Complexd Women

A day in the life of cosmopolitan women around the world

COMPLEXD WOMAN: JODI MUTER

Name: Jodi Muter
Age: 31
Place of birth: Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK
Label: Black Neon

I studied BA Fashion at Kingston University and specialised in lingerie. I love the sun and hope to move abroad at some point but when on holiday I can never find fashionable swimwear that I like. My label Black Neon enables me to design swimwear with creative shapes and colours that are flattering, functional and stylish. I design swimwear that you can actually swim in and not just sunbathe in. If you’re swimming for an hour you need it to stay on!

My grandmother worked in the mills in Yorkshire and my mum was born and raised in Haworth, Yorkshire. My mum owned a wool and haberdashery shop, where I used to spend hours knitting and making things. Craft is an important part of all our lives. My stylish Grandma Muter (pictured above), who was an officer in the navy, has been the most influential woman in my life. She passed away when I was thirteen but she was the one who gave me the desire to travel.

I worked at a swimwear factory in Mauritius for six months where I also made my first sample.  Mauritius is a very diverse country with lots of religions coexisting with each other. This has a huge impact on everything from colours in the street, to food, ceremonies and life. The experience of integrating into the life and culture was much more fulfilling than discovering Mauritius as a mere beach-lounging tourist.

I then spent a month in Sierra Leone which had more of an impact on my understanding of the world. Visiting a hospital with only one surgeon, three toilets and 200 people put the issues we face in this world into perspective.

I’ve only released one collection so far because production issues are one of the main dilemmas for small labels. I also work full time as a personal assistant in Canary Wharf, so how I manage my time is critical. On most days I get up at 6.15 am and get home at 6.30 pm. I then work on a variety of things from pattern cutting, to VAT returns from 7.30 pm to around midnight. I have one day off on the weekend. Running your own business has its adversities because there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

Hopefully, the future for Black Neon is bright! I aim to diversify the product range with leather goods and jewellery and perhaps find an investor Looking at long- term goals, I hope to set up an apprenticeship co-op scheme for women with craft skills based in the UK and overseas. For now, life is more about sun seeking adventures and sharing new experiences with the ones I love and am yet to meet.

To view  the collection and shop online visit BLACKNEON.CO.UK

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COMPLEXD VISUALS: EAST MEETS WEST

Complexd visuals that combine the customary fashion of two cultures. Fashion editorials that provoke and push boundaries are what we want to see pitched and submitted for our fashion pages. Photographers take note!

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COMPLEXD WOMAN: YAGAZIE LEDI FRANCISCA EMEZI

Name: Yagazie Ledi Francisca Emezi
Age: 21
Place of birth: Aba, Nigeria
Current residence: Albuquerque, New Mexico

I’m Nigerian Malaysian; me and my siblings were born and raised in Nigeria. My parents met in London where my father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse.

I’m currently attending university in New Mexico . It’s the first and only state I’ve ever lived in so it took me a year to feel fully at home here. Once I settled in I discovered that the culture is amazing, I like to call it the ‘hippie state’. I wake up relatively early everyday and go to campus. After campus it’s work, gym, study and sleep. In between that, I’m on my blog and networking. It may sound dull and repetitive but my days are never the same. I always find time to laugh from my heart everyday.

At the moment my style is a toned down version of crazy glam. But it changes too frequently to label it because one minute I’m  strutting in heels and the next I’m in saggy pants. Sometimes I get crazy looks from others, but that’s okay because I believe I can pull it off.

When I’m homesick I use spoken word and my blog to reminisce about the memories of home. My blog features a bit of beauty and fashion but it’s mainly about Nigeria and Africans. I put up a video blog about how people react to my accent the first time they meet me. I was really surprised by the amount of responses I got for that video. I only speak with an African accent when I meet other Africans or people from the islands. But when it does slip out I am always flooded with strange questions about my cultural heritage.

I’ve travelled to Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Mexico, the UK and a few other countries. A lot of people say ‘travel with an open mind’ but through my experiences I have learnt to travel with an open heart. Sometimes, being culturally aware comes with a huge wave of responsibility. You see the good and bad in every culture but it’s how you use that knowledge that counts.

I love simplicity. I love all that everyone else loves like family and life itself. More than anything, I love my homeland and I love my black women and men. Love is a hard emotion to carry out successfully 
because we all love differently. 

My one piece of advice to anyone reading this is slow down. Don’t get caught up in the material world because you will lose focus on the simple things in life that we should love, and daydream as often as you can. I’m Complexd because I try not to get angry over issues such as wars, famine and poverty.

Visit Yagazie’s blog JungleLove here

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COMPLEXD WOMAN: ESTHER BECKFORD

Name: Esther Beckford
Occupation: Fine artist, architecture student
Place of birth/ current residence: Kingston, Jamaica

I’m what you call ‘Rasta People Pickney’. My parents are fine artists and they raised me with Rastafarian and Christian beliefs. I love being Jamaican! Here everyone is a star whether you’re decked out in designer gear or sporting no front teeth!

I’m an architect-artist who models, acts and surfs. I’ve been studying architecture for three years so I have very little time for much else when I’m at school. What I really like about studying in the tropics is the climate. It gives the opportunity to design spaces that really engage the outdoors all year round. When I have school breaks I’m an art director and I create set designs for projects in the film industry.

I got involved in modelling when I entered a local model search after graduating from high school; I thought it would be a good way to challenge myself and smooth off the rough surfer girl edges.

Surfing is a love I share with a sister and two brothers, it is how we keep connected; I love nothing better than watching the swell of the wave and waiting until it’s huge enough for me to soak in the awe.

As a freelance artist it’s challenging to keep a ‘regular’ schedule, however, over the next couple of years I’m really focused on school and achieving my degree in architecture. Island life is fairly relaxing but that has its pros and its cons.

I’m Complexd because I’m a bit of a paradox in many ways. In my professional life, I operate primarily in the realm of the visual and aesthetic; however, in my personal life I’m very relaxed. I also embrace change, which is a constant source of motivation for me.

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COMPLEXD WOMAN: LONI L. JONES

Name: Loni L Jones
Age: 27
Occupation: Professional make-up artist
Place of birth: Mandeville, Manchester, Jamaica
Current residence: Kingston, Jamaica

I grew up in Jamaica and I think that my parents are pretty Complexd! My mother is Scottish-African and my father is Irish-African. Luckily for me, I have parents who support my career choices. They’ve seen me grow from a budding artist to an established one so they keep all the copies of magazines with my work or name in it. They are so proud of me and they are happy if I am happy.

I have been passionate about make-up from a very young age. I was always first in line to help Mrs. Singh do the make-up when we had dance productions at the academy I attended. I studied make-up at college and refined my skills practising on friends. I strongly believe I was born to do this. I’m an artist by nature and faces are my blank canvas. I develop my skills daily and try to stay on top of things by getting familiar with new products, trends and experimenting with new looks.

I mostly do make-up for weddings, music videos, film and TV but I also have clients who just want to be dolled up for a special event. I enjoy beauty editorials the most because I love making people look pretty. Make-up is very important in the creative and entertainment industry because it can enhance the image of a person. If you’re a woman on set and you have a great stylist, but no make-up artist to complete the image you’re in trouble.

In Jamaica my profession has only recently started to get recognised as a job and not just a hobby but I still don’t think it gets the respect it should. I have always taken it very seriously because it’s my bread and butter and it pays my bills. I’m in Cuba right now shooting for the Sandals Hicacos online brochure. When I tell people about some of the perks of my job most of them start considering a career change. But make-up isn’t for everyone; it’s a lifestyle so you have to be ready for the full adventure because you never know what the next job will bring or where it will take you.

I travel a lot throughout the Caribbean and because of the extreme hot weather most of the time it’s always good to apply only a light layer of liquid foundation or use a tinted moisturiser, which I recommend against using foundation. Wearing sheer colours and water proofing everything is the best way to stay cool in the heat!

Jamaican women enjoy experimenting with make-up just as much as women abroad. We’re not that different from the rest of the world but culturally, we’re influenced by the bold styles of dancehall fashion. As a Jamaican I’d be crazy to say dancehall make-up is distasteful because it is a part of our culture. I love seeing videos and pictures of dancehall divas in their outfits, all made up.

I am Complexd because there is only one me! Follow me at @LONZtheMUA
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COMPLEXD WOMAN: CRYSTAL PORTER-JACKSON

Photograph by Brian Rosen

Name: Crystal Porter-Jackson
Occupation: Model
Place of birth and current residence – Kingston, Jamaica

My family is extremely mixed! We have Canadian, Irish and Cuban heritage. People are curious but I don’t like defining myself by race, I am just a Jamaican.

Every day is different for me. I could be working in the day or throughout the night depending mostly on the job or schedule. I don’t have a style philosophy. I just like to dress in a practical outfit on a hot day and super sexy for a night out. At the moment I’m spending quality time with my boyfriend who is in Jamaica for the summer.  Jamaica is the best place to relax and enjoy each other’s company. I love the laid back life but I am always aware that I need to be driven and full of energy if I want to achieve anything.

I’m a fashion and commercial model and I really enjoy every aspect of my job. Compared to New York or London there isn’t a major market in Jamaica for models but you can still get some good work. Before I started taking modelling seriously I had been asked by local agencies but I kept turning them down because I wanted to pursue singing.

Photograph by Luca khouri

I have been singing much longer than I have been modelling but I am pleased I took up modelling because I have so much fun doing it. I don’t limit myself now because all of my experiences are portals where I can express myself and be the natural entertainer that I am. On my most recent job I had to put on a British accent for my role in Shaggy’s ‘Sugercane’ music video. Jamaican people are multi-talented and there are a lot of successful public figures to look up to such as Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Yendi Phillips and many more.

I am Complexd because my flaws make me unique. Something that someone dislikes about me could be something that someone else loves about me. That’s why it is important to love yourself because no-one can be perfect.

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COMPLEXD FASHION: FROM NEGRIL TO BOTSWANA

Jamaican designer Arlene L. Martin of DrennaLuna, creates simple and elegant pieces which help to accentuate a woman’s natural beauty. She is inspired by various objects, people and places and for her 2011 collection she draws inspiration from travelling to Botswana.

‘What I read did not prepare me for my travelling experience to Botswana. The country truly undersells its beauty.  The sandy colour of the land, lush green of the trees and light grey saltpans served as inspiration for my 2011 Collection. The calmness of the collection also reflects the calm spirit of the Botswana’s peaceful people.  Travelling to Botswana was my most memorable life experience which will forever remain with me’. – Arlene

Photographer: Theodore Samuels, Model: Latesha Coleman@ Pulse

www.drennaluna.com

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COMPLEXD WOMAN: LOIS SAMUELS

Photograped by Faith Bowman

I was born in Manchester, Jamaica to Austin and Marjorie Samuels. I live in New York where I run my label, ‘The Vessel by Lois’. It’s called ‘The Vessel’ because I believe we are all vessels of life and spirit. Vessels nurture, protect and provide which is my label works with The Manning Boys Home in Jamaica, which houses abandoned and abused boys.

I did not study fashion design, I experienced it. Modelling gave me the opportunity to work with incredible designers such as Issey Miyake, Christian Lacroix, Thierry Mugler, Christophe Lemaire and Ralph Rucci Chado amongst others. When I began working with menswear designers, I grew fond of that side of the industry. One day, I decided to infuse my  love for menswear design with my ongoing interest in bespoke tailoring. I created a tailored and uniformed signature for my label which launched at New York Fashion Week and Caribbean Fashion Week in Kingston, Jamaica back in the spring of 2009.

My launch collection was influenced by multi-seasonal and durable clothing. I wanted to create classic and comfortable pieces that could be worn by women in any lifestyle or line of work. My designs are simple and sophisticated which is why they are durable and season-less. I believe women want to feel comfortable while being sexy and confident, and clothing can be a powerful tool once you feel good in them.

The launch of my label is the result of a wonderful dream.  It is just the beginning and my plan is to keep following all my hearts desires.

Click here more info on Lois Samuels’ label.

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COMPLEXD WOMAN: CANDY RENEE

Name: Candy Renee
Age: 22
Occupation: Merchandiser/Personal Shopper/Fashion Writer
Place of birth: Jamaica
Current residence: Jamaica/New York

I was brought up by my mom so she’s not just my mother, she is my father and my best friend. I travelled a lot when I was young so I have been exposed to various cultures, lifestyles and trends. I visit New York frequently where I attend runway shows, network with influential people and build strong business partners. By the evening I report all my daily happenings on my blog Fashion.For.Dessert.

I started my blog because I wanted to educate young ‘fashionistas’ in Jamaica about international fashion trends. Fashion reportage is widely accessible via the internet, so I make my posts more personal and opinion based. My blog allows me to break the stigma that Jamaican women don’t have any style. When I am featured on websites, stereotypical views of Jamaican women are prevalent in the comments which suggest that I couldn’t possibly be Jamaican because I have a good sense of style. Even though Jamaica is a small island we have produced some of the most influential people in the entertainment industry.

I put all my energy into my blog and my retail company, which involves merchandising and personal shopping. I am a young lady from a small island with big dreams and I would  love to become a recognised style icon. I also hope that prejudice can be wiped out of the fashion industry so everyone can enjoy it. I am Complexd because I am a young woman going against the idea that you have to change yourself to be fashionable. I am trying my best to be myself and I hope that my followers appreciate me for who I am.

Read Candy Renne’s fashion blog here

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COMPLEXD WOMEN: JAMES BLACK

Name:  James “JB” Black
Age: 25
Occupation: Fashion Designer
Place of birth and current residence: Kingston, Jamaica

I grew up in a strict Jamaican Christian home, so every Sunday is church day. My parents have strong family values and we enjoy lots of quality time through family trips and always having dinner together.

Even though I don’t have a 9-5 job, I wake up early because I know what I have to do if I want to accomplish anything. I start the day with a cup of green tea or coffee, and then I have some fresh fruits like papaya with my cereal. I work from home so I can stay in pyjamas unless I am walking or driving down the road to fabric stores. Jamaica is extremely hot at times, so I opt for something cool and casual like shorts, shades and a loose t-shirt.

I manage my clothing line ‘YC’ (Yahdie Conscious). The line is distributed in two stores in Kingston that stock the YC clothing range and accessories. At the moment I am designing a range of hair accessories called ‘GlamHEAD’, a selection funky and affordable handmade headpieces for jazzing up outfits. I am inspired by other designers and stylists but the Jamaican dancehall scene is one of my major inspirations. I like taking elements of dancehall fashion and toning it down to create something classy and unique.

I run my business with 100% passion and put all my energy into what I do.  While building my concept and expanding ideas through ‘YC’, I hope to one day have my own store, and my label becoming a household name in Jamaica and recognised internationally.

My personal style philosophy is ‘don’t take an outfit from a rack and put it straight on your back’. It’s good to experiment by mixing and matching colours and patterns or adding funky accessories. It’s important to put a piece of your personality in your outfits so that even if you end up at a party in the same dress as someone else, yours might just have that extra wow factor!

Yahdie Conscious clothing is available for purchase online at www.yahdieconscious.com.

James’ on the Jamaican party scene…

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