Purpose and Perspective is a thoughtfully curated journal for the conscious reader seeking a deeper connection to themselves, the world and the things that surround them. We are a guide to those looking to make purposeful choices in their lives as they relate to style.
We highlight the people, places and things that speak to a digitally immersed culture that simultaneously prioritizes artisanal, couture, bespoke, sustainable and experiential, without ever compromising good taste and luxury. Mindful consumption is the modern way to live a stylish lifestyle and the ultimate luxury. Founded by Elizabeth Cabral, a fashion editor and consultant with fifteen years of industry experience. Elizabeth set out on a journey to find a new perspective and purpose to her work. What was initially supposed to be a passion project on the side, organically and beautifully became a fully engaging, inspiring and all consuming outlet. The name says it all, Purpose and Perspective. Elizabeth wanted to have
critical conversations with passionate people about purposeful things. She wanted to take people to a place where it wasn’t about infinite choice, but a better choice when it came to the content and things they consumed. Purpose and Perspective does not claim to be perfect or know everything about these critical topics, it’s a journey of discovery and learning for us as much as it is for our readers. But we do feel that now, more than ever, it’s time to at least start these conversations. Buy better, buy less, be connected to the beautiful things that you choose to surround yourself with, and be mindful of your and their impact on our world.
Founder & Creative Director Elizabeth Cabral Photographer & Editor at Large Christopher Sherman Graphic & Editorial Design Jeana Kolson Alexandra Whitney Kaiser
Contributors Brittany Adams, Alewya Demmisse, Paloma Elsesser, Aurora James, Jun Lu, Shayne Laverdiere, Tara Lamont Djite, Annie Leibovitz, Monique Pean, Emily Ramshaw, Christopher Sherman, David Suzuki, Erik Tanner, Guinevere Van Seenus, Aleece Wilson, Liisa Winkler, Dries Van Noten.
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” —William Morris PURPOSE AND PERSPECTIVE
CONTENTS ISSUE 001
06 bequest 12 change agent 22 an interview with annie leibovitz 24 forces of nature 46 object admiration 54 beyond the surface 62 the three r’s 64 model. muse. artist 82 the emotional labor of dries van noten
TR ENCH, CO MME DES G ARÃ‡O NS
PHOTOGRA PH Y BY C H RISTO PH E R SH ER MAN & J U N L U EDITED BY E L IZ A BE TH C A BRA L
Going against the tide in a sea of trend conforming labels, a handful of creators are making clothes that transcend trend, season, time and gender.
Subsequently subscribing to the philosophy of “heirloom sustainability” – designing clothes that are anything but disposable. Instead, their prolific pieces have lifetimes that span decades within a loyal wearer’s closet, are passed on generationally or are treasured in reference archives as important signifiers of that time.
COMME DE S GAR Ç ON S Comme des Garçons designer, Rei Kawakubo, is arguably one of the most conceptual and referenced designers of modern time. With the ability to create a progressively evolving “uniform look”, Kawakubo challenges our idea of what clothing should be…
fashion as art?
Comme des Garçons DRESS, COMME DES GARÇONS.
FAU X F U R C O AT, D RI ES VA N N O TE N .
We enlisted bright young things Jacob and McKenzie, to illustrate the fluidity and inclusiveness of these sartorial geniuses.
D RI E S VA N NOT E N Creating collections that continue to build upon themselves as opposed to erasing any of his preceding ideas, a Dries Van Noten pieceâ€”often distinguished by its pattern play, colour working and slightly bohemian tiltâ€”looks as current as it once did twenty years ago.
DR ESS, SI MO NE R OCHA.
SIMONE ROCHA Rocha is one of few new guard designers who are judiciously carrying the torch for her likeminded predecessors like Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto. Her thoughtfully conceptualized designs are based more on romantic and intuitive silhouettes, than whatever the new â€œit colour, shape or printâ€? of the season is.
change agent P H O T O G R PA H Y B Y C H R I S T O P H E R S H E R M A N & MARK SOMMERFELD EDITED BY ELIZABETH CABRAL
C O R SE T T O P, V I VI E NN E WES T WO O D.
“I was never told that I would be invited into this club,” says Paloma Elsesser, who isn’t your typical model..
The club she refers to is the fashion and beauty industry. But with her incomparable beauty and resplendent curves, Elsesser has indeed been welcomed with open arms. She has been embraced not only for her surface beauty, but for her intellect—that which is well beyond her twenty-five years—and her social consciousness as an outspoken and active participant of change. The story of how she was discovered on Instagram by legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath is well known by now, with Elsesser having been profiled by every major style outlet and appearing in campaigns for notable brands from Nike to Proenza Schouler. We were fortunate enough to have had a heart-to-heart with the L.A. native-turned New Yorker, whose warm and enlightened spirit inspired deep conversations about the world and time we live in. Below, Elsesser opens up about plus size stereotypes, the blessing and curse that is social media, and being the most genuine version of yourself. TIMING LENT ITS HAND TO MY SUCCESS
WORDS BY BRITTA N Y A D A M S & ELIZABETH CA BRA L
“I don’t think it was completely random. I sought it out, but feel like I also surrendered to it. I was always interested in fashion and modeling, but I still felt like, “how can I make sense in this world?” Even in a curve context, I don’t have an archetypal plus-size body. I don’t have a
flat stomach and thin arms and a bubble butt. But jobs kept coming to me because people were interested in other parts of me—what I had to say or my energy or the way I dressed.” SHATTERING STEREOTYPES “I would love to partner with a plus-size brand that really gets it and wants to speak to girls like me. It’s not about spandex dresses. I do think I’m sexy but not in an overt way that I have to prove it to you. I think it’s like very honest to how a lot of girls were and are. I went through a time when I over sexualized myself because that’s what I thought I was supposed to be doing. And then I know that what actually made me feel comfortable was wearing baggy pants and a big t-shirt and sneakers and being that person. I find Phoebe Philo more sexy than Donatella Versace, but people are still startled by my style. It’s so ‘Oh my god’ to see this fat brown girl being graceful or chic, wearing Yohji [ Yammamoto] or J.W. [Anderson].’ I’m lucky because there are girls who want to dress like me but they’re a size 20. They can’t even wiggle into designer stuff, and that’s real, so I want them to feel like they can participate, too. Things are changing but there needs to be more urgency in the plus-size industry. If we’re already being objectified and judged by how we look, at least give us something to wear.”
PLATFORM WITH A PURPOSE “Social media gave people a lot more insight into who I am, and I think it’s important to my narrative and to the new narrative of what modeling looks like. It’s just more personal now. I can exist in a really beautiful community where I get to see young girls inspire me and tell me things that I never got to tell anyone, or had anyone to tell. But Instagram is not my life, and I set pretty harsh guidelines for how I use it. Even though I have a large following, I’m not super curated and could probably have so many more followers if I really did it. I could post everything but it’s not natural for me. I don’t want to invite over 100,000 strangers into my breakfast, my lunch, my dinner, my shopping, my nighttime, my morning routine, my shit all the time.” ABOVE ALL KNOW YOUR WORTH “I think I define a very real girl, and that’s what I bring to the world. With modeling I find such pride in asserting my voice because I would lack purpose without it. I can redirect myself back to the real Paloma. She is great. She is worthy. She is still this person that, yeah, I take home at the end of the night. I do think my message has a lot to do with being vulnerable and communicating that I still have a hard time. I’m totally, utterly, beautifully imperfect without question. I definitely think that my vestige and my purpose definitely relies on the bylines of being a woman of color even before being plus-size, everything else is kind of a sub-genre. So I’m trying to empower communities that remain invisible. I just want some 14-year-old brown girl to be like, ‘Fuck. I see you. I feel you. I got this.’ I do it for her.” MAINTAINING A CENTEREDNESS “I think I’ve naturally found a pretty good grind of how I keep myself feeling good, and I’m really grateful that I have. I’m a hard worker. I’m down to work everyday, but I’m down to do work everyday that matters, and not just try to fill my time all the time.”
BUYING LESS, BUYING BETTER “I grew up in a house that was very cluttered. I find comfort in stuff, but also disdain and chaos. I’m on a constant purge but I still have a lot. I’m conscious and self-conscious of it. When I was younger I went thrifting and wore fast fashion because that’s what I could afford. But my buying decisions have shifted. Now I’m in a space where I’m actually able to invest in beautiful, sustainable things. I really lean into the concept of quality over quantity, think about the cost per wear, and try not to buy things I won’t like in five years.” IN CRITICAL CONVERSATION “It’s such an interesting time because everything existing outside of what we’re doing right now is so fucked. There’s a lot of heavy stuff going on right now. environmental issues, politics, racial tensions, the latter feels so prevalent for me because it’s literally been my existence. It’s hard to digest. We’re constantly digesting it but it’s hard to stay above water. But then, I think I’m really proud in my little bubble of my friends, of myself, of my peers, of young women and young people and the way that they’re talking and the way that they want to be a part of what their future looks like. So I’m also really proud. You don’t want to look back at this time and think, I didn’t do anything. You can’t be passive. And I think that people are much more awake.”
EARRINGS, AGM ES. ORGANIC COTTON S H IRT, M U J I.
SHIRT, BALENCIAGA. COAT & SKIRT, SIMONE ROCHA.
MAKE UP, CAR OLIN A D ALI, THE WALL GR O UP. HAIR , FEL ICIA (DR AMAGYR L) BU RRO WS, CASTI NG , DANTE + ONELL
“I find comfort in stuff,
but also disdain and chaos...”
I N T E R V I E W
W I T H
ANNIE L E I B O V I T Z
W H AT M A KES A GREAT P H O T O ?
The photograph itself doesn’t interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality. —Henri Cartier Bresson “That’s a very good question. I’ve sort of given up on that. You know, because I’m not too sure. When I was younger, I wanted so much to be Henri Cartier Bresson. I don’t do a “Decisive Moment.” It’s like, everyone’s already left and then I take the picture. I wanted to be Diane Arbus, and I don’t have an edge. I wanted to be edgy. I like to take pictures that will last a long time and for that person. I like to be there in the moment for that person. So... I don’t have an answer for what is a great picture. I mean, I certainly rely a lot on composition and graphics. In my case, I think the work works because the power of the body of work. There are all kinds of ingredients that go into taking a photograph that I can like, but in my case, I definitely see it as being part of a bigger picture. A bigger story.” —ANNIE LEIBOVITZ
Quite often the people who end up shaping our lives creatively—photographers, artists, writers, musicians—are only recognized for the impact they left on us upon their death. When walking among us they’re nothing but mere mortals, whose work is often forgotten as the newest, the brightest, and the freshly exciting crowds our self conscious.
PHOTOGRAPHY & IN TE R V IE W BY CHRISTOPHER SH E RM A N WORDS BY TAR A L A M O N T D JITE
The beauty of an artist still living is that their legend exists for a purpose—and can still be shared. On the eve of the release of her newest book, Annie Leibovitz is one such being. To take a breath and review her work—which spans over 30 years—is to recognize beauty still living among us. Annie’s unique ability lies in her own personal traits of humility. Some 35 years into her career, she bears no pretentiousness. Instead, there exists a childlike wonder of discovery. She still
comments on the beauty of a backdrop and looks to the work of young photojournalists. Without knowing it, she’s a boundary pushing artist who quietly creates the most powerful of emotions within us—a human connection with the individuals who currently consume our celebrity-obsessed culture. Here, ANNIE LEIBOVITZ, in her own words: “In the last couple years I’d been working on adding to the women’s project and that work was put into this book. I think it was primarily the biggest driver for getting this volume put together. There are extraordinary women, from Malala, and Kathleen Kennedy to Yoko Ono.” “People don’t talk enough about how cool it is to get older, and to kind of know what you’re doing. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is gonna be better, or good. It just means you kind of know what you’re doing. And you can look back at your younger self and see that what you had when you were young is drive and energy. You know, I was obsessed with what I was doing.” “I love books, and I love photography books. If you walk into my house, you’ll see walls of photography books that I’ve collected over the years. The book is such an important part of my life—it’s as important as doing my work.” “It’s interesting to get older and to see the arcs of different moments. To be young and to have that drive and energy is so important, and not to be afraid that what you’re doing could be perceived as being sort of insane. But that’s what it takes. It takes obsession.”
FORC ES OF NAT U RE
Photography by Shayne Laverdiere Edited by Elizabeth Cabral
SHIRT, JIL SANDE R, PANTS, PRO ENZ A SC HO ULE R, THE R O OM
Words by Emily Ramshaw
ongtime face of fashion Liisa Winkler models herself after Georgia O’Keeffe; she also considers herself a mentee of environmentalist icon Dr. David Suzuki. They are brought together by a deep connection to the Earth. Think of Georgia O’Keeffe and one thinks of severity, exactitude, an undying fascination and respect for nature. These qualities def ined her work, to be sure, in her minutely planned and shaded masterpieces of animal skulls, blooming f lowers and the New Mexican landscape, but they also seeped into her absolutist lifestyle, which came to its full brilliance in her desert home.
As an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art earlier this year showed in expert detail, O’Keeffe lived her life in a pure and uncompromising way. Her home and wardrobe were, ultimately, astoundingly minimal, and yet that which she did have—her hats, dresses, her kitchen and garden—held true value. Her strictness in her life made way for the purpose she found in her work. Liisa Winkler, our Georgia O’Keeffe for this spread, is a Canadian supermodel who was one of the biggest faces in fashion during the go-go-go early aughts, when she was the Gucci Girl in Tom Ford’s advertising campaigns for the brand. This was an era when excess was celebrated and Liisa, who
started in the industry at 15, began to feel the crowding out of her own way forward. “I always felt like I was questing, asking about my own purpose,” says Liisa of the 10 years she spent on the fashion circuit. “When I was modeling full time I always felt I wasn’t contributing enough and I wasn’t working hard enough. It was frustrating. It’s so awful: I would turn down good jobs and make up lies as to why I couldn’t go. At one point, my agent didn’t believe me anymore and I needed a doctor’s note because it was some good job. I’d said I had an infection and I couldn’t travel, which was such a lie. This was when I was doing really well. I had done a couple Gucci campaigns, I had worked for good magazines, and then I just started to think this is great, but I want to do something that matters more or means something more—I’m not getting enough out of this.” Here’s the thing: Liisa is still very much a fashion model; during the Spring 2018 season she walked for both Michael Kors and The Row and continues to work with clients all over the world. What’s more, she appreciates the job far more than she did when she’d fake illness. The difference now is that she’s found purpose beyond it—or, as she put it, she’s no longer “questing.” And like O’Keeffe, her purpose came out of nature. About to receive a certif icate in herbal medicine for which she’s been
H AT, LI L L I PU T.
SHIRT, MARGI EL A, THE RO OM.
HAIR AND MAKE UP, TO NI MASC IANGELO , P1M.
studying for more than two years, Liisa dreams of building a greenhouse at home in Toronto (she’s currently in the midst of renovations on the house itself ) and creating a clinic and community center of sorts for kids and families around plants. “My purpose has become to connect people with plants and to make them see that in their own backyard, they can grow things that are going to help them and heal their bodies, and also be healthier for the planet.” Georgia O’Keeffe made the physical and inspirational leap from Manhattan skyscrapers to the New Mexican desert well into middle age as she sought new creative incubation after the death of her husband and collaborator, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. Liisa Winkler’s desire to be close to the land has been something she’s held dear since childhood; it was something that was nurtured and brought into full bloom by an icon of modern environmentalism, Dr. David Suzuki. As a kid growing up in Southern Ontario, Liisa had a poster of Dr. Suzuki on her wall (“I had a little crush on him”), and she has long considered him a mentor. “I’ve always felt a connection to being in natural environments, caring about it and wondering why we hurt it,” she says. “I remember being little and watching David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things, and thinking, ‘How come he’s saying all these things and nobody’s doing anything—it’s such a strong argument.’ The rest of the world’s not listening.”
Sustainability is the thread to follow in this story. The notion not only that one might create work that sustains— both O’Keeffe and Dr. Suzuki’s legacies echo, and will continue to do so, and Liisa’s career as a model has continued long past the usual 25-year-old expiry date—but that sustainability, with its myriad meanings, is a way of being. Each of these people—who are all f igures of our collective culture, and yet remain wholly human—both used and preserved the earth and its bounty, and have made it their mission, whether documenting it through art and through television (as Suzuki did with The Nature of Things), or, crucially, by bringing that connection to others, through art, yes, but also through advocacy, and, as Liisa hopes to do, through teaching. Of course, this kind of devotion and purpose begets another result, that the earth offers so much beauty, that other stuff becomes just that: stuff. It’s something Liisa was reminded of modeling herself after Georgia O’Keeffe: that simplicity in things often yields a better understanding of the environment’s majesty. When asked if there are any objects, if there’s any stuff, to which she’s emotionally attached, Liisa pauses. “Books? ” Evidently, when you make space for that which matters, the other things fall away.
C OAT, RIC K OWENS, HOLT RENF REW.
TOP, E LLE RY, THE RO OM.
Her strictness in her life made way for the purpose she found in her work.
BL OUSE, AL EXANDE R MCQUE EN, HO LT R ENFRE W.
HAT, LILLIPUT. SHIRT, VINTAGE. SKIRT, COMME DES GARÃ‡ONS, HOLT RENFREW.
Dear Mr. Suzuki, I have been a huge fan of yours since I was a teenager. I have your photo on my wall because you showed me that I could and should stand up for what I cared about - protecting the environment! Thank you so much for being such a positive role model in my life and for taking the time to answer these questions. There are so many possible pathways to healing our planet that it can feel overwhelming to contemplate. Based on your work with the David Suzuki Foundation, which one gives you the most hope for change? If you could magically heel one part of our environment, what would it be and why? You have said that you feel you have â€œfailedâ€? in the sense that you were unable to change how people see their place in nature on our planet, that even though there are constant successe, the same problems will continue to come up generation after generation unless a deeper change is made in how we see ourselves in relation to our environment. Is there something that we could add to the school curriculum or in some way help to encourage these values in children? With the growing digital environment in which we are losing the need for actual physical connections, what do you think will happen to our ability to connect with nature? Love and compassion between humans feels important to facilitate love and compassion for other life forms. What are the most important insights you have learned about humag relationships and love through your own marriage and relationships? When you reflect on your life and who you are as a person, what makes you feel the most proud? (not including your children) Thank you so very much for your time! Sincerely, Liisa Winkler
Dear Liisa, Real change would be changing the way we see our place in the world, shifting from an anthropocentric (humans at the centre) to a biocentric (humans are part of a web of species). We find Camp Suzuki where young people spend a week on an island with environmentalists and Indigenous elders has a powerful life changing impact. The unfortunate thing is that we face a need to change very quickly to deal with climate change and there isn’t enough time to get all kids to change. I don’t believe in magic but a dream would be to lower carbon levels in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels of 260 ppm (it’s now over 400). Climate change is already kicking in and we’re heading for a catastrophic rise in temperature unless we get the amount of carbon down. I have always believed our boast that we are rational animals and that’s what led me into a career in television and radio, because I believed with more, better information, people would make more informed and better decisions about the challenges that face us. Well, the average person now has access to more information than ever in human history but what has shocked me is that many people now churn through the internet until they find someone or website that validates what they already believe. In other words, they are no longer persuaded by the pros and cons, they simply find corroboration of what they believe. And that is the real challenge we face: our values and beliefs are shaped by gender, socio-economic status, religion and ethnicity and it is hard to get people to see through different eyes. Today, we look out from an anthropocentric perspective that puts us and our inventions (borders, capitalism, the economy, markets, corporations, governments, etc.) above the natural world as when Prime Minister Stephen Harper said repeatedly that we couldn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions because it would destroy the economy. So he elevated the economy, a human construct, above the very atmosphere that gives us life, weather and climate. This is catastrophic. We are already very disconnected from nature. Virtual Reality is exciting a lot of people and will no doubt be a big money maker. But the problem is, VR is better than reality: you can have a gunfight with all the adrenalin pumping thrill of a real gunfight, lose and live to fight again: you can have a heart thumping car race, crash and walk away; you can have the kinkiest sex and not worry about STDs or getting caught. I donned a VR helmet and dove among whales in ways that I never could in reality. All this digitization allows us to get our kicks in our living rooms, so who needs nature? I am not a Christian but I absolutely believe the central message of Christianity which is the power of love. But it’s difficult. The idea that if someone punches me in the cheek, that I should let him have a shot at my other cheek goes against every instinct I have to hit back. But if we don’t overcome that, we’ll just go on doing terrible things to each other and the rest of nature. But we’ve got a big challenge. Look at the way we treat children, other human beings, we are atrocious as a species. If we can’t love each other, how are we going to learn to love the rest of creation? I have written 18 books for children in the hope that if children ask mom and dad what they are doing to protect their future, parents cannot help but act for the most precious people in their lives. My children are everything, not only my greatest joy, but my greatest pride. No, I have to say, they are my second greatest pride and joy because my grandchildren are my first pride and joy. All I ask is that when I am on my deathbed, my children and grandchildren will gather around me, not to grieve my loss, but to hear me tell them “I’m only one person but I did the best I could for your future”. That is my pride, that I tried as best I could. Hope this is useful. David Suzuki
INSE RT CAPTI ON HER E
HAT, LILLIPUT. TOP, ELLERY. PANTS, PROENZA SCHOULER.
HAT, COUR AG E MY L OVE . B LOUSE, ALEX ANDER MC QUEE N, HOLT R ENFR EW. HOLT R ENFR EW.
For jewelr y designer Monique PĂŠan, the pieces themselves contain multitudes.
COSMIC OBSIDIAN & METEORITE RING, ROSE- CUT DIAMOND EARRINGS
If you want to celebrate the beauty of an object—to revel in its associations and history— go to Monique Péan. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIK TANNER WORDS BY EMILY RAMSHAW
Visit her in Soho, where she has turned her office and private atelier into a shrine to some of the most rare and beautiful objects in the world—objects that are simultaneously of the Earth and completely otherworldly, a delicate and collaborative balance between nature and craft. Her jewelry, of course, make up the objects in question. If you are a collector or a fellow admirer of beautiful things, you will be in good company with Péan. But even if you value the cerebral, say, or even the intellectual or human or artistic over the material, you will be swayed, because when it comes to Monique Péan’s jewelry, all of the above applies. These things? They contain multitudes.
In Péan’s world, objects are the story and people their storytellers—herself, chief among them. She discovered their power as a kid traveling with her parents (her father worked in development for the UN among other organizations). “When I would travel to see my father’s projects, my mother would always take me to see the local artisan gatherings and to see their work—that’s a huge part of how I was raised,” she says, the September morning light streaming into a massive loft window looking out on West Broadway. These crafts meant something to the people she met on these adventures, and they meant something to her parents, who collected them. When her sister died in a car
MAKE UP FOR MO NI QUE PEAN, SIMO NE O TI S, ARTISTS & CO MPAN Y. MAKE UP & HAIR FO R ALEW YA, CAROLINA DALI AND MICHAEL SILVA, THE WALL GROUP.
accident at the age of sixteen, Péan decided that it was time to leave her work in the financial industry and find her own meaning. “I took some time to think about what I’m truly passionate about,” she says. “I love to travel, I enjoy discovery, art, architecture and design. I thought if I could get up everyday and work with artisans and travel around the world and learn about their art and culture while I’m employing them, that’s the way that I want to move forward.” She found her answer in jewelry, a product of art and design to which we attach endless meaning (birth, family, love, loss), but, as soon as we make a piece our own, as soon as money passes hands, we forget its history, something that Péan, with her youthful exposure to artisans and their practices, couldn’t stand for. “When I started learning about jewelry making, I was horrified by how destructive mining is towards the environment and how awful it is for the people who are working or live near the mines. Mining enough gold for a simple wedding band leads to over twenty tons of waste. We think of jewelry as such a beautiful thing, but we don’t think of the fashion in which it’s made. So, I thought, I want to make beautiful things, but I want to make them in the right way.” This lead her to Alaska and an indigenous community there who welcomed her into their homes and shared the fossils that had been passed from generation to generation— mammoth tusks that were thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of years old. For Péan, and for her collectors (the jeweler’s loyal name for her equally loyal customers), this gave her jewelry a story and meaning. Sitting in front of a tray of some of her most treasured fossils—those too precious even to carve or render into jewelry that include the aforementioned mammoth, but also dinosaur bone, and, perhaps most extraordinarily, a fragment of ancient meteor that looks as those it’s been carved by the same art deco-inclined hand that dreamt up the Chrysler Building yet is completely natural —Péan could talk for hours about their intricacies. Like, for example, the 156 millionyear-old dinosaur fossil from the Colorado Plateau that reminds her of Rothko’s work. As with the Arctic indigenous community’s fossils, Péan hopes that her pieces will
be passed from generation to generation. Her work is so striking partly because of the material she uses, but also because she remakes them using such modern shapes, inspired equally by Patagonian glaciers as by Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels in Utah. Her jewelry is based around the ancient and made into the new, made to sustain alongside the wearer and beyond. Her sense of this has become more acute now that she is a mother herself. “Being a mom makes me even more appreciative of the artisans and their craft,” she says. “Oftentimes these techniques are passed down through generations and when your family grows and you know you’re going to pass things down, you feel very fortunate to get to know these artisans and have them bring you into their world.” Péan’s work has taken her to visit artisans and go in search of materials in countries like Japan, Norway, French Polynesia, Guatemala, Easter Island, Antarctica… the list goes on. In fact, each of the seven continents has had a hand in creating her work. Walking through her atelier, looking at pieces made with antique diamonds (another favorite material), pyratized tusk, dinosaur bone, and many other truly mind-blowing materials while Péan waxes about their stories and inspirations, you will come worship these objects. They are beautiful, yes—so spectacular that the designer refuses to part with some of them—but they contain their own histories and stories: the millennia-long histories of the fossils (“pictures capture a moment in time, but fossils capture tons of thousands of years of time if not hundreds of millions of years of time,” she says), but also the individual stories of the artisans who made the pieces themselves. “I think about purpose all the time. After my sister passed, it really made me a much more reflective person in terms of why we’re here and what we do while we’re here in the limited amount of time that we have,” she says. “When I create a piece and it goes to a collector, I often think of all the people who helped make it possible, especially working with materials that are not meant to be carved or set.” And so Péan moves the story forward, taking ancient things and exposing them to a new way of thinking. The object lives on.
ROSE-CUT DIAMOND OPEN COLLAR NECKLACE
NORSKE FRONT-BACK EARRINGS, ROSE CUT DIAMOND CUFF
The object lives on.
HERKIMER SPEC IMEN RING, DIAMOND SLICE BRACELET.
LEFT, EUDIALYTE, OPAL, VIOLANE AND AGATE BRACELET. CENTRE, S TRIP ED A GATE EARRINGS. RIGHT, PYRITIZED DINOSAUR CAGE RING.
Meet Alewya Demmisse, the inspired and self-aware model and artist who helped us bring Monique’s Pean’s treasures to life.
ON PURPOSE When it comes to purpose, it’s about embodying what you are in that one moment. Sounds like a small thing but it’s so big to be honest about who you are in that moment. It changes, constantly, and I act according to how I feel. ON LIFE LIVED I’ve lived five hundred lives in twenty-three years. My family is refugee from Ethiopia, my mom traveled from Ethiopia to Kenya where she had my brother, then Saudi Arabia where I was born, then London where we climbed out of asylum. In London, there was always a clash between my life at school and when I came home at night to my traditional parents. My father is Muslim and I grew up Muslim, but I didn’t fit in to my father’s ideals. Him and I always butted heads about what it was to be a girl. I was very much in my own spirit, but I wasn’t always comfortable with it so I would resist and fight everyone and everything. ON MODELING Modeling came to me, I never thought about it at all. I didn’t think I could do it. At 19 I was meant to go to university
and study math and philosophy, but I genuinely didn’t want to do any of that. I dropped out after two months, I went to an agency they signed me on the spot. From that moment on, my spiritual awakening started. Modeling was a battle in the beginning, I didn’t know what it meant or what it was, battling people’s perceptions of me. Now it’s easier because I know that this is why I’m here. I know myself better and I know the people I’m working with. ON HER ART My spirit guides my art, it’s being channeled, I’m in a meditative state when the pen moves, I start with the head and my pen moves, on, I just flow. It takes me two minutes to complete a sketch. My art has literally taught me everything about my spirit. It’s my purpose. ON AMBITION AND SUCCESS I don’t go there, it’s just one of those things. I just hope to get to a place where I’m always aligned. I think anything is possible, I just want to be at total peace. I think it’s strange that we perceive good food, time, peace, as a luxury. Why are these natural things a luxury and the man-made stuff we get from the factory is the norm?
MAKE UP, CAR OL INA DALI, HAI R, MIC HAE L SILVA, THE WALL GR O UP.
JACKE T, ISSEY MIYAKI
P hotography by Erik Tanner
Words & Styling by Elizabeth Cabral
Beyond the Surface
She identifies her heritage as Native Indian, Black Canadian, Irish and Italian. There is no one box for her to check, and she does not conform to the fashion industries idealitic beauty standards. She is the face of the future! With a multi-ethnic background and distinguishable characteristics, Aleece Wilson’s diverse beauty has brought her to the attention of industry heavyweights such as Marc Jacobs, Fabien Baron and Vogue. As fashion (and the world) embraces —albeit far too slowly—a more inclusive beauty aesthetic, Wilson has never felt more confident or beautiful and is proud to say “there is no one like me.” With her fiery red hair and a multitude of freckles, modeling never occurred to Aleece. “I never thought I was pretty enough to be a model, [because] I never saw models who looked like me.” While unique beauties like Alex Wek, Stacey McKenzie and Adwoa Aboah have forged a path of beauty inclusion before her, it’s up to women like Wilson with a pointed perspective on beauty, to use their confidence and modern social platforms for purpose. Showing the generations ahead of her that being unique is reason to be celebrated, and sameness is rather forgettable.
“there is no one like me” 55
JACKET & DRESS, COMME DES GARÃ‡ONS, ALBRIGHT FASHION LIBRARY.
TOP, JW ANDERSON, ALBRIGHT FASHION LIBRARY.
“I never thought I was pretty enough to be a model, [because] I never saw models who looked like me”
JA CKET, COMMES DES GARÃ‡ONS, ALBRIGHT FASHION LIBRARY.
THE THREE R’S For accessories designer Aurora James, finding a bigger purpose in an industry she loved, meant building a business on sustainability and ethical sourcing. PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN WORDS BY ELIZABETH CABRAL
“Growing up in Canada with a mother who championed the three R’s, recycle, reuse, reduce, this way of thinking was common place for me. My mom was a landscape architect and it was about how the infrastructure interacted with nature, how in development you f ind ways to support an eco-system versus tearing it down. That translates for me in a place like Africa, where you’re surrounded by nature and the way of life there is about working with and prospering from the land, making use of everything.” Not surprisingly, James’ design and sourcing process is intrinsically purposeful. All leathers are byproducts of government mandated culling or the edible food industry, nearly the entire collection is vegetable dyed, cottons are organic and hand crafted beading and weaving are done by local artisans. This production chain is paying it forward by not only employing local communities across Africa, but also maintaining traditional artisan skills that are quickly disappearing in many parts of the world, due to an inf iltration of used clothing cast-offs from North America. Describing Brother Vellies as “slow fashion”, James is creating “forever pieces” designed and crafted to last.” This buy less, wear more philosophy segues to what James considers to be fashion’s most critical issue—waste. Mass fashion behemoths simply need to stop producing hundreds and thousands of pounds of unwanted clothes.
According to a 2016 Newsweek article, in less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, an astonishing 80 pounds per person. The Environmental Protection Agency says that 84 percent of those unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went into either a landf ill or an incinerator. James thinks there should be regulated caps on the amount of discarded clothes that apparel companies create. And while sustainability initiatives are being touted by luxury con-glomerates and fast fashion retailers alike, James thinks the industry has not made much, if any, progress since she started four years ago. “It was a small group then, and it’s a small group now” referring to designers creating genuinely sustainable business models. “I think brands need to be cautious about making blanket statements, creating one sustainable sweater is not enough to lay claim to being a sustainable brand.” How does James address the matter of waste when she is in the business of creating things? She communicates a design philosophy to customers that is based on re-issuing and promoting shapes and styles for multiple seasons, so customers won’t buy something that’s “out of fashion” a year later. By encouraging consumers to buy timeless products that become part of their intuitive style DNA, James hopes they won’t feel inadequate, succumbing to the pressure of having to buy something new all the time. She believes in making something in a way that it will be able to live on and survive and become a vintage piece. Not surprisingly, James values a personal attachment to things, surrounding herself with memories. Her most cherished possessions are driven by nostalgia – child hood teddy bears and a photo album she compiled from seventh to eighth grade.
MAKE UP, MAR JORI E FO RTE, THE WALL GR OUP. HAIR , FELI CI A (DRAMAG YRL) B UR R OWS.
Since launching Brother Vellies in 2014, she has won the 2015 CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund, opened a f lagship store in New York, and amassed a loyal customer base. But most importantly, it’s given this artist an active role in empowering marginalized communities and artisans around the world.
Gu Va Se PHOTOGRAPHY BY C H RISTO PE R SH E RM A N & J U N LU EDITED BY ELIZ A BE TH C A BRA L
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WORDS BY ELI Z A BE TH C A BRA L
Surrendering herself to the photo, without self-conciousness or inhibition, Guinevere Van Seenus creates a connection that is intimate, raw and highly impressionable. She has sustained a modeling career spanning more than two decades, all the while remaining at a heightened level of relevance and modernity. A remarkable feat given modeling’s compulsion with the next, newer face. Surely this has something to do with her unique beauty, but more so it is the net of inspiration she casts on those she works with. With a quiet, unassuming demeanor, Van Seenus actively participates by observation. Taking note of the “moments in between” as she once described it, and transforming them in to a captivating pose. Connecting with the clothes and making them an extension of her body. To watch her is not to watch a model, it is a type of performance art. She is above all things, mindful: of her surroundings, her collaborators and what she is emoting. She values time: to create, to connect, to feel. With such a thoughtful approach to her craft, it’s not surprising that same mindfulness can be found in her style. The idea of purposeful consumption is not lost on her, making it only fitting that Van Seenus graces our inaugural cover. Her closet is a treasure trove of emotional connectedness, like her collection of Dries Van Noten items personally gifted by the designer, or an original Helmut Lang coat, perfectly worn in and distressed by nearly two decades of wear. And then there are her signature collections of Hawaiian print shirts, vintage t-shirts and archival dresses that while purchased with love, she has yet to find a special enough occasion to wear them to. A signet ring with her family crest and a sentimental pendant rarely come off of her body. Her surroundings are emblematic of the same sense of connection and purpose. On the eve of our shoot at her Brooklyn apartment—a warm and calming space, we spoke for hours while tasting from her collection of teas, her favorite incense, Astier de Villate Yakushima filling the air, and her three-legged foster dog Ashley always by her side. Here, in her own words, Guinevere Van Seenus, model, muse and artist, addresses some of the most poignant topics of our current time.
“Sometimes your worst day is someone else’s best and they lift you entirely...in those moments one can find interesting portraits and stories of truth, imperfection, and vulnerability.” How do you achieve purpose in your life—what kinds of purposeful decisions do you make everyday? I imagine it sounds contrived but in truth the way I feel a sense of real purpose is in creating or in being helpful and of service. Fostering and working with animals, finding a way to be kinder than one feels like being on a rough day, cleaning something up that isn’t mine in the park, on the street, anywhere. Simply trying to bring something positive in, wherever it might be possible. I do also find a sense of this in my working with stones and metals, fabrics, clay, even at times with imagery both in front of and behind the camera. It helps me in knowing that I have made a contribution. That I am not just using and discarding but actually creating and giving. They are small things but I believe every bit counts and hopefully cascades. What are your codes to self betterment and wellness? Ha. Well it’s a big job so it’s a big bag of tricks. Meditation, prayer, therapy, inspirational literature and speakers…… acupuncture and a multitude of alternative therapies……. yoga, dance, play, animals, family, creating, cleaning….. Why and how do you think you have been able to sustain such a long and iconic career as a model and artistic collaborator? I often get asked this and I would love this question to be posed to some one other than myself so maybe I might know. I never had real ideas that I would make it. Then, even in the midst, I thought I would most certainly get booted any day. I am truly very fortunate. Fortunate, I believe, to have connected in some peculiar way with some of these incredible people. Not everyone, not everyday, not for every project, but maybe in some small manner that has lasted a bit, with some. They have
“...leave a place better than you found it.”
certainly affected and inspired me so that is the only way I know how to speak to it. Beyond a model and muse, you are an artist and expressionist—intrinsically part of the creative process, what do you feel you bring to it and what is it about you that you that has inspired so many photographers and artists? I appreciate you saying that. I don’t have a real concept of what that means. I don’t really know how others work for the most part, nor how it is to work with me from the other side. I have good days at work where I feel like am able to deliver and others where every minute of it felt incongruent and wrong, and I leave disappointed in myself. But this is the wonderful part about working in these incredible teams, they give you so much. Sometimes your worst day is someone else’s best and they lift you entirely, or the struggle of that day is exactly what was meant and needed for a certain concept. In those moments one can find interesting portraits and stories of truth, imperfection and vulnerability. In the end I know I want to make the best picture possible, I never want to repeat myself, and I desperately want inspiration, for everyone. I am one of many contributors, and I just hope I am helpful to bringing the vision into form. How do you marry your altruistic pursuits with the world of fashion— are they exclusive of each other? In a way they are polar opposites and in another they are one and the same. I like to imagine everyone tries to bring betterment into whichever space and field they exist and work in. Some areas may be easier, more fluid and connected with these concepts already. I don’t imagine fashion as one of them. But isn’t that the very reason why it is important? The very reason why they must be overlaid? To apply these ideas into the more difficult realms is exactly the point. There are so many people in the industry doing positive and amazing things, and so much potential to continue and grow that. It does seem that a good deal of consciousness is needed. Education maybe,
awareness…a slowing down…thought. I say this still for myself as well. I can only imagine there are very many things that I can and will improve on once I do know better. That said, I do think there are a number of areas in fashion where we really do know better, but we don’t do yet. This is unconscionable, greedy and lazy. It doesn’t make it ok that the consumer buys it and supports it. I don’t believe it is all about demand and supply. I would hope for the bigger picture to be considered, that a cultural consciousness, an industry pride and integrity could come into practice, a general caring. Ideally to lead the way, not to follow anyone with a dollar to spend and an itch to scratch, but to guide in good and positive directions that are better in the long run. Not to be controlled, but to be truly considered. I don’t say take a vow of poverty, I imagine there is room for both without some of the abusive practices that have become the norm. Who in your opinion is creating purposeful design. Which creators/ designers are you inspired by? Always and forever Dries. I think he is making one of the clearest, strongest and most beautiful statements of today, of staying true to your vision, persevering with patience, staying inspired, believing in beauty, fashion as purpose and art, timelessness, agelessness… He creates treasures you want to have for a lifetime and garments of chic comfort one can exist in everyday. Having pieces from twenty years ago blending seamlessly with aspects of each of his current collections. He does this without fueling a desperate need to consume, but gives a pure satiation and richness of finding just the right one for you. Like eating the most amazing of chocolates, one doesn’t feel the need to eat a hundred. The “less is more” concept becomes evident and true enjoyment comes in the presence of that one full flavor, or that one amazing item that lights up everything else in your life. For me it is just one great coat that changes my entire wardrobe for a season. Maybe a new pair of shoes that enlightens different aspects of all that I already have, those items that have lasted 20 years because of the quality of construction and design. All it needed was a little illuminating…
Azzedine Alia is most certainly a persevering patriarch of these ideals, Erdem is one that comes a little more recently… Rei Kawakubo, Yohji … There are many to admire. But all this is considering we are simply talking about clothes, there could very well be a bigger conversation regarding issues like self esteem, addiction behavior, suppression, detachment, ignorance…or a general lack of joy and happiness that is the struggle of many. I realize cost is also a factor but quality and lasting products pay for themselves in the end, and are incredible second hand, inexpensive treasures. They are also very well supplemented with a good pair of Dickies or Carhart pants…maybe some Converse and your father’s old tuxedo jacket. In the end consumption is a drug that triggers the rewards centers of the brain just as the “smart phone” does, or that “one” cigarette. I imagine we all struggle
with this in some form, so I guess it is just about fighting the good fight. How do you feel about stuff? Especially since you work in an industry that consumes, creates and markets so much. Well I suppose any industry consumes, that is the nature of commerce in some way or another. It has been since the beginning of time it would seem. Something is used to make something else, maybe then used several times over and over again, transformed at each step, until eventually it winds up at its end and in the garbage. That cycle just seems to have gotten shockingly rapid in the last couple decades. Fabrics, dress coats and shirts may have lasted generations before. Now it seems a wonder if it is weeks or even one washing. We are humans and we leave footprints as they say. We just seem to have gotten really ok with not having a conscience around it. It is strange in a
time that we are more global than ever, when we can actually see with our own eyes what is happening on the other side of the world, that we can choose to be entirely blind to the millions of tons of clothing waste that gets deposited on someone else’s land, in some other sphere…somewhere else…that magically makes it all disappear. But I believe the concept of “disposable” and easy and cheap should be eliminated from so many areas of our lives. Nothing comes for free, we do pay in the end. Whether it’s the landfills and environment, the cheap food that fills but doesn’t nourish our bodies, or the toxic products that slowly poison us, our children, the animals and our future. How do you want your narrative to read? My mom always said…. “leave a place better than you found it.” If that is possible I would be content with that.
GUINEVEREâ€™S ARCHIVAL HALSTON DRESS.
GUINEVEREâ€™S OWN VINTAGE T-SHIRT.
S K I RT, A RC H I V E C O M ME D ES G A R Ã‡ O NS .
â€œ In the end I know I want to make the best picture possible, I never want to repeat myself...â€? 77
HAT, ARMANI. PANTS, COMME DES GARÃ‡ONS.
GUINEVEREâ€™S ARCHIVE DRIES VAN NOTEN COAT & JAPANESE TABI BOOTS.
T H E
E M O T I O N A L
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D r i e s Va n N o t e n
“...as a fashion designer we make clothes, but we forget sometimes that these clothes are a part of people and part of memories of things that happened in their lives.” Flipping through Van Noten’s new book, 51-100, which examines each of his collections since he published his last anthology (aptly called 1-50) in celebration of his 100th collection, it’s difficult not to look at it through a personal lens. If you know or care of his work at all, your own experience with Dries will ricochet back at you—no matter how seemingly trivial the memory or story. In fact, what strikes you about this book is that, with a canon of work so thoroughly creative and so exhaustively documented, Dries Van Noten is never trivial. When it comes to Van Noten as a man, as a designer, as a label, there’s no need for grandiose storytelling or myth making— which is why books as straightforward in concept as 1-50 and 51-100 are engrossing. When it comes to Van Noten, the work speaks for itself.
design what he likes (rich colors, prints) yet walways as clothes that are made to wear—they aren’t costume or pretense in the way of couture; they aren’t clothes for the sake of art. It’s because of this singularity that one can look at a collection from 1997 and another one from 2017 and have them seem—somewhat bizarrely, especially taking into account the tearing pace of fashion and trends—contemporaries, a continuation of, let’s call it, the Dries Van Noten idea. It’s the idea that his ardent supporters and fans buy into season after season, and wear their Dries from ’97 alongside their Dries from ’17. In the richness and the beauty and the unadulterated visual interest of his clothes, the collections stand on their own, individually and as an ever-evolving group.
What striking, too, is Dries Van Noten’s utter consistency—a descriptor that, while certainly not glamorous, also marks the designer as apart from the rest of the fashion establishment, where the only consistent quality is upheaval. Dries Van Noten, however, unlike nearly every other major European high fashion company, has remained independent. What’s more, he never advertises. The story he tells is through his work, through his clothes.
PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN WORDS BY EMILY RAMSHAW
On that same note, the collections flow together in the singular way in which only an independent designer’s can. There is no rediscovery of earlier motifs or signatures in the way of houses that cycle through creative directors; Dries Van Noten’s is a constant evolution. He’s been known to
Yet the designer releases these clothes into the world to be worn, and his collectors and fans can truly live their own lives around and in them and attach their own meaning. Creativity is everywhere, he says from his studio in Antwerp. It’s the way that I live. And I think creativity is important to everybody’s life. Even for people who say that they don’t like fashion, in the morning when they dress themselves, they make the decision to wear each item, and that’s creativity. Everyone has a way of expressing themselves—how they feel, what they feel. At the end of the day, that’s the strong thing about fashion—it’s a way of communicating.” If you’re lucky, that expression is communicated in Van Noten’s clothing. And this is where the deep emotional attachment comes in. For the man himself, the revelation of publishing his second book was his
devotees’attachment to his work. For a lot of people who know the collections and have worn them for a long time, the book is nice, because it’s also a part of their life, he says. The book signings have sometimes been very emotional because, as a fashion designer we make clothes, but we forget sometimes that these clothes are a part of people and part of memories of things that happened in their lives. It’s been very affecting to discover that by making clothes that people really love to wear, you become part of their life and memories.” When you can tell your own story through beautiful clothes—when you derive joy and creative expression from them—they become as talismanic as any keepsake. Van Noten calls books cultural luggage, but it could well describe his clothes, too.
“...that’s the strong thing about fashion— it’s a way of communicating.”