Summer Solstice, 2013

Summer has barely started, and for me, it couldn’t have been a busier or ultimately more spiritual beginning.  First, I went to Los Angeles to speak at “Mega Partnering VII” conference where I had a wonderful time meeting business people from all different walks of life. You can’t help be inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and the many paths it can take.

Then I was off to Israel with my soul sister, Barbra Streisand. President Shimon Peres requested Barbra to sing for his 90th birthday at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center. It was an amazing night, with over 2000 people in attendance. I got to catch up with President Clinton, whom I adore, and  saw former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Robert DeNiro and Sharon Stone.  Barbra sang Avinu Malkeinu – Our Father, Our King – singing first in Hebrew, before launching into People. Everyone, including me, was mesmerized. It was a night that will live with me forever.

I can’t be in Israel without touring. It doesn’t matter how often I visit, it always takes my breath away. This time, we visited the Masada mountain, the majestic, natural fortress in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. The next day, we went to Hebron, one of my favorite places to recharge. We toured The Tomb of Jesse and Ruth, The Cave of Machpela, and then later the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  We went up north with my friend Karen Berg of the Kabala, for more burial sites – The Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and The Tomb of Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair , where the ZOHAR was written. The next day, we went to my friend Ilana Goor’s incredible museum – an absolute must if you’re ever in Israel. All along the way, we shared lots of truly fabulous dinners with old and new friends. Love, laughter, culture and inspiration – how better to refresh and renew the spirit?   

Then, the night after shabbot, our dreams came true. Wearing a gorgeous caftan, Barbra performed her first-ever concert in Israel, held in Tel Aviv to a crowd of over 16,000. She knocked them dead in every way.  It was the best ever, and the crowd didn’t want it to end. There was a major standing ovation that went on and on.  It was nothing short of magical and connected so many dots in my life.  At Barbra’s surprise party last year, we saw a film her son Jason made where he said he’d never sing in public. One year later, here he is, on the stage, touring with his mother. It’s a lesson for all of us – never say never. You just don’t know what lies ahead in this unfolding journey called life.

Now we’re off boating with more summering to come! 

To be continued….

                                                                                                                                           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.

Be in touch soon with more stories from India…

Barbra Streisand Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                        All my love,

 

BARBRA STREISAND
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.

BARBRA STREISAND

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.

Feeling Hopeful

I’m feeling a lot in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: a sense of urgency and a knowing that we can do something to help and, also, a sadness for the widespread loss. But, I have to say that most of all, I am feeling hopeful.

Much of my week has been spent in conversations talking with others about how much we can give, how creative we can be and how much we truly desire to be a part of the solution. I’ve felt in myself a renewed commitment to create the change that is so needed in this world today. I think, to some degree, we all feel this.

Every day this week felt important… from seeing how hard people fought to get to the voting booths on election day, to the truly inspiring meeting I had with my colleagues in the CFDA discussing how we can be a part of the relief efforts, to spending time with my friend Jacqueline Novogratz and her amazing team at the Acumen Fund’s annual gala held at the Urban Zen Center. We’re living in the midst of a pivotal moment in history and I am excited to see what comes out of this new creativity and commitment to change.

Of course, even in the midst of disaster relief, work, play, family, friendships and life continue to move along. Before heading to LA this weekend to support and celebrate Barbra in the final performance of her Back to Brooklyn tour, I had a fantastic experience doing a shoot in my home with People Magazine for a spread about Stephan, his art and our love. It will be on newsstands soon, so keep an eye out for it!

And now, I am en route to London for an exciting trip that will embrace all facets of my life – Donna Karan, DKNY, Urban Zen and Connecting the Dots. More on that next week…

                                                                                                                                                                       All my love,

CONNECTING THE DOTS
I’ve been thinking a lot about connection lately. Connecting the dots in my own life, yes, but also connecting with you, my community. 
 My life is constantly buzzing with activity and while it may seem chaotic, there is a certain beauty to this chaos. From Donna Karan to DKNY to Urban Zen to my life as woman, mother, grandmother and philanthropist… there is just so much that I want to share with you. Take this last month – it’s extraordinary! From the frenzy of Fashion Week, to receiving an honor so close to my heart at the Clinton Global Initiative Global Citizen Awards, to dressing my friend and sister Barbra Streisand for her Back to Brooklyn tour, to the work I am doing to honor my late husband Stephan (more on that in a second)… I mean, it’s mind blowing! This is exactly why I have worked with my team to create this new space for us to connect. Every week I will be sharing updates from my personal diary right here and, I have to say, I am so excited to invite you into my life in this way. 
You know, it was Stephan who first taught me about this philosophy of connecting the dots. Stephan, who passed away from lung cancer eleven years ago, was not only the love of my life and my partner in everything, he was also a brilliant artist. I am very proud to share that tonight we will be launching an exhibition of Stephan’s art along with the debut of a book I wrote in his honor called, “Connecting the Dots.” I have always felt Stephan’s presence most at Urban Zen (which used to be his art studio), but I have to say there is something almost magical about seeing his art on exhibition in the very workspace he used to create it. I know he’s with us and I would love for you to stop by the studio and experience a little piece of the man who remains my greatest inspiration to this day. 
This diary is, in a way, a tribute to Stephan. As I continue on in the journey of my life I become only more and more convinced that it is what brings us together that matters most. I invite you to check out my diary every Tuesday to join in the ongoing adventures of my life. 
Here’s to connecting the dots!
                                                                                                                                                                                 All my love,

CONNECTING THE DOTS

I’ve been thinking a lot about connection lately. Connecting the dots in my own life, yes, but also connecting with you, my community.

 My life is constantly buzzing with activity and while it may seem chaotic, there is a certain beauty to this chaos. From Donna Karan to DKNY to Urban Zen to my life as woman, mother, grandmother and philanthropist… there is just so much that I want to share with you. Take this last month – it’s extraordinary! From the frenzy of Fashion Week, to receiving an honor so close to my heart at the Clinton Global Initiative Global Citizen Awards, to dressing my friend and sister Barbra Streisand for her Back to Brooklyn tour, to the work I am doing to honor my late husband Stephan (more on that in a second)… I mean, it’s mind blowing! This is exactly why I have worked with my team to create this new space for us to connect. Every week I will be sharing updates from my personal diary right here and, I have to say, I am so excited to invite you into my life in this way.

You know, it was Stephan who first taught me about this philosophy of connecting the dots. Stephan, who passed away from lung cancer eleven years ago, was not only the love of my life and my partner in everything, he was also a brilliant artist. I am very proud to share that tonight we will be launching an exhibition of Stephan’s art along with the debut of a book I wrote in his honor called, “Connecting the Dots.” I have always felt Stephan’s presence most at Urban Zen (which used to be his art studio), but I have to say there is something almost magical about seeing his art on exhibition in the very workspace he used to create it. I know he’s with us and I would love for you to stop by the studio and experience a little piece of the man who remains my greatest inspiration to this day.

This diary is, in a way, a tribute to Stephan. As I continue on in the journey of my life I become only more and more convinced that it is what brings us together that matters most. I invite you to check out my diary every Tuesday to join in the ongoing adventures of my life.

Here’s to connecting the dots!

                                                                                                                                                                                 All my love,

DRESSING BARBRA


Barbra Streisand and I are more than friends, we’re soul sisters. I could go on with stories about us playing, vacationing, spiritual retreating, etc, but I wanted to share our most recent collaboration for Barbra’s Back to Brooklyn concert at the new Barclays Center. I’ve dressed Barbra for as long as I can remember. (We first met when I was at Anne Klein. Barbara was my idol, and she came in and fell in love with these sample sweaters I knew to be highly flammable. She wanted them anyway and even offered to sign a waiver.) Anyway, because this Brooklyn concert was so special and personal to Barbra, it was important the clothes have that “wow factor.” We collaborated for weeks and weeks – since the summer, actually. And we both loved the results. First, the black sequins. Nothing catches the lights better than sequins. The menswear-inspired jacket she wore came straight from our fall line. The white shirt framed her face and the matching vest underscored the haberdashery feeling. We had the option of pants and a skirt (personally, I loved the sexy, burnout skirt.) I just love Barbra in tailored pieces and this was a knockout on her. The piece de resistance, however, was the coral dress. Talk about wow! The color and detailing was inspired by Barbra’s vintage Art Deco bracelet (which she wore with the dress.) Then came the cape – I mean, can you ask for anything more dramatic than a sweeping coral cape? The effect was breathtaking. Beyond. She lit up that dark stage like the star she is. After all the chaos, stress and hard work that went into these clothes, we were both thrilled. The looks were so amazing, so perfect and so truly Barbra.