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Atlas (Print) ISSN 2056-5836 Atlas (Online) ISSN 2056-5844 Produced by Kwintus Publishing Ltd. The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher. Although all material is checked for accuracy, no liability is assumed by the publisher for any losses due to the use of material in this magazine. 4 Atlas Magazine Copyright Š. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form without prior written permission of Kwintus Publishing Ltd.

PHOTOGRAPHY Jessica Barthel


PHOTOGRAPHY Virginia Di Mauro

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Interview With: Lenka Laskoradova Interview by Olivia Bossert Page 18-23

Interview With: Elaine Slater Interview by Olivia Bossert Page 70-71

Victoria Magrath: Getting to Know In The FROW Interview by Olivia Bossert Page 24-29

An Afternoon With Mary Interview by Megan Breukelman Page 80-81

Interview With: The Naturalista: Xochi Balfour Interview by Olivia Bossert Page 50-53

FORCES by Jessica Barthel Page 12-17

A TOUCH OF SUN by Blessing Marie Page 54-61

DAWN OF THE EAST by DahĂŠe ZOE Page 82-87

TOUCH ME by Irvin Rivera Page 30-39

NOMADS SOUL by Virginia Di Mauro Page 62-69

SHARDS by Andrea Baioni Page 88-95

UNRESTRAINED by Angelika Annen Page 40-49

WITH PEARLS OF WATER ON HER HIPS by Ashley Holloway Page 72-79

MIAO by Phoebe Cheong Page 96-93


EDITORS Olivia Bossert Megan Breukelman



Contributors Jessica Barthel Lenka Laskoradova Victoria Magrath Irvin Rivera Angelika Annen Xochi Balfour Blessing Marie

Mary Haddad Virginia Di Mauro Elaine Slater Ashley Holloway DahĂŠe ZOE Andrea Baioni Phoebe Cheong

Germany / Switzerland / USA / Russia / United Kingdom / Canada / France / Malaysia / Italy

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PHOTOGRAPHY Angelika Annen


PHOTOGRAPHY Blessing Marie

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ear Readers,

We’re often asked how we come up with our themes for the issues. There’s no one way, to be honest. Most of the time, Megan comes up with them; she’s got a knack for thinking of words that inspire people. There’s always a long list of words, and lots of deliberation between the whole team as we figure out what will work best. Enchantment was proposed a few months ago as we began planning for the issue, and it just felt right. Romantic, festive, bright–– it’s the most enchanting time of year. This issue is set to captivate, from mixed media by Lenka Lakoradova, career advice from Victoria Magrath of ‘In The FROW’, moody imagery of Shaun Ross by Irvin Rivera to an intimate interview with foodie Xochi Balfour. Enchantment in every turn of the page. We may also notice the addition of clickable links to this issue. One advantage of being a digital magazine: if you see something you want in an editorial, you can click and buy it in an instant. It’s the new way to shop! Thank you to all of our contributors, as always, for providing us with such gorgeous imagery. Thank you to all the inspiring creatives who took the time to speak to us about what they do. Thank you to you, our readers, for staying curious and inspired by what we do. Lots of love, Olivia and Megan



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TOP COS DRESS Vladimir Karaleev


Jessica Barthel Cosi Catharina Gerekos Lydia Zänisch Jennifer Galle


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DRESS Yohji Yamanoto



BAG Illit Bagshaped


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PHOTOGRAPHER MODELS Svetlana Volkova Vasilisa Lavrentieva & Olesya Kornushina Alyona Rakova Elena Gara Apollo Studios Moscow


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INTERVIEW BY Olivia Bossert

INTERVIEW WITH: Lenka Laskoradova - Collage artist

- Tell us a bit about yourself and your background? I am a young girl from Russia who likes dreaming and collecting magazines–– and cutting them up, of course! - How did you get into collage? Difficult question… I always was addicted to fashion. But at the same time I couldn’t figure out how I could get involved in the industry. After graduating, I worked as a Math teacher. It definitely was not my passion, so after every day at school, I spent my evenings making collages. For me it was like therapy. - How do you get inspired for your collages? I like visiting new places and exhibitions of contemporary art. But everything can be a small source of inspiration for me; like a sunny day or a ticket on a bus. I appreciate every single day of my life.


What is the process of creating a collage, from start to finish? For me it is a mysterious moment, really! I never know what I am going to end up with. I like using strange and surreal things, mixed up with clothes or just faces/parts of the faces of models. How does fashion have an impact on what you create? I rely 100% on the new collections When I watch a fashion show from a new season the first thing I think is “How I can work with that coat, dress or a bag? Where I can put them on the page of my next creation?” I love to study the prints, forms, style–– it’s all important to me..

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Lenka Laskoradova


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Lenka Laskoradova

Do you think you are influenced by trends? I think it’s about 50/50. I don’t necessarily stick to one season, or even one year for my collages. It can sometimes look like I’m trying to be a stylist, piecing it all together, but I work with 2D surfaces, not the actual clothes. What do you love most about collage? The opportunity to change the way people see the pieces of clothing I’m using for my collage…and opportunity to create something really weird! How has social media and the internet helped your career develop? My Instagram profile helped me. A lot of people see my work thanks to the hashtag I created for my work: #mailart_collage.I also write a blog about art and the freedom it can bring you. What advice would you have for aspiring collage artists? My main advice: love the people around you! Never give up on your dreams, because random things can change your life suddenly, so aim high and do what you like!

You can find more of Lenka’s work at: lenkalaskoradova.wordpress.com



INTERVIEW BY Olivia Bossert

Victoria Magrath: Getting to Know In The FROW


Kyle Galvin Victoria Magrath Sylvester Yiu Tina Au Jade Dixon

Famous for her long, purple, luscious locks (recently ombrĂŠ-ed to perfection in vibrant shades of gray!), Victoria Magrath is a Youtube star and a blogging sensation involved in a brand new trend in publishing.

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I absolutely love watching YouTube and reading blogs, so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to interview Victoria. After researching her previous interviews, I wondered why nobody had really delved into her considerable achievements. I knew she had a PHD, and had become super successful, so why was nobody asking her about more than just eye-shadow and lip-gloss? When I met Victoria in a café in Selfridges, I was struck not only by how beautiful she is in person, but also by how normal she is. I tend to put Internet personalities on a pedestal, so when I meet someone I admire and realise that they’re just like you and me, it’s always both surprising and reassuring. We hugged and made our way to our table where she promptly ordered smashed avocado on toast, whereupon I immediately regretted having had breakfast at home beforehand. Victoria spoke to me about her childhood. “ I grew up in Wigan, in the North West of the UK. It’s just above Manchester. I had a really great childhood! I went to a great primary school where I felt really inspired. So much so that I’d love to go back there now and tell all my teachers how much I appreciated them. I was such a geek, always super studious, never wanting to be told off, always doing my best, on my best behaviour. I was brought up by my parents to be very polite and patient. However, high school wasn’t much fun.” Like most young teenagers, Victoria told me about how she had struggled at school, even going on to describe those years as the worst of her life. But high school ended and college began. “I truly became my own person at college. I got my first boyfriend. I had fun studying subjects that interested me, I got my first job, and I gained a lot of confidence.” Victoria chose a university close to home, doing a “Design Management and Fashion Retailing” degree at Manchester with two of her closest friends. “Having my friends there was great! We stuck together. I worked at Roxy — I was such a surfer chick, and really immersed myself into the university lifestyle.” As she neared the end of her degree, Victoria wasn’t too sure what she wanted to do next, but when one of her lecturers asked if anyone would be interested in doing a government sponsored PHD in Fashion, she knew it would be a good fit for her; something she’d truly enjoy. She loved learning, and wasn’t ready to leave Manchester for London, so spent a further three years earning her PHD and lecturing students. “It was in the middle of my PHD that I became obsessed with YouTube. I was looking up how to stud a pair of denim shorts, and Samantha from Beauty Crush had done a tutorial. A whole world opened up before my eyes, and I was hooked. Pretty soon I was spending all my evenings



DRESS Malene Oddershede Bach THIS PAGE /

DRESS Malene Oddershede Bach NECKLACE Ek Thongprasert

I set up social media channels, and within six months I won Company Magazine’s “Newcomer Of The Year” award.”

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relaxing in front of YouTube. Then I discovered YouTubers’ blogs, and it occurred to me that this was something that I might also enjoy. Thanks to my degree, I had the advantage of knowing a lot about Search Engine Optimisation, so I set out to make my blog the best it could be. Initially I posted two or three articles a day, just so that people would be able to find me! I set up social media channels, and within six months I won Company Magazine’s “Newcomer Of The Year” award.”


DRESS Malene Oddershede Bach NECKLACE Ek Thongprasert

I asked Victoria why she started making YouTube videos. “Well, before I’d even discovered blogs, I found YouTube. And when I read blogs, I always wished they all had matching YouTube channels. Blogs are so 2D, and sometimes you just want to see what someone is like. I felt like people could engage more when they could actually see and hear them. That was my reasoning, so I just went ahead and did it! My first video was a sped up make up tutorial with no sound. I hate my voice! I have a weird northern accent that’s not actually that northern. My first videos were awful, and a lot of them have since been removed. Even my best friend told me that she thought they were bad. She couldn’t watch them for ages, but she can now. When you first start a YouTube channel, it’s hard to film and talk to a camera as if loads of people are watching, when you know that, in reality, not many people will see your video. It’s like, why am I bothering? But the following grows, and I’ve got used to doing it, and have become far more confident in front of the camera.” Victoria never planned on becoming a full-time blogger. Originally, her dream career was to go and work in fashion marketing. “I would have described my dream job as a luxury brand fashion marketing manager. Yep, that’s what I wanted to do! For Burberry, ideally,” she giggles.



DRESS Malene Oddershede Bach

TOP Sadie Williams JEANS 7 Of All Mankind SHOES Gianvito RossiÂ



DRESS Anne Sofie Madsen

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With plans to move to London and get a job for a big brand, she worked hard and enjoyed her lecturing job, but knew it wouldn’t satisfy her forever. Working crazy hours to build up her blog and YouTube channel, Victoria would sit in her university office writing blog posts, and then write her lectures at night. Bedtime was rarely before 2am, and she would get up at 7am to go and teach. “It was intense. I was trying to finish my PHD, teach my students, and write my blog. But I just felt like I had to do it. I was exhausted and felt slightly sick all the time, but it made me so happy!” Eighteen months after she embarked on her blogging/ YouTube journey, media management company Gleam contacted her, proposing representation. Victoria accepted, and in December 2014 she handed in her notice for her lecturing job and moved to London to become a full-time blogger and YouTuber. “My parting gift from the university was hilarious,” she chuckles, flicking back her long gray hair. “They said that it was fine if I wanted to leave halfway through the year, but in exchange I had to mark two hundred and twenty papers. Well, I spent most of the Christmas festivities marking those papers!” I’m always curious to know how people think certain platforms differ from each other, so I asked Victoria how she felt about YouTube and blogging. “To be honest, I prefer blogging at the moment,” she replies. “I just got my blog redesigned and I’m so happy with it. I’m really getting my mojo back. I’m working hard to make everything more polished, working alongside a photographer who helps me with my outdoor photos or I get my boyfriend Alex to take them for me. YouTube though, is far more “real”, if that makes sense? I mean, YouTube is just people like you and me, in their rooms, editing on their computers. Some people are starting to produce far more crisp, far more polished videos, and I love those as well, but I also love it when someone is just sitting on their sofa chatting to their audience. It’s so nice! I think blogs are definitely becoming more editorial, far more like magazines, which is funny because the reason blogs


became so popular in the first place was because they were raw, unedited, real. Now bloggers have more money, so they can put more time into their production and really make their work amazing, just like magazines!” We chatted away for ages, Victoria nibbling on her toast while I asked her every question under the sun about her career. Our meeting took place just after the Essena O’Neil blow out had occurred online, and it got us both thinking about the future of the Internet. “I really wish I knew what is going to happen. Things like the Essena O’Neil’s story scare me. I think people are going to be doing a lot more elaborate stories like that, and I’ve a feeling people might turn away from the internet. I can see it happening more and more frequently with sponsored posts; nowadays, I always include the word “Ad” when I’ve been paid to talk about something, and a lot of people simply don’t watch those videos anymore. It’s a shame, because I genuinely love all the products I talk about. Nothing is ever a lie. I don’t have time to create content about things I don’t like. I really don’t! And if I can get paid to talk about a product that I love, then why wouldn’t I? I turn down far more than I take on. For example, I’ve recently worked with Adidas X Stella Sports, a brand I really love. They pay me so that I can create awesome content with their product, so it’s a winning situation for everyone. I also feel like there will probably be a shift soon, kind of like the way Facebook has now become a bit boring, a bit passé. Something new will come along. It scares me how fast things move, but at the same time change is what makes it all so exciting. You can’t ever get bored. It’s just impossible.” Victoria is certainly one of the smartest people I’ve met, as well as one of the most vibrant and bubbly. Like everyone else, she has no idea what the Internet will come up with next. For the moment she’s genuinely happy producing great content for her readers and viewers, and having fun changing up her hair. Personally, I’m dying to see what colour she’ll go for next!




Irvin Rivera @ Graphicsmetropolis Francis Gum Shaun Ross @ Next Brandon Niquolas & Art Hunter Ada Trinh


ROBE & TOP Ganaho Label HARNESS Jakimac



CROWN Jakimac SHIRT Ganaho Label SWEATER Zara

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HAT Vintage SWEATER Ganaho Label


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NECK PIECE 214 Designs 35

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ROBE & SHORTS Ganaho Label NECKLACE Jakimac TIGHTS American Aprarel SHOESYohji Yamamoto



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BELT Jakimac



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PHOTOGRAPHER & RETOUCHER MODEL STYLING HAIR & MAKEUP SPECIAL THANKS Angelika Annen Rebecca @ M4 Models Amanda Samantha Brooke Julia Ritter Using Kevin Murphy Claudia Gaelli & Stable Riedikon


COAT Barbara Bui By Gassmann



COAT Velvet Novel

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TOP Klamott



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DRESS Sandro Marzo


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COAT Barbara Bui By Gassmann



DRESS American Apparel


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INTERVIEW BY Olivia Bossert

INTERVIEW WITH: The Naturalista - Xochi Balfour

- Tell us about yourself and your background. What were you like as a child? - I am the youngest of four sisters, by eight years, so as a child I usually had to find my own sources of inspiration and amusement. I like to think this made me quite resourceful but whenever I tell my husband Ben about my youth he teases me that I was a mad little loner. I was born three months early and was very sensitive as a result - I used to scream and run a mile when crackers or fireworks banged and was always looking for something peaceful and calm to immerse myself in. I loved reading, writing, playing in the garden in Sussex and watching my mother cook at the Aga.

...can be very hard in the modelling world not to place all your self worth on appearance...

- You have a very interesting name Xochi! Can you tell us about that? - Yes, it means flower in the Nahuatl language, after Xochitl, the goddess of flowers. I was christened Candida and given the nickname Shrimpy when I was born because they wrapped me in bubble wrap to keep me warm and my father said I looked like one. It was always fun but often a little challenging introducing myself as either of the two. When I was 29 I travelled to an intentional community in Costa Rica and did six weeks of intensive meditation and self enquiry, and at the end of it I was given the name Xochi. It meant a huge amount to me and I discovered that telling my friends and family back home wasn’t the huge ordeal I thought it would be. I tend toward 50 Atlas Magazine

being a people pleaser so taking responsibility for myself and doing this was a big step. I never thought I would (or really could) change my name, but it just happened and the process unravelled before I had time to think about it. On the same day I was given Xochi, my husband proposed to me, and I just sort of rolled with it all and felt very lucky and like a new phase of my life was opening up. - You spent your late teens being a model in London and have worked with some of the industry’s biggest names. How did you find that and how has that helped you become the woman you are today? - I adored modelling when I began. I loved the creativity, the fantasy, the storytelling and the camaraderie on shoots. And the being let off school! My first job was with Mario Testino for British Vogue and at the age of 15 it was a dream come true. I went on to have some amazing opportunities with Mario, Rankin, Jigsaw, Elle and others, but the industry changes so fast. Very quickly a new type of face is in demand and you can suddenly become “out of fashion”. It requires an enormous amount of self belief and resilience to take it all on the chin and when I won a place at Oxford aged 18 I gave it up to go and study. Immediately I ran in the other direction, with messy hair, old t shirts and Converse, and I loved the freedom and the chance to get to know who I was on the inside again, regardless of the outside. It can be very hard in the modelling world not to place all your self worth on appearance and I think this definitely informed my journey of self-enquiry and what it really means to understand your true, unique beauty as a woman and human being. Self love starts on the inside, no two ways about it. - What did you want your career to be, before you found health and nutrition? - When I graduated I knew I wanted to write but I wasn’t sure what about. I interned everywhere and anywhere and wrote for the FT, Evening Standard and a few fashion and interiors publications before jacking it all in to do street food with my partner and now husband, Ben. - Why did you and your fiancé open up your own food truck business, Rainbo? Tell us about that process. - We both felt out of place and stifled by our office jobs and we knew that if we didn’t take the leap then, we never would. Street food was such

an exciting and vibrant scene back then, on the cusp of a real revolution, and we wanted to bring something healthy, colourful and different to the usual carb-based meat-in-a-bun offering. We made a vibrant box of homemade gyoza and Asian salad and converted a 1948 Ford pickup from which to serve it. We also wanted to incorporate giving back into the business model so we started our Food for Freedom initiative, which donates 20p from every meal sold toward the rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers in Nepal. We didn’t really think about what sort of brand we wanted to create, we just decided each thing as it came up, and Rainbo is a total reflection of our beliefs and our adventure together. We are in our fourth year with the business now and it has been such a trip. It wasn’t until about a year and a half in that I realised what a huge demand I was placing my my body with endless 18 hour days prepping and trading, huge physical tasks that I was in no way strong enough for, and running on adrenaline, caffeine and sugar to keep me going from one hour to the next. After working five incredibly long and intense days in a row at Wilderness, I came home and was too tired to fall asleep. I suddenly started losing my breath and had a panic attack, and knew immediately that something had to change. I enrolled in a short course in nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and then committed to the diploma, which I am finishing this year.I overhauled our diet, our kitchen cupboards and our bathroom cabinet and have never looked back. - How has the internet been of use to your career? - Blogging has been such a wonderful platform for me to share my journey and create a community around The Naturalista. I built the blog with Wordpress and my camera phone and within one night of choosing fonts and templates it was real and alive. Social media also has its obvious benefits, and the fact that we can create such a connected, dynamic and interactive community across the clouds and airwaves blows my mind. Both the street food and wellness scenes are such strongly community-minded spheres and that is something very powerful when you are working for yourself, often alone. I also think that in a world where digitalisation can actually isolate us all behind our screens and devices very easily, social media serves 51

to bring us back together - as long as it is approached with authenticity and a healthy dose of detachment. I think it is increasingly important to learn when and why we need to step away from our phones, laptops and the digital world, and gather as real life people in a proper community setup where we connect as human to human. This is so important and something we really risk losing as we rely more and more on technology for meaningful communication. - There is a lot of talk right now on social media being “fake.” What is your take on that? - With Instagram, I think there is a fine line between depicting a world of beauty and inspiration, and feeling pressurised to show one’s followers that everything is always wonderful, worry-free and absolutely perfect. Because it is not, nothing is perfect, no life is problem-free however you live it, and the more we pretend it is, the more we cause others to feel dissatisfied, lacking and lessthan. I think this is a real problem for the younger generation who are spending their most formative years glued to their social media feeds and placing growing emphasis on how things look. I am a big believer in only following people whose feeds make you feel happy, calm, inspired and empowered. - You’re releasing your first book in the new year! What can your readers expect from it? - We just finished shooting all the images and I am so excited. it is a real privilege to be able to share my journey so far in print and we wanted to create a Naturalista world which is about more than just healthy cooking - although this is fundamental to true vitality - but rather which combines a balanced wholefood diet, natural beauty recipes and basic tools for everyday mindfulness. For me, these are the three pillars of wellness, each as important as the other, and I wanted to offer quick, easy and accessible recipes and guidelines to help each and every reader to live and eat a little more mindfully and naturally - however they live and no matter their budget. I didn’t start The Naturalista with a bulging wallet and I don;t expect anyone else to fork out and arm and a leg on costly ingredients and alternative therapies: there are so many nourishing

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and empowering things you can do from your own home to achieve optimal wellness and I want to share them with as many people as possible. - There has been a huge increase in the number of “internet personalities” releasing books in the past year. Why do you think people who have built such successful careers out of all things digital are now turning to traditional print? - I have always adored books; in fact before street food I wanted to create a beautiful library bus and tour the country with it! I think that while the digital world has its many advantages, you can’t beat the experience of picking up a beautiful cookbook, thumbing through the pages, hungrily marking your favourites and really living with those recipes and their stories in your own kitchen. There is something beautiful and tangible about a lovely book - from the paper to the font, the ink, the weight, the cover - it creates a real experience where the words inside become a part of you and of your life and I don’t think the internet can replace that for me. - You’re very passionate about natural beauty products. Why is that? - As soon as I immersed myself in nutrition, I grew increasingly curious about what was in my beauty products that I use everyday, and what effects they might have on my body. People tend to think of food and beauty as separate things but in my mind they are very much the same in as far as one of them goes into the body, and one goes on to it. The pores still absorb ingredients, and the harsh truth is that many of the ones used these days to make products last longer, go further, smell better are potentially very harmful and not as innocuous as multinational brands would have us believe. A little research and healthy curiosity are increasingly important in today’s profit-driven world, and learning to make my own products such as deodorant, body lotion bars and scrubs has been one of the most exciting and empowering things in this whole journey.

Xochi Balfour

- Do you have a specific brand you prefer to use and would recommend to the Atlas readers? - Just mama earth’s finest ingredients! And when my scientific capabilities aren’t up to the task, I like Pai, Bamford, Vedani Botanicals, Therapi and Dr Haushcka. For shampoos, I am endlessly snooping in the health food store aisles for another one to try and always have a different one on the go - it is harder to find the right one for your hair type without all the harsh chemicals evening things out, but there are some amazing brands doing great things and each person just needs to find their match. I enjoy the thrill of the search!

- What’s next for you, Xochi? - I don’t know, and I am excited by that. The book launches in April and I am just focusing on the blog and my final year of nutrition studies at the moment now that I have finished writing it. My husband and I are off to Costa Rica again for five weeks this Christmas, where we hope to go deeper with our meditation, selfenquiry and support our teachers in a few exciting therapeutic groups. I am also learning sound healing with an amazing friend and soul sister, Lani Rocillo, and we keep colliding together without even planning it, so incorporating that and other holistic meditation tools will definitely be underlining my work as a wellbeing author and coach. And then there are new recipes, which are endlessly inspiring and exciting to create. I am just trusting that the universe will give me what I need, and can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.

Keep up with Xochi: www.thenaturalista.co.uk




JACKET We Are Kindred TROUSERS Layana Aguilar HAT Clyde EARRINGS Flaca CUFF Isharya DRESS & BOOTS Stylist’s Own


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Blessing Marie Maura Sebastiao @ TRUMP Lisa Bradkin Erol Karadag Brit Cochran Chi Natsum


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DRESS We Are Kindred EARRINGS Flaca ACCESSORIES Stylist’s Own


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COAT Daniel Silverstain CAPELET Jill Stuart TROUSERS Allina SOCKS Hot Sox HAT Clyde SWEATER & BOOTS Stylist’s Own

SUIT Daniel Silverstain SKIRT Topshop NECKLACE Lulu Frost EARRINGS Flaca SWEATER, SCARF & SOCKS Stylist’s Own



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BLOUSE Bebe TROUSERS Emmelle RING Noir BOOTS Stylist’s Own


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Virginia Di Mauro Deborah Parcesepe Karolina Gendek-D’Andrea Mariangela Palatini



COAT Ludovica Amati HARNESS & SKIRT Martina Biagini TROUSERS Marc Cain



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DRESS & PONCHO Ludovica Amati COAT Marc Cain


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TOP, PANTS & SKIRT Marc Cain BAG Italo Marseglia FUR Vintage



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TOP & SKIRT Ssheena CLUTCH Laurafed


INTERVIEW BY Olivia Bossert


INTERVIEW WITH: Elaine Slater - There is a huge movement towards being “healthy and fit” at the moment, which we think is wonderful. However, there is a lot of discussion on whether seeing photographs of fit women is actually counter productive. Is this just another way of killing women’s self esteem? - Our world is an increasingly visual one, with images fast becoming the most powerful form of communication. Our digital and hyper saturated image culture has given rise to a narrowing aesthetic and the tyranny of an idealised flawless image of body and beauty perfection. Body image always is and always has been shaped according to the specific cultural moment. Our body and physical shape represents who and what we are to the world. Body preoccupation and a relentless desire to reshape the body is evident everywhere. We live in a cultural climate that promotes a belief that the body is almost infinitely modifiable. It is as if the body has become a canvas to be fixed, remade, enhanced, reshaped and updated.

Our body and physical shape represents who and what we are to the world. 70 Atlas Magazine

Women are constantly bombarded by images telling us what’s most important about us is how we look. There is craziness in society to look the same – ultimately the message is we are not enough as we are, that we “should” look like someone else. Society’s obsession with looks coupled with the chronic observation of our appearance is extremely detrimental to our sense of self. Losing our sense of individuality in this way is extremely damaging to our self-esteem and can leave us feeling powerless. A loss of self-esteem creates insecurity, causes self-devaluation, selfloathing, self-hatred and leads to shame and guilt; increasing the risk of anxiety, body dysmorphia, disordered eating and depression. - What advice would you offer to women who struggle with self esteem, or accepting themselves? - There is a western hysteria around body image and the way we view our bodies has become synonymous with how we view ourselves. We seek belonging through our bodies; but ultimately the message is you should look like someone else in order to fulfil our primal need to fit in to the group. We have lost touch with our individuality and our body.

Mindfully avoid subscribing to someone else’s reality in terms of what defines who you are as a woman. Embrace your sense of individuality and uniqueness and avoid getting caught in the toxic trap of comparison. Being flawless and perfect is a myth – it does not exist. True beauty lies in our flaws and imperfections – they are what make us unique. Women live in a world where they are often taught that their primary form of currency is their appearance, and you can’t escape it. We have become prey to industries and practices which frequently increase our sense of insecurity. Every week there is a new fad diet, celebrity trainer

Begin to trust that your space in the world is assured and believe that you are enough just as you are. Focus on healthy living and wellbeing over weight loss and appearance. Ditch the fad diets and choose to eat mindfully and intuitively. Employ a social media detox to avoid getting caught in the toxic trap of comparison. - The New Year is fast approaching, and with that will come the New Year’s resolutions. What is your take on them? - Beginning a new year armed with resolutions on a quest for self-improvement can be a setup for failure. Making absolute statements about what you are going to do or change, risks creating a negative self-image. If plans fail to materialise, that could trigger feelings of failure and inadequacy. Often New Year resolutions are framed by negativity; focussing on problems or insecurities and things we dislike about ourselves. Inevitably we chastise ourselves for our perceived shortcomings, leading to feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and even mild depression. New Year is a symbolic time that offers us an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, take stock and look ahead towards the future. Mindfully reflecting on our accomplishments and expressing gratitude for our good fortune creates self-awareness and boosts our spirits. Deep engagement with our potential and a desire to live our best lives are positive intentions to be embraced and nurtured in our daily lives. It is what we do and how we choose to live every day that matters more than what we do occasionally. Responsibly and thoughtfully making positive causes every day provides the building blocks for a rewarding and happy life over the long term for ourselves and those around us. Buddhist philosophy teaches that respect for all life and practising mindful consideration in our thoughts, words and deeds is the cornerstone of a fulfilling and positive life. Think less about selfdeceiving unattainable resolutions and think more about an excellent intentions list that supports you in living the very best of who you are.

Find out more about Elaine: www.elaineslater.com

In order to navigate these pressures and tune out the white noise, it is helpful to become more selfaware in how you think of yourself as a woman. To acknowledge and value what defines us as women beyond our appearance such as; intellect, emotional intelligence, professional success, loving relationships, creativity, capacity for empathy and compassion, resilience and strength, loyalty and leadership, kindness and love, health and vitality.

or wellness “expert” selling us the latest regime – this relentless stream of often contradictory or at times inaccurate information is confusing and exhausting.





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INTERVIEW BY Megan Breukelman


On a late August day, I arrived at the home of Mary Haddad and her family. Immediately greeted with hugs, smiles and the utmost warmth, their home is a space of positivity and strength. These wonderful people are the epitome of silver linings.

Mary lives with the condition epidermolysis bullosa, an extremely rare ailment that causes fragility of the skin. Because of this, the skin is able to be easily injured, causing blisters and wounds which can lead to more serious issues, from infection to cancer. But sitting down for an afternoon with Mary was nothing but sweet giggles, big grins and girl-talk. She has a passion for the arts, an unrivaled love for life and, of course, for shopping and makeup as well.

- Tell me a bit about you. - I am bubbly and happy. I like things to do with art. I like to draw, a lot. - What do you like to draw? - I like to draw celebrities, cartoons–– I like princesses, I’m really good at that. I’m still working on the faces because sometimes I’m not good at drawing noses or mouthes. I’m practicing! - And how long have you been drawing? - Since I was three, so all my life. I took visual arts in high school so they taught us things like salt and oils, and it was amazing… what art can do. - What kind of things inspire you to draw and create? - Whatever comes to mind, I guess. Colors inspire me. Different shades inspire me. I’m all about mixing and matching. - Can you explain a bit to me about your condition? - My condition is a rare skin disorder. It’s called epidermolysis bullosa. The short form is EB. It causes blistering and open wounds that can cause infection and sometimes skin cancer–– hopefully not, I had that already! I had my leg

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amputated in the summer of last year. It was hard because I had to stay in the hospital for almost a month during recovery. It’s just hard to deal with that kind of skin disorder. It’s intense. Sometimes you don’t know what to do. And the bandages–– oh my god, they get so hot! Especially in the summer. When I see other patients with EB and they have bandages all over, I kind of get anxiety because what they have to deal with is horrible. But, they’re always smiling. - And you’re always smiling! - Yes! Thank you. - So how do you stay so positive? - I don’t know… I think I was born with it. Because I get lots of people asking me how I’m so happy. I guess I just think of positive things [and] I don’t let anything hold me back. Even with my disorder and everything goes on in my Negativity will just lead to that life, I try to stay sickness. You don’t need happy. I have my my dad and that in your life. mom, my brother and they’re always supporting me. Any time they see me sad–– because they’re not used to it–– they try to cheer me up. So I have [that] support too which is nice and makes my life a bit easier. - So you and your family are all very close? - Yes, and I will never let them go. Mary’s Mom: Just a look to me and I understand what she wants before she speaks. - How do you deal with stress? - I listen to music. I love music. I do a bit of singing… but not in front of people. I have sang since I was three, too. Anything to do with art, I just love. I don’t know why, it’s just a passion. It gets me a bit calmer. And I love shopping. - How would you describe your style? - I’m a bit girly but at the same time, casual. I can wear skirts and dresses but I [also] like to just chill out and wear some yoga pants and a tee shirt. - Do you have a beauty routine?

- I do my makeup–– I don’t put much on, it’s just lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara. I like Mac. I like their lipsticks. I like Sephora, it’s nice. It’s a bit pricy, but it’s nice; it’s worth it. I bought a Naked3 Palette from Sephora and I fell in love. I want to buy all of them! - So you’re passionate about makeup? - Yes! I started [by] watching tutorials. On my days off I watch tutorials on YouTube. I have a lot of YouTubers that I watch. They inspire me for how to do makeup and how to get dressed. - Who are your favorite YouTubers? There’s Mia; her YouTube is MamaMiaMakeup. There’s MayBaby for makeup, and there’s AlishaMarie–– she’s funny and it makes you want to watch! She does makeup tutorials and clothes. I like Niki and Gabi, they’re twins and they do tutorials. And, I like a brother and sister [named] Zoella and Joe. They’re from London. They both do separate things, but I watch Zoella more because she does more tutorials. Her brother is more on the funny side. - What are your dreams and goals for the future? - I’m hoping to become a social worker, because I’ve stopped school right now but I’m going to go back and get my diploma from college. [I want to] hopefully start a career where I can help other EB patients that have the same disorder. - So you’d like to help other people? - Yes. A lot. - Does anyone inspire you? - My mom, she’s my number one inspiration. What she does and how she takes care of me. I have certain celebrities too; Ellen Degeneres! She inspires me because she helps a lot of people. I’m hoping to meet her one day. - Is there anything else you’d like to share? - Be positive. Try to take the negativity out of your life. Negativity will just lead to sickness. You don’t need that in your life. Just try to be happy and let things go. If they bother you, let them go.

Find out more about Marys condition, and how you can help at http://www.debra.org/81




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