I’ve written before about the experience of having my two worlds collide: being someone who has worked in the service of social welfare and now interested in fashion, representation and the productive use of technology. My definition of social welfare is an aspirational one that includes the well-being, level of happiness and quality of life of the entire society. My transition to studying and working in a new realm is becoming more and more of an easy one as many in fashion are taking on the issues I have worked on my whole career. Equality for women and girls, sustainability, social inclusion, and mental wellness to name a few. Helping organizations to become more culturally aware or “woke” as we say in the current moment and responsive is something I have been hired to do many times. However, during the time I did this work, the organizations and people they served were invisible. The current “blackface” blunder made by Gucci and the brand’s subsequent work to become more aware and inclusive is a perfect example of how an organization needs to change to realize real inclusion. The issue of social exclusion is now a very public one thanks in large part to social media.
March is Women’s History Month. Friday is International Women’s Day. The theme for Women’s Day is, #BalanceforBetter. This idea serves to move us from us/them approaches seen in the recent movement to one of gender balance and gender equality. In fact, balance is a great marker to strive for in most things in life. In the photo above, I am standing on the corner of Bethune Street, named for Johanna Bethune. She started the first all-girls school in NYC. Not only was it free but it was also integrated and this was in 1817. My nod to women’s history and the importance of free education for all.
People ask me how I got to be who I am today. One of my most significant experiences was attending all-girls schools, particularly the one I attended in college, Salve Regina. Here I was taught to think critically, to understand that the world, humanity and its presenting questions are not black and white and that education is a powerful tool in the achievement of gender equality. I arrived at college shedding my all-girls high school plaid uniform and trading it in for blue jeans (the new school uniform in the 70’s). I was immediately served lectures and interactions with important people shaping culture and most importantly speaking to women.
This photo from my college yearbook shows a few of the people that came to sit with us in dorm lounges and speak in lecture halls. Today I am wearing jeans and a long sleeve tee, just as I did then. I must say this way of dressing is grounding after a period of dressing up and going out for Fashion Week. I feel well…in balance. My nod to agnes b., the mother of reinvention is because I’ve been thinking of just that and daydreaming about what will come when I soon have more time. The jeans are from Re/Done and incorporate the ideals of heritage, history, sustainability and uniqueness as vintage Levi’s are taken apart and made into one of a kind pairs of jeans that contain the old story of the garment and any new one you wish to create as I am.
What do you do when you want to #BalanceforBetter and importantly what do you wear?