Tagged: women in fashion

Schoolin’ LIfe: Katie Goldman Macdonald

In today’s episode of Schoolin’ Life, we meet fashion designer Katie Goldman Macdonald.

Katie Goldman Macdonald

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

I was born in Northern California and grew up in a small coastal town called Half Moon Bay. I’ve been drawing from the time I could hold a pen. In my childhood home, all of the closet walls are covered in drawings of “ladies in fashions.” Now I’m a clothing designer designing womenswear, so I’ve stayed pretty true to my initial career inclinations. I’ve worked in fashion for 8 years and am starting my own line this year. I live at the very top of Manhattan in a tree-filled neighborhood called Inwood with my boyfriend, Ben.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

In my early twenties, I thought I’d be living in New York and designing for a fancy fashion house. I thought it would be glamorous.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I think that my family more than anything shaped my expectations of myself. As a child I thought that I would follow in the footsteps of many of my family members and go to college and then get a Master’s Degree or Ph.D and become very educated. For me to become a clothing designer was a very different path than anyone in my family had taken, so I felt a bit frivolous for picking something that was not necessarily an intellectual career and was more about aesthetics and consumerism.

What was your first job like?

My first job was at a “paint your own pottery” studio when I was 14. I was running a studio by myself at a pretty young age, operating a kiln and getting paid irregularly by an absentee entrepreneur. Sometimes she would give me used makeup as an added bonus. It was a strange situation.

What was your first apartment like?

My first apartment after college was on Larkin Street in Lower Nob Hill in San Francisco. I lived with my best friend from college and we did most things together. We spent a lot of time and energy designing the space and making sure it reflected how “interesting and cool” we were. In our hallway, we curated a “wall of disasters” which showcased shadow boxes holding things like shattered teacups and burned out lightbulbs. We also did things like get super dressed up to go to the local Whole Foods to go grocery shopping because we had crushes on boys who worked there.

In what ways did your friendships change?

I’ve always had high expectations for both myself and the people around me. I think in my twenties these expectations sometimes made me a rigid and judgmental friend. This is not to say I wasn’t supportive; I’ve always been a very loyal friend. However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to see the grey areas of friendship a bit more and have begun to understand that people are complex and don’t always have the same ideas about what it means to be a good friend. I’ve learned that people are who they are and accepting them for it makes friendship easier.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I’ve learned so much in all of my relationships! I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned over time, is that when I know something is over, my mind isn’t going to change. I’ve often let relationships drag on for a long time because I was scared to end things, hurt my partner’s feelings or just deal with all of the sadness and anger that goes along with breaking up. I feel like I have gotten better at being honest with myself and my partners about knowing when things aren’t working out.

How did your relationships with your family change?

Recently I’ve felt like my relationship with my parents has changed a great deal. As my family collectively ages, I’ve become more of a caretaker than I was when I was younger. My dad has had cancer twice now and my mom has had a lot of orthopedic issues so I’ve been really involved in their care. Since I’m an only child, it’s been hard to deal with, but it’s also taught me that I can handle a lot and am very competent when it comes to dealing with difficult family situations.

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I think the older I get, the less scared I get. I’m getting better at things that scared me a lot as a younger woman, like quitting jobs. I think that one of my biggest fears has always been disappointing people and I am beginning to realize that the more I focus on pleasing others, the more I end up disappointing myself. Even though I still agonize over letting other people down, I think I get a little bit braver every time I take a risk and do something that might “disappoint” someone. I’ve come to realize that, as long as I am a kind and honest person, I can disappoint others if it means pursuing what I want, and the world will not collapse around me.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I think I automatically adopted most of my mother’s opinions as a kid and teen. Throughout my twenties, I noticed that as I grew up and separated emotionally a little bit from from mom, I started to form more of my own world view. It was both difficult and refreshing. I grew to understand that I could still love my mom and value her opinions while forming my own. It felt both painful and liberating. It’s always kind of a blow when you realize your parents are just people and not everything they think and do is right.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

One of the most influential people in my life was one of my professors, Sue Sutton Palmer. She taught my first design course in college and I was completely impressed by the precision and perfection that she demanded from her students. I loved that she expected us to file the sides of our foam boards so there were no rough or uneven edges and use a special eraser to clean up any errant rubber cement that might have crept out of place. I think she inspired me to use my obsessive tendencies toward creating beautiful things and I liked that. She also always wore a uniform- a button-up collared shirt, a high-waisted skirt and Birkenstock sandals. We are still friends and I still admire her deeply.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

I regret spending so much time feeling extremely anxious in my twenties. I had a hard time dealing with success and fear of failure. I had a business making terrariums for a while and I let it stress me out so much that I stopped enjoying making terrariums at all. After a while, instead of deriving any pleasure from the process of making them, I started seeing terrariums more as vessels full of anxiety rather than pretty arrangements of plants. It sounds really crazy (and it objectively was pretty crazy), but I’m trying to use that experience as an example of what not to do as I work on my own clothing line.

Dame of the Day: Ariana Miyamoto

Ariana Miyamoto

 

Today’s Dame of the Day is Ariana Miyamoto (May 12, 1994-). Born and raised in Sasebo, Japan, Miyamoto became the first biracial woman to win the Miss Japan Pageant in 2015. But being half black in a homogeneously Asian country led to an onslaught of criticism arguing that Miyamoto was not “Japanese enough.” Through her position, Miyamoto hopes to change the conversation about race in Japan.

Dame of the Day: Michi Weglyn

Michi WeglynToday’s Dame of the Day is Michi Weglyn (November 29, 1926–April 25, 1999). Growing up in the western United States during the World War II, Weglyn and her family experienced the pain of Japanese internment camps firsthand. When she was released, she moved to the East Coast for college and later became the most prominent Japanese-American in theatrical costume design. Yet the wounds of internment still ached, and in 1976, Weglyn published Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps. The book chronicled the government’s abuse of the Japanese-Americans and laid the groundwork for a later reparations movement.

 

Dame of the Day: Geena Rocero

Geena Rocero

Today’s Dame of the Day is Geena Rocero (1984-). Rocero grew up in the Philippines but immigrated to San Francisco with her family when she was 15. After a fashion photographer discovered her in New York City, she began booking international swimsuit shoots. In 2014, Rocero started Gender Proud, a non-profit advocating for transgender rights. In 2014, she and 13 other trans women posed for the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY Magazine.

Dame of the Day: Andreja Pejic

Andreja Pejić

Today’s Dame of the Day is Andreja Pejić (August 28, 1991-). During the Bosnian War, Pejić and her family relocated from their home in Tulza to Belgrade, Serbia; they later immigrated to Australia. A modeling agent scouted Pejić when she was 17 and, in 2015, she became the first openly trans woman to be profiled by Vogue. In addition to her modeling career, Pejić seeks to make a documentary about her experience as a trans woman in the modeling world.

Bouncing Back: Creating Jobs and Second Chances

Difficult times are inherent to the human experience. It’s impossible to live a full life without wrestling with some kind of tragedy: the loss of a family member or friend or coping with a physical illness are both incredible common traumas that tend to leave the affected feeling isolated. Yet, with a strong support network, it’s possible to recover. But some life experiences carry accompanying stigmas that make it more challenging to bounce back. Histories of incarceration, substance abuse, or homelessness create additional barriers for women seeking to gain employment and reintegrate back into their communities.

Fortunately, organizations like Road Twenty-Two recognize that every person has a story and seeks to listen instead of judge women about their pasts. Fif Ghobadian and Alice Larkin Cahan started the San Francisco-based company as a way to empower women in their community. As a child, Ghobadian learned the power of a second chance when, at age 15, she and her family fled Iran after the fall of the shah. She watched her father lose confidence in himself as employers snubbed him.

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Photo courtesy of Road Twenty-Two

Today, Ghobadian and Cahan channel that empathy into creating opportunities to women looking for a second chance. The company gets its name from the road that leads to Central California Women’s Facility, California’s largest all-women prison. Ultimately, Road Twenty-Two hopes to help women transition from the prison system to sustainable full-time employment and safe housing. The company is not only transparent about its products (all items are sourced and made in the USA), but it also encourages employees to share their stories. Kimberly, pictured above, lost her son to an act of gun violence and turned to selling drugs as a way to make ends meet. Eventually, she was arrested and incarcerated. But when she was released, Kimberly began working with Road Twenty-Two. Today, she has a steady job and a place of her own.

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Photo courtesy of Road Twenty-Two

Kerrigan’s path to Road Twenty-Two was also paved with hardship. As a teen with little supervision, Kerrigan delved into drugs and alcohol and, at age 15, ended up on the streets. But during this dark period, she embraced her love of graffiti and visual arts.  Today, she works as an in-house designer for the company; the logos on the tee shirts are her own designs.

In addition to ready-to-wear jewelry and tee shirts, the company also worked on commission to create tote bags and custom tees for the 2015 Democratic National Convention. Check them out on the web, pick up a shirt if you can, and follow them on social media to keep tabs on their progress. Big thanks to Monty for  telling me about these amazing women!

100 Years of Beauty

How do you sum up 100 years? Should you analyze year by year or it best to focus on trends over a decade? Is it possible to hone in on one variable and develop a clear picture or are too many facets intertwined? Earlier this year, The Cut decided to find out. Their mission? Sum up 100 years of style trends in countries around the world.

100-Years-of-beauty-Ebony-and-Ivory-comparison-1940s

Image courtesy of Vintage Makeup Guide

In addition to the quick historical videos, researchers discuss the work behind the looks. Robin Park, the researcher behind the Korea series, mentions the Japanese colonialism that colored more of Korean fashion in the 1930s and 40s. After Korea split at the DMZ, Park explains, beauty in North Korea was gauged less on products and more on what a woman contributed to the community. For this reason, makeup styles in North Korea remained largely unchanged from the 1950s on. South Korea, on the other hand, embraced capitalism and the subsequent global style trends that accompanied it. Visit the project’s Pinterest board and you can view the research and the final look side by side.

While styles change, it’s clear that standards of beauty haven’t budged too much. All of their models are relatively light-skinned and have the big eyes, clear skin and features typically considered attractive. Buzzfeed branched out slightly with their take on style over the centuries, but the resulting video creates a more overarching narrative than a closeup on one place over time. But when 100 years of anything gets distilled into a one-minute video clip, some details are bound to fall through the cracks. With future episodes in the works and many other copycat projects piggybacking on the concept, there’s a lot of potential for growth, change, and further insights.

Visit The Cut’s YouTube channel to watch existing episodes and subscribe for future updates.

Dame of the Day: Lois Alexander Lane

Lois

Today’s Dame of the Day is Lois Alexander Lane (July 11, 1916-September 29, 2007). Lane began her career as a federal employee for the Department of Housing, but she possessed a true passion for fashion. She earned a master’s degree in fashion and merchandising from NYU and documented the history of African American dressmakers in her final thesis. Her research led her to open the Harlem Institute of Fashion and the Black Fashion Museum. These institutions preserved and honored the contributions of black Americans to modern fashion.

Label Launch: Citizen’s Mark

With a background in diplomacy, Citizen’s Mark CEO Cynthia Salim understands the importance of women’s professional wear. As a management consultant for the United Nations, Salim found it difficult to find fashion forward and ethically sourced pieces. Instead of lowering her standards, she raised the bar and developed her own line. After establishing its headquarters in WeWork’s Madison Avenue co-working space, the brand is proud to announce its launch.

citizens2

Image courtesy of Citizen’s Mark

Salim officially founded Citizen’s Mark in January 2015, but the careful planning, relationship building and execution took over two years. Salim and her team collaborated with craftsman and factories to develop a workflow and product that was fashionable, environmentally sustainable, and economically viable for the workers who produced it. Ultimately, Salim created a garment for women making moves that helped the people who crafted it rise, too.

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Image courtesy of Citizen’s Mark

A major tenant of the company’s philosophy is transparency. From Italian wool to upcycled Nepali horn buttons, Citizen’s Mark commits to using fairly trade materials. The Portuguese workers who sew the garments earn a living wage and receive health coverage and additional benefits from local business partnerships. At the beginning of May, the team traveled to Portugal to shoot a forthcoming video highlighting the factory’s daily workflow and the people who make it possible.

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Image courtesy of Citizen’s Mark

This Thursday, May 21st, Citizen’s Mark celebrates the premiere of its first collection, a line of meticulously structured blazers in four distinct colors. Salim and her team love meeting their customers, so they’ve organized a party at Impact Hub New York. Space is still available but going fast, so RSVP today and get in on the ground floor.

Dame of the Day: Viktoria Modesta

Viktoria Modesta

Today’s Dame of the Day is Viktoria Modesta (February 25, 1987-). Modesta began modeling at age 15, but a chronic issue with her left leg kept giving her problems. In 2007, she underwent surgery to amputate the leg below the knee. While some speculated about the impact surgery would have, the move only made Modesta’s career stronger. After signing to IMG models in 2015, she models primarily in eastern Europe and travels to pursue her second career as a musician.