Editors Diary

The culture, life, style and inspiration of the Editor Kered Clement

EDITOR’S DIARY: PARADISE IN LONDON

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The last couple of weeks have been exciting! To celebrate the departure of a dear friend who is moving to the tropics, I set myself the challenge of finding an authentic Caribbean atmosphere to host an island themed leaving party. With two options ticking the menu box, but nowhere near atmospheric, I decided to pop down to the launch party of Cottons Rhum Shack at Boxpark in Shoreditch, London to see if it was a potential hotspot.

Cottons – a chain of Caribbean restaurants around London are much milder than what I was met with on a miserably wet day in London. As soon as I found the little passage way that led to an open plan bar complete with thatched cabana’s named after islands, a Hawaiian garland was slung around my neck and I was invited to sample some of the 250 varieties of rum on offer.

The bar designed to emulate a humble wooden rum shack on a remote Caribbean beach was fully stocked. Sorrel Sling and Jamaican Mule,  familiar bevarages found across the West Indies were on offer, but I foolishly opted for the Killer Duppy (forgive an innocent soul seduced by the Caribbean colours in the drink). Before I had time to realise my legs gave way, they were stolen by a soca train led by Samba dancers donning wire bras and sequenced thongs, stomping to the beat of the steel pan and drum. I travelled from Trinidad and Tobago carnival to Rio de Janeiro without leaving the container roof of London’s Boxpark! Festive music was blazing, moreish Caribbean canapés circulating and the limbo pole was set up for the brave backs of those who dared to give it a go.

On my second visit I returned for dinner and tucked into a crispy crabmeat and scallop spring roll with a plum and papaya sauce for an island twist. For my main I chose the curried mutton, pressured cooked just right so it slid off the bone, served with rice ‘n’ peas decorated with Rasta colours. I couldn’t get enough of the very sweet tasting coleslaw and fried plantain that came as a side. The portions are definitely worth the money! The chef’s don’t scrimp on the starters so your left with no room and no need for dessert.

Everything about Cottons Rhum Shack is authentic and that includes the management. Bar manager Andre Laville keeps on top of everything, but does so with a very relaxed demeanor, the waiter steals a whine with you when he hears his favourite soca tune (that would happen in the Caribbean), the Chef’s hailing from Trinidad and Dominica cook traditionally so the food taste just like ‘mamas’ home cooking.

Owner of Cottons, Chris Singham said, ‘We are hoping to give Londoners a taste of what it’s like to sip a cool drink as the sun sets over the beach hut and the island party begins.’

Manager Andre who has worked for Cottons for five years and travels extensively throughout the Caribbean said the vibe was extremely important. ‘The look and feel of Cottons Boxpark was a collaboration between the designers, Chris and me. We paid attention to detail down to considering what pictures went on the wall to simple props and fixtures like displaying Caribbean food brands and seasoning on shelves.  It was important for people to come in and feel welcomed, which is why the actual bar was designed to look like a rum shack on a beach in the Caribbean and the restaurant like the inside of your grannies kitchen’. 

Cottons Rhum Shack had the perfect island formula for our smashing Caribbean fancy dress party and it’s the best place to bid farewell island style!

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FLOWER SHOW FASHION @ CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW

The Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea will officially open to the public tomorrow. Celebrating 100 years of horticulture, visitors can expect to be wowed by the attention to detail of each exhibitor and weird and wonderful flora and fauna from around the world. We don’t want to give too much away yet, so in the meantime indulge in the suavely dressed flower loving fashionista’s and celebs spotted at the press day this morning.

Style Advisor and Presenter Trinny 

British Actress Sophie Okonedo

Absolutely Fabulous Actress Joanna Lumley

Academy Award Winning Actress Dame Helen Mirren

Photographed by Frederique Rapier 

 

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EDITOR’S DIARY: THE BILLIE HOLIDAY STORY

It’s the last week to see the Billie Holiday Story at the Charing Cross Theatre, a personal and musical biography of Billie Holiday’s life written and performed by British actress Nina Kristofferson.

A live band directed by Allan Rogers opened the one-woman show to an intimate crowd anticipating the appearance of Billie Holiday. In a charming costume that accentuated her womanly silhouette, Nina entered in darkness and found her cue under a spotlight, focused on her lips. As she sang the opening song I instantly noticed how she enunciated each word and pursed her lips at the end of each note. This is an actress who has studied Billie Holiday, her every move, her sense of style and her inner pain to deliver an emotional roller coaster of a performance.

One minute I was swaying and bobbing my head, the next saddened by scenes of destructive drug abuse and stories of prostitution and rape. I learnt a lot about Billie holiday during her monologues and admittedly I was so caught up in the late singers mesmerising voice, I’ve never delved into her turbulent past.

The audience remained inhibited for most of the performance even when the band played a foot-tapping instrumental. Nina managed to bring them to life when she walked through the isles and danced with a few male audience members. One man in particular either connected on a deeper level with Billie Holiday’s story or drank too much champagne. Whichever one it was, he made a right nuisance of himself by answering rhetorical questions and interrupting emotive monologues. When asked to leave, it resulted in punches being thrown. A very shocking experience for the modest British theatre goer, the auditorium snarled and booed at his disregard of theatre etiquette. But, Nina remained in character throughout the saga, returning the audience’s attention back to her with a convincing line - ‘Now that’s what it was like for me some nights’, she confessed unfazed by the incident. A loud applause followed and awakened an audience that was very unresponsive to start, and who were more willing to show their appreciation for Nina’s ability to command a stage.

I’m sure for Billie Holiday and Nina this is all in a night’s work and no two nights are ever the same. I caught up with Nina at the end of the performance to ask her how she prepared for her role, as Billie Holiday and here’s is what she had to say.

‘I love Jazz music and I do a lot of Jazz concerts performing songs from the likes of Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald … the list goes on. I’ve always sung songs by these women, but with Billie Holiday, it’s completely different, she was a woman who sang behind the beat, she has a drawl, she plays with the music in different ways expressing profound emotion. That’s what I wanted to pay tribute too while taking the audience on her journey’

 The Billie Holiday Story ends on Saturday 25th May. Buy tickets here

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EDITOR’S DIARY: THE WORLD ON REGENTS STREET

Wondering how you’re going to travel around the world in 80 days? Well, you should have gone to Insure and Go’s – The World on Regent Street on Sunday.

It was the street festival of the month if you love culture and vivid cultural displays. With twelve participating countries engaging with Londoners on one street, you could explore the hieroglyphics of Egypt to the backdrop of Indian music and entertainment of costumed revellers showcasing a taste of Trinidad and Tobago carnival. And, if all of that got a bit exhausting, there was enough flavoursome food to set the taste buds on fire.

This traffic free, street festival had me reminiscing about my past travels and eager to learn more about the places I plan to visit this year.

By Ashleigh Johnson-Palmer

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EDITOR’S DIARY: TRINIDAD & TOBAGO INTERNATIONAL FASHION SHOWCASE

When Complexd’s Chief Sub-Editor, Darcel de Vlugt revealed she was awarded the opportunity to showcase her designs during London Fashion Week. We let out a simultaneous sigh of relief - fi·nal·ly!

When we graduated from London College of Fashion during the summer of 2008, the emerging recession threatened our introduction into the creative industry as emerging talent. If we wanted recognition, we knew we had to invest in ourselves, thus making the decision to dig into our shallow pockets and travel to the premier showcase of Island of the World Fashion Week in Bahamas.

It allowed Darcel to debut her collection and launch her label Van der Vlugt and gave me an introduction into the world of freelance journalism. In a discussion in our hotel room – the night before our coming-of-industry-age, we stopped calling ourselves graduates and decided to start introducing ourselves as working professionals.

Then in 2009 came Darcel’s Next Generation Designer Award on the same platform she debuted and the launch of Complexd Magazine in 2010. Fast forward to 2013, we both got to step back on the same soil we met to introduce her collection to a British crowd at Trinidad & Tobago International Fashion Showcase.

The event that reunited us was titled Waves: Re-Think, facilitated by the Fashion Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FATT) and primarily sponsored by University of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT). The invitation alone brought back floods of memories featuring a black leather corset with a gathered stitch bust, one of my first made-to-measure Van der Vlugt designs.

In a salon style reception, carefully selected pieces by emerging designers Lisa See Tai, Mark Eastman and Darcel, sashayed through the audience that lined the banquet room of the Trinidad and Tobago High Commission.

What was even sweeter about the experience was the collective gasp as Darcel’s show stopping three-tiered dress sat perfectly on the body of Trinidadian model Michelene Auguste. When Michelene was introduced to us in the Bahamas, she was a shy, young, blossoming talent who has now been snapped up quickly by international modelling agencies in New York, London and Paris.

The moral of the story – it feels greater to be apart of someone’s journey as well as them being apart of yours.

 Ashleigh Johnson-Palmer reviews the collections

We stole a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the London Fashion Week schedule to experience emerging talents from around the world at the International Fashion Showcase.  First stop was Waves: Re-think hosted by twin islands Trinidad and Tobago, showcasing the works of three innovative designers, Darcel de Vlugt, Lisa See Tai and Mark Eastman. 

With her sensual, structurally sound, opulent pieces Darcel de Vlugt is most definitely one to watch – to sum up her designs in three words – luxury, elegance and glamour. 

Lisa See Tai winner of the University of Trinidad & Tobago’s Designers Critique Award combined the vibrancy of traditional African prints with fresh, cool Caribbean chic. I could envision young women in London rocking her designs this summer so when I asked what her plans for future were she gushed enthusiastically, ‘This has been a fantastic experience, I never thought I’d be showing in London so soon, but you have to dream big and you get there eventually. I am already thinking about my next collection, that’s the thing about creative minds, they never stop ticking. I can’t wait to go fabric shopping around London tomorrow’. 

Mark Eastman’s classic cuts, with peep-show midriffs and bold beaded jewellery turned classically tailored pieces of the past, to the present. I was also drawn to Mark’s personal sense of style which seemed to draw inspiration from vintage Caribbean imagery of smartly dressed West-Indian men. Mark definitely appeared to be drawn to old school style reinvented for modern women. 

Photographs by Frederique Rapier

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EDITOR’S DIARY: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BODY

Firstly I would like to say a big thank you to all the readers who wished me a Happy Birthday and loved my Complexd cupcakes as much as I did.

For the last four years, I’ve been having a peaceful party with my mind, body and soul to celebrate the day I was born. I gave up the hassle of organising groups of friends in exchange for some much needed me time. Don’t get me wrong, I have many Birthday memories with friends that I cherish, but nothing is more memorable than the sound of mesmerising Spa music sending you to sleep, along with the rhythmic motion of a masseuses hands.

This year, I decided to spend my Birthday at K West Hotel & Spa and to my amusement, ended up sharing a high powered Hydrotherapy pool with British actor Sid Owen, better known to us Brits as ‘Rickyyy’.

The modern entrance which was hoisted over rows of Georgian houses offered a sign of relief for me and my friend trying to escape the bitter cold. On our tour of K Spa’s pristine facilities we nodded our thawed heads swiftly when shown their -15 degrees Snow Paradise room – the first of it’s kind in London. Not wanting to waste anymore time, we unwrapped countless layers and stripped down to our bikinis.

We washed away the harsh winter under the surge of the experience showers, braved the powerful bubbles of the Hydrotherapy pool, acting as a deep tissue massage, releasing the tension in our bodies. We sweat out all the impurities in the Sauna. Exfoliated our feet in the foot baths and finished with a full body exfoliation in the intimate changing room showers. This was only the beginning; I haven’t even touched on our treatments yet.

K Spa boasts a unique range of treatments and facilities, which helped in making my final decision about what my body needed, and what it really wanted was sleep! First up was my 20-minute Dry Floatation experience – the equivalent of six hours sleep. Wrapped in a comforting water bed, I was levitated to weightlessness, allowing me to float to sleep. I woke up feeling unaware of my surroundings as you do when your awoken from a train coma on a tiring commute home (best sleep of your life!). After a back, neck and shoulder massage, my pleasant therapist lead me into the relaxation room, complete with headphones playing tranquil music to encourage you to remain in a peaceful state of mind.

Winter Blues (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is something I never took very seriously until my sleeping patterns became disrupted and I realised I was walked around London with an upside down smile. So after my deep relaxation, I opted for a boost of energy in the Sun Meadow room – a form of light therapy that helps to rejuvenate the body.

To finish what had already been an amazing Spa experience, my therapist Sheila recommended I try the Siberian Petal Facial. A treatment found in no other Spa that combats winter blues by re-hydrating dry skin using exclusive Russie Blanche products.

After a deep cleanse, gentle exfoliation infused with a delightful coconut scent and a cooling mask to close and tighten the pores. I was treated to a scalp; neck, shoulder and hand massage using Banïya De-Stress essential oil, slipping me into a sedated state. Ex Storm model Julia Lemigova, was inspired by traditional Russian Baniya therapies when she created Russie Blanche and to my delight the oil used by Sheila is a secret Russian remedy used to protect the skin from severe winters.

All in all, I’m a year older and I’ve never felt more ready for the harsh winter ahead.  I highly recommend K West Spa as the best place to help your mind, body and soul work in unison if you are struggling to cope with the current climate.

www.k-west.co.uk

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EDITOR’S DIARY: SANDALS GRENADA

On the 15th of October 2012, La Source – a Grenadian owned all-inclusive resort sadly closed its grand entrance due to financial difficulties. I was personally gutted having spent some time there six months before the announcement (read my review here).  On my visit the attentive staff served us graciously and in the tranquil surroundings and fresh atmosphere, there was no whiff of a business struggling to operate.

Soon after the planned closure, there were mentions of a Sandals Resort takeover. Naturally, some locals reacted defensively. Having joined La Source’s owner Mr. Taylor at the beach bar for a drink and in the afternoon a jazz night, I could understand the initial uncertainty and upset of this beautiful location leaving Grenadian hands. But, at least it is still in the hands of a Caribbean owned and family run company who are internationally recognised.

Sandals, was recently voted the Best All-Inclusive Hotel/Resort and the Best Luxury Hotel/Spa Resort Company at the 2012 British Travel Awards. But there are still concerns as to whether it will benefit local business due to holidaymakers spending more time inside the resort. Grenadian finance minister Nazim Burke revealed that Sandals would invest US $100m in Grenada over the next few years with plans to extend the site.

After teasing 60,000+ fans over the last few days about a new location on Facebook, the official announcement of Sandals Grenada was made yesterday on the Sandals website. Chairman Gordon Stewart described the new move as the ‘perfect’ location for the brand and vowed to share the beauty of Grenadian culture and it’s people. I was unsure at first, but now I’m very excited for Grenada. They have kept the name La Source and judging by these images no drastic changes have been made to the décor yet. There have also been mentions of La Source staff being reinstated.

Yesterday’s announcement caused somewhat of frenzy on social media with Sandals fanatics eager to book. It has already gathered interest as a wedding/honeymoon destination judging by comments like, this looks like the perfect honeymoon destination for us!’. Sandals has a strong brand loyalty and an extensive marketing strategy, this can only be a good thing for Grenada, and I’m looking forward to visiting when it opens in the new year.

Market Research and Commercial Production Consultant Jadine Ferguson based in Grenada shared her thoughts on the media launch held on Thursday 8th November at the newly named Sandals La Source Grenada.

‘The ‘who is who’ of Grenada attended the launch drawing in a larger crowd than expected. The Sandals team looked extremely happy to be in Grenada and they were well received by Grenadian’s who attended. They promised to keep the La Source staff on a probationary term until they are trained to the Sandals standard and ‘Sandalised’. The talked about renovating the resort  and adding another 50 rooms before opening and within three years building a total of 150 rooms. The Prime Minister of Grenada also spoke at the ceremony and expressed how happy he was that Sandals was here, most importantly he mentioned to the team that he hoped they used as much of the local supply on the island as possible. Overall the event was a success! Sandals is a world known brand and I believe it will help with marketing Grenada as a unique tourist destination’ 

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EDITOR’S DIARY: I HEART OBAMA ART

Today is the day of the 2012 Presidential Election in the USA. Polling stations will begin closing in eastern states at 19:00 Eastern Standard Time (00:00 Greenwich Mean Time). If I was an American I know exactly who I would vote for and if we lived in a perfect Utopia I’d be chanting Michelle Obama for president, (cue Michelle Obama speech to delegates at the Democratic National Convention here) but I suppose her husband will have to do.

On a serious note, when taking into consideration the interest of women, president Obama has implemented Obama Care, which includes well woman visits, contraceptives and related counseling, testing for HPV which commonly affects women, breastfeeding support and screening and counseling for domestic and interpersonal violence. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have pledged to repeal Obama care which will see the elimination of one of the largest providers of women’s health services which includes breast and cervical cancer screenings and birth control, putting women’s health care in jeopardy. We have already seen the effects of ignorant men in power; so keeping a president in power that is concerned with the interests of women and married to an admirable woman would be the most sensible choice when considering the opposition.

The Women for Obama campaign established in 2007 has enlisted popular female figures in the media, to reiterate why it’s important for women to have a voice in this election. Undoubtedly it is a very effective way of spreading the message to a nation obsessed with celebrity culture.

I spoke to artist Rinat Shingareev, whose paintings feature men in power presented in a very peculiar light. I am quite drawn to his illustrations of Obama, who unlike other political leaders he has painted are not attached to negative implications.

Barack Obama 

Editor: Your work features a lot of international male figures of power. Tell me a little bit about your upbringing?

Rinat: I grew up in a small provincial town in Russia, which I refer to as my special place. It had a tranquil atmosphere where education wasn’t restricted to school. My daily experiences with family, friends, females and locals within my community taught me a lot of life lessons that school couldn’t teach me. It has contributed greatly to who I am as an artist. 

Vladimir Putin

Editor: Some of your paintings are quite complex, describe the creative process?

Rinat: The process starts with the idea that my art should only ignite positive emotions. I’m an observer who turns a mix of saturated colours into pop-art iconography. I portray the faces that we see every day in newspapers and on TV. I then create an environment where these unapproachable personalities can be observed from a point of view that reveals their human qualities. Whatever may be perceived, I do not render political beliefs through my work. My art is a mirror that reflects everything that is happening in the world that excites the masses and interests of people.

Editor: Why do you feature a lot of men in power and popular celebrities in your work?

Rinat: Society is interested in political figures and rock stars; these are the people and topics that catch our attention in the headlines. I just give them a bright, fresh and interesting take on the subject. For me, art is a platform for the realisation of my ideas. I try to turn something that is globally familiar into something new. I play with shapes and colours to present new facets of the characters and personality of these popular figures. I’m like a Director managing my actors and trying to identify new roles for them.

Editor: Do you think the hype surrounding these political figures takes away from your artwork?

Rinat: Someone who knows nothing about politics considers it their duty to open the morning paper or watch the news on TV. The main purpose of my art is to transmit the spirit of an era through the people who play a large role in society at that time. Andy Warhol’s work is memorable because he told the story of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley through his work. I am representing my reality now and I hope it has a life after my epoch.

To view more of Rinat’s work click here

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EDITOR’S DIARY: JAMAICA HOUSE @ THE 02

If you didn’t visit Jamaica House during the London 2012 Olympics, then you will never know because words can’t express the atmosphere at The 02 arena each time a Jamaican athlete earned a medal. After witnessing Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir become virtually immortal in the 200m mens final, resulting in the infamous ‘Jamaica 1,2,3’ chant. The only recollection I have of the scenes that unfolded in Jamaica House is a sore throat and a sore foot (and I’m not even Jamaican).

Thanks to Jamaica Tourist Board you can now enjoy a beautifully edited and less hysterical video of why Jamaica House was the most exciting and culturally united place to be during the games.

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EDITOR’S DIARY: BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Even as a female of African-Caribbean decent, raised in the UK, I have never quite understood Britain’s Black History Month, recognised every year during the month of October. Why? Because I believe enriching myself about my culture and heritage is something I should be doing all the time. For example, I had never heard of Joyce Bryant until I came across this stunning portrait and delved further. She was a sassy African American singer/actress in the 50′s, renowned for her 4.5 octave range, silver hair and pioneering stances against racial discrimination. She faded into obscurity until she was tracked down for a documentary about her life titled, ‘Joyce Bryant: The Lost Diva’.

That being said, the month of October is the only time when numerous events highlighting African, Caribbean and Black British culture are accessible in mainstream spaces. This allows open-minded Londoners, from a diverse array of racial backgrounds to be enlightened by talented creatives of black origin.

Since the 1st of October, THE NEW BLACK - a network of film exhibitors, educators and programmers, have put on screenings at Picturehouse cinemas around London, featuring international and domestic films of black content. Last night Hackney Picturehouse played host to the 2nd UK screening of ‘Better Mus Come’ with a live panel discussion with producer Paul Bucknor (read interview with director Storm Saulter here). And, tonight Stratford Picturehouse will screen ‘One Mile Away’, a film directed by Penny Woolcock (watch trailer here)

Producer Paul Bucknor at the director Q&A at BFI’s UK film screening of ‘Better Mus Come’ – photographed by Frederique Rapier

Political Gang members in ‘Better Mus Come’

Set in the ghettos of downtown Kingston, Jamaica, ‘Better Mus Come’ delivered a strong message, ‘if you live by the gun, you die by the gun’.  While, ‘One Mile Away’, focuses on gang culture in Birmingham, conveying the human side of gang violence by getting up close and personal with the young men who are right at the heart of British gang violence.

Ex-members of Birmingham gangs featured in the film One Mile Away

Complexd Woman Penny Woodcock, who has directed award winning documentaries; television; feature films and operas, is not of black origin and was born in Argentina. But she is an individual whose concerns about the has resulted in a film exposing the truth about escalating gang violence through speaking to the young black men involved.  Unbeknown to me, it was reported that the police tried to prevent ‘One Mile Away’ from being shown at city cinemas in Birmingham.

Penny Woolcock with the One Mile Away cast  - photographed by Eoin Carey Image via edfilmfest

Last night another young black male was stabbed to death in a nightclub in South West London. A few years ago I witnessed the stabbing of an unsuspecting black male, also at a nightclub in London. I was so affected I stopped going out for a few years. As a Londoner I am no longer far removed from street violence and crime and through these films I was able to see how senseless these gang related atrocities were. Although I feel despondent, I am reassured by the fact that film directors of all cultures are voicing their concerns through compelling films. I can only hope that if the perpetrators of these crimes could see these films and look in from the outside, it might just be effective enough to communicate some sort of message. Screenings like this arranged by THE NEW BLACK during Black History Month provide a platform that hopefully reaches the right people. Whether it does or not, there is a platform, which could have an effect on someone’s life.

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