THE BLOG

Cultivating a Different Type of Beauty

In India, the traditional kurta gives women the air of security and power. I have found the equivalent to the Indian way of dressing, which is my way to express security, power, vulnerability, femininity and mystery all at once.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Recently, I have started to take pictures of women over 40, who have that certain spark that we get when we are happy to be who we are. What I noticed unfolding in front of the camera, is when they put on a shirt, both tailored and feminine and the same time, they awake to a different kind of beauty that is awesome in its strength.

Genise is 50 and I really thought she was joking when she told me her age. She has the body of a 17-year-old and the face of a doll. She keeps it that way by doing Pilates, taking care of her skin and always having a truly admirable attitude. Genise's adorable son is in a cool band. I know from my own experience with my teenage daughter, that being a mother keeps me from obsessing over my age. I would not want my daughter to have to worry about her mother trying to stay ridiculously young looking at the expense of dignity and peace of mind.

I asked Genise to model shirts and jackets and skirts from my fall collection. I usually see her in jeans and eclectic T-Shirts and tops. Once she buttoned up my white silk/cotton shirt and stepped into my gold jacquard pencil skirt, I caught a glimpse of her power. She transformed from a delicate doll into a somewhat dominant, truly sexy and all-knowing boss woman. She was still totally cool and hip, but in a way that demanded more respect.

This photo shoot took place during the recent heat wave in LA, and Genise didn't flinch or even sweat. When I put a pinstriped jacket with hand-knit cashmere sleeves on top of the shirt, it was 108 degrees outside by the fountain. Then she changed into a tight fitting lace skirt and a golden silk shirt with strongly emphasized waist seams. The skirt is very feminine, but the shirt gave it the vibe that I am cultivating and exploring more and more in my designs.

I myself prefer shirts with a strong collar and no-nonsense cuffs. A well-fitting shirt provides me with the look I need to feel like a true contender, a 'don't fuck with me' attitude, that is not so much aggressive as it is cause for respect.

In India, the traditional kurta gives women the streamlined no-nonsense air of security and power. The shawl blurs the lines, and turns the serious shape of the kurta into vulnerability, femininity and mystery.

Looking at the pictures of Genise, I realized that I have found the equivalent to the Indian way of dressing: shirts with jackets. This is my way to express security, power, vulnerability, femininity and mystery all at once.

Here is Genise:

2007-09-25-GENISEblackjacket.jpg

2007-09-25-GENISEwhiteshirtg.jpg