It was such an honor to shoot this month’s fashion feature at the Stephan Weiss Studio, home base for the Urban Zen Foundation, and I can’t resist telling you a little more about this special place and its honorable ambitions.The location itself is the former studio of Donna Karan‘s late husband, Stephan Weiss, whose legacy is celebrated in the diverse collection of the artist’s sculptures and paintings lovingly scattered throughout. In between are works by Haitian craftspeople like Jean Paul Sylvaince and Yvette Celestin, who create the tobacco leaf vases that are sold in the just-next-door Urban Zen store, where they sit next to hand-hewn horn jewelry and exquisite leather goods. 100% of the profits from these pieces go back to Haiti, making them but one example of the ways in which Karan and her team have empowered the Haitian people to rebuild their personal economies and preserve their cultural legacy, in the wake of recent tragedy and the growing face of globalization.No stranger to sadness herself, Karan was her husband’s biggest advocate during his struggle with cancer, and after his passing her commitment to promoting holistic healthcare remained undiminished. Inspired by this deeply-realized passion, she founded Urban Zen in 2008 ~ but its objectives really coalesced in response to the tragic 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. Co-founding Hope, Help & Rebuild Haiti, Karan was heavily active in getting food, water, and medical care to the Haitian people at the height of the crisis. And even as conditions improved, Karan’s dedication to the project deepened.Today, the foundation’s objectives are focused on three goals: supporting and co-piloting programs that treat the well-being of patients (through nutrition, yoga, and eastern healing methods) with the same zeal with which western medicine treats the specific disease; collaborating with children’s programs to optimize spiritual, physical, and emotional growth; and preserving cultures by finding sustainable means to celebrate their creativity and craftsmanship in an ever more industrialized world.Happily, commerce and consciousness come together in Karan’s Urban Zen stores (in New York, Sag Harbor and Los Angeles) ~ the best place to immerse yourself in the brand’s philosophy and aesthetic. Besides the aforementioned Haitian accessories, the shops are the exclusive source for the designer’s Urban Zen clothing line ~ a delicious, seasonless, sumptuous assortment of clothes for the modern, globe-trotting woman. They’re the kind of pieces you want to wear everywhere ~ to work, to yoga, to dinner parties and on absolutely every plane ride. Rather apt for a woman juggling multiple businesses and trying to save the world at the same time!
If you’d like to learn more about Urban Zen’s empowering partnerships with Haitian artisans, I urge you to watch THIS VIDEO.
|CLICK HERE| to revisit the fashion story we shot in this inspiring space.