When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with three things:
- My search for God
- Elton John
Decades have passed and not much has changed. I’m married to an awesome dude and I’m momma to a brilliant 6 year old sprite, but I remain in constant pursuit of the Divine, I listen to music all day, every day, and I am completely obsessed with fashion.
When it came time to choose a career path, my penchant for the transcendental won out and I became a yoga teacher and wellness writer. I did work briefly in the music industry and, except for a brief post-UCLA yogi/hippie phase where I communed in Berkeley, CA, I never stopped wearing clothes.
Throughout the years, my love of fashion has never waned. I’ve been a devotee of Vogue since I was 9 years old, when I worshipped at the feet of the gods known as Espirit, Guess and Benetton.
While my personal dress code consists of various permutations of denim and tees (LA lady, blue jean baby), I remain in awe of the artistry, creativity, and originality rendered wearable at the hands of so many of my most favorite designers.
So does my love of fashion contradict my commitment to the spiritual path?
(“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman)
I don’t think so. And here’s why.
As humans, we are dynamic creatures. We can love multiple- seemingly antithetical- things at once. We can be devoted to a higher, hallowed calling yet also participate in the physical world. In fact, we MUST do this. Unless we take a vow to abstain from all earthly pleasures and pursuits, decide to become religious ascetics, or join a Monastery (I’d go here if I ever did), then we cannot completely disengage with the rest of the world.
So how do we both honor the sacred and enjoy the profane?
I have found through my many hours of social media, magazine, and online “studies” (and people thought I was just procrastinating), that the greatest artists, creatives, and yes, fashion designers are the ones who infuse their very Spirit into their work; who follow a meaningful path of their own; who know that the essential nature of life is not simply to SELL one’s work, but to CREATE it.
Being a deeply spiritual person and honoring what truly matters in life is in no way contradictory to engaging in the physical, tangible world; in fact, it is ESSENTIAL to it. Otherwise, we lose out on the precious gift of being given a human life.
Recently, more than ever, I’ve been transfixed by the fashion world and the lovely ladies who infuse their spirit and soul into the very fabric of their work. From their actual creations to the ways in which they share their light and love with the world around them, I remain in awe of so many of these incredible creators. If you’ve ever wondered what some of the world’s most major fashion players do with their spare time, the following might just surprise you…
Diane Von Furstenberg and Donna Karan are my goddess queen icons when it comes to mixing spirit and sole, divinity with design. Both women not only have a stylistic aesthetic to be envied and emulated, but embody the concept that the wealthiest beings in life are the ones who give the most away.
The list of charities supported by DVF is too long to name, but includes such incredible organizations as St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Susan G. Komen, Teach for America, and Women for Women International (yes!).
Likewise is Donna Karan’s list of humanitarian causes too tall to tally. She is truly a leader in both fashion and philanthropy and her Urban Zen Foundation– an organization which inspires change in the areas of well-being, children’s empowerment and the preservation of cultures around the world as well as promotes patient advocacy and integrative medicine– has done so much for this world since its inception in 2007. A self-professed Yogi, Karan began her foundation as her own personal gift of love to the world and, as a result, she has has raised millions of dollars to help others in need. I have never felt a greater sense of gratitude for the flatform DKNY gold sandals I’ve worn for years than when I consider what this woman has done with her designs. (Read more about her and Urban Zen here).
“I have spent decades dressing people. Now I want to address them.” – Donna Karan
Now, let’s talk jewelry.
Jennifer Meyer has my heart. More accurately, I have hers. Well, not literally, but I do currently sport a gold heart charm necklace around my neck that she designed in partnership with Jessica Alba and whose proceeds go to RED, a charity founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to help fight the war on AIDS. Sales of Jen and Jessica’s design fund medications for pregnant women with HIV in Africa. Now if that’s not a love-filled, pay-it-forward effort, I don’t know what is. (I mean, beyond the many other organizations to which Meyer has dedicated her time, energy, and funds).
Rebecca Minkoff-- a girl whose fashionable offerings are basically what my brain would create if it had the capacity to do so and whose personal style is nearly identical to my own (think feminine tomboy/rocker chic)– is constantly working in tandem with other companies to serve the greater good. A portion of sales of her denim line is donated to the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, she’s created designs to support Baby Buggy which helps children and families in need, and has collaborated with many other organizations in the name of giving back. And this, of course, helps me justify the many purchases I’ve made from her eponymous line of bags, shoes, clothing and accessories.
And then, of course, we have one of my personal fashion icons: Rachel Zoe. Sure she is best known as stylist-turned-designer to the stars, Bravo TV personality, and master of 70s style glam, but she is also one of the most generous female fashion stars out there. She has been vocal in her support for the wellbeing of mothers and children in her work with Baby2Baby. And despite a packed work schedule and life as a hands-on-momma herself, she still finds time to advocate on behalf of Artists for Peace and Justice, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Save the Children and others.
Yet even beyond these designers charitable demonstrations, there is the sense that these are women who support other women; who do not compete with one another but rather work to better their own brands and, in doing so, are all the more prepared to lift others along their way. Just peek at Meyer’s or Minkoff’s IG accounts and you instantly get a glimpse of boss babes whose desire it is to help other ladies achieve the greatness and success that they have achieved themselves. Certainly, if there is one thing we all need more of in this world, it’s girls empowering girls.
I don’t need to know these women personally to be inspired by them. There is an energy, a vibe, a gut insight into who these artists are based both on the way their jewelry and clothing make a girl feel and the knowledge of the many ways in which they give back to the world. And they are not alone. A quick google search turns up hundreds of links to fashion designers and the charities they have either founded or contribute to (peep this recent Marie Claire piece). In a world where people get so caught up in “getting,” it is amazing to realize how many are committed to “giving.”
I definitely plan to explore the fashion world more intricately than I have done in the past. In the wake of New York, London, Paris and Milan Fashion weeks, I’ve begun to fantasize about adding fashion editor (fashion writer?) to my to-do list. Passion, not possessions are what interest me. And I see passion in art, in fashion, in design. At their best, these things represent the physical manifestations of someone’s inner light; these are truly the “stuff” of spirit.
When I observe others reaching inside of themselves and giving birth to such radiant parts of themselves– whether it be in the form of words, gold, or a cotton-rayon blend– I am genuinely moved to do what we all surely came here to do: to create something beautiful.
…and then, of course, to give it away.
(And that, my fashionable friend, is what being A SPIRITUAL GIRL IN THE MATERIAL WORLD is all about.)
“I want to find a balance between the contemporary and pure tradition…Because fashion is about both influences. It’s the current moment juxtaposed with tradition.”
- Hedi Slimane, Creative Director of Saint Laurent
Marie Claire (March 2015)