Frances, Ona, Frida, Imani and Mikayla by Olivia

@iisfrances, @honey.due, @fridasixta, @thoughtsandkeys and @nectaryear by @spookykookyaunt

GIRLS RUN SHIT

There’s nothing quite like “femme” energy. Of course the definition of that word far exceeds any societal limits that have been placed on it. However, there is no denying that those who are femme identifying have a bond like no other. In my own experience as an artist I have never worked with an all femme identifying team and I decided that had to change. So I got some of the most amazing femme artists I know and these are the results. I felt so much love and acceptance, I felt allowed to be myself in the most comfortable way and it was amazing. I’m really excited about where art is going because I feel like we are totally expanding the narratives and identities that are being represented and that’s so exciting. I think there is something very special about being a femme behind the lens photographing another femme. It’s also so important to create body positive spaces for femmes to feel the comfort and confidence that we deserve to feel. Specifically, with this shoot I wanted to explore the idea of the soft and sensual side of the femme energy without feeding too much into ideas about “radical softness”. For so long I was not very accepting of this side of my femininity because I felt like in order to respected by men I had to be harder. Of course I know now that those feelings are all due to living in a patriarchal society and have since gained liberation from such thought. After talking to multiple femmes I found out that this seemed to be a common experience. After tossing the male gaze aside, I finally feel free to be all things, to be whatever I want and to be free of societal categories. The items they are wearing are all samples from my clothing line Plz Be Careful, which is set to release early February. I channeled so much femme energy into the garments and they were beautifully inhabited by all the models It was such a healing and enriching experience. After the shoot I wanted to ask the models what femme energy meant to them and what it was like working with all femme artists.

My favourite thing about being a girl is the secret language I have with all other girls. The immediate bond I am able to feel with a girl and how we can delve so deep into conversation that I feel like we've known each other for lifetimes. There is something very special and magical about sisterhood. Working with these girls immerses me in the essence of sisterhood because they are open and honest and allow me to express myself without judgement. Female energy is what revives me every time I am feeling bleak or uninspired.

 

-Frances Rich

As a child I was extremely feminine, I loved My Bratz dolls and would play dress up for hours and that childhood is something I hold dear to me now. But during my pre-teen years I rejected the idea of femininity and thought it was a waste of time, It didn't feel like me, until later in high school and when I started college I started to re-embrace and indulge in it fully. " Now I feel empowered by embracing my feminine soft side which is a part of my aesthetic and artwork for the past couple of years now. There are special friends from my life whom I admire for their feminine energy who inspire my feminine energy. Whether it be my best friend Maya Spieske that I've known since childhood who has been by my side no matter what, or my best friends that's I've known since high school whom I had met through Gallery 37 including Mikayla Brown, Janice Taylor and Maria Luisa, or amazing artists that I have the pleasure of knowing through social media and through the School of the Art Institute, including Imani Love, Frida Tarin, Francis Rich, Olivia Engobor who was the creator of this amazing shoot and many others I can list infinitely! Doing this shoot and being surrounded by talented feminine energy was breath taking. My friends inspire me every single day, they motivate me to the core to be my best self everyday and even when I'm not my best self they always reassure me that things will get better eventually. I thank the friends that have been there for me at times when I needed them most, for every breakdown, every rant, every laugh and every piece of advice and guidance. At the end of the day I have no idea who I would be without them!

 

-Ona Sian

Feminine energy has always been a complex idea for me to grasp, from birth till today I have always been surrounded by femme-people. My mother & grandmother were my primary caretakers, so "femininity" was common place for me, even though both figures treated me as and tried to mold me into a respectable young man. Regardless of their conditioning I always gravitated myself to strong femme presences, and my close friends were almost always female-identifying. Today I do not identify as male or female, but believe that I inhabit both genders. However, terms like 'masculine' & 'feminine' hold little power to me because they are dictated by socio-cultural conditioning. Femininity and masculinity are relative across the world and confining them to certain attributes never made sense to me. However, self-identifying women & femmes are some of the strongest people I've ever met, I love my girlfriends and they inspire me every day. Witnessing femme-people come together to create such beautiful and inspiring work, within a country that is built to tear them down, is truly a blessing and I'm grateful every day.

 

-Frida Sixta Tarin

My favorite part about being femme is the magic that's passed down through my matriarchy. There's so much wisdom that I haven't tapped into, it's so exciting to gain access to more and more every day.  My favorite part of working with other femmes is being free of harmful judgment and toxicity that's in masculine dominated spaces! It also just feels good to be surrounded by other beautiful genius femmes, it reminds me what I'm capable of.

 

-Imani Love

Creating spaces to work with femme identified people is so important to me because combat the idea that we should always be in competition with each other. There are so many of us that bring so much to the table creatively, and collaborating lets us bring that to fruition. Working with similarly hungry and ambitious people is what keeps my drive to collaborate alive and continues to activate that urge to keep making.

 

-Mikayla Browm

Creative Direction, styling and photography by Olivia Engobor