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Spending a lot of time by yourself can be fucking maddening.

I’ve been reading about the necessity of human interaction, the discovery of mirror neurons, and how we’re social beings. Mirror neurons are firing in our brains when we interact with others, which are said to make us mirror the other person. I imagine this helps us register cues provided by the other, those which we pay subconscious attention to when debating, flirting or exchanging stories. Maybe it’s these neurons that keep us a little sane, and without activation the next best thing is talking to yourself so as to provide self-gratification or acknowledgement. I am a particularly empathetic individual – when someone is angry I either revel in it or try my best to pacify them, when someone cries I probably cry, when someone is upbeat and positive I usually want them to fuck off (perhaps a British thing…). I enjoy the company of others, and when I’m alone I talk to myself quite loudly, and I’m also usually the person who stays for “one more drink”. I think a lot of my work involves the psychology of being alone, and I think being alone can be very bittersweet – yes it’s lonely but with no one watching who is there to give a shit about what you do? You can do whatever you want.

I’ve always wanted to photograph in a particularly odd French flat. Parisian interiors are almost always lovely – there are so many places you can go to which are though small, they have very tall ceilings. The flats I’ve stayed in have never been modern, ridden with odd shades of paint and piping in out and all over the place. There’s rarely an elevator, which is a blessing in disguise after overloading on meat & wine, and the stairs are so old and lacquered that they can only be described as a pretty death trap. The flat I stayed in last month had exposed brick walls, a dozen mismatched lamps, and a wall of paintings of all shapes and sizes resembling that of either an quaint cafe or a jacquard-ridden pub. I loved it – it was both charming and weird.

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Manon is an old French name. I think it has this strangely endearing appeal. It has this classic ring to it, but also reminds me of something quite childish and a little wild. In theatre and literature, the character Manon always seems to be the love interest who the male lead abandons wealth, riches, and everything else for, and in non-fiction, there was a Manon who was a lover of the original womaniser Casanova. The name makes me think of my own views of Paris – a place that is seductive, full of beautiful and stylish people, debaucherous and somewhat charming.

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Grace, who I have photographed and styled in whatever I could find in my suitcase, is a bit bonkers like a Manon, a gamine. She’s a bit of a wild child – and definitely a free spirit. She looks at life with her eyes wide open, and can’t sit still for longer than ten bloody seconds. By pure chance, I think she was perfect for the flat we decided to shoot in. Thanks Grace.

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Credits

from left to right

Scarf – Davidoff
Jacket – Musee Noir
Jumper – Maison Kitsune
Trousers – Bleu de Paname

Jumper – Maison Kitsune
Trousers – bespoke

Jacket – Musee Noir
Waist coat – Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair
Trousers – Our Legacy

Jacket – Tommy Hilfiger
Trousers – Bleu de Paname
T-shirt – Grace’s own

Jacket – Tommy Hilfiger
Trousers – Bleu de Paname
Shoes – Grace’s own

modelled by Grace Ming at Nevs
art / style / photography by Karlmond Tang

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