One Who Dresses: Vi Rowshankish
We’ve all been there. You cross a person on the street. Maybe you look twice. Maybe you make a quick judgment based on their outward appearance. Maybe you think about their outfit the next time you get dressed. No matter our response, when we only see the surface, we miss all the richness that comes from being able to know what lies deeper. This series aims to do just that. It is a peek into women's closets, and their spirits, as they share what getting dressed means to them in the context of who they are as women. My hope is that we can learn to appreciate the complex narrative that takes place at the intersection of who we are and what we wear.
Kicking off the series is my dear friend, Vi Rowshankish, a beautiful human being and one stylish lady. Vi writes, takes pictures, and generally excels at all things creative (she made her own wedding dress). One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Vi is that celebrating beauty helps us savor life's moments, the precious ones as well as the mundane. It’s not something that compromises our substance, and it’s not something we need to trivialize in light of what’s happening in the world at large. This was a gift of a lesson for me, because I struggled for too long with the dynamic between substance and style. Seeing how gracefully she holds what’s on the outside with what’s within helped me come to a softer and more accepting relationship with these constructs in my own life.
Here is Vi, in her own words.
Finish the sentence: Style is...
Coco Chanel said something like, "Fashion is in the sky, in the street, in our ideas, the way we live, what is happening." I guess I have that definition of style in mind. I also find style more interesting when you weren't born beautiful and talented, when it's something you experiment with and curate on your own.
Describe your style in a few lines.
My ideal sartorial self would be feminine and put together. That happens less these days with two small children! I'm pretty classic, but like to experiment with volume and accessories. I love the movie glamour of the 1930s and 40s, so my fashion choices usually default along that vein. I have no qualms about being "overdressed." Dressing up is way too much fun!
What is your approach to bringing things into your closet? Do you favor certain kinds of pieces, or certain brands/designers?
It depends on what I'm currently inspired by. I can't help but be attracted to hero pieces. I suppose it's what gives one's everyday a little more sparkle. I find myself thinking about how I consume more and more lately. I don't think I could ever be a total minimalist, but I definitely care about where my clothes come from and how they are made.
What are a few of the pieces you own that you love the most?
I love things in my closet and my home that give me a pure connection. When I travel, I make it a point to meet artisans. My mother was creative, so I think that's influenced me. Creativity gives me energy. It's a way to connect to a life and a history. When I was in Santorini, I met a man who had been making beautiful pottery for over fifty years. He only spoke Greek, but luckily his former apprentice was there visiting with his family, and he translated. I was pregnant with my first child and getting over losing someone very special, so it was a pleasure being able to sit with this man, be hopeful, and create together. Over a (small) glass of homemade sangria, we created a piece that incorporated the history of the place we were in, a symbol of the time I was in, and something symbolic of a future. When it arrived in my apartment in New York a few weeks later, maybe it was just in my head, but when I opened the box, I could smell the salty sea air, the Greek earth, this old man's cigarettes - the memory. It's a beautiful thing to have a home filled with memories and things that you love. This only comes with time and putting yourself out there and making connections with people and yourself.
What do you think fashion should do for women?
Name three people you admire and why.
In the fashion realm, I love modern women like Madonna, Tilda Swinton, and Gwen Stefani that dress without fear. I also look to glamour girls from old movies like Hedy Lamarr and Marlene Dietrich. It's wonderful living in a city like New York, where the streets are like a runway and you can be inspired during your coffee run.
What's one thing you would change about fashion today?
I don't know if it's getting older, getting wiser, having children, it could be a number of things. I hope this sustainability trend of realizing we have a responsibility to each other and the place we live isn't just a trend and will start to hold fast as something ingrained in our culture. I don't always get it right, but I have to try.
And people don't wear hats enough. I love a good hat!
Your biggest fear about the world today?
Oh my goodness, I think we are all in this weird place right now, don't you think? I try not to be ruled by fear and like to focus on the beauty in this world. That sounded cheesy, but it's true! That doesn't mean ignoring that atrocities are happening and trying to do something about it because we all have a responsibility to take care of each other. It's a balance, isn't it? The only way we can create beauty is to see beauty.
Your brightest hope?
I'm excited about the potential for future adventures in life and what is around the corner. I think I've always been an optimist and believe that some doors should close so that a better door can open elsewhere. I get that it's easy to tell yourself that, as we all need hope, but it can be harder to make you actually feel it. I hope that my optimism comes to fruition.