Sunday, August 17, 2008
...make a wish, girl we've been waiting for...17 august 2008 gratitudes
so i just don't even know where to begin telling this tale... i hope it is told and re-told, again and again, as it shows the magnitude of human kindness and generosity. here is the abridged version...
nikki is the darling 14 year old girl who won pete, chelsea, and my heart when we met her through a fashion and achitecture collaboration at Savannah College of Art and Design during our senior year. her mother, laraine, was the architecture professor whose passion and enthusiasm made all of us fashion kids fall in love with her. following this collaboration, chelsea and I went on to tutor nikki-chelsea in sewing, I in fashion illustration and collection development. she became our little sister and we continued to be penpals after we moved to new york, always looking forward to the heartfelt letters and incredible photos of her portfolio progress. our walls becoming an ever growing collaged record of our correspondence.
while we were in new york, nikki discovered lumps on her lymph nodes, which were immediately treated. a few weeks ago i received a heartbreaking voicemail from her mother, telling me the cancer had come back and they were about to begin a long battle with surgery and a more aggressive form of radiation. feeling so far away from savannah, i felt completely helpless. until i called laraine with an idea.
as the biggest advocate of positive thinking and the healing powers of happiness, i convinced her to let pete, chelsea, and i fly nikki up to new york so we could give her our fashion tour of the city. and much to my surprise-she agreed! when we asked nikki what she wished to do in new york, her greatest hope was just to see the superheroes exhibit at the met...which we knew would be the least we could do. little did we know...
by mentioning this story to a few people, a spark was created. pretty soon it seemed the whole fashion community was coming together to be a part of this magic. the women at W Magazine and WWD arranged for her(and her mother and pete, chelsea, and myself) to
*have a tour of the marc jacobs showroom to view the Resort 08 collection and see all the different aspects of the company from design to production to PR and sales.
*have a shopping trip at the bleeker street marc by marc store where she was able to select a dress, a pair of shoes, and a handbag!
*attend a taping of ugly betty where they met america ferrara and squealed, "sisterhood of the traveling pants!!!!!!!!!!!"
*model for a WWD photoshoot in central park where they created a mock-up cover of a WWD issue featuring nikki on the cover.
*have a tour of cartier and a gift of one of their charity love bracelets.
*attend a market appointment at philip crangi, where he personally gave us all a tour of his studio and went into great detail about his collections. we were all in awe of him. he was so inspiring and every word that came out of his mouth flowed perfectly and sequentially without hesitation or awkward pauses. his studio alone was an alcove of treasures and collectibles that made us all drool.
*attend a market appointment at alexander wang. i think we all were quietly trying to hide our excitement as he guided us around his studio. meeting him felt like the equivalent of meeting marc jacobs back in the 90s. he represents the young "cool kid", styling creative icons of today. and he is absolutely adorable and magnetic. we all wanted to hug him. and he gave nikki a one-off sample dress that never got made in production! so unreal.
*attend a market appointment with zac posen at his studio.
*attend a market appointment with brian bradley of tuleh.
*shop at lord and taylor with a $1000 gift certificate. we had the most fun trying to run around the store snapping up all the best pieces(we only had 30 minutes!) every piece nikki tried on looked like it was meant for her. she is so beautiful and clothing falls so beautifully on her.
*see a showing of the broadway play, hair, at central park. it was such a bawdy throwback to the sixties. we were giggling and singing and wiggling in our seats. at the end, the performers started pulling audience members on stage to dance with them to "aquarius/let the sun shine in". pete, chelsea, and i grabbed nikki and leapt over seats to make it to the stage where we danced and sweated til the music ended. it really was euphoric.
*have a private tour of the met's costume archives. we were able to see where historic pieces are preserved and the types of processes used during the archival process. we saw tiny chinese bound slippers; huge 18th century wigs and hats; and all sorts of treasures. we saw lauren davis' olivier theyskiens wedding dress. the famed ysl elephant dress. original chanel suits. mondrian dresses. paper dresses. roger vivier shoes. oh my!
*have a personal tour of the superheroes exhibit with a very eccentric and hilarious guide. very french and very naughty. he kept us in stitches.
*attend an alexis bittar market tour at his brooklyn studio in dumbo. he was so charming and fun. he took us down to the jacques torres chocolate shop and bought us all truffles and then took us down to the river to show us the waterfalls exhibit. he showed us how every piece is handcrafted in-house. each piece has so many layers of production and is touched by so many different hands with such care! we all kept deciding which position we wanted if we worked there...the handpainter, the gold leaf gilder, or the jewel placer. so utterly romantic and refreshing to see an artist who has kept control over his product. in a time when many luxury brands are opting for cheaper, poorer quality production means-he has stayed true to his artisanal craft. and at the end he gave nikki a giant bag of his beautiful accessories and even let her pick a piece from his PR closet. walking into that closet felt like the moment when dorothy walks out of the house into oz and everything goes from black and white to glittery and colorful. heavenly.
the final and jaw dropping moment was the lunch at oscar de la renta's studio with andre leon talley. oscar is probably one of the dearest men i have ever had the honor of meeting. he is a fashion icon, but most of all he is a man beloved by all. everyone of his employees and colleagues smile and glow in his presence. he was so kind attentive to nikki. she kept covering her mouth in awe! he showed her his latest collection, encouraging her to touch the garments and ask him questions. he made himself so accessible and he endeared himself instantly to her. he had her try on a beautiful party dress complete with gorgeous high heels and a python bag for all of us to ooh and ahh over. all of this was happening while the fit model walked up and down the studio, wearing designs from his current collection for spring 2009! we saw andre leon talley critiquing designs that are works in progress for his show that is coming up in the next few weeks. at the end of the tour, oscar told nikki that she got to keep all that she was wearing...and thats when we all started to cry.
the looks on nikki and laraine's faces are forever etched into my memory. words can't even describe the feeling. nikki and laraine are two of the most incredible people i have ever met. they extend goodwill and kindness to every soul they meet. they touch every soul they encounter and are the living example of how all humans should be. so much so that we are all convinced they are angels living on this earth. too good to be true. and new york proved to be filled with many unexpected angels.
i am forever grateful for this experience. for the people who made this happen. for my restoration in humanity. for the hope i have for the future of the fashion industry. for the confidence in nikki's future.
and this is why i still believe in magic.
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