As I grew up, one of my strongest allies has been my sister, wrote US singer-poet Patti Smith. Like many protagonists in Woody Allen’s movies Hannah and Her Sisters or the most recent Blue Jasmine sisters are often portrayed as complex yet inseparable characters, their love, fights and indestructible bond at the core of life’s dramas and beautiful wonders. On a glamour-themed night in New York City last May, the Knowles sisters donned designer garb to rub shoulders with fashion’s elite: Beyonc© in a black sequined dress by Givenchy while Solange in a 20s-inspired coral 3.1 Phillip Lim dress. Despite a noticeable collusion, their unique and strong personalities shone through their distinctive outfits.
Fast-forward to the after-party and the sleek image of sisterhood had been blemished by a now-infamous altercation involving Solange and her brother-in-law, Jay Z. Beyond the fight in the elevator that went viral on YouTube, what made everyone gasp in disbelief was to see Beyonc© drive home with Solange, showing in this silent move her unconditional support for her sister. Sisterhood is a bond unlike any other, which empowers both to thrive as much individually as in a duo, despite similarities or diff erences. It becomes, in Patti Smith’s words, a strong ally, a backbone on which to build one’s own personality and independence. But it also, at times, creates a challenge to fi nd one’s place within the family and to stand on one’s own feet.
The Knowles sisters, who have each carved out careers of their own, know it. Months later, the dust had settled, and Jay Z attended Solange’s whimsical allivory nuptials in New Orleans. The siblingsrelationship seemed intact and stronger than ever. Besides its emotional component, sisterhood can also be a compelling business force. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen f i r st beca me famous as child actresses and subsequently built a multi-million dollar entertainment company (Dualstar Entertainment). Their joint evolution from young starlets to teen idols could have scared them, yet instead it helped them fl ourish in their own way, finally enabling them to pursue a career as fashion designers. In 2004, the sisters left their native California and custom-created a programme at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study (compiling their own curriculum). Two years later, each paid her dues through high-profile internships (Mary-Kate with famed photographer Annie Leibovitz and Ashley with designer Zac Posen).
At just 20, the entertainment moguls (with a combined net worth of $300-million) launched The Row, and soon enough, industry recognition, courtesy of the esteemed Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) as Designers of the Year (Accessories and Womenswear), came their way. Ashley is said to be the fi nancial brains, with Mary-Kate as the creative one, but both bring influence, street sensibility and creativity to the design table. Similarly, fashion duo Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte fame have successfully made family the core of their business, with the avant-garde label operating out of Pasadena, California.
Known for merging fantasy with romanticism, the sisters have successfully kept their personal lives under the radar but describe working with each other as a natural process. They admit balancing each other out, and while they do disagree creatively, it seems evident that neither one would be where she is without the other. Leaving a place for each to shine is an important balancing act and one that sisters Pippa and Kate Middleton seemed to have mastered in the build-up to the royal wedding in 2011. With their relationship under intense scrutiny, and avoiding all social mishaps that could become tabloid fodder, Pippa was an exemplary sister, but she wasn’t expecting the media frenzy that developed when she wore that Alexander McQueen dress. She later explained that it was a non-dress, meant to blend in with her sister’s exceptionally long train, although it propelled Pippa to global heights of fame. In an interview with US television journalist Matt Lauer, she called her life after the wedding as a new normaland described her relationship with Kate in these simple terms: We are very close. We support each other and get each other’s opinions and things. Of course, no one displays the sisterhood factor as extremely and overtly as the Kardashians. Revealing their relationship for the world to scrutinise, the trio has amassed an impressive fortune (estimated net worth of $100-million) with a huge social media presence.
In South Africa, sisters Kuli Roberts and Hlubi Mboya are polar opposites yet equally charming in their own way. Journalist and media personality Kuli is renowned for her fearless attitude; the newspaper columnist has surprised many readers with her very frank take on a variety of matters. She unashamedly says the things many of us think but are perhaps not ready to verbalise. On the opposite end of this sisterhood spectrum, award-winning actress Hlubi, who starred in Isidingo, is also a free-spirited AIDS activist who names all the women in [her] familyas her role models, highlighting the force that lies behind sisterhood. That force is also visible in the case of the Mazwai sisters, Thandiswa and Ntsiki. In late 2014, Ntsiki, an activist and poet, took to Twitter to name and shame Bongo Maffin’s male band members for replacing their singer, (her sister) Thandiswa. Despite the ensuing media attention, she continued to stand up for her sister. For better or worse, through ups and downs, sisters (by blood or choice) make the world a happier, funnier, more authentic place in which to live. Here’s to the sisters who make your (and our) world go round!