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Issue n° 17, Spring and Summer 2018

Rupi Kaur UK £ 6.50

USA $15.99


From social media star to best selling writer

Here and on the cover, Rupi Kaur wears CHANEL, photographed by Martina Matencio and styled by Leslie Fremar.

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The Gentlewoman Issue no 17 Spring & Summer 2018

Part one: ........................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................... ...............................................................................................................

The Franco-Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra to unveil her upcoming new album 'Homeland' this spring on pages 10-11. Here she's in a denim jacket by CALVIN KLEIN 105W39NYC. ..................................................

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Adverts ............................................................................................ 3-6 ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... .............................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... Fascination ........................................................................................ 7 ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... ............................................................................................................... Rupi Kaur: .............................................................................................. The superpoet of instagram .......................................................... 8-11 .............................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................. .............................................................................................................. Hindi Zahra ................................................................................... 12-13 ............................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................ Last page .............................................................................................. A final word ...................................................................................... 15 ............................................................................................................ ............................................................................................................

Contents.

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Fascination

Stretch mark

Stretch marks are something that most women of all shapes, sizes and ages have. They are narrow streaks or lines that occur on the surface of the skin typically during pregnancy, during puberty, after a rapid weight gain or weight loss and due to other health conditions. In a society where our nation is obsessed with appearance and looking perfect. It is no surprise that these oddly-shaped “tiger marks” have been looked down upon by majority of women as something that they should hide or feel ashamed about. A number of women will spend money on stretch marks removal creams or ointments to minimise their unwanted lines on their hips, thighs, arms, bellies and anywhere else they’ve shown up. Instead of embracing these unique flaws, we are told to detest them as they are a reminder that we haven’t yet achieved perfection. However, this is completely wrong. We’ve earned them by being human and it is a natural part of life. Just like our fingerprints, no stretch marks are exactly the same and it is also quite impossible that another person can have exactly the same as yours therefore every woman should be proud that she processes something that is uniquely hers.

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Stretch marks should be considered a sign of strength, beauty, and endurance rather than an imperfection that one must get rid of in order to feel accepted in our society’s standards of beauty because at the end of the day we are all remarkably beautiful just the way we are and these so-called flaws is what makes you extraordinary. Photography by Holly Andres. Model: Isabella De Rosa


Rupi Rupi, 25, was born in Punjab in India from a Sikh family background. She migrated all the way to Canada with her parents at the early age of four. Ever since she was young, her mother has always been her inspiration when she draws and paint, this helped her greatly at a time when she was struggling with the other children in her school as she was unable to speak English. Kaur won an essay and speech competition in school in the seventh grade. “a shy introverted bullied 12 year old now standing in front of a hundred students reading my work out loud and accepting an award. it was my first step toward becoming the person I always wanted to be,” she states on her own website. She also enjoyed writing poems to her friends such as on special occasion like their birthdays, as well as love poetry for crushes. Throughout the years, Kaur kept a journal, she mostly gets her inspiration from other women’s stories and experiences, including her own. This young, ambitious and promising poet studied Rhetoric and Professional Writing at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. Kaur and her family lived in different areas before settling in Brampton, where she used to live, but as of now she currently resides in Toronto, Ontario. For so many years, poet Rupi Kaur was unknown. Line by line, poem by poem she built up her following – boosting and cultivating her own profile via Instagram. It wasn’t until the March 2015 that she shot into the public gaze - posting a controversial picture of herself lying in bed with blood-stained period pants on the popular social media app, Instagram. The photo rocked the world. Instagram decided to remove the picture along with the other photos in the series because apparently “it doesn’t follow (their) Community Guidelines,” to which Kaur was fuelled to fight back. Kaur then went on Facebook to express her sentiments "Thank you Instagram for providing me with the exact response my work was created to critique. You deleted my photo twice stating that it goes against community guidelines. I will not apologize for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be ok with a small leak when your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified, pornified, and treated less than human.” The photo series received a rather mixed response as it quickly went viral on various social media platforms such as Facebook which was shared by thousands. Later, Instagram decided to put back up her divisive picture, apologised then proclaimed that it had been removed by mistake. Kaur choose menstruation as a topic because she wanted to challenge the taboos surrounding it, also to destigmatise period and to highlight instead the real struggles faced by all women, "a majority of people. societies. and communities shun this natural process. some are more comfortable with the pornification of women. the sexualization of women. the violence and degradation of

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women than this. they cannot be bothered to express their disgust about all that. but will be angered and bothered by this,” she says, firmly. Kaur could not comprehend what the big deal was. After all, the process of shedding the endometrium lining of a woman’s womb is as natural as breathing. “I was just amused that this was even as fiery as it was... there were so many reactions that this anxiety and numbness took over and I eventually couldn’t feel anything,” During her high school years, Kaur have also anonymously have shared her work on a personal blog, In 2013, she made an account on the easy-to-use blogging site Tumblr, designed for creative self-expression, there she began to post all that she had been writing through the years but using her real name this time. In March 2014, she moved to Instagram where she began to write and add illustrations to her poems. “The topics I was discussing were very heavy, but the illustrations were so simple. I loved the power those two opposites created,” says Kaur. One of the interesting styles of Kaur’s poetry is her consistent use of lowercase and full stop, being the only punctuation used. Kaur decided to mould her poems in this manner as a way to honour her culture. Kaur also mentions that she enjoys the equality of letters and that this method mostly reflects her worldview. Kaur’s main intention for her work is to be more of an experience that's easy to read and follow for the reader, accompanied by minimalistic drawings to elevate her words. “all letters are treated the same. i enjoy how simple that is. how symmetrical and how absolutely straightforward,” she wrote on website. “a visual representation of what i want to see more of within the world: equalness... so in order to preserve these small details of my mother language i include them within this language. no case distinction and only periods.” Growing up Kaur’s struggles, journey and experience in life is what inspired her to write, she also mentions that when she was younger, she always yearned to look up to writers who looked like her – dark eyes, dark hair and dark complexion. Kaur first book titled ‘Milk and Honey’ is a mixture of prose, poetry, and illustrations, the empowering book has four chapters, each of the chapter deals with a different theme. She first self-published Milk and Honey through Amazon in 2014 and later was picked by Andrews McMeel Publishing immediately selling millions of copies and made it to the New York Times bestseller list. Although her work may seem provocative, Kaur says she wants to encourage and empower other women who face the same issues, the book tackles relatable issues such love, sex, rejection and relationships however she also dabs into deeper topics such as abuse, alcoholism, beauty standards, racism.


Kaur

Rupi Kaur

The superpoet of instagram

“I struggle so deeply to understand how someone can pour their entire soul, blood and energy into someone without wanting anything in return - I will have to wait till I’m a mother”


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Rupi Kaur Getting up close with Rupi Kaur as she talks about her new book 'Sun and Her Flowers' and how she handles social media's response to her work.

Sheila: You first book Milk and Honey became really popular which sold million copies. How did The Sun and Her Flowers come about? Rupi: Milk and Honey was self-published November 14, 2014. (About a year later it came out worldwide through an actual publisher.) I woke up on the 15th and the title just came to me [while I was] designing the second book cover. For me, how the book looks and feels, that's really where it all begins. I was going through a difficult breakup at the time, and I was thinking about the way sunflowers rotate with the sun. When the sun rises, they also rise, but when the sun leaves, they bow their heads. I thought that sort of worship at the time was just so stunning and so beautiful and so then I thought, "We are all our own suns and flowers are the experiences and the people we go through in our entire lifetime, so the sun and her flowers." I don't really write books; I think books tend to be the end product of what I'm doing throughout my day-to-day. So I was writing a lot in 2014. I did take about a year break when things got really busy and life was changing and I didn't know how to manage it all, but I was constantly journaling and then writing again for the last year. I signed a two-book deal and that's when I was like, "OK, I need to really actually finish this thing. I've been stalling for three years." So I went to my laptop and I printed all the work that I had done, and out came hundreds and hundreds of pages. And then began the work of editing and refining, and editing and refining, and writing new work as well. SF: What inspired you to write these poems, and create the five-segment format? RK: The book was actually supposed to look a lot different. Three years ago, I thought the book was going to be a true chapter book. The first chapter would be the darkness,

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Interview Sheila Ferrer Portraits Laura Stevens

and it would take readers through the experience of an unhealthy love and what that makes a person feel, and how that defines their lens and how they navigate the world. ... Then the second chapter would be the light chapter, and it was going to talk about a healthy relationship and what that is like. What I really wanted to focus on was that corrective experience that happens. I think we're like, "Oh, in unhealthy relationships, people are really sad, and then somebody great comes along and it's all like, butterflies and rainbows." But it doesn't really work like that. When you experience violence for so long, when something comes to you and it's not violent, you don't know how to define that, you know? But all these other themes kind of just wouldn't stop coming to me. I was writing about death and I was writing about immigration and I was like "No, no, no, I don't need to be writing about this stuff. I have the concept of what my book is going to be." Eventually, at the end of last year, I just stopped fighting that, and I was like, "I'm just going to write what comes."

younger self, whether you want to call it your soul. So I find it actually very easy, just because I get to respond to her and whatever topic she brings to the table. I have no choice but to surrender myself to that and to have that conversation.

SF: Writers especially female writers often get told by the public to "stay in their lanes" simply because they have different opinions on various topics. How did manage on articulating divergent ideas all at the same time? RK: I feel like one thing I've stayed true to, that's gotten me where I am today, is me being honest to myself. To me, writing is really me listening to my soul and me listening to that voice and responding to that. Sometimes I wake up and I want to write a love poem, but my voice inside doesn't give a sh*t about that, you know? It's more concerned about what I saw on the news 10 minutes ago and that's what it wants to talk about. It's almost like there's this other person inside of me who's like this ... whether you want to call it, your

SF: Have you thought about what particularly would people think of the meaning behinds your poems and what they are about? RK: I think I faced so much of that with Milk and Honey that it almost ... I don't know if it's a bad thing or a good thing, but I'm so numb and my guard's up. I've had reporters specifically ask me five times in an interview if I was raped and how. I think that the things I discuss in Milk and Honey and some of the plot points aren't as aggressive as the questions I've already received. Milk and Honey is very much an inward journey, whereas The Sun and Her Flowers is outward. After the last three years dodging questions like that, I think it's not fair. For me, writing about the violence I've experienced, that's very cathartic.

SF: What other books have you been reading? Who was your source of inspiration? RK: I've been inspired by so many incredible South Asian writers; my experience as a South Asian woman is not every South Asian woman's experience. So, I think it's about time we then add more of these voices so they can show the multi-dimensional facets of things that I'm being pigeonholed into. I've been reading a lot of Kahlil Gibran's Prophet; it's a book that I carry around with me all of the time, especially when I'm traveling. If you do like feminist poetry I think Sharon Olds is absolutely wonderful, as are Jhumpa Lahiri, Ocean Vuong, Hera Lindsay Bird, Alex Elle, Sarah Kay, Andrea Gibson, Alice Walker, Elvira Sastre, Junot Díaz, Joan Didion, Sylvia Plath‌


Hindi Zahra Hindi Zahra, the Moroccan singer with sensual vocals and intriguingly varied roots. A dark-haired lady furnished with colourful jewellery across both hands, a name which is sadly unheard of by many and unrecognised by today’s mainstream music industry is finally back to intoxicate and allure us all with 11 new tracks in her upcoming album ‘Homeland’ to unleash this spring. All the way from Khouribga, Morocco she was raised by her Moroccan mother, an actress and a dancer until at the age of 15, she had to leave her studies behind and move to the capital city of France to be with her father. Some say that parts of Zahra such as her musical influences and vocals evoke a Norah Jones, Lena Horne and Billie Holiday, but this Parisian-Moroccan artist certainly stand in her own ground. Every time Zahra’s on stage, she’s got her own palpable flavour and mysterious side about her that always seem to keep the eager crowd smiling and entertained whilst she fervidly performs with exuberant energy. Growing up, Zahra has always had a passion for lyrics, melodies and song-writing, therefore it is no wonder that in just the year 2005 alone, this talented and self-taught multi-instrumentalist had written about 50 songs. Zahra mostly sings in English, but she has also writen songs in French and in Berber, her mother tongue. Her first album Handmade was released in 2010 and was five years in the making, it includes two tracks Imik Si Mik and Oursoul of which she sings in her native Berber language. Beautiful Tango, Zahra’s arguably most well-known single discreetly shows off a dash of intimate and poetic lyrics and vibrations, the video to the opening song was crafted by none other than French director Tony Gatlif. With a touch of gypsy between the lines, a hint of blues and enchanting guitar rhythms reminiscent of Django Reinhardt, the album without a doubt will make you fall in love and leave you feeling like you’re in the wildest rich region of the North African realm. In November 2010, Zahra’s album Handmade was awarded best album at Prix Constantin. Consecutively, she earned another award the following year for the best world music album at the 2011 Victoires de la Musique awards show, a ceremony in France of which exhibits outstanding achievements of prominent artists within the music industry. In cinema, Hindi Zahra has also starred in a few recent films such as The Narrow Frame of Midnight, written and directed by Tala Hadid and in The Cut by Fatih Akin. Zahra considers cinema as an interesting and impressive way to catch the spirit of people, "It's beautiful for me to have the chance to work with people who have interesting subjects to talk about. I hope to do more, I would be happy to." Music is the story of Zahra’s life, both her origin and her life paths add to her uniqueness. Zahra believes there's never a relationship between music and art, "but I like to describe big spaces in my songs, the deserts and the mountains, and maybe that's something in common with my paintings, because I also like to paint big spaces," she says. Coming from a family background of talented musicians, one of her core inspirations to produce her second album is her family’s legacy, "My aunts, my mothers, I grew up with female percussionists, and it was a kind of obsession for me." Unlike her previous album, she wanted to explore and experiment with rhythm from different cultures to create a distinctive texture for her new songs. One of the tracks that’s included in her new album, Broken Bones she proclaims "is maybe 10 years old, it's a very old song. I did not think it would survive, but you never know which things will have a long life." With her intoxicating accent and compelling charm, Zahra is indeed a gem stone in vast pile of sand and her Homeland will surely transport us all to a different universe – from the sandy deserts of Morocco, busy streets of France to the countryside of Spain.

Photography by JAMIE HAWKESWORTH Styling by VENETIA SCOTT


"Home is where the art and music are."


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DIANE VON FURSTENBERG

DVF Carina and Siena, Venice, Italy


Photography by Kyle Thompson, styling by Natalie Massenet.

Last page

A final word.

Though everything has been said for now in this printed instalment of the magazine, the particularly curious can sign up for further entertainment and notification by joining The Gentlewoman club. Until September 2018, that is, we'll be back with a 18th issue. Farewell for now, readers!

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