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Book recommendations from Dua Lipa visit to Downview Prison: Black and British, The Mercies, The Hate U Give, Desert Flower, Dance By The Canal

Unlocking The Joy Of Reading 

I recently had the honour of attending a very special reading group, at Downview women’s prison in Surrey, England. The visit was in partnership with Books Unlocked, an organisation that provides free copies of Booker Prize longlisted and shortlisted titles to people in UK prisons. I have always believed books have the power to change lives, but seeing this power in action was incredible. Books Unlocked is increasing literacy levels, boosting confidence and creating strong communities. During my visit, we discussed Service95 Book Club’s first Book of the Month Shuggie Bain, and I loved hearing the group’s brilliant, honest and challenging reactions to a novel that’s so close to my heart. The women were kind enough to share five other books on their list – discover them for yourself below. 

Dua x 

  1. Black And British, David Olusoga 
  2. The Mercies, Kiran Millwood Hargrave 
  3. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas 
  4. Desert Flower, Waris Dirie 
  5. Dance By The Canal, Kerstin Hensel 

The Service95 Book Club is live! Visit now to discover our June Book of the Month: Shuggie Bain, plus lots more reading recommendations and exciting new content



Curtis Sittenfeld book Romantic Comedy

“Isn’t Writing Supposed To Be Harder Than This?” – Curtis Sittenfeld On Having Fun With Her New Novel 

“I knew I wanted to write a fun book this time,” author Curtis Sittenfeld tells me. We are discussing her seventh novel, Romantic Comedy, a smart and witty romance that reads the way When Harry Met Sally plays. It tells the story of the aptly named Sally, a comedy writer on a late-night sketch show, whose cynical approach to love is tested when a famous musician takes an interest in her. But ‘hot’ men don’t date ‘ordinary’ women – do they? 

portrait of Curtis Sittenfeld
Curtis Sittenfeld © Ackerman + Gruber

“I spent a lot of lockdown watching Saturday Night Live,” Sittenfeld explains. “I noticed this trend for very ordinary men on that show marrying or dating these extremely famous, hot women… Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost, Emma Stone and David McCary, Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson. I thought to myself, someone should write a book about a female writer and a super-hot male celebrity. I first thought that would be too delightful for me, isn’t writing supposed to be harder than that?” 

Book covers by author Curtis Sittenfeld

The bestselling novelist, whose books are widely acclaimed, was clearly due something lighter, less weighed down with – for example – hefty political associations. Her last novel was Rodham in 2020, a counterfactual reimagining of the life of Hillary Clinton if she had not married Bill. Her third novel, American Wife (2008) was a pseudo retelling of Laura Bush’s life, and The Nominee from her sublime 2018 short story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It, felt like an early stab at writing Hillary.  
She describes these women as prime Sittenfeld fare, namely, people whose consciousness she wants to roam around in for the years it takes to write a novel. “I have to have a certain amount of compassion for a character,” she says. “I would not want to write from the point of view of a character I found despicable. It’s like going to lunch with a person you hate – why would you do it?” 

I ask how it felt to inhabit the persona of comedy writer Sally – wasn’t there pressure to ‘write funny’? Yet her easy wit as we chat makes the inquiry redundant. She approached Sally as a fellow writer, which explains the epistolary interlude in the novel’s middle section, set over some Covid-era flirtatious email exchanges (“Sally is at her best on the page,” notes Sittenfeld). It could have been clunky, but instead feels fresh and compelling.

“There’s something charming and irresistible and timeless about two people falling in love,” she says, of the smart dissection of romance – of why and how we fall in love, and what it feels like – which forms a connecting tissue between so many of her novels. “To me, it’s endlessly interesting. It’s always fertile ground to explore.” The result is, as Sittenfeld herself would say, “too delightful”. 
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld is out now 

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar 

The Good Buys

On our radar this week…

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

AI fashion photography by Malik Afegbua, Slick City
Malik Afegbua, Slick City

The Nigerian Filmmaker Using AI To Fight Ageism In The Fashion Industry

Age doesn’t seem to have much of a place in fashion. Think of most runway shows, and chances are the only images that’ll come to mind will be of young, often too-thin, predominantly white models, whose perfect skin and dewy looks are almost crystallised in time. The same goes for ad campaigns, billboards and fashion editorials.  

But what if old – or just older – people had a spot on the stage, too? Fashion Show For Seniors, a photo series by Nigerian filmmaker and artist Malik Afegbua attempts to answer that question.  

AI fashion photography by Malik Afegbua, Slick City
Malik Afegbua, Slick City

The images are, simply put, an homage to old age. Black African models with grey hair and lined faces are seen strutting the runway. They’re draped in beautiful shawls and wraps, elaborate gele (a type of head tie predominantly worn in West Africa) and fila (a soft hat for men). The overall effect is joyful and arresting, the models proud of their years.  

Except, they aren’t real. Afegbua used AI-software to conjure this parallel fashion world. It’s a way, he says, to show how technology can challenge stereotypes and forge new conversations around topics such as ageism.  

“With my work, I always try to find new ways to tell stories,” he says, speaking from his home in Lagos, Nigeria. “Artificial intelligence is proving to be a fantastic tool to do that. It can help create things that don’t exist, like older models on a runway – as obvious as that might sound. I see it as a way to shift perceptions.”

Fashion Show For Seniors – which propelled Afegbua to Instagram and media stardom in early 2023 – is part of a bigger endeavour titled The Elder Series, which is set on debunking stereotypes around older people as well as celebrating African faces and bodies. Like the runway show, the project puts digital grandpas and grannies in colourful, beautiful garments inspired by traditional Nigerian clothing and Afro-futuristic fashion.  

Afegbua credits his mother as his inspiration. “She had a stroke last year. It has been incredibly hard, as I have always been close to her,” he says. “I found myself imagining a place where she would be happy, and that’s how I started working on this. I thought these images would put a smile on her face and maybe on others’, too. From there, it evolved into a wish to speak for the elderly and the marginalised. To make them feel seen.” 

Asked whether he thinks AI was the only way to achieve that visibility, Afegbua replies with a confident “yes”. “Had I gone to a production company to propose they put a group of older people on the catwalk, they would have thought I was joking,” he explains. “But because this is a finished product – you can see how stunning they look, and how it can really be done. It’s easier to take the conversation in a new direction and say, ‘This isn’t far-fetched.’” 

He believes AI can be a powerful tool for the arts in general. “Tech is only going to get better,” he says. “So why not embrace it? As an artist, it can help you reach your destination faster, with sharper clarity.” 

At the same time, he notes, Black creators can also use AI to improve it. “When you search ‘Black woman in a fashion show’ in the AI software, the images I made might come up, because they’re now part of the system,” he says. “That can expand the way we’re portrayed digitally, which means better representation. I see it as a relationship that can only become stronger.” 

Marianna Cerini is a freelance writer for publications including Conde Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, CNN Style and Fortune

Portrait of artist Sahara Longe in her Brixton studio
Sahara Longe © Edwina Kargbo

The Way I Work... Sahara Longe 

In our series where we look at the things, places and people that inspire a creative’s working life, Service95’s Funmi Fetto meets London-based artist Sahara Longe 

Sahara Longe is a British Sierra-Leonean figurative artist known for her vibrantly colourful, often large-scale oil paintings. In 2021, she was selected for the Palazzo Monti Residency programme in Brescia, Italy, and her celebrated works have appeared in shows including Art Basel Miami and Art Lagos. Her solo exhibition New Shapes at Timothy Taylor London is on now. She chats to Service95 about working with her “unfriendly” dog, her love of collecting weird objects and hiding family members in her paintings… 

Image of stalls at Brixton Market, London
Brixton Market, London/Alamy

On Her Daily Ritual… I walk with my dog through the park and get to my studio in Brixton for 10AM, then I’ll paint until 7PM. At lunch time I head to Brixton Market, there are lots of food trucks there. I go to the Ethiopian one – the food is so yummy. Afterwards, I come back and continue painting. It’s pretty boring, but it’s very nice. Just me and the dog – heaven! 

The Miseducation Of Lauren Hill; Les Misérables soundtrack

On Her Studio Playlist… I work in silence for the first two hours, only once I’ve done the hard stuff can I put music on. I love singing along to the Les Misérables soundtrack as it’s just so dramatic. Either that or The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. In the evening, I turn it up really loud because the studio next door has gone home. 

Edwina (2020), Sahara Longe. Courtesy Ed Cross Fine Art

On The People In Her Paintings... I’m fascinated by street scenes, so I put a lot of strangers in my work. I’ll sometimes see a face and imagine what their life’s like. I also like to use people I know: my Nigerian hairdresser (she has a great face); or I’ll sometimes tuck my sister Edwina into a painting. I have an aunt I don’t like much, so I put her in as an evil character. It’s so fun.  

Artist Sahara Longe painting Police Man (2023)
Police Man (2023), Sahara Longe. Courtesy Timothy Taylor, London/New York

On Her Work Uniform… Anything I accidentally splashed paint on would become my new painting clothes – I destroy everything! So I’ve recently got these all-in-ones that cost £25. My painting clothes have to be comfortable.  

Image of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence at night
Ponte Vecchio, Florence/Alamy

On Travel… I’m going to Japan soon as I really want to learn more about woodcutting techniques. And one of my favourite places in the world is Florence. I lived there as an art student. The people are so friendly; it’s like a very beautiful but relaxed party.  

Image of Sahara Longe's dog in her studio and a ceramic King Charles Spaniel
Sahara Longe’s dog; ceramic King Charles spaniel

On Collecting... I’m obsessed with Agatha Christie stories, but mainly I love weird vintage stuff, like these 1960s plates with eyes that wink at you. I have a lot of vintage cheerleading outfits that I bought in Texas, but they don’t actually fit me. And I love the Sierra-Leonean dolls and sculptures I got from my mum – I just find the expressions on their faces so powerful. If I come across a ceramic King Charles spaniel, I have to buy it. I’m not sure where my obsession comes from – I don’t have a King Charles spaniel! Mine is a mixture of jack russell, chihuahua and pomeranian, the worst dogs put together. She’s so unfriendly. 

Ernst Kirchner painting
Otto Mueller (1915), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

On Artistic Inspirations… Ernst Kirchner used a lot of colour and African masks – I love the way they show up in his work. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a huge inspiration; I was blown away by her Tate Modern exhibition in London. I’m also obsessed with Michael Armitage. I went to his Royal Academy of Arts show in 2021 and I was like ‘Oh my God, how do you do this?’ His use of materials and colour is so cool and complicated.  

On Alternative Careers… I love to paint furniture, but I’m not very good at making furniture. Maybe I would go into farming. I grew up on a farm in Suffolk and really love animals, but I’m not vegetarian so I’m probably the worst animal lover in the world.   

Artist Sahara Longe painting Tender Kiss (2023)
Tender Kiss (2023), Sahara Longe. Courtesy Timothy Taylor, London/New York

On The Best Advice She’s Received... Never sell something you’re not proud of. There’s a lot of stuff I’m glad I didn’t sell. But there are a few works I did where I’m like, ‘Please God, I hope the building it’s in burns down.’ 

Funmi Fetto is the Global Editorial Director of Service95 and a Contributing Editor at British Vogue 

The Hay Festival 2023 line-up of speakers

The Festival For Book Lovers 

This weekend, I have the privilege of appearing at the Hay Festival in Wales. This annual celebration of literature is famous among book lovers, and as someone who’s passionate about reading – and who is very proud to have launched the Service95 Book Club – it’s an absolute honour to be invited. On Saturday 3 June, I’ll be recording a special episode of my Dua Lipa: At Your Service podcast live in conversation with Douglas Stuart – author of Service95 Book Club’s first Book of the Month, Shuggie Bain. And on Sunday 4 June, I’ll be discussing my love of books with Booker Prize Foundation director Gaby Wood. Are you going to Hay? Let us know on our socials who you’re excited to see! If not, check out the Hay Player, where you can watch and listen to a whole library of author talks from past festivals. Below are five to get you started: 

Dua x 

  1. Maya Angelou 
  2. Laura Bates and Laurie Penny 
  3. Bernardine Evaristo 
  4. Anne-Marie Imafidon 
  5. Margaret Atwood 


The Service95 Book Club is live! Visit now to discover our June Book of the Month: Shuggie Bain, plus lots more reading recommendations and exciting new content


Black and white image of writer Susan Sontag at a typewriter
Susan Sontag (1972) © Jean-Régis Roustan

Exclusive Excerpt From Susan Sontag’s New Essay Collection, On Women  

Susan Sontag (1933-2004) was a groundbreaking American writer, philosopher, activist and critic. Her influential works spoke powerful truths about the political and social standing of women in the 1970s. This is a Service95 exclusive excerpt from her essay The Double Standard Of Ageing, which appears in On Women, a new collection of her feminist writing

Book cover On Women by Susan Sontag

I remember my closest friend in college sobbing on the day she turned twenty-one. “The best part of my life is over. I’m not young anymore.” She was a senior, nearing graduation. I was a precocious freshman, just sixteen. Mystified, I tried lamely to comfort her, saying that I didn’t think twenty-one was so old. Actually, I didn’t understand at all what could be demoralizing about turning twenty-one. To me, it meant only something good: being in charge of oneself, being free. At sixteen, I was too young to have noticed, and become confused by, the peculiarly loose, ambivalent way in which this society demands that one stop thinking of oneself as a girl and start thinking of oneself as a woman. (In America that demand can now be put off to the age of thirty, even beyond.) But even if I thought her distress was absurd, I must have been aware that it would not simply be absurd but quite unthinkable in a boy turning twenty-one. Only women worry about age with that degree of inanity and pathos. And, of course, as with all crises that are inauthentic and therefore repeat themselves compulsively (because the danger is largely fictive, a poison in the imagination), this friend of mine went on having the same crisis over and over, each time as if for the first time.   

I also came to her thirtieth birthday party. A veteran of many love affairs, she had spent most of her twenties living abroad and had just returned to the United States. She had been good-looking when I first knew her; now she was beautiful. I teased her about the tears she had shed over being twenty-one. She laughed and claimed not to remember. But thirty, she said ruefully, that really is the end. Soon after, she married. My friend is now forty-four. While no longer what people call beautiful, she is striking-looking, charming, and vital. She teaches elementary school; her husband, who is twenty years older than she, is a part-time merchant seaman. They have one child, now nine years old. Sometimes, when her husband is away, she takes a lover. She told me recently that forty was the most upsetting birthday of all (I wasn’t at that one), and although she has only a few years left, she means to enjoy them while they last. She has become one of those women who seize every excuse offered in any conversation for mentioning how old they really are, in a spirit of bravado compounded with self-pity that is not too different from the mood of women who regularly lie about their age. But she is actually fretting much less about aging than she was two decades ago. Having a child, and having one rather late, past the age of thirty, has certainly helped to reconcile her to her age. At fifty, I suspect, she will be ever more valiantly postponing the age of resignation.   

My friend is one of the more fortunate, sturdier casualties of the aging crisis. Most women are not as spirited, nor as innocently comic in their suffering. But almost all women endure some version of this suffering: A recurrent seizure of the imagination that usually begins quite young, in which they project themselves into a calculation of loss. The rules of this society are cruel to women. Brought up to be never fully adult, women are deemed obsolete earlier than men. In fact most women don’t become relatively free and expressive sexually until their thirties. (Women mature sexually this late, certainly much later than men, not for innate biological reasons but because this culture retards women. Denied most outlets for sexual energy permitted to men, it takes many women that long to wear out some of their inhibitions.) The time at which they start being disqualified as sexually attractive persons is just when they have grown up sexually. The double standard about aging cheats women of those years, between thirty-five and fifty, likely to be the best of their sexual life.   

That women expect to be flattered often by men, and the extent to which their self-confidence depends on this flattery, reflects how deeply women are psychologically weakened by this double standard. Added on to the pressure felt by everybody in this society to look young as long as possible are the values of “femininity,” which specifically identify sexual attractiveness in women with youth. The desire to be the “right age” has a special urgency for a woman it never has for a man. A much greater part of her self-esteem and pleasure in life is threatened when she ceases to be young. Most men experience getting older with regret, apprehension. But most women experience it even more painfully: with shame. Aging is a man’s destiny, something that must happen because he is a human being. For a woman, aging is not only her destiny. Because she is that more narrowly defined kind of human being, a woman, it is also her vulnerability.   
On Women by Susan Sontag; edited by David Rieff. Published by Picador, May 30, 2023. Copyright © 2023 by The Estate of Susan Sontag. All rights reserved  

The Good Buys

On our radar this week…

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Artist Binta Diaw installations Dïà s p o r a, Chorus Of Soil and Uati's Wisdom
Dïà s p o r a (2021), Galerie Cécile Fakhoury © Issam Zejly; Chorus Of Soil (2020) © Antonio Maniscalco; Uati’s Wisdom (2020)

“Instruments Of Resistance And Vindication” – The Powerful Work Of Senegalese-Italian Artist Binta Diaw

When the visual artist Binta Diaw was 11 years old, she came across a drawing of the Brooks, an 18th-century slave trade ship. The image, commissioned by British abolitionists in 1788, portrayed people squeezed on board the vessel, and was aimed at raising awareness of the inhumanity of slavery. “It stayed with me,” she says of the picture. “Over the years, I internalised it in a way I wasn’t even aware of.” 

Binta Diaw © Szilveszter Makó

In 2019, Diaw made a replica of the drawing from earth and seeds. The installation, Chorus Of Soil, was “a temple dedicated to the memory of all those women, men and children who lost their lives during the crossings.” But it also referenced the present. She used melon seeds – a nod to the so-called Mafia-operated plantations in Southern Italy, where thousands of migrants are being systematically exploited today. “It was my way to remember the past and call out what’s essentially just a different kind of slavery,” she explains. “My contribution to our collective history.”    

Born in Milan to Senegalese parents, Diaw makes this contribution the focus of her art. Using textiles, found objects and natural materials, her works explore themes of migration and immigration, identity and the Black female body, challenging the Eurocentric gaze and, often, questioning perceptions of Italianness and Africanness.   

“I am interested in exploring Blackness both through my personal experience as a Black Italian woman – something that’s too often still regarded as ‘exotic’ and ‘other’ – and through the lenses of archival research, Afro-diasporic communities and intersectional feminism,” she says. “I want to take care of myself and of those who see themselves in what I do.” Above all, that means deconstructing the past. “So much of Black people’s narrative never made it into history books,” Diaw says. “I am keen to recontextualise our voices and give us the space we’ve been denied.”  

In some of her most compelling works, Diaw uses hair – African hair braiding in particular – to reclaim that space. For her 2020 installation Uati’s Wisdom, she crafted a huge tentacle-like sculpture out of hair extensions inspired by the West African water goddess Mami Wata, to celebrate radical traditions of matriarchy. Dïà s p o r a (2021) featured a giant black wave representing a cartography of the routes of marronage, and spotlighting the importance of African hair in transmitting vernacular knowledge.   

“Just like with bodies and lands, hair too has been subject to colonisation,” she says. “Over centuries, it has assumed functions, meanings and values dictated exclusively by Eurocentric aesthetic norms. I’m trying to break those norms, turning hair into an instrument of resistance and vindication.”   

Her practice has struck a chord. The 28-year-old’s work has appeared in galleries across Europe and Africa, and she won the prestigious Pujade-Lauraine/Carta Bianca prize last year. This month, she’ll unveil a revisited, site-specific version of Chorus Of Soil at the Liverpool Biennial

“Liverpool is where the Brooks departed from,” Diaw says. “So, it’s important for the installation to address that. I’d like it to be a moment of regeneration – another personal attempt to correct things.”   
The Liverpool Biennial runs from 10-17 June 2023 
Marianna Cerini is a freelance writer for publications including Conde Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, CNN Style and Fortune  

Portrait of Laila Gohar
Laila Gohar © David Brandon Geeting

The Way I Work... Laila Gohar 

In our series where we look at the things, places and people that inspire a creative’s working life, Marie-Claire Chappet speaks to the artist and chef about everything from her workspace to her creative process   

She was famously dubbed – by Drake no less – the ‘Björk of food’. The New York-based Egyptian chef, artist and Financial Times columnist is certainly an explosive creative force; a magnetic auteur making food an art form. She is also the co-founder and creator (along with her sister Nadia) of Gohar World. It’s a line of surrealistic homeware, the perfect accompaniment to her delicious flights of fancy. Here, she tells Service95 about her chaotic desk, her strict work-free weekends and her tendency to get into trouble…  

Gohar World

On Her Working Conditions… I work in my studio, which is a 10-minute walk from my apartment in downtown NYC. My desk is extremely chaotic. It’s a very multi-purpose space, but the bits and pieces that end up there serve as a reflection of the exciting things happening in the studio and my life.

Image of catwalk look from Simone Rocha Spring/Summer 2023 collection; image of Eau Triple Sumi Hinoki perfume bottle, by Officine Universelle Buly
Simone Rocha SS23; Eau Triple Sumi Hinoki, Officine Universelle Buly

On Her Work Uniform… I wear a lot of Simone Rocha. She is a good friend; I like her exaggerated silhouettes. I want to be in things that are roomy and I can move in easily. Being able to transition from day to night, work life to home life is important. For scent, I wear Eau Triple Sumi Hinoki by Officine Universelle Buly, one of the old French apothecaries. It’s very subtle. I hate it when you hug someone and their scent lingers on you.  

On Her Work Process… I start around 10AM and finish around 7PM. Every day we stop to have lunch at the studio. I always schedule things around lunch, that’s a golden rule. Work is a friendly and familial environment – people are chatty and personable. We did a secret Valentine this year which was cute. We like to maintain the holiday spirit! I have a strict ‘no work on the weekend’ policy.  

Laila Gohar finishing cake chair sculpture at the Sotheby's show Contemporary Curated in Paris
Contemporary Curated, Sotheby’s © Micha Patault

On Travelling… I love travelling for work, mostly to Paris and Milan. I love the way the earth looks when you are just about to land in a city, divided into big patches of blue and green, like a quilt. It has been so nice to be able to travel again in the last year and to connect with friends. I went to Paris last autumn to curate the Contemporary Curated show at Sotheby’s. I also made a life-sized chair out of cake for the show. It was a lot of fun.

© Jeremy Liebman

On Creative Inspiration… I like to be in nature – either in a forest or around lots of trees and flowers or to go for a walk. I love farmers’ markets. I look to creatives, too. I love Louise Bourgeois, especially her fabric works and drawings. She was also a collector of beautiful things and a fellow lover of lace – my kind of woman. On Instagram, I follow @npr, and @casabosques, and all my friends to inform and inspire me. You are what you consume. Life’s too short to follow people who don’t make you feel good. 

Cassi Namoda

On Her Favourite Artwork… A small painting by my friend Cassi Namoda. She is extremely talented. I love it because it has sentimental value and it’s beautiful. It’s nice to look around [your home] and be reminded of the people who make your life sing. 

Gohar World © Rhea Karam

On Her Best Career Advice… Put your head down and keep working. There are no shortcuts. Also, surround yourself with great people. I am lucky to work with an extremely loyal, hardworking and funny team. Success is about partnership, it doesn’t just come to one person. If I hadn’t figured out a way to express myself and found this career, I think I would be in a lot of trouble. I was a really cheeky child… 
Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar 

Portrait of Dua Lipa and Rosie Viva
Rosie Viva, Dua Lipa © Elizabeth Miranda

Living With Bipolar 

At Service95, we’re passionate about sharing diverse stories, and this issue is no exception. Below, Marie-Claire Chappet speaks to model and activist Rosie Viva – a long-time friend of mine – about her fascinating new documentary: Modelling, Mania And Me. The film tells the raw, exposing and ultimately liberating story of Rosie’s bipolar journey. Here she shares her experience of making the documentary, and her hopes that it will provide a relatable resource for others. Seeing how Rosie has dealt with her diagnosis with positivity and grace has been a huge inspiration to me, and I hope her story resonates with you too. Enjoy the issue… 
Dua x 


The Service95 Book Club is now live! Visit now to discover our first Book of the Month, Shuggie Bain, plus a whole library of reading recommendations and lots more exciting new content:


Portrait of model and presenter Rosie Viva
Rosie Viva © Sam Hiscox

“Showing The Highs On Camera Was So Freeing” – Model And Activist Rosie Viva On Her Bipolar Documentary

“The first time I spoke with other young people who had bipolar, it was a breakthrough,” explains Rosie Viva. “It was the first time I wasn’t scared of it anymore. I accepted it. My opinion of myself did a complete 180.” 

Modelling, Mania And Me

Viva – a London-based model, mental health activist and now filmmaker – has just completed a documentary about her bipolar disorder. It’s her second time tackling the topic on screen. The first was a personal project, crafted largely during lockdown; a raw and intimate attempt by a young woman to understand herself through the experiences of others also living with the condition. The second is the TV production Modelling, Mania And Me. It is slicker, perhaps, but no less exposing. Yet for all the apparent hardships of being filmed at some of her lowest ebbs, Viva found the experience liberating.  

“What was quite nice was being able to show the highs of bipolar,” she explains. “There’s still a lot of secrecy around that. I’ve always felt more shame about my highs than my lows, as society finds those more difficult to understand. A lot of people can resonate with lows and try to give advice, but they don’t ‘get’ the high part. Showing the highs on camera was so freeing.” 

Her story feels made for the screen: a beautiful young model is arrested at London Stansted airport for jumping on the baggage drop-off desks and hitting the fire alarm. You couldn’t make it up. Following this incident four years ago, Viva was hospitalised. Her mania – which she previously believed to be high-anxiety – was finally diagnosed. She then received three months of inpatient care and began her road to recovery. 

Yet, what is most interesting about Viva’s narrative is not its dramatic beginnings, but the nuance of her journey. “When you make a documentary, [the producers] want a neat ending,” she says. “My struggle has always been trying to explain that this is something I will manage for the rest of my life. There is no ending. This is me.” 

Viva acknowledges that many people might wait until later in life to retrospectively tell their story. But she felt it important to show herself still figuring out who she is, in the hope of providing relatable solace for other young people in similar positions. “I’m really happy with life right now because I understand myself more,” she says. “I know when my low ebbs mean it’s the bipolar talking and I am at peace with it.” 

She hopes the documentary highlights symptoms of bipolar, so that someone who hasn’t yet been diagnosed might watch it and get help. “Having gone through what I have, it gives you a new appreciation of everything,” she says. “You know what serves you in life and makes you safe and happy and you gravitate towards that. I used to think my diagnosis meant I wasn’t normal, now I think my old way of thinking was abnormal. My diagnosis saved me – now I am in a new normal.”   
Watch Modelling, Mania And Me on Channel 4 YouTube Documentaries now

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar

The Good Buys

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best Vintage Shops In NYC: image of New York fashion street style
Melodie Jeng

The 5 Best Vintage Stores In New York City  

A certified world fashion capital, New York stays true to its title when it comes to shopping. Its individuality thrives on an amazing vintage scene, making it the ideal place to forgo fast fashion trends and embrace sustainability. However, in a city this big it can be hard to know where to start. So, here’s our list of the best vintage hotspots:    

Interior of Kalimera Vintage shop, New York

1. Kalimera founder Alexandra Cherouvis has had an impressive first year. Her Brooklyn store boasts a beautifully decorated space with lots of light and even better clothing. Often sourcing from Europe, expect high-quality leathers and inclusive, well-fitting pieces. Out front, Kalimera has a sale rack packed with affordable buys. Longevity is key to its ethos. “I gravitate towards classic staples,” says Cherouvis. “I want customers to get a great quality piece that lasts longer than a single season or trend.” 

Image of two girls wearing vintage clothing outside New York store Tired Thrift
Tired Thrift © Lindita Kulla

2. Tired Thrift started as a “passion project” for founders and cousins Elona and Lediona Zharku. They were at college when they set up in Green Point sourcing “authentic pieces directly from the decades current fashion trends are getting their inspiration from”. Their store “for Gen Z, created by Gen Z” proved a hit, and Tired Thrift has since opened a second location in Manhattan. The aesthetic is witty Y2K slogan tops and micro minis in inclusive sizes. There’s a focus on community via Instagram Story sales, TikTok content and in-store customer events.  

Interior of Madame Matovu Vintage shop, New York
Madame Matovu

3. Madame Matovu has been a West Village staple since 2007. It’s a treasure chest of clothing, accessories and costume jewellery and each piece tells a story. The eclectic experience of Madame Matovu encapsulates the energy of NYC. And while the city is ever changing and gentrifying, owner Rosemary Wettenhall retains a loyal community of customers thanks to her excellent taste and years of experience. Perfect for fashion magpies.  

Founder and Rogue Garms shop front, New York vintage shop

4. Rogue, in the Lower East Side, may be reminiscent of your childhood bedroom – if you’re a ’90s baby at least. Focusing on the ’90s and 2000s with a nod to old-school rave wear, the store’s “nostalgia will hit you like a brick”, according to founder Emma Rogue. She progressed from online selling to a bricks and mortar store in 2021. She has since gained fans including Post Malone and Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott. This seal of approval is testament to Emma’s hard work and social media following (check out the popular street interview series on Rogue’s Instagram and TikTok). Visit for colourful pieces that won’t break the bank, and don’t forget to give SpongeBob a nod on the way out. 

Best Vintage Shops In NYC: interior of New York vintage shop, Chess And The Sphinx
Chess And The Sphinx

5. Chess And The Sphinx owners Sara Chess and Erika Perenic hand-pick every piece in this intimate Bushwick store for a customer base they describe as “unafraid to be noticed”. While the inventory ranges from the ’50s to the 2000s, most hails from the ’70s onwards. The inspiration, the owners say, is “a strong and empowered feminine image”. Expect to unearth beautiful vintage lingerie, a rare ’90s ALAÏA, perhaps, or some satin Prada pumps. 

Georgia Moot is a model and writer, based between London and New York. She has written for British Vogue, Refinery29, Browns and Dazed  

Divided by Dr Annabel Sowemimo book on decolonisation in healthcare

Why We Need To Decolonise Our Healthcare Systems 

At no point in my medical education – including a decade studying for three degrees and countless hours spent on hospital wards – did anyone mention how the legacies of colonialism and racism affect my decisions as a doctor.  

Portrait of author Annabel Sowemimo
Dr Annabel Sowemimo © Tom Trevatt

Shortly after completing my master’s at the London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – one of the world’s best public-health schools – I became disillusioned with how healthcare is taught and discussed. We never talked about the tension between majority white, middle-class doctors and racially minoritised patients. We never addressed how our health institutions have been shaped by imperialism. Nobody challenged these narratives. No one was given the space to do so. The system was heavily weighted in favour of a few.  
Medicine is taught the way it is practised. Only a few bodies have ever historically mattered: usually those of white, male, able-bodied and heterosexual people. While studying, I would listen to senior doctors make disparaging, sweeping generalisations about why some Black people were at risk of high blood pressure. There was no discussion on how the effects of racism may result in Black patients being disproportionately affected by high blood pressure and how this can lead to fatal strokes. This is a concept known as ‘weathering’, coined by Professor Arline Geronimus in 1992.  
This is why I decided to build a collective – Decolonising Contraception (now known as the Reproductive Justice Initiative charity) – in 2018. Its purpose was to start addressing the racial inequalities in sexual and reproductive health and the effects of a colonial legacy on contraception provision. We dove into the history of our institutions, looked at the mistrust between providers and patients, and how race played out in health consultations. Increasingly, both members of the public and medical colleagues would reach out to me with examples of injustice or racism they had witnessed in the healthcare system.

The combined events of 2020 – where we saw Black Lives Matter protests in the US resonate with the Black diaspora and other marginalised people across the globe – along with the disproportionate death toll from Covid-19 faced by these same communities, made the conversation on racism and healthcare even more urgent.  
It is what galvanised me to write Divided: Racism, Medicine And Why We Need To Decolonise Healthcare. The book draws on my own experiences both as a patient and a doctor, on those of my family – who emigrated from Nigeria to the UK in the 1950s and worked in this same healthcare system decades before me – and those in the Global South who are trying to make a change. Ultimately, my hope is that Divided will provide momentum to those who are challenging healthcare injustices around the world, so that we can have a more equitable system for everyone.  

With that in mind, below is a list of five people of colour working to change the medical world for the better (in no particular order). 

  1. Chidiebere Ibe – a Nigerian medical student and illustrator who is creating medical illustrations that centre Black people. 
  2. Malone Mukwende – co-created Mind The Gap, a free handbook for medical students that shows how skin conditions present on darker skin.  
  3. Dr Ayoade Alakija – a former co-chair of the African Union’s African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, who was integral in highlighting inequalities in vaccine distribution during the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  4. Dr Black Deer – an indigenous scholar-activist who is shining a light on how we achieve health equity for indigenous communities. 
  5. Dr Uché Blackstock – the founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity, an organisation on a mission to dismantle racism in healthcare.  

Dr Annabel Sowemimo is a sexual and reproductive health doctor. She is founder of the Reproductive Justice Initiative and the author of Divided: Racism, Medicine And Why We Need To Decolonise Healthcare 

Dua Lipa at the 2023 Met Gala wearing vintage Chanel Bridalwear
Getty Images/Met Museum/Vogue

Celebrating Fashion’s Greats

Earlier this month I had the honour of co-hosting the Met Gala in New York. It’s the biggest night of the fashion calendar and always a spectacular occasion. This year’s event was in honour of Karl Lagerfeld, one of fashion’s most influential designers, who passed away in 2019 after a career spanning seven decades – most famously as creative director of Chanel. The event inspired me to learn more about the glamour and history of the fashion industry, and the people who help shape it. So here are five fashion books I’ve added to my (ever-expanding) reading list…   

Dua x  

  1. Chanel And Her World, Edmonde Charles-Roux 
  2. Nadine Ijewere: Our Own Selves, Nadine Ijewere
  3. Grace: A Memoir, Grace Coddington   
  4. Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath The Skin, Andrew Wilson 
  5. Vivienne Westwood, Vivienne Westwood & Ian Kelly   



Image of book cover The Five Sorrowful Mysteries Of Andy Africa by Stephen Buoro

“It’s The Most Eviscerating Thing I’ve Ever Written” – Stephen Buoro On His Acclaimed New Novel

Maths, Marvel movies, an encyclopaedia and a Blackberry. These are the unlikely building blocks of Stephen Buoro’s literary career. If his name is unfamiliar, it won’t be for long. The 30-year-old Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship recipient has just released his debut novel The Five Sorrowful Mysteries Of Andy Africa. It tells the tragi-comic tale of Andy, a teenager growing up in Kontagora, Nigeria, who falls in love with a white girl as sectarian violence descends on his home and a mysterious man arrives claiming to be his father. Bittersweet, movingly rendered and formally audacious in its direction, it is the first move of an undeniable new literary talent. 

Buoro, who was a maths teacher in Nigeria before moving to the UK, says of the novel’s first drafts: “I brought all my fascinations to the book. Mathematics, science fiction, Afrofuturism.” It was written in snatched notes on his Blackberry, inspired by the encyclopaedias in his school library and a copy of Ulysses downloaded to a small Motorola flip phone.

We are having coffee in London and Buoro, a voracious reader who views books as portals to other worlds, has just arrived from Norwich, where he is studying for a PhD in creative and critical writing. He apologises for “being better at writing my ideas than talking about them”. 

Buoro’s novel has been declared a ‘condition of Africa’ tome by its publisher, a heavy mantle deservedly applied. He describes a sensation of powerlessness during his youth in Nigeria, and how writing was his liberation. “Writing fiction gave me power – you feel like a god of your own world,” he says. Andy’s Marvel fixation reflects this. “Growing up, we were engulfed by Western culture,” Buoro explains. “We all wanted to be Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, to be superheroes. I wanted to capture these key moments of coming of age.” 

The dominance of Western influence on Andy is a recurring theme. The novel begins as boldly as it goes on, with the line ‘Dear White People’ followed by a description of Andy’s obsession with white, blonde women. It is unafraid to tackle seismic and problematic issues – colourism, religious wars and oppressive patriarchy – through the eyes of a young man grappling with the long shadow of colonialism and the yearning for a better life for what he calls his ‘cursed continent’. 

These are vast topics, but this is resolutely a character novel. “[Andy’s] voice just came to me, this powerful voice that wanted to confess, to understand things,” he says. “I remember staring at it afterwards and realising it was the most eviscerating thing I had ever written. I knew I had to carry on.”  
The Five Sorrowful Mysteries Of Andy Africa is out now. Stephen Buoro will be in conversation with David Olusoga at the Hay Festival on 29 May 2023

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar


The Good Buys

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Image of model lying on a bed wearing underwear
Sebastian Mader/Trunk Archive

Why We Need To Talk About Underwear

We spend more time in it than in any other garment. Nothing else gets closer to us. It’s with us through so many of our most personal life moments – the good ones and the challenging ones. It’s functional; it’s intimate; it’s sexual; it’s reflective of the cultural moment. Hell, it’s political! I’m talking about underwear, one of the most important tools in our sartorial kits. And yet, for the most part, we treat our undies with embarrassment and dismissal. Why is that?  

Hello Girls Podcast artwork
Hello Girls podcast

The question had been preoccupying me for a couple of years before my friend and fellow journalist Emily Cronin and I launched Hello Girls, a podcast all about women’s underwear. We decided underwear was a topic worth talking about in, well, intimate detail. And, having had a great response since launching the series in March this year, clearly others feel the same.

Wonderbra Advertisement
Wonderbra, Alamy

Our title flips the infamous Wonderbra ‘Hello Boys’ ad campaign starring Eva Herzigová and her ample bosom, which caused a commotion when it appeared on UK billboards in 1994. Fast forward 30 years, and with our awareness of the patriarchy and the damage it causes, we recognise it’s the female gaze that needs to be catered to when it comes to our own undergarments.  
We believe underwear is the foundation of everything, not least good conversation. And there’s a lot to talk about. Our idea of what’s acceptable, what’s not, what’s sexy, what’s comfortable, have shifted. Nothing new there. Underwear is constantly adapting to reflect society. It’s a good lens through which to track the status of women throughout time.  

Dior, Vogue (1953) © Horst P Horst/Condé Nast; Madonna, Like A Virgin; Desperately Seeking Susan, Alamy; Bridget Jones’s Diary, Alamy

The change from corsetry to simple bras in the 1920s reflected women’s bid for equality and voting rights. The hyper-feminine silhouettes of Dior’s New Look in the 1950s read as a desire for a return to traditional family structures after the trauma of WWII. Although women didn’t actually burn their bras in the late 1960s, the barely there, natural bra shapes of that time rejected previous ideas of traditional femininity and echoed the sexual revolution and the advent of the Pill. And think of the outrage in the conservative 1980s when Madonna sang Like A Virgin wearing a visible bra and not much else.

In the early 2000s, we laughed at Bridget Jones’s big knickers. Why? Because they signalled a woman no longer at her most desirable? Weren’t Bridget’s control pants simply an attempt to conform to the impossible physical expectations society put – and still puts – on women? Maybe, maybe not. I mean, it was funny; underwear is routinely funny, but what lies beneath the laughter can be complex and nuanced. 

Today, we seem more willing to embrace those nuances via brands that meet our diverse expectations. And yet we do not live in a feminist world. We might tut-tut at the Hello Boys ad or pity those who deemed it somehow emancipated at the time, but here we are in 2023 still fighting the patriarchy while simultaneously embracing the naked dress and visible thongs. Are we really that much more progressive? I take no side, but merely want to point out that, when it comes to underwear, there’s a lot to delve into.   
Hello Girls is available on Apple and wherever you get your podcasts    

Kate Finnigan is a London-based writer who contributes to the Financial Times, The Gentlewoman, The Observer and Vogue

Stills from Anime films and TV series, including Astro Boy, Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Digimon, One Piece, Howl’s Moving Castle, Demon Slayer and Nintama Rantarō. Interior of Tokyo anime bookshop Mandarake
Astro Boy; Dragon Ball; Sailor Moon; Digimon; One Piece; Howl’s Moving Castle; Demon Slayer; Mandarake, Tokyo; Nintama Rantarō

In Praise Of Anime

As a young child in Japan, I remember mornings spent staring out at my grandparents’ Zen garden as I drank miso soup and ate white rice with wooden chopsticks. I’d turn on the TV in the background; watching my favourite shows such as Doraemon or Nintama Rantarō as I got ready for school. It wasn’t until I was much older that I fully understood the impact anime would have on my life.

Anime, a form of animation that originated in Japan, comes in many forms: manga comics, young adult novels, films, TV shows and video games. Over 40% of the world’s population watches some form of anime, estimates show. The global anime market is growing by 9.8% per year, set to be worth over USD $43billion by 2027.  

It’s a modern phenomenon, but its roots can be traced back to the popular magic lantern shows of the early 1900s. These shows typically featured colourfully painted, illuminated figures moving on a projector. Astro Boy, a TV show created in the 1950s, was the first to embody the characteristics of anime as we know it today.  In the 1980s and 1990s, the production company Toei Animation created Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Digimon and One Piece – which are still some of the genre’s most popular TV shows of all time.    

One of my favourite anime films is Howl’s Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of the award-winning Studio Ghibli production company. Miyazaki once said that whenever someone creates something with all their heart, that creation is given a soul. Visiting the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan earlier this year with my mom reminded me how deeply anime has shaped and impacted the woman I’ve become. From when Mirko mercilessly battled the powerful Nomus in My Hero Academia to Tanjiro’s brutal but successful training to become a demon slayer in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba, these are the heroic messages that have given me courage during important times of growth.  
Yumi Tamura, a Japanese manga artist, says it best when she says: “Have strength in yourself always. Think and remember not just what you should do, but what you want to do.”  

5 Shows To Help You Discover The Magical World Of Anime:  

  1. Cowboy Bebop by Hajime Yatate – a ragtag group of bounty hunters chase criminals across the galaxy.  
  2. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya – a high-school student meets a family possessed by the 13 animals of the Chinese zodiac.   
  3. Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa – two brothers pursue alchemy in the hopes of finding a way to bring their deceased mother back to life.   
  4. Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto – a young ninja dreams of becoming the leader of his village.   
  5. Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori – a female high school student joins an elite male host club to pay back a debt.   

Aaliyah Cotton is a Hawaii-based fiction writer with a passion for young-adult, fantasy, and sci-fi novels    

Service95 Book Club announcement graphic

For The Love Of Books 

After months of planning, I am so proud to announce the Service95 Book Club, launching later this month! Words cannot express how thrilled I am – sharing the joy of reading is something I feel really passionately about, so this is a dream come true.

image of Dua Lipa holding book

And so I’m inviting you all to join – all you need to do is continue to follow along on our socials and at Service95. Each month we’ll announce our chosen book accompanied by author Q&As, discussion guides and more incredible content to help you get the most out of these wonderful reads.

To celebrate the launch, this week’s issue is a books special, including a piece by Douglas Stuart – author of June’s Book of the Month, Shuggie Bain – about the images that inspired the novel. This story of a young boy growing up with an alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow totally won my heart, and I can’t wait for us to explore it together.  

Dua x 



Archive image of young boy in Glasgow blowing bubblegum in the deserted street
Glasgow (1980) © Raymond Depardon/Magnum Photos

Douglas Stuart On The Powerful Images That Inspired Shuggie Bain 

Douglas Stuart is the author of Shuggie Bain, Service95 Book Club’s first Book of the Month. The novel follows a young boy growing up in poverty in 1980s Glasgow. Here, Stuart shares a personally curated set of images that inspired the book, representing the defiance, resilience and pride of often-overlooked working-class communities. 

Father And Son © Chris Killip Photography Trust
Father And Son, Newcastle Upon Tyne (1973-1985) © Chris Killip Photography Trust/Magnum Photos

Before I became a writer I worked in fashion for 20 years, and ever since I have turned to photography to inspire me. And so, at the start of the writing process, I gather as many photographs as I can, as well as clippings of fabric or buttons – anything that evokes the time and place I’m writing about – to help me create the mood. I chose this particular collection of photos because they are really close to my heart and central to the writing of my novels.

Raymond Depardon image of Glasgow, 1980
Glasgow (1980) © Raymond Depardon/Magnum Photos

They capture working-class communities in Glasgow and the North of England that were often overlooked by traditional photojournalism. In fact, two of them were the result of an assignment where The Sunday Times newspaper sent French photographer Raymond Depardon to Glasgow to show how modern it was, and how much progress had come with the city’s new housing schemes. What he found were ordinary people living on the margins and clinging to life in a city that was coming apart quite rapidly.  

The boy with the pink bubble gum is Shuggie for me. I love how audacious that pink bubble is – bubble gum was the only pink thing boys were allowed so it’s kind of special. The image was taken next to the Govan shipyards [a major employer in Glasgow in the 1970s and 1980s] and you see the looming crush of industry that will catch all young boys in the city. You’ve got childish things such as drawn-on goalposts, right up against the biggest shipyards in the city. Childhood leads directly into manhood; they’re very close together, which is something I’ve tried to capture in my writing.

Youth Unemployment (1981), Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha
Youth Unemployment, Newcastle Upon Tyne (1981), Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2023

In these images, I see people united by class. We don’t often record working-class lives, so images like this that feel unvarnished and very true are such powerful records. I feel like I know all the people. I feel a deep personal connection with the subjects in a way I don’t with all photography.

Elswick Kids image, 1978, by Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha
Elswick Kids, Newcastle Upon Tyne (1978), Tish Murtha © Ella Murtha. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2023

There’s a sense of time passing – of decay and hope and clinging on and ultimately, strength. I like the resilience in these images; the joy of the girl on the car; the men laughing on the street corner. I like the spirit of defiance. The girl is so free and joyful, just like those men. I really respect that. I also love the enormous pride of the woman in the red coat. That’s the sort of pride I tried to capture with Shuggie’s grandmother Lizzie. You might not have very much, but you would never go out the front door without your hair being set, and your best coat on.

Black and white archive image of a young boy lying on a pile of coal in Lynemouth, Northumberland
John And The Coal, Northumberland (1973-1985) © Chris Killip Photography Trust/Magnum Photos

These photographs are so powerful for me because they don’t flinch. As a kid who grew up in poverty, I was taught to feel very proud of being working class, but also a deep sense of shame around poverty. Whether you come from Appalachia or Pittsburgh or Paris, society doesn’t want to look at real people struggling. And what I love about these images is that you can’t turn away from them because they have so much charisma. There’s so much pride. They heal a lot of things inside me. 


The Good Buys

On our radar this week, three scents inspired by books…

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

World's Best Libraries: Stuttgart City Library, Alamy; Beitou Public Library, Alamy; Phoebe Lovatt’s Public Library; Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading; Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Shutterstock; The British Library, Shutterstock; The Morgan Library, Alamy; Woollahra Library, Alamy

The Resurgence Of The Library   

Any bookworm would be downcast when faced with a news cycle telling us that public libraries are closing – almost 800 since 2010 in the UK alone. But there is hope: small, specialised libraries are popping up all over the world, using digital and physical spaces to bring books to us all. 

The Oslo-based International Library Of Fashion Research has over 5,000 items ranging from lookbooks to magazines from 1975 onwards and also offers a digital arm. In 2021, Solange Knowles’ multidisciplinary brand Saint Heron launched a virtual library and archive of Black authors where members can borrow books for 45 days at a time. Then there’s Phoebe Lovatt’s Public Library, a space in London where visitors can browse the collection of books and zines and discuss texts in regular salons. 

All this comes at a time when books are especially fashionable. BookTok, the corner of TikTok dedicated to reading, is increasingly powerful. The hashtag has a whopping 136 billion views and helped publishers sell 20 million printed books in 2021, according to The New York Times. Pictures of celebrities including Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski reading titles such as Hilton Als’ White Girls and Chelsea Hodson’s Tonight I’m Someone Else have made them so-called ‘hot girl books’.   

Meanwhile, piles of finished or ‘to be read/TBR’ books are now a familiar feature on Instagram feeds (see @bibliostylefile by Nina Freudenberger for posting inspiration). Adding to the trend? More connections between fashion and publishing – see author Ottessa Moshfegh modelling for Maryam Nassir Zadeh AW22 and Rachel Comey’s collaboration with the New York Review of Books. The result is that books – once seen as hopelessly geeky – are the height of fashion right now.

Image of Phoebe Lovatt's Public Library
Public Library, London

If that sounds throwaway, those involved in the book industry believe the rise in interest comes from a desire to think more deeply. Writer and consultant Lovatt started her Public Library in 2021 as a place in which to read books, but also to talk about them. The salon events are popular – possibly because they provide a different kind of date in your diary. “In a way, the books are not the point; they are symbolic,” she says. “I want to foster space for a different kind of exchange and a different kind of connection. I enjoy going out for a drink, but I also really enjoy the exchange of ideas.”  

Lovatt adds that books provide a counterpoint to our digital lives. “We hear a lot about how dumbed down our culture has become,” she says. “But I haven’t found that to be true at all. People are hungry for nuanced conversation. Social media is amazing for communicating and connecting on one level, but there’s so little room for nuance.”   

Lovatt admits she is as guilty as the rest of us when it comes to mindless screen time, hence reading provides a much-needed reboot. “Even if I don’t feel like [reading], I make myself do it,” she says. “You pick up a book and you’re having a totally different sensory experience – one that I crave and need.”  

7 Incredible Libraries To Visit Worldwide  

  1. The Morgan Library, New York City – opulent, with illuminated manuscripts on the walls, it houses original manuscripts by Balzac.  
  2. Royal Portuguese Cabinet Of Reading, Rio de Janeiro – a treasure trove for bibliophiles, it has the largest collection of Portuguese texts outside Portugal. 
  3. Beitou Public Library, Taipei – Taiwan’s first green library, with rainwater used for the toilets and natural light reducing the need for electricity.   
  4. The British Library, London – home to one of the world’s biggest collections – with more than 170 million items including one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks.  
  5. Stuttgart City Library, Stuttgart – this minimalist structure designed by architect Eon Young Yi is something to behold.   
  6. Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria – the city was considered a hub of knowledge 2,000 years ago before its library was burned. This 2002 building aims to right that wrong.  
  7. Woollahra Library At Double Bay, New South Wales – an inclusive, collaborative community space designed as a garden within a library. 

Lauren Cochrane is a senior fashion writer at The Guardian and author of The Ten  

Stuttgart City Library, Alamy; Beitou Public Library, Alamy; Phoebe Lovatt’s Public Library; Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading; Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Shutterstock; The British Library, Shutterstock; The Morgan Library, Alamy; Woollahra Library, Alamy

Organic Winemakers To Know: Dua Lipa's wine tasting trip to Catalonia

Tasting Notes 

Recently, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Catalonia, visiting vineyards and discovering the incredible wines of the region. It was such a joy meeting some wonderful people and getting a behind-the-scenes look at the fascinating process of winemaking. I’ve shared a list of my favourite natural and organic winemakers to discover below. It got me thinking about the world of wine – historically white and male-dominated – and how it’s thankfully now changing. This week, Jamie Brooks Robertson showcases the trailblazing Black female sommeliers who are leading the charge towards a more diverse industry. I hope you enjoy the issue…  

Dua x 

  1. Clos Lentiscus, Spain  
  2. Partida Creus, Spain 
  3. Emilie Mutombo, Spain 
  4. Domaine Renaud Bruyère et Adeline Houillon, France 
  5. Alex & Maria Koppitsch, Austria 


Black female sommeliers: illustration by Tatjana Junker
ⓒ Tatjana Junker

The New Tastemakers: How Black Women Are Changing The Wine Industry

In 2012, Somm, a documentary following four individuals’ attempts to pass the notoriously difficult master sommelier exam, was an illuminating glimpse into the rarefied world of the sommelier; professionals with gilt-edge expertise of wine and its pairing with food. It was a world dominated by white men. Now, more than 10 years later, the profession is layered with individuals of different hues and backgrounds. And Black sommeliers such as Tonya Pitts, wine director of One Market restaurant in San Francisco, and Larissa Dubose, director of beverages at US retailer Paradies Lagardère, are among those leading the change.  

A scroll through Wine Enthusiast magazine’s Future 40 Tastemakers and Innovators of 2022 shows promise, those profiled representing a range of races, gender expressions and ages. It is a refreshing dynamic, but still in its infancy. According to online recruitment service Zippia, 68% of sommeliers are male and just 11% are Black.  

Dubose attributes the historical lack of diversity to a host of geographic, financial and social factors. “Think about the origins of wine,” she explains. “It dates back to before the time of the Romans, if not before then, and many of the indigenous grape varieties we enjoy today originated in France, Italy and Spain.”  Dubose notes that she, like other young Black American women, had limited experience of wine growing up. “If wine exposure happened in our community, it was likely boxed and called Riunite,” she says with a chuckle. Thus, her path into the profession 13 years ago was circuitous. She started as a pharmaceutical sales rep before transitioning to bartending and then wine distribution, eventually becoming a certified sommelier. 

Being a fine wine connoisseur, explains Dubose, “is a hobby that demands time and money. Black Americans have an estimated $1.6 trillion spending power, so we have the money, but we haven’t always had access.” Pitts, named Wine Enthusiast’s 2022 Wine Sommelier Of The Year, adds, “initially sommelier certifications were a European thing, not an American pursuit,” which likely also contributed to the lack of diversity in the profession. While both women agree one doesn’t need to have the certifications to be a sommelier – time on the job can help develop the necessary skill set – it helps. “Having the certifications allows Black women and other BIPOC individuals to walk through the door and position themselves for opportunities,” explains Dubose. 

To increase diversity, both Pitts and Dubose say mentorship is key. Julia Coney, something of a legend in the Black female sommelier world, mentored Dubose when she was starting out. Coney is known for her open letter to wine writer Karen MacNeil which depicted how difficult it was to be not only a female sommelier, but a Black female sommelier. “Now I make it a point to never walk into a room without also bringing along another young, Black professional with me,” says Dubose.  

Pitts says this ethos is essential for change. “When I started out 30 years ago, you wouldn’t see Black females or any people of colour on the restaurant floor. BIPOC individuals were always in the back, bussing tables, cooking food or washing dishes.” Hence Pitts is dedicated to educating individuals – regardless of race, age or gender – interested in the sommelier profession and those who simply want to learn more about wine. Both women actively support Coney’s Black Wine Professionals, a talent resource for Black professional sommeliers where Dubose serves as the director of education. Dubose also runs The Lotus & The Vines, a platform created to redefine wine culture by increasing accessibility; while Pitts has a private wine pairing and blending service to help nurture the next generation of wine professionals.  

Yet there are still milestones to be reached. “To date there is no Black, female master sommelier, though several are close to achieving it,” says Dubose. “The wine industry is a ship, and it will take time to turn it – but it is turning.” 

5 Black Female Sommeliers, Wine Activists And Mentors To Follow: 

  1. Cha McCoy  
  2. Shakera Jones  
  3. Nadine Elizabeth Brown 
  4. Justin Trabue 
  5. Ikimi Dubose-Woodson 

Jamie Brooks Robertson is a London-based writer, independent scholar and emerging essayist focusing on health and culture 

The Good Buys

On our radar this week…

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Adaptive fashion designer Chamiah Dewey and models wearing clothing by her brand
Chamiah Dewey ⓒ Tom Buller Photography

The British Designer Putting Adaptive Fashion On The Catwalk 

In September 2022, a clip from Chamiah Dewey’s London Fashion Week debut went viral on TikTok – and shone a light on a huge gap in what many had thought of as an industry becoming slowly but surely more inclusive. British designer Dewey’s show featured models with Dwarfism, some in wheelchairs, and those with mobility issues and brittle bone disease. All were women under 4ft 11” – a hugely underrepresented community on the catwalk.  
With an early interest in fashion and an artistic background, it was no surprise that Dewey pursued a career in design. But she found her purpose while volunteering at a youth programme in 2018. There, she met a fellow volunteer with achondroplasia – the most common form of Dwarfism – and became conscious that people with disabilities were being ignored in the fashion industry.  
“At the time, there was only one brand in Germany that was doing it, but their clothes were quite basic and expensive,” explains Dewey. She felt compelled to create not only affordable but also stylish clothes. Although as an average-height person, she had mixed feelings. “Initially, I wasn’t sure how to approach people…  I had to learn the correct terminologies,” she says.  
And so, in the years prior to launching her eponymous label in 2021, the now-24-year-old conducted extensive research. While still a student at London College of Fashion, she surveyed women with Dwarfism, developed the world’s first tailor’s dummy in the form of a woman with achondroplasia, and published template books to show people of short stature belong in fashion spaces. Dewey’s authenticity and dedication to adaptive fashion are what have ultimately gained her support from the community. She has since launched collections of loungewear, bridalwear, shoes and menswear. 
However, this level of representation is still lacking across all creative fields. And ongoing financial backing remains an obstacle. Ultimately, says Dewey, greater visibility is the key to seeing change. “One quarter of the UK population is disabled, and yet only 4% in the media are disabled. This is where the (biggest) issue is.” 

Yelena Grelet is a London-based freelance journalist 

Love Jihad Explainer: protests in India against the movement
ⓒ Alamy; Getty; Shutterstock

The ‘Love Jihad’ Conspiracy Theory: An Explainer   

In January 2023, hundreds of supporters of right-wing Hindu political parties organised a march in Mumbai against what they refer to as ‘Love Jihad’. It’s a term originally used to describe mixed-faith relationships in India, which many considered contentious. Now, however, it has become shorthand for the conspiracy theory claiming Muslim men are pretending to be Hindu to seduce and marry Hindu women, converting them to Islam in the process.    

The Mumbai marches were the culmination of a month-long campaign designed to draw attention to Love Jihad. The theory’s proponents maintain that the phenomenon is so widespread, action must be taken to protect women from falling prey to its perpetrators.  
The protestors cited several incidents as evidence. Hindu student Nikita Tomar was murdered by her boyfriend, Tauseef Ahmed, in 2020. During his trial, the prosecution alleged that Ahmed killed Tomar after she refused to marry him and convert to Islam. Ahmed was sentenced to life in prison. Hindu sales assistant Shraddha Walkar was strangled to death by her partner, Aftab Poonawala, in 2022. Despite there being no clear proof that Poonwala is Muslim, campaigners claim Shraddha’s murder is another case of Love Jihad. Poonawala is yet to be sentenced.  

This recalibration of the Love Jihad theory is just one symptom of a broader increase in Islamophobia in India. In September 2022, Human Rights Watch reported that Indian authorities’ institutional bias and their increased use of excessive force against Muslim communities is “sending a message to the public that Muslims can be discriminated against and attacked”. While there are governmental changes afoot to criminalise forced religious conversions, the reframing of Love Jihad as an act of criminal aggression by Muslim men does more than fuel further religious discrimination in the country.  
Indian activists and commentators say advocates of the theory are discriminating against the same group they profess to protect: women. Speaking in a recent episode of India’s SheThePeople podcast, Bollywood superstar and women’s rights campaigner Richa Chadha points out that the Love Jihad conspiracy theory “has become politicised, a manufactured debate to control women’s bodies”.  

In other words, along with the vilification of Muslim men (and, by association, Muslims in general), the implication of Love Jihad theorists is that women are weak and when it comes to choosing a suitable partner, their judgement is not to be trusted.  Domestic violence campaigner Kavita Krishnan describes the current Love Jihad incarnation as “an attack on a woman’s right to love someone of her own choice”.  

Award-winning Indian writer, academic and civil rights activist Meena Kandasamy argues that Indian women’s agency over their own decisions is being confiscated.  “Love Jihad is a concept created by the right wing to demonise Muslim men, and to infantilise Hindu women – who happen to be the majority community here,” she says. “It’s just another weapon for an extreme right government to polarise the people further, and to ensure women are constantly monitored, controlled and under vigilance – disempowered.” 

Simon Coates is a London-based writer and artist whose work has appeared in publications including The New European and Scottish newspaper The National 

LA food tour: Badmaash; Damian, For The Win; Gjelina, Go’s Mart Sushi Bar
Badmaash; Damian; For The Win; Gjelina; Go’s Mart Sushi Bar ⓒ Alamy

A Foodie Tour Of LA 

Whether I’m in LA for work or pleasure, there are always new food spots I’m excited to try, as well as old favourites I can’t wait to return to. Here are my picks for where to eat in LA if you get a chance to visit… 

  1. Damian – the sister restaurant to my ‘solo date night’ NYC spot Cosme. Contemporary Mexican food and the perfect ambience. 
  2. Gjelina – one of my favourite spots for a nice weekend down Abbot Kinney Boulevard. It serves locally sourced produce and hits the spot every time. 
  3. Badmaash – it can be hard to find what I’m told is truly authentic Indian food in LA and that’s where Badmaash comes in. With its modern take on delicious Indian fusion encompassing everything from street food to traditional dishes, it is mouth-wateringly good.  
  4. Go’s Mart Sushi Bar – a very unassuming sushi spot that’s worth the trip deep into the Valley for some of the best omakase LA has to offer.  
  5. For The Win – the best smash burgers in Grand Central Market. A winner in my heart! 

Dua x  


Sirens Film Poster
Sirens (2022)

Sirens On Screen: Documenting Lebanon’s First All-Female Metal Band

“When I heard Maya scream for the first time, I remember thinking, where else in society do women get a chance to do this?” LA-based, Emmy-award winning documentary maker Rita Baghdadi is speaking about one of the subjects in her latest film Sirens. Set in Beirut, it follows the powerful story – captured between 2018 and 2021 – of Lilas Mayassi, Shery Bechara, Alma Doumani, Maya Khairallah and Tatyana Boughaba, AKA Slave To Sirens, the first all-female Lebanese metal band. 

Images of the Lebanese metal band Slave To Sirens; album artwork; portraits of film director and producer

The journey began with a Skype friendship between Baghdadi and Mayassi, a guitarist, after discovering the band’s music on Facebook. They formed a close bond and Mayassi invited her to Beirut. “I just saw a younger version of myself and thought other people would see themselves in her,” says Baghdadi. “Lilas was unapologetically herself while also struggling with a lot of things. Getting to know her one-on-one made me realise she would be an incredible person to make a film about.”  
Mainly focusing on the relationship between Mayassi and fellow guitarist Bechara, the film shows the musicians – Arab women caught up in a tumultuous time in Lebanon’s history – trying to make it under extraordinary circumstances, including a revolution and the unimaginable trauma of the 2020 explosion in the Port of Beirut. The film weaves the story of Lebanon through the eyes of the band, “with the elements of the music, and the politics; everything had to flow through the girls,” says Baghdadi.  
For the band members, the unexpected experience of having an LA-based filmmaker follow their story has provided a platform to keep fighting to pursue metal – and inspire more women to do the same. “We want girls watching the film to feel they can do whatever they want without being judged,” says Bechara. Doumani adds, “We have a lot of obstacles, like, ‘Oh, you’re a girl. Why are you in a metal band? You have to be soft and nice.’ But we want them to be courageous, to get out of the box and do what they want.” 
Importantly, Sirens breaks away from stereotypes of the Middle East. With her own heritage from the region herself, Baghdadi was adamant the narrative shouldn’t revolve around themes of oppression or conflict. Instead, she captures Slave To Sirens “as real young women just living their lives”.  
Sirens is available online at Apple TV, and screening at Screenwave Film Festival, Australia (28 April); Rock This Town Festival France (29 April); and Pink Apple Festival, Zurich (1 May)   

Pia Brynteson is editorial assistant at Service95 

Slave To Sirens; Lilas Mayassi, Shery Bechara ⓒ Oscilloscope Laboratories; Slave To Sirens ⓒ Davina Maria; Lilas Mayassi, Shery Bechara ⓒ Oscilloscope Laboratories; Tatiana el Dahdah, Rita Baghdadi; Rita Baghdadi, Glastonbury (2019)

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Gal-dem founder and author Liv Little
Liv Little ⓒ Chantelle Nash

Life After Gal-Dem: What Liv Little Did Next  

Why do we tell stories? Often, it is to understand our place in the world or to make others feel seen. It is why, in 2015, Liv Little founded gal-dem, the revolutionary publication for women and non-binary people of colour, which ran for eight incredible, re-defining years. Sadly, in March this year the publication announced its closure, leaving an indelible legacy on the world of publishing; and highlighting – long before whispers of performative activism – the need to platform hitherto marginalised voices.

Image of Author Liv Little's book Rosewater

Little, who said of the closure: “it might be the end of a chapter, but what a chapter to be a part of,” had walked away from the publication in 2020. It seemed a strange decision for a woman who had built an empire still at the top of its game. Yet Little, who Zooms me from the sofa of her home, her two cats intermittently clambering over her, tells me she had reached burnout point. “I’m someone who wants to take up space in many different ways, and my approach to storytelling has always been about not feeling fixed to one particular way of doing it,” she says. “Nothing lasts forever, and nothing must be [forever]. I would get really bored if I was doing the same thing indefinitely.”

When Little left gal-dem, she enrolled on an MA course in Black British literature. At the time, she said: “You can only become a brilliant storyteller through the act of study.” The result of that course, and of her career pivot, is her debut novel, Rosewater. It’s the moving, powerfully executed tale of Elsie, a young, queer poet living in London, trying to find a sense of home – in every sense – after being evicted from her social housing. It has a lot to say about creating art in a capitalist society, about family and what homecoming can come to mean, if we fully embrace it.   

“I wanted Elsie to be someone whose voice is important, which is why she is a poet,” Little explains. The poetry itself was supplied by real-life poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal, another example of Little’s inclination towards sharing space with other artists of colour. “The ability to connect with the heart through the mode of poetry and performance… that’s where Elsie’s magic and power lies, and that’s where Kai’s does too,” she says. “When they first sent me the [poem] on the Guyanese dish pepperpot, it reminded me of my mum, and really communicated what that food means culturally and spiritually. I cried when I read that poem.” 

What draws Little to a story is character and finding that character’s voice. She describes Elsie as someone “uncompromising”. “I didn’t want her to be someone who was insecure about their Blackness, their queerness or their talent. She’s not any of those things. She knows that she’s good.”

After a personal tragedy caused Little to leave her MA course early, she describes a period of extreme sadness and disorientation. Perhaps, I suggest, the voice she was searching for was her own. “I think you’re right, maybe that was what I was trying to do,” she says. Rosewater would suggest she has achieved it.
Rosewater by Liv Little is out now

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar

Sound artist Christine Sun Kim
Christine Sun Kim ⓒ Max Creasy

The Shape Of Sound: How Christine Sun Kim Is Reimagining Sign Language As Art  

Sound has populated art for a long time, but it has predominantly adhered to a narrow definition – that of the audible. In 2008, the multidisciplinary artist Christine Sun Kim noticed that while galleries in Berlin, where she is based, were lacking visual art, there was an abundance of sound. She wanted to change established narratives and carve out more space for the Deaf community. So, she said in her celebrated TED Talk, The Enchanting Music Of Sign Language: “I decided to reclaim ownership of sound, and to put it into my art practice.” 

Christine Sun Kim artworks

Kim – who communicates in American Sign Language (ASL) – began by exploring the similarities between musical notation and ASL. Now her work resides in major collections such as those of the Whitney Museum Of American Art in New York and the Tate Modern in London, and she continues to investigate the social implications and politics of sound through visual media. 

I meet Kim at the opening of her newest exhibition at Somerset House Studios in London, Edges Of Sign Language. It marks a shift in her career towards a more minimal approach, through canvases whose shape – rather than content – is representative of the ASL words and phrases they depict. Score (2023) is a slanted shape with an ambiguous beginning and end, which “refers to a [musical] staff”. “It’s about working with ASL interpreters,” Kim tells me. “I am the ‘score’, providing information. At the same time, the interpreter is also my ‘score’; their voice influences the way mine is expressed.” 

These new works are a natural progression from Kim’s earlier mural and public art. In 2021, she installed ‘open captions’ (automatically present subtitles) across the city of Manchester in England. “As my visual vocabulary increased, I felt constricted in space,” Kim explains. “If you make something as big as possible, it forces someone to see it; we’re imposing our lives on you.” One caption, which was displayed above the city as a plane banner, read: THE SOUND OF NO FIGHT. Another, situated on the façade of the National Football Museum, read: THE SOUND OF AGREEING NEVER TO CALL IT SOCCER. “Humour is a tool for my survival,” she explains. “I am so pissed off. I’m angry. But how can you be mad and not push people away? Humour!” After all, wit – like all the visual data used by Kim in her work – is bound by neither culture nor language. 

Alongside foregrounding a new understanding of sound and language, Kim highlights the exclusion and ableism embedded in society. “Deafness has never had a place in history,” she says. “In my work, I want to force that place.” Kim plans to dip her toes back into performance art and continue her work with shaped canvas. “In the beginning [of my career], it was really easy to be pigeonholed, so I avoided using sign language in my work,” she says. “But now, I’m ready!” 
Edges Of Sign Language runs at Somerset House Studios in London until 21 May 2023

Ella Slater is an art and culture writer based in London

Captioning The City (2021) ⓒ Lee Baxter; How Do You Hold Your Debt (2022), JTT NYC; Too Much Future (2017), Whitney Museum Of American Art ⓒ Ron Amstutz; The Star-Spangled Banner (Third Verse), (2020), François Ghebaly; All Day All Night ⓒ Reinis Lismanis. All: Christine Sun Kim; François Ghebaly, LA; White Space Beijing

Best Music Festivals: Glastonbury, Roskilde, Montreux Jazz Festival, Rock In Rio, Lollapalooza
Glastonbury; Roskilde ⓒ Kim Matthäi Leland; Montreux Jazz Festival © Emilien Itim; Rock In Rio; Lollapalooza ⓒ Ismael Quintanilla III; Sunny Hill Festival

Festival Season Is Here 

The weather is heating up, the line-ups are slowly being announced – I’m ready for festival season and I hope you are too! I love festivals; both as a punter and as a performer. There’s nothing like the collective energy of having so many artists together and being able to see everyone you love in one weekend. And the adrenaline rush of those never-ending summer nights with friends creates lifelong memories. I also help organise our festival Sunny Hill in Prishtina, Kosovo, and I can hardly wait for it! Bringing that excitement to my hometown is an unbeatable feeling. Here are a few of my other favourite festivals around the world to visit if you get the chance… 

Dua x

  1. Glastonbury, UK
  2. Roskilde, Denmark
  3. Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland
  4. Rock In Rio, Brazil
  5. Lollapalooza Chicago, USA is now open to read without logging in! Visit now to read this issue in full, plus you can browse all our previous articles.


Author Max Porter's new novel Shy

“It Felt Like A Fever” – Author Max Porter On Creating His New Novel Shy 

In the summer of 2021, the author Max Porter dreamed of a boy walking through the woods that encircle his home city of Bath in England. “The membrane between the boy and the woods was thin, like he was glitching,” he recalls, sitting on a lock gate by the Kennet and Avon Canal, pointing towards the apparently haunted woodland where he imagined the boy. Porter had spent the previous year on projects unrelated to prose (including an art installation film with the actor Cillian Murphy and writing lyrics to music with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy). Waiting for his next novel to come along “was starting to feel like a fever”, he says. Then all of a sudden he woke up one day and it was there: his emotionally tormented, soon-to-be protagonist was “in [me] like a poltergeist”. Shy is the book that spilled out; the entire first draft written in just three weeks.

Portrait of author Max Porter
Max Porter ⓒ Francesca Jones

It doesn’t usually happen like this. It was, says Porter, “the first time I’d done no drawings or research”, but he has grown used to the unexpected. His 2015 debut novel Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, about a father and his two sons mourning the loss of their matriarch in the company of a cacophonous crow, was bought by its American publisher for £1,000. They expected it to sell 60 copies. The now-bestseller has been translated into 27 languages and adapted into a celebrated stage play.   
Despite his debut’s unexpected success, the pressure hasn’t changed how Porter writes. “I’ve been lucky enough that that’s always been my starting point: making the work I love,” he says. “I don’t have to steer my ship back towards what I want to do.”  
His latest novel is the story of a disenfranchised teenager named Shy making a morbid pilgrimage to take his own life. Porter explores the boy’s past through the detached voices of others: his anguished mother, a ghost, and the staff at the school for troubled children where he lives.  
The author speaks of his characters as if he didn’t create them but discovered them in his dreams. Shy, he says, “might not be able to express himself very well but his political compass is impeccable”. Irish actor Murphy, who starred in the stage version of Grief, noticed this too: “There is a humanity and a fragility to [Porter’s] characters and work that breaks your heart,” he told Service95. “But he does it with wit and care.”

In both Grief and Shy, children and young people are written with the kind of respect and emotional precision they’re seldom afforded outside young adult fiction. It’s a reflection of Porter’s perspective on the power found in adolescence. “I hate that we belittle the ferocity of the teenage experience,” he says. “It’s an in-built psychological snobbery that I think is not only antiquated but dangerous, and counterproductive. As a society we could listen better to teenagers. We wish adult society could be like that.”   
Shy may primarily be a period piece about a boy and his sadness, but it also functions as a modern parable for the way we’re crying out for help in a world on fire. The morning Max and I meet, the IPCC has issued a ‘final warning’ to policy makers to combat the climate crisis or face irreversible damage. “There’s this sense that scientists are just screaming at the world to listen to them,” says Porter. “That felt very Shy-like to me.” 
London-based writer Douglas Greenwood is a contributing editor at i-D magazine, and has written for titles including the New York Times, GQ and Vogue 

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Frieze Exhibition Manifold: images of artwork

This One Thing... The Inspiration Behind Frieze Show Manifold  

When curating my Frieze exhibition Manifold, I was thinking about the idea of layers, about artwork that is complex in nature, about artists operating from a lens of openness and abundance. It turns out they were all Black women. That might have come from a point of personal bias, but it became central to the project.   

Painting of a woman by Rachel Marsil
Plateau Rose Et Sofa Vert, Rachel Marsil (2023) ⓒ FF Projects

I was inspired by Lubaina Himid’s curatorial exploits in the 1980s in London, when she organised a series of exhibitions featuring women of colour: Five Black Women at the Africa Centre in 1983, Black Women Time Now (1983-84) and The Thin Black Line at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in 1985. The show at the ICA took place in the corridors of the institute, as a reflection of the marginalisation of Black women in the art world. For me, it became even more important that the multiplicity of the Black female artist took centre stage – in a space that was ours to succeed and fail in.   

Dana Cavigny, Oluwatobiloba Ajayi, Faridah Folawiyo, Turiya Adkins, Helena Foster

As Manifold launches its second edition, the lens of abundance has come to mean something else. It extends to the viewer, to opening up and not pigeonholing artists. Sometimes, when exhibitions of artists of colour are arranged in European and North American contexts, their practices are placed in problematic contexts that directly relate them to whiteness. We neglect to look at the diversity of Black culture, of transatlantic dialogue, of Blackness in relation to Blackness. So, this exhibition is essentially 17 brilliant Black women from all over the world in conversation with each other, making diverse work and refusing to be the objects of simplistic interpretation.  
Manifold is showing at Frieze No. 9 Cork Street, London until 29 April
Faridah Folawiyo is a curator and writer based between Lagos and London   

Study II (Birthday Hair), Olukemi Lijadu (2022); Lovers Rock, Fadekemi Ogunsanya (2022); Hair Tiles Chop Chop, Joy Matashi (2021); Au Goûter, La Mangue, Rachel Marsil (2023); Untitled, Oluwatobiloba Ajayi (2022); Ao Ng Meme (Are You Not Inviting Me), Lebogang Mogul Mabusela (2023); An Old Remorse, Turiya Adkins (2022); ⓒ FF Projects

Stephanie H Shih ceramic art

The Reflective, Playful Art Of Stephanie H Shih  

Stephanie H Shih credits the blossoming of her artistic career to a handful of dumplings and a bottle of Chinkiang vinegar. In 2018, it was those two Asian food staples that the Taiwanese-American ceramist decided to recreate using clay. She was drawn both by the objects’ mundanity and their ubiquity within Asian-American households, hers included. The final pieces showed such painstaking detail they could almost pass for the real thing. When Shih posted them on Instagram – starting with the rice-based black bottle – the response was so overwhelmingly positive she realised she was on to something big.  

Portrait of Stephanie Shih ceramacist
Stephanie H Shih ⓒ James T. Bee

“A lot of viewers in the Chinese-American community began sharing stories related to those foods and their childhoods with me,” Shih says from her Brooklyn studio. “It was clear those items weren’t just part of my personal memories but of a mutual experience. That got me thinking about exploring what other kitchen staples people were nostalgic for from within the diaspora.” 

Stephanie Shih ceramic art, 2020
Same Same, Stephanie H Shih (2020) ⓒ Robert Bredvad

The series that followed, Oriental Grocery, set out to do just that – and turned Shih’s ceramic practice into a full-time venture. For it, Shih polled more than 20,000 of her Asian-American followers on social media to gather a culturally and ethnically diverse list of foodstuffs that would feel representative of their backgrounds. The pieces she crafted as a result spanned life-sized versions of rice bags, seasonings and different soy sauces, aimed at showcasing the breadth of the Asian-American diaspora and challenging the idea of a monolithic Asian cuisine.  

Stephanie H. Shih ceramic art Spam, 2021
Spam, Stephanie H Shih (2021) ⓒ Robert Bredvad

In more recent works, she has expanded the narrative further – always by seeking a dialogue with her audience – looking at the Western groceries that have a special place in Asian culture. From Spam and Kit-Kats to Danish Butter Cookies and Ovaltine, they are all products introduced to Asian diasporic communities via colonial exploitation, assimilation and military presence (as in the case of Spam, an American import to Asia), but went on to find huge popularity among local communities. 

“Food plays such a big role in the way individuals, particularly immigrants and children of immigrants, can connect with their cultures,” Shih explains. “To me, it feels like the natural vehicle to understand how we shape our sense of self.”

Stephanie H. Shih ceramic art Streit's Passover Matzos, 2022
Streit’s Passover Matzos, Stephanie H Shih (2022) ⓒ Robert Bredvad

But the artist has also used food to reach beyond the personal. In her show Open Sundays, held last year in New York’s Lower East Side, she examined the 100-year-long overlap of Chinese and Jewish communities in the neighbourhood through classic pantry items from both cultures, such as White Rabbit Creamy Candy, Dr Brown’s Cel-Ray Soda, Yang Jiang Preserved Beans and Streit’s Passover Matzos.   

For her last solo exhibition at Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco, she paid homage to the cultural history of the city’s Chinatown – not just through food but the books, films (by way of stunningly rendered ceramic videotapes) and pop-culture objects that have defined it, including perfect replicas of Nike Air Jordans and a ‘Linsanity’ basketball cap (after the Taiwanese-American player Jeremy Lin, who rose to sudden fame in 2012), because “there’s something very Asian-American about watching the NBA,” Shih says.  

“What I am interested in is challenging the idea of ‘authenticity’, to focus on cultural interchange instead,” Shih adds. “A culture is never untouched by other cultures, yet often people try to freeze it as a way of protecting it. But that is unhistorical and unhelpful, as reality is much more nuanced. With the pieces I make, I want to approach the way we think about our identities in a more expansive way.” 

Marianna Cerini is a freelance writer covering cultural trends, travel, fashion and the arts and has been published in Conde Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, CNN Style and Vogue Italia

Jasmine Rice (2022), Air Jordan (2022), Berggruen Gallery; Dr Brown’s Cel Ray Soda (2022); Yang Jiang Preserved Beans (2022); Five Books (2022), Berggruen Gallery; White Rabbit Candy (2022); Four VHS Tapes (2022), Berggruen Gallery; Ovaltine (2021); Danish Butter Cookies (2021), all Stephanie H Shih ⓒ Robert Bredvad

Theatre posters for stage productions of A Little Life, Julia ⓒ Prudence Upton; Angels In America, Hamilton, A Strange Loop and Here Lies Love
A Little Life; Julia ⓒ Prudence Upton; Angels In America; Hamilton; A Strange Loop; Here Lies Love

The World’s A Stage 

I recently had the pleasure of seeing the London stage debut of A Little Life. Based on the moving novel by At Your Service podcast guest Hanya Yanagihara, this West End show has breathed new life into the text (I love this book so much I wrote an essay about it which you can read here). Directed by the incredible Ivo Van Hove, this adaptation is both painful and gripping. It’s got me thinking about some other similarly profound productions I’ve heard about that I can’t wait to see – check out my list below. As always, head to our socials to let us know which shows you’re most excited to catch. I’m always adding to my wishlist!   

Dua x   

  1. Julia, Sydney – Julia Gillard, the first female prime minister of Australia, gave a misogyny speech that became a global sensation in 2012. Joanna Murray-Smith has turned it intoa compelling play, on now at Sydney Opera House. 
  2. Angels In America, Tokyo – this powerful, still timely, two-part play about the Aids crisis is being translated into Japanese at Tokyo’s New National Theatre from 18 April.  
  3. Hamilton, Puerto Ricothe musical phenomenon returns to San Juan – still rebuilding after 2017’s Hurricane Maria – from 13-25 June, including a benefit performance for the Hispanic Federation and Flamboyan Arts Fund. 
  4. A Strange Loop, London – I was so sad to have missed this incredible show when it played in New York. It follows Usher, a young, Black, gay writer – I can’t wait to catch it at the Barbican from 17 June.  
  5. Here Lies Love, New York – music legends David Byrne and Fatboy Slim collaborate on this disco-pop musical about the extraordinary life of former Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos, from 17 June. is now open to read without logging in! Visit now to read this issue in full, plus you can browse all our previous articles.


Dua Lipa Service95 Live

Dua Lipa Live Today!

Join Service95 founder Dua Lipa live for a one-off digital event – today, Thursday 13 April at 7PM BST. She will exclusively discuss the inside story of the brand – her inspirations, her experience of establishing herself as an entrepreneur and a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the workings of Service95. Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek of some exciting new projects coming soon! Attendees will also get the chance to have their Service95-related questions answered by Dua. It’s not to be missed. 

Can’t make it? Don’t worry, ticket holders will have access to the recording for seven days after the broadcast. Tickets are selling fast so book yours now and we’ll see you there… 


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Portrait of Andy Warhol, images of textile prints designed by Warhol, installation of the Andy Warhol: The Textiles Exhibition at the Fashion And Textiles Museum, London

Warhol’s Textiles: A Portrait Of The Artist Pre-Pop 

Andy Warhol may have been dead for nearly 40 years, but his presence is very much alive in 2023 – found everywhere from your Netflix queue to your social media feed. But even with that omnipresence, there are parts of the artist’s work yet to be explored. A case in point? His textile prints. They are the focus of the latest Warhol exhibition at London’s Fashion & Textile Museum, open now.  

Portrait of artist Andy Warhol, with dog, sitting in front of painting titled Self Portrait, 1986
Andy Warhol © William Coupon/Trunk Archive, 2023 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc/Licensed by DACS, London

More than 60 designs created by the artist in the 1950s are on display. Playful and dynamic, they depict everything from cakes to clowns, butterflies and horses; the work of a pre-Pop Warhol who was thriving as a commercial artist. The exhibition’s curator Richard Chamberlain describes them as “another string to [Warhol’s] business bow, which at the time also included book and record covers, greeting cards and wrapping paper”. 

Chamberlain’s co-curator Geoff Rayner believes these pieces can be seen as part of Warhol’s evolution towards the soup cans and Marilyns we know and love. “The repetitive nature of textile repeats certainly played its part in directly informing his Pop Art,” he argues. “An important example of this is his textile for the New York firm of Leon Rosenblatt. He creates rows of buttons, all with slight variations. This is using the same concept that he employed in his iconic soup can and Coke bottle painting some three years later.”  

Andy Warhol textile designer in The Factory, New York, 1966
Andy Warhol, The Factory (1966) ⓒ Hervé Gloaguen

While all the designs in the exhibition have their charm, many also reveal details about Warhol’s lifestyle. “Warhol was a regular visitor to the legendary New York cafe, restaurant and boutique Serendipity, which was owned by his great friend Stephen Bruce,” explains Chamberlain. “He was known to have had a very sweet tooth and would frequently be found eating lavish ice creams [there].” These experiences translate to a series of food-related textiles, including some mouth-watering ice-cream sundaes.  

Warhol was famously successful as a commercial artist. He earned so much money that he bought a house on the Upper East Side, and he was able to support himself as he moved into fine art. But his commercial work remains a crucial part of his legacy. “Warhol’s elevation of everyday objects can be seen clearly in his textile designs,” says Chamberlain. “[They] were created with little brief or agenda attached to them, more a case of ‘art for art’s sake’.” They are also – as with this exhibition – yet another way for Warhol to remain famous, and in your timeline, for another 15 minutes. 
Andy Warhol: The Textiles, runs until 10 September 2023 at the Fashion & Textile Museum

Lauren Cochrane is a senior fashion writer at The Guardian and author of The Ten

Andy Warhol, New York (1971), estate of David Gahr; Andy Warhol: The Textiles © 2023 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc/Licensed by DACS, London; ice-cream desserts; shoe-print blouse, Jayson Classics (c1957-58); clown textile (c1955); brush-print dress; button-print textile, Leon Rosenblatt (1959–60); ice-cream print dress; candy apples, silk by Stehli Silks; © Fashion and Textile Museum

What to do in Goa, India. Beach destinations, shops and restaurants

My Hometown: Anjali Mody’s Goa

The epiphany to move to Goa hit Mumbai-born designer Anjali Mody during a trip to Bali. The founder and creative director of JOSMO (a multi-disciplinary design and manufacturing company) was on a sourcing trip to Indonesia and decided to stay a few extra days with her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Akshay Tandon. The tranquil green expanse surrounding their rental villa in Ubud made the couple yearn to foster a similar life back in India. That was seven years ago.   

Anjali Mody; Josmo Studio

Within a year, they had moved full-time to the sunshine state of Goa, which was a fitting mise-en-scène for a lifestyle pivot steeped in unadulterated proximity to nature. The decision came at a time when Mody was contemplating changes on the professional front too. Her brand, which turns 13 this year, was already working on quirky commissioned pieces for the country’s movers and shakers – think chandeliers made from pocket watches and bar stools crafted from guitar picks. While this work fed her appetite for design, she felt the need to make her brand more accessible.   

The designer admits it was (and still is) very unusual to have a business like hers in Goa. “But when you have conviction in how you want to live, you can’t base those decisions around work, or life will just pass you by,” she says. Mody now has her own private factory spaces here, a mere 15 minutes from her house. “And my office is just 10 minutes away. It’s an invaluable luxury, really,” she adds.  
Mody’s house in the village of Nerul overlooks paddy fields and is a stone’s throw from her family’s holiday home, which she frequented in her childhood. “The peace and quiet is unmatched. I am more content and grounded here. Seeing all this green has changed the chemistry of my brain. Goa is medicinal,” she muses. “You also have more control over your day here. You are the master of your own time.”  
Goa offers the ability to disconnect and tap into the unhurried pace of life – which has attracted an influx of creatives post pandemic – but ultimately it is a place where, says Mody, “You can be as hectic or as laidback as you want.”   

Anjali Mody’s Top 6 Goa Recommendations  

  1. I prefer South Goa’s under-the-radar beaches, such as Agonda and Palolem. No luxury frills here – just you and the water.   
  2. Sundays are spent at the beachside boutique hotel Vaayu Kula in Mandrem with my friends and family. The location, vibe and menu are unmatched – I love the basil beauty drink. We only return home after watching the sunset.   
  3. There are many design and fashion stores unique to Goa. There’s, of course, JOSMO! I also love Flame, The Good Life, Ranji Goa and SavioJon for their curations. The love that the founders pour into their edits is very evident.    
  4. Bhatti Village, Vinayak and Copperleaf are your spots for a great authentic Goan thali, which typically comes with fried fish, curries, rice, veggies, coconut salad and pickle.   
  5. Feni is a liquor made from cashew apples that’s indigenous to Goa. Go to hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood bar Joseph’s in Panjim for the feni and the vibe.   
  6. Elsewhere is a charming private beachside property in an estate dating back to 1886 where you can stay in creek-side tents or standalone bungalows. The exact location is revealed only when you make a booking.  

Praachi Raniwala is a Mumbai-based journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveller and Vogue India   

Nerul; Agonda; thali, Vinayak; Prana Anjuna; Vaayu Kula ⓒ Kshitij Jadhav; Palolem Beach; Joseph Bar, Panjim; Ranji Goa; Flame; Vaayu Kula ⓒ Kshitij Jadhav; SavioJon; Agonda; SavioJon; Vaayu Kula ⓒ Kshitij Jadhav; Palolem Beach

Dua Lipa's Letter: Drink Spiking In The UK – image of lights in the night

Why We Need Stricter Repercussions To Combat Spiking

In this week’s issue, writer Ella Alexander looks at the spiking epidemic and asks: why is it still not a criminal offence in the UK? It’s a horrifying trend, with thousands of cases reported each year. People close to me have been victims, and now when we go out, we’re not just watching our drinks, but looking out for needles too. I’ve heard of people wearing thick denim and leather in the hopes of keeping themselves safe. It’s both terrifying and angering, and I hope Ella’s piece proves the need for stricter repercussions than are currently in place. 

Dua is now open to read without logging in! Visit now to read this issue in full, plus you can browse all our previous articles.


Dua Lipa Service95 Live

Dua Lipa’s Service95 Live – Tickets On Sale Now 

Join Service95 founder Dua Lipa live for a one-off digital event next Thursday, 13 April. She will exclusively discuss the inside story of the brand – her initial inspirations, her experience of establishing herself as an entrepreneur and a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the workings of Service95 and our At Your Service podcast. Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek of some exciting new projects coming soon! Attendees will also get the chance to have their Service95-related questions answered by Dua. It’s not to be missed.  

Can’t make it? Ticket holders will have access to the recording for seven days after the broadcast. Book your tickets now and we’ll see you there… 


Spiking Epidemic: two girls passed out on red couch
Alice Rosati / Trunk Archive

If Spiking Is An Epidemic, Why Is It Still Not A Specific Criminal Offence In The UK? 

Spiking – defined as when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person’s drink or their body without their knowledge and/or consent – has become a hot topic over the past year. Helena Conibear, CEO of the Alcohol Education Trust says the issue has reached “epidemic” levels. “This is happening to one in 10 people, and it can happen to anyone in a number of different settings,” she says. “It’s so prevalent because the convictions are so low.” She demands that the UK government revisit current legislation, which she claims, “isn’t working”.  

According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, almost 5,000 cases of needle and drink spiking incidents were reported to police in England and Wales in the 12 months to September 2022. Although spiking is something we tend to think as happening predominantly to women, it’s also prevalent among the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2020, Reynhard Sinaga – described as ‘Britain’s most prolific rapist’ – was jailed for 136 rapes against dozens of young men in Manchester, drugging his victims and attacking them after they passed out. Spiking happens at bars, nightclubs and festivals, but also at house parties, where 35% of incidents take place. It is also woefully underreported, particularly among heterosexual men who fear the stigma that comes with it. And yet in January, the UK government said there was no need to make spiking a specific criminal offence, rejecting long-standing calls from campaigners. Why?   
As it stands, you can be punished for crimes that surround spiking, such as rape and robbery, which the government says is sufficient. There is also the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, which makes it an offence to administer a substance to a person with the intention to injure, aggrieve or annoy them, which does cover spiking. So, some legislation exists. However, “the question is: why hasn’t it been used enough?” asks David Corker, a partner at London law firm Corker Binning. “Campaigners don’t like [the existing legislation] because it rarely leads to prosecutions.”  
But it’s not just the law that needs to change. Improved training and education is also required in how to effectively and sensitively handle spiking and support its victims. Conibear adds that: “Spiking is usually used to aid a sexual assault or a robbery, but most of the time it doesn’t end with that. Offenders need to know that they face prosecution based on the action itself, not just the intention. At the moment, there is no real deterrent.”   

5 Need-To-Know Resources For Help And Support 

  1. Stamp Out Spiking – a not-for-profit company that raises awareness of the dangers of spiking and offers practical solutions to keep you and your friends safe.  
  2. Victim Support – an independent charity that supports victims of crime and traumatic incidents in England and Wales. 
  3. Talk To Frank – an organisation dedicated to providing honest information and support about drugs, their effects, and the law.   
  4. Nightline – a student-run listening and information service, open at night.  
  5. Rape Crisis – support and services for women and girls who have experienced sexual abuse, violence or rape.  

Ella Alexander is a digital contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar UK and has written for Glamour UK, Italy Segreta and Mr And Mrs Smith 

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All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Sunday Best Fashion: Harlem socialite Lana Turner in her Sunday Best; various images of people attending church wearing their Sunday best clothing
Lana Turner, Amongst Friends, 2014 © Dario Calmese / Trunk Archive; Melodie McDaniel / Trunk Archive

The ‘Sunday Best’ Sartorial Tradition: An Explainer 

During the height of slavery in America, Sunday worship and two sets of clothes were often the only freedoms enslaved communities were afforded. One of these sets of clothes was reserved exclusively for church. And while many treated their mode of dress as a sign of reverence towards God, for others it became a moment to present themselves in their best attire and show their glory in grand style. This was how the term ‘Sunday Best’ was coined. It is a tradition that has been passed through generations within the Black community across the world and still influences creatives today.  

Georgia, USA, 1899; Pittsburgh, USA, 1941; Aitutaki, The Cook Islands; Kingston, Jamaica; Douala, Cameroon; Harlem, New York; Harlem, New York; Ikutha, Kenya; Mar Lodj, Senegal; Kensington, London; Brixton, London; Malakula, Vanuatu; Matuku, Fiji; Mahajanga, Madagascar; Mulago, Uganda; Nevis; Saint Croix, Virgin Islands; South Carolina, USA; Vieux Fort, St. Lucia; Soufriere, St. Lucia © Alamy

“[Church] was a saving grace for the Black community [at a time when they] had nothing to look forward to,” shares Karen Binns, a creative director and stylist from New York. But the ethos of presenting your best self on a Sunday was a concept that went beyond Black America. For Dr Christine Checinska, curator of the V&A Africa Fashion exhibition, who is British of African-Caribbean heritage, “Sunday Best was a part of weekly life growing up – clothes had to be laundered and ironed, shoes had to be polished, hair had to be neatly ‘done’.”  

Omoyemi Akerele, founder and CEO of Lagos Fashion Week and Style House Files tells of a similar experience and explains that in Nigeria, this Sunday ritual went beyond class or economic power. “People lived their lives with intention and a natural extension of that is to express themselves through what they wear. They put their best foot forward – no matter what their income bracket is.”  

Christopher John Rogers SS19; Zainab Bassie, London & Jonathan Lamboi, London, (Always) Wear Your Best On A Sunday, 2014 © Alice Mann

Today, a concept that stemmed from a traumatic history, a way to proclaim Black worth and combat the stereotype of Black people being unkempt, has become a source of inspiration and celebration for many creatives. The designer Christopher John Rogers used his SS19 collection to pay homage to the extravagant church ensembles he witnessed during his childhood in Louisiana, US. In her collection (Always) Wear Your Best On A Sunday, South African photographer Alice Mann examines the relationship between fashion and worship in the Black diaspora. London-based photographer Katie Waggett also captures the cultural codes of dress and religion in her book Sunday Best. And Aida Amoako’s As We See It – a book that explores the concept of the Black gaze across photography and art – prominently features Dario Calmese’s images of Lana Turner, a Harlem socialite and prominent member of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church.

For the Black community however, Sunday Best is no longer limited to church. Rather, says Akerele, “Sunday Best has become a way of life.”

Yelena Grelet is a London-based freelance journalist  

Image of Dua Lipa in Ibiza; restaurants and beaches to visit
Es Vedrà; Nudo; Aigües Blanques; Jondal, Daniel Balda; Formentera

My Ibiza

Ibiza has such a special place in my heart. Whether it’s sunrise and sun salutations overlooking the ocean, exploring the incredible restaurants lining its winding streets and sandy coves or sundowners and beyond in some of the island’s legendary clubs, this magical island has so much to offer. Its unique vibe keeps me coming back year after year. If you get a chance to visit, here are my top five tips for what to do on the island…  


  1. Nudo – not your average beach cafe, Nudo is the brainchild of three ex-Noma chefs who serve up an incredible seasonal menu with locally made natural wines. 
  2. Es Vedrà – take a clifftop hike for spectacular views of this small rocky island off Ibiza’s southwest coast – a magical spot said to have healing powers. 
  3. Aigües Blanques beach – a beautiful, secluded spot popular with locals. 
  4. Jondal – book a seafood lunch at Jondal, set right on the beach in an idyllic cove. 
  5. Formentera – the smallest of the Balearic islands is just 40 minutes by boat from Ibiza. 


Images of film screenings, events and promotional material by TAPE Collective
Lim Orion, Baile Ali, Edward Sogunro, Dave Salisbury, Lois Stevenson, Bridie O’Sullivan, Ingrid Mur, Isabel Sandoval; Courtesy TAPE Collective

The New Cult Classics: How A London Film Collective Is Championing True Representation On Screen 

In response to the lack of diverse representation on screen, two London-based women of colour – Isra Al Kassi and Angela Moneke – founded TAPE Collective in 2015. The mission of the grassroots organisation: to champion films with a focus on identity and heritage and bring them to eager new audiences through regular screenings, events and Q&A sessions.   

 “Angie once said that we celebrate films that could be cult classics, because it’s all about how we present and have conversations around them,” Al Kassi explains. Highlights of the TAPE offering include Nolly Nights, a monthly screening and after-party series bringing together Nigerian cinema, music and food; Trippin’ Over My Tongue, a programme of short films by mixed heritage filmmakers exploring what it means to have a mother tongue, which toured UK venues; and Foresight, a screening of science-fiction films by directors of colour in partnership with Channel 4 and non-profit mental health organisation, Mind Over Matter.    

It hasn’t stopped there. TAPE has gone beyond films to publish essays (both written and visual), create zines, host online art exhibitions and use its Good Wickedry streaming platform to spotlight one short film online per week. In 2021 it launched an impressive takeover of the British Film Institute’s Southbank cinemas and online platform with a programme titled But Where Are You Really From? It explored themes of mixed heritage identity and immigration through films and talks which ran the gamut from Black Girl, the 1966 film by revered Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène, to a conversation with Nikesh Shukla, editor of the 2016 essay collection The Good Immigrant. TAPE has also ventured into film distribution; in 2022 it released Cette Maison, the debut film by Canada-based Haitian filmmaker Miryam Charles in the UK.   

Evidently, TAPE has come a long way from the early days of “running around Peckham with a projector inside a suitcase that Isra borrowed from a cafe owner she knew from Streatham,” laughs Moneke. Still, while the pair are now enjoying more success, they are keen to keep reminding themselves of “what it means to have this responsibility of setting up spaces for our community so that we don’t lose track of that,” Al Kassi says.    

TAPE’s evolution has occurred alongside a broader cultural progression in how audiences think about diversity and representation in the arts. Some question its longevity, says Al Kassi, who refers to “a friend who said, ‘how long will you give TAPE before you close it down?’ There’s nothing to close down,” she told them, enjoying the freedom offered by a venture that lives on a true passion for cinema, shared with a growing community. “It’s a really empowering thing to be able to have this space where all the decisions are entirely our own,” Moneke adds. “If there’s something that we’re motivated to do or excited by, we’ll make that happen.” Fundamentally, it’s all thanks to what Al Kassi refers to as a “f**k-it mentality” – the core belief that there is no limit to what they can achieve.   

Caitlin Quinlan is a freelance film critic from London, who has written for publications including The Guardian, ArtReview, MUBI Notebook, Variety and W Magazine   

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All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Portrait of Angela Santana
Angela Santana

The Way I Work... Angela Santana

In our series where we look at the things, places and people that inspire a creative’s working life, journalist Marie-Claire Chappet spoke to the contemporary artist about everything from her workspaces to her creative process  

The Swiss-born artist Angela Santana is attempting to reframe how we view the female form in art. After training in her native Zurich, Santana moved to New York, where, along with major shows in Europe, she has exhibited widely. The last seven years have been devoted to a major body of work on women’s bodies, which formed the backbone of her first major solo show this summer in London’s Saatchi Yates gallery

Here, Santana exhibited large-scale depictions of women, brilliantly rendered from pixelated online images frequently found on illicit sites. Through her clever blending of digital images and oil painting, Santana distorted the female form to challenge the male gaze, which has dominated the art world for so long. 

She sat down with Service95 to share how she works, and what gets her creatively motivated… 

Angela Santana © Johnny Le

On The Importance Of Space… My studio is on the top floor of a beautiful warehouse in Brooklyn. I also do etchings and experiments from a print studio nearby. All my paintings begin as a digital painting, so lots of time is spent painting digitally, in hundreds of layers, creating intricate compositions. I am looking into building a garden studio; imagine painting surrounded by nature! It’s incredibly fascinating and inspiring. It also takes me back to my childhood, when I painted on large paper rolls in the garden from the moment I could hold a brush. 

Spearmint Success, 2017 © Angela Santana

On Music… I’ve got a very eclectic record collection, ranging from contemporary electronic composers and ’60s-’90s rock and pop, to shoegaze, psychedelic and African records from the ’70s. I love Motown too. I am massively inspired by music. I often focus on the composition of a song, taking the layers apart in my mind, imagining the building blocks that create a particular sound, and being inspired by the narration or elegance of a story that can be told within a song, like poetry. I’m always astonished by the freedom and experimentation that goes into creating and recording a song.  

Mara Hoffman

On Dressing The Part… When I paint, it feels liberating to wear boiler suits, [so] that I can focus on the work and strip everything else to the essentials. I don’t want the clothes to hold me back, I want to feel free. For openings, I love dresses. Sculptural shapes and textured details. I love wearing sustainable clothes that last forever, by Rachel Comey or Mara Hoffman, not only for their designs, but for what they stand for, and their powerful message. Beyond the special shapes and gorgeous materials, I love that I feel like me, and there are many versions of me that I like to celebrate. 

Awaji by Astier de Villatte Incense; Orange Blossom, Babylonstoren

On Signature Scents… I like wearing essential oils, such as the ones from Babylonstoren. Or [fragrances] by Bottega Veneta, Guerlain and Hermès. And I have a thing for incense. Awaji Incense by Astier de Villatte is my favourite. A friend also brought me incense from a Japanese monastery years ago that I still treasure, and both help me focus and get into the flow when working. 


On Travel… Landscapes are very inspiring to me, be it the beautiful foothills of the Himalayas (that surprisingly resemble Switzerland where I grew up), or the lush and mossy hills in Scotland. I would also count South Africa’s Cape region to be one of the most incredible places and, of course, Italy and Greece with all their splendour and art history.  

Image of film poster for Los Alegres Picaros by Mario Monicelli; portrait of Luchino Visconti
Los Alegres Picaros, Mario Monicelli © Alamy; Luchino Visconti, Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche

On Seeking Inspiration… I take a lot of inspiration from other art forms, such as film and TV. Sisters With Transistors by Lisa Rovner shines a light on female pioneers in electronic music; their radical experiments in the 20th century redefined the boundaries of music. I also love Boccaccio ’70 – a satirical masterpiece. It’s based on Giovanni Boccaccio’s novellas written in the 14th century, and directors Fellini, De Sica, Monicelli and Visconti reimagine these themes set in Italy in the 1960s.  

Painting by Willem De Koonig
Two Figures In A Landscape (1967), Willem De Kooning; Collection Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

On Art… As an artist, of course, I take inspiration from other artists. For me, it has to be Willem De Kooning and Cecily Brown for their untamed brushstrokes and for oscillating between figuration and abstraction. I also love Louise Bourgeois, Miriam Cahn, Meret Oppenheim, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Francis Bacon, Marlene Dumas and Tschabalala Self. 

On Digital Habits… My favourite Instagram accounts are @Heba_Kadry, @Williamcult and @Republicofnowhere. When I’m on my phone I’m on Brian Eno’s Bloom, the Pantone colour app, BBC Sounds and any travel app that gets me around the city. But I try to spend the least time possible on my phone!  

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar 

Images of places to visit in Jamaica, featuring Jakes Treasure Beach Hotel, Kingston Dub Club, Boston Jerk Centre, Scotchies and the Bob Marley Museum
Jakes Treasure Beach Hotel; Kingston Dub Club; Boston Jerk Centre; Scotchies; Bob Marley Museum

Island Life

After a very hectic start to the year, I was keen to take some time out and was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks at Golden Eye Hotel in Jamaica this month. Oh my gosh, what an experience it was. Taking walks along its icing-sugar-sand beaches with lush mountains in the distance, reggae playing wherever I went, and tasting those delicious Caribbean flavours – not to mention the rum cocktails – I truly feel revitalised and ready to take on what the rest of the year has to offer. Here are the places I recommend you hit up (with some help from my friend Nabil) if you get the chance to travel there. 


1. Jakes Treasure Beach Hotel – book into a beachfront bungalow for a laid-back slice of paradise. 
2. Kingston Dub Club – visit on a Sunday for weekly reggae sessions in the hills above Kingston. 
3. Boston Jerk Centre – the original jerk spot in Port Antonio. 
4. Scotchies – because you can never have enough jerk – a must-visit in Montego Bay. 
5. Bob Marley Museum – an unmissable experience on the site of the legendary musician’s home. 


Lack of sleep: illustrated comic strip of the sun setting and rising
Allie Sunberg

How To Stop Worrying About Lack Of Sleep

It’s 3am and, once again, you’re finding it impossible to sleep. You check your sleep app. You’ve had zero hours, and you have to be up in approximately 230 minutes. You get out your smartphone and start frantically googling things like ‘How to sleep’ and ‘Breathing exercises to cure insomnia’. Your heart is beating. Your thoughts are spinning. And now, look, it’s 3.20am. What are you going to do? 

For anyone who’s battled insomnia, the emotional stress surrounding lack of sleep can feel just as negative as the physical implications. This should hardly come as a surprise: we’re told, constantly, that getting enough sleep is crucial to our overall health. The cumulative effects of sleep deprivation have been associated with a wide range of health risks, from depression and anxiety to a lowered immune system to heart disease and even a higher chance of injury. Not getting enough sleep can feel as though you’re backsliding in life or committing some awful crime against yourself.  

The thing is, high levels of stress can impair our sleep massively. So freaking out or obsessing over sleep patterns probably isn’t going to help the situation. “There’s so much information in the media about how if you don’t sleep you’ll die or ‘go mad’ that [sleep] has now become a performance sport,” says Dr Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert and author of How To Sleep Well. “We’ve got gadgets and wearables that tell us how we sleep and these things are totally useless… Worrying about your sleep is probably the biggest saboteur of sleep.”  

Dr David Lee, clinical director at Sleep Unlimited and author of Teaching The World To Sleep, agrees that sleep anxiety will never be conducive to actually sleeping. “When someone’s not sleeping well, then that anxiety is exacerbating the problem,” he says. “But sleep is a normal biological process, and we can’t avoid it – even the worst insomniacs in the world will sleep. So what we say to reassure people is that you will sleep, you do sleep, and the problem you’ve got is that you’re worrying too much. In that situation, you’ve got to stop thinking about it.” 

Getting adequate sleep can feel like an impossible catch-22 – we’re supposed to prioritise sleep in our lives, but not so much that we’re obsessing over it. How is that even possible? Lee says that it’s important to remember that our circadian rhythms (our natural sleep-wake cycle) work in 90-minute increments. So if you’re not sleepy, get up and do something else until you are. And, crucially, don’t stress or assume it’s the end of the world. “If you’re not getting to sleep within 20 minutes, there’s no point beating yourself up. Just get up and get out of your bedroom and do something distracting for half an hour.” 

Stanley points out that you’re not going to drop dead if you don’t sleep. Sure, you might have a rough night, but tomorrow might be different, so avoid spiralling. “Nobody has ever died from lack of sleep,” he says. “The Americans have a great phrase, ‘If not tonight, then tomorrow night.’ Even the worst insomniac will have one or two nights of good sleep. It’s about not seeing sleep as a competitive sport and judging how you feel, not focusing on how many hours you’re getting.” 

Daisy Jones is a culture writer, editor and author of All The Things She Said. Her work has appeared in Vice UK, British Vogue, Dazed, The Guardian and more 

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On our radar this week…

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Images of memes about mental illness
@ihatekatebush; @femcelpilled666

From The #HotAnxiousGirl To #TheSadGirlAesthetic: The Risks Of Romanticising Mental Illness On Social Media

In the depths of Instagram’s aesthetically curated #SadGirl rabbit hole lives a black and white archive photo of Joni Mitchell, superimposed with the text ‘One Joni Mitchell song away from a mental breakdown’. The image is one of many posted by accounts such as the ironically titled @ihatekatebush, which overlays images of pop-culture icons with flippant, tongue-in-cheek remarks about mental illness. While @ihatekatebush favours folksy, eternally pining female musicians, @femcelpilled666 gravitates towards unhinged, strikingly attractive fictional characters. One of the account’s memes sees Angelina Jolie in Girl Interrupted – a recurring motif of the trend – superimposed with the text ‘“I want to date other people.” Babe, but what about the voices in my head? There are at least five people inside.’ 

Over the past decade, social media has been awash with mental health content. Some accounts are applaudably informative, taking advantage of society’s increasingly fluent pop psychology lexicon, others stigmatise, trivialise, and – in women’s case – idealise, psychological disorders. After all, the media and entertainment industries have long held a contentious relationship with women’s mental illness: from the hysterical madwoman trope rearing its head as horror fodder (Jane Eyre) and sexual fodder (Basic Instinct), to the tabloids’ sexist coverage of celebrity meltdowns. 

The approach on TikTok can be equally thorny. Last month, Priya Patel, the proprietor of TikTok account @littlemiss_adhd_, uploaded a three-minute video admonishing fellow creators for their portrayal of the condition as little more than an of-the-moment quirk. “Do you think it’s trendy living in a world that isn’t built for the way that you are?” she poses. Punctuated with a rallying cry for more accurate representation of the condition, the video garnered over 437,000 likes.      

Patel was referring to the Janus-faced ADHD content on the app, which oscillates between the cataloguing of symptoms and skits enacting the disorder’s common traits, particularly in women. As it stands, the hashtag #ADHD boasts over 21 billion views. Patel, a mental health secondary services worker and ADHD patient, worries that the trend could lead to self-pathologising, misinformation, and the invalidation of women’s experiences. “I think ADHD can be made a bit ‘airy fairy’ when it comes to women. Like it’s a quirky, endearing thing to have. That we daydream and are a bit ditsy, when it’s not like that at all,” she explains.   

On Twitter, the #HotAnxiousGirl hashtag – which Twitter has branded ‘sensitive content’ – unabashedly equates mental illness with physical attractiveness (in a world where the term ‘psycho’ has come to epitomise the antithesis of male attraction, perhaps it makes sense that women are espousing the idea of being hot and mentally unstable). Meanwhile, tweets pandering to the sad girl microtrend include ‘Just a cute sad girl with her messy bangs’ (@maryamBaba_) and ‘Wellness tip: ditch sad girl winter by embracing clinically depressed girl perpetuity’ (@futurepoppop). As The Atlantic’s Kaitlyn Tiffany put it, “Through their tweets, they identify as overthinkers and dreamers and hot people, and they profess melancholy and romantic longing.”  

In social media’s formative years, the idealisation of mental health content was more explicit. The dark, unmonitored corners of Tumblr were inundated with the #ProAna (pro-anorexia) hashtag, and Pinterest and Instagram were cited as a cause of British teenager Molly Russell’s suicide. 

Still, many would argue that social media is increasingly better monitored, and more balanced in its portrayal of mental health. Instagram is flooded with pastel infographics doling out facts about, and advice on, mental illness, and can be credited with providing a sense of community to sufferers – many of whom have nowhere else to turn – particularly at a time when mental health services are under acute strain. (Patel’s local clinic recently shut down due to lack of funding, leaving “absolute chaos” in its wake.) They are also adept at supplying some (often much-needed) levity. “At the end of the day, I do think a laugh, rightly timed, has liberatory potential. It certainly makes you feel less alone,” says Sushrut Yadav, the mind behind @ihatekatebush. 

But Yadav is cognisant of the situation’s delicacy and advises finding a middle ground. “As long as we also cultivate a virtual space to talk about these issues with appropriate seriousness, it shouldn’t be harmful to – once in a while – find relatability within these larger-than-life figures,” she says. Despite her impassioned video, Patel commends TikTok’s mental health content. “There are some brilliant creators on TikTok… [It] has been incredible for raising awareness. I’m just sitting and thinking, If I didn’t have that app, I would not have my diagnosis now. I would still be struggling.” 

Whether or not social media’s benefits outweigh its foibles is an unanswerable question, and likely a futile one, as it continues to colonise our brain space with impunity. What we can do is continue to push for the stringent monitoring of content, particularly in the nascent, ever-expanding metaverse, report potentially hazardous content, and exercise caution while scrolling. 

Juno Kelly is an editor and journalist focused on internet culture, social commentary, and profiles. Her work has appeared in The Cut, The Fence, LOVE Magazine, and more 

Black and white image of two women speaking on the telephone
Duane Michals/Condé Nast

Put The Phone Down

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how it feels as if we’re all on the hamster wheel of life, racing to get through the next day, week, year – always looking forward and never living in the present. After reading Victoria Joy’s piece on burn-out in this week’s issue, I am reminded that this is a reality for so many and how important it is to take a moment for yourself. For me, that’s remembering to put my phone down; I find it such a time sap and notice that when I’m on it I don’t engage with what’s going on right in front of me. Here’s how I manage to put my phone down – I hope these tips will help you, too…

Dua x

  1. During dinner with friends or family, keep your phone in your bag (not on the table) to avoid unconsciously looking at it.
  2. Set an alarm to remind yourself to put your phone away when you’re trying to wind down – I try not to look at my phone for at least two hours before bed.
  3. Put your social media apps on a timer so you have limited hours to spend online and have more time to enjoy for yourself or with the people around you.
  4. Don’t connect to wi-fi on flights; it’s a good excuse to read, watch a film or journal.
  5. When you’re away on holiday, pack a film or disposable camera and take pictures with that instead of your phone. It creates special memories and keeps you from scrolling through your day.


Image of woman in yoga pose wearing purple trouser boots
Bjarne Jonasson/Trunk Archive

The Truth About Burn-Out

Across all industries – from hospitality and healthcare to finance and education – an increasing number of women are suffering from stress exhaustion. As research shows burn-out is leading The Great Resignation, Victoria Joy asks, is it too late to turn it around?

Going far beyond a never-ending to-do list and non-existent coffee breaks, in 2019, burn-out was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and categorised as an ‘occupational phenomenon’. Linking it directly to high levels of specifically workplace stress that haven’t been successfully managed, burn-out symptoms listed in the WHO’s diagnostic manual read: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job or feeling negative towards one’s career; reduced professional productivity. In other words, you’re running on empty. 

The UK’s NHS website offers a wider range of symptoms, including feeling helpless or trapped, a sense of detachment, increased self-doubt, higher levels of procrastination and feeling overwhelmed. 

While the term was used before 2020, for many people it was the Covid-19 pandemic that created a perfect storm of stress; health risks for frontline workers, working remotely that blurred boundaries and cut social interaction, financial insecurity for businesses and furloughed employees, and an increase in general household overwhelm. 

Despite the positive progress around mental health awareness, statistics confirm a sobering reality; research conducted by Glassdoor between 2021 and 2022 found that discussion of burn-out among UK workers increased by 48% over 12 months, and Deloitte’s Women at Work 2022: A Global Outlook found that nearly 40% of women actively looking for a new employer cited burn-out as the main reason. 

Whether it’s corporate workers checking messages all hours of the day so work tasks and worry permeate home life and negatively impact sleep, or healthcare and hospitality staff putting in dangerous levels of overtime and forgoing breaks, it’s no shock that 35% of women rate their ability to switch off from work as poor/very poor.

As to why burn-out seems to be gender-skewed, not only are women more likely to juggle work with caregiving demands and unpaid household labour (especially those forced to squeeze a full-time workload into part-time hours), which ramps up stress across all areas, but they’re also more impacted by financial insecurity due to the gender pay gap and, more commonly, working in lower-paid industries. Among the plethora of supporting research, one 2021 charity survey, titled ‘An Unequal Burden’, found 35% of young women had their furloughed salary topped up by their employer, compared to 53% of young men. 

Trying to treat burn-out with a long-overdue week’s leave or a well-intentioned team social is like attempting to stem a bleeding artery with a single stitch – too little, too late. The key is to put in place systems and safeguards to prevent it in the first place, and both individuals and employers have their part to play. 

5 Ways To Help Avoid Burn-out

While it can often feel that an always-on culture is unavoidable, these action points can help you to identify if there are ways to work differently and save yourself before burn-out hits…

  1. Audit Personal Tech
    Having your phone or laptop pinging constantly with notifications from work means there’s no delineation between work and other areas of your life. Mute the notifications outside of working hours and when you’re focusing on a particular task to minimise distractions. 
  2. Lay The Foundations
    When we’re stressed, busy or flat-out fatigued, our basic needs are the first things to suffer. So laying the foundations shows yourself compassion, and builds resilience against daily stress. Foundations can include nutritious meals eaten without distraction, natural light on your face in the morning, and nightly good-quality sleep. Start small – choose one – and prioritise it.
  3. Own Your Identity
    If work feels all-consuming, be aware of the language you use to describe it. Instead of saying ‘I am’ (‘I am a teacher’, ‘I am a project manager’) use ‘I work as’ (‘I work as a teacher’, ‘I work as a project manager’). This can help create mental boundaries between work and the rest of your life, reminding you your job is only one aspect of who you are and the life you lead.
  4. Keep Perfection In Check
    Is your need to win approval from others, make the best decisions possible or appear at the top of your game adding to your work stress? Aim to view your workload and specific tasks with fresh eyes – from a place of ‘good enough’ instead of ‘perfect’ – and be honest about how realistic you (and others) are being about what’s achievable. 
  5. Rest And Reset
    Ensure you’re setting boundaries in your life outside of work to rest and recalibrate. Finding what truly encourages you to rest may require trial and error, but examples include meditation, socialising with friends, listening to calming music or phone-free activities such as doing jigsaw puzzles.

Victoria Joy is a qualified coach who helps people take back control of their everyday, cutting through the overwhelm to create helpful habits and consistent routines to make life feel easier

The Good Buys

On our radar this week…

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Portrait of tattoo artist Tati Compton

The Way I Work... Tati Compton

In our series where we look at the things, places and people that inspire a creative’s working life, journalist Marie-Claire Chappet spoke to the LA-based stick-and-poke tattoo artist about how she works and what inspires her

Tatiana Kartomten, better known as Tati Compton, will leave her art on your skin. The self-taught tattoo artist uses one of the most traditional methods – stick and poke – to create her signature styles; intricate, delicate and often dominated by goth, female and queer imagery. Compton has been drawing ever since she was little but gave her first ever tattoo the first time she received one herself – as a teenager, listening to Metallica with a friend, the pair inked each other with a sewing needle tied to a pencil.

Compton’s technique has improved since then, and so has her reputation. The Central Saint Martins graduate is now a formidable presence in the industry, a leader in the field of stick and poke, with a huge social following, her own book and clothing collaborations and (naturally) a long waiting list of people wanting to get inked by her…   

She sat down with Service95 to share her work process and creative inspirations… 

Image of Metallica record and tatoo flash designs by Tati Compton
Metallica; Tati Compton Flash

On The Perfect Working Environment… I work at tattoo shops around the world because I love to constantly change my environment and visit my friends in all the different places. I like to listen to metal when I work because it helps to keep me tattooing fast(ish), considering I do stick and poke. This way of working suits me so well. 

Tati Compton, Ashley Corbin-Teich

On Style And Scents… I don’t like exposing my legs or feet when I’m tattooing so I’m usually found in comfortable jeans, a T-shirt and boots. For me, clothes are like dressing as a character or an expression of how I feel. 

I try not to smell too strong when I work because I am in such close proximity to people. I hate chemical perfumes and colognes. Instead, I stick to natural oils that are in my everyday products, such as lavender. 

Images of the film posters for Eraserhead by David Lynch; Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick
Eraserhead, David Lynch; Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick

On Inspiration… I love to travel and everywhere inspires me, in every regard; the buildings, the doors, the streets, the trees, the flowers, the people, the smells, everything.

Everywhere is so different but also the same. People love to say ‘It’s such a small world’, but it’s not, it is a huge world with billions of places and people, and the exploration is never-ending. In terms of the culture I consume, I sort of weirdly despise TV, but I love film. I take a lot of inspiration from Alejandro Jodorowsky, Federico Fellini, David Lynch, Terry Gilliam and Stanley Kubrick films, mostly for their atmosphere and eye for design.

I also take inspiration from people and, as a tattoo artist, all my co-workers and cohort, and all the real-life people and artists I have met on the way inspire me the most. 

I think I never need to feel inspired though. That seems counterproductive. I don’t push inspiration; I respect it and it comes and goes as it pleases. 

Portrait of tattoo artist Tati Compton
Tati Compton, Ashley Corbin-Teich

On Online Life… I’m rarely on Instagram but when I am, I like to laugh. I’ll follow [anything] that has crazy shit happening. Honestly, [that is] one of the main reasons I still go on social media. It sounds basic but my favourite app on my phone is [Google] Maps because it helps me find where to go and I’m always on the move.

Image of tattoo artists Tati Compton in her van
Tati Compton

On Her Most Prized Possession… It constantly makes me sad that the prized possession of humanity is money. My van is currently my favourite thing I own because I live in it, and it drives me places. I guess my other favourite possession, though it changes a lot, is my denim vest.

Portrait of David Bowie
David Bowie, Steve Shaprio

On The Best Career Advice… OK, so he didn’t say it to me but David Bowie once said something that I totally live by. He said: “Never work for other people at what you do. Always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside you that you felt that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself or how you coexist with the rest of society. I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfil other people’s expectations. I think they generally produce their worst work when they do that. If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar

Prima Facie at The Harold Pinter Theatre; Lucali Pizzeria; Thierry Mugler: Couturissime at Brooklyn Museum; Housing Works Bookstore Café; Hip-Hop at Fotografiska New York
Prima Facie, The Harold Pinter Theatre; Lucali; Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, Brooklyn Museum; Housing Works Bookstore Café; Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious Fotografiska New York

New York, I Love You

There is something about New York that is just so intoxicating. I don’t know whether it’s that the streets look so familiar it feels like a film set, the countless museums, galleries, and restaurants, or its edgy, innovative scene that keeps me coming back. On my last visit, I immersed myself in all it had to offer, and you know what? I can’t wait to go back again! Here are the shows, exhibitions, and places to add to your list, whether you’re a local or planning on visiting soon.

Dua x

  1. Prima Facie – I can’t wait to see this play starring the incredible Jodie Comer – everyone is talking about this show!
  2. Lucali – head here for incredible thin-crust pizza that’s worth the (unavoidable) wait.
  3. Thierry Mugler: Couturissime – this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is the first retrospective to explore the works of the French designer.
  4. Housing Works Bookstore Café – all profits of this institution go towards providing housing, healthcare and more for New Yorkers living with Aids.
  5. Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious – an immersive experience by Fotografiska that celebrates 50 years of hip-hop.


Prima Facie, The Harold Pinter Theatre, © Helen Murray; Lucali; Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, Brooklyn Museum. Yasmin Le Bon, Palladium, London, Evening Standard, October 1997. Haute couture Fall/Winter 1997–98 collection (“La Chimère”) © Alan Strutt; Housing Works; Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious, Fotografiska New York. Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill, East Harlem, New York City, 1993 © Lisa Leone; Queen Latifah, Jesse Frohman 1990, Courtesy Fotografiska New York and Copyright of The Artist

Conceptual illustration of woman in pain from an IUD
Gracia Lam, 2023 ©

Why Is Pain Relief Not Offered For IUD Insertion?

When it comes to matters of not getting pregnant, that most birth control options are accompanied by at least one negative side effect is almost a given; choosing contraceptives can feel like a case of picking the best of a bad bunch. Such as IUD (intrauterine device). Lasting for five to 10 years with an over 99% protection rate, the appeal is obvious, hence it is one of the most popular options for birth control that comes highly recommended by doctors. However, while medical professionals have long sung the praises of the little T-shaped device, the silence around the physical pain women suffer during – and after – the IUD insertion process has been deafening. Now, after years of quietly enduring the pain, it has recently become a point of contention in online spaces such as TikTok. Users are sharing their – often quite distressing – experiences. The key question is, why is pain relief not offered for IUD insertion?

IUDs are available in two main formats: hormonal and copper. Most insertions roughly follow the same sequence: insertion of the speculum (a metal or steel contraption in the shape of a duckbill, used by gynaecologists to widen the vagina walls, making it easier to examine), cervical clamping, measuring of the womb, insertion of device and trimming of the strings. Gynaecologist Dr Staci Tanouye explains that the process “usually only takes about two minutes”. Simple right? In theory, yes. It is a relatively quick procedure but not a pain-free one; the so-called ‘quick pinch’ of the cervical clamping is essentially two needles piercing the flesh of the cervix, and having the womb measured by a plastic rod and the foreign device subsequently inserted is, for many women, followed by intense period-pain-like cramps. 

As someone who has had the pleasure of two insertions, I can attest to the pain. While I managed to walk home from both of my procedures, it was quite the endurance. My first insertion came with an audience. The room consisted of a nurse, a student doctor, a doctor and my boyfriend at the time. Interestingly, everyone seemed more concerned about my boyfriend’s wellbeing, debating whether he should stay in the room or whether he would faint, as I lay there anxious and with my legs akimbo. (Perhaps the concern for his tolerance is unsurprising when you consider that most pain relief treatments are trialled on men and thus cater to men.) This insertion itself was very uncomfortable – it felt like severe period cramps – but not unbearable. The second insertion followed a removal and was much more painful. As the doctor clamped my cervix I tensed up and the pain was excruciating. My breathing quickened, I felt dizzy, and tears quickly formed in my eyes. My doctor was extremely sympathetic and gave me some time to gather myself. Still, it was not going to happen – my cervix said ‘no’. So, she signalled to the nurse to get the local anaesthetic. I got an injection into my cervix (always fun) and the searing pain I felt vanished. Then, off I hobbled home, somewhat dazed and sore.

Sadly, my experience was not unique. Registered nurse Alex Waters described her IUD insertion as “the most painful experience ever,” which was followed by three days relegated to the sofa for recovery. My experience differed in that I was given a local anaesthetic. Pain relief was not offered to Waters. “I wish I’d known to take some painkillers beforehand or gone to someone who could have helped me,” she says. Dr Tanouye agrees that some degree of pain relief should be standard. “Pain control should definitely be a discussion prior to every insertion. What [medical professionals] need to do is have this discussion [with the patient] ahead of time so they can make an informed and individualised decision.” 

So, why isn’t pain relief guaranteed for IUD insertion? The difficulty, explains Dr Tanouye, is that pain is subjective, hence it is impossible to offer one standardised form of pain relief. “The pain of the cervix and uterus is very complex; there is a huge range of pain that is experienced – from none to severe. Studies have shown that most report the pain to be no worse than a period cramp, but there will always be people with less or more pain than the average. There are multiple nerves that innervate the cervix and uterus and even here there is a variation from person to person. So while many different pain-control options have been studied, none have consistently shown improvement.” While the argument around the subjectivity of pain is valid (my own experiences of IUD fittings differing in pain levels attests to this), making it difficult to decide on an appropriate level of pain relief, if the conversations with women around IUDs are anything to go by, there still isn’t an adequate amount of communication taking place around tailoring pain relief to a woman’s needs.

Hence activists and healthcare providers championing women’s health are stepping in. One example of change is the US-based service Tia, which is creating ‘a new standard of care for women’. Providing treatments for everything from mental health to hormone disorders, Tia also offers insertion and removal of IUDs and is pioneering acupuncture as an option for pain relief as part of the treatment. In the UK, in 2021, Lucy Cohen created a petition on to advocate for better pain relief for IUD insertions and removals after her own excruciating insertion; the petition has since amassed over 35,000 signatures. This rise of women taking to online spaces to share their stories, campaign and spread awareness has finally brought the issue of women’s pain to the forefront; the growing number of first-hand accounts has finally led the medical sector to openly acknowledge the issue. The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) released a statement in 2021 with the president of the RCOG Dr Edward Morris stating, “It is very distressing to hear about the experiences of pain some women have suffered having the contraceptive coil fitted. We believe that unbearable pain during any gynaecological procedure is unacceptable and all specialists working in women’s health; specialist nurses, GPs and gynaecologists need to listen and take account of what is being said.” A welcome step but is it enough to obliterate the issue of women’s pain being ignored? Not so fast says Dr Tanouye. “Historically, this has been a problem in all [areas] of medicine [this issue is particularly acute when it comes to women of colour]. And while we are getting better at recognising and understanding women’s pain, we still have a long way to go.” 

Georgia Moot is a model and writer, based between London and New York. Georgia has written for British Vogue, Refinery29, Browns fashion and Dazed

The Good Buys

The limited-edition buys to have on your radar

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Campaign imagery from modest womenswear brand Sabirah
Asia Werbel

Sabirah: The Eco-Luxe Culturally Inclusive Fashion Brand

While Deborah Latouche worked as a fashion stylist and writer for Italian Elle, the irony was not lost on her that she herself struggled to find occasion wear that met her requirements. Particularly as a Muslim woman. “I’d discover a great dress – which was difficult enough as a tall, plus-size woman – then I’d turn it around and it would be backless. There was always something revealing, which meant I’d have to cover up with another layer,” she says. 

Frustrated with the constant compromise and seeing the lack of culturally inclusive brands that catered to fashion lovers like herself, in 2020, the London-based Latouche launched the luxury modest wear brand Sabirah. The made-to-measure collections – a nod to patience’, the Arabic translation of Sabirah – feature candy-coloured floor-skimming dresses, throw-on crepe kaftans, exquisite cinched-waisted silk blazers with matching tailored trousers and so much more. It has been lauded by influential fashion editors such as Sarah Mower while also attracting a fanbase that includes Muslim model Ikram Abdi Omar and non-religious clients such as Ciinderella Balthazar and MNEK. 

An ethos of slow fashion and sustainability is a thread that runs through the brand; the materials used are all leftover couture fabrics and vintage buttons sourced from Italy and Paris. This is why you will never find Latouche encouraging her clients to buy newness for the sake of it. Her capsule collections are introduced as something to work with a piece you already own. “We think about how women use their wardrobe. Just because you bought something two years ago, it doesn’t mean it has to be excluded from your current wardrobe,” she says. For 2023, Latouche is planning to expand her market to the Middle East simply because, “I believe in the elevation of all women, regardless of size, race or religion.” And Sabirah is a testament to that.

Yelena Grelet is a London-based multimedia journalist and filmmaker

Image of people in front of the Set Me Free campaign installation at Sunny Hill Festival, Kosovo

Freedom For Kosovars

Every year, I look forward to spending as much of the summer as possible in Kosovo. It has an energy unlike anywhere I know, possibly because half the population is under the age of 27. The vibe is very European, with a thriving music and arts scene. Yet, in many ways, young Kosovars have had their wings clipped. Kosovo remains one of the few European countries whose citizens still need a visa to enter the EU, whether it’s for a business meeting or a holiday. In this week’s newsletter, writer Suzana Vuljevic explains what freedom of movement would mean for Kosovo and why the EU’s recent commitment to grant visa liberalisation by January 2024 is a promise that must be kept.

Dua x

Image of hand holding polaroid picture, featuring the Set me Free Campaign

#SetMeFree: Will 2024 See Kosovar Citizens Finally Granted Their Freedom Of Movement?

Kosovo is a country that is practically synonymous with youth: it has just celebrated its 15th birthday, and half its population is under the age of 27. Since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, integration into Europe has been at the top of the country’s political agenda. Tied to it is the long-standing issue of visa liberalisation. Once realised, it would allow citizens to enter the European Union without a visa for a period of up to 90 days. The EU has proposed a date of January 2024 for visa liberalisation, though many remain sceptical given the EU’s track record of serial postponements. 

Kosovo’s path to visa-free travel first began in 2012 and, despite having met a laundry list of conditions since 2018, little hope for progress had been made until now. Some EU countries continue to oppose its bid to join the visa-free regime and Kosovar citizens – young people in particular – have suffered the consequences. 

It was in light of these challenges that Sunny Hill Festival announced the #SetMeFree campaign. Dukagjin Lipa, the founder of the annual music festival in Prishtina (and the father of Service95 founder Dua Lipa), came up with the idea to use the festival platform to spotlight the issue and urge decision-making bodies to drop the visa requirements. Festival goers wore wristbands emblazoned with the hashtag and social media lit up with support.  

Sunny Hill itself was created to bring international talent and entertainment to a youth that would otherwise not have access to it, especially as investment in arts and culture in Kosovo is lacking. “What we can export is music, art, culture and sports,” Lipa says. “These are our ambassadors.”  

For Kosovo’s youth, the ‘Set Me Free’ slogan encapsulates widespread feelings of powerlessness and the profoundly human need to go beyond the limits of one’s own country to trade ideas and experiences with peers abroad.  

Last summer, Mexhid Ramusa, director of the Movement for Democracy, staged a protest in front of the EU office in Prishtina along with several other activists. Here, they erected a prison to represent the isolation Kosovars face. “We are treated like second-class citizens,” explains Ramusa. “[And] we can’t gain knowledge.” Such restrictions, he believes, hold Kosovars back from realising their potential.  

Kosovo is the only country among its neighbours that still does not enjoy the right to move freely. Right now, applying for a visa is a time-consuming, onerous, and costly process that often ends in frustration and rejection.  

With an acceptance letter in hand to join a course on media literacy in Germany, Elion Kollçaku, a journalist based in Prishtina, had to secure a visa to attend. “The issue was that I couldn’t even get an appointment to apply for the visa,” Kollçaku says. “It was that hard.” It was an opportunity he had earned but, due to the restrictions, would ultimately miss out on.   

Apart from empowering youth, visa-free travel carries the promise of intercultural exchange, plus greater opportunity and essential progress across all sectors of society. Marigona Shabiu, executive director of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, recalls her own experience of applying for a visa to travel to Spain when she was 18 years old, when the closest Spanish embassy was in the Republic of North Macedonia, 60 miles from where she was at the time. But she has no regrets. “Going to Skopje to apply for the visa – which then enabled me to go to Spain – was the best decision of my life,” she said. “It opened up so many doors for me.”  

Travel to the EU, says Shabiu, afforded her access to training sessions and conferences, and helped her to grow both personally and professionally. When she returned home, her experience brought further benefits to the community.  

The announcement of visa liberalisation in 2024 is largely considered a huge breakthrough. For many citizens who lie in wait, it is hard not to see this as yet another empty promise, but there is some hope. And once this human right is granted, Lipa believes, “Europe is going to benefit immensely from the creativity of our youth.” 

Suzana Vuljevic is a culture writer, editor and translator, and her work has appeared in AGNI, Eurozine and more 

The Good Buys

Introducing the new Service95 franchise where we share three things that have caught our eye this week

All products featured are independently chosen by the Service95 team. When you purchase something through our shopping links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Portrait of soprano opera singer Samuel Mariño with his dog, shot exclusively for Service95
Dominik Slowik

The South American Singer Opening The World Of Opera To A New Audience

The art of the male soprano is back. With the last official ‘castrato’ (a male singer who was castrated before puberty) having retired in 1913, women have largely sung their music since, however, Samuel Mariño, the 29-year-old Venezuelan-born, Berlin-based opera singer is altering this narrative. With the release of his debut solo album Sopranista last year, and recently touring with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, he is making waves. But it wasn’t always this way. 

His childhood in Caracas is tainted by memories of relentless bullying for his high-pitched speaking voice and homosexuality. So much so he no longer associates Venezuela with ‘home’. “I was ashamed to talk about it with my parents. I would always say I was sick [at school], and my dad would come and pick me up. I wasn’t actually sick, I just couldn’t face being [there],” he says via Zoom from his Berlin apartment. “Music helped me a lot. I would sit in my room and listen to pop, and it would make me smile.”

When, at 13, his voice half-broke, a doctor informed him that he could either correct this through surgery or consider a career in opera. With the encouragement of his mother, Mariño chose the latter. He began studying piano and voice at the National Conservatory in Caracas and performing opera with the Camerata Barroca, where he worked with renowned conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel and Theodore Kuchar. This sparked his passion for the baroque repertoire, leading him to Europe. 

The budding singer left Venezuela to further his musical studies at the Conservatoire de Paris, under the mentorship of American soprano Barbara Bonney, where he faced the new challenge of winning over the European opera elite. “People have often judged me before I have even opened my mouth,” he says. “They see the way I dress and think I am going to be bad; it is also a very white/European world, which is definitely complicated.”

The daring fashion choices Mariño makes go beyond the aesthetic; they have, he explains, a personal message of liberation. “It is political, so I put a lot of time into designing my clothes to represent freedom… [also] my God, wearing a skirt is just so comfortable,” he adds with a laugh. 

Mariño’s love for opera is undeniable, but there’s also an awareness of the changes required to help his beloved art form maintain modern-day relevance. Performers like him are working to help the world of opera appeal to younger generations. Gus Christie, executive chairman of the UK’s Glyndebourne Opera House, believes “we need good champions and communicators. It’s been going for hundreds of years and there are a lot of stigmas and misconceptions [around] opera… It’s amazing how many of those who have never been very keen at first are blown away by the music. So the more personalities to help spread the word, the better.”

Adamant not to be pigeonholed, the soprano has dreams to break into new genres – Mariño is a dedicated lover of pop and wants to experiment with his classical style. The hope is to reach more people with his message of fearless emancipation: “I want to free others like my music has freed me.” 

Pia Brynteson is editorial assistant at Service95

Creative Direction: Pia Brynteson. Photography: Dominik Slowik. Photography Assistant: Cult Chen. Styling: Caitlin Jones. Makeup: Tina Khatri. Designer: Meerim Mamatova

Image of trans activist and author Munroe Bergdorf
Munroe Bergdorf, Mariano Vivanco

Celebrating The Changemakers

In this week’s newsletter, Marie-Claire Chappet has written a beautiful profile on the brilliant activist and model Munroe Bergdorf. With the publication of her new memoir Transitional, Munroe, one of the first Black trans models, is leading the conversation on trans lives and using her voice to bring about change for those who are often made to feel like they don’t exist. As social justice and activism are some of the core values at Service95, we’re really excited to start spotlighting changemakers on our socials more frequently, to celebrate the work they do. I hope you will find them and their incredible stories as inspirational as I do. Watch this space.

Dua x


“We’re Essentially Being Told That We Don’t Exist By The People That Are Meant To Be Protecting Us”: Munroe Bergdorf On Trans Issues

“We’re all talking about the wrong things,” says the model and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf. She says it resignedly, with the exhausted sigh of someone who has had these conversations – the wrong ones – far too often. We are talking on Zoom one Wednesday morning and, somehow, quite without either of us meaning to, we end up slipping into exactly one of those conversations. “But there are gender-neutral toilets everywhere!” She says with an exasperated laugh. “Have people never been on an aeroplane?”

Image of Trans activist and auther Munroe Bergdorf at Trans Rights Protest, London
Munroe Bergdorf

Through her heartrending memoir Transitional, Bergdorf wants to get the conversation about trans lives back to actual trans lives. Part autobiography, part polemic, the book is a thoroughly absorbing journey through the joys and devastations of her life. “I feel like I’ve just been inside your head,” I say. “Good,” she replies. “That’s the point.” Because, of course, that is the point. How many people screaming about toilets have been inside a trans person’s head? Empathy, perhaps, is Transitional’s biggest takeaway.  

“I wanted people to realise that transness is a human experience. Gender is a human experience,” she says of the book’s palpable grounding in universality. “The confines we are expected to live within are man-made, so we can transition out of them. That’s something that is for everybody, not just trans people.”

Bergdorf’s own ‘transition’ – her journey – is remarkably relatable. She depicts an idealised early childhood in the English village of Stansted Mountfitchet, the typical trappings of infancy and there are gorgeous passages about the menagerie of insects she collected. As a reader, you feel as crushed as she is when puberty seemingly destroys everything and brings with it cruel realisations about the realities of being the only mixed-race family in the village and being the only queer person of colour she knew. External forces brutally pushing their way into an internal world will become a repeated, traumatic refrain in Bergdorf’s life. 

She is brilliantly erudite about the intersectionality of those forces; the misogyny at the root of so much of the violence inflicted on her, the racism, the homophobia. On the subject of governmental responsibility for this, she is unequivocal. “They are essentially advocating for genocide,” she says simply. “What else do you call it, when we’re being disenfranchised, pushed out of spaces, denied health care, denied love and dignity? If we’re essentially being told that we don’t exist by the people that are meant to be protecting us, that is going to – and is – causing people to die.” 

For Bergdorf, finding her voice in this way has been as essential as shaping her true identity, yet she speaks with refreshing honesty about the unwelcome chaos activism brings to her life. “It has brought me peace and it has also taken away peace,” she admits. “For such a long time I was the only Black trans model out there, representing all of us. I look forward to the day when trans people can be hired, just for who they are, not the identity they represent. Like, I want a trans woman presenting an ordinary gardening show, you know?”

She laughs and it is a glorious invocation of the joy she has fought so hard for all these years. Even the process of writing the memoir (which took over five years and included a Covid-19 lockdown and a revelatory stay in rehab) has seen her reach a whole new place in her life – one of clarity and, as her final chapter states, purpose. “I’m a different person from when I started writing,” she says with a smile, knowing I am about to say the same thing. “Yes, I know. Another transition!”
Transitional: In One Way Or Another, We All Transition by Munroe Bergdorf (£14.99, Bloomsbury) is out now

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar

A surreal image of a girl wearing a pink outfit
Tamara Lichtenstein/Trunk Archive

Biohacking: An Explainer

Biohacking – also known as a form of human enhancement – is essentially do-it-yourself biology that involves making small incremental changes to your body and brain to make them function better. The Silicon Valley community were early advocates; the inadvertent poster boy being Twitter’s ex-CEO, Jack Dorsey. In April 2019, CNBC published Dorsey’s ‘top biohacks’. It included everything from ice-cold baths and seven-minute high-intensity interval workouts to a one-meal-a-day diet, and regular fasts that can sometimes last an entire weekend. It came under a lot of criticism for what many considered a dangerous and extreme approach to biohacking. Does the path to optimising our health really need to be so complicated? No, says Davinia Taylor, wellbeing author and founder of Will Powders, a science-driven, female-focused biohacking community – and a long-time champion of the practice.  

“Biohacking may sound scary but really it just means knowing your own personal biology,” explains Taylor. “When biohacking, you are simply looking to form habits that work for your chemistry and your lifestyle.” 

Here are five ways Taylor suggests biohacking your life:

  1. Changes as simple as exposing your eyes to morning light prior to phone usage can make your morning more productive. “The blue light generated from the sun is what jumpstarts your brain and allows your body to properly regulate cortisol levels, giving you more energy.”
  2. Start with small resets. “We all go to the bathroom multiple times each day. Try remaining seated for just one more minute, close your eyes, place one hand over your heart, and then begin slowly breathing in for five and out for seven.” This small exercise helps to reset your mind and body, and regular practice helps calm the adrenal gland and nervous system, which, in turn, can stabilise your heart rate and blood pressure.
  3. Read In The Flo by bestselling author Alisa Vitti. Her book provides in-depth research on the connection between biohacking and better menstrual health, outlining how women can work in sync with their monthly cycles.
  4. Retraining your brain through habits is paramount to biohacking. The brain is neuroplastic so it can be retrained with substances such as nootropics – also known as cognitive enhancers – which claim to boost your memory and concentration. 
  5. Consulting your GP before making any drastic health changes is key, as is exploring scientifically proven strategies. “I always advise looking into scientific research via websites such as Here you can find out more about things such as light exposure, cold exposure and the impact of breathwork.” It can open up a whole new approach to health.

Ata-Owaji Victor is a lifestyle and beauty writer whose work has appeared in Refinery29, Elle UK and British Vogue

Images of London-based skin clinic Re:lax, the Re:lax Stamp and Glow Microneedling Stamp, and facialist Katie White
Re:lax London

This One Thing... Re:lax London

As winter continues in the northern hemisphere, cooler temperatures can leave us with lacklustre, dull-looking skin. If you’re dreaming of a ‘summer glow’, let us introduce you to Re:lax London, a skin studio based in East London’s Bethnal Green. Founded in 2016 by Katie White, a facialist who is also a nutritional and holistic therapist, her mission was to create a brand that thoroughly incorporates a ‘360°-approach’ to skin. 

Each facial (prices start at £65) factors in elements such as diet, lifestyle, and stress levels so each person receives a bespoke treatment. And you leave with skin and a mindset that gives new meaning to the term ‘inside-out glow’. If a visit to the studio isn’t possible, head to Re:lax’s Instagram and YouTube for a range of free tutorials, at-home facials, workshops, massage tips and more. White and her team are not only dedicated to encouraging us all to be kinder to our bodies and minds, but they are also a wonderful reminder for us all to take a moment and Re:lax.

Pia Brynteson is editorial assistant at Service95

Images of women cooking and making crafts at the Iraq Al-Amir Women's Co-Operative
Iraq Al-Amir Women's Co-Operative

The Jordanian Co-Operative Raising Up Female Entrepreneurs

At the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Co-Operative, a packed lunch spot on the outskirts of Amman, a clowder of cats chase each other across the small outdoor patio while tourists enjoy large portions of traditional Jordanian food such as musakhan (spiced chicken) and magloubet zahra (chicken, rice and cauliflower). But this is so much more than a popular eatery. Established in 1993 by Noor Al Hussein Foundation, Iraq Al-Amir is Jordan’s oldest women’s co-operative and since going fully independent in 2001 it has trained over 150 women who have since gone on to establish businesses – including food establishments – of their own. But as Yusra Al Husami, the president of the co-operative, explains, while it has been rewarding, it hasn’t been easy. 

“We’re barely making any profits,” she says. “And what [money] we do have is spent on this place and invested in training the young women.” Unemployment in Jordan for women is around 33% in urban areas and is even higher in rural areas and while many of the co-op’s employees are well educated, getting them into the local, largely agrarian workforce has been difficult. This is why the women have had no choice “but to find their own alternative and not even depend on the government to hire them,” says Al Husami. The co-op, however, isn’t just a job in a restaurant for its 15 employees. The local women there are trained to weave fabrics, craft pottery and soap at a fair wage while gaining practical experience and skills. The Jordan Trail (a popular hiking route) running through the area has now also furnished them with a steady stream of tourists, thereby creating unique opportunities for the female would-be entrepreneurs. “That was the idea, to try and support these ladies and encourage them to develop and create their own ideas so that, in the future, they can be independent and own their own businesses,” says Al Husami.

So whether stopping for lunch, staying in one of their rooms (the co-op has plans to expand its pilot homestay programme in local Ottoman-era homes), or taking a class in papermaking, pottery, or cooking, a visit to Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Co-Operative will help people to authentically explore Jordanian culture in a way that directly feeds back into the community. 

Laura Studarus is a Los Angeles-based travel journalist who has written for BBC, Thrillist, Shondaland and Marie Claire

Images of a Lynette Yiadom-Boakye painting, 40 Maltby Street, Prince Charles Cinema, Abba Voyage, and A Streetcar Named Desire theatre show
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, The Cream And The Taste, 2013, Private Collection © Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; 40 Maltby Street, Trent McMinn; Prince Charles Cinema, Nicole Engelmann Photography @ne_moments; Abba Voyage, Johan Persson/Abba Voyage; A Streetcar Named Desire, Marc Brenner

Rediscovering London

I’m so happy to be home for a substantial amount of time this year, something that hasn’t happened for me in a long while. Now I feel like I really have the chance to rediscover my city, especially because in the past I’ve been known to be a creature of habit and stick to my favourite places. But I’ve made a personal effort to branch out lately and discover more of what London has to offer. Here are a few things you can do whether you’re a Londoner yourself or if you’re planning on visiting soon!

Dua x

  1. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye exhibition – don’t miss this Tate Britain exhibition of one of Britain’s more prolific artists, which ends soon (on 26 February).
  2. 40 Maltby Street – a great natural wine and food spot near London Bridge.
  3. Prince Charles Cinema – this theatre in Soho plays so many brilliant arthouse and classic films every night.
  4. Abba Voyage – a virtual concert residency that is a mind-blowing experience like no other.
  5. A Streetcar Named Desire – the sell-out production of Tennessee Williams’ play transfers to the Phoenix Theatre for a six-week run from mid-March.


Portrait of Solange Azagury-Partridge
Solange Azagury-Partridge, Suleika Mueller; Lucy Jones

The Way I Work... Solange Azagury-Partridge

In our series where we look at the things, places and people that inspire a creative’s working life, journalist Marie-Claire Chappet spoke to the London-based designer about her process and creative heroes

The first piece of jewellery Solange Azagury-Partridge ever designed, back in 1987, was her own engagement ring. Since then, the self-taught creative has become one of Britain’s cult jewellery designers, founding her eponymous brand in 1990 and working for three years as the creative director of the historic house Boucheron. Many of her pieces are featured in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Les Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Here, she tells Service95 about her work process, her creative idols and her new perfume, Kiss My Lips, based on her now-iconic Hotlips rings… 

Granger & Co.

On her working day… I like to get up and have my coffee in bed, read the news and do a Wordle before answering some urgent emails. If I’m meeting a client, I like to take them out for breakfast, either to Granger & Co on Westbourne Grove or somewhere down Golborne Road. If not, I’ll go for a walk in the park or around Portobello Road and then head to my office for 10ish. I try to leave around 5pm and regroup to do my final calls and emails from home. That time to myself at the beginning and end of the day is really important to me. 

Hot Lips Ring; Sugar, Sugar by The Archies; Kiss My Lips perfume, Kiss My Lips candle

On music… I can’t work with any music on, I need silence, however, the inspiration for my new perfume is the first record I ever bought when I was a little girl. It was Sugar, Sugar by The Archies, which has lyrics about how sweet a kiss can be. For me, the Hotlips woman generally has a funny, cheeky, happy, joyful spirit. I really wanted the perfume to have that happiness about it. 

Earth Ring; Cosmic Nature Ring; Solange Azagury-Partridge, Melanie Acevedo/Trunk Archive

On her inspirations… I try to use abstract ideas as a basis for inspiration rather than something that already exists. For one collection I used the physical manifestation of mathematics and how beautiful that is. This is despite the fact I am terrible at maths!

Stoned Perfume by jeweller Solange Azagury Partridge
Stoned perfume, Solange

On her signature scent… I always wear my own perfume, Stoned, which I created about 15 years ago. It just feels like it’s part of who I am. I think scent is such a great partner to jewellery; you wear it on your skin in the same way. It’s another means of accessorising. 

Alice + Olivia; Poptails Tri-Di Ring, Solange Azagury-Partridge

On her work uniform… I’m a big fan of finding a style and sticking with it. For me, that’s great blouses in every colour. My favourites are from Tucker NYC and Alice + Olivia. I’m not an experimental fashion person, I leave that to my jewellery. 

Pink Palace Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, India, Alamy

On travel… I really enjoy travelling for work; I think it’s almost more fun than travelling as a tourist, where I feel you only see the surface of things. When you travel for work, you meet locals and get down into the nitty-gritty of the place. My favourite places to visit are India, Morocco, New York and LA. 

Book covers Half Of A Yellow Sun, Americanah by Chimamamanda Ngozi Adichie
Half Of A Yellow Sun, Americanah, Chimamamanda Ngozi Adichie

On other creatives… I’m a massive reader, so the people I really admire are writers. I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Martin Amis and Hanya Yanagihara. As a huge art fan, I have always wished I could devote more time to painting myself. As it is, I have some great pieces. My favourite is a massive Matthew Day Jackson. I would save it from a fire… if I could lift it.  

On recharging… I like to literally stay in bed for 24 hours. Read, sleep, eat and watch TV from bed. That is my dream way to recharge. 

Solange Azagury-Partridge, Suleika Mueller

On career advice… The best thing I was ever told was about self-belief. In order to succeed, you need to have confidence in whatever you do.

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar

Collage image featuring a girl wearing a headscarf holding a television remote, alongside images of Muslim characters portrayed in various films and TV series
Anthony Gerace

Why Muslim Representation In Film and TV Matters

At an intimate community screening in London, I watched the documentary An Act Of Worship, directed by Muslim filmmaker Nausheen Dadabhoy. Over two hours, the audience and I were confronted with the last 30 years of Muslim life in the US, bookended by the first Gulf War and Trump’s Muslim Ban. We heard from a woman whose memories of elementary school include being taunted on the playground for her traditional Pakistani dress. A series of families affected by travel bans described the frustration and heartbreak of living apart. And we listened to the words of a father who, due to immigration issues, couldn’t be with his daughter on her wedding day.

These stories are neither unique nor unfamiliar; as a Muslim in America, I grew up hearing about similar experiences in my community. But watching them unfold on the big screen was surreal, demonstrating their systemic and national scope. According to polling from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 62% of Muslims in the US experience religious discrimination in their everyday lives. The reasons for discrimination are complex and driven by years of systemic racism, but they are also exacerbated by the harmful images people see on their television screens.

As a programme manager at Pillars Fund, a US-based non-profit that supports Muslim leaders and artists, I see these realities every day. In 2019, we already knew from personal experience that Muslims were under and misrepresented in the media, but there was no data supporting these observations to help us push for change. To fill this gap, our team partnered with the Ford Foundation and British actor and producer Riz Ahmed to support two studies at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The research evaluated the portrayals of Muslim characters in top films and television series from 2017 to 2019 in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. 

The results, while not surprising, are grim. Muslims are overwhelmingly missing on screen: only 1% of all speaking characters in television series are Muslim, despite the fact Muslims make up nearly a quarter of the world’s population. When they are represented, Muslims are often linked to violence. In films, 30% of Muslim characters are depicted as perpetrators of violence; in TV, 12% of Muslim characters die violently during the first three episodes. These stereotypes extend to race, too. Two-thirds of Muslim characters in film are Middle Eastern/North African (MENA), even though Muslims across the globe come from a diverse array of countries and ethnicities.

The quality of characters on screen is not just about representation. These depictions have a tremendous impact on how people around the world feel about Muslims and how we feel about ourselves. Research shows that Muslims are the most likely faith group in the US to attempt suicide and British Muslims have higher rates of depression and anxiety than the general population. These mental health implications are often linked to feeling ostracised and being discriminated against in our daily lives. This influence extends to the development of harmful foreign and domestic policy. 

So how do we develop more accurate, expansive portrayals for future generations? First, we support Muslim artists such as Nausheen Dadabhoy who want to tell authentic and provocative stories. (Our Pillars Artist Fellowship offers emerging Muslim directors and screenwriters residing in the US and UK a $25,000 grant, tailored mentorship, and an opportunity to tell stories outside the pressures of anti-Muslim bias.) We also invite industry leaders, funders, and artists to join us in this movement, whether through financial support or simply by learning more to make a systems-level change. The Blueprint for Muslim Inclusion serves as a guide for studios, talent agencies, and other partners to better support Muslim creatives and avoid dangerous tropes. If you’re an industry leader, a simple, transformative action you can take is to sign onto the Muslim Visibility Challenge, which means committing to remove terrorist tropes from future content and hiring at least one Muslim creator who is empowered to develop well-rounded stories and step into their power as storytellers.

Aya Nimer is a Programme Manager at Pillars Fund, where she works on developing culture change programming that advances Pillars’ mission of changing narratives around Muslims in the US

Emoji icon animation
Jennifer Daniel

Jennifer Daniel: The Woman Ushering In The Next Generation Of Emojis

Jennifer Daniel has a job title that sounds made up. She’s chair of the Emoji Subcommittee for the Unicode Consortium. This means she decides on new emojis and monitors what these symbols add to our online lives. Significantly, considering past emoji designs have been accused of sexism, she’s the first woman in the role. 

Daniel, who took on the title in 2020, acknowledges what she calls “some very obvious broken experiences”, but her approach to inclusivity has been to simplify. 

“My instinct wasn’t to go more specific, but to be less specific,” she says, pointing to the ‘hand with index finger and thumb crossed’ emoji, sometimes known as the ‘finger heart’. “It was designed to be multiple things to multiple people for multiple reasons. If we had added a little heart at the top, it wouldn’t have had the flexibility.”

Portrait of Jennifer Daniel
Bobby Spero

These tiny hieroglyphics have been with us, in one way or another, for around 40 years and their meanings are endlessly debated and changed; the thumbs up, seen as passive-aggressive by Gen Z, the nail polish emoji holding different meanings across generations (displaying an air of nonchalance to some and getting glammed up to others) and there are also the ones used in a way the Emoji Subcommittee did not intend. See the coffin for hilarious or the infamous aubergine. But Daniel is effusive in her enthusiasm for these moments. “I just love it,” she says. “[It shows that] language is infinitely creative.” Hence her favourites are not so much emojis understood by many, but the more intimate ones. “I talked to a couple and [they said] sending a heart emoji to each other was a little too serious. But they both love pizza, so that [became] their way of saying they cared about each other.”

In 2020, Daniel helped to create Emoji Kitchen, which allows users to blend two emojis together, portmanteau style. “You can hit the heart face and then [the] angry face to say, ‘I love you but I don’t like what you’re saying,’” explains Daniel. 

While this seems like it could spell the next gen of emoji, Daniel says the future is actually a nod to the past. “If you go further back, [to] illuminated manuscripts, [you’ll see] text and images were blended… And now it’s coming back together. I think that’s really exciting.”

Lauren Cochrane is senior fashion writer at The Guardian and author of The Ten

Images from past issues of Service95 and At Your Service podcast artwork

A Year Of Service95

A whole year has somehow flown by, and we are celebrating Service95’s first anniversary! I have just spent an evening looking back at some of our past issues – the stories we’ve covered, the things we’ve learned and how deep our curiosity goes – and I can’t help but feel a little emotional about the journey so far and looking ahead to future possibilities. Although we’re only a baby, we have big dreams and goals, and I feel lucky to have the most incredible team helping me and holding my hand through it all. We are so grateful to you, our readers, for making this possible and can’t wait to share more with you in the coming months. Sending you all my love; at your service, always…

Dua x


We Would Love To Hear From You

Photograph of asexual activist and model Yasmin Benoit
Sara Carpentieri

Yasmin Benoit: Challenging Stereotypes Around Asexuality

“At school, I was known as the weird, gothic Black girl obsessed with heavy metal. I’m also really into 19th-century Russian literature,” says Yasmin Benoit. These days, however, the UK-based Benoit is better known as an activist redefining – and celebrating – asexuality, a sexual orientation that involves experiencing little or no sexual attraction towards anyone, regardless of gender. Benoit is also aromantic, meaning she doesn’t experience romantic feelings. 

Though she realised she was asexual at a young age, Benoit, a model, didn’t truly ‘come out’ until she was at university. “It wasn’t something I was that open about because people didn’t really believe me,” she says. Noticing there was a huge gap in the representation of asexual people, especially online, Benoit turned to activism. “I can’t really complain about there not being Black asexual representation if I’m over here with a platform and intentionally saying absolutely nothing,” she says. 

Her crusade to challenge stereotypes around asexuality and aromanticism has led Benoit to collaborate with Stonewall, write for publications such as Vogue and give a talk at Oxford University. Her social media campaign #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike not only shows that there’s no one asexual ‘look’, but it also puts a face to a community often disregarded from conversations around queerness and sexuality. 

Still, when she posts her own photos online, the reactions highlight a common misconception about ace people (another term for asexual): that you can’t be sexy if you’re not sexual. “People will say, ‘Well if she’s asexual, why does she dress like that? Why does she model? She should make herself sexually unattractive,’” Benoit says. In many ways, growing up ‘weird’ with her unique style has helped Benoit deal with the abuse she receives daily. “My whole life I’ve had people telling me to dress differently, and I’ve never really done that. So what I’m doing now is pretty much just a continuation of that.” 

The queerphobic abuse Benoit points to – combined with the sexist idea that a woman wearing lingerie must want to have sex (usually with a man) – is compounded by racism linked to a long history of over-sexualisation and fetishisation of Black women. “I could be wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and I’ll still get abuse,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘Well, her lips are inherently seductive, her face and body are inherently seductive.’ I’m like, So are you saying that the features I naturally have because I’m Black are inherently tempting to you?”

This layered ace-phobia is not confined to aesthetics. Benoit reveals she has also been called ‘mentally ill’ – a common response to asexuality (until 2013 it was considered a psychological disorder). She has also been told she must have a personality flaw, had a ‘bad sexual experience’, or been abused. “I regularly get called a psychopath and a narcissist,” she says. Still, while the way she looks continues to provoke hate for Benoit, what matters are the people she’s helping through her advocacy. “I have had a lot of people reach out to me about my work and say that they’re so happy about the kind of representation I’m bringing. For me, that’s the win.”

Molly Lipson is a freelance writer and social justice organiser. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Vice

Portraits of the late British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood
Inez and Vinoodh/Trunk Archive; Juergen Teller; Getty Images; Shutterstock

Why Vivienne Westwood Was So Much More Than A Fashion Icon

As London Fashion Week kicks off next Friday (17 February), Dazed’s Lynette Nylander pays tribute to one of the UK’s most influential artists and designers

As a young and naive follower of fashion in my teens, Vivienne Westwood was an idol of mine. In fact, her clothes were my first designer purchase. When the world lost her in December 2022, at the age of 81, I started to ponder on her legacy after putting aside my immediate feelings of sadness and nostalgia. Of course, there are the clothes; extreme platform heels, denim with distorted crotches, tweeds and tartans in bright, saturated hues (a nod to her working-class northern England roots) and, of course, her signature corsets (taken from her love of the 18th-century stalwart that stood its wearer tall, their bust out)... But it was her ability to thread the needles of the many subcultures, countries and people that interested her that resulted in one of the most expansive and incredible design catalogues fashion has ever seen – one that connected with both die-hard Westwood-ites and Gen-Z alike. Westwood spoke of her life, her journey, her story. 

Catwalk looks from the designer Vivienne Westwood
Getty Images; Shutterstock; Alamy

When she moved to London and embedded herself alongside the burgeoning punk movement with her then-partner Malcolm McLaren, she set in motion a cataclysmic idea of what dress could be, what it could represent and who could be involved. Their shop at 430 King’s Road celebrated an idea of otherness and doing away with the rigidity of the status quo that, while perhaps not intentional from a designer who was more acting in the moment than thinking about the future, set a blueprint for designers to embrace their own messages. In short, perhaps you aren’t for everyone, and that is OK. 

Westwood also challenged what a designer can use their platform to celebrate. In the latter years of her career, she became more and more politically and environmentally outspoken. She encouraged consumption mindfulness with her famous phrase ‘Buy Less, Choose Well, Make It Last’, long before the word sustainability became part of the public lexicon. She called into question the fracking practices of oil and gas conglomerates and encouraged the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – all while being in the second half of life, resplendent in the same hair, makeup and fuck-you attitude of her 1970s self. 

I think about my own teenage self, saving up for the black bowling bag with the Vivienne Westwood orb embroidered on the side. While I didn’t know her entire story at the time, perhaps what connected was seeing a designer, a woman, so comfortable with being herself. I was no punk rocker, but I felt a kinship with wanting an example of the road less travelled. Through fragments of history, and an astute ability to story tell through her work, she taught me that everything has an interconnectedness and can include all our personal stories. Design may have been her medium but freedom was her power, and as an activist, anarchist and feminist, that will last forever.

Lynette Nylander is the London-born New York-based executive editorial director of Dazed and a former deputy editor of i-D magazine and Teen Vogue 

Campaign images for the Loewe x Howl's Moving Castle Studio Ghibli collaboration

This One Thing... Loewe x Howl’s Moving Castle

There are dream fashion collaborations and then there is this; Loewe, the uber-cool Spanish fashion house led by creative director JW Anderson, has joined forces with Studio Ghibli to produce a capsule collection Loewe x Howl’s Moving Castle (one of Studio Ghibli’s best-loved films). The collection of (collectable) clothing and accessories featuring the film’s key characters is exclusively available in Selfridges and can be seen here.

If you are in London, don’t miss the actual pop-up, also in Selfridges. Here you can immerse yourself in a gloriously playful Loewe x Howl’s Moving Castle experience. It includes Calcifer’s Kitchen, a café by culinary creative studio Balbosté, cinema screenings of the film, a pop-up by Loewe Perfumes and a Selfridges exhibition space where visitors can discover a selection of the film’s original sketches, go behind the scenes of the campaign and explore the making of the collection’s Howl’s Moving Castle bag. It’s on until 25 Feb. Run, don’t walk.

Funmi Fetto is the global editorial director of Service95 and a contributing editor at British Vogue

Film stills featuring 'final girl' characters, image of The Final Girl Support Group book cover and The Final Girls podcast artwork
The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix; The Final Girls podcast; Keke Palmer, Nope; Neve Campbell, Scream; Lupita Nyong’o, Us; Sigourney Weaver, Alien

The Final Girl: A Brief Explainer

‘The Final Girl’, a term coined by academic Carol J Clover in her 1992 non-fiction book Men, Women And Chain Saws, refers to the last woman standing in a movie; the one who escapes or overtakes the killer, and the person that tells the story. Her book offered new perspectives on the representation of women in horror and suspense films, centring arguments around her concept of ‘The Final Girl’.

Clover argued that the final girl was becoming a feminist icon, pushing against patriarchal malevolence and a deserved update of the passive, fragile female that had driven movie plotlines for years. The term ‘Final Girl’ is now part of modern-day film culture. Social media is alive with people listing their favourite final girls. Grady Hendrix’s The Final Girl Support Group, the 2021 novel that pitches a tribe of final girls against an onslaught of evil, is topping bestseller lists worldwide and the US TV platform HBO recently announced its forthcoming adaptation of the book.     

‘She’s a survivor. Literally,” explains Anna Bogutskaya, the writer, film curator, and co-producer of The Final Girls podcast. “She’s the person we empathise with the most, regardless of our gender: Neve Campbell in Scream, Heather Langenkamp in Nightmare On Elm Street, and Sigourney Weaver in Alien have become the faces of horror franchises,” says Bogutskaya. “It’s a flexible trope, and thankfully so, because historically it has been limited to thin white women. Lupita Nyong’o in Us, Sasheer Zamata in Spree, Georgina Campbell in Barbarian and Keke Palmer in Nope are some of the recent final girls that have broken through that traditional and limiting mould.”        

Simon Coates is a London-based artist, writer and curator

Images from homeware brands Maison Flâneur, Hay, Anna + Nina and The Conran Shop
Maison Flâneur; Hay; Anna + Nina; The Conran Shop

Comfort Zone

I have recently moved into a new home and it’s a place I have fallen in love with – my own private sanctuary where I can be with my friends, cook in my own kitchen and read. There is something so revitalising about starting over in a fresh space you can call your own and I’ve found so much joy in finding new pieces to create a feel-good space that feels like me. If you also feel the need for a little new year refresh, I’ve listed some homeware brands that I love and think you will too. 

Dua x

1. Hay – this Danish brand works with designers from all over the world, offering a fresh take on everyday objects – and their bedding is dreamy.
2. Green Pan – as I’m a cooking enthusiast, good pans are essential so I love this brand’s PFAS-free cookware.
3. The Conran Shop – the home of design classics and future collectables, it has something for everyone.
4. Maison Flâneur – sourced from around the world, you can shop everything by destination and every piece is just so unique. 
5. Anna + Nina – head to this Dutch brand for colourful, playful homewares I can’t get enough of.  


A street style shot of Michèle Lamy and a black and white portrait of her wearing head-to-toe black
Michèle Lamy, Danielle Levitt; Acielle/; Lucy Jones

The Way I Work... Michèle Lamy

In our series where we look at the things, places and people that inspire a creative’s working life, journalist Marie-Claire Chappet spoke to the indefatigable multi-disciplinary artist about everything from her artistic inspirations to the best career advice she’s ever been given

How does one begin to describe Michèle Lamy? The septuagenarian creative has led myriad lives, each more fascinating than the last. In her native France, she was a defence lawyer in the ’60s and ’70s, before taking a turn as a cabaret dancer. She was a fashion mogul and restaurateur in LA and an icon in her own right, with her distinctive tattoos and unique style. Now, the multi-disciplinary artist, who splits her time between Paris and LA, is best known for her design work with her husband, Rick Owens, and her art, fashion, jewellery, and furniture

The utterly unique renaissance woman sat down with Service95 over a cigarette and cup of tea to share her rituals, dreams, and love of creative chaos… 

Michèle Lamy, Chateau Marmont, Danielle Levitt

On working rituals… My thought has always been that I never wanted to be the sort of person who is waiting for holidays or waiting for their retirement. I make sure I enjoy my work. I mostly work and live between Los Angeles, Paris and Italy. In Paris, in our place on the fifth floor [of our building], there is a big bathroom [with] a hammam. I go there for my traditional start to the morning, followed by cigarettes and a cup of tea. That is where I get all my ideas. In LA, I live in a bungalow at Chateau Marmont, which opens onto the garden and pool. I get ideas there too because there is no one there in the morning. It is peaceful and looks fantastic. For breakfast, I always have oeuf à la coque.

Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles
Chateau Marmont, Los Angeles; Lucy Jones

On music to work to… I don’t like the quiet, but I will start the day with no music. When I start [working on] something, I like to listen to internet radio – usually a French one. For me, it has to be techno, with no words, and no artist or song that I am really into at that time as I need to concentrate. 

Jean-Luc Godard; Langston Hughes, Alamy

On her artistic inspirations… I love Jean-Luc Godard and I am smoking so much right now because of him… because he [recently] died. Voices inspire me; Bob Dylan is so important in that way, [as is] the work of Langston Hughes. But what was truly music to me was the voice of Gilles Deleuze. There was seduction to the words when he would speak to me. It was like surfing. 

Catwalk looks by designer Rick Owens
Rick Owens, Owenscorp

On her work uniform… I obviously wear Rick Owens. But I don’t believe in ‘work’ clothes. I believe in gym clothes, I believe in boxing clothes, and I believe in the energy change in different clothes, but I like something you can wear all day to everything. 

Sables, Annick Goutal; LAMYLAND, Rick Owens

On her signature scent… At the moment that is my Rick Owens LAMYLAND perfume, which we have been developing for a while. But in general, I like perfumes that smell like the sun and camel piss. I do very well in the perfume souks in Dubai, which are gorgeous. I also love Sables by Annick Goutal. Smell is such an important thing. It’s very evocative and always reminds you of moments. My smell is all over my clothes. It’s how I can recognise which is my sweater and which is Rick’s sweater! 

Sahara, Morocco, Tomáš Malik

On her love of travel… I like being a nomad, like a Berber, which is why one of my favourite places is North Africa. But I also love London. I love being there. It is why I think I am cursed with my accent because I think in English but when I speak it sounds like theees! At the moment I am most excited about my travels to Japan. I am doing some work with artist Ryoji Ikeda, which is incredible, and I am in love with Japanese culture. 

Ryoji Ikeda, Test Pattern, Alamy

The best career advice she’s ever been given… I am very comfortable with what I am doing now, but other people would call it chaos. I guess the advice was just to follow my own path but make sure my spirit was good enough to see a blank page and say: what are we going to do here? I like the chaos. If I wasn’t doing this, [do] you think I could be a brain surgeon? No, I think I would just be a nomad in the desert; someone who tells stories about the sky.

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar

Iranian Diaspora Collective graphic
Iranian Diaspora Collective

Iranian Diaspora Collective: The Organisation Amplifying Iranians’ Stories

“Be our voice.” These three words have been a resounding demand from Iranians, hoping that people around the world will bear witness to their fight for freedom and, more importantly, will use their voices to strengthen Iranians’ demands for accountability and justice. 

The tragic death of Mahsa Zhina Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, in the custody of the morality police has spurred one of the biggest civil rights movements in the country’s recent history, with Iranian women leading the charge. Protests have been taking place across Iran for 20 weeks and, at this point, this movement is no longer a series of demonstrations, it is a revolution. As Iranians began – and continue – to risk and lose their lives for freedom, a small group of first and second-generation Iranians in the diaspora came together to devise strategies to support them and raise awareness across the world. They looked at how they could share and amplify the stories and experiences of their loved ones in Iran without jeopardising their safety. This small group slowly grew and coalesced into the Iranian Diaspora Collective: a non-partisan, multi-faith group with members from all different backgrounds, genders, sexualities, identities, and industries. 

Most members have kept their identities anonymous to avoid any potential retaliation for their loved ones in Iran. However, the work of the IDC is becoming increasingly visible: alongside working closely with the press to keep people in Iran at the forefront of hearts and minds, through a GoFundMe campaign, the collective raised funds for large ad placements across Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, DC, with billboards, wild postings and digital ads that reached over 20 million people.

The goal of the ads was two-fold: to heighten visibility on the situation in Iran, and to boost Iranians’ morale. The IDC collaborated with anonymous artists in Iran on the artwork and made the ads bilingual, with the knowledge that their audience was not only people in the US but also those on the ground in Iran.

What’s next for the collective, which is not associated with any other political or lobbying group, has not been revealed, however, perhaps the common goal of the diasporic unity ‘to support Iranians’ right to a free and equitable Iran’ is everything we need to know.
For updates from the IDC, follow them on Instagram

Roya Shariat is a Brooklyn-based writer and social impact leader who is the author of Consumed, a newsletter on culture and food

Photograph of a model cleaning a pool wearing a full-length pink gown and pink Schiaparelli haute couture mask by Stephen Jones, a model wearing a dog mask and an older woman in casual clothes reading a magazine on a sun lounger
Charlotte Wales/Trunk Archive

Power In Pink: This Season’s Hero Shade

Pink is in for 2023. But this goes beyond the usual fashion and interior trends cycle to something more symbolic. Pink is traditionally the colour of femininity, of women, of girls. So the shade becoming fashionable at a time when the world is becoming more inhospitable to women – at the start of a post-Roe v Wade era – feels notable. This is perhaps why the pink that’s in now is not the gentle, sugary shade of gendered baby blankets or Peppa Pig. It is a pink that demands attention.

Beyond Viva Magenta, Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2023, there’s the Valentino Pink PP shade – the colour of the entire Valentino spring show, and a regular on the red carpet since. There’s also the raspberry hue of Molly Goddard’s collection and the highlighter feel of Richard Quinn’s head-to-toe looks. Caroline Young, the author of The Colour Of Fashion, says the adoption of this ‘can’t-miss-me’ pink could be seen as an arch way to confound expectations around a hue of sweetness and passivity. “Think of the Molly Goddard dress worn in Killing Eve. It’s a sweet colour, but it’s worn by a psychopathic killer.” 

This theory holds when applied to the Pink Pussy hats that lined the streets for the Women’s Marches in 2017. Or looking forward to Barbie. The doll is not typically seen as part of a feminist cause but a film version out in July, with Margot Robbie in the title role and Greta Gerwig directing, is likely to challenge the idea that wearing pink is code for push-over.

It was Elsa Schiaparelli who made bright pink fashionable in the ’30s – and her ‘shocking’ shade is still used by the brand today. And bright pink has never looked back. It’s been punk – The Clash’s Paul Simonon once said “pink is the only true rock ’n’ roll colour” – and there was possibly ironic, possibly entirely serious air-headed culture led by Paris Hilton and friends around the millennium when pink became a uniform. (It is surely no coincidence that pink is back amid our Y2K revival – Fuchsia Rose was Pantone’s Colour of the Year in 2001.) 

Pink today is as life-giving as it always was. Shrimps’ designer Hannah Weiland calls it a mood booster: “There is a warmth and joy to it. I think an overall happiness is created by most pinks.” Georgina Huddart, the designer behind Hunza G, reveals its bubblegum-pink swimsuit is probably one of the brand’s bestsellers because “someone wearing pink feels like they are just having a good time in life”. And it is no longer gendered. Perhaps this leads to the most radical way of wearing pink. “My son, who is two years old, wears a lot of pink, and [increasingly] paints with it,” says Weiland. “He loves it because no one has told him it is not for him. I hope it stays that way.”

Lauren Cochrane is senior fashion writer at The Guardian and author of The Ten

Illustrated image of a heart within a line-drawn scribble

Men’s Mental Health: It’s Time To Talk

Welcome to the second issue in our two-part men’s mental health special, guest edited by Glenn Lutz. With studies showing 40% of men won’t talk about their mental health, it’s a topic that needs our attention and in this week’s newsletter, I feel very lucky and proud to say that my friend and long-time collaborator Mark Ronson has written beautifully about his panic disorder for Service95. Mark has always been someone that has inspired me deeply, with the music he has produced, the songs he has written and the mark he has left on the music industry. And he continues to inspire me with his candidness about his mental health and how he has dealt with anxiety over the years. I hope anyone that reads this that might be struggling is also inspired to go out there and seek help – and is comforted by the fact that there are people dealing with the same and that it’s OK not to be OK. It’s all part of the journey and there is always someone out there to help you on yours. 

Dua x



Illustrated portrait of Mark Ronson
Louise Pomeroy, 2023 ©

“It Was This Overwhelming Sense Of Panic, As If I Was Under A Spell And Just Waiting For Something To Break It”: Mark Ronson Reflects On His Anxiety Attacks

“Mark Ronson is one of the greatest producers of this generation and it was an honour getting to connect with him for Service95. As I’ve learned more about his journey, I hear a lot of similarities from my own life story – things I never could have imagined he struggled with. Like Mark, I have also experienced intense periods of disorientation and panic, as if I was lost in a spiritual realm. There’s peace in knowing the people you admire have gone through similar experiences as yourself – especially when you learn how they are fortifying themselves in the midst of those challenges. As an artist, survivor, and fan of his work, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the story he shared with me for this issue.” – Glenn Lutz

“The first attack happened when I was 15. It was 11pm on a school night and it was the most surreal thing because I was lying in bed waiting to fall asleep; I am sure my mother had already stuck her head around the door to make sure the lights were off. I heard this clang of pipes. We lived in an old school building and the heat often made the pipes do this, so it was weird because it was something I had heard so many times before, but this time the pipes sounded… angry. It was an everyday sound that suddenly came across as violent; it was as if an ominous cloud suddenly came over the whole room. It made me sit up and think, What the fuck is going on? There was another clang and, again, it wasn’t that it sounded loud, it sounded angry. 

I got up and turned on the radio because I wanted to disrupt whatever this thing was. As the radio came on, somebody was announcing the weather. I’m sure the guy was just saying, “It’s 20 degrees tomorrow downtown…,” but it sounded as if the announcer was yelling at me; seethingly, venomously angry. It felt like I was under some kind of spell. 

I went out of my room to wake up my mother. At 15 years old, you don’t want to admit you have to get your mum to fix something, but I went in, she woke up and by talking to somebody face to face, it kind of broke the spell.

That happened two or three more times that year and then, mysteriously, never happened again. I wasn’t in therapy at the time, although I had briefly been in therapy prior to that. We moved to America from the UK when I was around eight years old, and therapy was more of a known thing in the US than it was back in England. My parents’ divorce was pretty terrible, so it was not a very peaceful household where we grew up. So my mum thought it was good for me and my sisters to get therapy when we were around 12 or 13. 

I have always been a fairly anxious person, but I didn’t have another of those intense early panic attacks until I was about 27. That was when I started to have them again. It was this overwhelming sense of panic, as if I was under a spell and just waiting for something to break it. One time it happened when I was walking down the street in New York. I was 28, and I think my first album was coming out the next week; maybe it was the pressure of that. It was rush hour and I remember thinking, I just want to lie down on this sidewalk. I couldn’t imagine being able to walk or function or do anything, and I was just thinking about how the only option was to lie down. 

That was a very different part of my life, with two polar things going on. On the one hand, I was partying and doing a lot of drugs, and wasn’t in therapy or emotionally intuitive or curious enough to know what was going on. On the other hand, I was super-functional, very driven and ambitious, with too much pride and ambition that I kept up the illusion of having it all together before ever really becoming a full-on fuck up… maybe addict. I was also very good at hiding it. That was how I dealt with my anxiety. I just pushed it down. Having one or two wild blowout weekend binges was how I coped at that time but somehow managed to keep it together enough. I never really thought of myself as a functioning addict, but I probably was to some degree. I coated my anxiety with drugs and alcohol. 

The panic attacks and anxiety became more infrequent after that time, but it wasn’t until the past four or five years, through fairly intense therapy with an incredibly brilliant and perceptive therapist, that I proactively started to deal with all this stuff. I hate to say that I did a lot of work because it is such a trite soundbite but there isn’t another way to describe it. I started with therapy twice a week, I read every book my therapist told me to, and he sent me to a place called Hoffman. I was ready to do it. I stopped doing drugs, however, I didn’t get sober – I am not sober, I don’t want to mislead anyone about that. And I recognised patterns of how I dealt with my anxiety that I had chosen to ignore at previous points of my life, thinking, Oh that’s just because I like to party. I don’t have a problem, I just like to go out and blow off steam. I DJ and like to go out late – that’s what you do!

Being way more attuned to what was happening and how I was dealing with anxiety helped me address it. This, combined with a good amount of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and meditation, is what keeps me sane. I like CBT because it gives you specific tools when you go into those sorts of death spirals of anxiety that some of us can be prone to. And, obviously, you need to find the right kind of meditation for you, but I like Transcendental Meditation. I notice if I haven’t done it for a while, I feel this backlog of anxiety creeping up in the back walls of my psyche. 

Mental wellness is still sometimes an awkward thing to talk about because you don’t want to come off as if you’re oversharing and using the public forum for your own therapy. But at the same time, it is so helpful that people talk about it. I grew up in a family where you certainly didn’t talk about your feelings, but I think it’s so important because those are the things that break down the stigma. People who need help need to know it’s OK not to be OK and about what channels to go down to find support. 

I always feel conflicted talking about my mental health because I don’t want to sound as if I’m smug, like ‘I’ve figured it out!’ because nobody has figured it out; it is always still a journey. But when I read a book I love that I think might help someone else, without feeling like I am being judgmental, I’ll get them a copy. I think it’s good that there is more of an open discourse about it, especially in the time we live in now. 

I really do feel that the therapy, reading and inner work I have done in the past four to five years have been the thing to help me get my shit together. My anxiety used to drive my work hustle, so it was hard to look at it as a bad thing because I was like, Well, my anxiety is the thing that makes me a workaholic, that’s what’s driving me and that seems to be good for my career. But that is not a balanced life, and I’m much happier this way. I still love creating and the creative process of going into the studio – I love all the things I used to – but it’s not the only thing that drives me any more. I go to the studio because that’s something I like to do, rather than, Fuck, what happens if I don’t go? Will somebody else get that gig? 

I still have bouts of the same anxiety and all the same kinds of thoughts I used to, but now I have a much better tool kit to use when I see them coming. And I do see them coming, head on, and ask myself, Is this real? And most of the time it’s not. There’s a great Fiona Apple lyric when she’s talking about an argument with her boyfriend in the song Paper Bag: “He said ‘It’s all in your head’ and I said ‘so is everything’, but he didn’t get it.” And that is exactly what these thoughts are – anxiety, all these things – they are electromagnetic impulses in the brain and it’s about having the tools to recognise when that isn’t reality and to help correct that. I am not fixed by any means, but I am certainly driven much more by joy than fear these days.”

Painting of two men in suits by artist Sahara Longe
Suits, 2021 © Sahara Longe. Courtesy of Timothy Taylor, London/New York

Sahara Longe: Connection Through Art

The much-lauded up-and-coming British artist talked exclusively to us about how the emotional and sartorial connection between two men – her grandfather and his brother – became the inspiration behind her painting, Suits

“I was looking at photos of my grandfather and his brother in Sierra Leone, and I loved their style, the way they dressed and carried themselves. As a child, I grew up with so many stories about their adolescence together before his brother tragically died in his thirties. They loved each other and were always together, so I wanted to capture that familial closeness.” – Sahara Longe

An illustration of a crumbling masculine statue
Lehel Kovacs ©

Toxic Masculinity And Mental Health

As we reach the halfway mark of our month-long health and wellbeing special – and our 50th issue overall! – I feel very lucky to pass the baton to our guest editor Glenn Lutz, who has curated our two-part men’s mental health issue, which runs this week and next. An incredible artist and author, Glenn is a key instigator of important conversations around mental health, masculinity, and the fine line between the two. As we all know, due to generational expectations of what it means to be a ‘man’, talking about mental health and emotions is still a major stigma in many communities. I hope we can find a way to make the conversation a little easier and that the stories you read, learn from, and interpret help you start these conversations in your own circles. 

Dua x



Illustrated portrait of artist Glenn Lutz
Sam Kerr, 2023 ©

Changing The Narrative Around Men’s Mental Illness

Growing up in the ’90s and early 2000s, I subscribed to the idea that focusing on my mental wellbeing was a luxury I couldn’t afford. I thought, People are going through way worse, what do I have to complain about? Historically, society hasn’t placed much focus on men’s mental health. Which is exactly why we are talking about it now.

These past years have been tough for so many. As a result, mental illness is on the rise across the world. As a Black man, it hurts to know that the suicide death rate among Black youth is growing more than in any other ethnic group. Focusing on our mental health is imperative for all of us – men, women, queer, non-binary people… As someone with bipolar II disorder, it’s a top priority to work with organisations fighting to destigmatise mental illness (I became a NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness – ambassador last year). This is why I am so honoured to guest-curate the next two issues on men’s mental health for Service95

The purpose of these stories is to help facilitate conversations and, ultimately, bring about change around male mental health. Our contributors include the writer and poet Ocean Vuong, who challenges societal norms through his work with masterful introspection and grace; Salman Toor, whose work as a painter is a spellbinding narrative on the everyday lives of queer, brown men – intimate offerings delivered with a mastery and style that is all his own – and Dr Kathleen St Louis Caliento (my older sister!), who lives a life dedicated to helping others; as the CEO of Cara Collective, she and her team are committed to equipping people with the tools to rise above the effects of poverty – rooted in the reality that unemployment and mental health are intrinsically linked. 

In next week’s issue, Mark Ronson, the prolific producer who has blessed us with some of the most successful songs of the last 20 years, talks exclusively to us about grappling with his panic disorder. We also spotlight Sahara Longe, a young artist with a magician’s touch, garnering great traction with her figurative paintings, who creates male characters that speak to us, exploring moods that connect us and reveal inner truths about ourselves. 

There is, of course, still so much work to be done. We all have unique backgrounds, abilities, and hurdles, but at our core lies an energy connecting us in ways we have yet to fully understand. I believe sharing our stories is an important part of that process. Here are five books that opened my mind to new perspectives… 

Glenn Lutz

  1. Mama by Terry McMillan
  2. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
  3. The Measure Of A Man: A Spiritual Autobiography by Sidney Poitier
  4. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
  5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Portrait of writer and poet Ocean Vuong standing under the branches of a tree
Celeste Sloman/Trunk Archive

In Conversation With Poet And Writer Ocean Vuong

“I first came across Ocean Vuong’s work shortly after a divorce. I found his book Night Sky With Exit Wounds at a time when I was being taught to let go, among other things. The care with which Vuong writes about loss, grief, and love is both masterful and graceful. I had the privilege of speaking to him about abandoning heteronormativity, and vulnerability as a form of strength and freedom…” – Glenn Lutz

G: Congratulations on Time Is A Mother and thank you for the space you created around loss. In your poem Old Glory, you recontextualise phrases embedded in American culture, as seen in the lines, Knock them dead, big guy. Go in there, guns blazing, buddy. You crushed at the show. No, it was a blowout. No, a massacre. Total overkill. We tore them a new one. What was the intention of that poem? When discussing the work on Louisiana Channel you said, “Heteronormativity could be abandoned if you have the courage to.” I’d love you to delve deeper into this.

O: That poem is perhaps the one I am most proud of. It took me the entirety of my writing life in order to write that piece. I had to gain the confidence to let the language speak on its own terms, even when it displays the violence embedded in masculinist culture. But that was my hope for this poem. To me, a poem can’t always be a ‘beautiful thing’. A poem, like a good song, can also provoke, incite, and interrogate. And using the sonnet form to ‘stack’ these otherwise common phrases into a kind of concentrated and horrifying speech act was something only the poem, as a technology, could do. So I’m proud of that. As for whether heteronormativity could be abandoned, I think it’s hard living in a culture that conditions us toward a narrow definition of ‘success’ or ‘good’ or ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It does take courage to break away from something so powerful. And even more so, to realise, with compassion, that those who are trapped in it, even when appearing powerful, are being hurt by it as well. It is not so much that one system of thinking is worse than the other – that depends on the individual – but it’s about widening what is acceptable so that everyone can find a footing that works for them, that ontological expression can be as varied as people themselves. Imagine if, in order to be a ‘successful’ musician, you had to play only classical music. How boring! In the same way that classical music is not ‘wrong’, I don’t think heteronormativity is wrong, but I need it to make room for other [genres of music], which, historically, it has not. 

G: You have spoken about vulnerability, the personal power you’ve found while channelling vulnerability, how our society often equates being vulnerable with being weak and yet you’ve found that the more vulnerable one is, the stronger a human being they often are…

O: I think when we approach vulnerability as a common and perhaps even natural condition of our species (we are, after all, a relatively soft and physically defenceless species, hardy in groups and wilting when isolated), we’re able to connect with each other in a less superficial way. You realise that, especially in adults, when the masks of strength have been forced on us, or when we’ve calcified them through conditioning, we mostly operate in the community with performances of strength and success – when, in fact, we might very well be full of doubts, anger, fear, and grief. So giving each other permission to put down the shields in order to see each other’s faces more clearly is a gift. Vulnerability is as true and connected to us as our skin. Everything else is fabric. 

G: Lastly, death. You’ve written about it with care in your work, and like so many of us around the world, you have had to navigate the pain and grief that death imparts. I understand that you live across the street from a cemetery and that Maranasati, the Buddhist death mindfulness practice, has helped with your mental health… 

O: I think all cultures have various versions of Maranasati or memento mori as the Europeans called it. We hear death awareness teachings in the Quran, the Torah, and the Bible too – and the effect is one that shatters the illusions of permanence in materials and even social material things (such as status, fame, position, etc). The ultimate death meditation comes when you witness a loved one pass away, as I have a few times now. 

Our culture often encourages us to ‘move on’ from the memory of the deathbed. We cover the body as soon as it becomes a corpse as if the transformation is too complete – too total – to bear. But I think experiencing death in that way can be quite a gift in that we can go back to that moment and have it teach us inexhaustibly about how to live. When we watch a loved one die, we don’t think about our wealth, or goods, or achievements, or our career; we are totally present for them. It is an act of giving, the waiting for death. We give them all of us, at the last of them. That’s an incredibly generous thing and I think if we live our day-to-day lives the way we live at the deathbed, we might actually live more sustained, happy, and conscious lives. 

During their conversation, Glenn asked Ocean Vuong about the music he listens to as a form of self-care. Here is the Spotify playlist Ocean shared with us

Paintings by artist Salman Toor, Night Walkers, 2022; Music Room, 2021; The Dressing Table, 2021; Late Dinner, 2022
Night Walkers, 2022; Music Room, 2021; The Dressing Table, 2021; Late Dinner, 2022 © Salman Toor; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York. Photo: Farzad Owrang

This One Thing... The Works Of Salman Toor

While Salman Toor’s inspirations stem from 17th and 18th-century art, the works of the much-celebrated Pakistani artist are very much about the now. Centring the modern lives of imaginary brown queer men, the tender, intimate paintings celebrate the vulnerability of men and challenge society’s ideas of masculinity. 

Funmi Fetto is the global editorial director of Service95 and a contributing editor at British Vogue

Film poster for The Road Up

“Poverty Is One Of The Most Significant Social Determinants Of Health And Mental Health”: A Social Enterprise Leader On Destigmatising Mental Health For Black Men

In The Road Up, a documentary film by Siskel Jacobs, which follows four individuals navigating their pathway out of poverty, you see Clarence, a Black man in his mid-thirties struggle with opening up, being vulnerable, and asking for help. This struggle culminates in a scene where Clarence breaks down, revealing the weight of what he has been carrying, and what it has ultimately cost him. It’s a powerful moment but, unfortunately, not a rare one. Many men, particularly Black men just like Clarence, wilfully or unknowingly de-prioritise their mental health and leave traumas buried, often due to the stigmas placed on them by society. 

Poverty is one of the most significant social determinants of health and mental health. Individuals who experience poverty, particularly early in life or for an extended period, are at risk of a host of adverse health and developmental outcomes throughout their life. This is magnified by the fact that so many Black people continue to experience systemic inequities that often leave them unemployed or under-employed – with one in five Black people in the US living in poverty as of 2018.

Normalising the conversation around men’s mental health is the first step. This means also taking into consideration the role culture plays. For example, research shows that many Black people believe mild depression or anxiety would be considered ‘crazy’ in their social circles. Yet, Black people are more likely to attempt suicide than their White counterparts. This is a silent cry for help. 

Recognising the societal impact on mental health is also key, as many of the barriers people encounter in society (such as poverty, homelessness, and addiction) have direct connections to mental health. For example, Black men are over-represented in US jails and prisons, making up 13% of the general US population, but Black people make up nearly 40% of the prison population. And this does not take into account the struggles for a person to successfully re-enter society after incarceration or the high rate of recidivism. 

If we can address and prioritise mental health, we can begin tackling the issues tangentially connected to them, so we need to support organisations moving the needle on this issue. Cara Collective, for instance, has licensed clinical social workers on its staff, counsellors who provide support and resources, and socio-emotional training to help people unpack whatever past traumas have brought them to this point. Because it is only when we address our struggles that the real healing can begin.

Kathleen St Louis Caliento, PhD, is the president and CEO of Cara Collective, a Chicago-based leader in workforce development that has placed more than 8,000 people experiencing poverty into quality jobs

Dua Lipa walking on a beach

Making Women’s Voices Heard

Welcome to what is the second of a month-long special dedicated to our health and wellbeing. In this week’s long read, academic writer Jamie Brooks Robertson reports on the myriad ways the Covid-19 pandemic has affected female reproductive health – and how it has largely not been reported by the medical world, which has, sadly, been used as an argument in the anti-vaccine narrative. The point here is that women are still not always considered in medicine and medical research. My hope is that by tackling these issues openly and candidly, we will start to bring about the necessary shift we need to see globally in healthcare for women. 

Dua x



Collage image of a hand holding a sanitary towel in front of a calendar
Parveen Narowalia

Female Reproductive Health Disruption: Why We Need More Medical Research

In early 2020, as Covid-19 ripped across the planet and humanity braced for the unknown, doctors in Italy began noticing a disturbing phenomenon. A surge of young girls, all under the age of eight, began to grow breasts or menstruate – separate medical conditions known as precocious puberty and precocious menarche. Now, nearly three years into the pandemic, new research is exploring various mysterious impacts on the reproductive cycles of female, trans and non-binary individuals across the globe, from girls experiencing their first menstrual cycles years before they’ve even finished primary school, to missed periods, other menstrual cycle disturbances and menopause. (Unfortunately, an initial delay by the medical community in recognising some of these impacts plays directly into the hand of anti-vaccine groups, keen to push falsehoods, most prominently that Covid-19 vaccines may be dangerous, or cause infertility – claims that are not backed up by credible research. In fact, scientists exploring the impacts of Covid-19 on reproductive health stress that the emerging studies in this area do not question the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, nor discourage their uptake.)

In the early days of the pandemic, the northern city of Bergamo anchored Italy as the second epicentre of Covid-19 outside China. Demoralised and exhausted doctors struggled to keep Covid-19 patients alive as hospital intensive care units were stretched beyond capacity. To cope, Italy was the first country to implement a restrictive, nationwide lockdown. Shortly thereafter, researchers from the Meyer Children’s Hospital in Florence, one of the oldest paediatric hospitals in the country, began tracking young girls being referred for precocious puberty, or early-onset puberty. Prevalence of the condition has risen in recent decades owing to a host of poorly understood and complex factors. Still, the rate of referrals was high enough to draw their attention.

After conducting a retrospective study, comparing rates of diagnosis in the five years preceding the pandemic, they published their scientific research in the Italian Journal Of Pediatrics in November 2020. The study confirmed an increased incidence of precocious puberty in girls during – and after – Italy’s 2020 lockdown. Between March and July 2020, 49 young girls experienced either the onset of precocious puberty or rapid progression of the condition  meaning that for those already experiencing the symptoms associated with early onset puberty, those symptoms progressed more quickly than expected  compared to a total of 89 such girls combined in the five years prior. The legitimacy of this study was reaffirmed in Italy in February 2022 by additional research published in Endocrine Connections. Further, this trend was marked globally. Similar studies followed in ChinaTurkey and India, as reported by The Washington Post and The Fuller Project this past spring. 

One study flagged the apparent link between the pandemic and quickening rates of early-onset puberty as a ‘potential emergency’. But finding a single, or primary cause for this phenomenon is difficult, given that the onset of puberty is influenced by a combination of genetic, psychological, environmental, and metabolic factors. The pandemic further complicates the picture. Researchers speculate that stress, lack of physical activity, diet, hand sanitiser use, and increased exposure to electronic devices may be potential causes. Ultimately, each study stresses the need for additional research involving bigger populations, according to Dr Katie Larson Ode, a paediatric endocrinologist and clinical associate professor of paediatrics at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, who said the medical community needs to determine “whether these surges are happening and, if so, what the causes may be”.

As the pandemic rolled into 2021 and beyond, it became clear that young girls weren’t alone in experiencing pandemic-related impacts on their reproductive health. On the heels of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, whispers of post-vaccination menstrual cycle disruptions began to emerge. They percolated in tweets and among friends who began gathering more freely after social distancing requirements were relaxed. These early reports drew the interest of Meghna Roy, a medical anthropologist at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. Roy spent time throughout 2022 interviewing a small group of women, mostly between the ages of 20 and 30, who were willing to discuss their experiences of what they suspected was the Covid-19 vaccine’s impact on their menstrual cycles. The women, who received vaccines (including Covaxin, Pfizer, Covishield, and Sputnik) administered across India, Kuwait, Germany and the United Kingdom, have experienced an array of symptoms. “Some subjects report a lengthening of time between the menstrual cycle, others speak of a shorter cycle with little to no bleeding at all, and still others report increased menstrual pain and heavy bleeding,” says Roy. 

Ultimately, Covid-19 vaccine menstrual side effects were self-reported to the medical community and scientific regulators. By 23 October 2022, more than 51,000 people reported suspected Covid-related menstrual disruptions via the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Coronavirus Yellow Card Reporting Scheme in the UK. The website is dedicated to capturing self-reported side effects from Covid-19 vaccines, which are then reviewed by the MHRA to ensure the vaccines’ safe and effective use. The MHRA website states it is reviewing reports of suspected side effects of menstrual disorders and unexpected vaginal bleeding post-Covid-19 vaccination in the UK. Still, the MHRA response as of November 2022 is: “The rigorous evaluation completed to date does not support a link between Covid-19 vaccines and other changes to menstrual periods.” It did not disclose its method and the position seemingly conflicts with the National Institutes of Health approach in the United States, which announced funding for a year-long study to look at the potential link. In late September 2022, the results of the NIH international study, which includes data from almost 20,000 people in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, confirmed a temporary increase in menstrual cycle length. Further, research out of the Imperial College London’s Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction in November 2022, utilising data from menstrual tracking apps, also confirmed a transient impact on women’s menstrual cycles post-vaccination. Some researchers have described the findings overall as reassuring since the disruptions are generally short and reverse themselves over time and the research definitively shows that those who have had the vaccine are significantly less likely to be hospitalised for serious illness and/or die from Covid-19.

Regardless, these studies by NIH, Imperial College London and the MHRA were retrospective. Rather than reproductive health being monitored and tracked as part of vaccine development, this issue was researched by the medical and scientific community after vaccines were administered. This is baffling to some reproductive health advocates when one considers that over 50% of the global population experiences menstruation, and prospective studies – which would capture more data, and in real-time – could prove more beneficial. Unfortunately, most large-scale Covid-19 vaccine trials have excluded any questions about menstruation, so the opportunity to learn how these vaccines might impact menstruation beforehand was missed. This has created openings for anti-vaccine groups to fill in the blanks and push misleading theories unsupported by science.

The idea to include menstruation in medical research isn’t novel. As far back as 2006, medical professional societies such as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology have called for including menstruation as a fifth vital sign, alongside pulse, breathing rate, blood pressure and body temperature, given that periods are increasingly seen as a key indicator of health. If the menstrual cycle were considered a vital sign, then likely impacts on the cycle would be considered during medical research, including vaccine development.

A persistent roadblock to this issue being taken seriously post-vaccination is that reports tend to be based on individual experience, rather than quantitative, biomedical evidence. Scientists and clinicians, particularly in Western medicine and the global North, prefer the latter. The self-reporting aspect represents a dilemma, one that Roy seeks to address in her research in India. “At the moment, when some doctors are not aware of this issue, and there are scientists saying it is just stress impacting the menstrual cycle of these individuals, what does [the] evidence actually mean?” she said. “How is it not evidence when I have been through it myself and reported it?” she asks.

For medical professionals who have gone on the record to address the self-reported links between Covid-19 vaccines and menstrual disruption, the responses have been problematic. Typically, they emphasise the transient nature of the menstrual cycle disruption, noting that it will not affect one’s fertility. Reducing reportees to a monolith solely interested in menstrual cycle disruption out of fertility concerns and anything that may impede the ability to achieve pregnancy obscures the issue that the Covid-19 vaccines can have a hormonal impact, along with the virus itself. There are understandable reasons why medical professionals might want to downplay post-vaccine menstrual disruption to assuage Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy concerns and encourage their uptake. But one result of deemphasising the issue is that, in addition to invalidating the experience of temporary impact on menstrual cycles for individuals, it can add to the perception that the health of certain genders is secondary, or less important than the health of men. 

This doesn’t come as a surprise to Dr Sarah Glynne, a general practitioner and member of the British Menopause Society based in London. Dr Glynne has been working closely with fellow menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson to track and treat a third distinct impact on reproductive health during the pandemic – the link between long Covid and menopause. Dr Glynne reports “a gender bias and ‘willful ignorance’” among medical professionals managing patients with long Covid. “There seems to be a huge blind spot when it comes to considering the impact of the virus on women’s hormones and the role of hormone replacement therapy,” she said. Part of Dr Glynne’s work is alerting people to this fact. 

“Men and women are roughly equally likely to catch Covid-19. But men are more likely to have a severe, acute illness, whereas women are more likely to develop long Covid,” she said. A 2021 study highlights the mean age of those impacted is 46 years of age and more than 80% of those diagnosed with long Covid are female. More than a third of those women, according to the study, experience menstrual cycle disturbance.

The symptoms of long Covid – which include fatigue, brain fog, chest pains, and muscle and joint pain that persist for more than three months after a Covid-19 infection – have many similarities with the symptoms of menopause.

While research clearly shows that Covid-19 vaccines may indeed minimise the likelihood that one develops long Covid, research on how long Covid and menopause interact is nascent. According to Dr Glynne and Dr Newson, Covid-19 is negatively impacting ovarian function, causing hormone deficiency and menopausal symptoms in many women with long Covid. “Research is urgently needed,” says Dr Glynne. “Women presenting with long Covid should be asked about their menstrual cycles and history, but this isn’t always happening.” This, explains Dr Glynne, can lead to prolonged suffering that goes beyond the individual. “By June 2022, 2 million people in the UK had been diagnosed with long Covid. [As] women between the ages of 40 and 60 are the group most likely to get long Covid, this is significantly hampering women’s ability to work and care for their children and families, meaning not just negative consequences for families [but also for] society and the economy,” notes Dr Glynne.

For the first three years of the Covid-19 pandemic, media coverage has been extensive to say the least. Why, then, is the apparently unique impact that Covid-19 has had on females, non-binary and trans individuals across the span of their reproductive health stages at best a footnote, and at worst an afterthought? Perhaps the stigma associated with these naturally occurring health transitions may hinder societal engagement on the topic, but there are likely structural issues at play too. It is clear that additional funding for further research and attention to these areas is necessary. So too is a courageous and introspective reflection from the scientific community on what qualifies as medical evidence so that the concerns of some genders aren’t overlooked. Assessing menstrual cycles and puberty is difficult given the wide variations in the population, but it is possible. Proactive research on the role between sex hormones and Covid-19 and other viruses is not only worthy of our collective attention, it is absolutely necessary. 

Jamie Brooks Robertson is a London-based writer, independent scholar, and emerging essayist focusing on health and culture 

*Please note that the information in this article is no substitute for medical diagnosis, guidance or advice. If you are experiencing any impacts on your reproductive health during the Covid-19 pandemic or otherwise, please seek input from a trusted medical professional. 

Dua Lipa practising yoga

Introducing Service95’s Health & Wellbeing Month

Happy new year and welcome to what is the first of a month-long special dedicated to our health and wellbeing. From debunking the myth of multitasking to exploring the link between food and our mental health crises, we are kicking off 2023 with a fresh perspective on how we think, live and eat.

Exercise is a key part of my wellbeing routine, keeping my body healthy but, more importantly, helping my mind. While on tour, I did yoga every day, but now that I’m not performing every other night, I’m loving a great workout, whether that’s a reformer Pilates session or an online class if I can’t get to a gym (or dance floor). Here are five of my favourite content creators that have free workouts you can do at home, to get your heart and feel-good endorphins pumping.

Dua x

  1. Shona Vertue – the renowned yogi and personal trainer’s sessions help you get stronger, fitter and more flexible without punishing routines.
  2. Popsugar Fitness – founder Amanda LaCount’s amazing workouts are for all different body types and abilities – there’s something for everyone.
  3. Isa Welly – offers a unique blend of cardio, Pilates and strength training that will get you sweating.
  4. Yoga with Adriene – head here for free 30-day yoga journeys that will nourish and revitalise your body and mind.
  5. 305 Fitness – cheeky, fun dance cardio workouts choreographed to all your favourite songs, turning your workout into a party.



Black and white illustration of person multitasking at work
Lena Yokoyama ©

Why Everything You Know About Multitasking Is A Lie

In a world that’s hustling harder than ever before, mastering the juggle is prime social currency; proud multitaskers boast of their plate-balancing skills in conversation, via social media posts and even on their CVs. But according to leading productivity experts and behavioural scientists, multitasking isn’t a must-do, it’s a con. So, what now?

It seems apt that when you search ‘multitasking’, most Google images show suited people behind desks, doctored to have six arms, a different item in each hand: phone, pen, mug, Rolodex, calculator, wall clock. It shows just how dated the idea of multitasking is, and yet we’re all still doing it, thinking we’ll reach an end goal more quickly and with less effort.

The idea of multitasking came about in the 1960s, in reference to using a single computer to carry out two or more tasks simultaneously. Later came the gendered tropes of women as natural multitaskers, wired to deftly balance the socially constructed juggle of running a household, caring for others, having a paid job, and contributing to the wider community. But from as early as the mid-’90s, scientists have known, and shown, that not only does the practice of multitasking negatively impact efficiency, but the way it erodes your brain’s capacity means it increases the mental overwhelm of everyday life.  

Dr Alan Barnard, a decision scientist and CEO of Goldratt Research Labs, explains how multitasking overloads cognitive capacity. “Our studies have found that when someone multitasks three projects, even if they plan a reasonable buffer when setting a deadline, they don’t deliver any on time because of the time and mental focus lost when switching back and forth between the projects.” Your brain essentially has to recalibrate with every switch. “Additionally, they felt completely overwhelmed and made more mistakes than if they performed the projects one at a time,” he adds.

Generally, this cost is much greater for women. “The more decisions you make, the quicker you become cognitively overloaded earlier in the day; you have limited capacity left, you avoid making decisions, and go for the lowest-risk option if you do happen to make a choice,” explains Dr Barnard. “Women on average make many more decisions every day than men, partly because they feel more responsible for everyone around them, so the cognitive overload is greater.” No wonder, then, that so many of us feel overwhelmed by daily life before we even consider the curveballs that may be thrown our way.

Often, it’s the simple changes that can shift the dial from overwhelm to ease – so how to consciously move towards a life better spent single-tasking? 

Pick your priority Making a to-do list is only half the job – the power is in prioritising those tasks, from most important/urgent downwards. Then focus on each one, in turn. As Dr Barnard says, “If everything is given equal priority, you’re drawn to multitask, and every task suffers.”

Go big in the morning Your cognitive capacity (that is, your brain power) is at its highest in the morning, so work with your brain rather than against it; do your most challenging or creative tasks earlier in the day. 

Curate your environment Is your space set up to support your mission to nix multitasking? Maybe it’s leaving your phone in another room while you tackle specific tasks, closing certain computer tabs while you work, or making sure you’re meeting your basic needs of water, nutritious snacks and loo breaks to help you focus on the matter at hand.  

Listen up It may sound counterintuitive to use your phone (the classic time thief!) to help single-task, but there are apps designed to do just that. Endel plays AI-powered soundtracks engineered to help your brain focus and tune out distracting sounds and interruptions. 

Victoria Joy is a qualified coach who helps people take back control of their everyday life, cutting through the overwhelm to create helpful habits and consistent routines to make life feel easier

Book cover of The Gospel Of Wellness by Rina Raphael

This One Thing... The Gospel Of Wellness

Rina Raphael’s new bookThe Gospel Of Wellness: Gyms, Gurus, Goop And The False Promise Of Self-Care, takes a playful but thought-provoking look at the $4.4trillion wellness industry; a world rooted in perpetuating the belief that our bodies can’t self-regulate and that the answer lies in the latest detox, exercise regime or meditation retreat. She highlights the ways this global phenomenon plays on women’s vulnerabilities because of societal expectations to be slimmer and ‘sexier’ and wraps the solutions up in a fashionable package. As Raphael says, “I’ve seen far too many women – myself included – adopt new rituals and debatable products with nary an ounce of scepticism.” However, Raphael offers a balanced argument, also acknowledging that the industry does have some positives, such as encouraging people to think about their health when they shop. For a light-hearted look at an industry that is dominating a lot of our lives, this one’s a good read.

Samantha de Haas is acting managing editor and chief copy editor at Service95

Black and white image of a fork in shadows
Pari Dukovic/Trunk Archive

Is The Food We Are Consuming Causing A Mental Health Crisis?

More than half the UK diet is now ultra-processed food (UPF), in the US it’s 73% – and the trend is set to continue; a report found that as countries grow richer, they eat more ultra-processed foods (think long ingredients lists of scientific-sounding words, rather than whole, recognisable foods). Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organisation, one in eight people in the world now live with a mental disorder – so is there a link? Kimberley Wilson, UK-based chartered psychologist and author of the upcoming book Unprocessed: How The Food We Eat Is Fuelling Our Mental Health Crisis, believes so. “There isn’t a single study that says the ultra-processed, Western-style diet is good for your mental health. Diets heavy in ultra-processed foods are associated with more depression, worse anxiety and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” she says. 

Certain nutrients have been shown to improve sleep and reduce stress, depression and anxiety. It makes sense, then, that eating ultra-processed foods, where intense industrial processes strip food of nutrients, raises mental health risks. “Your brain is made out of nutrients,” explains Wilson. “It functions through sending chemical signals, and those chemicals – serotonin, dopamine, citicoline – are made from nutrients. Eating more UPF, by definition, displaces more nutritious foods in our diet.” Professor Adrienne O’Neil, co-director of the Food & Mood Centre in Australia (a country where UPF consumption accounts for 42% of dietary energy), says the negative impact on mental health is down to the “pro-inflammatory properties” of these foods, and the pro-inflammatory diet is associated with an increased risk of depression. Dr Adam Drewnowski, a world-renowned leader in the study of social disparities in diets and health, says it’s a vicious cycle; “diet quality affects mental health, but dietary choices are also affected by mental wellbeing,” he explains, adding that “stress, in particular, can drive food choices in a bad direction.” In other words, we’re caught in a damaging trap.

Surely what we eat, though, is down to us. Not so, says Wilson, who argues “the vast majority of factors that decide what we eat are socially derived.” Consider this: deprived areas in the UK have five times more fast food outlets than affluent ones, and 1.2 million people in the UK live in ‘food deserts’, where affordable fresh food is inaccessible. Then there’s budget: “A healthy diet is three to six times more expensive than an ultra-processed one,” says Wilson. Therefore, eating well is becoming elitist. “What counts most is purchasing power,” says Drewnowski. “Not everyone has the same degree of choice.”

Food companies also spend billions of dollars on advertising each year. Take Brazil, where 91% of food advertisements are for ultra-processed food. This bombardment, according to Wilson, “capitalises on human inbuilt vulnerabilities. [Advertisements] appeal to our evolutionary programming, which says to make the most of every eating opportunity, choose energy-dense foods and get as much value as you can expending as little energy as possible.” And when we succumb and eat them, a chemical reaction follows; “the brain releases a variety of substances, including opioid peptides,” says Drewnowski. These act on the brain in the same way as drugs – tapping into its reward system. In fact, researchers have argued that ultra-processed foods meet the criteria to be labelled as addictive substances. It’s no wonder we’re hooked.

Megan Riddle, a psychiatrist at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, says that far from being a simple choice, how we eat is “impacted by deep-seated cultural and racial disparities”. She says, “food is intimately intertwined with culture and ethnicity, power and oppression. Historically marginalised groups have increased rates of food insecurity. There’s also increasing awareness of how food was historically – and now – used as a form of oppression.” She points out that, today, what’s commonly labelled ‘unhealthy’ “stigmatises foods of certain ethnic or cultural backgrounds, perpetuating bias”. For Wilson, it borders on victim blaming. “In the UK, the poorest have to spend up to 74% of their disposable income to have a healthy diet, whereas it’s 11% for the wealthiest households. The idea that it’s about personal choice is insulting.”

Consider this sobering statistic from O’Neil; “those living with serious mental illness die 10 to 25 years sooner than those without,” and what we eat has a major impact. Our food systems are driven by politics, power and profit. “Poorer people in England die up to 10 years younger than rich people [in the US, it’s nearly 15 years] and that’s not about personal choice, it’s about where you live, what you can afford and the influence of the environment on your health,” says Wilson. “The global food system needs to change, but a cultural shift won’t come from individuals. We need a shift in policy – and only governments are in a position to do that.”
Unprocessed: How The Food We Eat Is Fuelling Our Mental Health Crisis by Kimberley Wilson will be published by WH Allen on 23 February 2023

Laura Potter is a freelance editor, writer and interviewer whose work has appeared in The Observer Magazine, The Guardian’s Saturday magazine, The Times Magazine, Women’s Health and Men’s Health

Animated GIF of newsletter article images, podcast artwork and illustrations

2022 In Review

Welcome to what is our last issue of 2022; the founding year of Service95! The team and I are so proud of the community we’ve built, and we’ve loved hearing how much you’re enjoying all the stories we’ve shared with you over the course of the year. Thank you so much – your support means everything. 

Now, I’m at home, ready to take some time out, curl up with some great books and relax. In that vein, we are using today’s issue to spotlight some of our favourite stories and writers from the past six months. It was almost impossible to choose – go to the website to see our archive and read the stories we didn’t have space to re-run here – but these features have opened my eyes and made me see the world in a different light, and I hope they do the same for you. 

We are continuing our break next week, so there won’t be an issue on Thursday 29 December. I hope you can also use the festive season to take some time for yourselves and recoup after what has been a challenging year for many. Thank you again for continuing to read Service95. See you in 2023, when we have many more exciting things to come! 

Dua x



Illustration of the words 'Good vibes only' surrounded by smiling flowers

Why We Need To Address Toxic Positivity

The unrelenting pressure to be positive has become so ingrained in our culture that we believe positivity is the only way to deal with hardship and the only response when someone is struggling. While it’s often well-intentioned, positivity can become toxic when used at the wrong time, with the wrong audience, or while discussing a topic where it doesn’t help. 

Of course, a positive outlook can be beneficial. However, when we take that positivity just a little too far, it becomes dismissive or unhelpful. When a friend is grieving it’s, “just be grateful you had time with them”. Or when someone has just suffered a miscarriage, “at least you know you can get pregnant”. Or when someone deals with any type of prejudice – from racism to homophobia – “thankfully most people don’t think like that”. Toxic positivity is offering someone a simple solution to a complicated problem. Talking about these kinds of topics is not the same as complaining about waiting in a queue or a long day at work. These are issues that profoundly impact us and expose our vulnerability. When we use toxic positivity in these moments, it makes the recipient feel isolated or ignored. Because if I tell you I’m struggling and you respond with, “just be grateful it’s not worse!”, am I going to keep sharing? No, I’m going to shut down.

It’s hard to imagine how something like positivity could harm us, but positive thinking is often a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Instead of helping us become more positive, it leads to more emotional suppression, which leads to worsened mood, negative feelings about social interactions, more negative emotions, and diminished positive emotions. A culture that is obsessed with happiness also negatively impacts our relationships and society. When we reinforce the idea that some feelings are ‘bad’, we miss out on the opportunity to connect with others. Positivity is also used as a weapon to minimise or deny the experience of certain groups. When we say things like, “can’t we all just love each other?” in response to discrimination, we invalidate the experiences marginalised people regularly endure. Toxic positivity places all the responsibility on the individual instead of on the systems and institutions that make positive thinking an impossible solution.

We’ve been promoting happiness and positivity as the magic cure for centuries – and it doesn’t seem to be working. If we want to have close relationships and experience the full spectrum of what it means to be human, we have to radically accept that life is complicated, and nothing will be all good or all bad. In place of misplaced positivity, we need to listen to the feelings that are being shared and offer an empathic response such as “It sounds really difficult for you” or “I can hear the sadness in your voice.” Learning to meet ourselves and others where we’re at, without forcing positivity, may be the key to more real happiness in the end. 

Whitney Goodman, LMFT, is the author of Toxic Positivity: Keeping It Real In A World Obsessed With Being Happy, the psychotherapist behind the Instagram account @sitwithwhit, and the owner of The Collaborative Counseling Center, a virtual therapy practice in Florida

Images of Agnes Questionmark during Transgenesis and other art performances
José Cuevas; Liquid Ground, 2022, Jo Fetto; Portrait Of The Homo Aquaticus, 2019, Henri Kisielewski; Transgenesis, 2021, Henri Kisielewski; Agnes Tides In The Body Circle, 2020, Henri Kisielewski

Agnes Questionmark: The Art World’s Mesmerising Underwater Performer

The Italian performance artist and former Gucci model Agnes Questionmark describes her work as a trip to a place “where nymphs and mythological creatures exist among humankind”. Many of her performances occur underwater, where Agnes pushes audiences to question the ephemerality of their own bodies. “I have an obsession with becoming inhuman – part of mythology,” she says. 

Her artistry stems from a quest to understand her own identity: “I wasn’t yet Agnes Questionmark; I spent my first year looking for this other character,” she says. Her childhood generated an unbreakable bond with the ocean that now manifests in her art. Her father was a boat architect with a passion for sailing; together, they would spend months offshore. “When I began to transition, I understood the water was a place of such meaning and symbolism,” she says. “The fluidity of the sea matched that of my work.”

Earlier this year, Valentino cast Agnes in a campaign posing in nothing but a pair of the brand’s fuchsia Tan-go platform heels, alongside fellow trans artist Nettuno, model Lina Giselle and DJ Charli, looking as if she’s been pulled from a renaissance painting, perfectly complementing her own artistry. 

For Transgenesis, Agnes’s lauded 2021 long-duration performance, viewers were invited into a derelict leisure centre, guided down a dimly lit tunnel resembling a coronary artery, with foetus-like latex sculptures adorning its sides, opening into a mirrored chamber with a white-sand floor and glimmering ceramic sea life sculptures. Agnes stood atop a giant octopus-like installation. Mesmerising the crowd, they watched her take deep inhales-exhales in tune with a whale cry-like song.  

“I felt completely inhuman, especially as I saw peoples’ faces when they watched me,” she says. “They were seeing something they had never seen before. I felt like a goddess. I wanted to make you think: I am somewhere else; I am entering into a womb towards another state and a new dimension.”  

Transgenesis ran for eight hours a day for 23 consecutive days. The first day of the piece also marked the beginning of her hormone therapy. “It was all so overwhelming,” she recalls – but her passion to share her own transformation is what allows audiences to be taken on such a similarly profound existential journey while watching her perform.  

With a scholarship to study integrated practices at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute in New York, Agnes wants to delve deeper into her understanding of marine biology to find new ways to push the boundaries of underwater performance. The eventual goal? To host an exhibition in her home city of Rome, showcasing her blossoming into the visionary self-proclaimed “trans-species artist” she identifies as today. “My ultimate dream is to make giant installations globally. Spread Agnes Questionmark to everyone. Spread fluidity to everyone!” 

Pia Brynteson is editorial assistant at Service95

Images of men and women wearing brightly coloured suits for La Sape

La Sape: The Bold Congolese Sartorial Movement Shifting The Socio-Political Narrative

Every year in June in the bustling streets of Brazzaville, Congo, an ostentatious group of men and women dressed in eye-catching suits (never exceeding three colours) exude a certain grandeur through their slow but grand steps, completing their theatrical performance with a dramatic tap of the heel and cane. The locals transform into elegant dandies and spectators become the judges, voting on who will be crowned ‘Sapeur of the Year’. This is La Sape. 

La Sape – an abbreviation of the French translation of Society of Ambience Makers and Elegant People – was born during Congo’s colonial period when the ‘houseboys’ would adopt their master’s clothing as a socio-political statement to show that they too could be just as elegant and smart as them. “La Sape was a way of giving hope to a generation who didn’t have any,” says sapeur Monsieur Robby.

To be deemed a ‘sapeur’ (a person with creative flair reflected both in their style and demeanour) required a trip to Europe, hence this social movement trickled its way down to France and Belgium. 

You were considered to have a certain stature if you returned to Congo with a lavish wardrobe filled with Guy Laroche or Versace suits, always accompanied by a pair of JM Westons. Christine Checinska, the curator of the V&A’s Africa Fashion exhibition, understands why some might deem this style ‘extreme’ but explains, “in Black culture, being well-dressed is bound up with self-respect.”

In response to the social inequality many of the migrants faced in France during the ’70s, underground clubs such as La Main Bleue in Paris (where Karl Lagerfeld hosted his infamous birthday bash in October 1977) were created to cater to minorities, and it eventually became a sapeur’s home away from home. 

The musical influence of the late Papa Wemba placed La Sape on an international scale. Dubbed the King of Rumba Rock, who fused African sounds with Caribbean rhythm, the Congolese music legend and fashion icon was notable for spreading the word of this movement through his tours in the late ’80s and early ’90s around France and Japan. 

Solange’s 2012 music video Losing You, spotlighting Cape Town’s sapeurs and, in more recent years, designer Ozwald Boateng’s fashion collections – inspired by his frequent jaunts to Congo – have also become key cultural moments growing this bold sartorial movement beyond the niche. 

La Sape has always been seen as a way of existing beyond the socio-political upheaval and projecting a positive image of hope and of shifting the narrative. But beyond that, in the words of the female sapeur Arly La Liya, “La Sape is love, Sape yourself.”

Yelena Grelet is a London-based multimedia journalist and filmmaker

Artwork featured on the digital platform Mauj, including a diagram of the anatomy of the clitoris, and an image of its intimate product, Deem
Dear Nostalgia, Mauj

Mauj: The Boundary-Breaking Sexual Wellness Platform For Arab Women

“Do you know what an orgasm feels like?” Teta asked, smiling. “Well, your grandfather never gave me one.”

This bold statement is all the more taboo because ‘Teta’ is an Arab woman. It is one of the anonymously submitted true stories featured in Hakawatiyya, a three-season storytelling series run by Mauj, the ground-breaking digital platform for Arab women, like myself, where sexual wellness, desire and pleasure are openly discussed. It is the first of its kind. 

Mauj, the Arabic word for ‘wave’, was started in September 2020 by a group of (anonymous) Arab women from Jeddah, Beirut, Dubai and Cairo who wanted a better experience of sexual and reproductive education for the women in their countries. The platform offers science-backed resources, expert advice, and a safe space in the form of an Instagram page both in English and Arabic, as well as Amwaj, its private Facebook group, which enables women to connect with other Arab women and share concerns with gynaecologists, sex therapists and relationship coaches. In a part of the world where shame, secrecy and chastisement surround matters concerning female desire, Mauj’s virtual offering is seen as both boundary-pushing and controversial. 

So the founders went one step further with another barrier-breaking creation. Deem (meaning ‘constant rain’ and ‘endless pleasure’ in Arabic) is the first intimate product designed to help Arab women discover their sexuality and pleasure on their own terms. Needless to say, they had to be mindful of the environment in which their consumers exist, so it had to be discreet. A pink, droplet-shaped personal product that easily camouflages as any kind of hygiene tool, the name Mauj does not appear on the product, box or even on bank statements, and the box does not contain any instructions that point to what the product is meant for – but those who know, know. 

As an Arab woman myself, I can testify that when there is no one who looks like you discussing subjects such as sex and pleasure, and one is made to feel guilt for experiencing such ‘taboo’ human experiences, this community is a lifeline. The importance of Mauj putting Arab women at the forefront of this discussion cannot be overstated. It is the first time, but it should definitely not be the last. This is just the beginning of a discussion we’ve needed to have for a long time. 

Noran Morsi is a freelance journalist based in New York City, with Cairo roots. She’s an MFA candidate at New York University’s literary reportage programme and a YouTube journalism fellow

Image of graffiti in Melbourne, Australia
Gabriel Tan

My Time Down Under

Recently, on the Australia and New Zealand leg of my Future Nostalgia tour, I was lucky enough to put on my arena show in a theatre in Melbourne – at a one-off gig in St Kilda’s Palais Theatre. It was incredible, to say the least, and reaffirmed my love of Australia’s bohemian city. I always feel at home in Melbourne, which is equal parts free-spirited and stylish – and what I love is that it keeps its best spots hidden. With amazing food, a buzzing art scene and laid-back beach vibe, I invite you to get under its skin by visiting the places I’ve listed below…

Dua x

  1. Hope St Radio – a canteen-cool dining room named after its namesake indie internet radio station; this is not to be missed.
  2. Gimlet – nostalgia and glamour await at this Chicago-style cocktail bar and dining room housed in a landmark 1920s building.
  3. Carlton Wine Room – a neighbourhood bistro and bar, it serves food that just works with wine.
  4. National Gallery of Victoria – I was blown away by Australia’s new home for contemporary art and design.
  5. Nomad – serving Spanish, Moroccan and Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine that is just delicious. 



Portrait of Yusra Mardini, and film stills from Netflix's The Swimmers
Netflix, © UNHCR/Paul Wu

The Swimmers: Yusra Mardini’s Journey From A Refugee Boat To The Olympics

Most people do not have their lives made into a film. Most people have not made an inconceivable trip from war-torn Syria to Berlin by a tiny dingy on a rough sea. And then had to spend three hours pulling it to safety when the motor gave out halfway through their journey. But then most people are not Yusra Mardini. The day before our interview, the 24-year-old walked the red carpet in London where she unveiled The Swimmers, a moving drama that details Mardini and her sister Sara’s harrowing journey from Damascus to Europe in 2015 and then to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where Mardini swam for the Refugee Olympic Team. 

As a child, Mardini didn’t take to the water which, considering she came from a family of swimmers, was ironic. Her father (and swimming coach), Ezzat, pushed her to join the sport from a young age. “I complained about the [cold] water or cried because I didn’t want to swim. But slowly,” she recalls with a smile, “I started loving it and getting more competitive.” By age nine, she began taking the sport seriously, studied Michael Phelps’ technique, and soon became an accomplished athlete in her own right, competing across the globe.

Then in 2011, war struck her home of Syria, costing the lives of over 300,000 civilians and forcing over 13.5 million Syrians to leave their homes. The most important thing for her family, Mardini says, was “to try and feel normal again” as they moved from apartment to apartment after their house in Damascus was destroyed. 

The terror of the ongoing war led Mardini at age 17, along with her sister Sara and their two cousins, to make the perilous journey to Germany, leaving their parents behind. Explaining the thinking behind this, Mardini says they would rather “risk everything one more time, than [keep] risking everything every day by not knowing what was going to happen next”.

Her treacherous crossing was made via the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece, with 18 other people in a dinghy made to fit no more than seven (before continuing overland to Germany). It is one of the film’s most horrifying moments. “It was very realistic to me,” Mardini says about the scene. “And it was very emotional.” The motor gave out halfway through, and the Mardini sisters jumped into the sea to pull the boat to safety, fighting against the wind and rough tide for three hours. The film, Mardini notes, takes liberty on just one aspect of the journey: in real life, the sisters didn’t have a rope tied around their waist to prevent them from drifting away.

Miraculously, they made their way to Berlin where they became refugees. There were saving graces. While at the refugee centre, they swam at a pool in the city whenever they could and it was, says Mardini, “the one thing that made me feel like I was home again”. Through a local coach, Sven Spannekrebs, Mardini joined the Olympics’ refugee swimming team for both the Rio and Tokyo games. 

Today, Mardini continues to swim while also using her platform to shed light on the refugee crisis; in 2017, she became the youngest-ever Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR. Her sister’s own journey has been less straightforward. In 2018, Sara and other volunteers were arrested on the Greek island of Lesbos for assisting refugees making the same treacherous journey across the sea. The charges are described by Amnesty International as ‘unfair and baseless’. Nevertheless, at the time of going to press, Sara is still facing trial. “For a refugee that went through that journey, to go back and volunteer is very brave,” Mardini says. She hopes the film will not only raise awareness of her sister’s predicament but, ultimately, will change the world’s perception of those displaced, and encourage people to treat them with greater compassion – because “being a refugee is not something bad [but] it’s not something you choose to become”. 

Iana Murray is a Scottish-Filipina freelance culture journalist based in London whose work has been published in GQ, Vulture, W Magazine and more

Images of Sarah Diouf; Alioune Diouf's De Génération En Génération, 2020; Selebe Yoon; Seku Bi; Copacabana Surf Village; Thieboudienne and Sandaga Market
Sarah Diouf, Bizenga Da Silvo; Alioune Diouf, De Génération En Génération, 2020; Selebe Yoon; Seku Bi; Copacabana Surf Village; Thieboudienne; Sandaga Market, Alamy

My Hometown: Sarah Diouf’s Dakar

“You know that feeling when you know you belong to a certain place?” Sarah Diouf says of her home city of Dakar. The seeds of her love for the place were planted in childhood. She was born in Paris and spent her early years in Ivory Coast; however, both her parents are half-Senegalese. “I used to come here with my parents to visit but I never stayed extensively,” Diouf explains. In 2001, she left Ivory Coast to return to Paris where she studied and later worked as a fashion stylist and editor. “One of my best friends, whom I met in business school in Paris, is fully Senegalese. In 2013, when she went back to live in Dakar, I went to see her, and this was the first time I visited the city in a non-tourist way. This was the most incredible three weeks of my life.” Her own move to Dakar didn’t happen until a year later, but this experience was the catalyst for her brand Tongoro


“The global perception around African goods has been very bad for such a long time. I wanted to help change that. So, while still in Paris, I started playing around with fabrics and got local tailors in Dakar to make my clothes.” During Paris Fashion Week, her outfits were noticed by street style photographers, editors and friends, “as well as friends of friends of friends,” she recalls with a laugh. Many people began asking her to make clothes for them and Tongoro officially launched in 2016. From the sourcing of materials to the actual creation of the pieces, everything takes place in the Senegalese city. (Tongoro has since been discovered and worn by many high-profile names such as Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Burna Boy.) 

The city itself has also recently had a starry moment. The good and great of fashion and celebrity recently descended on Dakar for a prestigious Chanel show. That said, Diouf’s unfailing love for her city runs much deeper than its current fashionability. “Dakar is such an amazing place. We all get to a stage in our lives where we are mentally, physically [and] spiritually seeking a peaceful kind of experience. Dakar is that place for me. It is so chilled, sunny most of the time and surrounded by the sea. The country is mostly Muslim [but] everyone lives peacefully with one another; when it’s Easter, everyone celebrates Easter, and when it’s Eid, everyone celebrates Eid. That, for me, is such a beautiful thing.” 

This is why, despite growing up in another African country, she is unequivocal about being rooted in Senegal. “I mean, my name is Diouf [a popular Senegalese name] and look at me,” she says with a laugh, “I look like a Senegalese woman. Also, there is no way I could have children and not be in complete possession of my cultural heritage. So,” she adds with finality in her voice, “while Ivory Coast is my home country, Dakar is where I belong.”

Sarah Diouf’s top Dakar recommendations…

  1. I love the work of painter and sculptor Alioune Diouf. You can see his work at the Selebe Yoon gallery. It is one of my favourite places for art. 
  2. Seku Bi is an old building that the owner transformed into a boutique hotel, which has views over the sea – and the food is amazing. 
  3. Copacabana Surf Village is where I go surfing, and you can eat and chill. The beach is great, and it just has a really good vibe. 
  4. Try thieboudienne, a national dish prepared with fish, rice and tomato sauce. The place to go for that is a very low-key restaurant downtown called Chez Loutcha. They make the best one. 
  5. You cannot leave Dakar without visiting the markets. Sandaga is well known. Here you can pick up fabrics that you can take to a tailor who will make you something very traditional, very cheaply. There are also brilliant inexpensive jewellers that can make something specifically for you that you will cherish forever. 

Past Beauty Papers covers featuring Maggi Hambling, Harry Styles, Zanele Muholi, Shirin Neshat and Eva and Adele
Issue 9 Maggi Hambling, Harley Weir; Issue 8 Harry Styles, Caspar Sejersen; Issue 9 Zanele Muholi, Zanele Muholi; Issue 10 Shirin Neshat - Untitled, Shirin Neshat; Issue 4 Eva and Adele, Greta Ilieva, Beauty Papers

This One Thing... Beauty Papers

If, like me, you are bored and frankly exhausted by society’s ever-present messaging – you know, the one that dictates who and what defines ‘beauty’ and why we all need to pursue it – then you will love Beauty Papers. Founded seven years ago by ex-makeup artist Maxine Leonard and creative director Valerie Wickes, this biannual ode to beauty – but not as you know it – was born out of a rejection of the singular ideal. Speaking about the genesis of the brand, Leonard says, “The beauty industry was not inclusive or playful or even inspiring. I was frustrated by the dangerous message that one size fits all.” This is why, if you buy the magazine expecting to read about the joys of contouring, slugging, or glass skin, then look away now. Beauty Papers pulls together leading writers, artists, cultural commentators, and photographers to explore thorny issues – be it female body hair or fatphobia – that flip mainstream beauty on its head. 

Issue 7 Cate Blanchett Performance, Casper Sejersen, Beauty Papers

Their covers have featured the likes of South African artist and queer rights activist Zanele Muholi, 77-year-old British artist Maggi Hambling, hermaphrodite twins Eva and Adele, and Shirin Neshat in a controversial take on Muslim representation (it got the magazine shadow-banned by Instagram and many retailers took it off the shelves). Though few and far between, every so often a celebrity will make an appearance but, in classic Beauty Papers style, it will always be unexpected; think Cate Blanchett reinvented as Andy Warhol, and a bare-chested Harry Styles sitting cross-legged on a chair wearing fishnet tights. Quelle surprise, the Styles issue sold out. But just as well. For every copy sold, a percentage of the sale price went to Haircuts4Homeless, a UK community-based charity where hairstylists give rough sleepers a wash, cut and style to boost their confidence. “Our desire,” explains Leonard, “is to create a different narrative and, ultimately, to create change.” And Beauty Papers is doing exactly that.   

Funmi Fetto is the global editorial director of Service95 and a contributing editor at British Vogue

Illustrated Seafood Jollof Rice dish
Vivian Uwakwe, 2022 ©

Yinka Ogunbiyi’s Warming Winter Recipe

British-Nigerian chef Yinka Ogunbiyi (@foodfireandsoul) splits her time between Boston and London. She invented the Kamado Joe SloRoller (which enhances ceramic grills by surrounding food in smoke and evenly distributing heat), co-designed a line of smart barbecue grills, and now has created an exclusive recipe for Service95.

Seafood Jollof Rice 

Jollof rice is one of the most cherished and (certainly within the West African community) debated comfort foods. Why? Because there are numerous iterations of this dish; some use long-grain rice, others use basmati, some add coconut milk, and others use tomato puree and tinned tomatoes as opposed to fresh tomatoes. Here’s my twist on the classic – loaded with fresh seafood and inspired by Portuguese arroz de marisco. It’s perfect for a dinner party, but I usually find myself spooning it straight from the pot into my mouth.

Serves 4-6

4 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped 
2 red bell peppers, stem removed and roughly torn
½ medium onion, roughly chopped
1 scotch bonnet chilli pepper (or habanero), deseeded
150ml (⅔ cup) vegetable or sunflower oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp curry powder
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fish stock bouillon cube
400g (2 cups) long-grain parboiled rice
Parsley (to serve)
Lemon (to serve)

8 large head-on prawns, peeled and deveined (keep the shells)
½kg mussels, rinsed and scrubbed
½kg clams, soaked in salt water for 15 minutes

  1. Blend the tomato, red pepper, onion and scotch bonnet chilli pepper into a smooth puree.
  2. Heat the oil on a medium heat in a large non-reactive pot for three minutes to ‘cook’ the oil.
  3. Add the garlic, spices, herbs and stock to the oil and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the shells of your deshelled prawns if using them. Fry for a minute or two until sizzling and aromatic. 
  4. Add the tomato blend. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and season the sauce. It should be delicious and over-seasoned. Reserve ¼ of the sauce (about 120ml/½ cup) for later.
  5. Wash the rice well until the water runs clear and scoop it into the pot. Cover it, then turn the heat down low and steam the rice for around 30 minutes until soft with a bit of bite. Fluff the rice.
  6. Take the reserved sauce and layer it onto the seafood in a saucepan with a lid. Cover and steam for around 7 minutes until the prawns are bright red and the clams and mussels open. Discard any that don’t open. 
  7. Serve with chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

Things to note:

  • Try as far as possible to choose certified sustainable seafood. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a good resource to find out more about this. 
  • Parboiled rice is often labelled ‘easy cook’ or ‘golden sella’. If you can’t find it, jasmine or carolino rice work well.
  • Alternatively, swap the seafood out for a colourful pile of mixed vegetables such as carrots peeled into ribbons, whole green beans, sliced red and green bell peppers and shredded cabbage, and replace the fish stock for vegetable stock. Stir fry the veg on a high heat with a little oil and season with salt.

Yinka Ogunbiyi is a British-Nigerian chef and hosts a pop-up dinner series called Eat Your Mouth

Illustration of Dua Lipa making roast potatoes
© Laura Gulshani, 2022

My ‘Famous’ Festive Potatoes

I love this time of year when I can snuggle up at home in London and catch up with friends and family – which feels even more of a luxury after the whirlwind (yet incredible) year I’ve had. Another thing I like to do when I’m at home is get back in the kitchen and cook for those closest to me. My roast potatoes have become synonymous with the festive season in the Lipa household and I’m so happy to share my recipe with you. In 10 easy steps, you’ll have the most delicious, crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside potatoes. I hope they’re a great addition to your festive feast – they’re delicious plated up next to my roast chicken recipe, which I was filmed making in the summer.

Dua x

Serves 8

2kg Maris Piper potatoes
300g duck fat
1 head of garlic
10g sage
10g thyme
10g rosemary

Pre-prep: I do the following the night before to save time the next day.
1. Peel your potatoes, cut them in half (or into roughly 5cm pieces) and par-boil them for 15 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them dry for a few minutes.
3. Shake the colander so the edges of the potatoes are a bit rough (this helps the fat stick to the potatoes and creates a crispy outer layer and fluffy inside).  
4. Pour the potatoes into a deep tray large enough for the potatoes to sit in a single layer, smother them in the duck fat and season with salt.
5. Cover the tray in aluminium foil, pop it in the fridge and leave overnight.
Next day:  
6. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 
7. While the oven is heating, roughly smash the garlic cloves and pick and chop the herbs. 
8. Once the oven is heated, add half the herbs to the potatoes and put them in the oven for approximately one hour.
9. Take the potatoes out, crush them lightly with a fork and add the garlic and remaining herbs.
10. Pop them back in the oven for another 25 minutes and voilà – my ‘famous’ festive potatoes. Dig in and enjoy!



Images of nightclubs and parties around the world
Queer House Party; 20ft Radio; Tube VR; Berghain, Simon Tartarotti; Filter; We House Sundays

“Partying Has Evolved In Ways We Never Expected”: How The Pandemic Changed The Way We Rave

It is late 2019, at around 1.30am, and I am in Dalston Superstore, east London’s most beloved queer bar. All around me, people are snogging and, even if they’re not, their sweaty bodies are pressed up against each other in the small heat of the basement, techno pounding through their bones, their collective breath making the mirrors steam up in the darkness. I don’t realise it, but this will be the last time I step foot in a nightclub for at least two years. In a few months, there will be a pandemic and multiple lockdowns. Clubs will shut their doors around the world. Eventually, nightlife will return, tentatively, but not in the same way. 

Lockdown might feel like a distant fever dream, but we’re still dealing with a global fallout when it comes to nightlife. In the UK, it’s predicted that one in three clubs will close by the end of 2022. Over in Berlin, Berghain – the world’s most iconic nightclub – is rumoured to be shutting its doors for good. It’s a trend repeating itself everywhere. Even across the US, many of the country’s most iconic clubs have shut their doors: LA’s gay club Rage, New York’s China Chalet, and drag club The Pyramid Club in East Village, to name a few. The heyday of clubbing as we knew it may indeed be over. 

But partying has also evolved in ways we never expected. Virtual nightlife thrived over multiple lockdowns (think Service95 favourite Queer House Party) and has become much more normalised, which is great for those not always able to physically be in a club. From virtual reality clubs such as Tube VR to online, non-physical alternatives to clubs including Kyiv’s 20ft Radio (which is an online radio station treated like a summertime venue, with line-ups and DJ sets), and global Twitch streams (a live streaming service most often used by gamers) – see Tokyo’s MOGRA – grassroots collectives have flourished in the spaces left by post-pandemic uncertainty. Partying has become sprawling, inventive, and not so rigidly defined by IRL locations. It’s an erratic, exciting time to be a clubber. 

Meanwhile, the closure of nightclubs worldwide has made way for club nights with changing venues, such as Melbourne’s secret rave collective, Filter (which you DM to find out the location), Gay Bombay in Mumbai, and electronic music collective We House Sundays in Cape Town. 

Coco Cole, one of the UK’s most prominent voices in dance music and DJing, says that the closure of clubs has forced people to be imaginative and start their own nights. “Big established promoters and venues are still making up costs from the pandemic by booking big, risk-free line-ups certain to fill the venue, leaving little room for emerging artists,” she says. “So I think now is a good opportunity for new club nights, promoters and communities to create their own spaces and culture. As ever, the power is in the people.”

It’s impossible to predict what the future of partying will look like. But, regardless of what may lie ahead, people will always find a way to party, have fun, and dance until the sun rises – even from their bedrooms. 

5 must-visit clubs around the world

  1. Zer021, Cape Town, South Africa – An LGBTQIA+ and drag bar with zero shortage of wild club nights and performances. 
  2. Salon Zur Wilden Renate, Berlin, Germany  This multi-room renovated apartment in east Berlin is a must for clubbers looking for something unique and eclectic. 
  3. 20ft Radio, Kyiv, Ukraine – 20ft Radio broadcasts music from a shipping container in a former ribbon-weaving factory and has a venue open from March to October every year. 
  4. Womb, Tokyo, Japan – This 1,000-capacity club opened in 2000 and is spread across four floors with an unparalleled sound system, high-quality lighting, and extreme lasers. 
  5. D-Edge, São Paulo, Brazil – A wildly futuristic, Tron-like super club that’s kept dance music alive and kicking in Brazil’s most populous city for the best part of two decades. 

Daisy Jones is a culture writer, editor and author of All The Things She Said. Her work has appeared in Vice UK, British Vogue, Dazed, The Guardian and more

Images of Juma Kitchen and head chef Philip Juma

The Chef Set On Putting Iraqi Cuisine On The London Food Map

After spending five or so years post-university unhappily working in finance, Philip Juma – owner and head chef of Juma Kitchen, an Iraqi takeaway restaurant in London’s Borough Market – found himself cooking. “There are no romance stories of me on my nana’s knee or anything like that, cooking was just a nice distraction.”

A self-described “born and bred Londoner” – Juma’s mother is English-Irish – his kitchen journey began by hassling his Iraqi father for knowledge of the dishes they would eat at home. Or, as he puts it, “getting up in his face and pissing him off”. Juma grew up around dishes such as kubba and dolma and these family recipes were his only tangible reference point starting out. (Attempts to gain experience in Iraqi restaurants in London were unsuccessful; “chefs were suspicious and unwilling to share their knowledge,” he says.) This exploration of self and Iraqi identity has been at the heart of his cooking from day one.

Since then, Juma – both the individual and the kitchen – has been smashing it. A finalist in the 2021 BBC Street Food Awards, Juma has found himself on UK TV favourites Masterchef: The Professionals and Saturday Kitchen. Not bad for a distraction that started back in 2012 (one which has never had any PR or marketing representation). But, in Juma’s eyes, bringing Iraqi cuisine into the mainstream is bigger than success, bigger than anything on TV.

He has stories upon stories of Juma Kitchen fans messaging him and thanking him for representing Iraqis in a positive light. Back in January this year he visited Iraq for the first time, documenting the trip on Instagram, walking down Baghdad’s streets and visiting markets and churches – and he was blown away by the response. “The 25 to 35-year-old Iraqi diaspora worldwide were messaging me like, ‘Bro, you’re speaking in my head right now.’” So much so that one, from Australia, even sent Juma a screenshot of his flight confirmation to Iraq, thanking him for encouraging him to explore his family’s roots. As for Iraq’s identity crisis, Juma proudly acknowledges that, through Juma Kitchen, he’s “changing the narrative”. But his story isn’t about an eventual restaurant or cookbook, not just yet. As he says himself, “It’s become way bigger than food.”

Jake Missing is a London-based culture journalist who has written for Vogue, Noble Rot Magazine and Huck. He is a senior writer at The Infatuation

Illustrated portrait of Dean Baquet
Spiros Halaris, 2022 ©

Dean Baquet’s Top News Sources

In the latest episode of Dua Lipa: At Your Service – out tomorrow, Friday 9 December – the American journalist and former executive editor of The New York Times shares the other platforms where he gets his news.

  1. I love The Washington Post; I always have. We have a deeply respectful competition, but I love the paper and I read it every day.
  2. I read a lot of local news. Because of the work that I’m doing now [leading a local investigative New York Times fellowship], I look at the Los Angeles Times.
  3. I look at Mississippi Today, which is a not-for-profit in Jackson, Mississippi.
  4. I read The Texas Tribune as I try to get a little taste of news organisations around the [US]. 
  5. I read a lot of fiction, which has a lot of interesting perspectives. (I tend not to get it from social media, for better or for worse.)


David Byrne's theatre production Theater Of The Mind
The Denver Center for the Performing Arts

Inside Music Icon David Byrne’s Mesmerising New Production ‘Theater Of The Mind’

Chatting with David Byrne is one of life’s greatest delights. Having initially found success in the 1970s with his band Talking Heads, the 70-year-old polymath has since used his creative capital to explore as many different interests and mediums as possible: albums, books, and even a web magazine called Reasons To Be Cheerful. “If you have these parallel interests, at some point, they’re going to come together,” he says. “You don’t have to plan it too much… you’ll stumble on it.”

This means, today, he’s up for discussing anything, including a playlist of Iranian protest music he’s in the process of curating for one of his monthly playlists on his website. “I listened to it as I was biking somewhere the other day, and [I thought], Oh, this is making me feel pretty good. The music is really innovative… has a great vibe to it. And it’s just incredibly passionate and very meaningful at this moment,” says Byrne.

That drive to explore led Byrne to his most recent project, Theater Of The Mind, a co-creation with writer Mala Gaonkar that runs until January at the York Street Yards in Denver, Colorado. Over the 75-minute production, a guide named ‘David’ – dressed in grey suits similar to the one the musician wore during the Broadway run of his acclaimed show American Utopia – escorts viewers through a series of otherworldly sets, representing the mind of a man revisiting memories, determined to “make things right”. (While Byrne doesn’t appear in person, he does make an unexpected cameo.) It’s an experience meant to destabilise your sense of self, as evident by the first stop – an anonymous office building where visitors are asked to pick up a nametag and adopt a new identity. If being called a name other than your own feels odd, just wait, the experience of ‘seeing’ in the dark, tasting lemons in a whole new way, and the sensation of shrinking thanks to a room’s enormous proportions make the production feel even more surreal. But while the sets are impressive (like a childhood party with aesthetics that feel plucked from the Squid Game universe), they’re backdrops for the real action: a series of experiments designed to make your mind work in very different ways. 

Byrne admits that while he’s always keen to stretch his creativity, the science behind those experiments is what initially caught his eye. “My first thought was to bring the work of one of the neuroscience labs into an art gallery, so someone can come in and have this perceptual experience,” he says. “That never happened, but in the meantime, I kept finding more things we wanted to try.” 

The production’s current form didn’t come together until rehearsals when an actor playing a guide offered to take a group through the experience from start to finish. An eager collaborator, Byrne was immediately certain they’d found the missing puzzle piece. “I thought, OK, there’s the structure of our storyline,” he says. “That was a big revelation.”

While the experience of visiting Theater Of The Mind reveals just how little we can trust our perception of reality, Byrne hopes the experience won’t simply highlight humanity as unreliable narrators. (“We’re probably much less rational than we think we are,” he says with a laugh.) If we can understand how we’ve been affected by our past, that means we can control how we shape our futures. “You realise how unreliable our memories are and our perception is [such] that we only see part of what’s out there,” he says. “All these things that could be taken to be really bad news [but] by the end, it gets turned around. As the character says, ‘unreliability is a kind of possibility’. It means that we have the possibility to change and rewrite our stories.”
Theater Of The Mind runs until 22 January 2023

Laura Studarus is a Los Angeles-based travel journalist who has written for BBC, Thrillist, Shondaland and Marie Claire


Slides featuring the Service95 website

The Service95 Website Is Here!

I am so excited to announce the launch of our new website. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to create a home for all our incredible past issues, so you can view our archive and catch up on anything you missed. Featuring our considered curation of recommendations, stories, thoughts and perspectives – including today’s incredibly thought-provoking essay by the Georgian writer Ana Morgoshia on the impact of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine and its neighbouring countries – it’s a must-read. And don’t worry: we’ll be rolling out the website in our other languages soon. 

Dua x



Image of a man holding a sign in protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Vano Shlamov

“If Ukraine Falls, So Inevitably Does Georgia”: The Magnitude Of Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine

Turquoise waters, palm trees and, of course, the smell of tangerines, Abkhazeti (or Abkhazia as the Russian occupiers call it) has always been a dreamscape for me. A place that I knew a lot about but could never touch. Ever so present in my family’s life, it was always seen as a place of happiness and peace; our little slice of heaven that was forcefully taken from us in the 1990s. It is a place where I imagine my grandmother, with her long jet-black hair, playing volleyball by the beach with her friends. 

To this day, around 300,000 refugees from the occupied territories of Georgia carry the memories and burdens of being displaced – about 6% of Georgia’s total population. Even after 30 years, the shadow of the conflict looms large. It is hard to forget that once you had to walk through the mountains to get to safety in the middle of winter, your children frozen, and your family members were killed or raped. These stories sadly didn’t have international appeal in the ’90s. Frankly, nobody seemed to care about a small country fighting for its independence, for the ability to finally break free of Russian imperialism and choose its own destiny; to live in peace with its neighbours as it had done for centuries.

As clichéd as it may sound, Russia is the villain in the story, as in many other countries’ stories that have the misfortune of having it as a neighbour. On 24 February, when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, unlike people in the West, Georgians, like many others in Eastern Europe, were not surprised. We’ve been through it not once but three times in our 30 years of independence; the sham backstories used to create alternate realities for its citizens and kill thousands of innocent children, women, and elders. In 2014, much like Georgians, Ukrainians ousted their pro-Russian leader (Viktor Yanukovych) and once and for all showed that they were not willing to live under Russian dictate. The conflict started to show its ugly head around this time. Soon after this Ukrainian Revolution, Russia occupied Crimea and started a war in Donbas.

We’ve seen what the world saw in Bucha (the killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian armed forces during the fight for the occupation of the Ukrainian city) in Gagra, Sokhumi, and all across the occupied territories. It is not something that suddenly erupted in Russia. Cruelty (to put it mildly) has always been its signature. We, sadly, were forced to suffer and survive in silence, and so were Chechens, when the whole world thought of the Chechen wars as Russia’s internal business and stood back as it used chemical weapons against peaceful civilians all around Chechnya. 

I’m always shocked when people say that this is Putin’s war. Many things are wrong with putting the situation in these terms. In Western academia, Russian/Soviet imperialism has been downplayed. The prevalent perception is that people who were forcibly integrated into the Soviet Union did so by their will; we just held hands and decided to live together. Let me clarify that this was not the case. In each instance, there was violence, murder, and ethnic cleansing. Those who fought for independence and their families were either deported or killed. Russians, however, still see themselves as the liberators of these lands. They believe the lie of a beautiful time when ‘all of us used to live peacefully like brothers’. Generations grew up there with Soviet nostalgia. It is one of Putin’s most important ideological lines against Russia’s neighbouring countries. When, in 2005, he said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” nobody blinked an eye. He was still thought of as a rational actor. Three years later, he invaded my country for the third time by setting the plan in motion for reversing this ‘tragedy’.

Then followed Ukraine. Our countries thus become even more intertwined. The future of one determines the future of the other. If Ukraine falls, so inevitably does Georgia. The independence of countries ranging from Central Asia to the Caucasus all the way to the Baltics depends on the outcome of this war. The citizens of these countries, like those in the West, deserve to live in free democracies. The refugees and internally displaced people should finally return to their homes and live in dignity. Freedom cost us our lives and brought endless suffering and pain. This decision, despite everything, will not be reversed. Georgia and Ukraine have firmly decided that their future is with Europe.

We are not and will never be Russian. Some still like to say that Russians are our brothers. To that, I say, better be alone than with such a sibling. A sibling that steals, rapes and kills. A sibling who deliberately wants to vanish you from the face of the earth. A sibling that calls your language ‘dog’s language’, destroys your churches, and pits the communities (such as Russian speakers in Donbas and Abkhazians/Ossetians in Georgia) against those with whom they lived peacefully for centuries.

Some mistakenly think that Russia is responding to a threat emanating from Nato. Here I would like those people to ask us, the citizens of these countries, why we chose this path. When you are constantly harassed by your ‘neighbour’ or an abusive husband (which is how I would characterise Russia’s relationship with the countries it used to rule), you would want to be protected since you can’t do so by yourself. Georgia and Ukraine are stubbornly pursuing Euro-Atlantic integration because of the Russian threat. We finally want security for us and future generations; to choose our destiny and become members of the Euro-Atlantic family. We paid for our choice with blood; now it is time for Europe to take decisive steps towards us.  

Right now, Ukrainians are at the front lines. They are showing the whole world an example of bravery and what love for your homeland truly means. The only thing that will change how Russians see the world is a military defeat. Unfortunately, this is the only way for them to finally understand that Ukraine and other so-called (I’ve grown to hate the term) post-Soviet countries are independent entities rather than their Gubernias (Gubernia is an administrative subdivision used in the Russian Empire).

I am a believer that one day I will be able to taste the tangerines in Sokhumi and swim in the turquoise sea. For that to happen, Ukraine must be victorious and stop Russian aggression once and for all. It is essential for the de-occupation of Ukraine and stability in Europe. (For example, Poland and the Baltics, who are members of Nato, are next in line if Putin is allowed to keep invading sovereign countries.) The threat to the whole continent is palpable. Georgian soldiers are fighting alongside our Ukrainian brothers for our joint freedom, and it is why I will proudly fly the blue and yellow flag with my beloved white and red until victory is finally achieved.

Ana Morgoshia is a writer and art historian based in Tbilisi, Georgia

Illustrated portrait of Pedro Almodóvar
Spiros Halaris, 2022 ©

Pedro Almodóvar’s Directors To Look Out For

In the latest episode of Dua Lipa: At Your Service – out tomorrow, Friday 2 December – the internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker shares some of the directors who inspire him today.

  1. Claire Denis – I admire the movies of this French director.
  2. Hirokazu Kore-eda – I especially loved [his 2018 film] Shoplifters, which won the Cannes award.
  3. Bong Joon-ho – I’m [looking forward to] his next movie after Parasite.
  4. Park Chan-wook – he’s South Korean, and [has a] new movie, Decision To Leave.
  5. The Coen Brothers – even though they have separated now. 


Image of Dua Lipa on Future Nostalgia Tour
Elizabeth Miranda

What I’m Thankful For...

For those that don’t know, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow in the United States, and although I’m not American, I love a holiday that encourages people to gather around a table with their family, eat delicious food and count the things they’re grateful for. I try to make a little gratitude list in my head before I go to bed most nights and, looking back at this incredible year, I’m so grateful for my health, my family and friends, my touring family, and my incredible fans I’ve had the chance to perform to all around the world! At the time of writing, we’ve done 93 shows, with a few more planned, but the love and support keep me going. At the risk of sounding trite, I’m also thankful for you, our curious, socially and politically engaged Service95 readers, who inform the way we work and tell stories. Without you, this would not be possible.

Dua x


Film stills from Chinonye Chukwu's Till
Orion Pictures

Till: A Story Of Grief And Resilience In An Unequal World

When Chinonye Chukwu was approached to direct Till, the new film about civil rights activist Mamie Till-Mobley and the lynching of her son Emmett Till in the 1950s, she had just premiered her breakout feature Clemency at the Sundance Film Festival (where she became the first Black woman to win the festival’s esteemed Grand Jury Prize). For Clemency, about a warden played by Alfre Woodard, Chukwu had delved deep into the world of the prison system. After she emerged to widespread acclaim, she wasn’t sure she had the capacity to take on the brutal story of Till’s murder and, in the aftermath, his mother’s grief and activism. “It was navigating that seismic shift in my life, and also my need for emotional recalibration after that deeply immersive journey, that made me think: ‘Am I ready to start making Till?’” she says. 

When she met with producers, she came armed with a series of demands to which she didn’t think they would agree. She needed to write the screenplay, and do so in a way that foregrounded Mamie, played by Danielle Deadwyler. She refused to show “physical violence inflicted upon Black bodies”. And she wanted to “begin and end the story with joy”. Her requests were met, and what she made is a work that is devastating and instructive in the precise way it tackles one of the most horrific events in American history.

The act of witnessing is crucial to the story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who was murdered in 1955 in Mississippi after interacting with a white woman in a grocery store. Mamie demanded that her son’s body be shipped back to his hometown of Chicago and that the press and the public see the atrocities inflicted on it. In the sequence where Mamie sees Emmett’s corpse for the first time, Chukwu shields it behind a table in the morgue while Mamie takes it in before the camera pans up, revealing what she is looking at. “It’s honouring that moment that she has,” Chukwu says, adding, “I made sure that scene is humanising Emmett’s body and not objectifying it. We take our time and see Emmett’s body as Mamie sees it.”

Depicting his mother is, after all, the reason Chuwku wanted to tell this powerful story. “What drew me to Till was the real human negotiations Mamie had to make, the intention behind her strategies and decision making, the complexities of being a 33-year-old Black woman and a middle-class Black woman and the layers to her community and layers to her world,” she says. “Who is this person who is so often not centred in this story?” It’s that curiosity that has driven the filmmaker to present the inner workings of death row and introduce a vital activist to a new generation in a way that felt real. 

Visiting the locations where the events took place and speaking with people who knew Mamie only deepened Chukwu’s calling. “It takes these giants off the historical pedestal, reminding me that these are actual human beings,” she says. “It made me that much more intentional about humanising everyone.”
Till is in US theatres now and will be released worldwide from January 2023

Esther Zuckerman is an entertainment journalist whose work has been published by Thrillist, Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair and Refinery29

Exterior of Wellspring Manor And Spa
Wellspring Manor And Spa

This One Thing... Wellspring Manor and Spa

As travel lovers, Lisa Brown Alexander and her husband Kevin Alexander traversed the world, and they found that they, as Black people, were not reflected in the experience of luxury travel. The food, the music, and the energy of the locations they went to felt distant at best, and sometimes even culturally cold. “We were kind of invisible,” says Brown Alexander, adding, “We realised there were limited offerings for luxury travel destinations that focused on the experiences of people of colour.” This threw up an opportunity and so, in 2018, they launched Wellspring Manor and Spa. Located just outside the Washington DC area, this over-seven-acre estate provides a full-service overnight spa and bed and breakfast that is the perfect intermingling of luxury, relaxation and culture. It’s a place that centres people of colour but is open to everyone. The suites are uniquely appointed ­– the Angelou, for instance, is named after Maya Angelou and the Chavez is named in honour of Mexican-American Cesar Chavez who fought for the rights of Latino workers in the US. The cuisine offered ranges from Southern comfort food – think shrimp, grits and waffles – to Caribbean-influenced delights. Wellspring is also famed for its art; there is a gallery on-site featuring a rotation of Black artists from around the world. It is there for all to enjoy but also serves as a statement around the issue of underrepresentation. “If we could put up three or four more art galleries, we still [wouldn’t] have the space to [show] the talent that exists in artists of colour who are otherwise unseen,” says Brown Alexander. Hence the couple has made it their mission to ensure that when people of colour enter Wellspring in search of rest, they never feel invisible.

Shayna Conde is a food, wine, travel, and lifestyle writer based in the New York City area. Her work can be found in Departures, Allure, FOOD52, Well+Good, USA Today and more. She also runs a Substack called Heart To Arts that focuses on highlighting Black-owned businesses and decolonising the wellness industry

Illustrated portrait of Greta Gerwig
Spiros Halaris, 2022 ©

Greta Gerwig’s Sacramento Must-Dos

In the latest episode of Dua Lipa: At Your Service – out this Friday, 25 November – the director, screenwriter and actor shares the spots to see, for any new visitor to her hometown of Sacramento. 

  1. Tres Hermanas – my favourite [place to eat] is this Mexican restaurant – it’s just delicious.
  2. Crocker Art Museum – there is a really nice collection of beautiful paintings there, and it’s got a lot of Californian art and artists.
  3. The American River Bike Trail – it’s a bike path that goes all along the American River and the Sacramento River and takes you by Old Sacramento, which looks the way it did in the 1800s.
  4. Tower Bridge – once you’re [on the path] you can hang out at Tower Bridge, which was the Brooklyn Bridge of my youth – it was iconic.
  5. Farmers’ markets – there are farmers’ markets every weekend – it’s part of the agricultural valley. There’s great food – it’s California… everything grows! 
  6. Tower Theatre – see a movie here. There was a record store called Tower Records, which started in Sacramento [and was named] because of the theatre. 


Images of welsh poet Casi Wyn
Carys Huws; Llenyddiaeth Cymru, Literature Wales

Casi Wyn: The Poet Keeping The Welsh Language Alive

“There’s a tendency, from the English gaze at least, to see Welsh communities as inaccessible or to perceive Welsh-speaking communities as uninviting because language is something so specific,” says Casi Wyn – singer, co-founder of Welsh zine Codi Pais, and the current Children and Youth Poet Laureate for Wales (Bardd Plant Cymru). However, Wyn and her work are proof that Welsh identity – and the language that defines it – is not confined to one nation but that “you can bring the world to Wales, and Wales to the world and they don’t necessarily have to be separate entities”. 

Having been signed to Roc Nation as a songwriter, Wyn came to appreciate the power of lyricism and her own native language from a new perspective. “Communities are complex but more so if those communities intrinsically identify with traumatic events within a nation’s history, and a language that only a minority of the population speaks. I feel poetry and art can [be used to] resolve some of the ancestral pain that Wales carries.”

The ancestral pain dates back to the 13th century when the last Welsh king, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was conquered by the English king Edward I and the term ‘Prince of Wales’ was created. In the centuries that followed, the Welsh language gradually became less dominant. During the Tudor dynasty, which ruled England and Wales from 1485 to 1603, Wales was absorbed into the English administrative system and lost its own traditions. From that time, there was a slow decline in the publication of Welsh literature (even though, apart from Latin and Greek, the Welsh language has the oldest literature in Europe). By the 19th century, all education in Wales was taught in the English language and, in some schools, children were made to wear a wooden plaque around their necks with the letters WN (Welsh Not) inscribed on it if they spoke Welsh.

Now, Welsh is a language spoken by about 899,500 people, roughly 29.7% of the country’s population. As Bardd Plant Cymru, Wyn’s work consists of travelling around the country introducing children to Welsh-language literature and the expressive power of creative writing, while simultaneously championing the cause of preserving a language that runs the risk of extinction.

This work is a larger lesson about minority languages. Every language is its own philosophy, a set of building blocks its speakers use to construct their understanding of themselves and communicate with the people around them. It is no surprise then that language has always been inextricable from the politics of its place; used in equal measure as a tool of both domination and defiance.

We see this in Wales, where the neighbouring presence of the world’s most linguistically dominant nation has, in Wyn’s words, “given it a fragility that drives Welsh poets and artists to use it as a vehicle of authentic power and defiance”. We see it in Turkey where it was illegal to speak Kurdish until 1991 and where there is still no right to mother-tongue education in schools. We see it in Tibet, where the Chinese government has instituted a number of methods to make Chinese the dominant language in Tibetan schools. The list goes on.

Wyn offers an inspiring example of the work being done within minority communities to ensure native languages not only survive but flourish. “As someone who identifies closely with my Welsh roots, I’ve learned to accept and embrace that I have a different understanding of the world through the lens of Welshness and the vocabulary that I’ve inherited,” says Wyn. “Trying to understand our differences by creating and designing things that are beautiful, that are valuable, that are inclusive, that are celebratory of life in all its complicated strands, is what inspires my work. It’s valuing the smaller things, things that perhaps from an outside perspective seem insignificant – and that at its core, for me at least, is the essence of poetry.”

Mary Cleary, a London-based New Yorker, is the beauty editor at design publication Wallpaper* Magazine

Images of Dua Lipa on the Japanese art island Naoshima

A Creative Paradise: Japan’s Art Islands

Still on my Future Nostalgia tour, 2022 has been full-on, but I feel so lucky to have seen what feels like every corner of the world this year. After my time in Tokyo last month, I got to island-hop Japan’s art islands Naoshima, Inujima and Teshima, and can’t begin to describe the joy I felt, soaking up all the – what some call – ‘arty-pelago’ had to offer. Filled with surreal installations, cutting-edge museums, and architectural excellence, the amount of creativity on display there was immense, and I left feeling so inspired. If you’re ever there, these are the places to hit up.

Dua x

  1. Benesse House Museum – integrating a museum with a hotel, this is an amazing place to stay on Naoshima.
  2. Valley Gallery – designed by Tadao Ando, this Naoshima geometric gem capitalises on its secluded setting and houses Yayoi Kusama’s incredible Narcissus Garden installation.
  3. Chichu Art Museum – literally meaning ‘art museum in the earth’, this Naoshima museum is built underground and is a work of art itself. 
  4. Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin – it is very cool to see the iconic installation in nature on Naoshima’s coast.
  5. Inujima Seirensho Art Museum – incorporating an art gallery into the ruins of a former copper refinery, this museum was built around the idea of ‘using what exists to create what is to be’ – and it’s just epic.
  6. Inujima Art House Project – a collection of galleries that transforms the town into a museum!
  7. Teshima Art Museum – this has the most striking architecture and was designed to be an artwork that interacts with its environment.
  8. Teshima Yokoo House – a collaboration between artist Tadanori Yokoo and architect Yuko Nagayama, they renovated an old private house to create a gallery like no other.


Images from the queer club night Queer House Party
Queer House Party, Maite De Orbe

Queer House Party: The DJ Collective Centring Politics And Accessibility In Queer Club Nights

“It’s wild how we started in a really rundown, overpriced house-share in New Cross [south London] with a grotty kitchen and then, fast forward just over a year, we’re literally playing Wembley [Arena].” This is how Harry Gay, DJ and co-organiser of the collective Queer House Party (QHP), summarises the group’s journey over the past couple of years.

Harry, along with fellow DJs Nik (DJ passer) and Seren (Wacha), and hosts and dancers Taali Akosoa Kwaten and Liv Wynter, set up QHP during the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Fast forward two years and they’ve run private gigs for corporate types halfway across the world, raised tens of thousands of pounds for grassroots community groups through live shows, gone on tour with the pop act Years & Years, performed at multiple festivals (including Latitude, Secret Garden Party and Sziget), and brought joy to the lives of queer people all over the globe.

Known for their eclectic playlists as well as their sense of community, radical politics and accessibility, Queer House Party started out as a fun way to financially support themselves and fellow LGBTQIA+ creatives who were excluded from government pandemic funding in the UK. When over a thousand people ‘attended’ their first livestream event, it was clear to the team they’d struck creative gold. “We started getting messages from people about how much it was helping them,” says Gay. “People were in lockdown with family members who didn’t know about their sexuality or gender identity, and it gave them a space where they could go and be themselves.”

Going on tour with Years & Years was one of the collective’s biggest highlights, not only because they got to play arenas, but because of the connections those stages helped forge with younger queer people. With a fanbase typically too young to attend a club night, the Years & Years tour allowed queer teens to experience a QHP performance they wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend. “We got the most special messages from people [saying], ‘I’ve just seen this, and I’m now going to come out to my mum.’ We had a lot of emotional moments,” says Akosoa Kwaten.

In August alone, QHP played at 17 live events – with little sleep in between. This autumn, they are resetting and planning their next move. “There are a lot of queer parties that just grow and they lose their roots,” explains Gay, “so it’s really important to us that we keep our core values, centre things [such as] accessibility, our politics, and remember where the party actually came from.”
Find Queer House Party on Instagram and Twitter

Molly Lipson is a freelance writer and organiser from the UK

Image of Michelle Obama's book The Light We Carry

This One Thing... The Light We Carry By Michelle Obama

The book we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. The Light We Carry, the follow-up to the former US First Lady’s memoir (Becoming), opens a candid and compassionate conversation about life’s challenges, exploring the big questions many of us are grappling with right now: How do we find power and community in the face of our differences? How can we build lasting and fulfilling relationships? And what can we do to cope when it all feels too much? With her unfaltering wit and wisdom, Obama poses strategies we can all adopt to help us navigate change, find new paths to progress, and remain balanced in flux, offering much-needed hope and light in these uncertain times.

Samantha de Haas is acting managing editor and chief copy editor at Service95

Illustrated portrait of Mo Farah
Spiros Halaris, 2022 ©

Mo Farah’s Top Organisations Supporting Survivors Of Human Trafficking

In this week’s episode of Dua Lipa: At Your Service – out tomorrow, Friday 18 November – Dua is joined by British sporting legend Mo Farah. A four-time Olympic gold medallist for the 5,000 metres and the 10,000 metres, Farah is the most successful male track distance runner ever. Earlier this year in the BBC documentary The Real Mo Farah, he revealed he was trafficked to the UK as a child. He shares with Service95 the organisations helping those who have endured the same fate.

  1. Human Trafficking Foundation – makes changes at the government level.
  2. Unseen – provides support and runs a helpline for survivors in the UK.
  3. Barnardo’s – helps trafficked children in the UK.
  4. Hope for Justice – a global charity helping survivors of human trafficking.


Images of bookstores in Malaysia
Pelita Dhihin Bookstore; Tokosue; Riwayat; Moontree House; Balai Buku Raya

How The Pandemic Made Malaysia A Nation Of Bookstore Lovers

When a 2020 nationwide lockdown forced businesses in Malaysia to close physical storefronts, the fate of independently owned bookstores seemed to hang dangerously in the balance. 

Prior to the pandemic, a 2019 study found that Malaysians typically only read two books a year on average. But something fascinating happened to Malaysians while they were forced into home isolation: they started to read more. According to the National Library of Malaysia, the borrowing of digital reading materials doubled from 2019 to 2020.

Bookstores that were able to move online saw a resurgence in sales. Pelita Dhihin Bookstore, a Petaling Jaya-based bookstore specialising in local and international Islamic literature and philosophy, saw an increase of 30% in sales in 2020 compared to 2019. 

It is amid this promising rise in demand that some bricks-and-mortar bookstores have been able to keep their doors open, while new players have been encouraged to open storefronts. Tokosue started as an online store on Shopee (a leading online shopping platform in Southeast Asia) over the pandemic and did so well that founder Sue Ahmad was encouraged to pursue her dream of starting a physical bookstore. Now located in Wisma Central shopping centre, Tokosue focuses on self-published books and DIY zines, and runs small music gigs, art events and readings. 

Riwayat Bookstore, which also opened over the pandemic, is housed in a pre-war building in Kuala Lumpur’s downtown. Founded by a duo of book collectors, Riwayat primarily highlights rare, used, and vintage books, with a focus on Malaysian and South-East Asian history, culture, and politics.

Bookstores are also surviving because they’re often also community hubs that build a following around particular interests, languages, genres, political leanings, or identities. Moontree House, a small bookshop tucked away on the outskirts of the touristic hub of Central Market, for example, is home to Chinese-language books on feminism, as well as a tiny cafe. A small poster underneath the shop’s sign features an illustration of a woman in a cheongsam (a Chinese dress), and fittingly reads ‘DRINK COFFEE N’ SMASH PATRIARCHY’. 

Balai Buku Raya, located in the Zhongshan Building (a KL-based artist collective), has a loyal following of customers drawn to its collection of rare and out-of-print books and magazines in both Malay and English. Inside the one-room bookstore, antique books spill from the shelves and are stacked on floors and tables. 

To find Kuala Lumpur’s most interesting bookstores, you’ll have to dig underneath the surface. That means turning away from large malls such as KLCC and Pavilion and adventuring to find niche and humble bookstores hidden in off-road shop lots and artist hubs. You might not always find the book you’re looking for, but the books you do find will almost certainly surprise and delight you.

Lily Jamaludin is a Malaysian writer, poet, and NGO worker

Dua Lipa in Tokyo wearing a black leather outfit

My Time In Tokyo

Last month, I had the pleasure of spending some time in Tokyo again, a city where the energy is almost palpable. It’s like nowhere else I’ve been, and I’m fascinated by its merging of old and new, tradition and technology. I was lucky enough to take a deep dive into this mind-blowing city on my latest visit and I’m already trying to find reasons to go back. Below are the places I recommend you seek out.

Dua x

  1. Narukiyo Izakaya – a no-menu dinner place that I am obsessed with; great food, a really fun vibe and the owner seems to have an obsession with having phallic objects all around.
  2. Mori Art Museum – such a cool museum with amazing exhibitions. (When I was there, I went to Listen To The Sound Of The Earth Turning, which made me rethink who we are as people and the state the world is in right now.) 
  3. Sushi Yuu – this is my absolute favourite sushi spot.
  4. Studio Ghibli Museum – if you’re a fan of Ghibli anime then this is a must-see – it’s so fun to dive into this creative world (and the Ghibli theme park opened earlier this month).
  5. Amore Vintage – the best collection of vintage designer bags and accessories, and the occasional apparel. I try not to shop and save up to go here when I’m in Tokyo – it’s worth the wait.


Portrait of author and activist Soma Sora, and the cover of her book, Everyone's Invited

The Activist Fighting To Eliminate Rape Culture In Schools

“There was a rape culture that existed where sexual violence was normalised and swept under the carpet. I just felt I had to do something about this,” says activist Soma Sara. That something is Everyone’s Invited. The online platform, founded in 2020 by the then 22-year-old, was set up as a safe space where young people, still at school or university, can share their experiences anonymously. “It all started from having conversations with friends during lockdown,” explains Sara, “and just realising how many of us had been victims of harassment, abuse and violence.”

As more accounts of sexual violence within UK-based educational establishments were shared, the platform went viral; well-respected universities such as Warwick and Exeter were among those with testimonies piling up against them, attracting the attention of the UK media. Undoubtedly, her work stirred uncomfortable but important conversations.

Concerns have been raised that the site could unfairly implicate individual boys without the right to reply and that schools can be singled out without the means to investigate anonymous claims. There’s even a suggestion that the site can negatively impact communications between boys and girls, with some boys afraid that their interactions with girls could inadvertently be stigmatised as predatory. However, Sara argues, “We have to have empathy for both sides and understand different people’s experiences.” She believes that for real change to occur, this understanding must include everyone but at times this message has been lost. Everyone’s Invited, she explains, is not about causing a war between genders. “I really wanted to interrogate and grapple with this culture and get to the root causes and, in doing so, hopefully find some solutions.” 

Two years on, Sara “needed to continue the work that needed to be done”. Hence, early this autumn, the recent graduate and activist released her debut book, Everyone’s InvitedTouching on subjects that range from toxic masculinity and female beauty standards to the problems plaguing the porn industry, and naïve parents, Sara’s essays leave no stone unturned when it comes to breaking down the patriarchal structure that, in her eyes, has created a ‘rape culture’ among young people – a phrase that specifically refers to the derogatory ways that boys speak about girls; the objectification, slut-shaming and casual jokes that constitute sexual harassment. 

The topic of rape culture was always going to be controversial and Sara recognises the extreme challenges that come with being one of the de facto faces of the movement. “It is psychologically exhausting to be in this kind of work; it can be incredibly tiring and emotional. Also, when you are being attacked, it comes from an incredibly personal place – most often from mothers of boys. It can be hard as you feel very exposed.” 

Documentaries such as 2015’s The Hunting Ground, an exposé of sexual assault crimes on US college campuses and the cover-ups made by colleges, explicitly show this is not solely a UK-based issue. The availability of pornography, the influence of hyper-misogynistic figures such as Andrew Tate and the laissez-faire attitude taken towards the sex-ed curriculum all, arguably, contribute to a culture that promotes violence within intimacy. This is why, in 2022, Everyone’s Invited launched an educational programme to help schools tackle rape culture. From staff training to workshops on how to be an active upstander, Soma Sara and her team are devoted to creating a world where, ultimately, Everyone’s Invited has a community of zero.

Pia Brynteson is editorial assistant at Service95

Jewellery pieces from Marco Panconesi
Thomas Cristiani, Marco Panconesi

This One Thing... Panconesi

Marco Panconesi planned to be an archaeologist before pivoting to fashion design, and it is the melding of those two disciplines – one dedicated to rediscovering the past, the other focused on pre-empting the future – that shapes his jewellery brand Panconesi’s idiosyncratic aesthetic; creations that look like artefacts that once belonged to an alien queen. 

The brand’s best pieces are the ones that most fully embrace their sci-fi quirkiness, such as the Double Kilter earrings that can be worn as elegant hanging hoops or cuffed to orbit around the ear, or the Vacanza necklace with its misshapen two-toned pearls that look like psychedelic raindrops suspended along the neckline. The brand’s recent launch – in collaboration with south-London fashion label KNWLS – includes the Galax ring, with stones that float off the body like a constellation of gemstones.

The prices, however – at least relative to other jewellery lines – are not stratospheric. A chunky ear cuff can be purchased for €108 and if that’s too steep, the delightful Encyclopaedia Posters depicting rainbow gems start at a more accessible €33 – and are the perfect jewels to adorn your walls. 

Mary Cleary, a London-based New Yorker, is the beauty editor at design publication Wallpaper* Magazine

Illustrated portrait of Dita Von Teese
Spiros Halaris, 2022 ©

Dita Von Teese’s Best Burlesque Dancers Of All Time

The American burlesque dancer, model and businesswoman shares the women that came before and inspired her love of performing on stage. 

  1. Gypsy Rose Lee – for people who have never heard of her, watch the film Gypsy with Natalie Wood. Although I would suggest if you were more interested in knowing the real story, read a book about her. 
  2. Sally Rand – another amazing woman who has toured her whole life; doing her feather fan dance made her famous around the world. 
  3. Lili St Cyr – she was more a ’50s performer on the later end of the supper club scene – you can see lots of great videos of her performing. She was just so elegant and beautiful, although she was a troubled person later in life. 
  4. Catherine D’lish – she’s taught me everything I know and is the person who coaches me. She also creates the most lavish costumes, including the beautiful Swarovski crystal one I wore in Don’t Worry Darling
  5. Dirty Martini – when I go on tour, she is the first person I check to see is available. Dirty Martini brings the house down all over the world. She is an incredible tassel twirler and, for me, the best burlesque performer that you can see today – just incredible!  


Images of the Indian restaurant Dhamaka in New York
Paul McDonough, Will Ellis

“Unapologetically Authentic Indian”: The Restaurateur Changing The US Food Scene

The hardest table to get in New York City might just be inside a food hall next to a Regal Cinemas. There is no tried or true way to get a table at Dhamaka, the restaurant that serves “provincial Indian cuisine” inside Essex Market. But if you can get in, you will discover combinations of flavour (and levels of heat) that many would never have encountered before; a spicy biryani with a plethora of layers, a cocktail built around betel leaves and, for the brave, goat testicles. Dhamaka, needless to say, is a game-changing addition to New York’s restaurant scene.

Chintan Pandya, the award-winning chef behind Dhamaka, and his co-founder Roni Mazumdar started their restaurant group Unapologetic Foods because they wanted to serve “unapologetically authentic Indian”. The ethos is just as applicable to the unapologetic scale of Pandya’s goals. “My ambition has always been to push the needle forward for Indian food,” he says.

“I want to make Indian food a mainstream cuisine in America,” Pandya continues. He cites Italian and French as so-called “mainstream cuisines,” comparing them to the relatively underdeveloped place of Indian food in the US. There’s also, he notes, enduring racism in the food industry (and the real estate industry that runs beneath it). “Even today, there are landlords that don’t want Indian restaurants in their spot,” Pandya says, revealing how over the course of his career, landlords have upcharged him and revoked leases.

For the past few years, Unapologetic Foods has been transforming the place of Indian food by blowing up the New York dining scene with its blitz of new restaurants. Of course, there are the dine-in spots such as Dhamaka and Semma, the South Indian restaurant run by Pandya’s colleague Vijay Kumar that just landed in The New York Times Best American Restaurants. But Pandya is also breaking into fast casual and delivery with Kebabwala (a top-notch kebab spot in a city where they’re hard to come by) and Rowdy Rooster, a tiny joint in the East Village where you can grab an insanely spicy chicken sandwich with a mango lassi and some eggplant bites on your way home from work. “People laugh at us [and say], ‘You have these successful restaurants, why are you opening up a small fried-chicken kiosk thing?’ And I just say, ‘We love it! We love fried chicken,’” says Pandya. And if running multiple award-winning restaurants (including Masalawala & Sons, a brand-new, already-packed Park Slope smash hit) and launching a fast-casual food empire wasn’t enough, Unapologetic Foods is also working on ‘aerobanquets’ – a dining experience in the metaverse mediated by virtual-reality headsets. (On the day I spoke to him, Pandya squeezed me in between kitchen tests and meetings with Facebook.)

This is all to say that Pandya is doing a lot, and fast. True to the name of his brand, though, he’s not sorry about it. If anyone really can change the face of Indian cuisine in America, it’s him.

Colin Groundwater is a freelance journalist based in London and New York whose work has appeared in GQ and Vanity Fair

Images of book covers featured in Dua Lipa's autumn book recommendations

The Booker Prize And My Lifelong Love Of Reading

I recently had the pleasure of giving the keynote speech at the Booker Prize ceremony in London, which celebrates true loves of mine: reading, writing, and the authors who bring these incredible stories to life. Though you’ve heard from me on our At Your Service podcast, and even in this very letter, about how important books are to me, I can’t emphasise enough the comfort, warmth, and joy that reading brings me. As I write this, I’m about to embark on the final leg of my Future Nostalgia tour in Australia and New Zealand and, as always, I’m bringing along some books to keep me company. Here’s what I’ll be reading…

Dua x

  1. Seven Days In June by Tia Williams
  2. The Beekeeper Of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
  3. Fates And Furies by Lauren Groff
  4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy 
  5. Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart


A self-portrait and image of Joy Labinjo
Courtesy of Joy Labinjo, Tiwani Contemporary; Deniz Guzel; Lucy Jones

The Way I Work... Joy Labinjo

The acclaimed artist speaks to journalist Marie-Claire Chappet about everything in her working life, from her studio soundtrack to her daily inspirations 

London-born, of Nigerian heritage, 28-year-old Joy Labinjo is one of the most celebrated rising stars on the British art scene. Her often-large-scale paintings with abstract influences and use of bold colours overflow with storytelling, frequently using family photographs as source material, foregrounding narratives around Blackness and identity, power, and community. She has exhibited widely, from London to Lagos. Since November 2021, her first ever large-scale public art piece 5 More Minutes – portraying an Afro-Caribbean hair salon – has been on display at Brixton Underground station in London.

She tells Service95 what her working day is made of…

On her routine… I always wake up at 5.45am and go to the gym. That sounds early but I need it to be because I dilly-dally so much! I have a coffee in bed, leave an hour for the workout, have a slow breakfast, and don’t get to my studio in north London until 8am. On a busy day, I tend to leave at 8pm, but I work in ebbs and flows. When I was at university, the artist Dexter Dalwood came to speak to my class and he said, “put the weird hours in”. That’s always stayed with me. The morning and evening are when I am the most productive but if I’m really feeling it, I will stay late for those ‘weird hours’.

Clockwise, from top left: Gilmore Guys podcast artwork; characters from Gilmore Girls; Sudan Archives’ Athena album cover; Sault’s Little Boy album cover; Portico Quartet’s Prickly Pear album cover, Narciso Rodriguez’s For Her

On listening habits… I always have something playing when I’m working. I have Confessions by Sudan Archives, Prickly Pear by Portico Quartet and Wildfires and Little Boy by Sault on repeat, which almost feels like meditation. Those ones have stuck over the past few years. I can’t quite describe why… it’s just a feeling. I also sometimes listen to podcasts. My favourite is Gilmore Guys, a hilarious one about Gilmore Girls, which I love. I don’t get a lot of work done when I put that on!

On finding inspiration everywhere… I think creative people are like sponges who get inspired by so much. I’ve found titles for my paintings in the comments section on Instagram. I resolved an issue with an artwork when I saw a clown in an episode of Gilmore Girls… I find stuff in the weirdest places.

On fashion and beauty… I wear loose T-shirts and men’s cargo trousers every day in the studio. I like them because they’ve got lots of pockets to hold my brushes, and as I like to wipe the paint on my legs, with those trousers it doesn’t go through to my skin. When I’m not painting, I like a tailored silhouette; I love Cos, &Other Stories and Ganni. I like how fashion can help you feel like a different person each time you change your look. What I don’t change is my signature scent: Narciso Rodriguez’s For Her.

From left: Mauritius; Petit Palais, Paris; Centre Pompidou, Paris

On travel… I have made a vow to travel more. In 2020, I was lucky enough to be working in Athens for six weeks. I had friends visit and stay with me and we would hop off to the islands. I would paint all day and have dinner with them late at night. It made me realise I want to live like that more. It was such a magical time. Next up, I am going to Mauritius, which I am so excited about, and Paris, where I haven’t been since I was a teenager. I can’t wait to go to all the galleries. 

A Guilty Conscious Need No Accuser, 2022, Joy Labinjo, Tiwani Contemporary; A Fashionable Marriage, 1986, Lubaina Himid

On fellow creatives… I admire any artist who has had a long career, such as Alice NeelLubaina Himid and Claudette Johnson. To keep working for over 40 years and still have something to say… I wish for a career like that! I have two Claudette Johnson prints that are my prized possessions. I have never put them up, but I just bought a house and am so excited to finally hang them. 

The Modern House

On her fascination with houses… I love @themodernhouse on Instagram and have always been obsessed with houses. If I wasn’t an artist, I would want to be an estate agent. You get to look at people’s houses all day! 

Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar

Images of locations around the world identified using the locations app What3words

This One Thing... What3words

The latest app to revolutionise our lives? What3words. Dividing the world (yes, the whole world) into three-metre squares and giving each square a unique three-word ‘address’, this innovative app is the easiest way to find and share exact locations. No more traipsing around festivals looking for the umpteenth food truck as a meeting spot, just share your three words and your friends can find you. Functional day-to-day for deliveries or if your car breaks down, and potentially lifesaving in an emergency, say, if you have an accident on a country walk, we don’t know how we managed without it.

Samantha de Haas is acting managing editor and chief copy editor at Service95

Illustrated portrait of Dan Levy
Spiros Halaris, 2022 ©

Dan Levy’s Los Angeles Eats

The actor, writer, director, comedian, and producer shares his can’t-miss restaurants in LA in the latest episode of Dua Lipa: At Your Service – out tomorrow, Friday 4 November.

  1. Little Dom’s – this place does the greatest blueberry ricotta pancakes on the planet. 
  2. Bulan – a vegetarian Thai restaurant, they do a vegan buffalo wing that is extraordinary.  
  3. Pizzeria Sei – a new pizzeria I haven’t tried yet, but I really want to. 
  4. Tacos y Birria La Unica – this food truck does mind-blowing tacos. 
  5. Konbi – head here for an egg salad sandwich that is out of this world.  


Images of the Kosovo Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale created by artist Jakup Ferri
Jakup Ferri, Leonit Ibrahimi

The Exhibition At Venice Biennale Revelling In The Joy Of The Everyday

Representing the Republic of Kosovo at the 59th Venice Biennale, Jakup Ferri’s The Monumentality Of The Everyday is a cheerful feast for the imagination. It features large-scale paintings, embroideries and hand-woven rugs with geometric designs showcasing a playful, whimsical, and somewhat surrealist take on ‘the everyday’. Punchy coloured canvases teeming with a hodgepodge of characters – acrobats, anthropomorphic animals, children, and musicians – are reminiscent of children’s drawings and the works draw from both urban life and folk tradition, reflecting Ferri’s long-standing affinity for so-called ‘outsider’ (produced by untrained artists) and vernacular art. 

The design of the pavilion, mimicking the rounded interior of a submarine, encourages casual, informal engagement with the works. Viewers are asked to remove their shoes before entering and have taken to lying down on the carpets, hands behind their heads with elbows flared out as if taking in the sights from their own living room. In this celebration of the everyday, the little tasks built into our quotidian routines – trivialities such as brushing your teeth, getting dressed, vacuuming, hanging clothes out to dry, watching television, listening to music, and riding a bike – are magnified and amplified into vivid moments of levity and joy. 

In one of the most memorable paintings of the exhibition, a family stands beneath the sun and clouds, catching streams of raindrops in their pails. A little girl stands off to the side, with a life-size glass that is nearly full, catching drops of sunshine, reminding us not to forget the light peeking through the clouds.
The Monumentality Of The Everyday is at Venice Biennale until 27 November

Suzana Vuljevic is a historian, literary translator, and writer. She holds a PhD in history and comparative literature from Columbia University. Her essays and translations have been published in AGNI, Eurozine, Exchanges and more

Images of memorial service, tributes and Brandon Wolf's speech in honour of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando
Getty Images, Alamy

The Power Of Difficult Conversations

I’m so lucky to have been joined on our At Your Service podcast by such awe-inspiring and gracious guests so far, and tomorrow’s episode – with LGBTQIA+ activist and Orlando, Florida-based gun-safety advocate Brandon Wolf – is no exception. Though you may not know Brandon’s name, some of his story is likely to be familiar: a survivor of the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016 – 49 people were killed, including some of Brandon’s friends – he has spent the years since processing and channelling his grief into affecting change. It was an honour to speak with him about that night, how he is pushing for gun control in America, and how his life has changed in the past six years.

Brandon has given me so much to think about, I hope you take away as much as I did from our conversation ­– and don’t miss the activists he invites you to follow in his list below. 

Dua x


Promotional image for KPOP the musical featuring the cast and performers
Peter Ash Lee

The New Musical Offering A Piercing Look Into K-Pop

As a genre, K-pop – the South Korean export known for varied musical styles, high-concept performances, and chart-dominating groups – has stormed nearly every corner of the world, but now it’s poised to bow on an entirely new stage.

Earlier this month, the Broadway musical KPOP arrived at New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre, giving attendees a piercing new look inside the musical phenomenon – with an actual K-pop star in the leading role.

When KPOP was last performed in New York in 2017, it took the form of an immersive Off-Broadway experience. It also probed the question: why hadn’t K-pop yet crossed over to the US? At the time, BTS was just beginning its American breakthrough. Now, in 2022, that crossover has happened – and then some – meaning the musical’s focus has not only evolved to fit its new venue (audience members will stay seated this time around) but also the moment it’s arriving in, to say nothing of the fanbase that will greet it.

“Now [it’s] really exploring the specific, emotional journey a K-pop star has to go through,” explains composer Helen Park, who co-wrote the show’s music.

KPOP takes place during a one-night-only concert taping, during which a fictional star – played by Luna, who began her career as part of the pioneering K-pop girl group f(x) – walks off stage. Co-creator Jason Kim says he wanted to create a musical in the style of backstage, behind-the-curtain stories such as Gypsy. That dissection of identity and ambition is at KPOP’s core, but the musical also delivers the joy and energy of its concert framing, with the show’s boy band, girl group and Luna’s character all getting moments to shine.

Park wanted the music for the show to truly honour K-pop, which meant a lot of research into what makes the genre tick, with lyrics in both Korean and English. But while the musical deals with those universal, human emotions, it also contends with the unique rigours of K-pop stardom, such as the intensive training and pressures put on the genre’s performers. “There’s no way that we could represent all of the industry – the best thing we could do was to tell as specific a story as possible,” Kim explains. “Our goal isn’t to really expose the industry, but to track the psychology of a world-class performer going through this giant system.”

As a K-pop star herself, Kim says of Luna, “she almost doesn’t have to embody anything because she is that person. It lends a level of truth to the performance that is astounding to see.”

“At a time when K-pop is beloved around the world, it’s such an honour to be in New York on Broadway as a K-pop artist and musical actor,” adds Luna. “Working on this musical has opened up so many possibilities for me in terms of how I want to develop and grow as a K-pop singer.”

The “exuberant and celebratory show,” as Kim describes it, also marks an important and exciting step towards more representation of Asian stories and storytellers on Broadway. “We’re changing what Broadway looks like,” Park notes, adding, “we’re really trying to build something that hasn’t existed before, and that takes a lot of work and attention to this genre of K-pop, but also how a Broadway story is told.” 

Kim thinks of a young Asian girl he saw watching in awe on the closing night of their Off-Broadway production five years ago: “The show is really for everybody, but especially for somebody like her. She’s who I’m thinking of. She’s my North Star.”

Jessica Derschowitz is an entertainment editor and writer based in New York whose work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, Variety, Bustle and more

Images of inspiration boards from Vibo: The Vision Board Book

This One Thing... Vibo Vision Boards

Stuck for inspiration? Here’s an alternative to endless Pinterest scrolling: The Vision Board Book. Created by Irish start-up Vibo, it’s a curation of almost 2,000 beautiful pictures and quotes alongside a guide to making your unique vision board. The act of cutting out and collating images that spark joy is a gloriously tactile way to free your imagination, and the ultimate reset for our digitally overloaded brains. As founder Hannah O’Neill says: ‘‘Most of the time our dreams and ambitions are buried in the back of our minds. The Vision Board Book creates space for us to identify those ambitions and guide the actions needed to achieve them.’’ Grab some scissors and start dreaming – it could change your life.

Katie Teehan is managing editor and chief copy editor at Service95

Illustrated portrait of American gun-reform activist Brandon Wolf
Spiros Halaris, 2022 ©

Brandon Wolf’s LGBTQIA+ Activists To Know

The gun-safety and LGBTQIA+ advocate shares the five activists he would like to spotlight in the latest episode of Dua Lipa: At Your Service – out tomorrow, Friday 28 October. 

  1. Hope Giselle – she is a Black, trans woman I have had the honour of doing an incredible amount of work with. I like that she is tough on people, and not afraid to shake the table and ask the hard questions. 
  2. Blair Imani Ali – a bisexual Muslim woman, Blair uses her social media platforms incredibly to educate people – she has a series called ‘Smarter In Seconds’. 
  3. Will Larkins – a student organiser who goes to school in Orlando, they are one of the faces of the movement to fight back against Don’t Say Gay in the last year. A 17-year-old kid who never had grand dreams of being an activist or an advocate, they’ve stepped up and are an inspiration. 
  4. Olivia Julianna – another young activist, she started a fund to help raise money for abortion services and raised over $2million in response to comments from congressman Matt Gaetz. She’s an incredible inspiration to so many and is not afraid to take on the big dogs in Congress. 
  5. Adri Pérez – currently the organising director at the Texas Freedom Network, they are a trans person at the centre of the work to protect transgender children in Texas – as the governor is threatening to put parents in prison for caring for their trans young person. I am inspired every single day by their passion, strength and resolve.


Portraits of feminist icons from pre-revolutionary Iran by Iranian artist Soheila Sokhanvari

Soheila Sokhanvari: The Iranian Artist Using Her Work As A Political Act

Mahsa Amini was outside a metro station in Tehran one morning in mid-September when she was stopped by Iran’s morality police. She was arrested on charges of improper dress – her hijab was ‘askew’, and she was wearing ‘tight trousers’ – and taken to a nearby police station. Three days later she was dead. Mahsa’s family maintains she was beaten to death in custody. Protests against Mahsa’s demise – and the ongoing treatment of women in the country – have rocked Iran in the aftermath.

“These protests are all about women,” explains Iranian-born artist Soheila Sokhanvari. “Yet, for the first time in the history of Iran, the men have also stood up for the women, shouting ‘we respect our sisters and wives’. The world sees brave young Iranians out in the streets, defying the regime and fighting for freedom hand in hand.”  

It is against this backdrop that Sokhanvari’s new solo exhibition Rebel Rebel opened at the Barbican in London. Sokhanvari’s artwork is known for mourning the passing of life before Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the decimation of women’s rights in the country ever since. Pre-revolutionary Iran was modern. Progressive. Cool, even. The revolution changed everything. Fundamentalism took hold, driven by a patriarchal regime that persists today. Her new work continues this conversation by exploring the contradictions of Iranian women’s lives between 1925 and the 1979 revolution. “Iranian women have historically been the optical symbol for the ruling party,” she explains. “In 1936, Reza Shah unveiled women. The revolution re-veiled them, as well as banning them from singing and dancing in public. So the liberation of women represents a short window of time when Iranian women created a shining platform for their art and, though that opportunity often objectified them it, weirdly, liberated them as well.”

Steeped in a melancholic but magical realism, Sokhanvari’s exhibition includes miniature portraits of Iranian women. “The title, Rebel Rebel, is a tribute to the courage of female icons who pursued their careers in a culture enamoured with Western style but not its freedoms,” says Sokhanvari. “These women include Roohangiz Saminejad, the first unveiled actress to appear in a Persian-language film, the controversial modernist poet Forough Farrokhzad, and the leading intellectual and writer Simin Dāneshvar. I wanted to speak about these icons of a rapidly dying period and to provide an alternative story of modern Iran: the story of women that fought for their platform only to be silenced by the men.”

Does Sokhanvari consider herself a political artist? “While I don’t explicitly use my work to gain political points, I am sharing the stories and celebrating the lives of these radical women – the historical moment in which they lived, and how their lives changed after the revolution in 1979. That is a political act.”
Rebel Rebel is at The Curve gallery in the Barbican, London until 26 Feb 2023

Simon Coates is an artist, writer and founder of arts and activism platform Tse Tse Fly Middle East

The Lor Girl (portrait of Roohangiz Saminejad), 2022; Let Us Believe In The Beginning Of The Cold Season (portrait of Forough Farrokhzad), 2022; Hey, Baby I’m A Star (portrait of Fouzan), 2019; Tobeh (portrait of Zahra Khoshkam), 2020; Rebel (portrait of Zinat Moadab), 2021. All works © Soheila Sokhanvari, and courtesy of the artist and Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

Illustration of women protesting in Iran

All Eyes On Iran

Following the death of Mahsa Amini, the protests in Iran have opened the eyes of the world – myself included – to the injustices women in Iran face at the hands of the morality police. In today’s powerful long read, Iranian author and journalist Kamin Mohammadi gives us a deeper insight into the protests – past and present – as the Iranian people fight against a culture that has been imposed on them. As Kamin so brilliantly puts it, “the point is the right to choose... for simple human rights that the rest of us enjoy without thinking twice”. Please take the time to read her words and share Mahsa’s story wherever you can, using the hashtag #MahsaAmini, so that it’s heard around the world. 

Dua x


Image of protest poster featuring former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani who was in power from 2013 to 2021

“The Women Of Iran Have Been Demanding Freedom Since 1979”: Iranian Writer Kamin Mohammadi Explains Why The Latest Protests Are Different

The video shows a young man sitting in his room singing poignant words into a mic: ‘For being able to dance in public. For the fear of kissing a lover on the street. For my sister, for your sister, for our sisters…’

This is Shervin Hajipour, an Iranian singer with two million followers on Instagram, and this is the protest song that broke the internet with 40 million views. And the lyrics that have been making people cry the world over are actual Tweets from Iranians stating why they are protesting. That’s why this song landed Hajipour in jail in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The video was deleted from his social media and his phone went silent until he was released on bail a week or so later. However, in spite of being charged with ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ and ‘instigating violence’, having his passport confiscated and being likely forced to put up an Instagram story in which he distanced himself from the song, Hajipour’s song is still being blasted out of every car, every house, every protest, and sung at solidarity protests across the world, from NYC to Milan.

Hajipour joins hundreds of protesters and activists arrested over the past six weeks in Iran. They include at least 35 journalists and many artists, intellectuals and students. Human rights groups estimate those killed at 201 people and those arrested at 15,000 – by the time you read this newsletter, these figures will undoubtedly have grown. 

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, strict Sharia law prohibits women from showing their hair in public, from singing or dancing, and from going out with any man they are not closely related or married to. Since the revolution of 1979, Iranian women have been o