This & That

Sounding Off..., This & That

Shit Berlin Men Say…

I was once having an in-depth conversation with a Berlin dude about the mystery that is, ‘The Berlin Man’- trust me, there is a mystery.  And he told  me something profound, and once he said it, Berlin men posed a mystery no more.  He said, ‘Berlin men don’t give a shit’.  That would certainly explain the memorable words that has sprung from their mouths during the ‘courting ritual’.

Now not all this shit has been said to me, some of my good mates have had the priviledge of being on the receiving end of some of the shit listed below-

  • ‘…I’m straight but I’ve hooked up with guys in the past.  I don’t believe in labels, I think sexuality is fluid…’

As both parties peer outside of X’s flat window, Y turns to X and says,

  • ‘…oh, you see that park?  I lived in it last year when I was homeless…’
  • ‘…I don’t date, I don’t text or call girls, I don’t like white light….’
  • ‘…I don’t believe in casual sex…’

Now fast-forward this decleration by a week, when after sending ‘The Saint’s’ picture to a friend,  and some Inspector Gadget work was done- I was then shown a picture that confirmed that he was very much on an infamous ‘casual dating’ site.

  • I’m an artist but I can’t show anyone my work, they wouldn’t understand it…’
  •  ‘…I really like you, but I am living with my ex-girlfriend at the moment.  Nothing is going on between us, but she wouldn’t like it if I came home late tonight’.
  • ‘…I thought I brought enough change but I didn’t, can you buy me this first drink and I’ll pay you back…’
  •  ‘…I think I was supposed to be black…’
  •  ‘…I’ve just moved in to my new flat, to decorate it I’m going to find some boxes left out on the streets and just put my clothes in there…’

Whilst making veeery interesting, suggestive shapes on one’s hand-

  •  ‘…I have a girlfriend…’

Within the first half hour of meeting-

  • ‘…I could fall in love with you…’

Aaaaah, Berlin men, you gotta lov’em.

Over to you Ladies and Gentleladies, heard any good shit from men recently?

Sounding Off..., This & That

Rihanna and Kate Moss Go Fetish For V Magazine

What happens when a global fashion icon meets the 21st Century, ‘Princess of Pop’?  Well, Kate Moss and Rihanna would agree that they take most of their clothes off and unleash their fetish side.  For creative purposes, of course.

Rihanna and Kate Moss lately posed for some decidedly seductive images for V magazine which were shot by the legendary, Mario Testino.

When I look at the images, my eyes are drawn more to Rihanna than Kate.  I think they executed the brief well and managed to keep the shots ‘fashion’ through out, which is no easy feat when one is near naked and put in such alluring poses.

However, I can’t help but think that I expect ‘more’ when Mario, Kate and Rihanna get in a room.  I wish the shoot was more out of the box, and something more imaginative had been done.

Here are some of the images-

What do you think of the images?  Do you wish something more ‘spectacular, spectacular’ had been done?  Where do you find your eyes been drawn to- in the direction of Kate or Rihanna?

Sounding Off..., This & That

The Sartorialist Causes Drama In South Africa

Guuuurl, oh yes he did.  Last week was the 5th annual, Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg.  It was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and there was a short albeit powerful list of international press which included Vanity Fair‘s fashion and style director Michael Roberts and EBONY‘s style director Marielle Bobo.

Scott Schuman of, who is the most famous street style photographer, was on hand, and the excitement that brought famously turned into disappointment when it became clear that he was focusing on South Africans in ‘inner city’ settings, as opposed to capturing the more fortunately blessed in the Fashion Week tents.

When asked to explain this by WWD, ol’ Scotty boy made interesting comments like the attendees had to ‘bring their game on’ in the future.  He also went on to say that the many beautiful women he saw decked in designer garb, ‘lacked a certain amount of charm’ and were almost ‘aggressive’ with their application of make-up, the way they stood, and the way they looked at him.  He went on to compare them with the kids, and young adults he had seen outside the tents who had ‘more charm about them’.

I didn’t attend the event, so I can’t really weigh in on his observations.  However, from my experience when I visit Lagos and attend events, I have to say that I find most of my style inspiration in the markets and ‘inner city settings’ as opposed to the majority of ‘perfectly polished’ guests I see at events.

Having said that, for a continent who this year has really taken a focal point in the fashion global conversation due to our love of prints, festive embellishments and head-turning designs– its a shame to hear more people didn’t ‘bring it’ to the tents.

It’s very interesting for me to read the comments that have accompanied the online articles that have published this story. There is definitely outrage and as you can imagine, a lot of it has been brought down to the basics of black and white.  One commenter famously said, ‘A white man in charge of the perception of African style. I think I’ve read this book before.’

I won’t go down that road, but I will say this– I am happy that African Fashion Week is gathering heat and press.  I hope it continues to do so, so much so that one day an African reputable street style photographer will be the one who is deemed to ‘headline the show’.  I have no problem if on that One Fine Day, Scott Schuman is invited, why not? And then I can balance the photography and opinions of that photographer with The Sartorialist’s.

If you ask me I think this is a typical example of what can happen when we as Africans don’t support and h.y.p.e our local, homegrown talent.  And I am not just talking about our designers, I mean all shades of the creative spectrum- stylists, writers, photographers et al.  Fashion is a business, I get that.  I also understand that as African Fashion Week is a relative newbie to the scene, it will certainly help their PR promotions if their Fashion Week Guest List reads like the the who’s who of fashion.  However, I feel supporting and hyping our local talent should come first and trying to find the new talent who will one day take over the old.

I don’t want to point the finger but if you look at African fashion magazines (the most popular ones I mean, and I don’t mean American ones), and the most popular African Fashion Shows, and look at who is put at the helm, or who the ‘headlining guests’ are- you will know what I mean.  And the sad thing is that, when the tables are turned, as of yet, I don’t see other international magazines or fashion shows returning the favour.  They do very well without us thank you very much.  But us, not so much.

There will always be controversy in fashion and a leading African streetstyle photographer who is chosen to headline African Fashion Week, may well take the photography standpoint The Sartorialist did- for me that is neither here nor there.  I just want to see the African fashion industry stand on its own two feet more, and not crave the stamp of international validation.

Having worked on fashion projects in Lagos, I know finding local talent and not only talent, but professional talent is that much harder to find, but it is there.  But do we want to take the time to find it?  Do we want to shine the torchlight on ourselves by ourselves or do we want to ask our international counterparts to help us to buy the torch, find the switch, put it on and tilt it our way before we can get recognised?

What do you all think?  Where do you stand with the drama?

All pictures courtesy of The Sartorialist


Sounding Off..., This & That

Interview with Illustrator, Bendix Bauer

If you have been following my blog, you will know I am a big fan of illustration and in particular, fashion illustration.  I met a very stylish man by the name of Bendix Bauer at an exhibition recently, and upon him giving me his business card, I decided to take a look at his website when I returned home.  What I saw completely blew me away- I absolutely love Bendix’s body of work– the vast collection of subject matters which ranged from fashion to real-life people to animals and much more.

Bendix Bauer

His client list encompasses an impressive range of commercial, editorial and creative clients like- Hugo Boss, Swarovski, T-Mobile, Glamour, Adidas, BMW Group/MINT, Saatchi & Saatchi and GQ Germany.

So I was elated when Bendix agreed to take time out of his busy schedule to meet me for a coffee, where I proceeded to pick his brains, and here is what he had to say-

MFSL- When did you know you wanted to pursue illustration as a career?

Bendix- I began drawing as a child, but I didn’t know I wanted to be an ‘illustrator’ till much later. Initially I was torn between graphics and illustration and I studied Visual Communications and Illustration in Hamburg.  After my studies, I turned to Corporate design and packaging.  Then three years later after I worked for some agencies, there was a huge economic crisis and the company I was with made everyone redundant.  And that made me realise that my heart beated for illustration and this pushed me to not only work as a freelancer but I decided to change from graphic to illustration.

MSFL- When you drew as a child, did you get support for your talent?

Bendix- I didn’t only draw, I did other things like build landscapes, knit puppets and other creative things and my family and friends of my family were the ones who witnessed this and first mentioned that I had talent.  I think it’s very important that if one is good at something that other people recognise it because that encourages you to work more and do more.

MFSL- Do you have a particular signature style?

Bendix- If you look at my website, you will see that I don’t have a signature style,  in fact I have 3 distinct styles- colour pencil drawing, line art and shades or silhouettes.  I don’t have these range of styles by coincidence, I have them because of two reasons; one is that I can do more than one style of drawing, so I like to show that and not limit myself. Secondly, even though from a marketing point of view, being known for one style is good, from an economical point of view, if you have a range of styles, it means you can do different types of work.

MFSL- Having looked at your illustrations, what I love about your illustrations like- Brothers, Summer Dreaming and Swarovski Crystal Energy- is your great use of colour.  Do you experiment with colour consciously in your work?

Bendix- I’m very inspired by the Impressionist era so that reflects in my work.

MFSL- And what would you say was your favourite subject matter to illustrate?

Bendix- Human beings, I really like to draw people, especially their faces and I love to illustrate facial expressions, and to try to show what their person is thinking or feeling.  I believe this is what gives pictures a soul.  I’m an emotional person so I like to make emotional pictures (laughs), I don’t know…

MFSL- When did you have your big break as an illustrator?

Bendix- That was with my first Adidas job, a friend of mine was working on an Adidas look book and the plan initially was to have a photographer work on the opening pages of the look book.  But they didn’t like the end result of that, so they decided to switch to illustration; and it was at that point my friend recommended me.  At that point I was still very new but after that job, things took on from there.

MFSL- That’s a good story, sometimes it boils down to luck and timing.  What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Bendix (laughs)- That’s a good question.  Personally, every job is a highlight…

MFLS (cuts in)- Awwww….

Bendix- Yes it is especially with the jobs I get when I think initially that I can’t handle or if there is a tight deadline. There is a popular misconception that we illustrators just sit in our studios drinking coffee with music on and we are just drawing away.  But often, there is a lot of time pressure and you have to do your creative best.  So with those jobs if I manage to stick to the brief and submit the work on time- then I’m really proud of myself, and that’s my highlight, that I was able to do it.

MFSL- Of course, and professionally?

Bendix- In the last two years, I began working with fashion brands and in particular I began to do patterns and prints.  With the first company I did this with, I did prints for their accessories- scarves and belts- and these pieces sold really well. And after that I began to do a small production of printed scarves which I sell online and in Berlin, I sell in my friends’ shop, Hecking and I also sell in Munich.  The scarves have actually sold out in both stores, so I am very proud of that.

MFSL- How often will you do a new collection for your scarves?

Bendix- I will do a limited edition once a year.

MFSL- Has Berlin influenced your work in any way?

Bendix- Well, I believe for a creative, where you live will always influence your work because you are constantly looking around at people, places and so on.  I believe Berlin helps to free the mind and this has influenced my work.  After my studies in Hamburg I came to Berlin, now Hamburg was more conservative and quiet; and coming to Berlin made me more self-confident and willing to take more risks.

MFSL- How so?

Bendix- Well, for example when it comes to getting clients, the more conservative way is to approach them with your portfolio and then wait for the phone to ring but  now I prefer to be more pro-active, so for example with the scarves.  I realised that I liked to do patterns, and after doing print scarves for the fashion company, I thought to myself, ‘What else can I do in this area?’, and this made me approach various brands offering to do print scarves for them.  I think using your initiative is very important in this business.

MFSL- What do you love about Berlin?

Bendix- I would say the fact that one can have a very individual way of life here. And the historical background of Berlin- no other place in the world was divided like Berlin was and as I have lived here for about ten years; I have got to see the city grow and develop as the ‘New Berlin’.

MFSL-What advice would you give a young Bendix regarding illustration?

Bendix- That’s a good question! I would tell my younger self to follow his instincts and intuition.

MFSL-  And lastly, I see you have done illustrations of 90’s Supers like Claudia and Cindy. Who is and was your favourite model of that era?

Bendix- Linda Evangelista.

MFSL (groans)- Oh God, everyone say’s that, it’s so cliché!

Bendix (laughs)- Oh you don’t like my answer, I can change it…

MFSL- No don’t, it was honest.

Bendix- Yes, well to me she was the best.  To me she really stood out of the other Supers at that time who were more classically beautiful.

Shop Bendix’s fabulous scarves here

All illustrations credited to Bendix Bauer

Sounding Off..., This & That

Interview With Photographer, Sirio Magnabosco

As I was meandering down the C/O Berlin corridor (for their opening of ‘Timeless beauty…’) a man stopped me (who turned out to be Sirio Magnabosco) to say he had taken pictures of me at a fashion event that happened roughly about 9 months ago for an Italian magazine (L’Espresso).  As the words tumbled out of his mouth, I am sure my (very expressive, so I am told) face must have screwed up with disbelief because I didn’t believe someone could have such a good memory.

Anyhoo, fast forward an ’email’ of photographic proof’ from him later, me really liking the pics he took of me and the other shots I saw, doing research on him to find facts like, ‘he was born in Verona, Italy, worked for magazines like Newsweek, NY Times, Vanity Fair, Wired, Mare, loDonna, Sportweek and exhibited in Italy, Greece, New York and Tokyo, had received rave reviews from the likes of David Burnett who just so happens to have won, ‘virtually every award in the field of magazine photo journalism’-I decided to interview Sirio and here is how it went-

Sirio M

MFSL- What ignited your passion for photography?

Sirio- I never wanted to become a photographer and I never really thought that I was a photographer.  I had a need to express what I was seeing and I used photography as a way to express that.  It’s like when you want to say something in a different language, you learn that language so you can express what you want to say.

MFSL- What were you doing before photography?

Sirio- I was a web designer and working in that profession made me realise that I had a passion for creating visual things that others could see.  I moved to photography when I was 23/24.

MFSL- How would you describe your style of photography?

Sirio- That’s hard for me to say, I see so many things that have an impact on me.  I also tend to observe more than I interact.  I like to take a real event and make it iconic.

MFSL- What does that mean, ‘to take a real event and make it iconic?’

Sirio- I like to take pictures to make symbols of events, so that means you take out a lot of things from that event, so who the person is, where they are, time and so on gets stripped away. I like the concept of that.

MFSL- What kind of moments in particular do you like to captre?

Sirio- I am drawn to moments that reflect visual tension and suspension. For e.g. the moment before someone is just about to fall into the pool.  The moment appears to be steady because the person has not fallen, but the tension is created because you know they are about to lose their balance.  That in between stage is very attractive to me- knowing it hasn’t happened but it’s definitely going to happen.

MFSL- Which photographers inspire you?

Sirio- Well the ones that do are not necessarily my style of photography, but I like their personal of point of view so, Lee Freelander and Garry Winogrand

MFSL- I read that you like to, ‘work in series’, could you expand on that?

Sirio- I believe series are a great way to express subtle things.  So with a series of pictures, lots of elements change but what you are trying to say stays the same.

MFSL- What would you say is your process when you shoot your series?

Sirio- For me it’s all about a feeling, I have a feeling when I see certain things and I am very fascinated about this feeling.  So when I am shooting a series, I take about two months off and when I see something that makes me have that feeling I shoot or else I don’t shoot.  Then when I edit, I try to work out the concept because at the end people want to know what the work was about, the title of the series and so on.

MFSL- Which is your favourite camera and why?

Sirio- Although it’s very important to have the right camera.  I think it’s a very personal choice because it’s not just about the result the camera gives you but the feeling you have when you walk around with it.  Especially as sometimes you can be shooting and holding the camera in your hand for up to 12 hours a day.  So to me it doesn’t make sense to share these things….

MFSL (Teasingly)- oooooOOh, its private…

SirioNo not because it’s private but because I think it’s very important for people to experiment and go through the journey of seeing which camera works for them, and finding their companion so to speak, instead of having the idea, ‘If it worked for him, it will work for me’.

MFSL (Laughs)- You answered that question like a politician, you evaded the answer!

Sirio- Well, it’s a more interesting answer.

MFSL-  Fair enough.  You shot some of the images for your last series, ‘A Series Of Unexpected Meditations’ in Japan.  What did you think of Japan?

Sirio- In many ways there were lots of contradictions.  For e.g. I was expecting everywhere in Tokyo to be full of lots of lights and brimming with new technology but not every place was like that.  For the most parts the people were very friendly and it was the safest place I’ve ever been to in my life; you are sure if you leave your wallet on the ground you can come back and find it there.

MFSL- Really?  Great!  What was the food like for you?

Sirio- The greatest experience I had there was with food actually.  I went to a Soba restaurant where everything was made out of Soba which meant all the food had a greyish tinge.  So there was soba soup, soba noodles and even soba icream, and it was a very rich experience because the chopsticks are encased in this beautifully textured paper, the food is presented in attractive, colourful pottery.  All this makes you open up your senses because you have to do that to appreciate the unfamiliar tastes.  And what I found when I stepped out of the restaurant was that my senses were very open…

MFSL- That’s because you were still hungry!

Sirio (Laughs)- No, really, it was great.  In Italy, we have a very strong taste for food but most of the food as great as it is can knock you out.  But the Soba food I had was a more subtle experience-in a way it’s like what I try to do with my work- to take you there but to make you do the last step.  Because then it’s your experience and it’s not me telling you what it is, it is you understanding it.

MFSL- How did you come to be in Berlin?

Sirio- It kind of just happened.  I had one solid week when I was home in Verona, Italy and I kept meeting people who talked about Berlin for one reason or another.  And then I found out that a friend of a friend had a room to rent in Berlin, so I decided to move knowing I could always come back if I didn’t like it.  That was 6 years ago.

MFSL- How do you see Berlin?

Sirio- I think Berlin is a city that can surprise you every day.  You don’t need to own a car but you can still go everywhere.  I like the way of life here, it’s very comfortable and interesting at the same time.

MFSL- What are some of your favourite hot spots in Berlin?

Sirio- Treptower Park, a bar called  Bassy that do a Country/Rock/Burlesque night on Wednesdays, Kater Holzig restaurant….

MFSL- What advice would you give a photography intern?

Sirio-  Unfortunately there are some photographers who want so badly to be accepted that they imitate the work of successful photographers before them.  But this does not work, it’s so much easier to be honest than to lie and get caught.  I think the most important thing is to be honest with your work, and show your uniqueness through your work because that will give you an advantage and help to differentiate yourself from the hundreds of photographers that exist today.

MFSL- And finally, what magazines or blogs do you read for inspiration?

Sirio- I read books actually, I think books are very important for a photographer because they help trigger your imagination and allow you to use your imagination to visualise the words you are reading.

MFSL- Interesting, I haven’t heard that kind of rationale before.  What book are you reading now?

Sirio- I am reading a book called, ‘Conversations with Henry Miller’ edited by Frank L. Kersnowski and Alice Hughes which is turning out to be a fascinating read.

And now back to me-

All pictures (bar the ones of himself) courtesy of Sirio Magnabosco

To look at more of Sirio’s work please go to-

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