I got to live my Pride And Prejudice fantasy looking out over the romantic, moody English countryside while riding the train from London to shoot Nadia and Hassan in the quintessentially quaint town of Staffordshire, where they were raised. Evident in their indigenous shawls, mixed with their shared love of classic menswear, and of the local castle as a spot for afternoon tea (there, my daydream of living in the past continued), the siblings share a passion for the finer details – but with a definite modern originality in dressing. Nadia is inspired by “theories and moods,” like “the personality of America in the ’90s” evidenced by her favorite frumpy dress – she calls it an “old lady’s dress” and the chunkiest grunge platform boots with an Persian lamb hat; Hassan’s commitment to “content” over what he refers to as “look-at-me flamboyance” is revealed by his gray leather blazer (that’s as far out as he goes with leather, ever) with his consistent staples– the formality of a white shirt and the twist of a “cheap” tie knotted around the collar like a scarf.
The two in live in a way that is refreshingly traditional and yet distinctly modern, much like the quaint countryside to which they retreat from their urban lives. Preferring Dostoevsky and the spoken word to Facebook and Twitter, Hassan wears his Dad’s khakis with a unique touch; he rolls up the hem to fine-tune the proportion with a chambray shirt cut up into a vest worn over a t-shirt. Nadia is interested in esoterica; books like The Poetics of Space, films like Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears Of Petra von Kant and taking photos with film as opposed to digital. She makes kitschy corduroy overalls with a Mickey Mouse belt and sweaters recovered from her childhood seem 21st century. Few can tuck socks into trousers with handmade brogues and possess both a serious stature while remaining hip like Hassan, or exude both a sultry and edgy glamour in a calf-length dirndl skirt with a chopped-off man’s shirt like Nadia.