From She-Can gala and The Deep Sky film to Postcards from La Costiera ~ creating experiences

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
“ ~ George Bernard Shaw


How do you create an experience that is inspirational, memorable, transformative? You can start with a space, a place, a vision. But it is the purpose, the cause, the idea behind the why that is what makes things meaningful, an experience profound, an encounter unforgettable. This past month has seen me work between a beautiful organization I support, and an industry I have circled within and around, landing into a perfect moment of the intersection of a story that has meaning and a filmmaker’s vision that I also deeply believe in. And, on the eve of Thanksgiving (last night), it was all brought back to the “art of gathering” with a family meal inspired by my close friend Adam Sobel and Michael Mina’s translation of a place I hold deep in my heart. They took meaning and made magic that we can all experience in the Italian menu at  Postcards from La Costiera pop-up in SF… Below is a little visual collage of how connections are created to make significant those little moments that become the arc of our lives. 


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above /  the connection to becoming the curator for the Gala / through hosting salon dinner #72 at my 4th street atelier May 29th 2015 with scholars Patricie Uwase and Bonnette Ishimwe; and the pre-gala cocktail party at Cissie Swig’s beautiful home. 


Barbara Bylenga’s She-Can is one of those organizations that makes your heart fully open to everyone involved, especially the scholars from Cambodia and Rwanda. It’s a community of people who believe in possibility ~ in the possibility of not only the role of education in a woman’s life, but in the possibility of each and every scholar that it supports and guides and mentors, to become what they truly want to become. And it’s also about believing ~ and that was what I had to try to conjure ~ the feeling of both believing and becoming ~ in the Green Room and Herbst Theater at the San Francisco War Memorial on November 18th. Honoring Parlay House’s Anne Devereux-Mills, as well as 8 of the scholars who flew in from their colleges, we created a beautiful experiential space through food and wine, fabrics and texture, flowers, accessories, music.  Thinking of the first time Barb and I met through Julie Abrams in my Berkeley studio last year ~ how in fact does one evoke (and translate) what made that original night and our first salon dinner for She-Can so special?

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“a film is ~ or should be ~ more like music than like fiction. it should be a progression of moods and feelings. the theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” ~ stanley kubrick

Frazer Bradshaw’s The Deep Sky film (his 2nd feature) also came at me through a salon dinner ~ dinner #95 co-hosted with Alexandra Lexton at 32Ten Studios October 22nd. A couple weeks later I was on set as costume designer and co-producer, understanding the film world (which I knew mostly through studying film history/theory and working for Telluride Film Festival years ago) from the inside out ~ the day to day ritual of the actual production of an independent feature. (and in between I was in dialogue with costume designer Tracy Tynan at Books Inc about her new book Wear and Tear: The Threads of My Life, which is a memoir of her relationship to clothes, and how she became a costume designer on films such as The Big Easy, The Moderns, Choose Me). From the locations (A16 Rockridge, Plum Bar, Starline Social Club and Revival Bar and Kitchen) and set design to the wardrobe of each character ~ and the juxtaposition of all the parts ~ it is this look, aesthetic, and visual compilation that brings it all together. BUT, we start with the story, the meaning, the beauty of a relationship that is in many ways the main character itself ~ a love triangle that is about the choices we make, encounters we have and the transformation that takes place between each character in the film, each spectator in the theater.

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I write about fashion, film, food and the power of all of those things as they can affect us, and how we can then make something out of that foundational source ~ use a place or space, a texture, a memory as inspiration translated into an experience. Designers do this, actors and filmmakers too, and so do chefs with taste and place ~ a Proustian madeleine. As I reflect on how grateful I am/we are on this very Thanksgiving day I think about family, friends, mentors and all those people that bring me (us) into their lives and transform my own. Last night we went to Postcards from La Costiera ~ a very new pop-up translated straight from Adam and Michael’s experience last month in Italy ~ the Amalfi coast. It’s all about ingredients ~ as a salonniere my ingredients are my guests, as a designer it’s the fabrics and silhouettes, filmmakers use their actors, location, crew, and chefs use the best of raw goods ~ this time fish and meats and vegetables, seasonings just right, making contrasts and juxtapositions to create a divine experience. Like Nabokov says ~ “caress the detail, the divine detail.” Amen.

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“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.” ~ anais nin

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above / with San Jose Art Museum curator Susan Sayre Batton and artist Julie Chang at the opening of BEAUTY / Cooper Hewitt’s Design Triennial, October 7th…and Royal Borja Bernberg with her very first clothing collection at WorldWideWomen’s Girls Festival Oct 15th at Fort Mason.

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