21 July 2016

We're back!

Hello readers!

It's been an insane year of travel and transition but just writing you a quick note to say we're back, we love you, and expect posts in the coming days with where we've been and where we're going. Beijos! *T*

Stay in touch on insta! @reciclagem

14 March 2015

Ethical Fashion starts at Any Age!

Bom dia my readers!

Greetings from Melbourne, Australia! It's been a while since I've posted here on blogger, and I wanted to update you on some of our most recent collaborations!

Over the past few months, in the beautiful hood of Alphabet City, NYC, we vibed with some 6 year old fashionistas at P.S. 91, creating recycled designs using shibori dying techniques, recycled hemp fabrics, paper bag bowties and necklaces out of newspaper. Already at the kinder-level they knew what their brand names were, what they wanted to design and how they wanted to rock. Let's let the images talk for themselves <3 br="">

02 January 2015

Bemvindo and Welcome to 2015!

Boa noite readers,

How are you? How are you feeling this New Year. This past year here at ReciclaGEM has been quite a whirlwind...

...beginning with our "Beautiful People" photo shoot with the River Revista...

...and Bricolage Conversation presentation at NYU Gallatin Fashion show...
...launched our first GoFundMe campaign...(THANK YOU:)

...to our first trip to the beautiful land of Oz, showcasing at RAW Brisbane alongside an incredibly talented team...
...and the start of Kat and my FridaFreda Project, to be released this year...
...our first bridal client and gown, made with vegan Peace silk...

 ...our remix of the "What's Underneath" Project collaboration with StyleLikeU, for the Hemispheric Institute's Graduate Student Initiative...

...a number of amazing creative shoots with the Beau Monde Society, to be released soon...

...costuming an amazing Lavinia Roberts' Emily Dickinson inspired production about identity and comfort in one's skin...

...our first upcycled youth class, featuring shibori-dyed hemp dresses and paper bag bows...
...and our expansion into the realm of divinity with our latest Conversation, Divine Feminine...

In the midst of these artistic strides, our world has faced enormous challenges in this past year, from Ayotzinapa to Palestine, to many cities through the U.S. and many unspoken cities around the world, where people are continuing to stay alive, thrive, and create under the pressure of occupation, police brutality and impunity, micro and macroaggressions, and violence.

ReciclaGEM began and continues to evolve as a line that explores through reclaimed and low impact materials these social narratives that run through the undercurrent of our seams- we walk through through the world sartorially kept but with our spirits and sense of selves threadbare .

This year will be a seminal year of putting many of these ideas, thoughts and conversations on a global platform, with pieces being available for purchase online and in stores, global artist collaborations that delve deeper into the creative expression of these issues, and more posts exploring the ways embodied narratives- and fashion-CAN inspire social change.

Finally a big, warm THANK-OBRIGADA-YOU to you brilliant photographers, models, makeup and hair artists, visionary clients, angel investors (thank you, amazing GoFundMe supporters!) and visionary readers, who are the very reason why these conversations exists. 

Together, let's create a new tune for 2015,

16 December 2014

Fashion, Embodiment and the Erotic

Boa noite readers,

As I continue gearing up for the completion of my collection, the opening of my first showroom, and my return back to the other side of this beautiful planet, I'd like to share the words of Audre Lorde, who has been resonating within me as I explore further the Divine Feminine and seek harmony with the internal shifts that are taking place as I produce this work.

Ms. Lorde's essay, "The Uses of the Erotic," I believe, holds the key to balancing the social media activism that has taken over and absolved so many of the internal work necessary to produce a different world. I say this knowing that I am sharing this via the social media, but also wanted to acknowledge that for ReciclaGEM to truly be about its mission, I need to change and access that sustained creative-erotic- power.

Eros- the Greek Deity of Love, has appeared under many other names in many communities around the world. But that erotic sense, as Lorde so succinctly illustrates, is the key to our accessing that satisfaction, love, and commitment necessary to not simply survive the revolution but thrive and produce beauty within it.

What has that meant for me? That has meant me buzzing to the voice of Lorde as I design, whose ancestral knowledge guides me in exploring how to intervene in the imaginary with the metaphysical and the grounded.

That has meant me loving myself enough to understand my role in creating this world- in all of its complicit aggressions against others by way of the divine self- and knowing that shifting the internal and the personal, away from guilt, away from energy vampires, away from blind pornographically sensationalist social media, away from externally ordained codes of conduct and effacement, and towards those deep and beautifully human desires for LoVe is critical.

Love is the answer to Rossana Reguillo's provocation that we intervene in the imaginary. We must intervene with love, otherwise, history will continue to repeat itself, as hate begets hate.

So with that, I stop typing, return to the cloth, and leave you with Audre's words directly from the sensei herself. Fashion is embodiment. But perhaps instead of viewing fashion as a force of the external, igniting the internal will allow us to do what it is we say, tweet, and dress ourselves to do- with pleasure, spiritual sustainability and deeply felt satisfaction.


Peace, love, and embodying the erotic.


And for those who are translating this blog into another language, here is the transcription, originally source from this site:

The Uses of the Erotic, by Audre Lorde
 There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling. In order to perpetuate itself, every oppression must corrupt or distort those various sources of power within the culture of the oppressed that can provide energy for change. For women, this has meant a suppression of the erotic as a considered source of power and information within our lives.

We have been taught to suspect this resource, vilified, abused, and devalued within western society. On the one hand, the superficially erotic has been encouraged as a sign of female inferiority; on the other hand, women have been made to suffer and to feel both contemptible and suspect by virtue of its existence.

It is a short step from there to the false belief that only by the suppression of the erotic within our lives and consciousness can women be truly strong. But that strength is illusory, for it is fashioned within the context of male models of power.

As women, we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge. We have been warned against it all our lives by the male world, which values this depth of feeling enough to keep women around in order to exercise it in the service of men, but which fears this same depth too much to examine the possibilities of it within themselves. So women are maintained at a distant/inferior position to be psychically milked, much the same way ants maintain colonies of aphids to provide a life-giving substance for their masters.

But the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough.

The erotic has often been misnamed by men and used against women. It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, and plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.

The erotic is a measure between our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.

It is never easy to demand the most from ourselves, from our lives, from our work. To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocrity of our society is to encourage excellence. But giving in to the fear of feeling and working to capacity is a luxury only the unintentional can afford, and the unintentional are those who do not wish to guide their own destinies.

This internal requirement toward excellence which we learn from the erotic must not be misconstrued as demanding the impossible from ourselves nor from others. Such a demand incapacitates everyone in the process. For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness.

The aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible. Within the celebration of the erotic in all our endeavors, my work becomes a conscious decision – a longed-for bed which I enter gratefully and from which I rise up empowered.
Of course, women so empowered are dangerous. So we are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex. And the lack of concern for the erotic root and satisfactions of our work is felt in our disaffection from so much of what we do. For instance, how often do we truly love our work even at its most difficult?

The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need – the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. But this is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible, it is also profoundly cruel.

As women, we need to examine the ways in which our world can be truly different. I am speaking here of the necessity for reassessing the quality of all the aspects of our lives and of our work, and of how we move toward and through them.

The very word erotic comes from the Greek word eros, the personification of love in all its aspects – born of Chaos, and personifying creative power and harmony. When I speak of the erotic, then, I speak of it as an assertion of the lifeforce of women; of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.

There are frequent attempts to equate pornography and eroticism, two diametrically opposed uses of the sexual. Because of these attempts, it has become fashionable to separate the spiritual (psychic and emotional) from the political, to see them as contradictory or antithetical. “What do you mean, a poetic revolutionary, a meditating gunrunner?” In the same way, we have attempted to separate the spiritual and the political is also false, resulting from an incomplete attention to our erotic knowledge.

For the bridge which connects them is formed by the erotic – the sensual – those physical, emotional, and psychic expressions of what is deepest and strongest and richest within each of us, being shared: the passions of love, in its deepest meanings.

Beyond the superficial, the considered phrase, “It feels right to me,” acknowledges the strength of the erotic into a true knowledge, for what that means is the first and most powerful guiding light toward any understanding. And understanding is a handmaiden which can only wait upon, or clarify, that knowledge, deeply born. The erotic is the nurturer or nursemaid of all our deepest knowledge.

The erotic functions for me in several ways, and the first is in providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.

Another important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy, in the way my body stretches to music and opens into response, harkening to its deepest rhythms so every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience whether it is dancing, building a bookcase, writing a poem, or examining an idea.

That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible, and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.

This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.

During World War II, we bought sealed plastic packets of white, uncolored margarine, with a tiny, intense pellet of yellow coloring perched like a topaz just inside the clear skin of the bag. We would leave the margarine out for a while to soften, and then we would pinch the little pellet to break it inside the bag, releasing the rich yellowness into the soft pale mass of margarine. Then taking it carefully between our fingers, we would knead it gently back and forth, over and over, until the color had spread throughout the whole pound bag of margarine, thoroughly coloring it.
I find the erotic such a kernel within myself. When released from its intense and constrained pellet, it flows through and colors my life with a kind of energy that heightens and sensitizes and strengthens all my experience.

We have been raised to fear the yes within ourselves, our deepest cravings. But, once recognized, those which do not enhance our future lose their power and can be altered. The fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect and indiscriminately powerful, for to suppress any truth is to give it strength beyond endurance. The fear that we cannot grow beyond whatever distortions we may find within ourselves keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, externally defined, and leads us to accept many facets of our own oppression as women.

When we live outside ourselves, and by that I mean on external directives only rather than from our internal knowledge and needs, when we live away from those erotic guides from within ourselves, then our lives are limited by external and alien forms, and we conform to the needs of a structure that is not based on human need, let alone an individual’s. But when we begin to live from within outward, in touch with the power of the erotic within ourselves, and allowing that power to inform and illuminate our actions upon the world around us, then we begin to be responsible to ourselves in the deepest sense. For as we begin to recognize our deepest feelings, we begin to give up, of necessity, being satisfied with suffering, and self-negation, and with the numbness which so often seems like the only alternative in our society. Our acts against oppression become integral with self, motivated and empowered from within.

In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.

And yes, there is a hierarchy. There is a difference between painting a black fence and writing a poem, but only one of quantity. And there is, for me, no difference between writing a good poem and moving into sunlight against the body of a woman I love.

This brings me to the last consideration of the erotic. To share the power of each other’s feelings is different from using another’s feelings as we would use a Kleenex. When we look the other way from our experience, erotic or otherwise, we use rather than share the feelings of those others who participate in the experience with us. And use without consent of the used is abuse.

In order to be utilized, our erotic feelings must be recognized. The need for sharing deep feeling is a human need. But within the european-american tradition, this need is satisfied by certain proscribed erotic comings-together. These occasions are almost always characterized by a simultaneous looking away, a pretense of calling them something else, whether a religion, a fit, mob violence, or even playing doctor. And this misnaming of the need and the deed give rise to that distortion which results in pornography and obscenity – the abuse of feeling.

When we look away from the importance of the erotic in the development and sustenance of our power, or when we look away from ourselves as we satisfy our erotic needs in concert with others, we use each other as objects of satisfaction rather than share our joy in the satisfying, rather than make connection with our similarities and our differences. To refuse to be able that might seem, is to deny a large part of the experience, and to allow ourselves to be reduced to the pornographic, the abused, and the absurd.

The erotic cannot be felt secondhand. As a Black lesbian feminist, I have a particular feeling, knowledge, and understanding for those sisters with whom I have danced hard, played, or even fought. This deep participation has often been the forerunner for joint concerted actions not possible before.

But this erotic charge is not easily shared by women who continue to operate under an exclusively european-american male tradition. I know it was not available to me when I was trying to adapt my consciousness to this mode of living and sensation 

11 December 2014

Meditating on the Americas


Boa noite dear readers,

I've been fairly quiet on my blog over the past month- as the state of affairs here in the Americas and the world seem to have reached a turning point (a turning point where we have nonetheless been, but somehow, it feels very very different).

I started ReciclaGEM four years ago with the intention of celebrating the beauty of the Americas, to balance out the undeniable violations that this hemisphere, and particularly the United States, have inflicted not only internationally but amongst its residents.

But we have come to a point where uninformed celebration must stop and an active intervening of the imaginary must take place.

Yesterday, the Hemispheric Institute of Politics and Performance hosted a critical talk on Ayotzinapa, Mexico, and strategies for understanding and intervening when the state commits genocide against its own people.

If you are reading this blog, I'm sure you are well versed in #weareayotzinapa #UsTired2  #blacklivesmatter #Ferguson #ericgarner #tamirrice #aiyanastanleyjones and so many other hashtags that have come to represent the ways in which state sanctioned police brutality and impunity, and racial and class supremacy are allowing gross violations of genocidal proportions against unarmed and innocent civilians to continue.

One strategy however that has caught my attention, and one that I feel inspired and empowered to utilize in my work with ReciclaGEM, is the idea of intervening in the imaginary, intervening in the images of violence that have taken over our social media newsfeeds, some of our homes, and our overwhelmed minds. This phrase was articulated by the Hemispheric Institute's Associate Director, Marcial Godoy-Anativia in summarizing the brilliant remarks made by Rossana Reguillo during the Hemispheric Institute's Teach-In "When Governments Kill Their Students." Reguillo articulated three central strategies for ways to emerge out of this storm:

1. Citizen Based Truth Commissions
2. Story Telling
3. Intervening the Imagery with images of the world we want.

So many of our governments have used media and imagery to inflate themselves, separate humanity through genocide and mind control, and spread damaging supremacist ideologies, transforming the magic of creative visualization into a strategy for domination and cruelty. But at the same time, if you are reading this, if you have access to the means of reading this, and if you are breathing now, there are many ways in which you have constructed your reality bravely in the face of those trying to take that creative power from you. And you are familiar with countless others around the world without such means, who STILL creatively and bravely construct their realities.

What has emerged from this period, and what will continue to emerge, is the power of witness, the power of affirming that the violations you, me and our people are experiencing are not delusions but rather a reality that must be intervened with our truth, our stories, and our desired futures.

So I stop this post to say that I am thinking, imagining, and creating, and will be sharing these works with you so that we can create, re-imagine, and intervene in the imaginary together.

Peace, love and vision,

19 November 2014

Frida Freda: The Divine Feminine -


In three days, two hours, and about one minute, ReciclaGEM's Spring 2015 collection "FridaFreda: The Divine Feminine" will emerge on the runway of Amarachi Bliss, hosted by two phenomenal women, radio personality and comedian Anike Adegboye and fashion designer/creative director Eunika Simmons, with special styling by Necole Kinloch, featuring a host of talented performers who use their craft to make visual the visceral.

The inspiration behind the collection is the principle of Shakti, which entered my life many years ago before I was ready to understand it/Her. In my limited knowledge, I have learned that Shakti  / The Divine Feminine is a spiritual principle well referenced in Hinduism but well known in many faiths and practices, that is rooted in the feminine modality present within all of us, irrespective of our social gender identity. 
(Photograhed at NYC Boutique, DarlingNYC)

Shakti / The Divine Feminine is that seed of inspiration, that spark before action, empowerment, or that "primordial cosmic energy" that begins creation.

Frida Kahlo and Freda MacDonald (aka. Josephine Baker) have been incredibly influential for me and for so many for so many other creatives that I have come across in my work. As figures, they are the sparks that drive so many aesthetic decisions, relentless art production and self styling of many an artist around the globe. They are also the spark behind trans-continental empowerment project that dear friend and frequent collaborator, Katherine Soutar, and I will be launching early next year.

But before introducing that project, I felt it necessary to present a collection that explores that seed of inspiration before our artistic action.

The collection will be created with our signature hybrid of hand dyed recycled hemp and surplus fabrics, with colors that reference the seven central chakras: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown. There are more than seven chakras of course, but we shall start with these. Accessories will include chains and gemstones such as Rose Quartz, Amethyst and Blue Calcite, sourced from magical cidade Rio de Janiero and sourced here in New York.

Created with silhouettes inspired by the multicultural backgrounds of both Frida and Freda, the collection will move like their movements, call upon their memory, while rooting itself in the etheric body that sustains so many artists, and most likely, them as well. 

 (Artist: Paige Bradley, "Goddess: Expansion)

This collection reflects a progression of the line, navigating away from focused political events and more towards the undercurrent energy that influences so many decisions- the undercurrent that, when ignored, creates the political and social events that so many of us fight so hard to prevent.

So join us this weekend to help light the spark and create the new. History doesn't always have to repeat itself.

1+1+2+2+2+0+1+4 = 13. If you follow numerology, you will know that 13 is the number of the Divine Feminine....Coincidence? I think not.


Photo Credits: If you are the owner of any of these images, please feel free to get in contact with me so I can properly credit you! One love info[at]reciclagem-themovement.com. Holla FKA Twigs! You are truly the reincarnation of these two women. Love to you!

19 October 2014

Ceremony: ReciclaGEM's First Bridal | Ceremonial Design

Bom dia readers,

Last month, I had the honor of designing our first bridal, ceremonial, nuptial (whatever best describes the sacred, community- supported union between lovers and partners) design for our frequent collaborator and dear friend, Krystalla Pearce.

The process began this past February, when after our photo shoot with the River Revista, Krystalla graciously asked me to design her wedding dress (!!!). Over email, while I was in her hometown of of Melbourne, and she in my hometown of NYC, we discussed ideas over pinterest exchanges and emailed photos. The goal was to design a dress that would include elements of her family history and her style aesthetics while being constructed ethically with thoughtfully minded materials.

 After two dress mock ups and several fittings, we came up with the perfect look for her- a Ceremonial attire constructed with a hand-sewn lace bodice, "Ahimsa," Peace Silk dress base, hand-sewn, locally-sourced metal chain hem, upcycled Made Well shoes with spray-painted gold heels, and a veil constructed with flowers picked fresh from the gorgeous organic farm, where the wedding took place.

The bodice of the lace was constructed with antique lace that came from both her mother's and father's sides, collected during our visit to Australia earlier this year.  Smaller hand constructed lace pieces were artfully folded over a Peace silk bodice, topped with large pieces creating a yoke at the midsection.

The dress was finished with small pleats, a signature of Krystalla's personal style and five Peace silk fabric buttons, symbolizing the five members of Krystalla's immediate family.

The Peace Silk pleated skirt bottom was weighted down by a small Pewter gold chain, sourced from the New York City Jewelry district, and a small train, which would be pinned to create a small bustle for walking across the grass of the organic farm or the barn's dance floor, where such a glorious event continued. (Side note: Peep the gold heels! - an ode to Krystalla's Greek origins).

It was such an honor to design a bridal dress for a wonderful supporter of our work here at ReciclaGEM and to work with not only recycled and vegan materials, but materials that held a special significance in telling a family and ancestral narrative.

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity- may you and Ben continue to have beautiful, artistically-enriching, mind-expanding adventures together and a love that inspires all those who witness it to live more fully.

Peace, love, and ceremony,

Photo Credits: Sarma & Co Photography, Suzanne Finley, T*'s Iphone :-)