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July 17, 2014

Half of a Yellow Sun's Urbane Outfitter

Costume Designer Jo Katsaras Brings the Vibrant Style of 1960s Nigeria to the Big Screen

“I stumbled across 6,000 1960s pieces that had never been worn and still had their price tags about 18 months before I landed the script,” notes Jo Katsaras, the Emmy-nominated costume designer responsible for the richly-hued wardrobe seen in today’s clip, taken from the film adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun. “I bought the entire lot, trusting that this was not an accidental find.” Presented with a starry leading cast, including a pixie-haired Thandie Newton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, fresh from the success of 12 Years a Slave, Katsaras’s ensembles play an integral role in director Biyi Bandele's story of socio-political turmoil in 1960s Nigeria (first told in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning 2007 novel of the same name). “Thandie’s style developed with her journey, circumstances and life choices,” says the South Africa-based costumier, who brought a discerning eye to a wardrobe as epic in scale as the tale, which ranges from the glamorous echelons of Lagos high society to the bedraggled ravages of civil war. “Creating a character for me is about taking everything into account: social status, personality, location, education, moral fiber and, of course, political and cultural influences,” adds Katsaras, whose other credits include HBO’s The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and Mary and Martha. “A costume shouldn’t look like a costume, it should look like something that is part of someone’s wardrobe.”

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On Collaboration: Solange Knowles x Toyin Odutola

The New York Pair Share Their Mutual Appreciation in the Last of Our Series with EDITION Hotels

“I think the essence of collaboration is being able to lay yourself on the line,” says singer and songwriter Solange Knowles, discussing visual artist Toyin Odutola’s powerful pen-and-marker works that explore identity in the fifth and final part of NOWNESS’ series created in conjunction with EDITION Hotels. “The best collaborations are not knowing what to expect; being completely open-minded and having a sense of vulnerability.” In this episode entitled “Inspiration,” the pair unpack their shared appreciation for one another: Knowles' first correspondence with Odutola was after she looked to track down the artist’s intricate, embossed pieces after a sold-out exhibition at New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery; she went on to commission an artwork which brought the two creatives closer. “I thought how can I address this in a way that's poignant and feel like I can really connect with you?” says Odutola. “So I did this series of myself looking down in this exhausted state, then looking up like I’m going to tackle you, and then down again.” The pair have a mutual muse in Africa, as reflected in Knowles’ most recent EP release, True—co-written with Dev Hynes—which gave rise to the Cape Town-filmed video to “Losing You,” and My Country Has No Name, the third solo show from Odutula, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in Alabama. “It was months and months of creating, so it was really nice to have Solange’s voice in my head as I'm working,” explains Odutola of listening to her friend’s music. “Your message is something that really connected with me; I see myself in your work.”

Each film in the On Collaboration series has been produced in partnership with EDITION Hotels, a new project between Ian Schrager and Marriott Hotels. The London EDITION opened in September 2013.

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Spotlight

Wild Rose

Rose McGowan Dances Au Naturel in the Privacy of Her Californian Hideaway

Rose McGowan moves intuitively around her LA home in this tender portrait by Marlene Marino, shot earlier this year when the photographer captured the American actress for the latest issue of lifestyle title Apartamento. The Brian De Palma and Quentin Tarantino favorite made her name in tongue-in-cheek slasher Scream and supernatural series Charmed, and established her cult status in director Gregg Araki's 1995 comedy thriller The Doom Generation, which saw the pin-up entangled in a sordid ménage à trois. Yet shooting today’s short was a strict case of ‘Two’s company.’ Having met through director Ridley Scott’s Black Dog Films—set to release McGowan’s directorial debut Dawn—the actress and Marino bonded over a shared attitude towards beauty. “Marlene and I were just celebrating femininity,” she says of the visceral short that is soundtracked by Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, who previously scored Shane Meadows’ This Is England. “I think people can rise higher than the consensus of what is considered sexy; our only objective was to do something natural. I didn’t act, I just flowed into it.”

What was it like to see yourself in this completely uninhibited state?

Rose McGowan: It was really transformative: it actually made me cry. It was born out of reclaiming my own ideas of what beauty is. I have realized that I don’t have to be bound by the “rules” here in Los Angeles or Hollywood. It is me, but not an artificial version.

What’s next for you?
RM
: I’m going to direct my first feature film, taking things I borrowed from Marlene. I’m also making a show about art and pornography. It will be custom-made porn but not in the kind of way that you’ve seen or that you think of it.

Is that in production?
RM:
I just shot the teaser for it and in it I’m wearing a strap-on. It’s pretty balls-out, I’m not gonna lie—it’s going to look insane.

What’s your experience of pornography?
RM:
I have never liked it and don’t find it sexually interesting: I don’t like their hair,  makeup, or acting. How am I supposed to get excited by something that I think is cornball and not beautiful?

So what would you consider to be sexy?
RM:
Oh I don’t know, maybe two people in a lovely field on a farm, shot like Terence Malick.

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