Magenta University had also taken a liking to Ora. Even though she had already taken up with The Boss, she flirted with The Scientist whenever she’d see him around. The Boss got wind of Ora’s antics and scarred her face when she was sleeping with a possessive Italian love scar. Ora hid from the public for months. She believed the scar made her weak and powerless. She planned to stay in

tug of war. With the help of Spirit, Lux and Ora worked to empower the women of Scarlet Island and overthrow The Boss. After intense training and time spent with a Samurai warrior at the dojo, Ora and Lux went to war. With the help of the prostitutes they took out all the corrupt men. Ora made sure they left The Boss for her to take care of. With no police or law enforcement on the land, the New York F.B.I infiltrated the island to investigate the Mafia killings. They filed the murders as a war between the families and shut the case. One year on and Scarlet Island is now a democratic island governed by prostitutes and led by the goddesses of love, beauty and sexuality. It is in Scarlet Island’s best interest to protect the safety and power of women and eliminate all of the opposing that might pose a threat to the island’s endeavours. The island has two very strict laws, Thou Shall Not Give in to Temptation and Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery. Although many visit the island for its obvious attractions; legal prostitution, the world’s most beautiful women and its 98% female population, very few men that visit the island manage to leave - punished by the prostitutes for the sins they commit. Men that wish to enter the island are informed they will be under strict surveillance during their stay and are required to pay an excessive toll fee. The recession has had the opposite effect on Scarlet Island than it has on the rest of the world. The toll fee has refrained men from visiting (something Ora had not planned for), leaving the island the most peaceful it has ever been since the goddesses reigned. The governing prostitutes are now working on developing the arts and culture of the island and Lux is working on a fashion show, which she has put together in celebration of the

anniversary of female power and independence. Ora, unlike the rest, is bored and The Scientist is failing to excite her. She hates to see the billboards with Lux’s face on them and is finding it hard to deal with her friend’s success. She preferred it when they worked together to protect the island from evil men. Once again, without her beauty and power she feels as though she has no purpose. The harmonious state of the island is a danger to her position in power and she’s starting to feel like she might lose her relevance. She decides with her scientific knowledge to create her own specie of men, defiant, reckless and strong enough to secure her P and get Lux back into the dojo and position in power... out of fashion.

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hiding till the scar healed, but it didn’t. Eventually she allowed Lux and The Scientist to see her. She hoped The Scientist would give her a cream that would get rid of the scar, but he told her that The Boss had used a metal that would leave the scar embedded in her skin forever. He still found her unbelievably attractive and looked at her no differently than he did before. Ora settled down with The Scientist, believing he would be the last man that would ever think she was beautiful. While in hiding and of the belief that she had lost all that made her a woman she thought she decided to develop her mind. The Scientist was happy with the idea and he helped her to learn the sciences. During her studies she came across the history of Scarlet Island and the missing woman, Spirit. Spirit had lived on Scarlet Island in another life, when the goddesses kept it in harmony. When The Boss had discovered the island Spirit was the only woman who was not prepared to leave and not prepared to be trafficked. She went into hiding, knowing that one day the Chosen Ones would come and free the women of the island. Ora spent days and nights trying to track down Spirit, till one day her and Lux found a contact number. Spirit called a meeting wit the two girls in a secret dojo. She informed the girls that they were the Chosen Ones, sent by the spirit of the goddesses. She informed them that no women on the island were free and that they had all been brainwashed by The Boss and his men, taught to believe they were nothing but objects. Lux and Ora were in danger, The Boss had been trafficking the women of the island and Lux and Ora were to be his top bidders. Spirit declared Lux the most beautiful woman of the world and Ora, the power of evolution. Both desired the power of the other and this would become their constant

SLAND

For the past ten years The Boss had owned and controlled Scarlet Island. He had lured the world’s most beautiful women to an island that promised them the power, success and respect that men receive the world over. The island boasted a soaring economy and with its small male population it appeared to be the land of opportunity for women. But The Boss wasn’t happy with just beautiful women on his island. He wanted the descendants of the two great goddesses, Ora of Venus and Lux of Aphrodite.

CARLET

Population 450

Income Tax 0.0%

Commodities Prostitution Male Toll Fees

Demographic 98% Female

Median Age 30

Daylight 0

President Ora

Goddess

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Dsquared2 Catwalk Report Maybe this concept wasn’t in line with the great classics of the season, but the show was packed with palpable inspiration that made great material for a collection that didn’t fail to electrify the audience and tickle the creative nerves at Platform. Chanel Iman wearing a full length black dress with a slit up the entire length of the leg and a bodice ornamented with black and red ostrich feathers made homage to one of the most famous and sexiest comic characters ever created, Jessica Rabbit. ‘Super power, super woman, super sexy,’ was the spirit that Dean and Dan captured this season, which materialised as DSquared2’s very own female superhero. The back story; set in the laboratory of the ‘Fashion Manga Girls’, the super heroines (read models) are building their own, possibly perfect, men – so the inspiration maybe not be as poetic or profound as the general stimulus for the season, but most certainly the substance of a graphic novel for the likes of Frank Miller. Located against the back drop of an elevator shaft, the first super heroine arrives at her destination (the runway) by descending in the glass elevator. She pulls open the two caged doors, which at either side stands two male beefcakes (men the Fashion Manga Girls made earlier), who aside from their bandages and jock straps are practically naked. The dominatrix style super heroines, with exposed veins (in the form of red and blue beaded sheer body suits), attired in red vinyl leggings, cinch waists, hard shoulders, leather skirt suits and ‘don’t mess with me’ platforms, strut down the runway with an aggressive march surged by their female powers. It wouldn’t be wrong to suspect the Fashion Manga Girl’s stride down the runway be the preparation for the heroine to take flight...who knows, maybe she will... P

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Lux and Ora training in the dojo: Scarlet Island, Illustrated by Sam O’ Donoghue

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MAKE BELIEVE

Storm: X-men

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a Flight of Fancy

equential Art illustrator, Sam O’ Donoghue, draws Platform into a fantasy world that is like no other. Fuelled by a divorce and a lifestyle readjustment, Sam is determined to live out her dreams, and how spellbinding they are. Her preferred comic is The Watchmen, her favourite comic romance is the relationship between the Joker and Harley Quinn and she considers the most efficient superhero power to be Wolverine’s adamantium bonded skeleton. Feeling a little estranged? Well, it is only natural that an artist who has Tim Burton shuffling around their head enjoys the most evocative of imaginings. Can we tempt you into the realm of Sam O’ Donoghue?

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I have been told I drew from a very early age. I still have comic books I created at the age of six. Art is the only pursuit I have consistently been active in. I consider it a part of who I am. I have always been complimented on my art work, but I used to be so self -critical I never thought I was good enough to make a career from it. I got divorced after eight unhappy years and this forced me to begin a new life. This reinvention gave me the determination to live the life I wanted to live and pushed me to follow my dreams.

What is the best and worst thing about being an artist? Because I’m such a perfectionist I immerse myself entirely in my work and it ends up being very time consuming. Having said that my previous career was soul destroying and left me unfulfilled. Being creative for a living is all I have ever wanted, after experiencing the flip side, I never allow myself to get negative about my choice. How would you describe your illustration style? I am attracted to detailed and realistic illustration, this is the style I produce when left to my own devises.

What and who inspires your work? I simply adore comic book art. It inspires me more than any other medium. My idols are Dale Keown, Michael Turner, Art Adams and Steve Mc Niven.

What is your favourite comic? So far my favourite reads have been Civil War and the Watchmen. They evoked such an emotional response in me. But even when reads don’t blow me away I still enjoy the ride, after all, for that short period of time I have been transported to a magical world of fantasy and magnificent imagery.

Who is your favourite super heroine? Rather controversially I don’t have a preferential super heroine. My favourite female comic book character so

far has to be Harley Quinn. Superficially, the reason for this is her affiliation with another of my favourite characters, The Joker. Their relationship intrigues me.

Are there any superheroes that you don’t like? Until reading the comic Civil War I wasn’t a huge fan of Captain America. Mark Millar showed me a side to him that has left me with a newfound respect for the character.

What do you think is the most valuable power a superhero can have? I would have to say flight. Simply because that is the power I am most envious of. Albeit, when it comes to durability and function, the Hulk’s exposure to DNA structure and altering gamma radiation and Wolverine’s adamantium bonded skeleton seem to be quite efficient.

How did you discover your love for comics and illustrations? It was around the time my marriage was breaking down that a friend introduced me to his comic book collection, I didn’t know where this medium had been all my life. I became obsessed both with the escapism element and the stimulating artwork. I have been hooked ever since.

What is it you love so much about this genre? There is such room for exploration and expression, literally the possibilities are endless. Scott McCloud expresses this in his book, Understanding Comics. He astutely states that this is just the tip of the iceberg for the sequential art form and the mediums development has only just begun. He gives inspiration for all aspiring artists to push the boundaries and dare to approach the form in their own style.

How do you feel this genre is respected in the art world?

If I am brutally honest, I have encountered resistance and prejudice every step of the way. But have simultaneously received nothing but encouragement and support from those like-minded comic book and sequential art lovers. Luckily I am a strong minded and focused individual, so any negativity only further fuels my determination to succeed. I have seen less stubborn artists let themselves be torn apart and give up because of the hurtful criticism they received for their passion. It angers and hurts me to see that.

Harley Quinn: Batman

What was your journey to becoming an artist like?

How do you feel about the role of women in comics and the way in which they are illustrated? Do you consider these women empowering or mere objects for the visual pleasure of men? This is a debate I used to have frequently with my tutor. She found my illustration degrading to women because, as she put it, they pandered to the female form that was created by male-pleasure driven comic book stereotypes. I personally see it as an empowering celebration of femininity. Not resembling the imagery in the comic books doesn’t make me defensive nor have a detrimental view of myself. Men are portrayed in exactly the same exaggerated idealistic way, muscle bound heroic alpha males. It goes both ways. In my humble opinion, people read a sub text into everything and take certain things too seriously. Art is in its essence a beautiful reflection of the world as we see it, refined and polished to portray it in its, albeit unrealistic, glory.

What is your approach to your own personal work? How do you get inspired? And how do you turn your inspiration into illustrations? If I am truly excited about a project I get a plethora of mental images flooding my mind. I draft a series of thumbnails to start with and develop things from there. I get so engrossed in my work I dream about it, which always offers useful ideas to experiment with.

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Phantom Lady

As an illustrator of sequential art, how important is it to have the ability to create and write stories? Or do you work collaboratively with writers?

Are there any themes or recurring motifs in your work? What are these and why do you think they reoccur?

I do like to write, it’s a great way to drain out the ideas that bounce around in my head. And I think having the imagination has proved useful in my work so far. But after working on collaborations with others I must say I do prefer to follow as opposed to lead. I feel like there is still so much to learn on the sequential format. I think that studying films for camera angles and scene settings is the most beneficial skill to develop.

I have noticed when it comes to character design or individual scenes I seem to edge towards creating sinister, dark and unusual undertones in my work. My characters are troubled and complex and the atmosphere almost gothic. I am a huge fan of Tim Burton’s work, I feel as if he has crawled inside my head and is sending a projection out of whatever he finds in there. I think this is why I find The Joker, Harley Quinn and Batman so engrossing.

If you weren’t an illustrator what would you be?

Do you think life imitates art, or vice versa?

I spent eleven years of my life carving out the career of being a personal trainer, so I would either fall back into that industry or train to be a tattoo artist. Actually, it would definitely be the latter.

I think both. Art, down to our preference in style, medium and purpose is all so personal. A creation can’t help, on some level, to be a reflection of ourselves, from the appreciator who buys it, to the artist who created it. Art can change our lives by making us realise who we actually are. From the moment I picked up my first graphic novel my whole life direction changed. Art is not only beautiful but extremely P powerful.

Spiderman

Captain America: Civil War

See Sam’s work on Deviant Art: http://moonmaiden13. deviantart.com/ gallery/

Ora: Scarlet Island, Illustrated by Sam O’ Donoghue

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elcome to The Boondocks Amongst the myriad of skilfully and intricately animated graphic novels and witty comic strips there is one that seems to literally be tearing the American public apart with its social satire on race relations in America. Regardless of the constant disapproval, censorship, hate mail and rebuttal the comic generates, it is an undying success and continues to prevail.

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n the second of May 2010, the pioneering and revolutionary comic strip, The Boondocks aired the first episode of the third season on American TV channel, Adult Swim. The return of the show after a two and a half year break was heavily awaited amongst fans and just as much dreaded by those opposing. The opening titles read ‘an episode that takes us back to the election of our nation’s first black president...’ The episode acted as a documentary that explored the power of the electoral campaign amidst Woodcrest (fictional town) residence. The German interviewer of the episode remarkably took the voice of Werner Herzog (the German film director and screenwriter whose films often feature superheroes with unattainable dreams), this collaboration sat in perfect alignment with the episode. ‘It was a veritable loaded gun (as many Boondocks episodes are), aimed at blasting the hype that surrounded Obama’s presidential win in 2008,’ says Tom Surette, staff writer for TV.com. The disapproval and enthusiasm that would surround this episode was

as exciting as the show itself. Moments after the show broadcasted Facebook patrons, bloggers and online writers began a whirlwind of deliberation. Many fans thought it to be the best episode yet, while others felt it was too critical of Obama. The political cartoonist and creator of The Boondocks, McGruder, had done it again, provoking the thoughts, confronting the situations and creating the debates that nobody really wants to explore – at least not in the eye of the public. The Boondocks may very well be guilty of documenting the most honest cultural and political analysis of the presidential electoral campaign and its impact on American society to date. Thirty five year old Aaron McGruder created The Boondocks in 1996 while attending the University of Maryland where he studied African American Studies and where the initial Boondocks comic was published, in the university’s student newspaper, The Diamondbacks. The Boondocks is set in a fictional middle class, white suburban town named Woodcrest, centralised around the Freeman family; Huey aged ten, Riley aged eight and their grandfather, Robert Freeman. Huey and Riley have moved to white suburbia from Southside Chicago to live with their grandfather, where they attend a ‘very strict

and very white oppressive’ school named, aptly, J Edgar Hoover – this is where the strip begins. The show satires prominent events and figures in American society against the back drop of black socio politics; George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Lil’ Wayne, R. Kelly and Martin Luther King are just a few of the famous figures McGruder has lampooned. He approaches delicate and controversial issues like Hurricane Katrina, Nine Eleven, the rape trial of R. Kelly and the ambiguity of the use of the ‘N’ word. Many of the impressionable and ignorant characters use the ‘N’ word, and in selective episodes such as the Jimmy Rebel episode, so excessively it is hilarious (ashamedly so, maybe). Mike Lee Richmond, political radio talk show host at 90.1fm and a general fan of the comic, known for broadcasting shows that discuss many of the prominent Boondocks episodes says, ‘I have no issue with him using the word or explaining why he does so*. Satire is a comical reflection of what the writer sees in society, he is clearly pointing out our loss of self. He’s not trying to entertain us all the time, he is trying to send the message that we are losing what we fought so hard to gain.’ It is important to note that when the characters swear in the cartoon, these are always bleeped out – this technique emphasises McGruder’s reasoning of the use of the N word. Like The Boondocks, McGruder was born into a middle class family in Chicago, at age six Aaron and the McGruders, consisting of Aaron, his parents and older brother Dedric, who also works as a political cartoonist, moved to middle class suburban town Columbia, Maryland, where McGruder was the student of what he describes as a ‘very, very white school.’ He says the two years spent at this particular school were ‘the most oppressive years of my life.’ Evidently the two oppressive years at McGruder’s school failed to coerce him into a

silence. In fact it has provided stimulus for material that has created what may cautiously be considered a genius comic strip, which speaks as loudly and clearly, with all the political belligerence and integrity of Aaron McGruder. Before the end of 1999 McGruder secured a syndication deal which was ultimately the beginning of his fame, success and notoriety. Since then The Boondocks has emerged in over three hundred American newspapers, most of which the comic has appeared daily. Due to the comics nature, newspaper editors frequently discontinued and postponed printing it. Nevertheless the newspaper medium acted as platform for McGruder to reach a much broader and varied audience and has since been adapted into the cartoon series. This has inevitably allowed the cartoon to be accessed globally across a number of video streaming sites, including Youtube. In view of the success of The Boondocks, McGruder has become a bit of a personality, associated with both black and white public, political and celebrity figures. He is repeatedly invited to lecture at universities, which are renowned to sell out. He has been awarded the Chairman Award at the NAACP Image Awards and The Boondocks was the winner of the 66th Peabody award in 2007, for an episode which envisages the awakening of Martin Luther King. McGruder has become a celebrity in the light of the impact of his work and since his recognition has attended Hugh Hefner’s birthday party at the grotto and P.Diddy’s infamous MTV after parties. The cartoon features the voices of Samuel L Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def and Busta Rhymes and is celebrated in the lyrics of conscious Hip Hop artists. It is important to note that the recognition and celebrity status McGruder may have acquired is a

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consequence of the quality, the intelligence and the artistic vision and conviction of his work and not vice versa. It is also important to note the rise of McGruder and the success of The Boondocks is not because the American public are enthusiastic about his work, many of the American public are somewhat adverse to McGruder, his views and or The Boondocks. Nevertheless his work and the intellectual brain behind it is indisputable excellence and can evoke a strong aversion. But what is it that makes The Boondocks such a powerful piece of art and McGruder such a powerful artist? For those that are yet to watch The Boondocks, the Black President episode epitomises the essence of the cartoon and shows the true talent of McGruder at its best. The brilliance of McGruder is not the political events that he explores but the characters he has created and how he aligns them perfectly to each and every event; The Boondocks, although dealing with conflict ridden situations, manages to tell an astute and entirely candid discourse. ‘Aaron McGruder’s overall portrayal of black people in American culture is very parallel. Notice the things such as uncle ruckus, the self hating black man that is there to specifically point out all the faults of the black culture. Huey, who is there to show that there are some people in the culture that are willing to believe in blacks and are hopeful that something will smack the people upside their head and make them realize what is truly important in black culture. I can go on about the other common characters, but I’ll leave it there,’ Mike Lee says. Of course, it is to be noted that the narrator of the cartoon and protagonist of the comic is Huey Freeman, Aaron McGruder’s alter ego – who often summarises and concludes the impact of various current affairs and their influences on society and the Woodcrest residents. Excluding this, through the perspective of very diverse and dynamic characters that represent various social characteristics, the reader or audience is able to view circumstances in their entirety, as opposed to just McGruder’s perspective. There are many characters in the comic that are just as influential to the cartoon, who communicate vital elements of whatever the subject matter maybe just as effectively and authentically that completely conflict with Aaron McGruder and his alter ego’s political alignment. Huey Freeman, possibly the most intelligent, socially and politically aware ten year old is introduced in the First Black President episode as a ‘Domestic Terrorist.’

Aside from his neighbour, District Attorney Tom DuBois, Huey may be the only black character that does not use the word Nigga on tap. Throughout the cartoon and comic strip Huey has a constant frown and hasn’t smiled once thus far. He is known for his conspiracy theories, his political convictions, his disdain for rap culture, capitalism, Black Entertainment TV AKA BET, which Huey has redubbed Black Exploitation TV and is tired of celebrating Martin Luther King, ‘as though he were the only black person to ever do any good.’ McGruder and Huey are also known for their disdain for Condoleezza Rice, so much so that McGruder writes her into a strip where Huey links her single status to the war on terrorism. Huey deliberates, ‘maybe if there was a man in the world who Condoleezza truly loved, she wouldn’t be so hell-bent to destroy it.’ McGruder has previously said on TV show, America’s Black Forum TV, ‘I don’t like Condoleezza Rice because of her politics. I don’t like Condoleezza Rice because she’s part of this oil cabal that’s now in the White House. I don’t like her because she’s a murderer. You know, I’m not bound by the rules of a politician or journalist. So, you know, when I say, “She’s a murderer,” it’s because she’s a murderer, and that’s all that’s necessary for me to make those statements.’ Both Huey and McGruder are in McGruders own words, ‘Cautiously pessimistic’ about Obama’s presidency,

he says, ‘I believe the Federal Reserve Bank, the Military Industrial Complex, and the massive corporate interests that run this country have more power than our new President. I hope I am wrong.’ In reflection of this, in The Black President episode Huey merely sits in the background watching his fellow black people campaigning for Obama. His silence is due to the fact that, ‘Nobody listens’. His lack of excitement for the black president baffles the interviewer and irks black Woodcrest residents so much so that they try to attack him. What McGruder documents in this episode is the unfortunate truth, this electoral campaign was in fact more a racial protest than it was a political campaign. ‘When McCain played on Obama’s inexperience in government people started playing the race card. The whole election was racially charged and racially fuelled. People who were against Obama’s policies were either labelled racists, or uncle toms from the black perspective of things... it’s sad really, but McGruder really pulled it off nicely,’ says Mike Lee. Mike Lee believes his political views correlate with McGruder’s, he felt that McGruder documented the impact of the electoral campaign with complete accuracy. ‘Spot on,’ he says, ‘he did an excellent job showing that no one was paying any attention to what Obama was saying or rather, not saying, in regards to his policies.’ Nevertheless beyond all the excitement around McGruder’s political approach to creativity or his creative approach to politics, many black media figures struggle to accept the concept as intelligent entertainment. For many the show has materialised as a degradation of black people and the cartoon and McGruder generate a following divided by conflicting views. The nature of The Boondocks isn’t entirely dissimilar to the creator’s infamous and highly controversial temperament that frequently causes uproar, offense and humiliation within both the black and white American public. Larry Elder, an American talk show host and great critic of the cartoon and McGruder says, ‘Aaron McGruder draws the sometimes-funny daily comic strip “The Boondocks.”… In a recent strip, two young black characters considered renaming what they call the “Most Embarrassing Black People” award. One character suggested calling the award the “Larry Elder.” An idea clicked. How about an award for the “Dumbest, Most Vulgar, Most Offensive Things Uttered by Black Public Figures”? Maybe we could call the award the . . . “McGruder.”’ However, McGruder doesn’t see Larry Elder as much different to himself in their approach to their work and is well aware of the fact that in order to make changes in the world one most certainly needs money, ‘The more

ridiculous shit I say that’s hurtful and hateful and racist, the more stupid rednecks will buy more books. I don’t even get mad at them, ‘cause I get what it is…He [Larry Elder] decided to be that black guy that makes money by saying things that white people want black people to say.’ ‘I find it very funny that the people who have the hardest time dealing with McGruder’s satire, are the people who truly haven’t done anything productive for blacks since Martin Luther King died. Larry Elder, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton just to name a few,’ says Mike Lee. Would The Boondocks be so controversial if it had a predominately black or urban audience – like it does in the UK? Would Larry Elder even care so much as to critique the show or strip be it obscure to the mainstream or only satire the black underclass? It could be doubted that Elder would even want to give the show any exposure, not for the refusal of contribution to the success of a highly intelligent black male, after all it’s not the success of Aaron McGruder that troubles black public figures. If McGruder were a golfer, a conformist journalist or creator of something similar to The Cosby Show Elder probably wouldn’t mutter a single, negative word. In fact, when boasting of black people’s achievements in the world he might use McGruder as an example. What does anger black middle class figures like Larry Elder is the precise and acute illustration of black society in its totality, put in the line of fire by being broadcasted to the public domain.The Boondocks, heroic and defiant in its illustration of ‘blackness’ and societal, racial and political views acts as the metaphorical mirror being held in the face of American society. Exploring the lives of black people living in a country that is the supposed manifestation of Martin Luther King’s ‘blissful’ dream McGruder unveils, fortunately or unfortunately, the black social and cultural experience in all its glory and criticism. It’s authenticity, frankness and it’s no hold bars approach is what makes it a success. The Boondocks forces people to question their own actions and reactions – even if they don’t do so out loud. Should we be laughing at Uncle Ruckus’s racial verses? Should we be laughing at the poor white teacher Mr. Petto that made a slip of the tongue and called Riley a Nigga, in what he thought was a term of endearment, maybe even brotherhood, confused by the various contexts and meanings? Do we ever find Huey’s subversive nature tiresome, even though knowing he is for the greater good of the race? The Boondocks success is McGruder’s courage and his

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competence to illustrate the profound issues he does and his outstanding ability to tap into his audience’s mind. McGruder uses the audiences own personal perspective as an interactive part of the experience, finding identification and familiarity with the strip or particular characters is a very fulfilling instant. Watching the short twenty minute cartoon is like being on an emotional roller coaster. The sensation of The Boondocks is beyond description and worth watching or reading just for the sheer amazement at the witness of a genius. McGruder most certainly isn’t about whitewashing blackness or making the truth obscure to anyone – he is just extremely courageous and devoted to presenting his vision with complete veracity to anyone and everyone who cares to know, regardless of their race, class or political affiliation. However, in the words of Huey Freeman, ‘Now here’s something black people have known for a couple of hundred years, niggas are crazy. Now black people may not want to talk about crazy niggas in public because white people might be listening, but I’m afraid the secret might be out.’ P

A Boondocks colllection by Aaron McGruder

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Mark My Words Written by Ayesha Charles

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henever someone asks me, not that they do regularly, which writer I aspire to be, I always say Julie Burchill, but if I make it to Candace Bushnell, that would be ok, too. Julie Burchill I consider to be one of the most thrilling writers to date. I quite like Candace Bushnell too, but she’s now too associated with Sex and the City and that’s one comparison that although fabulous, might be a little too much so (there can be too much fabulousness). Julie Burchill’s ability to take her readers on the most spontaneous of journeys with the most simplistic of ideas and her intimacy with complete unabashed honesty is truly refreshing and undeniably skilful. But when people ask me the writer I dream to be, there is only one. Any great lover of the written language will agree he is the cat’s meow. He is the staggering, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. I never tell people of my dreams, because I dream of nothing realistic or even close to being so, possibly another reason why I admire this writer so. Fitzgerald was spinning the world round in a frenzy when he was just twenty five – I am twenty six now and am not even half way there. Fitzgerald, although very much known for his remarkable writing on the flapper, his marriage to Zelda Sayre and an age that was impressively opulent and glamorous, was in the simplest form, just a magnificently talented writer. Albeit, Fitzgerald is the writer of an era where everything had shiny and sparkling surfaces, but beyond the flappers that he made iconic, the romance he had that was tumultuous, the slickers, the cocktails and the droning jazz, was this man with the most magical command of writing. Writing I believe to be in its most perfect form. Today, however, it would appear that anyone can write. Anyone with an idea between their ears and some means to record their thoughts, be it paper and pen or today’s most preferred, a technological device, can enter the world of the writer. I spoke to a Spanish journalist – a writer in both Spanish and English and she said, ‘It’s really sad, everyone thinks they can be a writer now.’ I completely agree with her. The world of the writer is being infiltrated and diluted by those who ultimately have no respect for the profession or language. Aside

from the advancement in technology, I do personally believe it is because of sheer laziness and the need to have everything at the click of a finger (or mouse button). I do consider myself to be a writer. Not a journalist, not an author or a critique or a playwright, just a writer in the most unsophisticated sense of the word. Whenever great writers are asked, ‘How did you become a writer?’ The answer usually is, they were born that way (it is a defect) and then they tell stories about writing before they had even formed a sufficient vocabulary. Fitzgerald says, ‘I wrote all through class in school in the back of my geography book and first year Latin and on the margin of themes, declensions and mathematic problems. Two years later the family decided the only way to force me to study was to send me to a boarding school.’ That was my story too, with a little variation. So, I think I have the right to say that I was born a writer without being accused of being arrogant. I am by no means calling myself a Fitzgerald, but I am a writer nonetheless, it comes as part and parcel of who I am. Can bloggers say the same thing? So what’s sad? There are over a trillion blogs (I won’t even bother to research a figure because it will only increase in a matter of seconds) that are changing the way we use the English language and lowering the accepted standard of writing. I think these platforms are great for people that have something to say, even if it is, ‘this is what I wore today and this is where I wore it.’ And if people can get recognition for whatever it is they have to say or they happen to be a redundant search engine optimisation whizz, linked, tagged and keyword listed into fame that is also great. There are some really interesting blogs out there and often I find they are written by the least expecting of people you would ever consider to find pleasure in writing. I have always found cab driver David D’Arcy of Cabbieblog a particularly nice read. The point is, if a lawyer one day decides that he is indeed going to become a writer, he is completely within his rights to do so and nobody would bat an eyelid. Law is a profession that I have always respected, if I hadn’t been born a writer this would have possibly been my calling. However, I could not one day fancy myself as a lawyer and the next, pick myself up and go down to the Old Bailey and start fighting for justice. Of course Frank Abagnale did this with avail, granted, but legally and naturally this takes training, years of hard work and studying. It’s often what deters people from embarking on this path and also what makes it so respected. To become a writer on the other hand, people assume, you can just log on to Blogspot. It’s hard enough for people to understand a writer’s profession as it is. The last thing we need is the public assuming that A: anyone can do it and B: that it has anything to do with Blogspot.

Online reading, as probably most will know, if written ‘properly’ reads particularly different to print. It’s shorter, its sharper and it’s written with the assumption that the reader does not entirely engage their attention to this medium of writing. So, these fanciful writers – bloggers, have very cleverly set the standard with their sometimes butchered English language, or the non attentive readers have opened the gateway for Butcher, Baker and Candy stick maker writers. Let’s face it, the English language is practically on its way out anyway. I have heard twenty six year old women, in the height of conversation say, ‘Oh Emm Gee,’ without even cracking a smile. My nineteen year old sister and her friends say, ‘Soz’ and recording artists actually release songs entitled, ‘LOL Smiley Face.’ Oh the horror. There are writers out there that are committed to the thing entirely and respect the power of language. They spend years studying and honing their skills, paying thousands of pounds on higher education, only to graduate and go out into the written world and have employers ask to see their blog, like this is a prerequisite (in fact it is). How many of these bloggers that might have a guest column in Vogue or Elle or whatever have a degree in English or a Masters in journalism? The joke is, nobody even cares – but writers without blogs, have you lost your natural mind? What in the hell makes these people think that writers that are creating work that is worthy of being published in print will want to put it on a blog anyway? After all, this is the practising writer’s ultimate dream – to be published - in print. One might have thought that the writer spends their less creative moments doing other things that are conducive to their career, like drinking, networking or submitting work to editors. Apparently, it is considered more productive to blog. So writers are then forced to blog, they either blog well, for the non attentive readers or write well and never get read. Nobody asked Burchill if she had a blog when she started out and I can be damn sure that nobody asked Fitzgerald when he submitted This Side of Paradise to Scribner’s. I know it’s all about evolution and moving with the times.

But how can a medium that is killing the English language be forced upon writers that are trying to preserve it? It’s not just Jo Public that expects a writer to blog, but even publishers, editors, the very platforms whose blood line is supposedly the written word. The moment you tell someone you’re a writer they ask, ‘Oh, do you have a blog?’ No I don’t, but I have a manuscript at home, would you like to read that? No, because you’re lazy. A thirteen year old can have a successful blog and you ‘expect’ me to waste my time assassinating language so I can have what Tavi’s got? It’s sad because some writers are in great danger more so than others. The print journos are at the greatest of risk. There are very few bloggers that could sit down and pen anything even remotely close to a Fitzgerald novel, but on a whim, they could possibly write something pretty close to Burchill. Where do I stand on this matter? Conflicted. I am by no means adverse to people trying their hand at whatever they wish to do. In fact I admire them. I actually encourage creative expression in whichever way it formulates in an individual and if that be writing, then so be it. But come on, don’t actors get pissed off when they have worked their whole lives perfecting their talent and then some rapper swoops in, no audition required and ha presto, he’s an actor? I dream to write something like Fitzgerald, I aspire to write something like Burchill. Have I ever aspired or dreamed to blog? No. But admittedly I do have four. In my defence, though, I am a blogging writer and not a blogger. I believe a writer can write anything that requires language and with time can do it well. A theatre critic can write a play, a journalist can write a poem and an author can write a film. And to write any of these all that’s required is a pen and paper. A writer can too write a blog if they wish, but can a blogger blog without the internet? I am a writer with a blog. I blog badly, but I don’t mind thinking that my writing is alright. P

“ Let’s face it, the English language is practically on its way out anyway.”

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Alice in Wonderland What would you do if your boyfriend of one year told you he didn’t see you together long term? No, no, take some time to think about it and we’ll come back to it later. And while you’re mulling that over bear this question in mind too, what would you do if your husband of twenty years told you he never loved you anymore? Words by Ayesha Charles

ne Sunday evening I decided to take a break from a ridiculously heavy work load. I decided to read one of the many magazines in the growing pile that dates back to June, which I have promised myself to get through once meeting my deadline. I thought it best to read something topical, so I picked up the September edition of Elle. Excited at the thought of some downtime and a chance to offload I got into bed, propped up my pillows and flicked straight to the Opinion piece – as I do. The column was written by Alice Wignall and was titled, Passivity: It works, but would you let him call the shots? At first I was under the impression that Alice was going to pulverise the woman that does nothing in bed but lay there and get thrown around like a blow up doll, or better still, maybe she was going to give some juicy bedroom tips for the overriding woman that wants to learn to be submissive in the sack - you know, because that’s the age we live in now and after much hard work, these are the things that women can talk about. But, wow, I could not have been any more wrong. Alice, lady of the twenty first century, was actually celebrating, delicately, I might add, (because she may not have wanted to receive a rebuttal such as this), her passive approach to her relationship. Let me cut a long story short. Alice had been with her boyfriend of one year that she was ‘very much in love with’ when he told her that he didn’t see them together long term. Alice found that being passive in this situation, doing and saying nothing worked. (Indeed this work term is ambiguous, but bear with me, I’ll get to it) My first reaction after reading this was to write to the editor at Elle and ask, ‘how the hell can you print this propaganda?’ This is supposed to be a woman’s magazine, not some 1950’s pulp fiction publication. The second reaction was to heave the magazine across the room and pretend I never saw the column, but I couldn’t miss out on this debacle. The third and obviously most productive, possibly after writing to the editor, was to write this column. Needless to say I will probably still write to the editor anyway. There are a number of things that tickle me in Alice’s column. Firstly, what exactly does she imply when she uses the term ‘work’, Passivity works? And secondly, how beneficial is passivity in any situation – particularly those that we feel passionate about? Now, I am never too keen on women that can’t seem to form opinions. In fact I find them dull and somewhat stupid. I have even less time for women who like to spout off their pie hole talking all kinds of crap they know nothing about – more often than not regurgitating fluff that their boyfriends said.

So, I suppose Alice for one thing has formed an opinion, can’t fault her for that, but her opinion has been formed by that of a writer named Laura Munson. You might have heard of her, she wrote an article for the New York Times which got her on Oprah, got her a book deal and crashed the New York Times website it had that many viewers. Laura told a touching story that recollected a time when she too was told by her partner that he no longer loved her anymore and wanted to leave. Laura told her partner that she ‘didn’t buy it’ and continued to get on with her life. She put up with six months of silence and coldness from her partner before he came around again. Laura put her partners need to back out of the relationship at that time down to his male ego and his pride. His work wasn’t going well and he was losing his place in the relationship as the breadwinner. Now, I am no relationship expert, but all you have to do is witness the relationship of Carrie Bradshaw and Jack Burger in Sex and the City to know this is a common reaction for men in this situation. In present day, Laura and her partner are completely happy and have got their groove back. Regardless of what the end result may be, nobody ever wants to hear the person they love tell them they don’t feel the same way about them. The following that Laura generated at the New York Times proved that many women have been in this situation and needed to hear this story. This is also probably why Alice was bold enough to be so openly pathetic and tell us about the man she’d loved for a year that evidently did not reciprocate in Elle magazine. Here’s the catch. Laura had been with the man that wanted to back out of the relationship for twenty years. He was her husband and they had two children together. Laura had committed ‘till death do us part’ to this man, so her ability to step back and deflect the situation is understandable. I don’t know whether I could do it, but ultimately she got her husband back and she kept her family together. It’s also a woman that has known her partner for long enough to judge his actions and make sound conclusions. In my opinion, she owed it to herself, her marriage and her children to see this through.

What, really, is Alice’s story? In all honesty I don’t think that Alice is of any position to give any form of relationship advice. In the 1800’s this kind of nonsense may have washed, but it’s the twenty first century. Relationships that lack respect, equality, stability and trust is not one that ‘works’, it’s the one that you should work to get out of. If, however, in Alice’s wonderland, work translates as ‘staying with the man you love no matter what he’s going through, even though he’s a practical stranger and doesn’t see you in his future’ then it worked for her. They’ve been with each other six months since he told her he didn’t see them together long term. It took Alice just as long to confront him with the issue, to which he said, ‘I don’t feel that way anymore.’ What if he had said, ‘Nothing has changed, but I am happy to keep doing this till I meet the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with,’? Or if he had said, ‘The woman I was cheating on you with got engaged to her boyfriend, so I thought it would be good to give things a go with you,’? And this idea of doing and saying nothing isn’t nothing, at all. It permitted her to drag her friend to some bar and make her ears bleed with all the crap that she was probably too afraid and insecure to tell the man in question. She drowned her liver in alcohol, woke up with a disgusting hangover and had a terrible comedown the next day - I am guessing. When Laura did nothing, it was indeed nothing in comparison to going to the lawyers, going to court, separating or uprooting the children to their grandparent’s house (which would have been Laura’s alternative option). In Alice’s case, what she describes as inactivity or passivity in her column I think should be coined more aptly as ‘Denial’ and her column ‘Passivity: It Works’ I would title ‘Regression’. My friend asked what I would do if my partner told me he didn’t love me anymore, I thought about it for a minute and then I laughed. Who knows what you’ll do when the man you’re with you can’t imagine your life without. But I for sure as hell know one thing, it will never in a million years be nothing and if it is, you’ll never know. P

“Nobody ever wants to hear the person they love tell them they don’t feel the same way.”

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A Fine Time to Get Real Words by Ayesha Charles

I am always excited by the turn of the season, particularly from summer to winter. Voluminous coats, long boots and lots of wintery accessories are my weakness. I climatise my wardrobe and make space for the season’s new trends bursting with the sheer anticipation of what I might find on the catwalk. This season something happened. Something that has never happened since dedicating myself to fashion. There was a complete anti-climax. It was like the waters stilled, serenity settled and tranquillity took residence. Fashion Grew Up. Marc Jacobs, Phoebe Philo for Celine and Hannah McGibbon for Chloe returned to formality, histories and beginnings reminiscent of eras that moved a little slower than that of today.

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his season’s motto is less is more. ‘Anything too stylised seems wrong,’ Linda Fargo said. Camel coats at Chloe, grey v-neck cashmere jumpers at Stella McCartney and midi length skirts at Marc Jacobs, the new refined movement boasts minimalism, comfort, practicality and...oops I fell asleep. These are pieces that can compliment any wardrobe and be worn forever, albeit, without the economic strength some may indeed be paying off their credit cards for just as long. Unfortunately the less is more motto does not apply to the price tag. Although many of the garments of the refined movement are completely wearable, the key question here is, who actually cares? The classic camel Chloe coats seem

nowhere near as electrifying as the crimson pink oversized hooded coat of Marc Jacobs winter 2009 collection. Surely Phoebe Philo and Hannah McGibon do not expect the Gucci Girls coveting Italian sexuality or the Lanvin Lovers desire for Argentine intensity to fall for high waist trousers, simple grey cashmere v neck jumpers and midi dresses. This isn’t exactly ‘dressing up’ - unless you’re thirteen trying to look thirty. These garments are fully functional, entirely practical and at Marc Jacobs and Celine, void of any sex appeal. Every turn of the season a fashion journalist gets orgasmic over the new trend, the new fad, the new image that is the reflection of the supposed new attitude, which we will eventually adopt as though we got there all on our own. This season I most certainly couldn’t get there, at least not at first. I can’t help feeling slightly cheated by this movement – it’s as though fashion has suddenly put a parameter around it and fenced many of us out, women under thirty that enjoy playing dress up (which most of us do) need not apply. This trend, the pertinent trend of the season, was not created for the young and whimsical fashion lovers searching for her next GaGa moment. This season is designed for women that are settled in their lives and nicely self assured. Looking good may be their prerequisite, but fashion may no longer be their priority. They seek out investment pieces as opposed to the hot item of the season and are likely to find great quality and beautiful materials more rousing than conceptual or unique designs. Last season we celebrated the empowered and commanding woman. She wore sculpted and body con dresses, her shoulders were hard and accentuated, her legs were cloaked in oil slick leggings which she then slipped into the infamous ‘come and do something filthy to me and pay me for it afterwards’ Vagina boots. Now, all of a sudden, we are so over sex and domination - at least we are expected to be. These attitudes and trends seem to belong to two very different people with very different ideals. Vogue has droned on for the past three months about the ‘real’ clothes phenomena as though it were some kind of fashion novelty or advancement. The wool can’t be pulled over my eyes. Aside from the Emperor, who else wore anything but real clothes? I am, in some respects, fond of the refined woman and believe that this should be any woman’s landing point, the final destination, so to speak. Having said that, it is to be noted that I am also fond of the femme fatale, the flapper, the baby vamp or whatever you wish to call her. I am more inclined to the flapper, however, for the sheer fact that she represents youth and vitality and very little is expected from her by way of responsibility. Refinement

requires a cultivated manner that comes with age and wisdom and inevitably takes life experience to curate it. I suffer from a slight Peter Pan complex, it’s not so much the physicality of growing old or growing up that scares me, it’s more what age affords me; marriage, children, mortgages, practicality and priorities. My greatest deterrent of the ‘coming of age’ affair is the denial of choice and the expectancy of seriousness and boredom. At twenty six, which I believe to be a transitional age between young adult and just plain ‘old’ adult, the reality of life and maturity lingers and has manifested itself by providing me with child bearing hips and a metabolism that no longer permits me to consume the cheeses and chocolates that have helped me to form my, there’s that word again, ‘mature’ pallet. It is unavoidable as my body shape develops into that of a womanly figure and my appetite desires richer fattening foods, as opposed to a diet that allows me to wear a dress size eight, that my style and personal fashion preferences shift towards that of a woman’s, but I have long tried to avoid this. It is fair to say that refinement was a factor I rarely considered when decorating my exterior, at least not till the age of twenty six. I would leave the house with my accompaniment of heaps and mounds of gold accessories, bracelets and bangles stacked up to my elbows. Earrings that swing like pendulums and chains not dissimilar to that of Mr T’s. In fact, the embarrassing truth is, whilst taking inspiration from Jenny Lo in her Get Right video, I may have overshot it and in the midst of being compared to a Christmas tree, an Indian elephant and a jewellery shop thief, the most frequent was indeed Mr T. My boyfriend, ten years older than me recently suggested that it might be the time to think about investing in more serious jewellery. This translates as, ‘you’re getting on now, maybe you should try being more classy.’ Admittedly at first I was hurt. With my Topshop accessories went my youth and my fortune to wear whatever I like wherever I like, within reason of course. The truth of the matter is we only have two choices, age or death. The sane amongst us will choose to

age. Watching Liza Minelli (read mutton) performing Beyonce’s Single Ladies (read lamb) in Sex and The City should goad us into aging the elegant way, with style and grace. For those still not convinced, the Peter Pan complex on Michael Jackson is the picture that reads ‘there is nothing hot about defying age and nothing classy about mutton dressed as lamb’. The season’s theme is timeless, classic, wealthy and completely classist, with an air of ‘I’ve too much money to display my wealth wearing cyclical fashions.’ This ‘refined’ trend contradicts the very definition of fashion itself and has left fashion and its followers out in the cold. Fashion followers aren’t self assured, stable or settled. They are pretentious and seek pleasure from the perception of their facade. They are insecure and narcissistic and love appearing to be something they are not – hey, maybe we’re onto something here. Now the ‘Wealthy Lady’ and the parvenu can all blend in as one great formal happy class. Thank God. Yes, sadly, but admittedly so, this makes me very happy. Hands up, I have an air of the Fashion Follower in me too, trying to keep up with it has tired me for some time now; I am tired of dieting, I am tired of not wearing dresses that I once loved because they’re dated and quite frankly I am even more tired of being broke. The best purchases I ever made are the ones I still wear today, my Burberry Mac, my red Miu Miu wedges, cashmere cardigans from MaxMara and the dozens of my little black dresses, mainly from Zara and ASOS, that can be merchandise accordingly for different occasions. Simple? Yes. Classic? Yes. Sensible? Maybe, but now I have a mortgage I am more than thrilled to just look good as opposed to looking fashionable. I am also more than happy to look down my nose at capricious trends that last six months so I can too appear like the ‘Mature Wealthy Lady’ I most certainly am not. Young fashion lovers may feel disheartened, but for me, it’s the perfect exchange. P

“You’re getting on now, maybe you should try being more classy.”

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Autumn Winter 2010/2011

Illustration Blogs

The Sicilian Tragedee Ottavio Cappellani Who is Lou Sciortino? Ottavio Cappellani Who Framed Lou Sciortino Ottavio Cappellani One Hundred Strokes of the Brush Before Bed Melissa Panarello (the semiautobiographical erotic novel by Sicilian writer Melissa. P) Bernice Bobs Her Hair F. Scott Fitzgerald Jelly Bean F. Scott Fitzgerald A Diamond as Big as the Ritz F. Scott Fitzgerald The Beautiful and Damned F. Scott Fitzgerald The Last Tycoon F. Scott Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise F. Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the Night F. Scott Fitzgerald 2666 Roberto Bolano The Alchemist Paulo Coelho The House of Spirits Isabelle Allende One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez The Crystal Frontier Carlos Fuentes The Godfather Mario Puzo

Sabine Pieper www.sabinepieper.com Garance Dore www.garancedore.fr/en/ Kathryn Elyse, Paper Fashion www.paperfashion.wordpress.com.

Jean Philippe Delhomme, The Unknown Hipster www.unknownhipster.com

Inspirational Figures

Comics The Boondocks: A Right to be Hostile Aaron McGruder The Boondocks: Because I Know You Don’t Read the Newspaper Aaron McGruder The Boondocks: Fresh for 01 Suckas Aaron McGruder The Boondocks: Public Enemy Number 2 Aaron McGruder The Avengers Marvel Comics Ms Marvel Marvel Comics

Locations

Non Fiction Super Girls Mike Madrid The Creative Class Richard Florida Fantasy Literature Ayesha: The Return of She H Rider Haggard

Film The Spirit Frank Miller Frank Miller’s Sin City Robert Rodriguez Sex and the City David Patrick King The Aviator 2004 (Howard Hughes) Martin Scorsese The Godfather Francis Ford Coppola Frank Abagnale (mentioned in Mark My Words) Catch me if You Can Steven Spielberg Up in the Air 2010 Jason Reitman

Conde Montrose Nast The founder of infamous Vogue magazine and American publisher Manlio Sgalambro Sicilian poet and philosopher Nino Martoglio Sicilian, Catanese playwright, journalist and writer Vitaliano Bracanti Sicilian writer of Paolo il Caldo and Il Don Giovanni in Sicily Wolf Gang Goethe German writer and polymath John Dos Passos American writer of the Lost Generation, author of Manhattan Transfer, a novel which utilises literary technique Stream-of-Consciousness. Gertrude Stein American writer, part of the expatriate crowd in France, famed for creating the term ‘Lost Generation’. Ernest Hemmingway famed for delineating the Lost Generation and the expatriate Parisian crowd, known for his respect for Fitzgerald’s work and author of The Sun Also Rises.

New York, Manhattan St. Lucia Sicily, Catania Marella Ferrera www.marellaferrera.com MF Museum&Fashion Piazza Duca di Genova, 27 Via Museo Biscari,16

Dates to Remember The Beautiful and Damned film released in the USA 2011 Who Framed Lou Sciortino? Ottavio Cappellani released on the 1st October St. Lucian Jazz Festival, 3rd-10th May 2011 www.stluciauk.com Drawing Fashion, the Design Museum begins 16th November.

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These inspirations belong to:

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