THREADS: Siphosethu Duncan – Sundays Apparel thrifts with decadence

Feature, Interview, Threads

For 24-year-old Siphosethu Duncan fashion and a passion for dressing didn’t truly begin until this year. Moves like investing deliberate time on her Instagram or buying tickets to Fashion Week happened when this fresh-faced and gracefully talented up-cycler locked into her fashion-sense. Her Instagram feed shows an instinct for minimalism and what to leave out or off. For S E R U M The Sundays Apparel feed bares a curated grace and elegance that’s hard not to refer back toward. Living out in the wops of Pukekohe where she and her husband Warren own their own home, this young boss woman uniquely sets silk textures against freshly ploughed soil. Sisi to her friends, as named by her late nanny, she says embracing her personal style was like “An opportunity to take myself seriously — an opportunity to pursue my love for fashion”. Once we saw the styling work she did for Mukuka’s Time + Space video shot by Shakie Photography and directed by Makanaka Tuwe, we had to catch up with her and talk about Sundays Apparel and what she’s going to do next.

Where are you from? 

S: Beautiful Durban, South Africa but living in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Describe your personal style: 

S: My personal style has definitely changed and is constantly evolving and growing — I’ve noticed a change in style due to genuine inspiration. I went from urban streetwear to minimalistic inspired looks. I noticed with interest how many clothes I have accumulated throughout the year all in the name of fashion but when I switched to dressing minimalistic, it helped me declutter unworn/worn clothing items. Quite a challenge but so far, I am enjoying the journey.

“The idea of only being given one choice of style or similar choices bothers me hence why I thrift.”

Siphosethu Duncan by husband Warren.

What are some of your first memories of clothes and materials?
S: I never really took much notice on my apparel, what I would wear or how I would wear my outfits. I started noticing recently that people are loving what I wear.  However, I can recall a time when I was a lot younger, I sat in my soft-tech class in intermediate school brainstorming my brand label. This was quite far-fetched as I wanted to become a nurse.

How do clothes define your personality in your opinion?

S: Stand-out clothing defines my extroverted-personality. I love bold/ iconic pieces, especially unique items. I don’t enjoy shopping at local malls as I feel, creatively speaking, restricted when looking for an outfit. We only buy what’s currently ‘trending’ or in season. The idea of only being given one choice of style or similar choices bothers me hence why I thrift. Thrifting is all seasons—you have summer wear and winter wear all year round. I can define myself through clothing with thrift shopping. If I’m looking for something bold, or stand-out pieces, I thrift. 

As a woman how do clothes represent your identity?
S: I don’t think clothing represents my identity as a woman. I say this because I sometimes like wearing men’s wear if we’re being gender specific. The current trend or what’s become popular are oversized jackets as an example — the closest to recreating this look is wearing men’s wear. 

What are you most looking forward to with fashion week 2019?
S: I was looking forward to being in the same room as creatives and like-minded people. I was also looking forward to being inspired and enthused by the following seasons clothing collections.

What shows did you attend?

S: I attended with a friend the following shows: Tuesday Label and Fashion Quarterly & Miss FQ. 

Where can people check for your coverage? 

S: On Instagram. .. ssundaysapparel (two s’s)


What’s Sundays Apparel and what can people look out for in the future from you?
S: Sundays Apparel at the moment is a massive scrap book of ideas. Ideas are forming and an identity is slowly being developed and formed. Sundays Apparel is a service that focusses on helping you up-cycle thrifted clothing at the moment. We’re still growing.

Who are your style/ influencers and why?
S: At the moment, I love Layplan designs. Their designs are honestly amazing and unique. I enjoy watching how they style their pieces! They’re signature puffy sleeved dresses/ tops with quirky socks and sandals is a fave.

What was your role working on the video for ‘Time + Space’ by Mukuka:

S: My role on the day, along with the creative director Makanaka was to ensure Mukukā’s wardrobe as well as her cast members were on hand and ready for shooting. Prior to this, Mukukā and I had a private wardrobe styling session to plan.

What did you love about the job?

S: I loved how Mukukā trusted me to style her shoot. I am super grateful for the opportunity as it has opened my eyes to endless possibilities for Sundays Apparel. It surely gave me perspective on how much Time + Space (pun intended) is required when planning.

When you get ready every day, what’s your favourite part  of the process?
S: My favourite part of the process is characterising— Do I want to wear ‘mom’ jeans with a cute sweater and a hat or do I feel like wearing my favourite RiRi pants. I call it characterising because for a moment when you’re in the process, you think of what you may of seen via Pinterest, social media and you almost re-create that particular look BECAUSE so and so wore it like this.

Who are your style/ influencers and why?
S: At the moment, I love Layplan designs. Their designs are honestly amazing and unique. I enjoy watching how they style their pieces! They’re signature puffy sleeved dresses/ tops  with quirky socks and sandals is a fave.

Follow Siphosethu on Instagram HERE.

Check out Siphosethu’s styling work on Mukukā’s Time+Space video below:

THEATRE: HOUSEKEEPING – COVEN’S ode to the hidden drag, trans, queer and gay aunties giving a 5 star service

Culture, Feature, Interview

“It’s finally my turn” says Princess AKA Gabriel Halatoa, gently brushing her chest with an elegance that presents itself to be a distinction of her as a writer/ director/performer. We’ve just finished our interview and she’s going back to rehearsal with COVEN, her collective. It’s the second to last Sunday before opening night and here, mid-winter at sunset tucked away at Kete Aronui in Onehunga, I am invited into their space and privileged to witness a snippet of Princess’ self-written, debut theatre production, Housekeeping; a seductively bougie, raw and touching reflection of being brown, divine feminine and a member of the  LGBTQIA community in Auckland City in the 90s. She says: “This has been meaning to happen for so long because I’m a child of the hotels – I was raised in the hotels, so this is the development of my first solo performance called ‘Purple Trees’ which is about my life as a hotel child and my mum raising me in the hotel and bringing me in.”

Housekeeping is Halatoa’s first attempt at a theatre show and a once in a lifetime audience experience set in the five star hotel scene in which Princess grew up. It’s beautiful in its rawness and dark in it’s truth – but one which couldn’t really be told by anyone else. From primary school years Princess remembers waking up at 4am on cold South Auckland mornings and travelling into Aucland’s CBD with her mother – who is still remembered and respected as someone who stood up for her staff and made sure her workplace was a fair one.  

What Princess has done, is what COVEN founding member and ‘house father’ Cypris Afakasi describes as, ‘kind of a weird flex’ because Princess finessed her script as if holding up a mirror to her reality; she let its reflection fall on her house sisters and now here they are, back at their Basement Theatre residency, sprinkling their truly magical powers onto the stage. It’s their energy you won’t want to miss out on. Housekeeping is for anyone who already knows about the magic of COVEN and for anyone still wondering what the fuck mercury in retrogade even means, this is for you too.

CHOREOGRAPHER: CYPRIS 

Cypris

Although you have done other works together this one in particular is a celebration of your bond? 

C: Definitely..it’s kind of like in a weird way, a little bit of a flex. 

There goes the title!

C: Princess did this thing where all the characters that are real people, she noted them to sisters in C O V E N who she felt were energetically similar and so just to watch it all unfold. They’re not always following their lines but their able to bring out parts of the character that are otherwise… the lines wouldn’t allow for. It’s really beautiful to see that happen and it reflects these real people as well as them which is something I haven’t been able to sit down and see before. I really appreciate that part.

Describe that flex, the feeling of writing your reality into a fictional work.
C: It’s a bit like when you’re going down the steps and it’s a bit creaky and you’re like I don’t want to step on any toes…. I don’t want to step on grounds that are shaky, I really want to respect these characters all of these feelings but in essence we have had to push it forward anyway and ask the questions after just to make sure we’re not making any of these characters too unreal.

What’s it been like working with your director Cas? 
C: Working with Cas has been amazing I haven’t worked with her in the director’s seat before  and it’s a total change like I’m loving all this big dick energy it’s lovely to have a manawahine at the forefront punching this narrative forward like a tautoko. Because she sees the world differently – from a point where the characters wouldn’t be able to see and when you put the cast in there she’s able to be like that’s unreal…She’s really good at snapping out those things. She knows and she really sees and I feel, in that sense of nowness, everyone’s got that. 

Housekeeping is Halatoa’s first attempt at a theatre show and a once in a lifetime audience experience set in the five star hotel scene in which Princess grew up.
Princess

DIRECTOR: CAS

Hi my name is Cas and I am co-directing Housekeeping. I’m a freelance artist and I have a full time 9-5 – I  also manage a retail store so, yeah

So this is your side, side love. 

C: This basically my love, this is my passion. I love this. It’s my first time directing so usually I’m on stage but I love to write and I also love to be behind the scenes on shows as well. 

Whats your fav part of the story? 

C: My favourite part of the story is just seeing them on stage as sisters and I think that’s like a big theme behind this is sisterhood so everyone can relate to just having people like that family outside of your family being there for you and I think that’s what’s beautiful to see when they’re all on stage together is that naturally they have a way of coming together and showing that sisterhood  – that’s probably my favorite part I don’t have a favourite section or anything but besides the dance scenes the dance scenes are really bomb. 

Next week is the opening hey, what do you hope audiences will take away from this work? 

C: The biggest thing I want audiences to take away is that I think just being there, being kind and being there for everyone, I think that’s a big message more now than ever, especially what’s going on in the world we are not just living our lives for ourselves but we all have a bigger purpose on this earth and that’s definitely to be a community and be together and be there for each other but yeah that’s a message I would love for everyone to walk away with. 

WRITER/DIRECTOR PRINCESS

From watching the rehearsal there’s a lot of raw, brown humor in the work obviously the contrast is that you’re in a bougie hotel which I love! Can we talk about being a brown person coming up in a bougie world like that?

P: Girl, all the secrets! Like if there’s any place for a brown person to move and not be seen and revel in all the secrets and all the brokenness of society and the white-hetero norms like the shiftiness of it – it’s definitely in Housekeeping like there’s no better place to have a proper eye into actual issues and shit

So you were around that from age five or six until adulthood?

P: Yeah, half my life and then I went off on my own, broke away from Housekeeping.

What did you do after when it was your time to leave your mum?

P: Mum kind of stopped working there because she had two younger kids and kind of like became a stay at home mum but before she did that she was hiring my friends which is Sandy in there, into Housekeeping, and so hearing more about sisters and their stories in housekeeping is still ongoing for me because mum’s still blessing my life and my sisters in housekeeping so yeah.

Queen.

P: Yeah

When your mahi offsets other people, that’s quite a victory story.

P: Yeah.

Has she seen this work, what does she say?

P: She’s very proud, because the stories actually gone through some changes one of my friends dropped out so she was playing mum – she was a very important character but she pulled out and so I had to change the whole story around so now it’s just a LGBTQI-strong story and I’ve pulled me and mum’s story out which is like a very heartbreaking for me because that was one of the narratives that the whole show was based on and so this is new territory for me, finding a way to be able to authentically showcase these stories  and not pull back on the authenticity.

I mean it’s such a unique upbringing, what’s your favourite part about having that perspective?

P: I guess maybe understanding where I stand. [The hotel world] …It’s so structured and so hierarchy and just understanding that these people [there’s a way in which] they think I should be, [mean time I’m thinking] ‘But you’re all shady and you’re all fake ass and so I feel like I’m above you’…So there’s nothing they can tell me to make me feel any less than I am and that’s from mum – I got that from mum, being able to see that.

Hold your head up?

P: Yeah like I’m better than that shit it’s all fake.

So you grew up going to the school from the hotel and you had breakfast and dinner …so what room service?

P: Yeah

Girl, tell me about room service!

P: Girll…. 

Haha that’s what I want to know …

P: Well ok, so mum because she’s the queen of the hotel I’d be able to get that, I’d have to come in at four in the morning, stay in a room have my cartoons turned on have like Weetbix sent to the room and toast and stuff because all her friends were the community which is like the LGBT community, they’re all porters and valets and pool cleaners and housekeepers and they’re all just coming up to the room like ‘Gabby do you need anything else’ and ‘here, I found some chocolates in the rooms’ and here, ‘this is for the bed in 302 but you can have it, here’.

And you said that was at the Pullman?

P: Yeah, pretty much just, all around…The different food and beverage staff, the housekeeping staff, they’d all just gel with each other. Especially the sisters and housekeeping would all be drawn to mum and that because she’s quite for the people kind of person.

This work will be a huge thing for community, seeing your lives retold on the Basement Theatre stage?

P: Yeah, it’s generational like I’m inviting all of mum’s housekeeping friends and they’re going to be seeing a younger generation and their take on them so I just wanna do it well, I wanna do it good.

How long have you been in  COVEN?

P: I am one of the founders, Mistress and Fang and myself founded it in 2015

Cause you guys as well, I just wanna get it right, was it FAF SWAG first and then COVEN?

P: FAF Swag were an established collective for awhile and then COVEN  formed later, same sisterhood but different collectives yip.

COVEN has that magic element too hey?

P: We are all practicing witches and a lot of our practice comes from cultural activation and fusing with our vogue and witchcraft so we do a lot of ritualistic things. Certain things I can’t talk about, but before we get into shows we have our ritualistic things we all gather with the full moon and we really charge and channel from our ancestral paths, we channel our islands and our bloodlines…Mistress is probably the best person to talk to because she leads us all in our spiritual journeys and stuff like that. 

The energy between you guys – there’s a realness I recognise. 

P: Because we’ve all trained and been a part of the Vogue scene me and Fang’s bodies are quite in-sync and so we’re the Legendary scene here, that’s the first generation Vogue scene.

You guys have carved something out for people that didn’t exist before? 

P: Yeah, absolutely. 

How does that feel? 

P: I feel like our people is where it’s born. We’re not the only ones doing it, I feel like there’s this rise in art and creativity and expression and voicing happening. I feel so grateful to be a part of that wave right now – it’s happening all at once, we’re just a small part but we’re doing our part. 

I mean there was a time not that long ago where brown content was actually hard to find, like not even that long ago…

P: Like less than 10 years . 

And it’s not just a brown story it’s uniquely like you’re not going to be able to find it anywhere else, kind of story.

P: This will be Coven’s first attempt at an authentic theatre show – our last one was quite experimental and borderline edgy whereas this is quite traditional theater, experimental, performance.

Who are your writing influences?

P: Victor Rodgers definitely if it was New Zealand writers – I really admire his storytelling,  (Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, Club Paradiso, Girl Around The Corner), Rebecca Sugar – Steven Universe, I love me some anime shit.

How has humor played a role in your life because Housekeeping is hilarious too! 

P: I feel …humour comes from trauma… and so I feel like humour is what has made my life long friendships with each of the cast members individually. Everyone that’s involved in there I’ve asked like ‘Hey sissy, would you live to be apart of this’? And they’ve all been like: ‘Bitch. Yes’, so humour is definitely one of the things that has been a staple in each of my friendships with these girls. 

COVEN are a collective from South Auckland specialising in Vogue culture and performance art. Their roots as performers are in the NZ underground Vogue Ball scene, expanding out into performance art through activating rituals and ceremonies in galleries, book launches and academic symposiums. Some of COVEN’s most recent achievements include performing on the stage of TED Talks, appearing in Vice’s Underground Vogue Scene documentary, and being part of the award-winning Fafswag Interactive Documentary. COVEN’s members are Moe “Mistress” Laga, Jacob “Duchess” Tamata, Cypris “Fang” Afakasi, Gabriel “Princess” Halatoa, Logan “Honey” Collis, Sandy “Empress” Vukalokalo. And introducing Spencer Papali’i and Tekeepa Aria friends of COVEN


Get your tickets and RSVP to the show HERE

Interview: BIG NASH x Iconic sound release two singles ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’

Feature, Interview, Music

BIG NASH is the President & CEO of Auckland based record label and newly formed management agency Iconic Sound. This year, he’s spent most of his time building it into a foundation he can stand on for the rest of his future – not an easy task to do all at once, he just added an apparel side to the venture. Anticipating his debut EP ‘International Road Boy’ or ‘IRB’ for short, I remember interviewing a 16-year-old NASH, when he released the project ‘1st Impression’. Now just turning 23, his presence on beat is stronger. His heart is harder but so is his production. We caught up over email to talk about the first two singles ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’ produced alongside Next Wavez who is signed to DJ Mustard’s record label, 10 Summers. We also discuss his Instagram account and get his side on some of the controversial content he shares. On beat, NASH manages to channel his emotions, showcasing his undeniable musical abilities and flare for making a sound we actually want to hear. ‘Self Destruct’ starts and lulls you into a West Coast flex, melting over listeners’ ears with Talkbox and an R&B sound like maybe Tory Lanez was involved; when NASH’s verse comes in he bears a dark truth he says he enjoys as a lyricist: “I’ve always been a fan of dark lyricism. DMX and The Notorious B.I.G do it really well where they’re not just telling you about their pain but they’re taking you into the pit with them,” talking about ‘Self Destruct’. We might as well get into the interview:  

How did you meet Next Wavez?

N:  DontFollowSImba and Lando, Iconic Sound Senior Management members connected us one night when we were all OTP and the rest is history. The first night we met is literally the day we cooked up the instrumental for ‘Self Destruct’. It’s a familiar energy because we both have a solid work ethic which means as soon as we get in the same room laptops are being pulled out and music is being made!

What was it like connecting with Next Wavez as a person and then making music with him?

N:  It was incredible. Such an authentic person and shockingly talented at what he does. Wavez’ story about getting signed to DJ Mustard’s label 10 Summers is powerful. It really helped me see the blessings in the curse when I started giving in to self-doubt and that Tall Poppy kicked in. We live in a small country that’s so far away from the rest of the world sometimes opportunity seems mythical and knowing his dreams manifested makes me feel like the rest of ours can too.

What can people look out for from Iconic Sound in the next six months? 

N: There’s a lot in the works as far as the next six months is concerned but at the moment I can definitely promise the label’s debut group EP and expansion of the artist roster.

Describe ‘Know Thyself (Freestyle)’ & ‘Self Destruct’. What inspired these two tracks? 

N: I worked hard to be a genuine individual even to my own detriment at times, built a home I called my own and felt like I lost it all over a situation that could’ve been avoided if I wasn’t such a nice person. It’s sad to say that in 2019, you’ll probably get further in life if you have a bit of shark in you. The 2 songs were originally one track that was basically a 64 bar verse of venting and salty punchlines. Luckily Rokske Tha G talked some sense into me when I played him the first demo and I partitioned the song into a two-part story.

You mention AmmoNation in ‘Know Thyself’, why was it important for you to voice that situation? 

N: I felt like it was important because I’m a strong advocate for the spirit of truth. Everything comes to light regardless if I’m the one to shed that light or not. We’re still all men at the end of the day and no one is beyond reproach or a conversation..

What does Iconic Sound represent for NZ’s local Hip-Hop scene? 

N: A new level of quality in the sonics and production value of what’s coming out of our country. The name says it all, there’s this ‘Iconic Sound’ I’ve been chasing in my music since the first time I played the keys. A certain level of conviction in my delivery, authentic lyrics that hold weight and lastly timeless production that stands the test of time. 

Why should people get onboard with Iconic Sound?

N: They shouldn’t… They should get onboard with good music! There’s only 2 genres, good and bad music. If the people feel like we’re delivering good music then of course, they should get onboard but the day we stop keeping up our end of the bargain, I expect to be held accountable for letting them down.

Can we talk about your identity as a Kiwi, from your IG Stories? You have a very important and pivotal (albeit controversial) perspective in terms of third culture identity and progressing that for the next generation. Do you care about being labelled as radical?

N: I’m not knocking off corrupt government officials or trynna start the revolution in front of The Beehive. I’m just a guy with an Insta account like everyone else but I’m passing on game and applicable knowledge I recieved from my Mentors instead of taking photos of my food. If I’m a radical, what are we gonna call the real radicals?

Who do you look up to and why?

N: Nipsey Hussle, rest in peace to the legend, JAY Z, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, E-40, Master P & Russell Simmons.

How do they influence your hustle?

N: They influence my hustle and everyday character simply because they’re certified OG’s in the culture and their longevity speaks for itself. More than music but their business minds and entrepreneurship inspires a lot of young guys like myself.

The hardest truth to hear as a musician is there’s no money in selling music. The key is to build a platform with your talent then you graduate onto other lucrative ventures. I feel like the brave men mentioned above had a lot to do with this blueprint and the Self Made mentality we hold near and dear at Iconic Sound.

What situation inspired this line: “Hatin’ on these niggas and I’m hatin’ on myself, before this Kanye West shit I ain’t know about mental health, but right about now I could really use a blunt, I could really use a spliff, it might help me off this cliff…”

N: I’ll let people decipher that one for themselves but Biggie had a similar line in his song Suicidal Thoughts. 

“When I die, fuck it, I wanna go to hell.

‘Cause I’m a piece of shit, it ain’t hard to fuckin’ tell.

It don’t make sense, goin’ to heaven with the goodie-goodies.

Dressed in white, I like black Timbs and black hoodies.” – The Notorious B.I.G

Photographer: Kate Jenkins for International Women’s Day

Culture, Feature, Threads

S E R U M  blog is about women everyday but what better way to celebrate the official day than to feature a bad one. International Women’s Day is a public holiday in some countries – Cuba, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Zambia and Kazakhstan to name a few. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood. Kate Jenkins, content creator at Red Rat in South Auckland is our woman this year. I asked her about being young, female and in charge in 2019, here’s what she had to say:

What do you do?

Photographer. Stylist. Hair & Makeup.

Where do you work?

Red Rat Clothing but I still do freelance jobs on the side.

What do you love about your job?

EVERYTHING. Everyday is different, working with people and being able to inspire are the biggest perks though.

How do you feel about equality, would you say you’re a feminist?

I 100% believe in equality and I’d like to say I identify as one but I actually hate the word as I believe it leads uneducated people to believe it means females first – I prefer the term equalist.

What makes you feel empowered?

Being able to dress how I want, act how I want and work where I want.

What is your view on the word ‘bitch’?

I believe it depends entirely on context and how sensitive a person is, I like to think I’m quite open minded and that it isn’t always used in a negative manner so it hasn’t been intended to offend. But everybody is different and reacts differently so in my opinion people need to keep that in mind when communicating.

What’s your fav album right now?

I basically only listen to seshollowaterboyz, Lil Peep, wicca phase springs eternal and Blink182 nowadays. (I’m an emo kid that never truely grew up) Hahahaha. But this week I’ve been listening to the Bones x Ross Dylan album a lot again, its called SongsThatRemindYouOfHome (Bones really doesn’t seem to like space bars).

Follow Kate on INSTAGRAM.