08th May2017

It’s All About Communication

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Hi everyone,

This week our talented team have put together a small edition for all of you to enjoy. Obvious Nomaele gives us an introduction to the LGBTIAQ+ community because, as we all know, information is power. Naledi Khumalo gives a brief lesson on the various models of communication covered in the Media Studies syllabus. Finally, Sandiswa Sondzaba reviews this year’s Met Gala.

We hope that you enjoy this penultimate edition for the semester.

Have a great week,

Sandiswa and the 2017 exPress imPress team

All About Communication

08th May2017

Report Card: 2017 Met Gala

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Rei Kawakubo

This year’s Met Gala had one of the toughest dress codes for the attendees. Paying tribute to the avant-garde fashion designer, Rei Kawakubo, the Met Gala attendees had to bring their avant-garde/glamour A-game to the Oscars of fashion. Rihanna stole the show by wearing a Rei Kawakubo/Comme Des Garçons creation that defied definition. Considering that Kawakubo uses design to challenge conventional notions of beauty, Rihanna was arguably the best-dressed guest with a deconstructed Swan Lake number that was paired with a pair of red sandals that were laced all the way up her legs.

Rihanna

Co-host Pharrell William’s wife, Helen Lasichanh, wore a bright-red off-the-runway piece from the design house’s most recent show. The piece had no sleeves or armholes which demonstrated the designer’s avant-garde sensibility. Jaden Smith embraced the spirit of the dress codes whilst remaining loyal to Louis Vuitton by carrying a clutch of his recently shorn dreadlocks. Katy Perry, not to be outdone by Rihanna and company, wore a scarlet red costume by John Galliano for Maison Margiela that was elaborate. Priyanka Chopra wore a Ralph Lauren trenchcoat-dress that brought to mind Rihanna’s bright yellow train dress from the 2015 Met Gala. Met Gala favourite, Solange Knowles, did not disappoint with her Thom Browne shiny puffer jacket- that was complete with a train. Cara Delevingne, dressed by Chanel, painted her bald head with a feathered silver paint that was studded with crystals.

Katy PerryPriyanka Chopra

On the other hand, Kim Kardashian-West was resplendent in a white Vivienne Westwood gown. Her gown had remnants of the white gown that opened Comme Des Garçons show in March. The dress could be seen as part of a performance art project relating to fame, wealth, and femininity in the 21st century. Kardashian-West, in an Ellen DeGeneres interview, recently renounced materialism. The peasant stylings of the dress and lack of over-the-top jewellery was a fantastic accompaniment to her recent denunciation.

Kim Kardashian-West

When I first heard about this year’s theme for the Met Gala, I was really excited as it marks the beginning of Rei Kawakubo receiving the recognition she deserves. Kawakubo is a publicity-shy figure who never takes a bow at the finale of her Paris-set fashion shows. At the beginning of her career, Kawakubo’s work was dismissed as being post-atomic. Kawakubo has succeeded in radically challenging everyday ideas in a manner that has been commercially and creatively successful. Kawakubo’s work has evolved over the years. The brand has 230 storefronts and franchise outlets outside of Japan, 17 brands under the Comme Des Garçons brand, three flagship locations in New York, Paris and Tokyo, and an annual turnover of $250m. She has a loyal fanbase among customers and designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Nicolas Ghesquière, Phoebe Philo, and Marc Jacobs . She has demonstrated her genius through starting the pop-up shop trend, and collaborating with famed architects (Future Systems) to collaborate on the New York flagship store in 1998. All of her creative and commercial decisions prove that Kawakubo is a visionary who deserves credit for greatly influencing the modern fashion industry.

 

24th Apr2017

Freedom in All of its Colours

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Black Culture in the UK

Hi everyone,

This week our talented team have written articles that, coincidentally, address all of the complexities within contemporary black culture. Sandiswa Sondzaba shares her excitement over the fashion industry’s recent embracing of past and contemporary black subcultures. Kendrick Lamar has proven to be one of this generation’s most talented artists. Azola Jokweni discusses why he believes that Kendrick Lamar is the greatest rapper of his generation. Molebogeng Mokoka explains why our condemnation of Khanyi Mbau over her decision to lighten her skin complexion is highly problematic. Finally, Jabulile Mbatha critiques King Mswati III’s desire to ban divorce in Swaziland. Our talented writers have illustrated the complex issues that currently come with black culture- in all of its various forms. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading these thought-provoking articles.

Have a wonderful week of freedom,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

24th Apr2017

Fashionable Diversity

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All-Black

2017 has been a significant year for diversity in the fashion industry. In February, we had Marc Jacobs debut a collection that was explicitly inspired by hip-hop http://observer.com/2017/02/this-season-marc-jacobs-was-inspired-by-the-history-of-hip-hop/). Jacobs explained that his collection was inspired by the four-part documentary Hip-Hop Evolution which covers the hip-hop industry from the 70s to the 90s and features luminaries like Grandmaster Flash. In his show notes, Jacobs explains that, the “collection is my representation of the well-studied dressing up of casual sportswear. It is an acknowledgement and gesture of my respect for the polish and consideration applied to fashion from a generation that will forever be the foundation of youth culture street style”.

Gucci has seemingly followed in Jacobs’ lead through their pre-fall campaign that features an all-black model cast. The campaign is a tribute to Northern Soul which is different to the sci-fi vibe of the house’s Autumn/Winter 2017 show. The images were inspired by last year’s Made You Look exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery. The exhibition was highly influential, exploring black masculinity and Dandyism (a counterculture that has also inspired the visuals in Solange Knowles’ Losing You music video). The campaign was further inspired by Malick Sidibe, the iconic 1960s photographer renowned for his black and white studio portraits, and Northern Soul. Northern Soul was a 1960s movement inspired by black American soul music that made clubs like the Wigan Casino famous. The campaign features both dancers and models, showing the splits and backdrops associated with the subculture’s dance style.

Titled ‘Soul Scene’, the Glen Luchford-shot campaign features only people of colour. This is significant considering that the industry has increasingly come under fire for the lack of diversity on runways and advertising campaigns. Runways, particularly, have been criticised for the lack of diverse castings. The most recent incident revolved around the agent James Scully, who took to Instagram to criticise the whitewashed Parisian catwalks and the mistreatment of models at a Balenciaga casting.

Although these are only two campaigns, they demonstrate that fashion is moving in the right direction. Coupled with the historic appointment of Edward Enninful as the new editor of British Vogue, the fashion industry is beginning to embrace diversity. Although some may say that these are just examples of how the fashion industry is embracing tokenism, I would like to argue that this is not the case. We are currently witnessing a black man take the helm at one of the industry’s most influential publications. As written in my previous article, Enninful is serious about increasing diversity within the industry. People like Enninful understand that the diversity-problem is serious as diverse representations are what will make the fashion industry’s influence more sustainable. I believe this we have not seen the last of these campaigns celebrating diversity.

Gucci Campaign

16th Apr2017

Breaking Boundaries

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Hi everyone,

I trust that you have all had a wonderful Easter weekend surrounded by loved ones. This week our talented team of writers have, yet again, written amazing articles for us to enjoy. Naledi Khumalo discusses why she does not believe that Roman Catholic priests can be married. Zinhle Maeko explores black conservative Christian parents’ disapproval of their children’s body modification. Sandiswa Tshabalala provides insight into the politics of black womxn’s hair. Molebogeng Mokoko explains why she does not approve of labels. Tsholonang Rapoo implores us to place greater value on same-sex relationships. Finally, Sandiswa Sondzaba reports on Edward Enninful’s recent appointment as the new editor of British Vogue magazine.

Hope that you have a wonderful week and that you enjoy this week’s edition of exPress imPress.

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Breaking Boundaries

10th Apr2017

Disruption Ahead

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Pins

Hi everyone,

I trust that you have all had a restful break. This week our talented group of writers have given us great pieces to read and (perhaps) mull over. Last week proved to be a crazy one for South Africa; with that in mind, Stephanie Schaffrath’s challenges us to appreciate the small blessings we are afforded in our daily lives. Lilitha Mankuntsu reflects on the recent SA Fashion Week (now in its 20th year) and she hopes that SAFW is onto bigger and better things. Charissa Govender gives us a sneak peak into the IPL and the exciting cricket the current season promises us. Zinhle Maeko (in disagreement with Tsholanang Rapoo’s view) argues that Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma’s feud is not exempt from feminist critique.  Naledi Khumalo writes a piece that aims to motivate womxn facing significant challenges. Thabisile Miya reflects on the feelings of vulnerability that accompanied her visit to a gender neutral bathroom. Finally, Veli Mnisi critiques mainstream hip-hop’s hyper-masculine whilst finding solace in artists such as Frank Ocean and Gyre who are quietly dismantling hip-hop’s homophobia and misogyny.

Hope you have a wonderful Easter break.

Enjoy,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

10th Apr2017

Seeing the Remy Ma/Nicki Minaj Feud through a Feminist Gaze

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On February 26 Remy Ma released the diss track, Sh-Ether,  which was targeted at Nicki Minaj. The seven minute song is based on the rhythm of  Ether, Nas’s diss track about Jay-Z . With the release of Sh-Ether, Remy officially announced the beef between herself and Nicki Minaj. Long before Remy and Nicki positioned themselves as each other’s rivals, there was  Lil Kim vs Foxy Brown, Queen Latifah vs Foxy Brown and Trina vs Khia. Fortunately for us, these battles existed before the days of Instagram and Twitter. When a beef has reminents of internalised misogyny, slut shaming, and body shaming, someone has to say something. This is particularly the case given that the participants have a combined Instagram following of 81.1 million .

The first shot Remy threw at Nicki (in Sh-Ether) was about her alleged plastic surgeries and her body. In my opinion, this was Remy Ma’s first wrong move. Not only is body shaming simply not cool; it also perpetuates the idea that women should only be valued based on their physical appearance. Remy then slut shames Nicki by listing all the men Nicki had allegedly slept with, who include Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and Trey Songz. This is a weak attempt at devaluing Nicki and promotes stigma against women who do not conform to normative ideas around female sexual behaviour. Nicki is no saint either; she also threw in lines regarding Remy’s body and alleged plastic surgery in No Frauds, her response to Sh-Ether which features Lil Wayne and Drake . No Frauds is just as problematic with Nicki referring to Remy as “Sheneneh” (a character from the 90s sitcom Martin). This term has been used as a slur to ridicule dark-skinned women in the African American community.

Competition is healthy and women certainly do not have to all get along under the name of feminism. My question is when two black females with so much influence involve themselves in such a vicious battle; should it then be viewed as any other beef? Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma have not positioned themselves as either role models for black women or the ambassadors of black feminism. However, that does not mean their work and actions are exempt from feminist critique.

10th Apr2017

The Rise of SA Fashion

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From the 28th of March to the 1st of April, all of South Africa’s elite members and those who identify themselves as fashion connoisseurs came out to support our local and guest designers at the 20th SAFW (SA Fashion Week).

Without a doubt this event has gained momentum and more prestige as the years have gone by. It has also been instrumental in putting young South African designers on the international map. SAFW has also become more exclusive in terms of the designers that get to showcase their work; at the same time it has become more accessible as relatively affordable ticket prices mean that ordinary fashionistas can also go watch the shows. Not to mention their incredible partnership with Woolworths South Africa means that more people can buy items that are from the runway.

2017 SAFW was even more amazing with the partnership between Berlin fashion week and SAFW, which combined the showcasing various Nigerian designers with big-names such as Anja Gockel. This goes to show that African designers are capable of competing with international designers too.  For the very first time a resort collection (known for catering to more high-end customers) was showcased by 5 high profile designers at SAFW.

With this being the 20th anniversary, one has to see how far South African fashion has come. SA fashion is taken more seriously not only by those who participate in it but also the international fashion community at large. One hurdle that still needs to be overcome is getting our designers into the big commercial clothing spaces so that they can actually make a stable living off their creations.

Our fashion industry is on the rise and like our country we have a lot of work to do. The industry needs to also realise that it has a large role to play in assisting with social issues and that SAFW can be used as the platform to address those issues. Gert Johan Coetzee has done so before by using fashion to raise awareness on albinism. People also need to realise that SAFW isn’t just for the elites. Tickets are available for people to buy and go watch, we all wear clothes after all; that’s the one thing we have in common in modern society. Hopefully just because SAFW has reached 20 years, this isn’t the pinnacle of the show but, rather, will continue to reach greater heights.

SA Fashion Week

10th Apr2017

Cheers to the Finer Things In Life

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Following recent occurrences in South Africa, I think it is safe to say that our nation is in a state of turmoil. In times like these it is easy to forget what a beautiful country we actually live in because we get so caught up in the negativity of the situation. In times of crisis we often isolate ourselves from others, under false pretenses that others will not understand the complexity of the problems we are facing. Although the state of the economy is causing considerable strain on everyone, the truth of the matter is that we cannot spend every waking hour fighting for a cause. It is also important for us to take a breather and appreciate our many blessings. We need to take time to laugh with each other, kiss the ones we love and chat to our best friends over a glass of wine, rather than wasting all of our free time in isolation staring at and tapping on screens.

white wine

As far as I am concerned, eating a meal with my family and friends is one of the greatest joys of life. What more could you ask for but to spend Sunday afternoons gathered around a table with the ones you love, eating delicious food that just melts in your mouth? When I think of the many Sundays I have sent with my family and friends, one in particular comes to mind. I thought I would share this memory with you today and perhaps it will inspire you to reflect on your own memories. Maybe you also have one memory (of time spent with the ones you love) that stands out over all the others.

 

The day that I remember so clearly, started off at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning when my family and I made our way to the market. Whenever people refer to retail therapy, the farmer’s market is what comes to my mind. It is a place where you can find all of the lovely things that you never even knew you needed. The first stand we stopped at was that of the “Pasta Man”, as we called him. On your arrival you can specify which type of pasta you would like to purchase and he will quickly filter it through his pasta machine for you. Besides the freshest pasta in Johannesburg; on that particular morning, he also had freshly picked wild mushrooms on offer. We passed stalls selling fresh bread, beautifully sweet preserves, aromatic spices and every kind of tea you could ever imagine. Dare I say, the baked goods at the patisserie stand were the cherry on top—excuse the pun! They did look really inviting.

 

Two hours later we left the market with a great selection of delicious goods and excitement brewing in the pits of our stomachs. Once at home, the family chefs started preparing a feast. The smell that hung in the air was simply irresistible. It is no surprise that the rest of the family and our guests were sitting around the kitchen table, all ready to eat an entire hour before the food was even ready.

 

Whilst they sat there in anticipation, playing board games and discussing sport, at the kitchen counter, we made ourselves busy by preparing a baked camembert with rosemary and garlic, along with figs wrapped in Parma ham and baked in a homemade blue cheese sauce. This we later ate with very thinly sliced toast, which we used to scrape up every last little bit of the sauce that remained on our plates. The combination of flavours and textures was like a rainbow in my mouth. The crunchiness of the toast with the oozing texture of the camembert cheese were all part of the sensual experience. When I popped one of those little figs in my mouth an explosion of flavours occurred. The sweetness of the fig contrasted beautifully with the saltiness of the Parma ham. The meal was finished off with a pleasant taste of blue cheese that lingered on the tongue and went down very well with a glass of white wine. Needless to say, after all of that, we were one big, fat, and very happy family surrounded by our dearest friends.

cheese wine and figs

Often I have to wonder why life cannot be like that every day. After all, isn’t that what life is about: Sitting around a big table with people you love, enjoying the finer things in life? I don’t know about you, but often memories like that linger far longer than the memory of the last twenty photos I double tapped on Instagram…

melted camembert

27th Mar2017

Identity

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Identity

Hi everyone,

In this week’s edition of the blog, our talented writers have explored the issue of identity. Stephanie Schaffrath, after walking past the Israeli Apartheid Week exhibitions, wonders as to whether we can live in a world without any labels. Obvious Nomaele derides Christianity’s judgement of members of the LGBTIAQ+ community and makes a call for greater compassion for members of the community. Sandiswa Sondzaba discusses how Brenda Fassie complicated our understanding of the ideal black womxnhood in post-apartheid South Africa. Sandiswa Tshabalala discusses the toxicity of hegemonic masculinity. Finally, Sandiswa Tshabalala shares a poem which celebrates the strength of black womxn.

I hope that you will have a restful research break.

Until the next edition,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017.

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