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FUNI – The coolest Knits on & off the slopes!

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Always on the lookout for cool new ski wear for the winter season, a friend turned us towards this brand of knitwear called FUNI.  After a little bit of searching and researching into FUNI, we discovered that not only do they make really awesome looking knitwear like beanies, scarfs and headbands but they also look out for the environment and give back to charity whilst making a name for themselves.  The best part is, FUNI was started by a humble chalet girl called Jemma who was doing a season in the Alps when she thought of the idea.

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Back in 2007, Jemma decided that working for a large company in a crowded city for peanuts was not her calling in life so she quit her job and headed over to the Alps to do a season snowboarding.  Happy to finally be shredding the powder and getting some much needed mountain air, Jemma decided to take up another hobby - knitting.  She bought some wool, some supplies and learned how to knit her first beanie on YouTube, her friend loved the beanie and bought it right off her for more than she had paid to make it!  This was the start of something big.  After spending a few seasons knitting and selling her beanies, Jemma took the plunge and started her company, FUNI which has taken the slopes and the streets by storm.

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FUNI is now a fully fledged, ethical and just brilliant company.  Spending more time marketing and building her brand, Jemma employs lots of lovely knitting grannies in the UK to make the knitwear for her… perfect!

Building such a large scale company can sometimes come at a price of forgetting some of your morals - this has not been the case in the slightest with FUNI.  They stay ethical and environmentally friendly wherever possible; whether it's recycled yarns, vegetable ink in their printers or British granny power instead of cheap foreign labour - they make sure every item comes to you with eco-friendly fairness.  "Respect and Protect" all the way!!

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Our personal favourites on the FUNI website: www.funiwear.com are the headbands and beanies hands down.  AND there is a fun surprise on there which has caught our attention.  There is a section on the site called "Hat Designer" where you can.. wait for it.. Design your own beanie.  I know, we've spent ages on there already.  There are different styles you can choose from and fill in the colours of your choosing, similar to designing your own Nike ID trainer.  It's really easy to use and really fun so check it out: here

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Let us know what you think of FUNI and if you are ready to kit yourself out for next season in the comments below or join us on Facebook at: Facebook.com/littlewingmagazine

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Mr. Eames – Insomnia

It was one of those nights. Toss the covers off one leg. Turn to the left, unable to get comfortable. Turn to the right. No difference. I lay on my back closely listening to the fan above the bed, its blades making their whooshing sound, which I normally find mind-numbing and soothing, the perfect remedy for a noisy brain. But tonight it’s distracting and inefficient.

Ordinarily I’d be K.O’d after a long day at the office followed by one too many ciders in the evening summer sun. But sleep was determined to evade me so I reached for my phone. When all else fails, turn to the internet for light-hearted entertainment in the slow-ticking hours of the morning.

I was in the middle of typing ‘grumpy cat memes’ into Google when the phone vibrated. It startled me and dropped it on the bridge of my nose.

Ouch.

Scrambling to sit up and see who the hell had the audacity to call me at 3 am on a Tuesday, I saw his name flashing on the screen. I fumbled and nearly dropped it again but managed to answer in one quick swipe, just as I was about to miss it.

I half-exhaled, half-spoke a ‘hello’ into the receiver.

“I thought you’d be in a comatose state at this hour,” he said. His voice poured into my ears, husky and warm, immediately rescuing me from the shackles of insomnia.

Eames,” I said, trying to sound as composed and nonchalant as I possibly could. “You’ve been M.I.A for too long.”

He chuckled. “I’ve been,” long pause, “busy.”

“Busy?” Don’t pry, I had to remind myself. It was relatively easy not to ask too many questions because his elusive, mysterious persona was part of the appeal.  Our restraint from wanting to completely unravel this bizarre being is probably the only reason we’ve been able to keep in touch with him. I use that term loosely because keeping contact was completely on his terms and came as sporadically as a panda bear’s desire to procreate. We didn’t mind - some of the most enlightening experiences we’ve ever had have been thanks to him in one way or another, so we just let it be.

“Story for another day, though. Listen, I’d like some company for my next trip. I have two round trip tickets for you both.”

My cheeks flushed, my face was hot, I pounced out of bed and fist pumped the air. When I managed to compose myself, I realised how lucky I was that Eames isn’t partial to communicating via Skype. “Um, well I’ll have to see if I can get the time off work. And I have no idea if H is free. And more importantly, where the hell are you thinking of shipping us to? And how did you get the money?”

Don’t pry. Oops. I was getting too worked up.

He laughed whole-heartedly. “I called in some favours. As to where we’re going, well, you’ll find out when you get my email tomorrow. Are you in or are you out?”

Fuck it. “I’m in. I’ll call H in the morning.”

I switched on my fairy lights, put in my head phones in and played Buena Vista Social Club on repeat. Eames introduced me to Cuban music with the promise that once day we'd be sipping rum listening to the real deal.

God knows what I just got us into. Then I thought, why do I still have fairy lights?

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Best (or worst) pick up lines ever

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Struggling to find new ways to hit on strangers? We're here to help.

We recently overheard a boozy encounter between a man and a woman at a blues bar on Kingley Street.  Said man was in awe of said woman's beauty.  But he was no ordinary man.  Here we present to you nine of the best (or worst - you decide) pick up lines that he laid on her that night.

A true gent.  A genius wordsmith.

1. "Dance with me and I'll buy you a rainbow."

2. "I will kill and barbecue a dinosaur to be with you, if they weren't extinct."

3. "I will wrestle a sect of badgers and win.  For you."

4. "Maybe we can go to a nice sandwich place and have a nice sandwich."

5. "...and see the hippopotamus and see the tiger feed on its prey.  Not the proper zoo experience."

6. "And we could go back to mine and have a cheese toastie."

7. "I will buy you a ship."

8. "We will have kids and they will be taller than average."

9. "I would kill two baby pandas then we could go for a pizza.  Unless there's no pizza then let the pandas live.  It's my way or the highway."

Please note: these actually came out of someone's mouth in an effort to woo some one else.

Disclaimer: use at your discretion.

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Q&A: Daniela Sach

Here at Little Wing, we love nothing more than evocative art. Whatever the medium, expression through art is invaluable for our existence – forms of creativity that allow the artist and the viewer to explore the complexities of humanity or simply look at various aspects of life through different perspectives. Daniela Sach is someone who truly understands this, and her love of art is deeply rooted. Her innate talent for drawing, painting and music was apparent from a young age. Her old doodles, sketches and scrap books tell tales of her dreams and fears. Her songs are poems of love and heart break. Her current work is visually arresting, beautiful yet dark, the kind of images that reach deep into your soul and stay embedded in your mind.

Growing up in Colombia isn’t always easy for artists – it’s a country where unemployment is high and financial struggle is commonplace, so coming out of school and opting for a career in the arts is risky business. But Daniela went against the grain and catapulted herself onto a path she had always wanted to explore. In doing so, she moved to Germany and is now living in Berlin studying German and prepping her portfolio to enrol in a photography course, which she hopes will lead her to become a director of photography...perhaps the next Sofia Coppola?

Daniela Sach

Hi Dani! So tell us a bit about your art background? Where are you from? How did you end up in Berlin?

Hello, hello! I come from Bogota, Colombia… Yep far, far away! I think my background is really experimental, not in an alternative way but I say this because I’ve always liked every way of art and I went from one to another. I danced ballet and jazz, painted, drew a lot, took loads of photographs, played music, sang and wrote songs pretty much my whole life. The fact that I always lived a creative life brought me to Berlin, where the artistic vibe is the strongest I’ve ever felt.

What are you doing in Berlin at the moment?

I’m currently studying German, and I think I will do that for quite long since it’s impossible to really get it perfect, you know what they say…life is too short to learn German! And at the same time I’m preparing my portfolio to start my studies at ‘’Neue Schule für fotografie’’ [a photography course in Berlin].

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What’s Berlin like in comparison to Colombia? I’ve been to Berlin once before and I completely fell in love with it. What’s it like to live there?

Well Germany and Colombia are worlds apart, but I find Berlin quite similar to Bogota. People party very hard in both, and they’re equally crazy. But for me living away from home definitely has had an impact and makes Berlin much more adventurous. Bogota is my mom’s hotel, a comfy nest…and Berlin is the opposite of that, it’s where I need to be instinctive and that makes it all the way more magical. We connect very well!

Obviously, Berlin is a great hub for artistic talent. What’s it like for a young emerging artist? Do you feel there are more opportunities and paths to explore there rather than back home?

Yes there are definitely more opportunities here. It’s sad to say it because there is a huge amount of talent in Colombia, but here people actually decide to look at your work, even if it is based on a different perspective than what they expected – in fact that makes it more attractive for them. It is starting to change back home, and it makes me happy! But we do need people to open their minds a little more, and pay attention to real growing talents instead of following the usual! About paths to explore, I would say it resides in each individual. If you’re away from home you learn about the world, and within time you start bringing your roots out and all the things that makes you part of the place where you were born. That ‘mix’ between where you come from and where you actually live is very interesting.

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Do you come from an artistic family? Have you always had a knack for drawing/painting?

Funny question about my family. I would say it’s half and half. My mom paints and is an art lover, and my Dad likes numbers. I hate numbers and love art. I have two brothers; one is a designer and the other one is an administrator, a business mind. So, 3 – 2 ! Art wins. One of my favorite activities was to bother my mom during her painting sessions and after dealing with me for a while, she would end up giving me something to paint with and I would follow her. So yes, I’ve always had a thing for drawing and painting.

Your drawings are very evocative and some are quite dark. Where do you get your inspiration from? What’s your creative process like?

I think my drawings show a dark side or destructive element of my personality and that’s the reason why they come up like that, quite morbid but at the same time very sweet…it’s confusing for me at times. My wide imagination and fears stand behind all of that. It’s like if a dog barks it’s then talking to a ghost and I’m out of there!

They were together, for once

My inspiration comes from books, films and music…mostly film stills I would say. So my creative process is to look around and everything that reminds me of a book, a song, a character or a film is what I take and start from there. There are times when I feel like doing something, but I see nothing around me that will be inspiring, so I just go through my ‘’things I like’’ file…and some idea will come up. I love the aesthetic managed by Sofia Coppola, Jane Campion, Jean Pierre Jeunet and Lars von Trier…they have a very strong visual identity, and that’s what I aim for. For me, it’s all about having your view of things printed on a photo or recreated by a drawing… so then it becomes something truthful and unique; that’s what transforms something normal into something overwhelming… I hope that within time I will get better at that…

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I know that you dabble in photography as well, so what is your favourite medium and why?

Difficult question... you got me thinking here.  I enjoy them in different ways because they show different things. I would think that with photography I subconsciously express a very romantic and nostalgic side of myself, so at the moment this one would be my favorite.  The fact that I worry so much about ‘real life’ makes me forget about how idealist I really am and photography brings me back to that. Perhaps when life calms down a bit, I’ll go back to drawing as well.

Are you looking to get a career in the arts? Where do you see yourself going with it?

Yes! I am definitely looking to get a career in the arts. My all-time dream is to be director of photography. It goes step by step because it is a big dream and a high-ranking position in the hierarchy of film production, so I will start by studying photography and then we will see what comes next. Fingers crossed!

Have you got any plans for major projects? Is there anything in the pipeline that you’re working on?

Well it is not a major project but I’m currently working on cd/vinyl covers. It’s not necessarily for a specific band because the idea actually came up after some people that were looking at my portfolio were immediately reminded of bands like Pink Floyd, Morrissey, Cranberries, Bat for Lashes and some others. I thought it was an interesting thing, since the art behind music covers should be attractive to the eye, but definitely not obvious. So since then, I transformed a drawing into the 1:1 format (squared format) and I completely fell in love with it. It became something personal but it would be lovely to see them at record stores someday.

To see more of Daniela's work,visit her Tumblr blog here

Written by: Nicole McLennan

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Aquamarina Adonopolou & an artistic political expression

This time last year, we had already witnessed two popular uprisings in Tunisia and Algeria, swiftly followed by an Egyptian revolution and further demands for democracy in the Arab world. European countries began to crumble to an inch of economic collapse. In the midst of peaceful protests, violent repressions and a global financial crisis, we eagerly anticipated the royal wedding of the decade – a fairy tale microcosm far from a harsh reality. To say that 2011 was an eventful year seems like somewhat of an understatement and even in retrospect it’s difficult to digest the profound ways in which the political, social and economic landscape of our world has changed in such a short period of time. The intensity of such developments have highlighted the needs of many communities around the world, but one of the things that resonated the most was how involved young people were, and still are, in this remarkable collective desire for change. Little Wing caught up with Aquamarina Adonopolou, an art curator in Dubai who has closely followed the uprisings. Through her experiences, she makes sense of it all and tells us why she thinks art plays a major role in alleviating hardships and giving people a voice.

Aquamarina Adonopolou

Aquamarina was born in Greece but when she was four her parents were expatriated to Zambia. In the thick of her teen years, she returned to Thessaloniki in her homeland and finished high school only to make yet another move to the UK to begin her bachelors in Cultural Studies and Philosophy at Kent University. She decided to take a two year sabbatical after finishing her degree during which she travelled, took a few art classes along the way and interned in prestigious art galleries for experience. It’s easy to tell that she’s a free spirit, somewhat riding the wave as it comes and yet keenly intuitive to opportunities that will open doors for her and allow her to learn more about herself and her passion for art. About her move to Dubai, she says it was purely by chance and the result of a rather impulsive decision. “A friend had just moved here and found out there was a position for an internship at Green Art Gallery where I now work. I packed my bags and 3 days later I was here!” She tells us it's a really exciting time for art in Dubai because it's a culture that is growing exponentially and artists from the region are starting to be critically accepted.

Her profession coupled with having had the opportunity to experience different cultures and peoples has without a doubt made her a hugely perceptive individual and she exudes an incredible sensibility. Reminiscing, she tells about her university years in the UK. “The greatest thing I found about England was the tolerance to be whoever you want to be, people really don’t care and there’s an amazing sense of freedom.” Nevertheless, she says that Greece was the best place to be. “It’s great for young people because you can have so much fun, but at the same time there isn’t the drinking culture that you find in England; it’s a lot more laid back.” But is it the same after the mounting economic turmoil that the country has been facing for some time now?

The situation in Greece began to deteriorate in May 2010 when the government proposed severe austerity measures, including an increase in taxes and cuts in public spending in exchange for a £91 billion bail-out scheme. There were protest and strikes throughout the country, initiated by the Direct Democracy Now! movement, which were generally peaceful to begin with. However, as it escalated and Parliament voted in favour of the European Union bail-out measures, violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police began taking place. Accusations of police brutality were widespread and a deep resentment, social unrest and anti-government sentiment were embedded into the collective consciousness. Young people played a pivotal role in these protests. Aquamarina explains why, “I think initially the protests were more of an outburst rather than anything specific; it was aimed at everything. Young people who literally went out on the streets and spoke out against what we ultimately inherited from our parents’ generation. You’re basically coming out into the adult world already in debt and to top it off with no job to repay the debt that isn’t even yours in the first place. It’s bizarre.”

The news coverage of the 2011 civil unrest was mainly negative, but to be fair, the situation was at a critical point. There was such a prevalent general unhappiness and concern for short-term survival, there was no such thing as the foreseeable future. Violence was beginning to take its toll on an already exasperated community. “Slowly, however, what was wonderful was that this rage started becoming a lot more constructive and creative. Young people were coming up with solutions of their own, and actually doing something on any level that was attainable to them.”In a time of desperation, displacement and uncertainty, people decided to take matters into their own hands and help each other out. “Youth groups started popping up all over the cities organizing food and clothing for the increasing number of homeless people, free plays and concerts in the park, and promoting an alternative form of living.” And indeed, initiatives such as S-Initiative:Katalysis started taking shape in response to difficult times. The creators of Katalysis – a mixture of Greeks from all different ages and backgrounds – wanted to come together to “tap our collective resources - our energy, heritage, family and land-based wisdom, innovative ideas, modern technologies and ancient myths” to create a new future. Seeing the current system disintegrating led them to generate and host gatherings and spaces to move away from paralysis through art-based, conversational marketplaces. Their aims were to connect with, inspire and learn from each other’s artistic, literary and enterprise skills.

“[I think people] found that when money was actually taken out of the equation the possibilities and things you could do were endless,” says Aquamarina, which is why she believes art plays a key role in helping people express and discuss their views, especially in such tense political climates. For her, it seems that people are too used to receiving information through traditional media sources which are selective and often unrepresentative. “How can you completely encapsulate circumstance, war, famine, conflict, even ‘a people’ in such black and white terms? Yet that’s what happens. Art can depict the broader spectrum of things, it can offer its viewers the opportunity to actually have to stop and think for themselves for a change.” She goes on to add, “To come face to face with the possibility of your own prejudices, misconceptions and even limitations” is instrumental.

Aquamarina in Dubai

This is also something she sees at work every day. Currently Aquamarina is working with a young Palestinian artist, Shadi Habib Allah, whose practice is at the crossroads of installation, video art and recently kinetic sculpture. She talks fondly about him, making an interesting observation, “A lot of Palestinian artists get pigeonholed into certain categories because the circumstances through which their works emerge are so controversial. Through the Palestine- Israeli conflict, which has been discussed in the media almost constantly, the public is used to relating to them in purely political terms. "A young Palestinian artist once told me,  'I could be pushing a white block, in a white gallery space and that would be interpreted as me making a political statement about Palestine.' ” But Shadi tries to emancipate himself and his work from this; like she tells us, art is supposed to be a tool to look at things from a broader scope, one without limitations.

So what does this insightful young woman think of the future, of what lies ahead for her country and for the world in general? For her, it’s been amazing watching how the revolutions have unravelled in a global way, “from Egypt to Wall street. It just goes to show that the system that’s been in place really isn’t working.” But she reckons everything that has happened thus far isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. “Revolutions may happen with the purest of intentions but in the end we have to see if the things these people are fighting for are implemented and to what extent.” Aquamarina knows that the dust is yet to settle, and that we must patiently wait to see what has actually changed. For the time being, she will keep on championing art as not only a means of expression, but also as a means to educate and in many ways a saviour in times of need.

Written by: Nicole McLennan and Hana Difrawy

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Q&A: Egija Zviedre

Little Wing had the pleasure of working with model and actress Egija Zviedre in our first fashion editorial. Her professionalism, flexibility and commitment stem from her undeniable passion for her job which is utterly infectious.  She is as fascinating as she is interesting.  In between hair and makeup and snapping shots, we got the chance to delve a little deeper into her life.

Egija Zviedre. Photograph: Chris Edwards

Tell us about growing up in Latvia. What was your childhood like? What is it like compared to London?

Latvia is a very special place. Sometimes I think of as a little dreamy island somewhere far away in the North... Where people live like it's a good 20 years back in the past. Some might argue differently, but that’s what it feels like for me. I do a lot of vintage shoots in London- when I go back to Latvia- that’s real vintage right there! It’s amazing! It’s like going back in time. Culturally it’s very rich and beautiful, very innocent and unspoilt at places. My childhood was pretty interesting! I spent lots of time by myself in my imaginary world. Where everything was exactly how I wanted! And I was really quiet. As the oldest child, I had to take responsibility for my younger sister -Londa. Since a young age I wanted to be very independent, wanted to do my own thing. London is so different from back home, but that’s why I loved it so much at first.

What made you get into modelling and acting? Did you always want to do it?

Well, everything always happens because of a vision. And sometimes you just have a certain vision of something combined with the desire. I have always been very artistic. Both of my parents were very creative people- they used to draw, paint, write poetry. I used to sing professionally, dance and paint myself. I think that was part of it. However, when I was a kid I used to read lots of adventure books, I used to steal them from my uncles little library and a lot of them were about the film industry. I found it very fascinating.

I got into modelling by accident really- a photographer stopped me on the streets of Old Riga when I was walking in a long, white dress. I was 15. He took a couple of pictures and I instantly saw that vision that I mentioned earlier. I joined an agency in Latvia and from then on it just became addictive, going to castings and all that. I started doing modelling for catalogues and billboards.

Why did you decide to move to London?

I decided to move to London, because simply there wasn't enough space for me in Riga anymore. It is a small country with limited possibilities. And I am an explorer. I wanted to see the world from a different angle, wanted to see what was beyond the horizon. When I came to London I was dazzled. I was so taken in and inspired by this big, buzzing city. I felt it. I’ve been here for two years now.

What has been your favourite job (either in modelling or acting) so far?

EZ: My favourite job would definitely be in acting. I think it was the short film that I worked on called “Meeting Mr Manners.” I was playing an art student who finds her father. This part has been emotionally the closest to me. The musical short film “Beethoven Burst” by Ankit Love was also one of my favourites, in which I was playing a cosmic mermaid as a female lead.

What do you prefer, modelling or acting? And…why?

I love modelling because I love great photography- when I see a photograph that I like- I can almost taste it with my eyes... And I really do like to be part of it as a model, because I know I can make it look great. But I prefer acting because I like the journey that it involves. I want to live the life of a character. I like to work on scripts and figure things out like why the character acts in a particular way, what her needs are, and so on. I like the psychological side of it and getting deep into the human nature. Doing independent feature films has really raised my appetite for acting.

Has it been difficult living far away from your family?

It has been very difficult. There isn’t a single day when I don’t think about them, my grandmothers especially. They are old and really want me to spend more time with them.

Who has been your biggest inspiration when the going gets tough?

Madonna!

Is there anyone in your life that inspires you?

Loads of people. My biggest inspiration is my acting coaches. Giles and Michael are my mentors and they keep me going. Also many people that I have met along the way.

Is there anyone in particular that you would want to work with? Like any specific actors/directors/photographers?

Of course! I would want to work with Martin Scorseze, Guilaume Canet, Pedro Almodovar, Darren Aronofsky, and Woody Allen. I’d also like to work with Mickey Rourke, John Malkovich, Ralph Fiennes, Ethan Hawke, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Leonardo Di Caprio... And many more!

Can you tell us about any future projects that you have? We want to keep our eye on you!

Soon I will start work on my next feature film called “The Ex-Factor” which is a romantic drama where I will play the part of Eva - a young, struggling, romantic Slovenian waitress that meets an English producer who  asks her to be part of his TV documentary.(Nothing to do with the actual x-factor).

What advice would you give struggling actresses/models?

To never forget the initial reason why one started acting or modelling. That energy and drive always needs to be within.

Written By: Nicole McLennan

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Ben Charles Edwards: King of the Dark Arts

There is a lot left to the imagination when you watch one of Ben Charles Edwards’ short films, just as when you admire his photographs. His work is so wicked and deliciously macabre, filled with creative genius and valid social commentary. Nicole (my partner in crime) and I Googled him when a friend of ours mentioned he’d be up for doing an interview and immediately we wanted to know more. Who was this guy? Why was he making shorts about banished pig boys with an insatiable fetish for high heels? And why do all his pictures depict the wrath of mankind with satirical overtones and over saturated colours? Everything he creates is full of drama, of morbid hilariousness, and I really couldn’t imagine what he would be like in person. But I really couldn’t wait to find out.

After trekking it from work, I finally made it to Old Street tube station in Shoreditch, and I found myself thinking about this hub of artistic and talented people that populate this side of London, and how appropriate of a backdrop it is to meet this Ben character. Running up the stairs to Bens flat, I was devastated that my other wing (Nicole) was missing. A little sweaty and out of breath from the long walk/jog, I give a little knock on the door. Expecting to see just Ben and our old friend Burns, who initially introduced us to him, I was surprised when I walked in to find quite a few other bodies there. I was slightly taken aback and a little wary of the video camera in my hands, I half expected a few eye-rolls or awkward looks but I felt none of that.  They were all so welcoming and friendly, I felt very much at home.Feeling like I’d stepped into Andy Warhol’s studio from the 70’s, with a larger-than-life artist surrounded by inspiring muses, I was fascinated by the creative buzz in there. There was a big projector screen in the living room used for spontaneous screenings and slide shows; some of Ben’s paintings and crazy objects hung from the walls.  Ben graciously glided across the room and introduced himself to me, poured me a gin and tonic and sat a few of us down for a screening of his newest creation ‘Animal Charm’.

Ben began his career as a nightlife and celebrity photographer in London and L.A. After a living in California for a while, he decided to jump back across the pond to his hometown of Woking in Surrey – quite the contrast. The glam and glitz of the Hollywood hills is scarce, or pretty much non-existent, in the dull and dreary Woking town centre. Beautiful people and gorgeous weather were no longer in the agenda. “I love Woking”, he says. “It’s wonderful for what it is but there’s a lot of women in velour tracksuits and worn out trainers.”

It was here that he met the fat girl who would inspire his short film ‘The Town that Boars Me’.  People watching, sitting on a bench in Woking, Ben suddenly saw this huge, 20 stone woman bounce past him in a pink tracksuit.  I guess he must have been staring a little too much because she turned around and yelled in that comical cockney accent, “What you looking at? You want a photograph?”  Well yes, that’s exactly what Ben wanted and exactly what he got!  Still good friends today, Ben took masses of inspiration from the fat girl in pink.  “I didn’t even know I wanted to make film, I was quite happy taking silly pictures.” But before he knew it he had met this girl, got inspired by the picture he took of her, and thought, “I need to see you in motion!” And thus he made the transition into filmmaking. The stills were no longer enough, and he co-wrote and directed his first creation in 2008.


Asking Ben where he gets his inspiration from brought out a series of hilarious and fascinating comments.  He started by saying he didn’t really know the origins of his ideas, and that’s a fair answer because it is quite an unconscious thing when you’re inspired by something.  “As a child, I liked things like ‘The Hilarious House of Frightenstein’,” he reminisces. “I have these memories of ghoulish people and things in the shadows.”  He takes a lot of inspiration from his surroundings, the people he hangs around with and the things that he likes, especially music. Ben also has his fair share of small obsessions; it could be an image, a feeling or a particular line in a song.  “There’s a Paul Simon song called ‘Call Me Al’ and I was obsessed with it for maybe 2 years, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I get these obsessions with things, this one got so bad I decorated the lyrics down the whole stairwell of the house.  I painted over it cause people assumed it was a bit strange!” Strange? Perhaps. But that’s one of the coolest things about Ben. He carries through with whatever is on his mind, as if he needs to see it take shape and form into something that is tangible and visible. A true artist.

Ben has an uncanny ability to look at everyday moments and transform them into something larger than life.  He takes simple ideas that you wouldn’t necessarily think twice about and turns them around to mean something profound. For his most recent project, Ben has made a series of short films for the Balenciaga museum in Spain, one of which is called ‘Appetite’ featuring Princess Julia.  The moment that sparked his inspiration for this film was when he saw a dirty old man in a café gorging on a plate of greasy sausages and bacon.  Any of us would probably just have winced and turned away, but Ben turned this moment into something creative.  He juxtaposed the situation by filming a beautiful blonde woman in a gorgeous ball gown going to town on a plate of sausages and bacon in front of her, eating them, rubbing them over her body, seemingly enjoying it.  Ben likes to create these contrasts verging on the ridiculous. He likes to push that boundary to make people think.  This short film, ‘Appetite’, he explains, came from a mere “..interesting thought.. just a moment” but he has managed to turn it into a piece of art that makes the audience question notions of beauty and stereotypes.

One of Ben’s muses is Al Joshua, who just so happens to be his flat mate and close friend. Al does a lot of Ben’s music but is also a musician in his own right.  He is the lead singer and guitarist of the band Orphans & Vandals.  Ben describes Al’s music as “somewhere between Tom Waits and Bob Dylan”, and he’s not wrong.  On the recurring topic of the evening, inspiration, Al says, “you have to be like a magpie, anything shiny that catches your interest you have to pick up on, its all about chance and instinct.” A little more reserved than Ben, they compliment each other perfectly.  They have big plans to do some collaboration and are in the process of writing a synopsis for a feature film called “Set the Thames on Fire.”

Regardless of my prodding, sadly they didn’t want to divulge any information about the feature.  I can say, however, that we can expect more of Ben’s signature visual style, but apparently the stories won’t be as crazy as his previous films.  Less pigs raping prostitutes and fashion designers killing their competitors and making coats out of their skin.  “It’s fun for a short and it’s fun while your young because you get away with that nonsense, but sooner or later I’m going to have to make something that people want to pay attention to.”  Well if all this has just been him having fun, imagine what he can be capable of in the future.

Ben talks about his work very passionately and you can really see that he loves what he does.  What strikes me the most about Ben, though, is his personality; he is so captivating that it really makes you want to know more.  He’s very at ease with himself, very confident.  I asked him how he would describe his work in three words and half joking, half not he came out with, “very, very, good!”  Obviously he laughed it off afterwards but maintained that, well why would he waste all his time doing it if he didn’t like it?  If he saw his work somewhere else he’d think, “fucking hell, that’s good!”  And he is exactly right, if you don’t like your own work, why bother?

Ben’s personality, as well as his talent, has gotten him to where he is today.  He has gotten so far and knows so many influential people that want to work with him because he is so charismatic and infectious. It’s an exciting prospect to see what he will come up with next, and Little Wing will most definitely be keeping an eye on this guy because he is set for a meteoric rise.

Written and Filmed by: Hana Difrawy
Photography by: Chris James Edwards (iiinside.com)

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Q&A: College Fashionista’s Amy Levin

Six years ago, circa 2006, people armed with just a computer, an internet connection and plenty of ideas began to partake in the fashion blogging phenomenon. Thousands of personal on-line logs were kept, updated on a daily basis, adorned with pictures, filled with confessions and thoughts. Bloggers gained a cult following almost immediately, as they provided the ever-growing cyber audience with a nice alternative to the mainstream media. Many of these blogs have grown to become businesses or helped the bloggers themselves make a name for themselves. Amy Levin was one to capitalize on the so-called "blogging revolution." As the founder and editor of CollegeFashionista, a site dedicated to cataloguing college/university fashion all around the world, she has taken fashion blogging to another level. She is one heck of a lady; an entrepreneur of the highest calibre. Little Wing caught up with her to ask her a few questions...

Hi Amy! Thanks so much for talking to us! So first off, how did College Fashionista begin?

CollegeFashionista started as a personal blog of mine during my senior year at Indiana University. After several internships in various sectors of the fashion industry, I felt I was most passionate and excited about photography and writing. I decided to channel those interests into a personal blog at my university. One thing led to the next and after picking up momentum by friends reading my blog I decided to expand this hobby into an actual company. When I graduated in May 2009 I spent the entire summer planning for our August launch of CollegeFashionista. I brought on investors to help start my idea, build a website and all the other elements that go into a company. In August 2009 CollegeFashionista launched at 5 schools. We are now at over 200 schools worldwide.

Why was London your big inspiration?

As a child I travelled immensely and had been to London several times but it was during my Junior [second] year when I actually lived in London that I became extremely inspired by this city. The way people dressed on the streets is what really caught my eye and I often found myself taking inspiration from looks worn by my peers at uni or on the streets for my own wardrobe. It was from this experience that I decided I wanted to document the college demographic. College is such an interesting time in our lives because it’s the first time most people are away from home and really figuring out who they are. A lot of this comes through in your wardrobe and I felt it necessary to showcase this to the world. Hence CollegeFashionista. I still hold a very soft spot for London and always go there to get re-inspired.

Did you always want a career in fashion?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love fashion or want to pursue a career in it. I wasn’t sure what sector of the industry I was going to be involved in but I always knew I would end up in the fashion world.

How much did the blogosphere facilitate your career?

My entire company and brand is web based so without the blogosphere CollegeFashionista would absolutely not exist. I also started CollegeFashionista as the blogging world was beginning to explode which always plays a key factor in the success of my site. Now the market is very saturated and to start something new takes a lot of innovation, but it’s definitely still doable.


Do you think that blogs are important to have if you want to be seen/heard in the fashion business?

Absolutely. Social media is such an important part of creating a brand whether your brand is online or not. It’s the best way for a brand to communicate with its consumers and to get feedback immediately. I don’t think social media or the new way of media is going anywhere so for a brand to fall behind on this is putting that brand at risk of missing out.

How has CollegeFashionista made an impact on the fashion scene?

CollegeFashionista shows real fashion worn by real people. It allows college students to see what their peers are wearing all around the world and to take tips and advice from this demographic for their own personal wardrobe. Often fashion can be very intimidating and I believe CollegeFashionista shows the more realistic, obtainable side of fashion and how real bodies are wearing clothing.

Many people seem to think that blogging has broken down the barrier to the seemingly impenetrable industry that is fashion. Do you think that with what you are doing you have contributed to this?

I think like any industry, fashion is competitive and difficult to break into. I do think blogging has taken away a lot of that behind the scenes glitz and glamour we all use to dream about. Now people can see exactly what happens in Vogue’s offices through editor Twitter handles, reality TV shows, Tumblr, and other platforms like these. I don’t think that it’s “easy” to get into the industry now I just think people are more aware of the various sectors of the industry and what jobs really do exist. This industry is still beyond competitive and will only allow for those who are driven, dedicated and talented to survive.

Do you think that the ‘social order’ of fashion reportage is changing due to influential young bloggers, like yourself?

I think bloggers in a sense are the celebrities of our generation. It’s very surreal to see bloggers like Bryan Boy sitting alongside Beyonce at Fashion Week. It’s encouraging to know that the industry is changing and no longer do you have to be a traditional celebrity to make it to the top.

Do you feel that you (and other bloggers) are contributing to the journalistic aspect of the fashion industry with what you do?

Of course! Bloggers are the journalists of our generation. Bloggers are providing content, lots of it, on a regular basis. While it might not be in the traditional form it used to appear in blogging, it is definitely still journalism.

Did you ever feel that as CollegeFashionista became more of a business and gained important links to brands you lost the authenticity and ‘street cred’ that is usually identified with a blog?

Not at all!

Written by: Nicole McLennan

 

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Meet Two Inspirational Young Women

 

One sunny afternoon, somewhere in the United Kingdom, Little Wing met two very inspirational youths, both unique and compelling in their own ways.  Showcasing these two characters together was a last minute, but so it turns out, a perfect decision.  May Calamawy and Yasmeen Al-Naif are very different in many ways but manage to live together in total harmony and somehow bring out the best in each other.  These two girls live together in Dubai and both come from very diverse backgrounds.  May is half Egyptian, half Palestinian and Yasmeen is half Iraqi, half English, both are 24 years old.  Just by knowing their backgrounds you can be sure that they have travelled around a lot, met many people in different walks of life and heard many differing opinions about how life should be lived.  They have both taken all of their experiences in their stride and from this become well-rounded and enthusiastic young women.  Even though they have had similar up bringing’s, May and Yasmeen have grown up with separate ideas and differing ambitions.


May Calamawy is a strong minded person who knows exactly where she wants to go in life and knows the path that may take her there.  Everyday, she continues to take steps towards her ultimate goal of becoming a successful Actress and is already making a name for herself in Dubai.  May has made her own opportunities in her career, which is something to be particularly admired about her.  She has created and maintains a personal blog called ‘May’s Mad Tea Party’ where she writes about her thoughts, inspirations, goals and posts funny anecdotes.  From this alone, May has gone on to receive so much attention that she has bagged many an acting role and some free merchandise for advertising on her blog.  These rewards come from her sheer determination to publicise her own talent and personality; something that takes a large amount of confidence to do.  Using all of the media that is so easily accessible to us in this modern and technical century, May has taken full advantage and used it to benefit her career.  With the kind of ambition and perseverance that May holds, one can know that she will go far in her career.  May’s blog acts as her continually updated, creative and insightful CV.  To be inspired, visit her blog at: www.maysmadtparty.blogspot.com

Although May has known exactly what she wants to do in life at the tender age of 5, not everyone does, the journey to the decision of what to do with ones life can seem just as daunting as the journey of building one’s career.  For many youths in this generation, knowing what you want to do in life is a very tricky decision indeed whether your 18 or 28; especially with the amount of career choices there are these days.  From the entertainment industry to the ever-growing Internet industry to old-fashioned manual labour, there is a huge burden upon youths to decide what to do.


Someone who has taken this into consideration and overcome it by living for the now is Yasmeen   Al-Naif.  Yasmeen has experienced, just like many of us have, the uncertainty of what to do in life and how to get there.  Yasmeen, however, instead of dwelling on this thought over and over again to find the perfect solution, she grasped at a possibility that looked good for now.  She tried out banking for a while but wasn’t happy and didn’t quite enjoy it; she felt she needed more out of her career.  When visiting family in Dubai, Yasmeen was looking for a change.  She took a chance and applied for a couple of jobs in Dubai, a few days later one was hers and the change she was looking for had arrived.  That job was in Media and Advertising, something that she may have thought of in passing but never really dreamed about.  Over time, however, Yasmeen became good at her job and started to really enjoy it.  Sometimes, you have to grow into your career by going with what seems to be a good choice and seeing if you like it.  If it so happens that you become knowledgeable at what you do, you may start to enjoy it; after all we all love to do what we are good at in life.  This is a concept that Yasmeen demonstrated, she loves what she does now but also still maintains that when she decides its not for her she will move on to the next idea and see what’s best for her at that time.  She never wants to be held down and prefers to ride the waves as they come instead of forcing anything.  A different approach to May’s but one to be admired just the same.

Both May and Yasmeen demonstrate two different but equally effective ways of building their lives in the way that they choose.  Although they may not always agree on everything, they both appreciate each other’s way of approaching things, whether it be the dishes or their careers.  The key, it seems, to getting along with someone who is different than you is to understand and accept everyone’s views for what they are, and to use this knowledge to help yourself, rather than attempting to compete against it.

Written, Filmed and Photographed by: Hana Difrawy

Have a look at May's latest venture, she is one of the originals for the Stoli campaign in Dubai!

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Professional Rugby Player Orlando Stott

On a visit to the south of France, a member of Little Wing grabbed the chance to interview a professional rugby player who is living a dream which he has been chasing since the age of 10. Orlando Stott is now 25 years old and has been playing professional rugby for 2 years now.Since a young age Orlando and his family have always loved sports and encouraged each other to play. Growing up, I suppose most of us do dabble in a bit of activity here and there but for many the novelty of it will fade away in time and be taken over by responsibilities of work and such. Orlando, however, has broken the typical mould and continued to play sports and actually has managed to make a good career out of it so far.

Orlando grew up in a small village in the south of France called, Romaneche-Thorins. Starting to play rugby in the youngest team at school, he quickly realised how good he was after receiving praise from his coach and teammates. From this young age, he watched the professionals play on television and could only dream that one day he would play for the big teams. He has made this dream come true. Achieving his dream of being a rugby player, however, has not come without persistence, ambition and confidence on his part.

Going into playing professional sport is a very highly sought after but a very fragile career. One has to ponder over the question of how long it will last and what will happen afterwards should it fall through. Orlando decided to prepare himself for the worst before even starting his rugby career, which in many minds was a very wise decision. He decided to go to University in Bristol, England and get a degree so that he would be in good stead for a job should he ever have to stop rugby. While he was there he proudly continued playing rugby at a good level, for the Dings Crusaders in Bristol.

In the process of going to university, sadly his opportunity at playing professional rugby was delayed. When asked whether he regrets taking those four years out to do a degree he replied, “yes and no, I’m so glad that I have a degree to fall back on but will never know where I could be now if I had gone straight to playing rugby after school”.


After completing his degree, Orlando decided to pursue a career in rugby, he cleverly discovered that in France there is a lot more money circling around for players than there is in England. So at the despair of many of his english friends, Orlando made the move to France. Currently, he is a starting winger/fullback for Valence D’Agen, a federal 1 rugby team based in the south of France. In the coming years he hopes to achieve a higher rank in rugby and aspires to keep climbing higher on the rugby ladder whether it be in France or in England.

When his time eventually comes to leave the sport behind, Orlando will then happily use his degree to become a businessman of sorts and will work hard at whatever gets thrown his way, all the while knowing that he went for it and enjoyed a great few years on the pitch, under the flood lights.

For now, Orlando is continuing to follow his dream of playing rugby as he enjoys it more than anything in the world, and if you can make a living doing something you love? It would be a crime not to.

Written, Filmed and Photographed by: Hana Difrawy

View some footage here of Orlando Stott in action!

 

 

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