Strand Magazine - March 2024 Issue

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MARCH 2024
Women‘s History Month Safe Spaces for Women in London • Sapphic Poetry
Sofia Coppola Female-Owned Wineries Le Bal des Débutantes

EDITORIAL BOARD

Editor in Chief: Talia Andrea

Deputy Editor: Barney Nuttall

Treasurer: Leah Perkins

Head of Social Media: Stefi Komala

Print Design: Govhar Dadashova, Tahmim Reza

Events Coordinator: Clara Goilav

Art Editor: Samuel Blackburn

Essays Editor: Natalie Cheung

Fashion Editor: Megan Shears

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Welcome to the Strand Magazine’s ‘Women’s History Month’ special edition - and what a special issue it is! This marks our final print edition of 2023-24, and it’s packed to the brim with coverage of some of the most exciting women on the arts and culture scene. Whether you’re looking for a roundup of London’s safe spaces for women (from swimming pools at dawn to club nights after dark), to exclusive interviews with the women revolutionising the international wine industry, you’ll find it all here.

This also marks the final print edition of my career at the Strand, which has been a whirlwind from start to finish. It’s been a privilege to work with so many incredible and talented people during my three years at the magazine. Each of the Strand’s issues this year has only been made possible thanks to the boundless creativity, talent and resilience of the Strand’s staff, all of whom are volunteers (and as it happens, 79% of whom are women!)

Film and TV Editors: Martha Knox, Oisín McGilloway

Gaming Editor: Gio Eldred Mitre

Food and Drink Editors: Fathima Jaffar. Trisha Gupta

Literature Editor: Lara Mae Simpson

London and Beyond Editor: Faye Elder

Music Editors: Lucy Blackmur, Akane Hayashi

Photography Editor: Quince Pan

Sex and Relationships Editor: Noor Hatimy

Theatre Editor: Georgia Gibson

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how I feel about the 2023-24 term of the Strand coming to an end. I feel optimistic about the sudden spike I’ll have in free time, although I’m sure I’ll miss the hustle and bustle of putting all these projects together! It prompts me to think back to my interview with Kayleigh Noble within this issue, where she told me why she called her album ‘Just A Girl’: “I didn’t want to tie myself down to one thing It’s about all the emotions I went through, not all of which were sad”

So, in keeping with our theme of Women’s History Month, this edition really is all about what it means to be ‘Just A Girl’, and all the emotions associated with it. Whether you laugh or cry while you’re reading the next 22 pages, we, as always, hope you enjoy themand our next committee will see you in September.

With love, Talia Andrea Editor in Chief

4-5: The Girls of Sofia Coppola

6-7: Campione dei Colli Briantei: In Conversation with Italian Winery Owner Barbara Biraghi

8-9: The Best 'Safe Spaces' for Women in London

10-15: STRAND Showcase Spotlights: In Conversation with Mara Liddle, Kayleigh Noble and FLEUR ROUGE

16-17: Katherine Philips: The Sapphic Poet of the English Civil War

18-19: Crowns, Couture and Commendable Young Women: A Look Back at the 2023 ‘Les Bal des Debutantes’

20-21: Taking ‘Girl’ For Granted

22-23: KCLSU Women’s History Month Events

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Maaya Karuppiah

Girlhood signifies a transitionary period between childhood and adulthood a purgatory before the mind can fully develop ays in which this defining period ast-track journey to adulthood, no may try and take to avoid it Her (2023), is once again a testament irlhood whilst acknowledging that ly sabotages the state of ‘girl’. Cailee Spaeny, emphasising the 4-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu as she with Elvis (Jacob Elordi). Coppola he story of a girl who enters into a uck and with no power, and comes ms her autonomy after years of he looked to as both a partner and lows the viewer to be immersed in as she grows from a girl into a their own conclusions after London Film Festival, I began to s presentation of girlhood? What c, yet universal, appealing to such s it is this: the girls in her films are antasies, yet their struggles are so s. Despite Lux’s beauty, the fact the hands of a man when for so old the lie that beauty would solve est Lisbon sister Cecilia (Hannah R. d by the narrator, who seems to suicide were nothing but a cry for dn’t have the boy she wanted. cence is defined by activities built stripped of any influence from her h tales are representative of the men, and often the media yet n appreciation for the wonders of h sisterhood and the novelty that hrouded in a facade of lace, pink, rls of Coppola’s films are far rawer n other more realist media. Priscilla oppola’s dynamic ability to switch e Virgin Suicides to a biopic format mixture of impeccable casting, ls to tell a story that most of the

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ELEONORA FUMAGALLI

CAMPIONE DEI COLLI BRIANTEI

IN CONVERSATION WITH ITALIAN WINERY OWNER BARBARA BIRAGHI

While parts of the “Bel paese” or “beautiful country” of Italy have been holiday hotspots While parts of the “Bel paese” or “beautiful country” of Italy have been holiday hotspots for decades, the lush hills of the northern countryside have recently garnered heightened for decades, the lush hills of the northern countryside have recently garnered heightened appreciation and attention following the success of Luca Guadagnino’s renowned appreciation and attention following the success of Luca Guadagnino’s renowned Call Me Call Me

By Your Name By Your Name . Hidden in this northern greenery is a family-run wine-making company . Hidden in this northern greenery is a family-run wine-making company Campione dei Colli Briantei which I had the privilege of visiting. Speaking with the owners Campione dei Colli Briantei which I had the privilege of visiting. Speaking with the owners and oenologist, I came to better understand and admire this project full of personality and and oenologist, I came to better understand and admire this project full of personality and character character.

These conversations primarily focused on why and how the company started, and what a These conversations primarily focused on why and how the company started, and what a wine-making company looks like from the inside out. Speaking with the inspirational female wine-making company looks like from the inside out. Speaking with the inspirational female business owner, Barbara Biraghi, I learned that Campione dei Colli Briantei (Campione for business owner, Barbara Biraghi, I learned that Campione dei Colli Briantei (Campione for short) was born with the goal of rediscovering and utilising a territory that had been short) was born with the goal of rediscovering and utilising a territory that had been dedicated to vine cultivation long before the 21st century. 600 metres high and situated dedicated to vine cultivation long before the century. 600 metres high and situated between Milan and Lake Como, the company enjoys a particularly apt climate for vine between Milan and Lake Como, the company enjoys a particularly apt climate for vine cultivation. Furthermore, the terracing is entirely south-facing, benefits from a constant cultivation Furthermore, the terracing is entirely south-facing, benefits from a constant northern breeze, and the soil has never been intensively farmed consequently brimming northern breeze, and the soil has never been intensively farmed consequently brimming with essential minerals and biodiversity. with essential minerals and biodiversity.

Barbara’s role as manager of this little Eden is to take care of the overall development of Barbara’s role as manager of this Eden is to take care of the overall development of Campione She explained to me how it all started as a “beautiful dream,” and mentioned Campione. She explained to me how all started as a “beautiful dream,” and mentioned how “every day, looking at the soil terracing made with incredible effort by Cistercian how “every day, looking at the soil terracing made with incredible effort by Cistercian monks in the past,” she simply “couldn’t throw away all their labour.” Consistently “hearing monks in the past,” she simply throw away all their labour.” Consistently “hearing talk about climate change, decimated bee populations, aggressive agriculture, and talk about climate change, decimated bee populations, aggressive agriculture, and polluting pesticides,” she subsequently felt that if she “had the privilege to live in this small polluting pesticides,” she subsequently felt that if she “had the privilege to live in this small paradise,” she “had the duty to properly preserve it and make it thrive.” paradise,” she “had the duty to properly preserve it and make it thrive.”

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Barbara explained to me “that with the Barbara explained to me “that with the subsequent industrialising phase that the Po subsequent industrialising phase that the Po valley went through, most farmers had left the valley went through, most had the countryside to work in factories ” Although these countryside to work in factories.” Although these farmers included those in Campione, Barbara farmers those in Campione, Barbara explained that thankfully, “the last years have explained that thankfully, “the last years have seen a widespread rediscovery of agriculture, seen a widespread rediscovery of agriculture, especially by people like me, who intend to carry especially by people like me, who intend to carry out a responsible form of farming, with special out a responsible form of farming, with special attention to the environment.” Campione's attention to the environment ” Campione's attention to sustainability is evidenced by the attention to sustainability is evidenced by the company’s goal of being certified as organic and company’s goal of being certified as organic and Barbara's commendable side project of Barbara's commendable side project of introducing hives on the property to increase introducing hives on the property to increase biodiversity She excitedly remarked, “today, we biodiversity. She excitedly remarked, “today, we also produce amazing honey, without the use of also produce amazing honey, without the of any chemicals!” Having tried this honey, I too any chemicals!” Having tried this honey, I too proclaim its undisputed greatness. proclaim its undisputed greatness.

tsome companies in Italy which produce excellent tsome companies in Italy produce excellent red wines at even higher altitudes ” red wines at even higher altitudes.”

When discussing the next steps for the company, Barbara explained to me that the first four harvests Barbara explained to me that the first four harvests have demonstrated “the potential of this wine.” The have demonstrated “the potential of this wine.” The Merlot proved to be of great promise from the start, Merlot proved to be of great promise from the start, but the first bottle has yet to be finalized as but the first bottle has yet to be finalized as Barbara wants it “to be a truly great wine, not a Barbara wants it “to be a truly great wine, not a trial.” trial.”

When discussing the next steps for the company,

This is not to say, however, that it has been

This is not say, however, that it has been smooth sailing. Barbara explained to me that the smooth sailing. Barbara explained to me that the most difficult hurdle she faced was having to most difficult hurdle she faced was having to “recover the terracing, which was completely “recover the terracing, which was completely covered in brambles and low-value woodland.” covered in brambles and low-value woodland ”

This was a particularly labor-intensive step due to This was a particularly labor-intensive step due to Italian bureaucracy, which Barbara described as Italian bureaucracy, which Barbara described as “tricky” due to the abundant “bodies constantly “tricky” due to the abundant “bodies constantly investigating, verifying, and inspecting ” investigating, verifying, and inspecting.”

Thankfully, she persevered, and during mandated Thankfully, she persevered, and during mandated historic research, Barbara found “a 19th-century historic research, Barbara found “a 19th-century land registry showing the territory had been land registry showing the territory had been cultivated as a vineyard for a long time.” Despite cultivated as a vineyard for a long time.” Despite this, I learned that, unlike the Tuscan countryside, this, I learned that, unlike the Tuscan countryside, the Brianza hills are not known for wine. However, the Brianza hills are not known for wine However, Barbara explained to me how since these hills had Barbara explained to me how since these hills had been dedicated to winemaking in the past, she been dedicated to winemaking in the past, she considered bringing vineyards back to the considered bringing vineyards back to the territory a “natural choice”. territory a “natural choice”. She went on to further She went on to further discuss how “the easier choice would have been discuss how “the easier choice would have been to make white wine,” as the high altitude made to make white as the high altitude made red wine production risky red wine production risky. Despite this, because Despite this, because she and her family enjoy red wine, the family she and family enjoy red wine, the family decided to take the risk since “there are already decided to take the risk since “there are already

The company is a tight-knit one, and Barbara

The company is a tight-knit one, and Barbara explained that “when I organize tastings in the explained that “when I organize tastings the cellar, I involve the whole family with the experts ” cellar, I involve the whole family with the experts.” She discussed how the wine unites the entire She discussed how the wine unites the entire family, and she hopes that it will continue to do so family, and she hopes that it will continue to do so for future generations. Although she states that for future generations. Although she states that she “still can’t spoil” or reveal the label, she did say she “still can’t spoil” or reveal the label, she did say that it will include numerous familial elements and that it will include numerous familial elements and that “an animal I particularly love will become the that “an animal I particularly love will become the symbol of the company.” symbol of the company ”

The oenologist described himself as “the first The oenologist described himself as “the first interpreter of the vision of the family, which needs interpreter of the vision of the family, which needs to be shared for the project to be carried out in the to be shared for the project to be carried out in the best way ” Regarding Campione, he “immediately best way.” Regarding Campione, he “immediately fell in love with the land” and “with the people, who fell in love with the and “with the people, who exuded their passion for those territories.” He went exuded their passion for those territories.” He went on to explain his goal of creating “a wine that is an on to explain his goal of creating “a wine that is an expression of the land of which it is born” that will expression of the land of which it is born” that will ultimately “bring to the glass the passion and ultimately “bring to the glass the passion and enthusiasm of the people.” enthusiasm of the people ”

Immersing myself in this little piece of heaven, the Immersing myself in this little piece of heaven, the passion and dedication with which it is cared for passion and dedication with which it is cared for was tangible. Hidden in fairytale greenery, was tangible. Hidden in fairytale greenery, Campione will surely be a project to keep an eye Campione will surely be a project to keep an eye on The special attention given to environmental on. The special given to environmental sustainability, mixed with the intimacy that only a sustainability, mixed with the intimacy that only a family-run endeavour can have, will undoubtedly family-run endeavour can have, will undoubtedly produce a unique and delicious wine, and it was produce a unique and delicious wine, and it was wonderful speaking with such an inspirational, wonderful speaking with such an inspirational, empowering, and resilient woman business owner. empowering, and resilient woman business owner.

THE BEST ‘SAFE SPACES’ FOR WOMEN IN LONDON

Us women know all too well how hard it is to truly feel safe in London. A night out can quickly turn sour, and simply walking home at night can be a terrifying experience, where we’re constantly looking over our shoulders for danger. But fear not: there are safe spaces out there for us ladies. From nightlife to casual events, here’s the inside scoop on some of the best places for women and non-binary folk to hang out in a safe environment, starting with one of the biggest concerns for women: feeling safe on a night out. Now, this is not to say that you shouldn't still keep your wits about you (same rules apply for getting home safely) but these are some great spots to feel safe, meet new people and enjoy a great night out:

Sexy Lady Massive (@sexyladymassive on Instagram) host ladies-only raves in London and Bristol every couple of months. Having been to a few of their events myself, I’ve certainly always felt safe here. And it’s not just a rave as you can find a variety of pop-up stalls at each event, ranging from tooth gems to tarot card readings. Even if you fancy going alone, they have a group chat to organise meeting your fellow female ravers beforehand. Sexy Lady Massive forefronts safety with an all-female team (including security) and the location for each event is emailed to ticket holders on the day. Keep an eye on their Instagram to find out when their next event is.

Lick (@lickevents on Instagram) is another female-only club night with events in Manchester and London. Their events are geared more towards Queer women, but allies are certainly welcome as well! They also keep the location of their events private, revealed only to ticket holders LICK sometimes imposes age restrictions, so check their Instagram beforehand to see if the event is for you.

G.IRL (@g.irlevents on Instagram) are another collective who host events in London for women and non-binary folk only. It’s a great place for a boogie and to enjoy your night if you’re searching for somewhere without men. They also hold a singles mixer for Queer individuals, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their Instagram to see when they’re next event is coming up.

PXSSY PALACE (@pxssypalace on Instagram) is, as their Instagram bio states, a proudly “BIPOC club night for queer women, trans, non-binary and intersex babes” Aside from the great music on offer at their club nights, PP clearly put a huge amount of thought into their attendees’ wellbeing - from their Taxi Fund and PP Support Team to their ‘Sanctuary’: a safe room with calming activities at all of their shows, which you can take a break in at any time if you’ve partied a little too hard. Their next club night is on 29 March and more information can be found on their social media.

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FEMMESTIVAL (@femmestival.uk on Instagram) is aimed at countering the lack of female artists at festivals and concerts. With female-only lineups, their events celebrate women in the music industry. Although men are welcomed to enjoy the music on offer, FEMMESTIVAL takes a no-nonsense response to harassment and will ensure you can feel safe whilst watching some amazing female artists. The next showcase (at which we’ll be launching this print issue!) will be held on 2nd April, and more information can be found on their Instagram.

If nights out aren’t your thing, or if you just want to find some cool places to hang out during the day, there are also a great variety of safe spaces for us girls and non-binary folks to hang out.

The Vagina Museum located in Bethnal Green is a free museum dedicated to educating and destigmatising the anatomy of women and those with vaginas. This is a great place to brush up on your biology knowledge and contribute to the education and celebration of all things vagina.

King’s has a variety of societies that celebrate women or offer a way for women to be more represented in regards to fields of study Some honourable mentions are the International Feminist Society, Women and Politics Society and the Black Women’s Society. These are a great way to immerse yourself in university life and make some new friends. Many more societies can be found on the KCLSU website.

Kenwood Ladies Pond located in Hampstead Heath is a great outside natural bathing pond if you feel like going for a swim. Be mindful that it is recommended only for those who are strong swimmers, given that the ponds are deep and cold, but it’s a great place to go alone or with friends on a warm summer day in London.

The Lonely Girls Club (@lonelygirlsclub on TikTok) hosts events for women to meet each other and make new friends. Their events range from brunches, to friendship speed dating, to karaoke – there's certainly something for everyone! Be sure to head over to their socials to keep up with their upcoming events and to make some new friends

Whilst this is not a comprehensive list of safe spaces for ladies and non-binary individuals in London, we hope we’ve given you a great variety of spots to check out. From huge parties to smaller initiatives, they all do a great job at empowering women, and creating spaces for us to feel safe and welcomed with like-minded people.

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STRAND SHOWCASE SPOTLIGHT IN CONVERSATION WITH...

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Up-and-coming pop princess Mara Liddle describes her own music as “spray-painted in pink and packaged for the TikTok generation”. After being named one of BBC Introducing’s ‘Big In 2023’ artists last year, Mara’s been on a meteoric rise since - and her next stop is none other than our upcoming FEMMESTIVAL X STRAND Magazine showcase on 2 April.

Before the big day arrives, I decide to check in with her to hear more about her journey so far We start at the very beginning. “In 2022, I released some acoustic songs on Bandcamp. I recorded them all on my phone; it was very DIY.

“Soon after I recorded the acoustic tracks, my dad got COVID. I had to self-isolate with him for a week, which meant I had a lot of time and nothing much to do, so I made electronic versions of some of the songs. I started aiming for a more hyperpop or upbeat pop sound. That kickstarted the creation of my EP, which I made with a producer called JB Thomas ”

Mara cites her musical inspirations as the likes of Pinkpantheress, Charli XCX, and Shygirl. “I wanted to make something that I could enjoy listening to myself, and enjoy dancing around to during live shows,” she tells me.

Speaking of performing live, it doesn’t escape me that like the other two artists on our lineup, Mara also isn’t originally from London Hailing from Stoke-on-Trent, she actually hasn’t performed in the capital yet, which makes it feel extra-special that our showcase stage will be the first she’s taking here. “With it being such a small city, everyone in the music scene knows each other, so it's quite a tight-knit community. It’s nice in a lot of ways, because it gives you some really good local connections and opportunities, but it's also hard to break out of if you want to play elsewhere.

I've been trying for ages to get gigs out of Stoke, and I’m excited to finally have the chance.”

As for what we’ll be hearing her perform, her debut EP Stalemate, released just last November, is bound to be on the setlist. A feminine, hyperpoppy offering which features slippery vocals (‘Oversharing’), peppy garage drumbeats (‘Be Alone’), and dreamy sonic landscapes (‘All Over The Place’), it’s sure to be a set which will start our showcase off right.

“It wasn't planned to be an EP at first,” Mara admits. “We made one single at a time, and they just ended up coming together really nicely

“The lyrics are all about my own experiences,” she continues. “‘Oversharing’ is a song about when I had a year out of university and came back, and wanted to try and resocialise myself but wasn’t sure of my boundaries. ‘Hide and Seek’ is all about trying to maintain a relationship while being away from each other, and ‘Facebook Official’ is about how social media influences relationships these days. It all captures how it feels to navigate being in your early 20s, and I think it’s been a good outlet for my emotions.

“That’s also why I’m particularly drawn to bright colours and patterns for my visuals. It’s a way of clinging onto a sense of childhood innocence and fun; it encapsulates my reluctance to ‘grow up’ in the same way my lyrics do.”

Nevertheless, Stalemate isn’t all we can expect from Mara’s performance. I ask her what else she’s got in the pipeline for 2024. “I recently made a bunch of new songs. I headlined a local festival last year, called Cable Festival, and we realised while preparing for the performance that I didn't have enough material for a headline set So we made five songs in five days, all of which I think are really cool! They need a little bit more development, but hopefully they'll be released at some point soon, along with some other songs I’ve been working on.”

New music isn’t the only thing Mara’s been working on either - her live setup has recently been upgraded to feature more fun effects, including live autotune, I’m told. On top of that, “I also like to dance and get the audience involved if I can,” she says “When the audience is having a good time, I always feel more empowered to add to my performance and dance around more! I hope it's gonna be a fun time for everyone.”

We’re sure it will be, with such a superstar lineup in store. Mara agrees. “It’ll be fun! I'm especially looking forward to seeing the other artists’ performances, since I think they’re very cool. I'm nervous too, of course, but overall very excited!”

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IN CONVERSATION WITH K A Y L

e i g h

n o b l e

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Kayleigh Noble joins our Zoom meeting room all the way from Dublin, Ireland. She tells me the music scene has been thriving there lately, and it’s easy to see why with someone like her taking stages across the city.

A genre-fluid artist who has racked up impressive credentials on stages and on streaming services alike, Kayleigh’s next destination is FEMMESTIVAL’s live music showcase in London on 2 April. Nevertheless, it’s not the first time she’s come down to England’s bustling capital to perform. “I lived in London when I was 18, to study vocal performance at university, but I soon dropped out,” she tells me “I used to leave class to go and record music with my friends. We used to rent a looper pedal and play around with it, layering our vocals with harmonies. We thought it was way more fun than being in class, and so we decided to just leave and pursue music outside of university!”

“It was actually very impulsive I probably should have thought it through a bit more,” she admits, laughing. “I remember lying to my mom as well she asked me, ‘How’s class?’ and I said ‘Oh yeah, it’s amazing’. At that point I wasn't even in college anymore, I was working full time in a bar!”

I ask her what drew her to first pursue music

“Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I’ve always used music to vent how I felt. For example, I came up with my first single ‘Stay’ while sitting on a bus in Amsterdam. I had a huge crush on a guy I knew at the time, and I wrote the lyrics about him! Making music is a very therapeutic process for me.”

The emotional intensity of her projects has clearly carried over into her later music, including her debut album Just A Girl, which Kayleigh released on 19th October last year. With its thrillingly dynamic array of songs T from the bumping bad-girl anthem ‘duh!’ to the heartrending collection of recorded voice notes on ‘Hot Mess Interlude’ - the album tracks everything it means to be ‘Just A Girl’ in the world “I started writing a lot of the songs while I was still in my last relationship. Interestingly, all of those songs were really heartbreaking and sad, which was my first sign that maybe it wasn’t a good relationship for me.

“That relationship turned into a shit-show soon afterwards, and once I left that situation, I just wrote about my whole experience. That was when the album started coming together.”

Nevertheless, it wasn’t all “I hate you, you make me sad, I'm so lonely”, as Kayleigh puts it to me. “There was a turning point as I wrote some of the other songs, like ‘Flirtin’ W My Dealer’, ‘Duh!’ and ‘You Make Me Sick!’. which were more about bouncing back from the relationship. I feel like the album followed me through every stage of the breakup, from leaving the relationship to the aftermath, and I liked that there was that contrast across the album.”

That contrast also influenced the title of the album. “There’s a song on the album called ‘Sad Girl’ and I thought maybe I’d name it after that. But then I decided to call it ‘Just a Girl’, because I didn’t want to tie myself down to one thing. It’s about all the emotions I went through, not all of which were sad.”

I find it inspiring to hear her push back against the boxes which the music industry so often wants to place women neatly into. I soon find out her sound isn’t the only area in which she refuses to be pinned down so is her image. “My image changes as I change as a person.”

“For example, for Just a Girl it was all about a very delicate time in my life, so we went for a kind of ‘doll’ aesthetic for the music video and branding. Our concept was the idea that ‘to be a woman is to perform’. It was very white, soft, and angelic.

“Whereas for the new music I’m working on now, it’s the opposite of that I'd like to say it’s ‘Maneater’, but it’s not even ‘Man-eater’ — it’s just ‘Eater’!” She laughs. “It’s a lot more fierce. To put it another way, it’s like the reference has gone from Just A Girl to a woman.

“I would never narrow my image down to one thing it’ll always change as I change, and as my music changes. I feel like sometimes people don't really get that, but I don't really care what they think!”

Kayleigh also takes an admirable approach to uplifting other women in music: from start to finish, she ensured that Just A Girl was almost exclusively worked on by all women, in areas including artwork, photography, styling, creative direction, production and mixing. This makes her an even more perfect ambassador for the upcoming all-female FEMMESTIVAL showcase, where she’ll be sharing the stage with fellow firecracker artists Mara Liddle and FLEUR ROUGE. With a glint in her eye, she tells me she’s already curated a setlist for the occasion: “I have some good songs lined up!”

Does that include any new ones, I ask? “For sure!” She says. “I’m working on some new music at the moment. I have a three-track release coming out in May, which I can’t wait to share. I also have some remixes left to release from Just A Girl, which are so sick ”

I can’t wait to hear Kayleigh’s soundtrack to girlhood (and pending ode to man-eating womanhood) performed live but of course, with just a few weeks to go before the big day, I want to know how she’s feeling about it all “I’m so excited! I love performing in London! My best friend, and all my other friends from college, live there. The fact that I've known them all since I was 18, and now they can come and see me play a show there, is such a nice feeling.”

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IN CONVERSATION WITH F L E U R R O U
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The final STRAND showcase spotlight of this season is with FEMMESTIVAL showcase headliner FLEUR ROUGE, and while she’s last on our lineup, she’s the furthest thing from least. The half-French, Londonborn singer seems to be a firm believer in ‘more is more’, flaunting her femme-fatale attitude proudly both on and off-stage.

“I’m absolutely a feminist,” she tells me when I first ask about her musical style. “But it’s not about bashing men. I want my music to empower women, and when they’re listening to it, I want them to feel like a bad bitch!”

“I wanted the lyrics and the production of my music to make sense in terms of that goal A ‘future pop’ sound that's industrial, and hard-hitting, feels very sassy to me. It's a ‘zero fucks’ kind of energy.”

Listen to any of the tracks from her latest EP, What Makes U Think I Care?, and you’ll get that impression straight away. The lyrics of closer ‘Cold Feet’ accost their (male) target “What are you crying about?”, Fleur asks two seconds in “I just wanted you for the count / You don’t need to ask the amount / You were the fix that I needed for now,” she states cooly above a cutting electronic instrumental, full of tunneling synths and razor-sharp drums.

“I worked on that EP with my ex-boyfriend,” she tells me “We spent a long time thinking about the direction we were going to take it in. We decided on a much harder sonic space than my first few singles. It's got a similar vibe to GIRLI, or July Jones.”

Songs like ‘Vices’ also hint at her French heritage, with bilingual lines like “J’ai toujours envie pour the late nights, the white lines Je suis comme ça, tu ne me changeras pas.” [“I always want the late nights, the white lines … I’m like this, you won’t change me.”]

The show already promises unreleased music from the other two artists, and FLEUR ROUGE is no exception to this rule. “My new EP is currently in progress,” she relates “There are going to be 6 tracks on it. Two of them are already out: these are ‘Trust Fund Baby’ and ‘God Complex’.

“The next song I’ll be dropping is called ‘Lost Cause’. I wrote it about being in a relationship with somebody who was also in the industry. It’s about the feeling of being with someone that you care about, but no matter how much you try, the relationship won’t work out. It’s almost a ballad, but not quite, since it’s got some strong drum sounds and it’s quite heavily produced. It is a sadder song in terms of the melody, but beautiful nonetheless.

“Then I’ve got another song coming out after that, called ‘Scumbag’, which I wrote about a friend who was cheated on by her boyfriend. It’s got a very Billie Eilish energy to it. I’m excited to share both of them.”

Fleur’s full EP is set to launch in late 2024, which is a date (well, season) we’ll be marking in the calendar. Her mention of pre-released single ‘God Complex’ reminds me of an Instagram reel she posted explaining the story behind the song: a three-hour date with a guy who wouldn’t stop talking about himself.

“‘God Complex’ is a way of poking fun at the men who love themselves too much, while also touching on the misogynistic aspect of it. I’ve definitely been on dates with men who have acted like they're God's gift to everyone around them just because they're a guy.

“I just wanted a song where girls could poke fun at the situation without it being nasty, because that's not the vibe I wanted at all. We dropped the music video for the song a week ago and we used a green screen for some really funny moments. There’s a scene where I’m holding the guy in my hands and I'm shaking him like I'm King Kong!”

If that description doesn’t make you want to drop everything and watch the video immediately, we don’t know what will. The King-Kong-inspired music video storyline aside though, I want to know how the real experience ended. “The guy I was on the date with was just so irritating. He didn’t listen to a word I said At the end of the date, he was like, ‘Do you wanna go somewhere else?’, to which I said I’d rather watch paint dry.”

I wonder if he’s heard the song, I tell her. She laughs. “I don't think we follow each other anymore, but it would be funny if he did. He'd probably skim over it, and think there was no way it could be about him!”

Although Fleur’s date made a terrible impression, Fleur herself is all about making an impression when she performs her songs live. “I'm always moving around my performances are very dynamic, and I love crowd interaction. I try to make them as exciting as possible for the audience I want to give them the full experience!

My drummer also has an interesting setup which is split between a live drum kit and an SPD drum pad. I think our set at the FEMMESTIVAL showcase will give the audience some nice surprises ”

And how is she feeling about headlining the whole night, I have to ask? “I think it's really cool to be part of an initiative representing female artists. The music industry can often be a very sexist and frustrating one to work in, and it feels like it often pits women against each other So, when we have the opportunity to get together as women in an empowering space, I'm all for it! I can’t wait.”

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NE PHILIPS: THE SAPPHIC THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR

ucasia, let us speak our nk not that impertinent Which to us both doth such assurance prove, And whence we find how justly we agree.

‘To my Lucasia, in Defense of Declared Friendship’

Conversations about pre-modern sexuality have rarely included the women who contributed to the period’s queer landscape. When sexuality is on the table for discussion, most often people bring up the works of male writers of the period. Shakespeare’s sonnets addressed to a young man, the accusations against Christopher Marlowe for homosexuality, and so on. Rarely do we hear about Katherine Philips (1632-1664), who addressed a number of intensely passionate love poems to women. Her poetry earned her recognition as one of the best-known woman poets of the seventeenth century. Yet as time wore on, she fell into almost obscurity, only recently being rediscovered by scholars interested in studying women’s poetry and queer narratives.

When she was sixteen, Katherine was married to James Philips (1624-74) and moved to the small town of Cardigan in Wales. Katherine wrote a handful of poems for her husband, but they describe their relationship with a relative coolness that emphasises her duty to him as a wife over any romantic feelings. Her most intimate, erotic verses are reserved for her friends Mary Aubrey and Anne Owen, both of whom were members of Philips’s literary coterie, which she called her ‘Society of Friendship’.

To each member of this society, Philips assigned a name inspired by French pastoral romances: her husband was Antenor, Anne Owens was Lucasia, Mary Aubrey was Rosania, and Philips assigned herself the name Orinda.

Under the name Orinda, Katherine Philips became one of the most acclaimed women poets of the seventeenth century for her poetry about love, politics, and friendship especially passionate female friendships. The intensity of emotion and the erotic images in Philips’s poetry all suggest that her feelings towards these women extended far beyond just friendship.

Her lyrics are often charged with erotic images and metaphysical conceits that one would expect to find in the rather lascivious poetry of contemporary male writers like John Donne, Andrew Marvell and Robert Herrick.

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Mary Aubrey was one of Philips’s oldest friends and the recipient of nine of Orinda’s poems. In December of 1651, Mary Aubrey married and began to distance herself from her relationship with Philips. Philips wrote about their separation as a type of death:

’Tis now since I began to die Four months, yet still I gasping live; Wrapp’d up in sorrow do I lie, Hoping, yet doubting a reprieve.

Adam from Paradise expell’d Just such a wretched being held.

‘To Mrs. M.A. Upon Absence’ is one of many poems where Philips expresses her longing and love for her friends as they gradually distance themselves from her. It is unclear if there was a formal falling out between Philips and Mary Aubrey, but her poetry reveals how intimate she perceived their relationship to be and the devastation she experienced after it ended:

Sapless and dead as Winter here

I now remain, and all I see Copies of my wild state appear, But I am their epitome. Love me no more, for I am grown Too dead and dull for thee to own.

Philips later became enamoured with her friend Anne Owen, who she frequently visited, and wrote nearly twenty-one poems addressed to her. She describes their friendship as a holy union of souls, two halves made whole in each other.

‘Friendship in Emblem,’ which Philips addressed to her ‘dearest Lucasia’ (AKA Anne), begins with ‘The hearts thus intermixed speak / A Love that no bold shock can break / For Joyn'd and growing, both in one / Neither can be disturb’d alone.’

The mixing of hearts and souls is a common thread that runs through many of her poems about friendship, affirming the intensity of the passion infused into this relationship.

Many contemporary male poets such as Thomas Carew, Richard Lovelace, and Henry Vaughan (who was part of Philips’s literary coterie) also wrote extensively about this kind of spiritual love in which two friends’ souls become one; however, they emphasised that this bond occurred between men. Philips was one of the first writers to describe this type of love, the Neoplatonic ideal, specifically between women, making her work particularly unique and innovative.

Philips often complimented these passionate depictions of the Neoplatonic ideal of love with erotic imagery. She drew inspiration from other contemporary poets. Most famously, Philips borrowed John Donne’s ‘stiff twin compasses’ from ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’:

The Compasses that stand above, Express the great immortal Love; For Friends, like them, can prove this true, They are, and yet they are not, two.

The last two lines of this excerpt are a very obvious reference to the concept of two friends’ souls melding into one through their union of friendship. By juxtaposing Donne’s metaphysical (and erotic) image of lovers with the Neoplatonic union of friends’ souls, Philips creates a homoerotic moment reminiscent of Sappho’s poetry.

As scholars make an effort to reintroduce Philips’s poetry to the canon of English Literature, Philips poetry has found a special place in queer literary spaces. Her representation of passionate love between women was revolutionary in its time, and Philips’s poetry stands as a reminder that queerness is not a recent phenomenon. The poems she addressed to women are charged with an intensity that is absent from those she wrote for her husband, leaving us with enough evidence to affirm that Philips did indeed experience romantic feelings for women. The proof is in the poetry.

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THE NEW AGE OF

There’s something significantly and universally sexy about a suit.

I’m not quite sure if it’s the James Bond influence that plays to one’s fantasies. Maybe there's something about how Bond's suits, clean-cut and tailored to perfection, never manage to stay that way throughout the films: especially not once he gets his hands on a feisty villain, or seduces a lonely widow Whether it's covered in blood or ripped apart, the suit still manages to look incredibly powerful… But enough of such trivial fantasies.

Time and time again we have seen the suit used throughout history to showcase authority in politics and the workplace, as well as among iconic TV and film characters, whose suits convey their personality or the historical context of the show. We might think of Patrick Jane in The Mentalist, Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders, John Luther in Luther or Anthony Bridgerton in Bridgerton. The suit seems almost unbeatable in terms of its appeal and effect on the masses, but a woman in a suit? Now that’s some seriously fun power play

For historical context, tailored menswear can be traced back to the 19th century, when it emerged as a status and social stratification symbol. During this period, the suit grew to represent the standards of authority, professionalism, and masculinity, mirroring the social norms of the day. By the beginning of the Victoria era, men of money and prominence would typically dress in a three-piece suit, consisting of a fitted jacket, waistcoat, and pants. This ceremonial attire served as a way to demonstrate one's rank and authority in the social and professional domains, in addition to generally looking elegant

THE EVOLUTION OF WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT THROUGH THE POWER SUIT

MEGAN SHEARS
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The interwar period saw the emergence of the "power suit" as we recognize it today For men, because of the rise of corporate culture and the expansion of white-collar professions, the suit became the uniform of choice for businessmen and executives. These were characterised by tailored jackets with padded shoulders, straight-legged trousers, and conservative colours such as navy blue and charcoal grey The power suit conveyed an image of authority, competence, and control This is where us girls start to get involved, all thanks to the work of none other than Coco Chanel. Her Chanel Suit, according to costume historian Harold Koda, allowed women of the time to “de-sex” their feminine look and have a more masculine appearance, encouraging them to be accepted as equals in the professional sphere.

The power suit remained the mainstay of men's fashion throughout the middle of the 20th century, only quietly changing in terms of detailing and silhouette. At the same time, it began to acquire increasing popularity among women in politics, business, and entertainment, despite early opposition from the mainstream. All of this was largely thanks to trailblazing individuals like Diana Kelton and Katharine Hepburn, who embraced the power suit as a declaration of confidence and independence Nevertheless, it wasn't until the second half of the 20th century that women started to question the conventional wisdom around power attire, and make an effort to openly contradict this in environments where men predominated The goal for women now wasn’t to fit in with men, but to stand out.

Women's fashion thus saw a radical change during the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, when ladies eschewed constricting clothing in favour of more useful and empowering options. The pantsuit, the female equivalent of the men's suit, was adopted and quickly became a symbol of equality and emancipation, upending conventional gender norms and questioning deeply ingrained ideas of femininity. It was also in the 1980s that the term “power dressing” was coined as a style which enabled women to establish their authority in a professional or political environment dominated by men. It is also when designers like Claude Montana were praised for contributing shoulder pad designs onto many of the blazers of power suits. (That said, as someone who was forced to wear padded blazers for school, I can safely say they are not something I would indulge in by choice… But nonetheless, they remain influential and iconic.)

In more contemporary history, the power suit is now a staple for the average women’s wardrobe. We’ve seen female political figures donning the attire: Hiltary Cilton’s Pantsuit, Margaret Thatcher's Iron Lady Suit and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's White Suit are amongst the few. Most of these feature statement characteristics, including the aforementioned padded shoulders to signify a sense of dominance, or significant colours such as white or bright, feminine tones, as both a nod to the feminist movement of the suffragettes and to a future which was much more female.

As time continues, the power suit continues to serve as a symbol of resistance, as designers and activists push the boundaries of gender and authority in fashion. Modern interpretations of the power suit feature diverse silhouettes, colours, and fabrics, reflecting the evolving attitudes towards gender and identity. Designers such as Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, and Virgil Abloh have championed gender-neutral fashion, blurring the lines between masculine and feminine aesthetics and challenging traditional notions of power dressing.

Ultimately, the power suit serves as a powerful symbol of resistance against patriarchal norms, allowing women to assert their presence and demand recognition in political and social arenas (as they should). Given how history has been so dictated by patriarchal norms, and how our society is often still constructed and dominated by the opinions and decisions of men, I get it. The power play hits hard in a power suit, and I think all women should feel that level of dominance at some point in their life And if the suit gets ripped apart on the way, that's just part of the fun.

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t a k i n g ‘ g i r
‘ g i r l ’ t a k i n g ‘ g i r l
t a k i n g

f o r g r a n t e d f o r g r a n t e d f o r g r a n t e d

Growing up, painting my nails made me nauseous. Shiny liquid spilling into my cuticles made me feel uncomfortable, ugly, even ashamed. It was a childish, melodramatic reaction to say the least, but my currently colourless fingernails show the remnants of this discomfort I can hear what you’re thinking: “it was internalised misogyny!” But I don’t think that’s quite right.

After all, I never worried about the coloured fingernails of other girls. My bedroom walls were pink and sticky plastic butterflies decorated their borders. I had Barbies and Polly Pockets and made them get married. I begged for sparkly dresses that made me feel like a princess I worshipped happily ever afters, I craved praise, I longed to be good and special, all those things that toy stores and films package as ‘girly’. I had no issue embracing ‘girlhood’ in all its stereotypical Western forms. While all this may be true, none of those things meant that my seven-year-old self craved being a ‘girl’.

Because, what is a ‘girl’? If scholars still struggle to define it, then seven-year-old me had no chance More importantly, I never needed to. ‘Girl’ was the given.

I think that was my problem with nail polish: I simply didn’t like it. Painting it on felt like an unnatural act, yet it was taken for granted as a symbol of ‘girlhood’. Friends at sleepovers and women at parties would ask if I wanted my nails painted, raising an eyebrow when I didn’t say yes, and certainly not expecting me to run to the bathroom and sob for reasons I could not understand at the time. The idea of painting my fingernails made me feel as if I was pretending. Images of Disney Channel girls flashed through my mind and my pasty fingers suddenly felt like a monstrously unfeminine fit It felt like locking the door to a cage that I hadn’t even noticed I was in, semi-permanently imprinting an identity that I couldn’t just take off like I could a toy-tiara

b y g e o r g i a g ib s o n

b y g e o r g i a g ib s o n b y g e o r g i a g ib s o n

It wasn't until a decade later that I would understand why this distressed me so much.

So, why were sparkly fingertips such a threat to my childhood self-perception? Without knowing it, I was beginning to negotiate the tensions between social markers of identity and my place in the world. It’s worth noting now, if my phrasing hasn’t already made this obvious, that I am a white, cisgender ‘woman’. Maybe it had been the first time that a visual part of identity misaligned with my inner self-expression Which is, of course, a tiny taste of a much deeper experience that many people of colour, transgender and non-binary people have been forced to grapple with for centuries. A more appropriate article title may be: “white girl discovers mild gender dysphoria and freaks out”. But, for those who have taken ‘girl’ for granted, it is worth putting girlhood under the microscope.

Luckily for us, Emma Heaney provides a fascinating analysis of gender that argues "we're used to thinking of cisness as an identity: ‘one is cisgender if one is not transgender’ [or nonconforming [...]] But I'm arguing that cisness is more accurately understood as the ideology that sorts us into these two categories” What Heaney means is that society has been programmed to see ‘cisgender’ as the default, therefore the personal attributes of everyone are assumed to be linked to their biological structure. That is, unless they deviate enough from those gendered characteristics to be deemed ‘transgender’.

Most importantly, Heaney highlights that gender under this lens is not natural, but socially produced, and everyone therefore deviates from the male/female binary in some way. Heaney’s language allows space for nuanced discussion of gender discomfort within cisgender experiences, melting the barbed wire of my cisgender girlhood into liquid metal brimming with potential

l ’
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I am cisgender in the way that Heaney describes it The socially constructed nature of gender categories may explain my disconnection from the term ‘girl’, but I’m still aware that in my daily life I don’t stray too far from the constructed gender category assigned to me. I can slip into the normative model of cisgender womanhood without too much resistance I can take gender for granted, as my life goes unscathed whether I paint my fingernails or not. I was mistakenly taught that I liked pink because I was a girl and that my cousin liked trucks because he was a boy, and that those who questioned those assumptions were ‘confused’. I am really a ‘girl’ because I was raised to believe in ‘girlhood’ I am now faced with the task of untangling the knots those messages left behind.

The visual identities that I can afford to play with are the same that oppress trans and nonbinary people, and which are used to strategically de-feminise and dehumanise women of colour My experience therefore does not claim to be universal and certainly not original, but instead intends to acknowledge the absurdity of this ‘feminine’ reality. Really, I ought to shut up about fingernails. I’m writing to challenge the girl who takes girlhood for granted, who thinks that feminism still concerns whether or not she ‘chooses’ to paint her nails or put on makeup. For the girls who still think that “girlhood” is natural, and not an imposed, albeit oftentimes beautiful, construction. I am trying, in my tiny way, to poke holes in my own ingrained cisgendered version of reality

I take for granted being able to wake up each day and play with the person that steps out the door. It’s a luxury few have. The idea that I saw nail polish as a mark on my otherwise nonpermanent body reveals how naive I have been to the passivity of my own white girlhood The fact that I saw painted fingernails as an obstacle to my identity is a testament to how embedded in cisgendered ideology I’ve been, and how many gendered ideas of identity I still need to shed

But I guess what I take from all this rambling is a sense of how confused I now find myself to be called a woman. How queer it is to see gender reveal parties and finally realise that in a world where gendered violence results in over 70% of U.K. women having experienced sexual harassment in public* raising a child as cisgendered is not an unpolitical or neutral decision at all. I’m late to this party, but now that I’m here I can’t look at another blue-or-pink cake reveal the same way again.

I’m humbly part of a history of womxn who have negotiated their womxnhood But, for better or for worse, I am also a person who likes pink and was actively raised as a girl. Writing for Women’s History Month cannot exist without the acknowledgment that this celebration has always included me; my status as ‘woman’ has always been assumed and taken for granted, in both privileging and stifling ways If we’re talking about women’s history, we cannot do so without recognising those whose womanhood had to be fought for.

For now, I’ll put down my pen and probably still won’t wear coloured nail polish. Yet, this time it will be because I can’t be bothered maintaining it when it chips, and not because it threatens a flimsy, performative sense of identity Happy Women’s History Month to all those who take ‘girl’ for granted, and to those who put it under a magnifying glass.

*Statistics from UN Women UK and Open Access Government

**Emma Heaney is an author, theorist and professor at William Paterson University. The ideas paraphrased in this article can be found in an interview with Heaney on QMPoliticsIR’s Youtube Channel

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Women’s History Month Events

This edition of the STRAND Magazine was made possible thanks to funding by KCLSU’s Women’s History Month fund.

The SU have an exciting range of activities lined up to celebrate Women’s History Month 2024, all centered around the theme of “Beyond Boundaries: Women’s Voices, Diverse Choices”. Teaming up with Women’s Network, KCLSU has curated a series of events to highlight female voices and open safe dialogues among our community. From a Grrl Zine Fair takeover workshop at Science Gallery London raising awareness about the exclusion of trans people and women in healthcare, to two spin classes hosted by KCL Women’s Handball to raise money for charity, this month is packed with empowering and entertaining events. Be sure to check out everything on offer, and have a great time celebrating the community of women in your community, in London, and around the world!

All dates listed on this double-page refer to the month of March.

Shifting the Paradigm in Surgery - Conference

the Sunnah way 22
Looking after your hair

Film Screening: Queen of Katwe

Women’s Spin Class

WHM Painting Session

Beyond Boundaries Panel: Womxn in STEM

Cult of Beauty Exhibition Visit

Book Swap and Friendship

Bracelet-Making

Women in Wilderness Medicine Workshop

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And the rest of the Strand Magazine team

Talia Andrea, Barney Nuttall, Tahmim Reza, Govhar Dadashova www.strandmagazine.co.uk

Readers, We
Happy Women’s History Month!
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wish you a very
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