Balance as the ongoing and never-ending act of bringing all the elements of our lives into harmony.
This ongoing pandemic, without a doubt I would use the word “fast”. I am still shocked at how fast everything took place. How fast the virus spread, how fast the entire world had to close every door and turn off every engine, and how fast life moved to virtual mode. As fast as an instant, the pandemic made clear how fragile our world was. And when we talk about our world, we can think of it in terms of the planet we all share, the world we create among our loved ones, or the very personal one we build inside the walls of our homes or our minds. It doesn’t matter which one; they are all equally remarkable, equally important, and equally fragile.
Amid this situation, fashion, as it always does, reflected what we were going through. We all hung our tailored dresses and business suits and cozied up in soft loungewear that allowed us to work, socialize and move around in the ease and safety of our homes. Looks were all about comfort, and trends talked about work-leisure garments and over-the-keyboard tops. Clothing brands started including face masks as part of their offer, and fashion week was held virtually. Fashion was, once again, instant language that showed and expressed what was happening around us and how we were dealing with it. For over a year now, I have heard and read countless methods people began using to deal with this unprecedented situation. From music, exercise, and virtual socialization, we all designed, carved, and put together our personal recipes that would allow us to survive and keep thriving through this ongoing situation. We were not only connected by the reality we were living, but we were also connecting through the need to find a way to make the best of it. For first survival and then enjoyment, we sought ways to move through and past a common situation to every human being on this planet. We started doing this and keep on doing it because it is within our human nature to search for the light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t help to ask myself, is there a formula to survive this? Would it be possible to decodify it? I started paying more attention to what those closest to me were doing. My neighbor started working on her garden. One of my best friends began meditating. My husband began cooking all his mother’s and grandmother’s best dishes. We were all, in one way or another, creating the world we wanted to live in, even if that world was momentarily being limited to the confines of our homes.
I decided to focus on finding the common element all these successful recipes shared, what they were focusing on, and why they were working. I realized that at the heart of them all was the search for balance. Balance in its most pure and meaningful form - as an awareness of what is true, positive, and has meaning. Balance in terms of being able to cultivate what we need and manage what we have. Balance in the sense of understanding when to hold on when we can and let go when we must. If balance was the common denominator of so many answers and the formula to withstand unprecedented situations and still thrive despite them, it deserved to be highlighted and shared in a way that could resonate with everyone. The concept of balance can be as vast as the sea. The word itself is a noun and a verb, so it can, and it does, mean different things simultaneously. Balance can be related to values, emotions, and even professions. For example, being a fashion designer myself, balance is a design principle. And I follow this principle often because my own approach to fashion is to pay special attention to proportions. The idea of balance that these recipes had in common is the balance as an avenue to enjoy what life throws our way. Balance as the ongoing and never-ending act of bringing all the elements of our lives into harmony. Balance as a journey and not a destiny.
I immediately felt the need to share this discovery, so I began thinking of the best way to do it. Because an image is worth a thousand words, I decided to look for a visual representation of that idea. A graphic that could capture the mood, the spirit, and the meaning of such an important concept. One that could materialize and encompass its entire message. It had to be simple to be understood easily and beautiful to attract attention. But it also had to be true to my own idea of balance, a balance that can be enjoyable, elegant and provides stability in both static and moving conditions. When I thought of this, my mind went straight to one of my favorite books: The Ballerina Project.
I have a very close relationship with dance in general and with ballet in particular. I enjoy dancing in any situation, but few things provide me with the joy, excitement, enjoyment, and inspiration that ballet does. This is because ballet is probably one of the most all-around and complete art forms that I have ever encountered. As a physical exercise, ballet not only gives you strength and flexibility but is also the foundation for all other dance genres. As training, it requires commitment, dedication, and discipline, values that can be transferred and applied to any other aspect of life. As an art form, it combines acting, music, dancing, costume, and scenic design. Finally, as a methodology, it provides with perseveration, communication, and confidence.
I immediately called a long-time friend of mine who is a ballet dancer and instructor and explained to her that I was researching about the fundamentals of ballet. Through a zoom call, we sat down and began our conversation. “Ballet trains you to dance and teaches you to live,” she said. “What you need to succeed in ballet is what you need to succeed in life.” I asked her, “what would you say is at the core of ballet?”. “Balance,” she answered. In the same way, my neighbor took care of her yard, or my husband cooked his grandma’s dishes, through this pandemic we have all been trying to recreate places or moments that remind us of a better time. We are searching for the balance we feel we lost, and in that search, we are reclaiming it back. This is not only enlightening, but it is also something that draws us closer, establishing yet another reason and example that shows how similar we all are and how much we share and have in common. I fell in love with this concept of balance because it provided me with not only hope but also enlightenment. As a designer, I felt that the best way to share this idea was to do it through the language of fashion, so I decided to make it the inspiration of my Fall Winter 2021 collection. I believe fashion is an avenue that can provide empowerment and opportunity. One that can take us through a journey of self-discovery and confidence. Fashion can provide us with essential stones to pave our journey of expression, connection, and of balance.