by Oyin Akande
So it’s hard to imagine a world-class model being told that she’s anything but gorgeous, right? While we are increasingly aware how many mainstream industries push rigid and unattainable ideas of beauty, we have a tendency to overlook that these constructs are even more ruthlessly observed for models than they are for us, the majority of ‘real women’.
French model Anaïs Mali has featured in many editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and many other international titles; she has walked down the runways for Michael Kors, Balenciaga, Jason Wu and more. It would seem to most that her success in the industry, at the very least, is a confirmation of her widely accepted perfection. Yet, after landing the cover of French magazine Lui, an adult entertainment title created by Daniel Filipacchi, Jacques Lanzmann and Frank Ténot, Mali posted this on Instagram:
“I always wanted to be a LUI cover girl!! I was told by my ex model agency 2 years ago, that I wasn’t sexy enough for The Magazine. So I wanted to thank first of all @nextmodelsparis for making this happen and a huge thanks to LUI for giving me the opportunity to show y’all what I could do (I’m a pretty shy girl and don’t often pose nude) so this is HUGE for me ! I’ve been criticized by the industry for Yeaaaaaaars because of the way I looked (too skinny , too sexy , not sexy enough, too petite .. blabla). I’m so at ease now that I realized that sexy begins by loving yourself and not caring what others think (EVER). Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you re not good enough for this or that ! If you think that you are .. well you are . If the other are too blind to see it, their loss … And this .. is me”
Anais is not your ‘typical’ pin up in that she is incredibly slender, but Lui magazine has a more ‘high fashion’ slant, using photographers who usually shoot for magazines such as W Magazine rather than Playboy.
Born to a mother from Chad and a Polish father, Anaïs belongs to a generation of gorgeous melaninated models working the fashion and beauty industries. But she’s been fighting the rigid ideals of her industry for a long time. She left France for New York when she was 18 as she found it difficult to get jobs. She was told ‘This is Paris; black girls don’t work here’ and in 2013 spoke out about the persistent lack of diversity on the runway particularly in Milan.
No matter who you are, what you do or what you look like, society’s mechanism can attack your confidence by telling you there is something you lack. Your “imperfections” or simply just qualities you do not possess (because we cannot be all things all at once, right?) become the standard against which you measure your worth. And the female body and identity are historically the choice ‘victims’ of these paradoxical pressures.
The model recently launched, Anaïs a collection of bodysuits created by model v Mali and designer Urivaldo Lopes in 2016. Inspired by the audaciousness of studio 54 and the supermodel era, Anaïs reinvents a 1980’s wardrobe staple for the modern woman with a “Made in Italy” philosophy, creating and armor that empowers its wearer through an urban perspective and irrefutably bold aesthetic.
For the last 20 years, multi-talented Agnes Baddoo has been a Los Angeles-based stylist working for Italian and US Vogue, Vanity Fair, commercials and film. She’s also the author of five travel guides, creator of numerology inspired sprays known as Everyw’air and designer of some highly covetetable leather totes. She lives between her hometown in NYC and at her home base in Los Angeles, where she designs her collections of leather goods.
I first noticed Agnes’ beautiful pieces on the Edible Gardens website – where Agnes and Lauri Kranz collaborated to create the perfect ‘everything’ shopper. Both Agnes and Lauri’s signature of using ethically produced, sustainable materials is a match made in heaven.
“Last year, when I visited Thandie in LA, I was invited to a lunch by my friend Kendall Conrad. It was there that I met the lovely Agnes Baddoo, “maker of things she needs, wants and likes”. She was wearing the most simple, yet perfect little shouder bag that I totally had my eye on.
Cut to last week, Thandie emailed me to say “met this great bag designer at the Echo Park Craft Fair, let’s post on her”. Clearly, Agnes was destined to be on ThandieKay! ”
Growing up, Sunday evenings were for home spa pampering and prep for the week. It involved hair prep (my mother would wash/iron/set – mine was short as a child so often braided), face masks, long baths with oils, followed by lotions, cremes and this Japanese nail buffing system called P-Shine.
My Mother was of an era where people (men/women/children) dressed for all situations: work clothes, school clothes, play clothes, clothes they wore on the weekend, clothes they changed into when they came home, night gowns/robes/pyjamas for sleeping etc). She was always immaculate, or at least thoughtful, in all those situations.
Meeting the day always began with the beauty routine. Everything smelled soft and nice. I have many sense memories of the products she used from drugstore to high-end department store as long as it worked and smelled nice – Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Yardley’s English Lavender Brilliantine, Nivea, Jergen’s, Pond’s, Jean Naté, Clinique, Elizabeth Arden or Chanel No. 5/No.19/No.22/Christelle, Diorissimo or Eau de Givenchy -these are a few staples I always remember, a whiff of which would take me back to being sink-height.
She took a bath, rarely a shower, then a soft smelling body lotion, face cream/moisturizer. Then on to make-up, light foundation, blush, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick – more polished for work, more natural for weekends but always something – eyes, cheeks, lipstick at minimum. Always. And nails too. She was fairer than I and preferred coral tones for lips and nails. Then before bed, the cold creme removal ritual, bath, lotion etc.
I’m happy, well rested, have done some form of exercise – some combination thereof that starts from within. Having said that, newly showered in a favorite outfit, a dab of a favorite fragrance and a pinch of makeup works too!
Is neither a neither a chore or a delight – I don’t mind it. For me it’s quick and painless: eyeliner or mascara, light cheek, light lip unless for an occasion then I pick either eye or lip to feature with something bolder. Products I use in rotation: W3llPeople, Universalist Color Stick and Mascara, Jillian Dempsey, Rick Brown Kohl Liner, RMS mascara and lip shine, Rodin lip gloss, Earth Tu Face skin stick. I’ve been using this since they started the brand in 2010 and it is always on top, within easy reach, in any bag I carry. Such an essential, like breathing.
My father is a reserved man of few flowery words of affection, but I do remember him often referring to his “beautiful wife”.
In my work, I am inspired by nature, form and function. The inspiration for my line started with an old natural leather tote bag belonging to my mother that I’d been modifying over the years. I had changed the shape, moved the straps – different details, to suit my taste and how I intended to use it. When it became unrepairable and too frail for wear the tote became a catchall for files, bills, magazines, next to my desk.
One day while (procrastinating) doing my taxes I just looked at it and decided I needed that particular form and function in my life. So I set off to create a version of that tote which became Sac 1.
Working with local leather-crafters I made several samples, brought them to the Echo Park Craft Fair, where I sold out within the first 2 hours -and there my leather goods line was born. Prior to launching the bags, I was only making/selling an aromatherapy line of Everyw’air Sprays at the fair, now I do both.
Then I created a larger version, Sac 2, which is a more unisex, weekender sized tote. I launched a website and with some fortuitous features in Tomboy Style and PriscillaWoolworth.com to name a few, the leather goods business really took off.
Over the following months and years I’ve added different materials, fabrications and other styles as different needs and functions presented themselves. Now, in addition to the original Sac 1 and Sac 2 totes there is a small Cross body for hands-free bag experience, light-weight canvas carry-all market bags and key cases.
They are all simple in design, with form and function foremost in my mind when creating them.
Our pores are like millions of tiny mouths; I would like to see less chemical, harmful additives in all beauty products we put on our body. I would like to see stores like CAP beauty, that only carry non-toxic head to toe beauty products, become the norm not the exception so all the non-toxic products that already exist and those to come can be more widely available at all price points.
I am very sentimental and have maintained friendships from various stages in my life, even from my earliest play group memories. I recently got together for dinner with a small group a gals from high school, some of whom I hadn’t seen since we graduated. Although through the wonder of Facebook we have been in touch, walking into that restaurant and seeing them around the table I burst into tears of joy and nostalgia. I was wearing my new W3llPeople mascara -it did NOT run, but it was that sort of situation, recently.
Lotions, creams and fragrance are fantastic because aromatherapy does affect the way we feel for the better. Edible Gardens x Le Feu de L’eau African Basil candle – it’s my favorite scented candle. I burn this candle sparingly (because it’s so precious to me I want to make it last) but regularly, leave the jar open so it can scent up the room when it’s not burning and travel with it so that grounding sweet basil aroma gets in my clothes and is with me at every new location. Wholesome, delicious nutritious food and drink shared among friends and family is a beauty gift, but the power of a kind word or compliment that makes someone beam from the inside out – that’s a true beauty gift!
When it comes to describing something that matches your skin tone, the word ‘Nude’ has often been used. But who’s Nude? Your Nude, my Nude or her Nude? Bizarrely, until now many brands have assumed that we are all one colour-beige.
Then there’s Nubian Skin lingerie, which launched a couple of years ago because the founder, Ade Hassan, was frustrated at the lack of lingerie shades that suited her skin tone, and only ever being offered white or black. Now available at ASOS, the lingerie is smartly named after popular foundation names from MAC and Bobbi Brown and are the lingerie of choice for Beyonce’s Formation tour.
Post by Kay
“The Bon Bon Vie lifestyle isn’t necessarily about material possessions, but rather self-love, pursuing your dreams, and celebrating your own personal joy. Bon Bon Vie is where fellow shirt addicts fulfill their graphic tee fix while expressing their individuality.”
I came across Shari Neal‘s brand Bon Bon Vie when I had a ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ moment about her Brown Skin Lady t-shirt on Instagram. I DM’d her immediately and she kindly sent a t-shirt to Thandie in LA.
She’s a kindred spirit and it is our pleasure to introduce her to our readers…
The company name Bon Bon Vie was inspired by a funk song of the same name by T.S. Monk.
The lyrics really spoke to me, he sang about a job that was getting him down and he just wanted the good life. I wanted to make the “good life” my reality and inspire others to do the same. I wanted to build a life for myself I was happy to be living instead of just punching in and out and going through the motions.
My parents emigrated to the US from Belize, so I very much had the immigrant child experience. My mom expected me to work hard, have impeccable manners, be responsible, get good grades and generally not do anything to embarrass our family, lol.
My older brother is also an artist and just as nerdy as me, so growing up we loved all things art and pop culture.We’d spend hours watching Michael Jackson and Prince videos and countless days exploring the city of Chicago, just riding the train, having photoshoots on the lakefront, walking and going to museums or the library.
I loved knowledge and read whatever books I could, the ones by black women authors really spoke to me. “For Colored Girls…” by Ntozake Shange is one of my all time favorites.
I read “The Coldest Winter Ever” and “No Disrespect” by Sister Souljah more times than I can count. I probably checked out all of the books my local library had by Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez and Asha Bandele.
In the short-term, I would like to keep adding new products and designs. I started out with t-shirts, but I now have mugs, bags and other things customers have expressed interest in. What I’d like to do more of is collaborations with other brands and folks I admire. I have a few things in the works that I hope I can let out into the world very soon.
Post by Rose Bell
It can be easy to look at matriarchy and patriarchy as two opposing forces, as if it was either one or the other, but I realized that it was the force of this binary way-of-thinking that was giving my notion of ‘matriarchy’ its limited definition.
I understand now that it is possible to alter the way we view a matriarchy, and what it itself might look like in action.
Matriarchy Now! is about understanding and reaching the boundless potential of women: the matriarchy being a global collective of female togetherness, one that isn’t something that can be squished into the linear structures of mainstream society.
Rose Bell is an artist, living and working in South East London. Her dog is called Clifford and she is heavily influenced and in awe of these people: