Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Am Leonarda

I haven't blogged in a long time.

That's nothing new.......

Today, I come to the pages of my blog with nothing but inspiration. And clarity! It's a wonderful feeling!

The past couple of months have been what you could call......'A dark night of the soul'. But morning is here and I feel blessed. And free!

There's so much I want to say, and  know I have all the days and weeks and months ahead of me to say it all.

Today, I just feel like declaring 'I Am Leonarda'.

If you've read my 'about', you'll know why I call myself Leonarda Renaissance Woman. No need to repeat.

However, my 'about' just goes to show that I've know that all long.

I own it all today! And it feels great! Liberating!

I would like to talk about my career today.

It's been quite the journey....finding my way upon coming to the States. Today, I have such clarity. It's the most beautiful thing!

Let's start with Fashion. My first love.

I had been struggling with how to move forward, be myself and still be inspired. But also be practical. Oh how I dislike the word. But it is part of life.

I have some answers. They have been brewing for a while now, but today, I feel like sharing.

I have had aspirations of creating the most exquisite designs, evolving in leaps and bounds from what I used to create in Ghana, and even though I say so myself (finally!), my designs in Ghana were a cut above the fray. I know that. However, starting out as a Dressmaker/Designer, a Couturiere, created some confines in my psyche. As much as my inner little Princess would love to play dress up with my clients all day, my 'practical' side (I told you, I don't like her very much.....) keeps on reminding me of things like cleaning. Yes, cleaning. 'If I design xyz, how are my clients going to clean? Launder? Pack? Travel?' My little mind holds me back.

I'm back in school, working on my MFA in Fashion Design after taking a year off to chase my tail......

We are encouraged to be creative, push boundaries, and then in the same breath, we are asked to design ready to wear for the market! It's confusing!


Today, I've found my way.

In every aspect of my career, in all my 'Leonardaness', I have one goal. To create beauty for women. My slogan for the longest time has always been 'Beauty Inside, On You and All Around You'. This is my box.

And so, in the area of Fashion Design, I have found three compartments of my box.

I will use other designers to illustrate my vision. Another thing we are encouraged to do in school; pick a designer who inspires us but NOT copy their designs....fine lines.

I am absolutely in love with Ralph and Russo right now! Their designs are not out of this world avant garde or something we haven't seen before, (another something that we are encouraged to be in and fresh! ), however, they are beautiful. Romantic and inspiring. Ralph and Russo not only creates beautiful one of a kind designs, they also create an experience for their example; sending a chauffeur driven Rolls to pick their clients up for fittings. Yep. That's just the beginning. Again, as a couturiere, this is the language I understand the most, one of a kind. I have been working behind the scenes. One woman at a time. That's all I can handle right now. My Fashion house will be known as Shirley Ann Austin. Next time I'll tell you about the name. SAA is going to be my R&R. Exquisite fabrics, designs, feminine, romantic, expensive, one of a kind. Yes. And below are some of my inspirations. These designs will not be about my ego as a designer and artist, we'll come to that. These will be about serving my client at her point of need. Customized dressforms as body doubles ensuring the most precise fit. I will elaborate some more in the future. It's so clear.

Then there's the next level. What about mass production? Serving more women than those who will find themselves in my atelier. Well, there's an answer for that and there's a whole story behind this. Such a beautiful story with the most beautiful and inspiring women! I promise to share in my next post. Promise. This line is called You Beautiful by Shirley Ann. It is made up of very simple and yet elegant designs and also made up of mostly knits and wrinkle free fabrics. Easy to wear and maintain fabrics. There is also a DIY component which includes parties! Yes!!!!! Again, I promise to share so much more. Today, I just needed to write it all out to believe it myself! My inspirations for this line are Donna Karan and Natori. Donna Karan with her artistic and yet 'woman and curves friendly draping'. Natori with her simple and yet very elegant designs. Both of them with their global influences....and I'm African remember? The name? It's meant to be all inclusive....again, I promise, I'll share the story. But envision this......'You Beautiful Woman.....You Beautiful Mother.....You Beautiful Wife....You Beautiful fill in the gap.' It's going to be just beautiful! You'll see! This is already in the works too! I'll share some real life models with you in the next couple of weeks. But for now, I'm just sharing my inspirations, Donna Karan and Natori.

Donna Karan


And finally! My ego needs to be fed! My soul! It's what it is! To create art! For the sake of art! Beauty! Creativity! With no worries about laundry, cleaning, maintenance, nothing! The kind of creative expression that the greats like John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and my chosen one (......for today......there are many)!Yiqing Yin experience. I don't even know what this line will be called, maybe there will never be a name! But I have made space for these creations!

In the past year, I have added Photographer, or better still, what I prefer to call 'Capturer' to my repertoire. Again, I have one aim. One goal in all of this. Creating beauty and beautiful experiences for women. Mainstream fashion would assume that these works of art will be modeled in the pages of Vogue, Bazaar editorials. That would be nice, but it's not my goal. To be able to create these works of art and photograph women in them, real women, all ages, shapes and sizes! Experiences captured in a photograph.....a moment in time, framed and on her wall! Oh, how this makes my heart sing! I've started playing with this too! And I'm not at liberty to share the images publicly, but I can sneak one or two in without revealing the identity of my model. But back to Yiqing Yin, her work stirs my soul. And I also need to do work that will stir my own soul and the souls of others, moving away from the practicality of everyday life.

Yiqing Yin

And this is mine. It's a beginning.

So. This is where I am and I like it.

There's a whole lot more of this. So much to share! I make no promises though.

Merci. For reading my thoughts and my heart's truth.

And stay tuned! There's something here for everyone!