Another year draws to an end, and boy, has this one been a ride!
I promise, this will not be one of those “my hopes for the upcoming year are…” posts. I’ve never been the one to draw conclusions out of a year purposely on December 31st, trying to give it a meaning and melting with the crowd already doing it to high heavens in media, or simply around me. Nope, not that kind of gal here.
In the recent years me and husband have introduced the habit to run away from the Milanese cold and all the Christmas hoopla (sorry babes, I just can’t stand when that kind of commercial cheer starts already in early November, or worse – when people start inquiring about your end of the year plans!), crossing the sea and going to north Africa, in hot pursuit of some sun and simple pleasures. When he first suggested Tunisia, I was sold: an Eastern country, not too glamorous (I get enough of the glitz in Milan, thank you very much), quite affordable (never been the fan of spending enormous amounts on hotels) and full of contrasts, from the desert to the seaside, and people warm with hospitality. What’s not to love?
Since then, this country has given me a lot and I’ve grown to love both its good and bad. I’ve loosened up on some of my OCD manias (for example, the four-years-ago-me wouldn’t have been caught dead eating freshly baked bread straight from the ashes, made in the desert. Today’s me thinks that’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted in my whole life.) and my tolerance levels have grown too (well, it’s either that or you murder everyone around you when you’re stuck in the Eastern chaos). It is true, traveling changes you a lot, especially if you manage to stay open minded, avoiding familiar schemes and safe zones.
The present pictures kind of represent the level of freedom and self-esteem I’ve managed to achieve. You see, when I was yet to become Lady Violante I was just a peacefully living working wife of a very intelligent and educated man, who use to dress like a first lady on any given occasion: we’re talking suits, dresses, heels matching purses, etc. Then, gradually, I exploded out of my own shell with a little help from my friends, changing both physically and emotionally, giving virtually birth to “Her”. (Don’t even ask, my husband calls Lady V “Her”, he’s practically married to two women. I don’t dare inquire about which one he loves more 😀 ) I’ve met many reactions in the past year and half: from attempts to bully me into taking off my offending image from the screens of repressed women through showers of insults, all quite lacking in creativity and banally regarding my dress size, all the way through women taking the effort to contact me privately to thank me for giving “real” women a voice. I’ve been called ” a fat bored wife”, outsider, beautiful, ugly … well, you name it, I’ve seen it.
But once Lady Violante was born… what doesn’t kill me, better start running 😀
Now Lady Violante is a growing project: Instagram followers are growing in numbers, people’s support is often overwhelming, and they actually make me think I’m doing something right. It’s impossible to ignore some of the messages I’ve been receiving: substantially, other women empowering and encouraging me to keep going, to keep exploring just what the fashion world can do with a girl next door who sure as hell isn’t afraid to be different.
You know how they say, “do haters pay your bills? No? Then there’s your answer!”.
Back to Tunisia for a moment. When I was thinking about launching this whole thing, I took some test shots wearing the dresses I brought with me for New Year’s eve. One of those shots has been taken in these same ruins. These are ksur, antique cereal deposits and living quarters, now abandoned and fascinating in the mountains. They have quite the vibe of “ghost towns”, and they witnessed my first shy attempts at the quest of changing on the spot from motorbike gear to Lady Violante stuff.
It was only right that I should go back to where it all started, now completely morphed and liberated, quickly changing and posing confidently for my photographer, a.k.a. husband.
What seems so easy – having your picture taken – became a symbol of my own rebellion to rules of the fashion world.
No, I am not a model, and I do not aspire to be one. I do not wish to modify my appearance to the point of homologation to said category (with all the respect: more power to them if they can make it work, I’m all in for diversity). But I want my voice to be heard, and my face isn’t going anywhere.
Let me put it like this: I am the living proof that fashion is not made just for one size or one type of woman. I also firmly believe that diversity is to be respected and empowered: nobody should be forced into feeling less beautiful or “fitting” (pardon my words game) if their size is not the sample one. As long as you’re healthy and have a good, productive life, at ease with yourself, you’re ok in my book. And as for those who believe I’m wrong… well, live with it, I won’t be placed in a box you can tick that easily.
This post was originally meant to be all about Douiret, the wonderful, magic setting of my shoot. But as it often happens, it went in another direction, following my own trail of thought.
Bottom line, thank you, all 39 K of you following me here and on Instagram, for you have made my life certainly quite different, and you’ve given me ideas I am excited to work on in 2016, God willing. Or as they say here, inshAllah. A year and a half ago, we were less than 1k. Now we are growing together. That itself is a gift.
( Funny fact: right after the last pic was taken, a storm came crashing down on us, drenching everything. I run for shelter, and I laughed. The old me would have fussed: Lady Violante doesn’t. She feels the storm, and she’s electrified. My wish for everyone is that you should come to feel your storms, and profoundly so: for life is only one, and is to be lived fully, without regrets.)
I am your girl next door.
I am different, unapologetically so.
I am Lady Violante, and 2016, the best is yet to come.
LOCATION: DOUIRET, TATAOUINE, TUNISIA
DRESS: DOLCE & GABBANA
SHOES: CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN