Just one look at Jess and Reba Maybury’s ethereal faces is proof enough that there is a higher power. But not only a pair of pretty faces, the talented duo are creative polymaths and new subversive icons.
Jess wears body stocking regulations. choker Versus. Shoes Christian Louboutin.
Fashion has a ‘thing’ for sisters. Ruth and May Bell, Olympia and Edie Campbell, and Bella and Gigi… well, no last name required. And now, Jess and Reba Maybury – the bewitching sisters have the industry under their spell. Decamping from their provincial hometown of Woodstock, Oxfordshire (Reba first, Jess soon after) in search of somewhere that wasn’t “so close minded”, the pair found themselves in London. Jess, 23 and Reba, 26 have become the posterchildren of a cerebral, modern beauty. The two have inherited the features of many iconic faces that have existed before them – looking at the two conjures images of Juliet in Man Ray’s Fifty Faces series, the portraits he made in dedication to his wife in the 40s and 50s. Add the steely gaze of Bianca Jagger and the subversive quality of Kristen McMenamy and you are somewhat close to accurately describing the electric energy of the Maybury sisters.
Despite being three years apart in age, the sisters look so uncannily similar that you’d be forgiven for thinking they were twins. The two share similar traits – almond eyes, long dark brown locks and angular faces, but there are quite distinct differences between them too. Reba draws from the stylings of ‘power bitches’ past; think equal parts 80s goth, Chaka Khan and 60s Catherine Deneuve, brought together by an extensive collection of vintage dresses (the result of hours of trawling on eBay) and signature oxblood lips with exaggerated cupid’s bow. Conversely, Jess is rarely seen with make-up on outside her work as her model – letting her empyreal skin be the focus – and has a more pared down way of putting her look together.
Born to a Pakistani mother and a Welsh father, Reba and Jess’ early years were spent firmly in each other’s pockets; their earliest memories include Reba holding her ear close to her mum’s stomach while she was pregnant with her sister. Jess meanwhile remembers Reba, “trying to ram me into a wall”. As a teenager, Jess collected “photos of her friends” and played around with Barry M make-up as she found out who she was, eventually identifying with the strong female frontwomen of the Riot Grrrl movement and female-led post-punk bands like ESG and The Slits, as well as drag icon Divine. Reba looked to the late Prince as her inspiration. “I love him. I always have and I always will. I even had a shrine for him above my bed as a teenager,” she laughs. Despite their differences, together the models have become muses to a wealth of London’s young design talent, with Jess a regular face in the presentations of Claire Barrow and Marta Jakubowski, while Reba donned a curly brown wig and cardigan fused with felted tights for her friends Rottingdean Bazaar’s latest showing as part of Fashion East’s presentation this January. “I met James Theseus Buck and Matty Bovan on my first day at Central Saint Martins, and now we are friends for life!” Reba says, of having some of London’s most exciting designers on speed dial.
Reba wears body stocking regulations. Shoes Christian Louboutin.
She applied to CSM to study Fashion History and Theory after growing up peeling through the pages of i-D and The Face in her teens for sartorial inspiration. As part of her course’s requirement for work experience, Reba contacted Sang Bleu, the iconic tattoo shop off Dalston Lane which also has a printed publication and a clothing line under its umbrella. “When I wrote for Sang Bleu, I had an interest in anyone who displayed an absolute eccentricity from the corporate norm,” Reba explains. She went on to edit their in-house magazine as well as releasing 2015’s Radical People, a newsprint zine chronicling the stories of what it means to be radical and politically charged, by 50 activists, writers and performers which she fittingly released on the day of the 2015 General Election.
Since then Reba has founded her own publishing company, Wet Satin Press that explores, “capitalism, masculinity and eccentric sexuality.” Its latest release is her first novel, Dining With Humpty Dumpty; which she describes as “a modern day tale of a Robin Hood-esque dominatrix engaging with a Tory with a feeding fetish” that she launched at Bridget Donahue Gallery in New York. It discusses in detail Reba’s dealings as a dominatrix, which she uses to aid her anthropological interest in class, fetishism and power roles. “I’m hoping to continue investigating mundane male heterosexuality in more fantastical detail next year,” she quips.
Jess is indulging her interest in photography and slowly revealing the fruits of her labour via Instagram. “Me and my boyfriend are finishing off our contribution to the next issue of GUT magazine and then I’ll be starting work on a short film about older women who go out and love clubbing,” she says. “Apart from that, I am just trying to take as many pictures as possible of people I find interesting.” Jess looks to subcultural pioneers for influence. “I loved reading the memoirs of Viv Albertine and Leigh Bowery. I also like spending as much time as I can watching the work of female writers, directors, musicians and artists.
I watched 60s drama A Taste Of Honey recently, which was written by a woman and it really moved me – it reminded me of my Grandma’s life.” While the girls have already been shot for a Lanvin campaign by this issue’s main photographer Tim Walker, and Jess has walked the runway for Acne and Gareth Pugh, they remain pragmatic when talking about the glamour and trappings of the fashion industry. “Anyone can buy the latest fashion but true style is intrinsic and impossible to duplicate.
I just like to think about how different garments signify gender and class and how my ideas about these things are always evolving,” Reba says. Jess adds, “To me, fashion has actually always seemed quite unobtainable as it’s made for wealthy people, but style is something that anyone can create for themselves and not just limited to the privileged few.” Jess and Reba are emblematic of exactly the sort of young females we should be championing; empowered, outspoken and smart.
As life in London becomes increasingly frustrating and economically challenging, the pair offer sage advice for those who are trying to keep the city one of the most exciting places in the world. “The present can be pretty grim but knowing that people have, and always are, fighting for a more equal future soothes me,” Reba reflects. “It’s just important to remember creativity may create a facade of safety for middle class people with arts degrees but it ain’t saving homeless women made vulnerable and in danger by the Tories anytime soon!” Jess concludes: “With everything going on in our current political climate, I think we need compassion, respect and understanding to help us get through life. The amazing, intelligent and like-minded women who are pushing boundaries and creating powerful work about race, gender and politics inspire me everyday.”