Image from a photographic series by Alex Storm Hague discussing the link between latex and sexuality.

ALEX STORM HAGUE

Interview: Alex Storm Hague

Artist Alex Storm Hague on her art, perceptions of beauty, feminism and being a bitch.

What inspired this series of images?
The photographs you see happened quite early on in my investigation as I was already aware of the connections between latex as a material and sexuality. I deliberately used pink to show a softer more feminine form which hopefully makes the images more approachable. I feel that pink is synonymous with femininity but I could easily visualise custom shades to represent a broader variety of skin tones rather than only intimating gender (which could be another project in itself). I’m also interested in art direction so focussing on female body parts with this in mind, particularly around how we are used to seeing the female form displayed in an objectified way and its expectations. (Trying to make the balloon conform to how I wanted it to look wasn’t lost on me in relation to this.)

What kind of reception have you had?
The main reaction has been positive, I’ve actually had no negative feedback and perhaps thats down to the way in which the images come across. I’ve left it open to interpretation and haven’t attached an agenda to them so for the time being they’ve remained unchallenged. Like I say, they came about early on in my work so they are by no means an end result but I’m happy that they symbolise an aspect of feminism.

Bitch. What does this word mean to you?
To me ‘bitch’ used to mean a girl/woman that was independent enough to stop at nothing to get what she wanted, she wasn’t bothered by peoples opinion, she was doing her own thing, she was straight forward and transparent even if that rubbed people the wrong way (expectation versus reality) – That’s the mentality I grew up with in the 90s, girl power n’ all that, perhaps being a ‘bitch’ was something that was embraced to an extent. I know its been a derogatory term from those that are threatened by a woman and want to bring her down. Nowadays I think there are much stronger elements of sex and oppression of gender tied to it and I’m surprised when rappers use it but are quick to defend their own daughters in respect of that. My feeling of how its used today doesn’t sit well by comparison.

Does feminism inspire your work?
Yeah definitely I’ve always admired female artists and designers that were trying to carve a career for themselves and be taken seriously, especially those from a period that everything was against them. For me feminism isn’t always present in my finished work but in the kind of work I undertake. I’ve always been told that I can be/do whatever I want to be/do and have truly believed that. For example, a few years ago I became an instrument maker which is predominately a male occupation, I thoroughly enjoyed it and never felt like I didn’t belong, it was such a supportive environment to work in without being seen as ‘the little lady’ so to speak.

What are your own ideals of feminism?
It would be great if we didn’t need feminism, that people were treated equally as a political, economic and societal standard, that would be my ideal.

You can find more of Alex’s work at www.alexstormhague.com or follow her instagram @alexstormhague


Image of model for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.

SHAHEEDA SINCKLER

REEK MODEL FEATURE: SHAHEEDA SINCKLER

Image of model for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.

Model, Shaheeda, on self-worth, gender, new relationships and being a DAMN REBEL BITCH

The setting in which I feel most threatened my gender and self worth at this stage in my life is upon entering a new romantic/sexual relationship. I have had as many negative experiences with the opposite sex as the next girl, and when I get close to someone new I tend to feel plagued by all the what ifs. Last time I came out of a relationship I was upset and a friend told me, ‘fuckboys are just a part of life’ which made me feel depressed and hopeless about the future of my love life. However when I thought about it more, I chose to devalue this statement. Firstly, I’d like to publicly reject the term ‘fuckboy’ as I feel it is regressive and divisive. If we are pushing for equality I feel like we should avoid new terminology that categorises and degrades. Secondly, I feel like a crucial part in combatting my fear of intimacy is to have an understanding that my relationships pan out the way that they do, not because the people I share myself with are men, but because they are people, with their own self-interests and insecurities, and their own agendas, just like everyone else – myself included. For me, being empowered means acting out of knowledge, experience and understanding, rather than acting out of fear. So, as a young woman, I force myself to be thoughtful about these concepts, to reject the idea that I have been ‘fucked over’, to accept that my emotions are real and not just a part of my gender and to try my hardest to maintain  perspective over the things that happen to me. Ultimately, that’s what makes me a DAMN REBEL BITCH.


Image of model Rosalind Shrinivas for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.

ROSALIND SHRINIVAS

REEK MODEL INTERVIEW: ROSALIND SHRINIVAS

Image of model Rosalind Shrinivas for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.

Model, Rosalind, on her life, beauty, aesthetics, feminism, fragrance and sense of self.

What women have inspired you most in your life?  

I think it’s natural to say that my mother and sister have been most inspiring for me. We have a very female-power family, since my parents spilt up when I was 11. My father lived abroad so my mother was the sole person bringing us up, teaching us the ways of life. I would look up to her and how she stayed strong and empowered even at times when she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Her guidance, support and selflessness has given me an amazing role model.  She inspires me to be caring and respectful to others and shows how nothing fills your heart more than making someone else smile. My sister is 3 years older and is more of the risktaker in the family. She taught me to be more carefree and to embrace my creativity. She also always makes sure I am comfortable in myself by celebrating who I am. She’s my ultimate life cheerleader!

What women do you most identify with from history to the present day?  

I would say I have a constant craving for the new and the future so I resonate more with current iconic women, but no one can fault the incredible political and cultural advances women from the past have made for women today! I have always admired is Frida Kahlo. For me she was a woman whose beauty didn’t follow the typical form, and whose strength made her even more of an infatuation. I also find her to be one of the first women to embody a slight androgyny through her style and her natural genetic make up. She also represents the quote ‘Mind over Matter’ for me and didn’t let her unfortunate circumstances impede her creativity, but rather celebrated and expressed her life.

What are your most important female causes?  

One female cause that is important to me, especially studying design, is to challenge women who feel they have to dress a certain way for the ‘male gaze’ or are afraid to step out of the box and wear something that is deemed masculine. Culture is becoming more accepting of all sexualtiies and there is a surge in unisex brands but I feel there is still an overall understanding that women look “sexiest” wearing clothing that show off the female body.  One of my favourite designers is Haider Ackermann for the sole reason that he dresses women with a masculine and feminine blended sensibility. His muse is Tilda Swinton, who has a otherworldy, unconventional beauty and ambiguous strength that is empowering to all women without being stereotypical. I also think there’s a line between sultry and sexy. Getting the right balance can be empowering – women should dress for their own self esteem.

Why were these three images from the campaign your chosen favourites of yourself?

I chose these images because I feel they represent the different sides of me. My craving to embrace my weird side, an androgyny I feel I have and my natural genetic make up. I am half Indian and have more body hair than some girls and this was something that made me feel ugly and was a topic of humiliation for me when I was younger. Something that didn’t make me feel desirable or attractive in anyway because of how other people perceived it. When I got older I started to let go of these feelings linked to my appearance and just be myself. I love how these are part of the images in the campaign. Thank you for making me feel even more empowered to be myself!

Have you ever felt threatened because you are a woman?

I had a time where I was told by a male friend that I was ‘overwhelming’ because of my general interest in him and when all I wanted to do was to support him through a stressful time as I had just gone through a stressful time myself. This made me question who I was because it came across that I would have to change to keep this friendship. I worried  that I was just annoying – that I was an annoyance to anyone and everyone I had come in contact with. There is a stereotype that women are ‘too emotional’ and  guys don’t like talking about ’emotional things.’ When he said that to me, I felt as if I had somehow done something bad. Now, though, I feel you should be as emotional as you like. Women’s interest and support can be thrown by the way side when it should be cherished. There is nothing more empowering that feeling cared for and I find women enjoy this – perhaps it’s a maternal instinct that’s programmed into us all.

What smells remind you of femininity?  

For me sweet smells always do, coconut, rose,fruit scents but I always enjoy a scent that juxtaposes this with a sharpness like pepper, sandalwood or cedar.

How does beauty industry advertising make you feel about yourself?  

I definitely feel images are overedited, which makes some women feel “ugly” if they don’t look flawless! One of the reasons I love being involved in this campaign, is that you can see pores, blemishes, hair. These are NATURAL and real and as a human race it is comforting to know you aren’t alone when it comes to feeling like you have flaws but also your ‘so called’ flaws can be celebrated and are really beautiful. Sometimes I find certain brands encourage a mask with makeup, when I think makeup should be used to naturally compliment what your DNA has given you!

Do you feel pressure to act/look a certain way to fit in with the ideals of female beauty?  

I used too. 100%. As I’m sure everyone has. When I was at school I got bullied for my appearance – I think it was especially because I was a different race and didn’t look like the stereotype or the ‘norm’. But now I feel the complete opposite. I feel freedom to be me and it empowers me when I’ve thought about how I dress/present myself and picked or mixed pieces that make the look original. Same with my mentality. I prefer being a minority because sometimes in the majority certain people are judgemental. It’s wrong to have to try to fit into a status or reputation but some people get irritated when you don’t. Life becomes a facade and I don’t think I could live life without honesty!

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch?   

I feel honoured being part of this campaign and chosen as a Damn Rebel Bitch. I wouldn’t say I’m your obvious rebel, but I think people associate carnage and recklessness sometimes with that word. For me what makes me a Damn Rebel Bitch is my knowledge of the power of kindness and honesty. Through the years I’ve realised the beauty you can feel through supporting others and the lessons you can learn yourself. And there is nothing better than making someone feel appreciated. Uplift others and you will be uplifted yourself!

Image of model Rosalind Shrinivas for artisan, independent, luxury, eau de parfum brand REEK Perfume’s rebellious, feminist, unretouched, campaign.