Chapter 9

The Egyptian Kingdom

While driving home from Kansas City after the Roaring ’20s Project, I realized that 2021 would be ten years from when I came to St. Louis. So, I thought the theme needed to be grand and twice as challenging as our previous project. But, unfortunately, when it comes to The Maximum Exposure Fashion Series, we are only as good as our previous project. I took one look at one of our models when the pictures came, and I thought she looked just like Claudette Cobert, and I expediently thought Cleopatra.

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The Roaring 20’s Season ended in 1933, and the Cleopatra film came out the following year, in 1934. The story for the next project started to be about making the movie Cleopatra in 1934 to us telling an entire story about Ancient Egypt because the concept attracted so much interest. The story starts with “The Egyptian Gods and Goddesses” and throughout ancient history with “The Lost Queens of Egypt,” ending with the story of Cleopatra and Antony.

Cleopatra and Antony’s bond is one of the greatest love stories of all time and has been a pop culture phenomenon for over 2,000 years; the story has been depicted in different variations throughout history in Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, The West Side Story, Titanic, and Pearl Harbor, to name a few. Cleopatra was the oldest of four children and was told to be the Queen of Upper and Lower Egypt for a day.

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She spent her life in the great library of Alexandria preparing for the Crown that she would one day wear. Cleopatra knew that knowledge was power, and she was growing into a very mature young adult. Then, at the age of 14, she saw Antony for the first time, and she fell madly in love with him and had a vision that she would rule the world one day with Antony by her side. Then, at the age of 18, her father passed away, and he wrote in his will that Cleopatra would rule alongside her brother.

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This created sibling rivalry and Cleopatra was banished to the desert, where she was left to die. Her bodyguard rescued her and snuck her back into Alexandra in a rug presented to Julius Caesar. Cleopatra told Caesar what her brother did to her. They began a romance. She would later have his child, and in her Father’s will, it was written that Caesar was supposed to intervene if there was ever a conflict between siblings. So, Caesar has banished her younger brother from the throne and made Cleopatra the Queen of upper and lower Egypt.

Throughout Caesar’s time in Egypt, Cleopatra’s younger sister Arsinoe attempted to assassinate Caesar because she saw Rome as a threat to the Egyptians' ancient traditions. Arsinoe was banished to Greece, where she spent the rest of her life in prison. Finally, on the ides of March, Caesar was assassinated by the Roman senate and burned in the street. Antony made the people rise in one of the most famous speeches in history, and later that night, Cleopatra and her son fled back to Egypt.

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It was written in Caesar's will that Octavian and her son would lead Rome. Cleopatra stayed in Egypt for three years and then came back to Egypt on her ship to claim Antony. She seduced him and told her about her visions as a child. The two fell in love, got married, and had three more children. While Cleopatra was in Rome, she persuaded Antony to kill Arsinoe, and Cleopatra fled back to Rome to poison her younger brother. They secured the throne of Egypt now; they needed to secure the throne of Rome. Arsinoe's body was discovered in Turkey in 2018; this is the only connection we have to Cleopatra VII. To think if she had completed her mission, we would be telling someone else's story. 

Octavian would not surrender Rome; she negotiated territories and was denied. Cleopatra declared war, and they fought in Actium outside of Greece. Egypt lost the battle to Rome, and Cleopatra fled back to Egypt. Antony followed behind and fought for Rome as long as he could, and he eventually died outside of Cleopatra's tomb. Cleopatra could not go on without Antony, and she took her own life by sticking her hand in a basket filled with a poisonous snake.

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Cleopatra knew from her visions that her death would be the end of Ancient Egypt. On a wall in Egypt, there’s a figure of all the different dynasties of Egypt, and at the end is the son of Cleopatra next to his mom with the snake god Apophis next to her. Legend has it the snake god took her soul back to the underworld where she lives forever, just like in Ancient Egyptian History. So, by Cleopatra being a stickler for tradition, she found the keys to immortality.

I became fascinated and inspired by this story when I was a kid. But, who would have thought this would turn into a story in my Fashion Series? The story mirrors my ambition to take over the world and all the haters and obstacles that stand in my way. But, Cleopatra and her preservation of tradition inspired me to become an artist, concur with the world, and preserve it with my photography, media, and artistry.