In good company: three women who could only boost me and confirm that I had made the right choices!
From left to right: Nevo Burrell, Image Consultant and teacher in London, Carolyn Doelling model (72 years old) USA, Snjezana MacLean Image Consultant in London.
A fabulous weekend in London as part of the annual meeting of the Federation of International Image Professionals (FIPI) with the first day, Friday September XNUMX, the visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum of an exhibition on Mary Quant, the fashion icon of the 1960s, and a second day of conferences, on Saturday 21, each as exciting as the next, on the theme "The Changing Face of Fashion", with speakers and participants from five continents.
If there is one person who contributed in the sixties to making London, for more than half a century, the center par excellence of experimentation and innovation in fashion, let it be societal or clothing, it is Mary Quant.
Her origins, coming from a family of Welsh miners, are surely a big part of her desire to break down traditional stereotypes, the hierarchy of classes and to make fashion accessible to as many people as possible. His irreverent spirit, his legendary energy and his origins opened the streets to him as a source of inspiration.
An outfit invented by Mary Quant fifty years ago and worn today will have lost none of its relevance. This shows how far she was not only ahead of her time but continues to influence designers today.
This is Carolyn Mair, PhD in neuro-scientistce and Professor of Psychology at the University of the Arts " from London, who set the tone for the second day with his conference entitled “The Future of Fashion: Changes and Challenges”. Professor Carolyn Maier is the originator of the world's first-ever university program leading to a master's degree in psychology applied to fashion and image and a master's degree in psychology for fashion professionals.
Paradox! This first intervention, while it had a rather scientific character, filled me with emotions. I was finally among an assembly of people who by their size, their work, their reputation at the international level, gave to the profession of Image Consultant the seat and the place that I have always granted to it but that in my contacts until then in France, it has too often been refused. Where, a webmaster whose work and competence I valued, used the frivolity of my job as an excuse to justify ending our collaboration, where a college French teacher stood in front of me for an hour, allowed to talk about the uselessness of my profession?
Rather than feeling this conference as revenge, I lived this moment as an epiphany, my entry into my peers, “finally I was at home”. I felt pleasure, satisfaction, even joy and above all the energy and the desire to take full advantage of the future that was offered to me as an Image Consultant thanks to this culture fully open to my profession.
The second speaker, Tara Button is an author, environmental activist and entrepreneur. His talk was titled:
« A Life Less Throwaway". In 2016, she founded Buy Me Once, a website that recommends high-quality products designed to stand the test of time and stay out of landfills and dumps. Buy Me Once aims to permanently change our shopping habits by promoting brands that place great importance on sustainability and longevity.
She began her working life away from such concerns when she worked in advertising and tried to persuade parents to buy more chocolate for their children. It was the beauty and durability of a Le Creuset cooking pot that gave her the enormous satisfaction of knowing that for the rest of her life she would not only never need to buy another one again, but that she could even go so far as to pass it on to his children. Being myself the owner of a size 28 Le Creuset pot for 18 years and who of course followed me in my move to London, I understood what she wanted to communicate to us and this all the more 'after electronics, “fashion”, the kind that pushes people to change their outfits before they've even worn them and clutter their wardrobes with useless clothes, is the second most polluting economic sector.
And that's where she joined the work of Image Consultants, especially in the help they can provide to define everyone's style. Knowing your style, I would go even further by saying knowing your trifecta, is knowing what to buy, knowing how to put together outfits with a minimum of clothes, making these clothes interchangeable and thus multiplying the number of outfits. Knowing your style and your trifecta means avoiding unnecessary and superfluous purchases, in a word, it means feeling comfortable in all circumstances by reducing your purchases and at the same time doing your small part to maintain a quality environment. In this sense, she also spoke about the profession of Personal Shopper, a function that is fully part of the skills of all Image Consultants. The Personal Shopper in the sense that it wants to be an accompaniment and help so that the person can pass from the stage of simple consumer to that of actor and decider of what he wears. A way that opens up the prospect of buying less but better both quantitatively and qualitatively and thus once again contributing, each at their own level, to preserving our environment.
It was then the lunch break, and on this subject I have an anecdote that I would like to share with you. When I registered for the FIPI congress in June, I was asked if I had any food requirements or restrictions. I told them that indeed I had a pineapple allergy strong enough to be able to trigger severe anaphylactic-type reactions.
At the end of the morning session a person came to find me to inform me in English that a special plate had been made for me where each food item had been checked and examined to ensure that it had not been in contact with pineapple. The person not being sure that I had fully understood given my level of English went to get one of his colleagues who spoke French to confirm to me what I had already understood. This extreme attention touched me a lot.
The afternoon session began with the intervention of Polly Holman former President of FIPI and who teaches at the "London College of Fashion". She spoke to us about Are Algorithms, AI and Avatars the Future of Styling? ».
For over 20 years, Polly Holman has combined her private consulting and teaching at the London College of Fashion in London and Dubai, giving her a unique perspective on the global fashion market. It has trained stylists from 145 countries and its trainees are both stylists responsible for brands, whether national or international, personal shoppers, and trainers. For the past three years she has been working on creating machine learning algorithms for retail on an internet platform, hence the title of her talk.
With my English still somewhat rudimentary and the subject covered, I must say that I may not have grasped the completeness and richness of Polly Holman's intervention. On the other hand, through her presence and her charisma I understood that I was there in front of one of the great ladies at the international level of fashion, style and image. In the less technical part of his presentation, I particularly appreciated his way of saying that even if we consider that taking care of clothes may seem superficial to some, the fact remains that behind the clothes hides self-esteem, anxieties when we don't feel well, the judgments made about us, so many feelings and sensations which are indeed "a reality" and which are in no way superficial.
It was then the turn by Eva May Person of Healing Image HI to tell us about : “How Image Professionals Can Help Survivors of Abuse ". A woman who uses her experience as a person who has been raped and how she was able to get out of it by using the image to help others. I felt that for some her intervention had no real place within the framework of the FIPI or that others felt that she was perhaps feeling too sorry for herself. For me who was bruised in my body from a very young age, I know what strength and surpassing it takes to be able to talk about it in public and I know that getting there is the royal road to healing. As for the contribution of the image, I also know to what extent being an Image Consultant was one of the means, however small, that helped me to regain full contact with my body. After a rape, managing to regain contact with one's body, to reclaim it, is essential and is certainly the culmination of a long and necessary work. Perhaps it is necessary to have been so bruised in one's body to understand how the image can be one of the lifelines available in the journey leading to healing following a rape. In this sense I could only be sensitive to the words of Eva May Pearson and know that her communication had its full place during this FIPI congress and I thank her for having had the courage to speak in public about her experience.
Finally, Azrene Ahmed, Director Imago Master Program, Malaysia, presented us with her vision of what she saw as « The Rise of Modest Dressing ». I was really impressed by Azrene Ahmed, by the strength that emanated from this little piece of woman. I was all the more impressed as I felt that she was a woman of power while maintaining great simplicity, two character traits that give stature to those who know how to combine them. And all this while messing our hair with her veil worn with the greatest elegance and nobility. So I did some research on the character that I would like to share with you.
Azrene Ahmed is Malaysian. For the little story and question of situating the character, you should know that she is the daughter of the first marriage of Rosmah Mansor who in second marriage married Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2009 to 2018 with whom she spent most of the time of his childhood and adolescence. Najib Razak is one of the Malaysian politicians who have held the most sovereign positions.
Following his defeat in the 2018 elections, Najib Razak is charged with corruption and embezzlement for a sum amounting to one billion dollars. And this is where the personality, the strong character of Azrene Ahmed is fully revealed. Just hours after her father-in-law's electoral defeat, Azrene posts a text on Facebook that is going viral in Malaysia. She writes that she initially adored both of her parents but had to come to terms with it and it took her years to recognize and admit the abuse and mistreatment inflicted by her mother, a path that left her cost infinitely.
As speculation about the lifestyle and corruption of the former presidential couple is at its highest, Azrene mentions the accounts opened in banks around the world, the suitcases stuffed with money, the money spent as if it were water, herself used as a "mule", her mother's attempt to sell her to the highest and most powerful bidder in order to further her social and political ambitions. His text is not for nothing in the search that takes place at their home during which the anti-corruption brigade finds a cache of luxury items worth 273 million dollars, including 1 necklaces, 400 handbags hand, 567 watches, 423 rings, 2 brooches and 200 tiaras, the largest seizure in Malaysian history.
No need to say more about Azrene to situate the character. That only confirmed the impression she had made on me even before I inquired further about her background. A journey that in many ways is similar to mine except that she comes from a powerful family and I from a slum in the heart of Africa. We have in common the betrayal and betrayal of a mother so long loved, but ultimately the obligation to recognize the evidence that causes such pain and requires such courage. A long-term work on oneself which today with my 40 years still requires to pursue it to become fully aware of it, hence my slogan: to help each and everyone to become fully aware of their value and to live with elegance.