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Fashion for Haiti: One Million Hearts
Creating a community of conscious consumerism is at the heart of everything I do, I believe it offers necessary solutions and I have witnessed the impact of this first hand in Haiti. I will be forever grateful to President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for introducing me to this vibrant country and offering such important leadership in this space.
I am excited to share that Urban Zen, together with the CFDA and eBay, launched Fashion for Haiti: One Million Hearts – an artistic celebration of the limitless potential of creativity and an expression of my ongoing love for Haiti.
For me, Haiti embodies all that Urban Zen represents and these beautifully designed hearts symbolize the power of bringing community together to raise awareness and inspire change.
You know, since my first visit to Haiti with the Clinton Foundation, I’ve been inspired by the Haitian artisans and how they are able to capture their culture and country in art form. I’ve been working with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to show the world these beautiful pieces, and in doing so, we’ve been able to help these artisans rebuild their own country by providing them with access to international markets and retailers. As an active member of the Clinton Global Initiatives Haiti Action Network, I was thrilled to work with both artisans from Haiti and Swarovski to create the design for the 2012 Clinton Global Citizen Award, awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding impact in philanthropy, public service, civil society, and the corporate sector.
In my continued travels to Haiti, I have discovered that the solution for rebuilding the country could be found in the inherent creativity of the people. I believe that Haiti represents a model for the developing world, one in which artistry is a key part of the solution.
Seeing the CFDA designers come together to show their support for Haitian artisans is a dream come true for me. The soul that went into these hearts is astonishing; I was blown away by their unique designs. I invite you to visit the Urban Zen Center in New York City to see them for yourself. The hearts will be on exhibition until April 22nd, after which point they will be sold at auction on eBay from April 22 – May 2 with 100% of proceeds benefitting Urban Zen’s Artisan program.
My hope is that these hearts will continue to carry on the message that with a little bit of creativity so much soul can be expressed and new solutions can be discovered.
All my love,
Women in the World Summit: There is a Powerful Current Stirring
Attending the fourth annual Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center – just a few blocks from my home – was the perfect way to settle back into New York City after several weeks of travel.
This year’s summit built on the momentum created over the last three years and spoke to the incredible community of women as a global collective. It was inspiring to see world leaders – from exceptional executives, to profoundly effective humanitarians, to political and celebrity heavy hitters, to new women of impact – all come together to offer stories and insights from a very personal and solution oriented place.
I, of course, loved seeing women that I have long admired participate in the summit. Hillary Clinton’s speech exemplified the power of women – she stated so perfectly that, “Helping women isn’t just a nice thing to do.” I loved seeing her look so radiant, refreshed and full of life. Hillary captured the feeling of the summit when she said, “There is a powerful current stirring…we need to seize this moment.” I couldn’t agree more… there is something amazing happening amongst women and this moment is ripe.
You know, I’m constantly struck by the strength of the Clinton legacy and I especially felt this seeing Chelsea take the stage after her mother to lead a paneled discussion on future innovators, influencers and entrepreneurs.
I also love, love, loved seeing my dear friend Danielle Saint-Lot - Haiti’s Ambassador-at-Large - on the “How to Build a Woman Leader Panel,” a subject she has an enormous amount of personal experience in.
As the discussions and stories continued on throughout the summit, I was reminded how important women’s bodies are to our sense of self, power and expression. Many panels focused on the unthinkable abuse women have endured and the “battlefields” our bodies often represent. On the Outcry in India panel, journalist Shoma Chaudhury eloquently spoke to this point saying, “Women’s bodies are the battlefield on which destructive ideologies are contested.” However, there were just as many discussions surrounding the freedom we have to show the beauty of our bodies. I was particularly blown away when 18-year-old Michaela DePrince, a child survivor of war-torn Sierra Leone and orphanage abuse, danced on stage saying, “When I dance, I let people see who I really am.” As a designer and woman who has long appreciated the art of a woman’s body, I really connected with this line of conversation.
Overall, what really resonated with me was the abundant potential represented within this community of women. Empowering people to become self-sufficient, to stand tall, seek solutions and to live brave lives of impact. There were many dark topics covered, but the feeling I walked away with was one of light. In the end, it’s all about women raising women to another dimension.
All my love,
LA, DUBAI, & INDIA
At the moment, I’m staying at a beautiful ashram in India and the evening air smells like tuberose. It’s the perfect setting to reflect and tell you a little bit about my recent travels to LA and Dubai.
I had a whirlwind trip to LA for the Oscars. It was a welcomed change of pace after the frenzy of New York Fashion Week and I loved having the opportunity to not only dress Barbra for her stunning Oscar performance, but also to connect with friends like Hugh and Deb Jackman. After a few days in sunny California, I boarded my 17 hour flight to Dubai where I had a truly inspiring experience taking in culture and connecting with amazing women.
I decided to go to Dubai to join a group of inspiring women for a luncheon appropriately called “Empowering Women: Dynamic Forces of Change,” a paneled discussion moderated by Kathleen Matthews, Corporate Officer and EVP and Global Communications and Public Affairs, Marriott International, Inc. I joined Vital Voices President & CEO Alyse Nelson; Dubai Business Women Council President Raja Easa Al Gurg; Conde Nast Traveler Vice President & Publisher Carolyn Kremins; and JW Marriott Vice President & Global Brand Manager Mitzi Gaskins for this vibrant conversation.
We arrived a few days before the luncheon so we took some time to explore the new JW Marriott – I was immediately impressed with the calming energy. I found the hotel architecture to be absolutely breathtaking; it blew my mind! It’s the tallest building in the world and we had the great fortune to tour the hotel with Kathleen. I originally met Kathleen in Haiti through President Clinton and had an immediate connection with her; Kathleen and the Marriott share my view of how important it is to incorporate the local culture into business. Their philosophies are very much aligned with my mission at Urban Zen; I especially felt this when I stopped by their new spa Saray (where I had an authentic Haman experience with a Moroccan therapist - to die for!).
After the tour, I met with my dear friend Khalid who had produced a fashion show for me the last time I was in the country; Khalid connects the dots between fashion, education, culture and business, a true kindred spirit.
Later, we took a trip over to the Dubai Mall with my team from Donna Karan where I visited both my Donna Karan and DKNY stores… it’s always a little surreal to experience my stores in such diverse locations. Before attending an intimate dinner with a fabulous group of women for opening night of the new JW Marriott Dubai, I toured a brilliant new school called Repton. The British curriculum used at this amazing school placed such an emphasis on art - which covered every inch of the school; I wanted to be a student there!
The next day, it was time for the Empowering Women: Dynamic forces of Change panel. I have to say; I was really struck when I looked around the room at the beautiful faces of 200 women from around the world. Throughout the conversation, I realized how truly connected we all are – how our common experiences bond us across cultures and perceived differences. We all face the same challenges no matter where we live. It reaffirmed for me how important it is to ground your self and be in the now as we navigate through an ever-evolving world. I spoke about the importance of creating community, as it’s not about the” me” it’s about the “we”, the connection of the dots.
As the luncheon came to a close I had an opportunity to take the ladies through a guided meditation, connecting woman-to-woman while I shared my personal struggle to find the calm in the chaos and how my journey with Urban Zen has given me the missing link that connects us all.
You know, as I write this I am cognizant of the fact that it’s women’s history month and international women’s day is fast approaching. For me, that’s what these last few weeks have been about. My friendships with the women in my life are invaluable and I was reminded of this after spending time with Barbra in LA. Then, to connect with such amazing women in Dubai and to be a part of a necessary and timely conversation on women’s empowerment was truly extraordinary. Now, I’m in India working on my own self-care, another element of women’s empowerment that is so crucial (and often overlooked in many women’s lives). I’m taking some time to reconnect my mind, body and spirit. I hope you can take a moment and do the same.
Barbra Streisand Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur
All my love,
Barbra Streisand wore a custom made Donna Karan gown while performing at the 85th Annual Academy Awards on February 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, CA. Credit: Craig Sjodin ABC/ via Getty Images.
Kim Kardashian wore Donna Karan Resort 2013 Look 40 to the 21st Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation’s Oscar Viewing Party on February 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Gabby Douglas wore Donna Karan Resort 2013 to the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscar party at Sunset Tower on February 24, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Actress Stana Katic wore Donna Karan Resort 2013 Look 29 to the 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards on February 23, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Singer Kelly Rowland wearing Donna Karan Atelier at the 85th Annual Academy Awards, February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage