Legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin has sadly passed away today in Detroit at 76 years old. Her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn revealed that after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Aretha sadly passed away earlier this morning surrounded by family and friends. The singer was said to have been ‘sick for a long time’ and had been under the watch of hospice workers at her home in Detroit.
According to CNN, her family released a statement which read, ‘In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.’
They continued, ‘We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.’
A source told Entertainment Tonight previously that doctors were ‘managing the process’ and continued, ‘She has been having lucid moments and she is at peace with her journey. She is where she is supposed to be, at home and surrounded by only love.’
Franklin, who is renowned for hits like Respect and Think, was widely regarded as the Queen of Soul with an unforgettable voice. A prominent Civil Rights activist and feminist icon, her songs were quickly adopted by movements as anthems of social change and she eventually sang at the funeral of Martin Luther King. Jr. Over the past several decades, her songs have topped chart after chart and last performed at a charity gala in support of the Elton John Aids Foundation. After that, she announced that she would be retiring to spend time with her family.
The singer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010 and prior to her death, an insider revealed to Entertainment Tonight that she ‘has been sick for a long time but didn’t want to share her pain with the world’. A spokesperson for Franklin also revealed that she prior to her passing, she had been visited by her nephew as well as longtime collaborator and friend Stevie Wonder who she was set to release an album with.
The singer enjoyed major success in her lifetime and came from a musical family, as her father Clarence Franklin, a Baptist preacher, was a gospel singer and pianist. While she had some early difficulties with her initial record label Columbia, she catapulted to fame in the late 1960s and was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005 for ‘capturing the hearts of millions of Americans’. Bush wasn’t the last president that she would impress however, as she would later go onto perform at President Obama’s inauguration and even made him cry during a performance of (You
Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center.
A source told Entertainment Tonight, ‘She’s loved her life and in the last year talked so much about her incredible memories. She has earned the title as the Queen of Soul and that is how she wants to be remembered.’
Aretha was the embodiment of 60s female empowerment. A mother at 12 and Queen of Soul by the time she was 24, she belted out powerful inspirational lyrics about respect, while proudly telling it how it is.
Here are 12 of our favourite Aretha Franklin quotes…
1. ‘Falling out of love is like losing weight. It’s a lot easier putting it on than taking it off.’
2. ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Take care, TCB.’
3. I sing to the realists; people who accept it like it is.’
4. ‘Trying to grow up is hurting, you know you make mistakes. You try to learn from them, and when you don’t, it hurts even more.’
5. ‘Don’t say Aretha is making a comeback, because I’ve never been away!’
6. ‘We say, sisters are doin’ it for themselves. Standin’ on their own two feet and ringin’ on their own bells. We say, sisters are doin’ it for themselves.’
7. ‘I’m a big woman – I need big hair.’
8. ‘Now, occasionally I will still have that quarter pounder because I love fast food, but you have to keep it to a minimum.’
9. ’52 years of recording for other people. I thought at this point, it’s time for you to record for yourself. So that way there wouldn’t be so many spoons in the soup. There would just be one Aretha spoon in the soup.’
10. ‘Who hasn’t had a weight issue? If not the body, certainly the big head!’
11. ‘I’m a red-blooded girl… in love with love.’
12. ‘The man who gets me, is getting one hell of a woman.’
It’s easy to find the one with our guide to the best perfume on the market right now
With millions of perfumes to choose from it can be a daunting, almost impossible, task to find the best perfume for women – let alone the ‘one’ you’ll use as your signature scent.
You can endlessly spray yourself at perfume counters, but it’s more likely to leave you with a headache rather than your ultimate scent. So how do you discover the scent that almost seems like its been made for you?
‘You should always be looking for the notes that resonate with you, and only you’, says fragrance supremo, and founder of the Fragrance Society, Lorna McKay.
‘For instance, if you enjoy the smell of freshly cut flowers, you should look for notes of white flowers. If you prefer something warm, that almost hugs you, try something with amber.’
So before you even start misting fragrances around the room, take time to reflect on the things you enjoy. What have you smelled in the past and loved? What memories resonate with particular aromas?
Once you’ve got that down, then you can spray – but take your time. Don’t spray several fragrances within close distance to each other. Scents have the ability to travel and so will mix together, resulting in an aroma that’s not even close to what you’ll take away when you spray your fragrance on its own. Fragrance combining is a whole different ball game altogether.
Essentially, you have to take your time before heading to a different fragrance counter. But, perfume is all about appreciation. After all, there’s a few surprising facts about perfume and the ingredients contained in them that everyone should know.
Once you think you’ve found the one, spray it on a blotter. If it’s still appealing, spray it on your skin. If it’s still appealing (and not just something that will do), you’ve found the one. It might seem like a long process, but it’s worth it.
And don’t worry about being without your favourite fragrance when you’re off on your travels, these best travel fragrance kits will see you through.
To get you started, we’ve pulled together the best perfume for women on the market right now, along with everything you need to know about them.
An Oscar nomination catapulted Ruth Negga into the A-list, but it’s taking on ‘Hamlet for our times’ that will really test the Irish actress’s mettle. Jude Rogers meets an extraordinary star and an accidental fashion icon
There are fabulous hotels and then there’s the Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc, a breathtaking chateau on its own forested peninsula in Antibes on the French Riviera. American author F Scott Fitzgerald used it as the inspiration for the Hôtel des Etrangers in his 1934 novel Tender Is The Night. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned here. Picasso designed the restaurant menu in 1955.
Fast forward to 2018, and one of Hollywood’s most exciting talents – and newly crowned Louis Vuitton ambassador – the Academy Award-nominated Ruth Negga, is sitting on a window seat in the ground-floor bar, yachts glistening in the bright blue Mediterranean sea behind her.
‘This isn’t too shabby, is it?,’ she says, in a soft Irish accent that makes every word she says bounce with life. Her silent-movie star eyes are round like saucers; an Alexander McQueen skull T-shirt hugs her neat, fine-boned frame. ‘Honestly, there was a yacht this morning outside my window that emerged from the sea. Have you seen it? It was so huge I thought the apocalypse had come!’
At last night’s Louis Vuitton Cruise 2019 show at the Fondation Maeght art gallery, Negga, 36, took her place on the front row next to Emma Stone, and shimmered in photos with Sienna Miller and Sophie Turner. And anyone who recalls her bold, vintage dash on the red carpet for 2016’s Loving (in which she played one half of the first interracial couple to have their marriage recognised by the American Supreme Court) won’t be surprised to learn her stylist is Karla Welch. But it’s how she encountered Welch (whose clients include Karlie Kloss, Lorde and Elisabeth Moss) that reveals Negga’s true devil-may-care nature. ‘I googled “top 25 stylists in the world”,’ she smiles.
Currently on our screens as ball-busting Tulip in the third season of Preacher – alongside her now ex-boyfriend Dominic Cooper – this autumn sees her embrace the biggest challenge of her career: playing Hamlet at Dublin’s Gate Theatre.
‘I’m terrified,’ she says, convincingly. ‘Full-body terrified.’ She’s got form with Shakespeare, though, having played Lavinia in Titus Andronicus in 2006, a performance that sticks out in her mind because her mother walked out. (‘Lavinia gets raped, her hands cut off, her tongue… so when someone said, “Some bloody person walked out,” I said, “That was my mum!” and they went, “Ooh, understandable!”’).
She was also Ophelia in Hamlet at London’s National Theatre in 2010, but playing Hamlet him/herself is very different. ‘For a long time, Hamlet’s characteristics have been monopolised by a certain type of person – these pale princes from the West. But what he goes through – his thoughts and feelings – they’re all our things, aren’t they?’
The show’s director, Yaël Farber, has hailed Negga as the ‘Hamlet for our times’. ‘That’s about me being brown and a woman, quite explicitly and obviously,’ she points out.
Negga is candid about her frustrations surrounding attitudes towards black and ethnic-minority actors, especially after a particular film or actor wins a slew of awards. ‘People go, great, that’s all sorted, and it drives me fucking mad,’ she says. ‘This is a continuing conversation. We have to move forward with the questions we ask and evolve with our society.’
She also finds it maddening that diversity of opinion is rarely recognised when race is debated. ‘I mean, if you’re a brown woman, it doesn’t mean you have the same thoughts as another brown woman,’ she says. ‘Of course it doesn’t! It’s damaging and diminishing. We have to ask different questions.’
Negga’s early career included some fantastic productions – Neil Jordan’s 2005 film Breakfast On Pluto, alongside Cillian Murphy, and the title role in a 2011 BBC Two Shirley Bassey biopic, among others. But her career didn’t properly take off until she went to America. She raises her eyebrows when I ask why; perhaps race is the question again.
She’s grafted hard, especially as her life hasn’t been heavy with privileges – although she snorts at that suggestion. ‘OK, I’ve had some unlucky moments [her scenes for Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave were lost to the cutting-room floor], but I’ve also been lucky – with kind people essentially, especially directors.’ She shrugs like a charmingly petulant teenager. ‘But you just fucking get on with it.’
When Loving came along in 2016, Negga was suddenly on red carpets, at the Met Gala and on American magazine covers. She found the promo for it nerve-wracking, but also knew it was worth it. ‘If I don’t do anything else for the rest of my life, I’ve done that film,’ she says proudly. Did she worry about keeping up her career momentum? She grimaces. ‘This sounds terrible: I am ambitious, but I’m not ambitious at the same time. I don’t have any desire to be anything or [play] anybody. Genuinely, I just want to work, but if I feel a role’s for me,’ she narrows her eyes, playfully, ‘it won’t pass me by.’
Producers flocked to Negga after Loving’s success. Some said she could do anything she liked, ‘which was brilliant’, she beams. And not just in acting, either: she’s recently bought the film rights to an Irish book, and is working with other actresses on film scripts they’ve written. ‘It’s all super-exciting,’ she says. ‘Even if these films don’t get made, there will be others – and I know they will come. You can’t hold the tide [of what’s happening with women in the industry] back with a broomstick.’ The industry’s been using the excuse of the dollar with women for years, she continues, ‘but it was never about the dollar. It was about power. That cold, dead hand that wouldn’t let go.’ She smiles broadly. ‘That’s changing now.’
Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1982, the only child of an Irish nurse mother and an Ethiopian doctor father. When she was four, she and her mum returned to Ireland; her dad intended to follow, but got caught in the burgeoning civil war. Then, two years later, he died in a car crash. Negga is unflinching about the effect his death had on her. ‘I’ve always had that thing of thinking, “Do I have real memories of Dad? Or have I just taken a photograph of our time together and transplanted it into my brain?”’
She thinks of￼ him often – whether he would have liked her to act (‘he’d probably have wanted me to be a doctor’) – and Ethiopian history, culture and food remain a big part of her life. ‘One thing I would tell people is that it’s OK to have your grief,’ she says. ‘You can’t do anything about it because it’s intrinsically part of you. And that’s OK.’
Her family were a huge support throughout her childhood, especially her ‘ton of Irish cousins’ – she FaceTimed one of them, Dave Malone, just before we met, and they’re still best friends. They used to rent videos from their local shop as kids and live for the weekend to see them. Two years ago, Malone was her guest at the Golden Globes.
Negga’s early heroes were bold, inventive pop stars. She had a crush on David Bowie in Labyrinth and adored Kate Bush – she spent hours trying to recreate the video for Wuthering Heights, in which Bush does a heavily choreographed, solo dance routine, widening her eyes, and raising her arms. This time around, though, Negga was the choreographer. ‘I remember making my little cousin wear a nightie and dance in my granny’s front room for hours,’ she says. ‘She would say, “Can we please stop?” and I’d say, “No, do it again, we haven’t got it right yet!”’
Negga moved to London with her mum for her teenage years, then returned to Ireland in 1999, to do a drama degree at Trinity College, Dublin. This crucially allowed her to study acting without paying drama-school fees. She’s very proud of Ireland at the moment. The result of the recent abortion referendum had her in tears – when the news broke, she was in New Orleans having just wrapped on Preacher. ‘I’d only had a few hours’ sleep and woke up to it,’ she says. ‘It was very moving and I got really emotional, especially because I couldn’t vote. I was so proud of everybody.’
But she felt a spirit of change in the country as far back as her student days. ‘I remember thinking, “This is a different place, a different country to what I’ve heard it used to be,”’ she explains. ‘And Dublin particularly was a forward-propelling, moving city that I could literally feel wanted to change. You could sense people wanted to leave behind this old, haunted Ireland. And then came the exposing of abuse in the Magdalene Laundries, and then having the referendum on gay marriage, and then, you know, it’s today, and we have a mixed-race, gay Taoiseach!’ She’s practically jumping up and down now. ‘And now this!’
Next year holds even more excitement. She’ll star in Brad Pitt’s new sci-fi film Ad Astra (‘I’m kind of a guide. I’m only in it for half a second, but an essential one’). Then there’s the ongoing success of Preacher. Even though (spoiler alert) Tulip died at the end of Season 2, comic-book rules means she returns – and with a bang. ‘She gets her groove back,’ she says. ‘I had lots of fight scenes too, which are great. There were bruises all over me, but it was worth it.’
Dominic Cooper, of course, plays the titular preacher, hard-drinking and with added superpowers, and the chemistry with his ex-girlfriend is palpable. I’m surprised Negga doesn’t mind talking about him. She’s sheepishly delighted, in fact, to reveal that the press got the date of their break-up a bit wrong. How wrong? ‘We broke up a very long time ago,’ she says. ‘It’s just people knew about it recently. You found out a couple of years too late. Ha!’
Cooper’s her ‘best friend’. Has acting with him (after a six-year relationship) been hard? ‘To be honest, no. I think if you really love someone and care about them, and you’re going to work with them… maybe it doesn’t work for some people, but it just worked for us. We know each other, the way we work, and he’s super-supportive of me.’ She leans forward and smiles. ‘I know this sounds like a fucking spiel, but it’s not. We’ve literally got each other’s backs.’
Ruth Negga with her ex Dominic Cooper at Comic-Con in San Diego
They used to live together in London’s Primrose Hill, and Negga still thinks of that area as home. ‘But then I go to Dublin too, and I don’t know where I’ll go next year,’ she says. Not that she looks worried. She still sees a lot of her mum, who’s delighted about her success. ‘But we don’t talk about it, really. She just visits and goes, “Are you eating?” [rolls her eyes] “Yes, Mum.” And then she does my laundry. She irons my socks!’ Negga is grateful to her mum for letting her be who she wanted to be. ‘She never said, “You need to have a fall-back career.” I’m very grateful to all my family, actually, for believing in me.’
Slowly but surely we wrap up, but not before Negga insists on us doing a silly selfie for my young son – another only child, like she was – back at home. Tonight is a precious evening off before she sees what life brings her next. ‘I mean, I can’t complain, can I?’ she says, gesturing at the yacht still in the bright blue sea, dazzling. And the joy in her eyes; her humour and humility, continue to dazzle long after she’s gone.
Whether you’re a fashion forward dresser or a relaxed, fuss-free bride-to-be…
From Emily Ratajkowski’s mustard Zara wedding suit through to Angelina Jolie’s tulle train embroidered with her children’s drawings, more brides are turning away from traditional white gowns in favour of the unconventional. While we’re always going to have a soft spot for traditional lace wedding dresses, we love a style queen who’s willing to make a major fashion statement on her big day and we’ve found a few options that might just fit the bill.
No matter your budget, we’ve done the digging and curated our favourite styles whether you’re keen to channel a menswear vibe, going full rainbow with a colourful wedding dress or want to flash a little leg with a shorter frock.
Luxury designers like Roksanda, Alessandra Rich and Safiyaa are a great shout for modern brides who want to push the envelope, while Halfpenny London, Rime Arodaky and Ellery’s unfussy designs are definitely steered more towards those with a minimal aesthetic. Romantics should shoot for vintage-inspired pieces from the likes of Needle & Thread and Reem Acra or bring the drama in a sweeping Marchesa ball gown or bold Oscar de la Renta.
Working with a budget? ASOS, Monsoon and No. 1 Jenny Packham have beautiful pieces that still look expensive, but thankfully keep your bank account out of the red.
Check it all out below and get ready to break out the Pinterest boards…
If you’re dreading the idea of dragging a heavy dress around all day, a wedding jumpsuit is the ultimate cool girl outfit. We’ve gone for a clean minimal look with this Stella McCartney one piece with a tie-waist detail, which would look a dream with a pair of cobalt blue BALENCIAGA blade heels (which you can peep in our best wedding shoes gallery).
Destination weddings are becoming more common and for those of you heading off for some sun and sand – you’ll want something chic, light and that’ll move beautifully with the seabreeze – a strappy silky dress is always a great idea and it’s an utterly timeless piece for the minimal bride.
Although we have a soft spot for a long lace wedding gown, there’s something to be said for a fun and flirty dress (especially on a swelteringly hot day). Stray away from cocktail dress territory by choosing a more structured piece like this Zimmermann, which features organza puffy sleeves and a daring cut out back detail that we’re obsessed with. (The buttons on the neckline make all the difference.)
While red might not be what you’d usually expect from a traditional Western wedding, it’s actually a really popular colour for Chinese weddings as the colour signifies good fortune, happiness and prosperity – all things you’d wish for in a great marriage. A crimson gown is a bold choice, but one that’ll definitely set you apart if you’re down to break the mould with a colourful wedding dress. This dramatic Elie Saab cape dress has some serious Solange vibes about it and is guaranteed to turn heads.
Not one for floaty white dresses? Go for the exact opposite with a structured black gown. Whether you’re serving gothic Queen of the Night realness or channeling a modern fashion-forward vibe, it’s a strong choice that’ll make for some striking photographs. (We’re obsessed with the idea of a black wedding gown against a string of white bridesmaids dresses.)
The high street has some exquisite style finds to offer any blushing bride.
High street wedding dresses just keep getting better and better. Stylish brides on a budget now have their pick of an ever-expanding selection of high street wedding dresses – and we’ve got them all here for you to admire.
From floor-length gowns to sleek lace minis and everything in between including some rather gorgeous beaded boho dresses – there’s something for every style.
And for the spring/summer wedding season, there has never been a better selection. With Ted Baker, Whistles, French Connection, ASOS, and Self-Portrait now offering bridal collections, the price-conscious brides-to-be have never had it better. And quite frankly, when you se this amazing array of dresses you’ll wonder why anyone would ever go over a £1,000 budget.
Traditional high street wedding dresses
For the traditional brides, there’s gorgeous fishtails and caped sleeves gowns from the likes of Phase Eight and Monsoon. While for the vintage lovers and soon-to-be boho brides, Monsoon and ASOS have all your embellished and floaty lace dreams covered.
Alternative high street wedding dresses
And for something altogether more contemporary then some of our favourite high street stores, French Connection and Whistles, have launched lust-worthy collections to make you stand out on the aisle. Think off-the-shoulder lace, asymmetric necklines, on-trend midi dresses and minimalist silk slips, which are exactly what the modern stylish bride needs for the new season.
High street wedding dresses for every shape
As well as all of these, we’ve found dresses to suit all shapes and heights – from Twenties bias-cut to full-skirted prim variations. Not keen on your arms? There are some great long-sleeved wedding gowns that will solve your bridal dilemmas. Want your waist to stand out? Try a cinched style with an embellished belt. Petite figures will suit all the lovely ruffle dresses that are so in at the moment too.
So with that in mind, it’s time to pick your dream dress from the best high street wedding dresses available now…
There’s no denying that your wedding dress is going to be the sartorial star of the day, but your footwear is where you can add a dash of personality to your outfit. There’s a lot of things to consider when it comes to your shoes (colour, style, comfort and more) and we’ve rounded up what we think are the best wedding shoes, combining classic cool with statement pieces fresh off our SS18 fashion trend report.
Designer wedding shoes
Low-key brides can’t go wrong with simple classics by L’Intervalle or Jimmy Choo, while jaw-dropping heels by Gianvito Rossi or Charlotte Olympia will have you looking runway ready in no time. A pop of colour is always a welcome touch as well, whether that comes in the form of a romantic scarlet appliqué, subtle floral detailing or something blue. Look to Rejina Pyo, Off-White and By Far for unexpected shapes and details.
High street wedding shoes
Spending a fortune isn’t a necessity either as L.K.Bennett, Reiss, ASOS, New Look, Topshop, Zara and Next have really turned things out this season with snowy shades, pastels and soft metallics dominating the colour palette. (Plus, high street wedding dresses have really stepped up their game in recent years.)
Comfortable wedding shoes
Gone are the days of the staid blocky heel, with both affordable high street retailers and luxe fashion brands jazzing up footwear for fashion-savvy brides. There’s all manner of styles for both maximalists and mimimalists, from flats to block heels and mules (the shoe of the season) – after all, you’re going to be standing around for photographs for an awful long time.
With this edit of the best high heels, pumps and flats, there’s no excuse for footwear to be a bland afterthought. Whether you’re wearing one of the most popular wedding dresses on Pinterest or striking out on your own in a bold coloured gown, these are the best wedding shoes that’ll see you through whatever your outfit choice. And be prepared to make these babies work hard – we fully expect to see you cutting a rug on the reception dance floor.
She shot to stardom with her mesmerising performance in The Crown. So where does Vanessa Kirby go from here? Straight to Hollywood. Martha Hayes meets the Brit actress to talk fame, fate and filming with Tom Cruise
Midway through lunch at The National Theatre’s riverfront cafe, Vanessa Kirby is distracted by a man walking past our table. Startled is probably more apt; her head turning, her piercing blue eyes following him urgently through the crowd, as though she’s spotted an old flame. And in a way, she has. ‘Is that Ben Miles?’ she enquires, squinting. ‘He looks… different. I don’t want to go and hug him in case it’s not him. Why’s he in a suit? No… it’s not him.’
She’s referring, of course, to the actor who portrayed Group Captain Peter Townsend in the first season of Netflix’s award-winning historical drama The Crown. He was the dashing divorcee with whom Kirby’s Princess Margaret fell hopelessly in love; theirs was the ill-fated union her sister the Queen (Claire Foy) refused to consent to. The storyline and her scene-stealing, career-defining performance cemented the 30-year-old’s status as the beating heart of the series, and won her a BAFTA earlier this year.
Kirby is visibly relieved she didn’t just gallop across the cafe shouting, ‘Peter Townsend!’ ‘That’s so something I would do,’ she admits. ‘I get myself into some embarrassing situations. I’m a liability most of the time. I need to learn how to self-edit. My dad is always like, “I think you need media training urgently.”’
Photographs by Kerry Hallihan
She really doesn’t; and I’m glad she hasn’t because the Wimbledon-born actress wouldn’t be half as much fun. And for fans of The Crown this is important. You want the woman behind the chain-smoking, rule-breaking, wry-humoured princess to be unfiltered and every bit as fabulous. Although her time on the show has finished (in season three Helena Bonham Carter will play Princess Margaret to Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth) and Kirby’s moved on to a whole host of exciting new projects (more of which later), HRH is still very much her favourite topic of conversation.
‘I could talk about it forever, and I will talk about Margaret forever because I’m absolutely obsessed,’ she laughs, recalling the time she went on a night out accidentally wearing a flashy diamanté necklace from the set. ‘Everyone was like, “What is that?”’ Was it real? ‘It was plastic. We didn’t wear any real jewels,’ she confesses. ‘The costume designer was like, “Don’t tell anyone that!” They couldn’t trust us not to run off with them in the night. No, they couldn’t trust me, because I’m so clumsy. The girls [in the costume department] called me Bambi, because I’d fall over things and burn cigarette holes in my costumes.’
When we meet, Kirby is in the middle of rehearsing for the lead title role in Julie – playwright Polly Stenham’s cool and contemporary adaptation of August Strindberg’s 1888 classic Miss Julie – about an upstairs/downstairs flirtation between a privileged earl’s daughter and his servant. Physically, the actress is world’s apart from her royal alter-ego – all wavy beach-blonde hair in a messy half-bun, ripped blue mom jeans and a stripy cropped jumper – but emotionally, she’s in a similar, and acutely familiar, headspace. ‘What I loved about Julie (on paper) was that there was definitely an element of Margaret in her,’ she says, tucking into a plate of steamed fish and root vegetables. ‘She vibrates in technicolor and feels things extremely deeply. I love exploring characters like that.’
It’s a seamless translation of an archaic play which, in our post-Weinstein world, has more relevance than ever. ‘I think that what [it] is doing really cleverly – and it’s dangerous in that sense – is looking at the insidious questions of, not just race and gender, but positions of service, and what it is to be an economic migrant in this country today,’ she nods. ‘The responsibility, culpability and complicity within that dynamic; the idea that we’re liberal and yet we have these subtler values underneath that actually aren’t that inclusive… even in myself, I’m looking at them. I’m beginning to ask the questions, am I complicit? What am I complicit in? What is my place in the world? I’m questioning everything in my daily life.’
The conversation shifts to Time’s Up and the responsibility Kirby feels as a rising star in her industry. ‘The women we portray on screen are the images that go into our psyche and so it’s up to us to fight for women [we] believe to be real,’ she says. ‘I don’t want to watch fantasy figures of women seen through the male lens; I want to see idiosyncratic, messy, vibrant, layered, weird women… because we are weird.’
I wonder how she feels about the gender pay gap between Claire Foy and Matt Smith on The Crown (Foy is set to receive £200,000 in back pay). Should it be discussed so publicly? ‘I think it’s really important, because if we discuss it at our level, then hopefully it will give people a voice, and not be at a disadvantage just because they are a different gender; it makes absolutely no sense.’
Kirby was relatively unknown before she landed The Crown in 2015 – most notably, she played Estella in a 2011 BBC adaptation of Great Expectations and Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire on stage opposite Gillian Anderson in 2014. Is she getting better at knowing her monetary worth and asking for what she deserves? ‘Definitely, and my agents feel like that too,’ she explains. ‘Literally on a day-to-day basis they feel better able to ask for something we wouldn’t have done [before] because we wouldn’t have wanted to seem difficult.’
As well as Julie, this summer, Kirby can be seen in cinemas alongside Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the sixth film in the multimillion-dollar action franchise. She was so nervous before the first meeting with Cruise about her character (arms dealer The White Widow) that she binged on the previous films in a single sitting the night before. ‘I was like, “I can’t not know what I’m talking about,”’ she says. ‘And then in the meeting, of course, we didn’t talk about any of it. My boyfriend [War & Peace actor Callum Turner] was like, “I will have that theme music in my head for the rest of my life.”’
Is it difficult not to have preconceptions about someone as famous as Tom Cruise? ‘I tried to just meet the man really, and the man is so different to any stuff you’d read, because it always is,’ she ponders. ‘It helped me to see that all the stuff that gets written is just such a load of bullshit about everyone.’
Kirby learned this the hard way, after a brief kissing scene between her and Cruise was caught by paparazzi. ‘Even though the [film] crew were there, it was all [in the tabloids] like, “The next wife falls at his feet,”’ she says, shaking her head. ‘The most disconcerting thing was the people I didn’t think would believe it, did, and they were texting my boyfriend, asking, “Are you OK?” I don’t think they believe anything they read now because you just can’t. None of it is real. To be getting married to him? Not even a snog, it was marriage.’
Has this insight into the absurdity of fame impacted on how she’ll navigate her relationship in the public eye? ‘It is a weird feeling. I definitely don’t feel it yet. I’ve been lucky because I barely get recognised, and I keep my relationship super private. [Callum’s] just completely wonderful and he’s my best friend, so that’s…’ she breaks off. ‘I guess you can either choose to talk about it or not. If you talk about it, it becomes interesting to people, but if you don’t, then it’s not.’
Today, Kirby lives with her younger sister Juliet and two friends in Tooting, south-west London, not far from where she was brought up in Wimbledon. As the middle child of three (she also has an older brother) born to a prominent urologist and an editor, the actress had a liberal and affluent upbringing, but pointedly describes herself as ‘incredibly sensitive’.
‘I was badly bullied for three years in primary school and that was one of my darkest times,’ she explains. What was the reason for the bullying? She shrugs. ‘Just being me. I still haven’t got to the bottom of it, but I was massively affected, and I got this tropical [intestinal] disease, giardia, and had two years of treatment and hospitals. I think it was all linked, really. Now when I look back on it, I feel like those three years gave me a kind of empathy or emotional understanding.’ She discovered early on what made her happy. ‘I found an acceptance in acting that I couldn’t find anywhere else; it made me feel alive when I was a kid.’
But there were more hurdles to overcome, including being turned down for a place at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School when she was 18. ‘In my heart, I was longing for it, but I knew I wasn’t ready,’ she reflects.
Admirably conscientious, Kirby used the opportunity to take a gap year abroad (studying conflict resolution in Africa – a far cry from working the beach-bar circuit) before embarking on an English degree at Exeter University.
Having appeared in countless student plays, when she eventually graduated (with a first, no less) she felt ready to take up her vocation. ‘Whenever I meet younger actors, I always say, “Trust the timing”; everyone’s time is different. Some people are ready at 18, some are ready at 12, others are ready at 28. For me, I’m so glad that I didn’t get in [to Bristol] because I’d be a different person.’
She did, however, need to convince her parents. ‘They were really doubtful to begin with,’ she says. ‘My dad would be like, “Well, do you know what, I think you’d be really good at PR.” I was like, “Are you sure? No, Dad, I really want to act.” Now they’ve fully accepted it, but it took them a while, just because they were worried for me.’
Next up, Kirby will play an investigative journalist in the politically charged Gareth Jones, alongside James Norton, and has been working with UK charity War Child for the last year. ‘Honestly, it’s changed my life; it’s everything I’ve wanted,’ she says. ‘And that’s not a martyr thing. It’s more exciting and fulfilling than any acting job I could ever get.’
I wonder, given the astounding success of The Crown, if she feels her acting career has peaked. ‘Yeah, totally!’ she shrieks, without hesitation. ‘That’s why I cried at the end. I did a joint interview recently with Claire Foy, and she said, “You had such a synergy with Margaret. I never had that with Elizabeth; I never felt like I accessed her on a deep level.”’
Did Princess Margaret pave the way for Meghan Markle, and what would she make of that? ‘It’s interesting, isn’t it. I can’t help but think she did,’ she says. ‘Margaret knew when she got involved with Peter Townsend that her family wouldn’t approve, and yet she wasn’t going to give up. I think she was trying to modernise the royal family from the inside and make it better for people later on. I heard she was still very bitter about it 20 years on. That really informed how I wanted to play her because if you’re bitter [years later] about somebody else being able to marry [a divorcee], it suggests your wound is very deep.’
Before we part, Kirby shows me a photo on her phone that Helena Bonham Carter recently texted her when she and Olivia Colman met up for the first read-through of season three. They’re both pulling terrified faces and the caption reads: ‘The baton’s being passed. Think we dropped it!’ It must be difficult to hand over a role you’ve put your heart and soul into to another actor, but Kirby’s face is beaming with pride when she looks at the picture. She says, ‘[This] just encapsulates Helena, because she’s hilarious, gracious and thoughtful about knowing how it must feel for me, you know? She’s magic… and she loves Margaret as much as I do.’ I think that’s Kirby’s way of saying she’s finally ready to move on.
Julie is at The National Theatre until 8 September. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is in cinemas from 26 July
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Here’s everything you need to know from how to get tickets to the woman behind the exhibition…
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is an icon, with a colourful and compelling life story, but having died in 1954, most of what we learn about her is from books and films, with Salma Hayek nominated for an academy award for portraying her in Frida.
Now however, we will be able to see for ourselves as a brand new exhibition has come to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, showcasing Frida’s most intimate personal belongings – from artefacts to clothing.
Introducing: Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up
Locked away for 50 years after her death, this collection has never before been exhibited outside Mexico – and it’s set to give us a fresh perspective on her incredible life story.
What is in the Frida Kahlo exhibition?
Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up will present some of Frida’s most intimate personal belongings, with the highlights including a Guatemalan cotton coat with Mazatec huipil belonging to the artist, a selection of Frida’s cosmetics and the prosthetic leg with a leather boot that she used to wear.
When is the Frida Kahlo exhibition?
The Frida Kahlo exhibition is running from Saturday 16th June till Saturday 4th November so we should all be able to get tickets.
How can I get tickets for the Frida Kahlo exhibition?
Tickets for Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up can be purchased either on the door of the V&A or online – and cost £15 each. It is recommended that you book in advance via their website though, with the exhibition set to be very popular.
What is Frida Kahlo’s life story?
With a sickening crash, the bus collided with a trolley car on a packed street in Mexico City. It was 17 September 1925, and as passengers were flung helplessly from the wreckage, an iron handrail pierced 18-year-old Frida Kahlo’s abdomen, fracturing her spine and shattering her pelvis. Her collarbone was broken, her right leg – already withered from childhood polio – was fractured in 11 places and her foot dislocated. Frida’s boyfriend at the time, Alejandro Gomez Arias (known as Alex), was travelling with her and remembers the scene: ‘Someone in the bus had been carrying a packet of powdered gold, which fell all over Frida. When people saw her they cried, “La bailarina!” With the gold on her red, bloody body, they thought she was a dancer.’
The physical, emotional and psychological impact was devastating. Frida was encased in a full-body cast for three months and underwent more than 30 operations. ‘She lived dying,’ said a close friend. But she found a way to communicate her fear and desperation through her uncompromising art. In 1926, confined to bed after a relapse, Frida was given an easel and paints by her parents. In the 29 years between her accident and her death in 1954, aged 47, she would create sensual, disturbing, powerful art, many self-portraits that challenged convention, pre-dating Tracey Emin’s artistic self-exposure by decades. ‘I paint myself because I am often alone and I am the subject I know best,’ Frida said.
Born on 6 July 1907 in Coyoac·n, a suburb of Mexico City, Frida later made a political gesture by claiming her birth date was 1910, so her life would begin with the Mexican Revolution. Raised with three sisters by their German father Guillermo, a photographer, and mother Matilde, Frida’s upbringing was unconventional. At six, she contracted polio, spending nine months confined to bed. Against the odds, eight years later she was one of only 35 girls in Mexico City to attend an elite prep school. A natural-born rebel, Frida would let off firecrackers in class and wear men’s clothing to taunt visiting artists. One visitor was world-famous painter Diego Rivera, who was invited to paint a mural in the school’s amphitheatre in 1922. He was 36 and Frida just 15, but she declared: ‘My ambition is to have a child by Diego Rivera.’
Frida Kahlo. Credit: Rex
The pair met again at a party six years later and, despite becoming known as something of an odd couple – her parents called them ‘the elephant and the dove’ (he was immensely overweight) – they married in 1929. He built them adjacent houses, joined by a bridge, and Frida would lock the connecting door when she was angry with him, usually over one of his many affairs. ‘She never got used to his loves,’ remembers her friend Ella Wolfe. ‘Diego never cared. He said having sex was like urinating. He couldn’t understand why people took it so seriously.’
The affair that caused Frida most pain was Diego’s relationship with her beloved younger sister, Cristina, in 1934. Frida described feeling as though she was being ‘murdered by life’ in her painting A Few Small Nips, which is also based on a newspaper account of a woman stabbed by her boyfriend. For a short time, Frida moved out. ‘I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down. The other accident is Diego.’
Openly bisexual, Frida also had extra-marital relationships with both women (which Diego encouraged) and men (which enraged him). Despite their difficulties, they were compulsively drawn to one another. Frida suffered multiple miscarriages and a medically advised abortion as she tried and failed to have Diego’s child, as a result of her pelvic injuries from the bus accident. She portrayed her pain in her painting Henry Ford Hospital, which shows her lying on blood-soaked sheets after a miscarriage. ‘Never before has a woman put such agonised poetry on canvas,’ said her husband at the time. Together, the couple became the centre of art, culture and Marxist politics in 30s Mexico.
Frida Kahlo painting In Bed. Photographed By Juan Guzman, Mexico City, 1952. Credit: Rex
In 1937, Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his wife came to live at Frida’s family home, Casa Azul, for two years, after he had been expelled from his country by Stalin. Trotsky and Frida had an impassioned affair (she called him ‘el viejo’, old man, and he would leave her love notes inside books he loaned her). In Frida’s famous self-portrait Between The Curtains, she is holding a document that says, ‘To Trotsky with great affection, I dedicate this painting November 7, 1937. Frida Kahlo, in San Angel, Mexico.’ Two years later, both she and Diego were suspected, but cleared, of involvement in Trotsky’s assassination.
Meanwhile, Frida’s reputation as an artist was growing. In 1938, she was invited to exhibit her work in New York; artist Georgia O’Keefe came to the opening and Hollywood actor Edward G Robinson bought four of her works. ‘She became one of a group of post-revolutionary intellectuals who reinvented traditional culture through a lens of modernity,’ says Adriana Zavala, curator of a new exhibition of Frida’s work that opens at The New York Botanical Garden in May.
Known for her exotic outfits, Frida adopted the traditional costume of Mexico’s Tehuana Indians, with ribbons in her hair. She sometimes wore gold and diamond tooth caps that glittered when she smiled. Refusing to conform to feminine beauty ideals, she would blacken her faint moustache and heavy eyebrows to exaggerate them. When she walked down the streets, children would mob her and ask where the circus was. Her mother had dressed in Indian costume as a child and Frida originally began wearing the full skirts to disguise her withered leg. ‘Indigenous culture was adopted by Mexican intellectuals and Communists to signal their support of native practices,’ explains Zavala. ‘But Frida’s way of dressing was so extreme, it was a form of aggression; she was asserting her will to be different and to flout convention.’
Frida Kahlo. Credit: Rex
Her compelling image is still resonant today. Madonna said last year that when she was a struggling dancer in New York: ‘I would look at a postcard of Frida Kahlo taped to my wall, and the sight of her moustache consoled me. Because she was an artist who didn’t care what people thought.’ Even the latest Valentino Resort collection was inspired by Frida’s look. ‘We are fascinated by a character able to live following her own schemes and rules, not subjected to any kind of protocol,’ said joint creative director for the label, Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Frida showcased this independent attitude in Paris in 1939, when she was invited by Andre Breton to show her work. Unwell with a kidney infection, she was missing Diego and reportedly hated the ‘artistic bitches’ of the city’s bohemian cafe society. Nevertheless, her time in Paris was a triumph. Elsa Schiaparelli designed a dress inspired by her, the Louvre bought one of her paintings – its first by a 20th-century Mexican artist – and she even helped 400 refugees from the Spanish Civil War escape to Mexico. ‘They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t,’ she said at the time. ‘I never painted my dreams. I painted my own reality.’
Back in Mexico, that reality was to become even harsher. After five months apart, Frida and Diego’s marriage was over – he claimed he ended it to avoid causing her more pain with his infidelities. ‘I understood that for him it is better to leave me. Now I feel so rotten and lonely,’ she wrote at the time. But Diego couldn’t live without her, either. A year later, they remarried, with conditions – Frida insisted on supporting herself and refused to have sex with her husband.
Frida Kahlo photographed by Gisele Freund with her doctor and painting of the two of them. Credit: Rex
Their uneasy reconciliation coincided with Frida’s deteriorating health. From 1944 until her death, she suffered repeated operations on her spine – another consequence of her accident – spending 28 months encased in a plaster corset, sometimes suspended from iron hoops in the ceiling, or with sandbags attached to straighten her back. In 1953, in Mexico, she appeared at her final exhibition, in a huge four-poster bed decorated with skeletons and pictures of her friends, family and Diego. ‘I am not sick. I am broken,’ she said. ‘But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.’
Eventually, she was diagnosed with gangrene and her leg was amputated from the knee. Frida, who had occasionally used drink and drugs to cope with the agony of her condition, became even more dependent on them – sometimes drinking two litres of cognac a day and injecting a cocktail of opiates. She tried hard to maintain the Frida persona, wearing red leather boots with gold embroidery and bells to disguise her prosthetic limb, but her depression and despair were obvious. ‘If I were brave, I would kill her. I cannot stand to see her suffer so,’ lamented Diego.
She died in 1954 – whether from suicide or natural causes is still a mystery – but her passing was characteristically macabre. At her cremation, the intense heat of the furnace caused her body to sit up and her hair flame around her head ‘like a sunflower’. The shape of Frida’s body was apparent for a few moments in the ashes. The young girl who had been covered in gold dust was now a silvery skeleton.
Today, Frida remains the world’s most recognised female artist, according to Zavala. ‘There’s a very powerful self-presence in her paintings, but her work isn’t purely biographical: it reflects the politics and environment of her times and that has influenced generations of artists and feminists ever since.’ As Frida herself once said: ‘I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought there must be someone who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this, yes, it’s true, I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.’
The Frida Kahlo exhibition will be open at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, from Saturday 16 June 2018 to Sunday 4 November 2018.
There’s an inverse relationship between the number of times a man says ‘I’m deep’ with how deep he actually is. Eyal, my friends, is shallower than my niece’s paddling pool
Eyal has spent much of his Love Island air time honking on about his ‘spiritual side’. He came on the show to forge deep human connections (man) not to score a cheap fondle on a day bed. ‘The biggest thing I bring to a relationship is, like, truth’ he said.
Strange, then, that he spent his first few days chasing Hayley, a woman whom it was clear within five minutes he had absolutely nothing in common with. Ironically it was Hayley, not Eyal, who had the emotional intelligence to realise this. ‘There’s no chemistry’ she said, after Eyal had attempted to fondle her on the day bed, ‘I don’t feel like he brings my personality out, I feel like I’m very boring when I’m around him.’ When she confided to Laura and Wes about this ‘truth’ Eyal flew off the handle. ‘I’m not your hun, hun‘ he spat.
There also wasn’t a lot of ‘good energy’ in evidence last night when Eyal swooped in on an indecisive Megan, pulling her into a kiss in front of poor, unlucky Dr Alex, a move made even worse by the fact that Alex had been singing his rival’s praises to Megan a just a few hours earlier. In a vintage display of British passive aggression, Alex told Eyal ‘that’s not something I would do.’
Eyal’s zen is disintegrating faster than a cheap sarong. There’s an inverse relationship between the number of times a man says ‘I’m deep’ with how deep he actually is. Eyal is shallower than my niece’s paddling pool. He didn’t give a flying fuck what breed of dog Hayley had, just as he doesn’t care if this is the closest his ‘boy’ Alex has come to finding a partner. ‘It’s dog eat dog’ he shrugged to camera, his last shred of beer mat Buddhism vanishing into thin air.
Much has been made of Adam’s ‘Nasty Nick’ status in the house, but I think Eyal might be the true villain of this series. Yes, Adam is a piece of work, but it’s all in an entertaining, pantomime villain kind of way. You can practically see him winking at the producers.
Eyal, on the other hand, is sly. A particular brand of entitled, faux-spiritual-bro we’ve all had a run-in with at some point or another. He’s the guy in the dolphin thong necklace who spends an evening mansplaining the work of Pedro Almodovar to you, even though you’re the person who studied it, he’s the guy who says he finds it hard to connect with ‘most women’ then talks about himself for two hours straight, he’s the one who says ‘what, don’t you trust me?’ when you turn down a one-night stand, who asks you a question then interrupts your answer with ‘you have amazing eyes.’ It’s what’s on the inside that counts, so long as the outside is a size 8.
‘I believe in a past life that I was some kind of monkey’ Eyal said in his intro to the show. If he keeps this up he’ll be spending his next life as a cockroach.