Around the World with Oscar / cari borja collection at the De Young

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” 
~ martha graham

“You know the greatest thing is passion, without it what have you got? 
I mean if you love someone you can love them as much as you can love them
but if it isn’t passion, it isn’t burning, it isn’t on fire, you haven’t lived.”
~ diana vreeland

“In the end all collaborations are love stories.”
~ twyla tharp

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where does one start? ~ is it with an idea, a texture, a silhouette, a muse, a moment~ frozen, captured, still or in movement, contrasted, juxtaposed ~ a sound of past, a smell of now, a love of her, a taste of him ~ real, imagined? if in fact there is only one expression in a moment, unique to a person’s perception, emitting from some well of inspiration ~ what happens when you add a soundtrack of memories that evoke a past gone and almost forgotten, but retained in the breath of each utterance, a recollection of something that no longer is. And then add visuals that have lived with you through the years, inhabiting your world, inspiring you to always do more, always want more, always be more. And ~ what happens when you bring together a couple of collaborators to fold into the moment, to help with a vision, that is no longer uniquely yours, but beautifully everyones who is part of that specific evening ~ documented, etched in time. That, for me, is waku doki, encapsulated, making my heart beat in the anticipation of possibility and wonder ~ the closest to my idea of perfection, cocooned in the interaction of all things sensual and ethereal. Yesterday was Mother’s Day ~ and one quote and one question stuck with me ~ me the daughter of, and simultaneously the mother of …

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“…but there’s a story behind everything. how a picture got on a wall. how a scar got on your face. sometimes the stories are simple,
and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. but behind all your stories is always your mother’s story,
because hers is where yours begin.” ~ mitch albom

“…is there anything that is perfect?” ~ august bernberg, at Mother’s Day lunch, Assemble Restaurant, Richmond.

~ as the “daughter of”, i look to my mother and think of her story, the ones she’s told me, and the others i’ve been part of, remembered and taken with me through life. But as the “mother of” ~ what are the stories we are imagining, creating, and living, that our children will take away as ours, as theirs? During rehearsals for my friend peter sellars 2011 production of Desdemona we had our usual conversation about what, where and why, and about the worlds we live in, the identities we inhabit ~ as artist, anthropologist, designer, academic, as mother. how do we bring them all together, make them intersect, merge, flow? He looked at me, after I told him maybe i should go elsewhere (again), into another world, Rome perhaps? more research in the Caribbean? another degree? And he said, stay…

“you need to imagine a world (here), create it, and live in it.” ~ peter sellars

~  and so i stayed, and i did, with the help of other colleagues, collaborators, co-conspirators. and perfection? perfection is in that moment of clash, the moment of exact friction that could never be predicted, but exists in all its beauty in that moment, at that time, with whomever happens to be present, and is so much more together moving forward than separate and still. Below is a visual essay of the clutter of my mind, that scrambles and orders and contrasts and merges, integrates and blends ~ the visual, the aural, the textural ~ through filmic and sonic memories, and through the transformative power of those pieces we choose to clothe ourselves in. like second skins we can layer on, when we are truly in our bodies, we become our selves. these are the stories we tell, and these are the stories our children remember as their own, as part of us. 


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Locating the beginning is difficult ~ but possibly found in the intersection of these three pieces ~ “an homage to Oscar,” “Oscar de la Renta ~ the gala, the collection, and memories…” and “Lightness/Weight ~ a visual diary.” 

“There’s only one thing in life, and that’s the continual renew of inspiration.”
~ diana vreeland

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** making a 40 minute film (to be on repeat) to accompany the show was like weaving together those significant moments from my past that weren’t mine, exactly, but worlds i wanted to reside in, bodies i wanted to be, feelings i wanted as my own ~ a collection of images and scenes laced together to create a sense of how formative what we see is, to how we feel about ourselves ~ who we desire to be, and who we actually become. from jane campion’s bright star and philip kaufman’s unbearable lightness of being, to darren aronofsky’s black swan and stanley dozen’s funny face ~ the array of images, of impending transformation of becoming a lady (or not) shows the very delicate balance of weight and lightness that is a thread in our lives ~ to see a version of my visual essay BECOMING ME, click HERE

** the soundtrack of the atelier, and in many ways my mind, which became the music to which so many of our clothes were made, is a compilation of fun and frivolous pop music juxtaposed with whatever the mood of that day held. sometimes sad, thoughtful and melancholic; at other times all about the possible, and the future and what can be. it’s hard to tell if it was the music that took us into that space of creativity, or if we chose the music to echo our moods. but the soundtrack from the show included these highlights of the 43 songs ~ Trent Reznor’s Hand Covers Bruise, Max Richter’s Four Seasons, Nina Simone’s Just in Time / from Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, Jun Miyake’s The Here and After / from Wim Wender’s PINA, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet soundtrack,  El Tango de Roxanne from Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, This Mortal Coil’s Song to the Siren, Simple Song from Paolo SOrrentino’s YOUTH, Francois Ozon’s Le Refuge, of course Prince’s Darling Nikki and Take Me With You, Lia Ices’s DAPHNE (which August is in for a few secs!, shot partially at Scribe), Snow Patrol’s Called Out in the Dark / dir. by my dear friend Brett Simon, Kronos Quartet Flugufrelsarinn/Sigur Ros cover, which I first saw play in Bolinas Peace Barn for Peter Sellar’s 50th; and a few Owl City tracks like Vanilla Twilight and all the other crazy wonderful 9and goofy stuff we listened to over the years, like Amy Winehouse, Grease, Annie, Rufus, Ella, Madeleine, JB, mary J….

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“VOGUE always did stand for people’s lives.
I mean, a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere;
it’s the life you’re living in the dress,
and the sort of life you had lived before,
and what you will do in it later.”
~ diana vreeland

“Creativity is more about taking the facts, fictions, and feelings we store away and finding new ways to connect them.
What we’re talking about here is metaphor. Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself.  
Metaphor is our vocabulary for connecting what we are experiencing now with what we have experienced before.
It’s not only how we express what we remember. It’s how we interpret it – for ourselves and others.”  
~ twyla tharp

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“There is always an emotional element to anything you make.” ~ oscar de la renta

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“It’s a philosophy of life. If you do this, something will change, what will change is that you will change,
your life will change, and if you can change you, you can perhaps change the world.” 
~ vivienne westwood

“There is nothing more comfortable than a caterpillar and nothing more made for love than a butterfly.
we need dresses that crawl and dresses that fly.
fashion is at once a caterpillar and a butterfly, a caterpillar by day, butterfly by night.”
~ coco chanel

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CREATING CONFIDENCE / the spontaneous runway show in wilsey court

“We all need someone to look at us. We can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under . . .
The fourth category, the rarest, is the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present.
They are the dreamers.”  ~ milan kundera, the unbearable lightness of being

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MEN OF THE CLOTH / PANEL / Right after the runway show, in Koret Theater

(with film-maker vicki vasilopolous and designers erik gavrilov, jake wall and gabriel russo


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special thank you to my collaborators racheal matthews and mara kolesas / good fit style. also, to my dear friend lucy hamilton, whose invitation to the oscar de al renta gala, in many ways led to this show happening, via of course, the wonderful brad rosenstein (and his daughter olivia), who invited me to do the show. thank you to judi henderson townsend of Mannequin Madness, for always finding the perfect mannequins for me through the years, and thank you to the whole staff at the de young for their help / the interns and educators, renee, rich and the other av guy in charge of my soundtrack; and jill d’alessandro who i can vividly remember years ago coming to some event i did at the de young for the st vincent de paul society. it’s been so lovely reconnecting and having you at friday night’s exhibition. and for the panel for Men of the Cloth, thank you to janice paredes and bette mckenzie; and to my dear friends, old and new, who show up again and again in support ~ charity, erin, laura, ludmila, tara, jennifer, alexandra; julie, amy, and ava; julie and barb; rafael, angela, and ethan’s mom, and all the other women, men and children who dressed up, had fun, walked the runway, and got to become a butterfly, metamorphose, transform…


“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling.
You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books,
and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next.
You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats
upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime.
I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you.
May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories…
Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days.
And out of that love, remake a world.”
~ ray bradbury


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