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Sister Sister: London's Most Talented Siblings
16 Aug 2016 6:31 AM
National Sister Day took place earlier this month on the 7th of August, but we shouldn't need an excuse to celebrate the special bond between siblings. Yes, there can be rivalry, jealousy, repeated borrowing/theft of personal belongings, and there's the fact that your sister is the one person who knows exactly which buttons to push, but she tirelessly has your back and would come to your rescue faster than the speed of light. Learning and evolving alongside you from both shared and separate experiences, once your foe, your sister – the most faithful confidante – might now be your best friend.
Below, we've picked a selection of inspiring sisters, working in varied fields from literature and fashion, to cookery, music and interiors, to discuss their relationships and how they have supported and motivated each other to achieve individual and collective success.
Who better to shoot and style our five sets of sisters than sibling duo, photographer Rosaline Shahnavaz and stylist Nazanin Shahnavaz, two powerful and ambitious women who fit in perfectly with our diverse group of incredibly talented, compassionate and fiercely focused females.
As children we all used to put on plays together for our parents; we would take it very seriously. I think we still come together in a similar way. I just launched my first directed feature film in UK cinemas and Cami helped me produce it. She is now making her own films which I really admire. Me and Cosi also just collaborated on a photo shoot for Stella McCartney, which was such a fun way to spend the day together.
We're all very close and I'm always inspired by the way Cosi and Cami are fearless about their decisions. I encourage them to follow their darkest desires and be as authentic as they can possibly be in whatever they are doing.
All our wild hearts have something to say in our own different creative ways. I feel that we collaborate without meaning to. I recently illustrated a series of children's books, and am working on a number of other exciting painting commissions. Camilla and I are soon to be working on a new film project about emotions narrated through the female voice. I love all of Greta's poems, especially her new one 'Missing Europe'. It's such a pleasure to read her work and it inspires me when I write my own short stories.
Our philosophy is to do it for ourselves, and my sisters are always making things happen. I look up to them for their honesty towards adulthood. We are all very independent but at the same time, are a strong creative force.
My sisters' spirit and drive is something that continues to inspire me. Even though I am the middle sister, I feel that it becomes less of a defined role as I get older and that sharing similar ideas and bringing them to fruition is something that defines us more. Being able to collaborate comes very naturally to us and is always fun. I've just finished producing and directing a short film that Cosi was featured in and definitely want to continue all working together. I am now working in a production company in Central London.
Nancy and I take turns playing extrovert and introvert, it allows for space for the other to shine and perform. We have quite a special bond as our mother died when Nancy was 7 and I was 10. It glued us in this strange and wonderful relationship, where we have almost given each other permission to act the grown woman and the child intermittently. I'd say I certainly play the damsel to Nancy's efficient no nonsense attitude publicly but it's a different story when it's jut the two of us.
I love watching her navigate the parameters of becoming a young woman. It's a fascinating shift and something she does with more ease than most. To a certain extent I'd say my sister and I have been adults for 17 years, which is both a privilege and a burden. We were given control of ourselves much younger than most, and control as a woman is everything. It's the option to chose who you want to be.
I'd say we work completely differently. I work at 100 miles an hour, whether it's a party, artwork or shoot. The older I get, the more measured I become, which I work against. I want my energy imbued in the result. For me the more time that elapses between concept and creation, the higher the chance of losing the initial incentive. I love risk.
We're both perfectionists. We both want to be the best. Something she certainly keeps quiet! Soz I've outed you! I admire her work ethic. I admire how reliable she is. I admire her patience, I admire her voice, I admire her caring nature, I admire her taste in music, I admire her taste in clothes, I admire her commitment to becoming a respected female musician without compromise. I admire what a hard line feminist she is without realising, I admire that she doesn't suffer fools.
I admire and respect her commitment to constantly winding me up. I admire how chill she is – nothing fazes her. I admire that we went through hell together and she forgives me for all my bollocks. I have the ultimate respect for her. Nancy Andersen, Singer in Babeheaven, 22
Lotte and I have always supported each other. As we had a tough time when we were young we haven't really had time to be dicks to each other. When we were younger, Lotte being the oldest, of course, did boss me around a lot but all siblings have that. As you get older all the teen angst rubbish wears away.
We have the same tastes, because we have come from the same environment. Generally, I can play Lotte a song or tell her about a film, or buy a new item of clothing and we will both be excited about it.
I am more measured in my approach to work, Lotte is like a whirlwind of ideas. It takes me a long time to figure things out, so I move a lot slower whereas Lotte tends to have figured out everything a long time before she has even put her plan into action.
Lotte is really brave and strong but also very sensitive whilst taking no nonsense. I admire her willingness to call out any bullshit.
Bellaray is my baby sister but the six-year-age gap between us doesn’t mean anything. Most people think we’re twins, even laughing and dancing the same. I think we both secretly like it!
I was six years old when she was born. I remember vividly when Dad came back from the hospital to tell me that I had a little baby sister. From then on, she was my real life baby doll. I worshipped her and loved showing her off to my jealous class mates.
As she got older and started having a mind of her own, she instantly took over the role of 'older sister boss’. Having gone through two major operations, Bellaray was always by my side and was very supportive during these difficult times. She had to grow up a little faster than most as she became my ears in things I couldn’t do: picking up the telephone, answering doorbells, and so on.
I love Bellaray’s strong, passionate views of today’s world. When she was nine years old, she wrote to Tony Blair to express her opposed opinions on the Iraq War. His assistant ‘kindly' wrote back a thank you letter which is proudly stuck our fridge door!
I especially love her unique style and crazy, curly locks.
Bellaray is and will always be my muse. I also try to encourage her to use my cameras to take photos. I want to see how she sees the world. I’m in complete awe of Bellaray’s imagination. From a young age she has always been inquisitive and is the storyteller in the family. I have no doubt in her that she has a lot of stories to share with the world. Watch this space! Bellaray Bertrand-Webb, Classics Graduate, 22
Lily is like a motherly figure always looking after to me. When Lily was a teenager we weren't that close but when I became a teenager we became closer and started going out together. As we get older we get closer and closer, it's the best!
My favourite characteristic in Lily is her kindness to everybody, her loyalty to her friends and family and how she finds everything funny.
I most admire my sister because she is one of a kind, she's had to go through many journeys in her life and lives with being deaf yet she is the brightest, nicest spirit I know. This makes me have no time for rude, mean or constantly grumpy people, it's unnecessary!
I'm currently building an online magazine The Rock, which is backed by the Government of Anguilla London Office, focussing on connecting Anguilla with its diaspora and the rest of the world. This allows me to interview people and Lily then takes the photographs. The next person we are meeting is Norwell Roberts, the first black man to join the London Metropolitan Police in 1967 who is from Anguilla! As I enter into the world of journalism our two passions are joining forces so stay tuned, there will be more to come from Lily and Bellaray!
We are very close. There's only a few years age gap so we've always been joint at the hip. My uniform is my playsuit and sneakers. But it is safe to say Lucie is far more casual, she doesn’t own a pair of heels…
Lucie has a great eye and a real energy about her when she's behind the lens. I love working with her as her energy is contagious. Lucie Beecham, 24, Director
I have so much respect for the brand [Charlotte Simone] Charlotte's built up over the years. When we get to work together there's a level of trust between us, we both know each other so well so I can predict if she's going to hate something...
We're devoted parents to Harold our sausage dog, and best friends.
Since we moved to London, we have been best friends. I trust and rely on Rose more that anyone and with our parents living abroad, Rose is my family here. When we were teenagers we bickered and fought constantly because she stole all my clothes, or worse, copied me! I even felt the need to padlock my wardrobe when I left to go travelling but she managed to unscrew the hinges and take what she wanted regardless! Eventually Rose realised she needed to stop doing that for us to get on and it’s been plain sailing and good times ever since. Nobody makes me laugh as much as Rose.
Rose is the most care-free, chilled out, sweet and kind person I know. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff, which is something I sadly do so I think I admire her approach to life the most. She is really calm even though she is a chef [at Spring in Somerset House] and works in a very stressful environment!
I always knew Rose would do something that involved working closely with people and far away from a desk. Rose is amazing with people, she can chat to anyone (and make them laugh). She is a great teacher too, I know that she loves working with her team at Spring, training up the juniors as well as working closely with Skye and learning from her. Rose is absolutely killing it for a chef of her age and I am seriously proud, always bragging about my talented little sis.
I look up to my big sis and am convinced she is the coolest woman on the planet. This has always been the case, although growing up I displayed my love and admiration through punching and hair pulling – I used to be extremely annoying. I borrowed her clothes and left them dirty on my bedroom floor, I told porkies to get her in trouble and I used to pinch and punch to my heart's desire (until suddenly she hit back, it really hurt, and I never hit her again.)
Then one day I realised it was up to me to make our relationship a friendship, so I stopped doing all those things and gradually we started to become best friends. Now I look to her for advice on big decisions I have to make, or problems that may arise. She always has the best advice and is constantly encouraging me to break through my comfort zone and strive for more. I depend on her in so many ways, but mainly she is the best best friend in the world – she knows me inside and out and no matter what happens she is stuck with me!
I'm not sure what she would say about my role, I like to think I help her to see situations for what they are. Soph, has a tendency to overthink a situation and analyse it too deeply. Sometimes I am blown away by the way she evaluates and thinks, it can weigh you down if you worry so much.
She wanted to set up her own company at 25, so she did and she has completely nailed it. If she wants something, she will find a way and she will make sure she has it, and that is part of the reason she is successful and has built such a unique brand. I am not referring to material things, I'm talking about clients, contacts and career moves. As with most successful people, near enough is not good enough for Sophie, she has always been a perfectionist.
When Sophie was seven she had a little book of shoes that she designed, her company was called S.K.A.G (glad that one didn't stick) which is an anagram of her full name. So I thought she would go into fashion for a while, but it soon became clear that she had a good eye for furniture and was always trying to help Mum decorate the house. Her room was also very cool, with homemade lamp shades and headboards and her paintings on the walls. Mine was consistently a bomb site so she was always trying to help me improve and organise it, to no avail. I was too in to bugs and being a tomboy to care about colour schemes and bed linen.
My favourite characteristic of Sophie would have to be that she is eternally kind and thoughtful of others. It does not come naturally to her to make fun of people or say anything hurtful, no matter how horrible that person is being to her. She is rather saint-like in that respect. She honestly does follow the mantra of treat others how you would like to be treated.
Photographed by Rosaline Shahnavaz
; Styling by Nazanin Shahnavaz
; Art Direction by Anna Jay