Fashion and the power of community engagement

Fast Company published an article that encompassed Fashion Revolution, circular economy, the UN Global Goals for a Sustainable World and its title was Stop Buying Crap and Companies will Stop Making Crap. 60,000 words, endless hours, and donated funds later, that is exactly what I have been trying to say.

There are two topics in this article, which breaks the n.1 rule of journalism, it would make me fail the class. But life is full of contradictions, and I will try not to lose you and make the two points collide with a bit of storytelling.  

Imagine style advice column meets philanthropy. I am especially looking at 4 of the UN Global Goals for a Sustainable Development: n. 4 quality education, n.5 gender equality, n.8 decent work and economic growth and n.12 responsible consumption and production.


People still think that fashion doesn’t belong to them, because they are business people and they work, they don’t have time to waste in frivolities. Those are usually the ones that obliviously fell for the fast fashion wagon, met mindless consumerism on the train that fooled them like the fox and the wolf did with Pinocchio. Mindlessly. There’s no time or positive outcome with pointing fingers, not their fault and there’s no time to waste, must redeem ourselves from that vicious circle, we are boarding a Noah’s Ark and save the salvable. And to me it’s still that idea that Fashion is whispering, storytelling, an escape, Fashion is creating a dream, Fashion is doing good, craft and tradition, is heritage, Fashion is fair trade, is fair wage, quality vs. quantity.

I was talking with a friend just yesterday and she was telling me: “I am old fashion girl that still loves the smell of fresh crackling magazine papers, are we ever going to go back?”

Fashion Revolution is here to the rescue, the most modern and active revolution that aims to bring things back to how they were with the advantage of new technology and forward modern thinking.

We have so much crap in our closets that it’s enough to switch our mind to think and admit that there is more inventory than days to wear it. Statistics say that an average 28% of garments sleep unworn in one’s closet.

I am going to jump and skip one step, all you need to do is read my book’s chapter 8 But, first, shop in your closet.

What to do with what you have and don’t wear? Sell, donate, re-use, re-purpose, re-style, exchange, up-cycle. Chances are that stuff you haven’t been wearing belong to the you of a couple of years ago, maybe good quality but the new you would wear it with something else or in a different occasion. I am still not done with my boxes of heels, because I refuse to admit I don’t use them. Anyone with tips on separation anxiety, speak now.

Nathalia of Maria Loves Green, Joanis of Nomad Tribe and I joined forces to dismantle the bad rap of second-hand clothing (Global Goal n. 12) The topic was covered from many angles, statistics show that water, car miles, carbon dioxide are saved, we not only give a second life to clothing that are still wearable, we create new garments by up-cycling, we contribute to making new fabrics from garments that cannot be upcycled (more on this in a later workshop) and when we thrift we give the hope of a new life to whatever community we give back to. In our case, Saturday, it was the Lotus House, a female only shelter that welcomes, supports and empowers disadvantaged women and their children to build a new life, enter the workforce and provide their families a roof and a future. (Global Goal n.4,5 and 8) Everyone left with a (or multiple) bags and a heart filled with joy. I may have bought a desk.

To know more about Lotus House click the link.

To receive the PDF with a teaser of my new Sustainable Chic Manifesto, sign-up for my newsletter.


I proudly attended the Heart in Hand Awards benefiting No More Tears, a non-profit organization that saves, supports and empowers victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking.  I have been welcomed as a member of the organizing committee two years ago, since then it’s been a steep learning curve that made me a stern advocate for victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking.

Some facts:

  • the majority of them being women;

  • the numbers are chilling;

  • Florida ranks third in list of US capitals in which human trafficking is a business;

  • Miami-Dade sits at the top of reported domestic violence cases as per Florida Department of Law Enforcement;

  • 9000 are reported, the ones not filed we’ll never know;

  • average age 12;

  • $5000 saves the life of a woman and her children

My question is: who doesn’t have some extra time to volunteer or money to donate? In 2018 it’s unconceivable not to do good, not to contribute to better the community one lives in. I certainly get inspiration and a renowned will of doing more for women who for unfortunate life circumstances have less than what I have. These are trying times for women with an administration that keeps detracting all the rights we have gained through decades of fighting for them. It’s a tortuous and long route that will bring us to gender equality (Global Goal n.5) and the fight starts from one.

How does Fashion fit with this cause?

As per the words of award recipient Bernice Steinbaum, “I didn’t know that today everyone would look like they came out of Vogue”. Because badass women, 200 of them, can join forces, make shit happen and also dress damn well.

To know more about No More Tears click the link.

In an effort to redeem the effortless

Effortless became a dirty word, like "amazing", "iconic" been used so many times that became decontextualized and condemned to the Underworld.

At least in fashion.

At least with me.

There are words I cannot dare pronouncing because when you do, it means you are just opening your mouth to say something, without paying attention. This is not a judgmental proposition, I myself fall into that trap all the time. Au contraire, it’s an encouragement to think before speaking. Seems rhetoric and obsolete, but our life has been reduced to 140 characters and a handful of Emojis, we are prompted to immediately react, and it’s easy to reuse words especially when you last saw them on someone’s feed. Thing is here that effortless is one of the adjectives unanimously used to describe Italian style and it hits home not to be able to use “effortless style” or “effortless casual”.

Effortless is not only referred to the clothing that you wear, it doesn’t identify who wears brands from who doesn’t, it’s the whole attitude, like “luxury is a state of mind”. You can sit back after having danced the night away and eat your birthday cake, like JLo or wear the most exquisite Haute Couture gown and sing and dance like Celine Dion. Both, effortless.

Clothing goes with language, attitude, lifestyle as in whatever surrounds you, situation, the occasion, work, vacation …

This fashion editor claims she mastered effortless style when she embraced the effort. And it’s true that when you are adrift with your style, you have to buy something for every occasion because you have nothing to wear and your wardrobe becomes a receptacle of the disposable, you’ll never feel empowered enough. Refer to the book for the rest.

What’s less and what’s effort.

Search for the hashtag #effortlessstyle on Instagram and you’ll gather what I am saying: 150K meaning stripping posts.

Effortless can be wearing a linen skirt, seating in the shade of a tall tree on a wicker chair and drinking an Aperol Spritz, effortless is NOT sitting at a bar in the piazza and posing with the sunglasses, the IT bag of the moment and the glass of Aperol Spritz. Same spirits, different spirit. One is nonchalance, the other is a bit monkeyed.

With the words of the late Christopher Gibbs:

I like things in their natural state, people especially … objects and people that are unmonkeyed with, that are themselves, not trying to be something else.

A series of words we could use instead.

Flair is ephemeral

Ease can be non-sophisticated

Grace is elegance

Uncomplicated is pretty close to simple, nothing wrong, but it’d miss the pizzazz

Natural can be constructed in a social media dominated existance, like a natural self-tan.

It’s like Formentera to Ibiza, Panarea to Stromboli, Gstaad to Verbier, Miami Beach to Cape Cod. It's like the difference between un caffe' e un cornetto and a venti skimmed almond milk latte with one pump of caramel. 

Some concepts that have diverted the meaning of effortless to its opposite.

EWW, Effortless White Woman, as in, you know who, the Gwyneth Paltrow of the early 2000’, a name a brand, the one of the woman with little to none BDE, but far away from a Lucille Ball, she is married, but doesn’t live for her family, she is indeed fulfilled by children and career. GP the brand that gives the impression that people can be like her, aspirational, she is the woman who has it all and tells you can too in an ostentatious way, the most rarefied form of effortless.

#Iwokeuplikethis is another infesting hashtag, because you know better. That ideal perfect bed hair is another way of feeding the obsession with an ideal of polished perfection, second to make believe

Normcore, hipster, Hygge, scumbro, athleisure and the need to label yourself to exist. That’s another practice born out of a digital generation that breathes keywords, categories, algorithms.

I leave you with a reflection by Diana Vreeland. 

Style is everything. Style helps you get up in the morning and go down the stairs. And I am not talking about a lot of clothes.
— The Eye Has to Travel

THE royal wedding MY WAY

With months of anticipation, it only hit me a week ago that the royal wedding was happening, and it took me a few hours after the wedding to realize that I wasn't the one marrying Harry. Anyhow, you bet I woke up and watched it, live and then on repeat all day, and cried, chocked, awed. So if you didn't or are not into the royals, you can leave now.

I'm going to start with my overall opinion, assuming that you have pretty much idea of what happened. Ok, here you go, ladies and gentlemen: while Harry and Meghan became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex we have seen the monarchy catapulted into the most progressive potent version of itself it's ever seen. Queen approved.

I know it's quite the statement, but I have a theory. I had to watch the whole thing twice, because the first one, live on the Kensington Palace Facebook page, I wimped so much I was a wreck and I knew there was too much I had missed.

When I watched the PBS version, still no commentary, yet with that anticipation feeling "wait, look at Harry here" I realized what had happened, right in front of our eyes: the Monarchy had became this modern, progressive fairy tale that we all desperately need in times like these. And, no, I don't think Meghan is just a climber, these guys are pure love, they don't NEED each other to be better, they are an incredible, strong, powerful, progressive, modern inspiration and influence for all of us, they encompass generations. 

Don't be fouled, pomp was still there, it was a magnificently orchestrated celebration, but the message was clear: the woman who is marrying Harry is not "an American divorcee who became famous on a TV series" like she had been stereotyped, she is a strong biracial badass woman that makes things happen with grace, poise, a smile and a brain and that happened to be on "Suits" but also called out a soap manufacturer for a racist un-feminist ad when she was 11

Also, she will be HRH Princess Henry of Wales, not Princess Meghan (get your stuff right).

Given that Harry didn't have the protocol restrictions his brother had, they broke all or as many as they pleased royal traditions, from the cake (from a hipster East End cake shop) to the soul choir, from holding their hands and the Queen not flinching. What the heck, wouldn't you have done the same? If you are still with me but bewildered and in disagreement, let me show you why I am right. 



I cried. But I also kept crying when Charles met her half way at the Quire, so don't quote me, but walking that nave alone looked more terrifying than for Carrie must have been the realization that Big wasn't going to come to the wedding. Only difference: this was real, like my tears.



"It was too simple" "Wasn't fitted enough" "Didn't have the wow effect": sorry, you just missed the point. Meghan envisioned the dress with Claire Waight Keller, the first female Artistic Director of Givenchy (did you know this? can you see where's the Meghan Effect going?). Minimal elegance, modernity, sleek lines, bateau neckline, train and "six meticulously placed seams", the Givenchy codes meet the Meghan Effect. if you are not wowed by all of the above, then you should have maybe opted for a binge watch of "Dynasty".


Needs an Instagram account by itself. You know, if you have followed my peregrinations on Instagram, how badly I wanted a long veil. And I called it: not only the veil was long, but it was the focal point of the outfit. To highlight the elaborate and exquisite embroidery on those 5 meters of silk tulle, the dress was purposefully left minimal. The flora of each of the 53 Countries of the Commonwealth was represented, honoring the role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador that the Queen bestowed upon Harry.  Don't get distracted, sum up the points of the Meghan Effect. And just because we are royals here, she chose two extra favorites: one flower that grows in front of Nottingham Cottage  and the California Poppy, because yes. 


Gave me life, it was stunning seeing her head sparkle on the carriage ride. I am just going to mention the hair, because it doesn't deserve any more than "fail", sorry, it wasn't time for a messy bun. To say it with my friend Ed, "that recalcitrant lock of hair" was disturbing to say the least. By now you could find me crying in the kitchen.



I mean. Poise, grace, honor, strength, power, pride all by herself. Like mother like daughter. I cried. 



It's a thing by now. Got me (and millions of #teamHarry peeps) hyperventilating.


She is the only one in the world that can wear the most unforgiving colors, like Gatorade lime anyone?, in the most spectacular way. I cried. And, besides, she IS the Queen, but that Harry is her favorite we all know, and she made Phillip come, and when she wants something, there's no pointing a finger like Kate, she raises the eyebrow and poor Phil comes along. She also brought Meghan's rescue dog and a diamond brooch with her, she is an equal opportunity lender.



She was present, and not in a creepy way, I am saying you could see her smiling looking at how Harry was the portrait of love. I am crying now because I am not sure you have realized there was an empty seat to William's right, first pew, right in front of granny and that was Diana's. Yup, now you can cry too.



Harry picked the flowers yesterday from their Cottage's garden where also Diana's favorite flowers are planted, the Forget-Me-Nots. I am crying right now. 



Big shout out to this young talent and his impeccable performance.


I know I called her "that irrelevant step-mother", because she never wastes an occasion to show how ordinary and un-sophisticated she is. 


Oh boy: he started off magnificent, he created the headlines for all tomorrow's newspapers "There's power in love" then he lost me on "fire" and I have no idea what happened after, but who am I, if not a commoner in pajama trying to sustain my tears of joy with another cup of coffee?


Tired af, repurposed the dress (which I am sure Meghan appreciated) just went for a change of fascinator, was lost at times during the ceremony, possibly sleeping with her eyes open, or the milk surging which is never the best feeling especially when you happen to be at the royal wedding. Kate does no wrong, and, excuse me, but she had a baby 26 days ago. BTW, Char and George did their own thing, they kinda listened to what they needed to do, Kate didn't have to point the finger, but boy if they gave Gary Janetti enough material.


I am going to try to keep it short: Oprah didn't hire a stylist and it was a bad decision, but Oprah, so whatevs, I am glad she forgot the hat ... ; the Beckham flat pulse; Amal, Serena and the Suits family get the winning cup for me; George, like my friend Elizabeth Holmes who has  "so many thoughts" said: why are you not in a morning suit? 


It wasn't a Disney movie, if you thought the same thing, the tiara, the second kiss, their holding hands, their waving, the happiness, the last minutes we saw the whole show 


Where do I start from? She is in bespoke Stella McCartney, he is in a tux (Thank you Jesus), there's a 1968 Jaguar E Type converted to electric, because, hello!, Harry and Meghan? the first one that tells me that "a sustainable living is not sexy". Hold on, the car is blue, right, and guess what's Meghan sporting? Diana's aquamarine solitaire, the third wheel in the car. It wasn't big, it needed a certificate of occupancy and a seatbelt.  

FUN FACTS: I woke up at 5 minutes to 6am, panicking, by the time all was set the parade of celebrities had already strutted, first glimpse I had of the royal wedding was Oprah's hat and I have reasons to believe that is why I couldn't stop crying. 

MOMENT OF PANIC: Leave it to the royal family to time the seconds and withhold cell phones of half of the world, but there was that moment when the crowds intensified the cheering as Meghan was approaching St. George's Chapel but granny hadn't arrived yet and Kate was just riding the stairs with the pageants. I panicked. Then I saw Meghan's best friend having a Pippa moment in her royal blue dress, I got distracted, brought to reality again "oh, they are humans" type of moment of truth, and went along. Also, the girls white ballerinas were a gift from Meghan: Aquazzurra and personalized with their initials.






style + substance // Franco Mazzetti

Mr. Mazzetti has the honor to be the first man featured in style + substance. Another of my Insta-friends at first sight, he has always stroke a chord of the "Borrow from the Boys" chapter of the book. 

I couldn't help but wonder, besides "What would Leopoldo say" how can I infuse some drops of Italian style testosterone? Because Italian men are as opinionated in style as much as we are. I can prove it with my younger brother. 

So here you go and you can indulge in his sprezzatura life style on his Instagram profile and read along: a man with no secrets. 



Style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?
FM - Totally agree. Two indispensable ingredients although of different nature. Unfortunately style is not out for sale. Style, or class, is something that you either have or not, you can be elegant and dressed up with expensive clothing without having a drop of style. Equally true, one can wear clothing of a small monetary value and look extremely elegant. As per “substance” it is a derivate of knowledge and it’s represented by the easiness with which you create an outfit and consequently your image.

Everybody has a “comfort zone” a certain number of typology of clothing and accessories that make you feel at ease in your own skin. Around these staples is where you create the look that makes you feel confident in any situation. For me, I always try to combine colors harmonically yet without being obnoxiously clashing and, wearing almost every day a blazer I feel at ease with a vest and a pochette. The goal is to create combinations pleasant to the eye yet not flashy.

Your personal style in three words

FM - Style, simplicity and comfort, or like many like calling it, “sprezzatura”


How did you become an image consultant

FM - There’s a fact that people always attributed me  a hefty dose of style and good taste, but also, having to do with clothing for many years has made me, to my friends’ eyes, a valued expert to go to when in need of help. With the passing years, I helped friends and then friends of friends and from pure passion sparkled my profession. Obviously one thing is helping a friend with putting together an outfit and one thing is helping a person whom you don’t know with adapting and manipulating the wardrobe they have into something they like and feel comfortable in.

On shopping with a purpose

FM - The collaboration with the image consultant passes through a series of necessary steps. First you need to be the listener to understand what are the objectives, lifestyle, read the personality, aspirations and how much they are willing to change.

Then you establish the less disruptive necessary solutions to better their image. It’s a balance of knowledge and good taste, but never an imposition of one’s own style. The end of the route is when the client has acquired enough knowledge to make their own educated choices, purchases, and that only happens after the first sessions of personal shopping experiences. One of the advantages of the experience with a personal shopper is to be exposed to the reality that is most tailored to one’s own lifestyle, desires and budget, that is small factories and artisans that make, for example, made to measure shoes.


Do you feel like sharing one secret?

FM - Frankly, there are no secrets, only experience and good taste shared with the only purpose to not impose them, but to blend and filter them to their best use. One consideration though, you don’t better your own image by simply changing and switching clothing, there is an ingredient that can never be forgotten, that is good manners. To say it with the words of American politician Henry Ward Becker "Clothes and manners do not make the man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance".

Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or …

FM - As an "attempato gentiliomo" at first impulse I’d say I am separated but living under the same roof. Obviously I follow trends and I keep myself updated, but on a personal basis I keep a classic vein rarely influenced by fashions. It is true we cannot live without being exposed to what fashion proposes. For example until a couple of seasons ago, man clothing were slim (sometimes too slim) and extremely reduced volumes, with short and slim paletot. The new trends have declared a visible increase in volumes and longer coats and trenches. Hence, my wardrobe has grown in length and width gradually and quite unconsciously. This is still following la moda.

What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful?

FM - An extremely difficult question, since iI don’t believe we should generalize, every woman has her own character and personality. The reach of a good dose of confidence in oneself depends on a complex series of factors. There’s something I have noted and,I am sorry it can sound cliche’, but that can transform in a manner of a few seconds the attitude of every woman, a sort of miracle, it’s a 6 inch heel. You assist at a sort of transfiguration, when those few inches of elevation change attitude and walk, give the perception of a confident person that even wants to show off his own confidence.  

When did you find your confidence?

FM - The fact that I have always been able to wear with grace my own clothing gave me enough confidence but always with a certain “unconsciousness” I have found that I have a certain appeal later in life.  This frankly has helped design my profession, however I have always kept a dose of auto-irony, not to take myself too seriously. That people appreciates and notes my way of dressing is a bit agee. In this (ugly) period of puffer and sneakers, a man in jacket and tie creates some awe and I go back to a few decades ago, when my style of dressing was the same but it was normal encountering in the streets of Florence man elegantly dressed that would provoke scandal, because it was all normal.

When women “borrow from the boys”, what’s the look or item you appreciate the most interpreted by a woman?

FM - Personally I love seeing women dressed like women, but it’s true that women borros items from a man’s wardrobe. I am still remembering a woman dressed in jeans, nude stiletto and a double breasted oversized Burberry trench, exaggeratedly cinched at the waist, and the overall effect was fantastic. I don’t have a favorite item that I prefer seeing interpreted by a woman, but that young woman I remember clearly.


Is there anything that you constantly see we do wrong?

FM - I think the worst mistake is to hide one’s flaws in the wrong way. A non lean figure hidden under shapeless dresses, a shorter woman wearing disproportionally high platforms. A dress or suit adequately cut and tailored enhances the best parts of the body and veils the unflattering parts better than a tent-like one.  I have met a young woman, petite, wearing ballerinas with confidence and irony. She was extremely “simpatica” and her manners were cordial and positive that the last thing I would remember about her was her height. The secret to hide our own flaws is not to try to hide them (often done in a goofy way) but to focus on our better parts and elements of our bodies shifting focus from what we think is not flattering.  

Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”

FM - I think I am more irritated by the assumption that fashion is frivolous. Putting aside for a moment the fact what fashion and Made in Italy represent for our economy and reputation, I believe that following fashion and trends is a way to show who we are and how we relate to the others. Fashion is a business card for most of us, obviously it must be calibrated with good taste, especially for who is not a teen anymore, you and still be modern and current without decaying into ridiculous.

STYLE + SUBSTANCE// Tania of @sustainablystylish

I have this thing for Instagram. There's always some pleasant surprise around the corner, and Tania is another example. She stood out for originality in an ocean of same old same old. Read along to see how being unique is what gave her confidence, not the other way around. 

Style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?

Tania – Totally, I believe that your style can be the empowerment to all the additional good you are doing. 



Your personal style in three words

T - Sustainable, vintage, and clean


Do you feel like sharing one secret?

T - Thrift shopping all the way! But staying away from the classic trendy spots and heading to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or if in NYC Housing works. They typically have the best items at the best prices as they are usually run by volunteers who don’t know the value of certain brands.


Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or ...

T - Divorced. I used to once have mind when it came to fashion, what was on trend, what were other people wearing etc. Now I’m all about MY style, what looks good on me and being unique.



What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful?

T - Taking care of her body & mind. Being healthy is the best secret to feeling powerful. Working out, taking care of your appearance and your brain.


When did you find your confidence?

T - When I took back the control of what style/beauty meant to me.


How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype?

T – By not allowing those to be the only thing people know or see, show that we are much more than that, showing that you are strong and confident.


You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity?

T - It depends on the weather - in NYC if it’s winter, uniform for sure, jeans, boots, sweater.  If its summer or fall definitely creativity.



Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”

T - Sustainable fashion is boring! Dressing 100% sustainably has made me less boring and way more unique!

STYLE + SUBSTANCE // Gabriella Smith


Gabriella has that contagious energy that you tend to gravitate towards her. She is that girl in high school that you wanted to be friends with: smart, witted, constantly in a good mood and ready to jump the zip line, adventurous and affectionate she draws you in. 

We met for the first time during Fashion Revolution Week, and yes if you want to think that Orsola de Castro made us do it, well yes. Orsola was a keynote speaker on a panel about slow fashion and sustainability and great minds think alike, we both attended. For the incredible amount of work Gabriella does with students and designers, locally and abroad, check out @theupcycleproject on Instagram



Style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?

GS - Absolutely. I don’t think you can have style without substance and with both, you get the confidence you need to feel empowered. To have substance is for me is to have a point of view and be unafraid to express it, no matter if it goes against the status-quo, but to also have the ability to listen to different opinions and be open to challenging ideas. On the other hand, style for me represents more than what you wear, it’s about your confidence, manners, the way you speak, treat others and carry yourself, the clothes you pick then simply reflect your style. The combination of having what you look like on the outside reflects what’s on the inside is powerful.


Your personal style in three words

GS - Classic, comfortable, confident. (the three c’s J)



Up-cycling, making, educating, and being a mom: how you do it all

GS - Like they say… it takes a village! I most defiantly do not do it all, a lot falls through the cracks, but I do try and prioritize, make lists, set goals and do my best to stick to them. Also, I try not to be too hard on myself. I had a professor in college that used to tell me stories about his “presentation demons”, at the time I thought he was crazy, but when I realized that every time I had a “perfect plan” for mostly anything, the “presentation demons” would come and throw curveballs at my plan. This prepared me to plan ahead and try and anticipate what can go wrong, but also give me peace of mind to know that most likely something will, and guess what? it will be alright!  


On shopping with a purpose

GS - This subject has been tormenting me for the last six months. I have asked myself not only about shopping with a purpose, but rather, what is the purpose of shopping? In the US the average woman has seven pairs of jeans, of which she (myself included) wears only two. Nevertheless, they (we) continue to add jeans and other pieces to our closets without really thinking about what we already have. As my resolution for 2018, I will take a shopping sabbatical, a year in which I cannot buy myself any new article of clothes, shoes, or accessories. My goal is to discover my personal reason as to why I need to add something new to my closet, and get better at shopping my own closet! Wish me luck!


Do you feel like sharing one secret?

GS - I have a love affair with bacon.


Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or …

GS - It’s complicated. In the past, I allowed myself to be sold into the beautiful lifestyle marketing campaigns of luxury brands and what is supposed to be stylish. Of course I could not afford the luxury clothes, so I resorted to fast fashion and entry level luxury. That resulted in closet with major ADD… I never had anything to wear and was always looking for something new to buy. After starting The UpCycle Project and discovering the environmental and social impact the fashion industry has in the world, I slowed down. I started looking for brands that took responsibility for

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The best way to describe Sophie Zembra, our first style + substance powerhouse of the year is "veni, vidi, vici".

She moved from Paris to Miami "con furore" opened ANTIDOTE in Wynwood because it felt right and conquering our  hearts  with the perfect equilibrium of "sustainable chic" and acquired the title of "the girl of Wynwood" (according to her Instagram). 

Sophie is the embodiment of chic and young and fresh and happy, the store is the impeccable mirror of her personality and taste, but, as usual, it all happens when someone is motivated by a purpose, a passion, there's no style without substance.



Style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?

SZ - Totally 100% percent


Your personal style in three words

SZ - I don’t really have one style: it depends on the day, it depends on my mood. But in three words: freestyle; Parisian; chic/casual


I find it extraordinary in how little time you moved to Miami and opened one of the best stores in town: what drives your entrepreneurship?

SZ - Thank you for one of the best store in town J

My boosts are the meetings, the people!! Entrepreneurship it s an human adventure and in conscious fashion even more. My passion drive me in the good as in the bad times. I believe in life and dreams, I'm a dreamer that's why I am an entrepreneur. And to be an entrepreneur you need a bit of unconsciousness. 


Do you feel like sharing one secret?

SZ - Buy only what you like and what you feel good about. Never follow the trend follow only your feelings!!!



Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or

SZ – It’s complicated by time I love fashion and by time I hate fashion!!!


What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful?

SZ - Be yourself, listen to yourself. Women are raised without taking their word into account. So you have to listen to yourself and believe in your own power !


When did you find your confidence?

SZ – I’m still not confident enough in myself, but entrepreneurship helps me a lot. 



How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype?

SZ - By creating new princesses: without stereotype!!!


You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity?

SZ - I like a personal uniform with a touch of creativity. 


Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”?

SZ - “Sustainable fashion is boring” I have heard this too many times, and it’s not true. People aren’t being curious and just follow big brands/company but now we have a new wave of designer who mix esthetic and sustainability with brio. SUSTAINABLE FASHION IS DEFINITELY NOT BORING!


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She is a producer, an entrepreneur, a mother and a designer embracing fashion for a woman who is +50. I have noticed Erika Ehrman-Repola on Instagram, once again, for her elegance and discreet elegance, for her natural beauty and unfrivolous sensuality. She agreed on being featured, so please meet another fierce 'shero' who reinvented her life at 50. 

 'Elegant, eclectic, bohemian'

'Elegant, eclectic, bohemian'

Style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board? 

Your personal style in three words
E - Elegant, eclectic, bohemian 

On shopping with a purpose
E - I love textiles and texture, so I am often inspired by that first, I prefer to buy items that are not overly trendy, and feel unique.
Do you feel like sharing one secret?
E - I hate spending a lot on clothes. My dirty little secret is that … sometimes I find pieces at Forever 21 and integrate them into my wardrobe. People have no idea and are often complimentary and think  it’s some high ticketed designer piece. It’s all in how you style it and wear it, sometimes I even cutout the tags and no one knows. 


Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or …  
E - I am happily and newly divorced and it has made me fall in love with fashion all over again, because I dress exactly how I want and experiment more too. 

What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful? 
E - With regard to fashion, feeling comfortable in your own skin and what you are wearing. If you don’t feel good in your clothes, you don’t feel as empowered. I designed my line of dresses with that ideology in mind, I don’t want you to be a slave to your clothes. You should not have to starve yourself, or go to spinning class five times a week to feel sexy or beautiful to fit into a dress. It’s a state of mind, and it’s about being comfortable first and foremost, and then whatever you wear will look amazing, because you feel confident. 

When did you find your confidence? 
E - I think as I was about to turn 50. I thought I look pretty damn good for my age and I felt sexier than ever before. 


How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype? 
E - Celebrating all types of women and styles. I think being unique, embracing individuality whatever it is, might normalize it and help. 

You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity? 
E - Depends on the season. In the spring and summer I love to wear colors and patterns and I often live in jeans and dresses. In the winter, I find I don’t wear as much color, but I love texture still, so I often have a furry something, a sweater or coat, and my favorite pair of red booties. I try to have at least an accent of color somewhere. 

Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”  
E - I am not sure I find either irritating. I think both statements can be true or false depending on context. Sustainable fashion, if done right, can be interesting. Fashion can be frivolous, but it’s also about self-expression and it’s about showing personality, even if it’s a uniform. Frivolous makes me think of excessive amount of the same things, but if you can afford a great piece and it makes you feel good, it gives you that extra pump of confidence, then why not? 


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STYLE + SUBSTANCE // Valery Demure

Valery and I never met personally, but when you read the interview you'll realize why she stood out in my Instagram feed. There's no seeking for attention, she is a polyhedral woman who can show at the same time strong opinions and romantic gestures, she is an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife and a relentless supporter of creativity and artistic inclination. Exquisite and unique taste make her special. 



style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?

VD - Always, always although empowerment happened late to me


Your personal style in three words

VD - black, playful and bejeweled


A mother, a collector, a curious wanderer of all things beauty: how you do it all

VD - Still not sure! I have a great husband who takes care of all things at home and who follows me in all my adventures.


On shopping with a purpose 

VD - I never really shop for a purpose unless it is food shopping, I am always up to discover a great object, a beautiful texture, a mix of rich colors etc.  I am a wanderer.


Do you feel like sharing one secret?

VD - I can share a secret, for every thing, I like to go off the beaten track...shops, restaurants, places, friends etc. I love the unexpected.

Images below come from


Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or …

VD - Can’t live with it, can’t live without it, a love and hate relationship


What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful?

VD - To have the patience, the honesty and courage to truly know herself


When did you find your confidence?

VD - Very late in life, after years of soul searching and therapy, although I have always spoken my mind, and I have always been quite assured in my taste for all, music, arts, fashion, food, men etc.


How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype?

VD - What stereotype ? cute ? pretty ? pink ? I have no idea what you are talking about… princess, …yes who does not want to be treated like a princess ?


You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity?

VD - Instinct only instinct...a gut feeling… no personal uniform … always a little fun detail…fun socks, cool handbag, one of a kind vintage sunglasses but never never over the top, not craving for attention. I tend to dislike attention seekers, I find them rather sad.


Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”

VD - Of course Fashion is frivolous however it is such an important part of any culture, and although I can find sustainable fashion clothes and accessories a little too plain, I like the philosophy behind sustainability very much and I think sustainable fashion is evolving fast and it will be become more and more exciting. I am a firm believer too that we must preserve and support, promote craftsmanship all around the world, to me Craftsmanship is an essential part of any culture. I am less interested in the idea of Fashion than the one encompassing true craftsmanship and forward thinking design.

Style means motivate, inspire, support

 the disruptive element 

the disruptive element 

It’s that constant idea that on Instagram and on social media you must be cool at all costs, because that coolness is supposed to bring you thousands and hundreds of thousands of followers.

But what if it doesn’t happen?

Are you a failure? Or not cool?

Does having thousands of followers make you someone, the IT girl, an influencer, does it give you the title of “blogger”?

 another disruptive element

another disruptive element

Style is the asset that makes you stand out in an ocean of sponsored #OOTD Style is made by many variables and it allows for free interpretation, free falling, moody and rainy days, occasions. An outfit is never the same on the same person, something always changes, so how can an outfit of the day paid for the company wanting to promote the brand and expand its reach, be inspiring if the person wearing it hasn’t chosen it?

It’s not that there are no icons of style, we have plenty and everyone has her or his own idols, they are unique, remarkable, irreplaceable, encouraging, inspiring and motivating.

There’s never an absolute truth, there are exceptions to the blogger/influencer wagon, for my taste they account to a handful, and I am wishing to feature them in the style + substance series to support this process of empowerment for whom is like me and doesn’t want to copy, buy cheap and dispose.

It’s evident I didn’t become a big ass influencer or a viral blogger, no YouTube channel, I am opinionated and unapologetic, in other words a pain who wrote a book. Yet, after publishing the book and using thousands of words altogether I said it all.

Style has nothing to do with the realm of followers and the culture of fast fashion where everything is elusive and disposable. With a closetful of curated items, that you love, mend, fix, care for, the switch will happen and you will not be willing to follow trends and look like someone else.

Had I use one picture? I rarely look at the lens and it's not snobbery, it's that I never point the attention on me.