The Magic of Words

By @german_malaver

Photo by: Jim Nemer

At Escribe Germador we are surprised every day to see how this dream come true grows, grows and keeps growing. Where we have had the opportunity to share with great and incredible people, showing us through words a bit of their artistic experiences and of course their life trajectory, as the guest of today from Brighton (England) with you The Sultana Jilliana.

– G. M. In advance Sultana I want to thank you for accepting this interview, it is a pleasure that you have granted this time.

S. J. Gladly Germán, I am delighted to be a participant on this blog, it is fascinating that you have taken me into account.

G. M. It is an honour!

Tell me about you, Who is Jilliana Ranicar – Breese?

S. J. I ask myself the same question as I have changed drastically over the decades. I think I shall talk about my identity in 2019.

I am today a memoirist, life writer, radio journalist, poet, interviewer, vlogger and performance artiste of the Spoken Word in order words – a Wordsmith!

My main interests are colour combinations and textiles, fashion, interiors, architecture, flea markets, languages, photography, travel, world music and cinema.

G. M. Interesting! Then I could say that you are a woman art.

S. J. (Laughter).

G. M. What are or were your professions and which do you prefer?

S. J. I retired from 2 professions in 2000. The vintage collectables trade as a buyer and seller, in order words a dealer. I was in this profession for 30 years between London, Paris and New York.

My other profession was as founder, curator and running a bespoke nostalgia photo library in Notting Hill, London for 20 years. Retrograph Archive began as a private collection which became an archive of vintage consumer advertising and packaging from 1860-1960 – a hundred years of graphic design. The Archive also housed fashion magazines from the 1920s to the 1960s from Europe, London, Paris, New York and Buenos Aires. That was my past that would introduce me to fashion and photography.

Today, since retirement, I am working harder than when I was officially working! For the past 5 years I work on Fridays as the co-presenter and producer of a community radio station, in my home city of Brighton and Hove [BHCR] I am passionate about this. I choose my guests, brief them. I also read one of my stories, I call vignettes. I also often interview my guests for my YouTube channel.

My latest profession for the past 2 years has been Spoken Word. That means I perform to an appreciative enthusiastic audience my true life stories. I am pleased to say I find I can make people laugh and so am moving towards Cabaret where I can dress up in bling and look even more eccentric because it is a performance.
Little do the audience know this is my ‘normal’ attire!

Last week I went to a party and was told to ‘dress up’. I did and added a flashing crown. I then realised the guests were a character from a book or theatre play. When asked who I was, I replied ‘Myself!’

G. M. Fantastic! Sultana you are incredible, thank you for sharing these wonderful anecdotes.

S. J. It is a pleasure! I feel very comfortable in this interview.

G. M. It is a honour madame!

And tell me why do you like vintage accessories?

S. J. Very simple. I was in the antiques trade for 30 years. That included fashion and accessories, especially costume jewellery and hats. I love all strong colours and would always co-ordinate my hats and jewellery to go together. I also collect modern ‘Statement jewellery’ as well as vintage. For me vintage is 40s-80s.

In the 70s the trend was maxi and vintage. In the 80s it was black and gold and black and silver. I wore Sonia Rykell velour and lived in Paris where it was impossible not to get involved in food and fashion. Unfortunately eating changed my body shape, which changed my ‘look’ as I became majestic and stout.

G. M. Every answer you give me is so sincere, so intimate, I’m really pleased to have you on this site.

S. J. I am happy to be on this wonderful blog.

G. M. Thank you Sultana!

Let’s talk about your other facet, as a poet. What themes do you deal with in your poems?

S. J. My narrative poems are inspirational about ageing – embracing the Twilight Years, Renewal and survival in this world, love, colours such as blue or orange, travelogues observing life in Spain, Cuba, Turkey, Paris and Cartagena (Colombia).

G. M. Wonderful! My favourite colour is blue, so I will not hesitate to hear or read a poem of yours, I was already excited.

S. J. Of course!

G. M. Thanks so much!

And to finish this interview, How would you describe your own unique style?

– S. J. I created my own Sultana style in 2013. It was a gradual process that began in around 1980 with Israeli religious head dresses. I had a black and gold one and a red velvet one with a band going round on the forehead. The ‘look’ was Middle Eastern and I added gold drop earrings. In the 70s I wore berets which was very French style so I changed to a more mysterious look. My spouse hated my look and forbade me to wear these head dresses. I recall I would leave my house in a beret with my headdress in a bag remembering to change back before I returned home! I also wore sarouelles I had bought in Paris – baggy pants found in Morocco or Turkey. Throughout the 90s and Noughties, I wore tocs and other vintage style hats from the 40s to 60s with the matching accessories.

On a trip to Turkey in 2013 I discovered the religious shops where ladies would buy ‘the veil’ but I saw there were turbans for the modern Muslim woman without the veil. Thus I began my collection and rebranded myself Sultana– Queen as I had been called The Queen in several other cultures including India where the word for Queen is Rani. And what is my name, pray? None other than Ranicar!

That was 2013 and later in Spain, I added fresh flowers and a headband around the Turban or bone. Very Spanish or Latino. Then in 2017 I introduced my 50s vintage brooches to the Turban to add glamour.

Today in 2019 I wear long tunics and kaftans to complete my comfortable Sultana style. In Turkey, where I spend time, I call myself Sultana Jilliana or just simply Sultana. It always gets a smile. Even a laugh!

G. M. What a great experience! I’m surprised, I’m really grateful to you, for accepting this interview.

S. J. Thanks to you Germán! I am happy that you have taken me into account on this wonderful blog. Greetings to Colombia.

For more information visit her website:

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