My classmate asked me if I’d model for her styling assignment, and my heart exploded when she told me the inspiration behind the Stella Jean themed shoot. She told me about a movement happening in her home country of Peru, where women are standing up and speaking out against violence. One of the things that always draws me to fashion is the way that it can be used to tell powerful stories. That’s exactly what we did, and I’m so proud to have been part of it.
Now, this may be a little confusing as I am currently in Milan, however I’ve finally had the time to put together this video of my trip earlier in the year to Stockholm, Sweden! I went as part of pretty much the coolest uni excursion ever, and we had such an amazing jam packed two weeks. Enjoy!
P.s Song credit where song credit is due! Sweet tune is called ‘Good for You’ by THBD
Good For You by THBD https://soundcloud.com/thbdsultan
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0
Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/-K_YSjqKgvQ
15 Days. 15 Items of clothing. Are you up for the challenge?
Milan isn’t really a city that is renound for it’s sustainable and ethical fashion scene, however I was hopeful upon arriving here that I’d be able to uncover what it had to offer with my super sustainable sleuthing skills. Within my first few weeks I managed to nab myself an invite to a local Clothing Swap Party thanks to a Facebook group I’d joined called Girls in Milan.
The event, run by three friends, was aimed at women who were new to the city and wanted to connect with others through their wardrobes (cute, right?). The rules were as follows:
- Bring at least 7 clothing items
- All items must be good quality/washed/ironed
- Accessories likes bags/shoes/jewellery are accepted too
- Participants are given 7 tokens with their name on them when they arrive
- Their clothing/accessories are then put on display on racks/hangers
- Participants then browse and place their 7 tokens on the other items they want
- The event was 5 euros (which covered champagne and yummy snacks)
I knew I’d found the right apartment when I came across bunting with the words “SWAP IT” on the door. I was one of the first people to arrive, and quickly explained that I didn’t actually come along to swap anything, but more to observe and hopefully make some friends (which was also totally acceptable). I started chatting to a cool Canadian girl named Jesabel with an enviable pixie haircut, and we quickly bonded over missing our boyfriends back home, entrepreneurship and running our own businesses (check out her brilliant Boss Girl video HERE and her Kickstarter Campaign HERE).
The small living room was very quickly packed with clothing and women, most speaking loudly and passionately in Italian, although I did manage to connect with a few others who were also there to make new friends. Once everyone had hung their clothes and had their tokens distributed is when chaos erupted. This is something I’ve experienced a few times in Italy, where things like personal space go straight out the window. Jesabel was in the thick of it, browsing swiftly and putting her tokens on the items she wanted. Pretty quickly she realised that someone had been removing her tokens and replacing them with their own (very bad form).
Together we discussed what to do, and both agreed to ask the hosts, however by the time this happened, the woman who had swapped out Jesabels tokens had left the party! It seemed Jesabel wasn’t the only one to get stung, and apparently it wasn’t just one woman doing the dirty (there was a pair who’d walked out with more than they’d swapped).
This put a bit of a dampener on the night. There wasn’t the slow and relaxing pace, conversation and connection that I had experienced at other clothing swap parties back home, but I think that had a lot to do with the fact that the ones I’d been to were with friends and not strangers. The language barrier also made it difficult, and the chaos of it all made me feel safer sticking to the sidelines eating carrots and hummus dip as opposed to trying to start a conversation.
Luckily, Jesabel managed to find 7 good quality pieces in the end, one of which was a sparkling straw hat which she picked especially for me. I walked away with a new experience, a really cool new friend and a bloody awesome hat.
The weeks before flying to Milan to study Fashion for a semester abroad, people kept asking me if I was excited. I would twist my face into a smile and nod, however the truth was that I was terrified. For someone as passionate as I am to have the opportunity to study abroad in one of the worlds Fashion capitals sounds like a dream come true, however having to face that fact that I would be doing it completely on my own was enough to make me feel like I had rocks in my stomach.
When I arrived in Italy, I was slightly delirious (nearly 48 hours of travel will do that to a girl). My taxi driver sped through the countryside, weaving in an out of cars between text messages he wrote frantically with one hand. I arrived at my new university – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (Naba) with my suitcases in tow. When I was informed that my other three house mates wouldn’t be arriving for at least five more days, I felt a lump creep into my throat. How was I going to survive here on my own for that long, in a place where I barely spoke the language? The first night in the empty apartment was the hardest. I curled up, fully clothed, on top of my bed, too tired to even get under the covers. I used a small hand towel as a blanket (pathetic I know). It was 4pm.
The next day I was awake before the sun. Having anxiety is nothing new to me, however on this morning I experienced it on a whole new level. My heart was racing, I felt sick, I was sweating. I was suddenly hyper aware of time. The thought that I was going to be away from my family and fiancé for the next 140 days made the room spin. I realized that in order to survive, I needed to connect with people. I had to make friends, and since I was so early and the other people I would be studying with hadn’t arrived yet, I turned to the next best thing – Facebook. I discovered a Facebook group called ‘Girls in Milan’, and once I was accepted I typed a plea for help: “Aussie girl, freaking out, homesick after two days, needs pals”. I was overwhelmed with responses, but one stood out. An English girl named Michelle empathized with how I was feeling, and was happy to meet up with me in the afternoon to show me around the city.
We met outside my uni (safety first) and instantly I knew we’d be friends. She had a relaxed, warm energy that made me feel calm again for the first time in days. We started to walk and chat, and as we turned the corner I quickly discovered that my apartment is right next to two of Milan’s most famous and beautiful canals, a fantastic vintage store and endless cafes and restaurants. We strolled along the cobbled stone streets, stopping for coffee gelato and enjoying the blistering Italian sunshine. The street fashion didn’t disappoint, as I admired tanned women in designer pleated skirts teamed with trendy sneakers and oversized handbags rush past me. There was something about their natural beauty that made me feel good about embracing less makeup.
I soon learned that Michelle had fallen in love with Italy at a young age, and had been living her dream to live and teach in Milan for the last four years. Her passion for the country was so genuine that part of me started to open up to it a little more as well. As we neared the city center, she stopped me. “I remember the first moment I saw it” she said smiling. “Saw what?” I asked, but before I could finish, I felt myself gasp. A church stretching high into the sky made from sparkling pink marble was glowing in the afternoon sun, and it took my breath away. The Duomo was more stunning and grand than I could have imagined, and there was something in seeing it that filled me with excitement and optimism. I was here, I’d made it. And although I was scared, I knew I’d be ok, because on the other side of the things you are most afraid of are always the biggest and best adventures.