Excellence Comes In Threes:
Ternion Cover Story
Beautiful things in life come in threes; The Holy Trinity, Primary and Secondary colours, Pyramids. The number three is synonymous with increase, expansion, and growth. In numerology, the number three is described as a number that resonates with creative self-expression, social interaction, and optimism. For our 9th issue based on the theme of Excellence, we decided to present to you three extremely talented and alluring women that have many similar connotations to the number three.
The number three had been described as a designer’s best friend, a number that drives critical thinking in art, fashion, and architecture. In art, the rule of thirds – derived from the golden ratio - elevates composition and helps the attractiveness of what you aim to communicate. The rule gives you a guide for placing focal points and increase its compelling nature. Also, the idea of a Tryptic has relevance in the art world which is a set of three works curated side by side, many fine artists such as Francis Bacon, Rothko, and Andy Warhol have adopted this motif to present their works to the public.
Leah (left), Eva (middle), and Tanatswa (right) are women that are not only picturesque but are craftswomen, linguists, and designers that excel beyond the confines of their beauty. All three of them are exemplary black women that have inspired many to become greater than they already are, in one way or another. ‘What is the meaning of Ternion?’, you may be asking... Ternion simply means a group of three or a trifecta. Derived from Latin etymology, Ternion also has a second meaning of being a section of paper or a book containing 3 double leaves. With this cover story, we aimed to deliver an elegant and powerful depiction of the black woman in both a classical and modernist way.
We had the privilege of speaking to our three cover stars about their personal views on industries such as modelling, fashion and creative writing, as well as tapping into their younger selves and walking the path that led them to the women they are today. Our discussions also seek to tap into their vulnerability as individuals, something that is relatable to most that take the time to consume their points of view. Being women of profile and recognition, we felt the need to tell the stories of each of them that many may not be privy to, finding common ground between them and to our readers.
These ladies are extremely ambitious, creative and inspiring. Many of their goals are dedicated to helping others and improving their quality of life as they continue to flourish in design, creative writing, and fashion for years to come. Our Ternion cover girls are the ones to watch this year as they steadily build empires in their respective fields.
CREATIVE PRODUCERS - Jessica Rushforth & Derrick Odafi
PHOTOGRAPHER - Rhys Frampton
PHOTOGRAPHER ASSISTANT - Danny Walker
VIDEOGRAPHY - John Serunjogi
STYLIST - Lily McMurray
STYLIST ASSISTANT - Gloria Iyare
SET DESIGNER - Rita Ade
SET DESIGNER ASSISTANT - Maryiam Sanyang
MUA - Tara Emily (Tanatswa)
MUA - Mata Marielle (Eva)
MUA - Yolanda Dohr (Leah)
HAIR STYLIST - Amanda Toto (Tanatswa)
HAIR STYLIST - Shemaiah Aimi (Eva)
HAIR STYLIST ASSISTANT. - Osezele llenbs (Eva)
HAIR STYLIST - Toni Malcolm (Leah)
PRODUCTION MANAGER - Teresa Mwangi
RUNNER - Siobhan Martin
Leah (left): Kata Haratym
Eva (center): Nicola Bacchilega
Tanatswa (right): Nicola Bacchilega
“I feel like everyone is just winging it and if anyone says they know exactly what they are doing, they’re lying.”
Leah Alexxanderr-Caine Interview
Hi Leah, Tell us about your background, where is your family from?
My dad is Jamaican, my mum is from Montserrat. And for people that don’t know it's like a really tiny island in the West Indie. The population is like 3000 people. You might have heard of it in geography because there’s a volcano there but that’s it really. I grew up with both my parents, I’ve got two sisters and I literally just moved out. It's the first time I’m living by myself, it's crazy but…
How are you finding that?
I’m getting used to it, first I travel quite a lot so I’m used to not being at home and for modelling at a young age for shoots so I’m used to travelling. I’m not really bothered because my best friend is across the street.
What were you like growing up? Were you very different from your siblings?
I'm the oldest out of the three of us and I’ve got a sister that is 20 and a sister that is 17, so I feel like I opened the doors to everything. I was a little rebellious, I’ve piercings and stuff so now they just get a free ride cause I did it early and my parents can't really say anything. I was the trailblazer for the family. I was shy when I was younger, and now I kind of observe them by myself.
What was the entry point into modelling?
I modelled when I was really young and then I stopped. People always would say to my mum ‘you should get her signed’. Both my parents modelled back in the day as well so they know how the industry worked. When I was 16 I got to an agency and started my proper journey from there. I didn’t really do part time for long, I was in college at the time but once I got signed to my first agency I knew I was leaving.
You made it clear especially on your instagram that you’re ‘Not Just A Pretty Face’, what other things outside of modelling do you do?
So I'm an artist, visual artist, I can't put myself in a box. Because I literally just try anything I want. I usually say I’m a fluid artist, I kind of just try different stuff and see what I want to do this time. So yeah, I'd say multi faceted. I have my homeware line as well but that’s going to expand as well. That's why I made it Lee Estelle Studios and not Lee Estelle Homeware, I knew I wanted to do loads of different things. By this time next year, they'll just be like a bunch of random stuff on the [Web]site that's just like cool for you to have. So yeah, I feel like especially Instagram everyone thinks, ‘Oh yeah, she's just an influencer. Oh, yeah, she's just a model, she doesn't really do anything.’ A lot of models are doing way bigger things than just being a cute face
Top: Noku Noku
Trousers: Song For The Mute
Earrings: Maya Magal, Phiabella
Necklace: Mi Manera, Alighieri
You mentioned creativity was an important part of your family life? Did your parents inspire you in your day to day?
Both my parents are free-spirited open-minded people and kind of just do what they want. In terms of planning stuff, I always have an idea of what I want to do but I don’t keep it strict because you’d be disappointed especially with art work, just let the creativity flow and then you’ll see.
Does that apply to other parts of your life as well?
I think life in general really, because making plans as we can tell...2020 told you by now, they do not work. I mean you can have a vague idea of what you wanna do but the universe is going to do what it wants to do. So, whether you wanna ride that ride or stick to that plan that might be worse off for you in the long run, I feel like everyone is just winging it and if anyone says they know exactly what they are doing, they’re lying.
Being a black woman in this industry, what are some misconceptions about black women whether it's in society or in an industry that like you wish we just go where you want to like this dispel?
I feel like in the industry, it's definitely the whole attitude, ‘She's a bitch’ type thing. It’s just really irritating because my white counterparts can say the exact same thing that I said but no one takes offense, but maybe because I said it with a bit more vim, all of a sudden I’m a bitch. People just speak so freely about black models it’s just insane, like, if Kate Moss was on the shoot no one would say anything but if Naomi Campell was, they would say she’s a bitch or whatever, but why do you think that though?. I've been at shoots before where this guy complained to my agency that I was grumpy and I had a bad attitude etc. but I was literally just chilling and we were having normal conversations the whole day. It’s like you have to be bubbly all the time just not to be seen as a bitch, it's ridiculous.
Another thing is the idea of Black women having to be strong all the time, what is your opinion on that?
That is so tiring, but I feel like it’s getting better now as there is more knowledge out there. On twitter I see things like that all the time. From my mother to my grandma, you see them being strong all the time but it shouldn’t be forced. Even black men as well, everyone should be able to have their times of vulnerability and not feel like they are weak for doing so, I feel like with black people in general people expect us to be strong all the time but you can be vulnerable and have different emotions like anyone else.
What does excellence mean to you?
Excellence just means doing what you want to do, actually asking what you want to do. From idea to actually seeing it come to fruition. That’s what excellence is to me. Not what people might think, all these big goals that you want to do whatever it is, it's like, if you do what you said, that you want to do, then I think that's excellent. In this day and age especially where it's even difficult to get out. But sometimes you don't need so as long as you're pursuing what you want to do, and you actually execute, I think that that's excellent.
“ I’m just writing how I feel, a little therapy session with myself.”
Tanatswa Gumbwa Interview
Tell us about your upbringing – where you grew up. What are your earliest memories of that time, when you think back to when you were growing up?
I didn’t grow up in the UK. I’m Zimbabwean, and I make sure everyone knows that! But my earliest memories? Just being in Zim, because I came to England when I was 5. I always remember growing up with my uncle and my auntie and my cousins; my parents came here [the UK] when I was really young. So, I lived in the city and my sister lived in the village with my nan, so I was already split from my sibling and I lived without my parents so they could pattern things in the UK. It was long but, what can you do? But I’ve always been fly though! My cousin used to tell me I would cry when I wasn’t wearing what I wanted to wear.
Outside of you having your own identity – do you feel like it gave you some character traits?
Yeah, I’m definitely quite resilient., very independent too. I’d always just be my own person. I think [because of] my parents as well. When I came here, my parents made it very prominent ‘you’re Zim, you’re always going to be Zim’.
You've spoken about being surrounded by Zim art, do you feel like that was your first introduction to the art world?
No it wasn’t! It was when I came [to London]. It was weird - when I think about it now that I’m older- the transition from Zim to London. Cause Zim is very chill, everyone’s outside and it’s hot, but I came to London and I realised, everyone’s always in a rush! I remember being a north Londoner when I got first introduced to fashion art and stuff like was TV, watching music videos. Lil’ Wayne – I used to watch all his music videos. I got into Nas quite young. My mum really liked Beyonce, so I got into her quite young. On the route to school, there was a corner shop and I’d always make my mum or my uncle buy me magazines, so that’s where the fashion stuff comes from. That’s how I got introduced to Naomi.
You’re a writer and a model, but what would you say came first?
Fashion came first. Then modelling came along. People don’t know, but I got scouted when I was 14. So we went to do the whole process and my mum and dad said ‘no, wait until you’re 18’. So when I was 18, I was like ‘cool, this is what I’m doing!’
I later got into photography - photography, and videography. Then I went to uni for that, but writing’s always been a thing. I struggled to read and write properly until I was nine, ten years old, but then was I was 11, I got published in a national poetry book, so from then on, I was like,’ yeah, I can do this!’ But I’ve always just written – like in my phone, in notebooks, I’ve always written and read. But when I went to uni, in first year I realised I was taking it seriously and I’ve just been writing properly since then.
Top: T Label
Trousers: Song For The Mute
Necklaces: Phine, Lily Rose London
With your writing, where would you say the topics that you touch on in your poetry come from?
I’d hate to call myself a poet cause I’m not that. You know what I mean? I’m not a poet. I just think that I’m a writer, I’m a creative writer. Right now, me and my girl, we’re writing a script and I also have a book that I’m writing. So I think – no, I know I’m versatile. But with my poetry? I was going through a hard time and I just started writing for therapy and I put it on Instagram. I think this was this year. Then I posted it on Instagram and then I noticed how people could relate. From that and the response I got after I said, ‘I’m gonna write a book’. I’m just writing for myself, I was like ‘okay madting, people can resonate!’, I had no idea [people would like it] because I’m just writing how I feel, a little therapy session with myself.
You speak about your versatility and you’ve spoken about your heritage, so how do you feel your pride in where you’re from manifests itself in your day-to-day life and different aspects of it?
Extremely proud! It’s when on Instagram, Zim girls – they’ll be like 16, 17 years old- will be like ‘I really love you!’. And they’ll be from Zim, they live in Zim! And then my cousin lives in Zim and he’s in the art/skater scene and he’s always telling me ‘you really need to put yourself on the top cause we really need your help!’. I wanna have a fashion uni in Zim. That’s like the end goal for me. It’s because I know there’s a scene there, but it’s not recognised. If God allows me to be that vessel, then so be it. But I wanna put Zim on the map for sure.
That’s why I’m collaborating with loads of Zim designers from the UK; Renzo Limited, this new women’s brand that I can’t talk about yet. Just trying my best really. Can’t win on my own, you know what I mean?
You've previously stated ‘you don’t become a storyteller until you start telling the truth’. What’s is the hardest truth for you to tell?
Just being honest with myself and my journey. Especially with my mental health, growing up being dark skin and hating the fact I was a dark sin girl. Just being honest with myself like, this is what I went through. It wasn’t nice, but it’s made me the person I am today, so talk about it!
You’re also a huge film fan is well. What movie would you recommend?
T: Oh my goodness. Fight Club. Wait, I’ll do a top 5. ‘Fight Club’… Damn… Blood Diamond. Any Quentin Tarantino film for me, any one of them. ‘And, He Took His Skin Off for Me’, that’s a really cool film (laughs). I can’t even remember the director but I think it’s a woman. It’s a short film, I found it going through a VICE Documentary about films – that’s how much of a nerd I am! ‘Paid in Full’ too, but that’s obvious for everyone!
For this cover story, you wanted to portray three models as elegant and powerful beings. What would you say is the most elegant thing about yourself?
Oh my gosh, what an interesting question. I am not an elegant person at all. I’m completely clumsy! I have no idea, I think I’d just say my ability to interact with people. I feel like I can talk to anyone.
“ If you don’t love what you do, you probably won’t see an end result. You have to have passion for your craft.”
Eva Apio Interview
You’ve been modelling from the age of 5, what are your fondest memories from that time?
When I did a shoot with my mom, we were in a fashion show together, it was for my aunt's clothing line.
Your mother was a model also, what advice did she give to you about the craft?
Don’t take every no personally, because you might be someone else's yes and you never know where that will take you.
What were the first indications of your modelling career taking off?
I’d say when I got my first Times Square billboard, I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know it was going to be there. I did a shoot for Real Techniques and I thought it was just going to be a look-book, then my friend called me like, ‘Eva, someone just sent me a video of you in Times Square.’ I was like let me see and they sent me a video and I was like ‘oh my God’.
At New Wave we hold great importance highlighting creative teams as much as we do talent, who are some of the people you would like to mention from throughout your journey?
I’d actually say the people I worked with on the cover, Danika, who shot me, I’ve known her for about four years now - way before I got signed, so I have watched her growth. Matta who did my make-up, I’ve known her since 2018, again I’ve known her from before I was where I am now. It just so happened we worked on the New Wave Magazine cover together.
What has that taught you during your own journey, in terms of just being proactive and doing things for the love of it and building a career out of it?
If you don’t love what you do, you probably won’t see an end result. You have to have passion for your craft or else everyone will see what you are doing as a whole facade.
There has been a lot of talk surrounding the importance of black love and we know that you’ve recently got into a relationship. What does black love mean to you?
I’d say it’s strong, I’d say it’s beautiful having someone truly understand you.
There has been a lot of talk about your upcoming clothing brand, what type of things are you trying to do with the brand, what’s the vision?
I have womenswear, menswear and unisex stuff too. I’m really just making clothes for myself. Because there are days where I dress like a tomboy and there are days where I dress like a girly girl, I know that if I like it people are bound to like it too.
Dress: Ballard Ballard
Cuff: Deborah Blyth
Ring: Tiana Jewel
For our cover shoot, we wanted to shoot you in a powerful yet elegant way, what is the most powerful thing about you?
My personality. Not to toot my own horn, but I feel like when I walk into a room and open my mouth people just start laughing. I’m not bad vibes.
You seem to be more of a style icon of late, you’ve mentioned you love baggy clothes, what’s the baggiest thing in your wardrobe?
My boyfriend’s tracksuit.
If you weren’t a model do you think you would still be in the fashion industry?
No, I wanted to be a physiotherapist. Athletics used to be an important part of my life, I went to a sports academy and used to play netball representing England.
You also DJ now, did anyone teach you or was more do it yourself?
My friend, Damnshaq taught me. I picked it up in three sessions. With DJ’ing once you learn the buttons you pretty much have to figure out the rest.
What’s the first song you want to hear when the nightlife industry is up and running post Covid?
I have a whole list. But definitely Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion - WAP, Bad Boy Timz - Loading and True Love - Wizkid.
Back in July you announced that you were launching the Eva Apio foundation and you recently announced that you will be feeding Ugandan children every Friday. Talk to us about the motivation behind this and how we can get involved to help out.
So I’m from Uganda and I’ve always thought, I don’t want to travel back and have nothing to offer. When I was younger I used to play with street children in Uganda and because God helped me get out of the situation I was once in. I wanted to help children too. We are building a youth centre but because of COVID-19 we had to put that on hold. We still wanted to be proactive despite the circumstances, so my mom found someone who needed help with kids. We went and took them to the zoo and fed them. Most of them aren’t homeless, they just come from not the best homes but we had to stop because of the Ugandan elections. This wasn’t taken from the money we raised on the GoFundMe - that is strictly for the youth centre. In terms of helping, you can still donate to the GoFundMe, as little as £5 will help.
You have so many ventures at the moment from your clothing line to the foundation, how do you balance all of your projects?
I don’t know how I do it myself, I guess I’m able to balance it all because COVID-19 allowed me to reevaluate everything. I was able to focus on the brand and the foundation. Then when the world is back to normal I can start modelling again, but you don’t model every day. And when I was on set I used to sketch my designs. And in terms of the foundation, my parents help me with that - I’m very grateful that I have such supportive parents.
This issue is based on the idea of ‘Excellence’, what is Excellence to you?
I’d say excellence is being able to leave this world and people know me for something. Or me being able to come from a country and change my own story.