It’s noon on the dot — although there’s no watch weighing down my wrist, I know this because the town’s belle tower is emitting a vibration that fills the air, and shakes the streets. It’s the sound that signifies so many things. Time for repose, time for a warm tarte, time for the farmer’s market to pack up and return to their own family’s table. I’m reminded that it seems the only thing I ever do in this country is eat, sleep, repeat. It’s appropriate to have a glass of rosé at this hour, and so my siesta is heavy and often lasts well into the late afternoon. I hardly feel guilty, I’m on vacation, and plus the streets are practically barren during these hours anyways. Back home I don’t prepare meals other than the random dinner. I throw things on a cutting board, wolf them down, get back to my keyboard. Here there are days when we prepare extensive salads of fresh produce, burrata, thick with balsamic. Others we purchase fresh ravioli from the Italian’s at the market. When boiled they become much larger than we ever could have anticipated but we gorge ourselves silly on them. And then there’s bread, there’s always the warm bread from the baker just down the street. We plan to get there early so we can snatch up the best baguettes before the working crowd. I’ve stayed so many days in this town that I begin to recognize faces. Not just the vibrant blonde girl that serves our morning cappuccinos, but during these mid-day hours as people flood from their offices on to the cobble stones. It almost makes me think I live here. There’s more than a handful of reasons why I come back here every summer. One being for now it’s easier than the paperwork for a work visa. But truly it’s because there’s a lifestyle here that reminds one what the core of joy itself is in such a tumultuous time: our loved ones, delicious dishes, and moments of meditation on beauty.
It’s his mastery of hues that attracts us first, noses risking to threaten the allowed museum proximity from the masterpiece — Matisse has been on our minds a lot lately. The woman, and the still-life are naturally the most magnetic of his subjects. In portraiture that captures both so festively, we look back on his works and find our inspiration for summer’s wardrobe.
First comes the crisp white blouse, interrupted with a few open buttons, or by a purposeful tie at the waist. This isn’t the place for the mundane. Then there is the sleeve — a season that has been dedicated to re-writing the volume of such an appendage. Third, is the most unassuming of gold jewelry, placed just right to attract the viewer just an inch closer. Lastly, a nail polish (featured is Cuba Libre by Odeme) inspired directly by Henri Matisse’s painting The Dessert: Harmony in Red.
If there were to be a track to this travel story it’s Rihanna’s Desperado — blaring from the windows of a white pickup truck speeding from California to New Mexico, in search of the entrancing gypsum dunes of White Sands Monument.
Gotta get up out of here
And you ain’t leaving me behind
I know you won’t, ’cause we share common interests you
Need me, there ain’t no leaving me behind
Never know, no, both flying out of here yeah
Once we’re gone, ain’t no going back
The scenario was as such, seeking a change of pace from the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, two babes borrow a pick up, pack their bags, and chase the sun towards New Mexico. A dashboard littered with crystals and bunches of sage, the scene was perfectly set for an enlightened journey.
Sitting in an old Monte Carlo
We’ve both had our hearts broken
Take it easy
I’m not trying to go against you
I can be a lone wolf fishing
The ivory sculpted sand dunes emit a vast mood of noiseless aloneness — the type of place where thoughts can multiply into the infinite space. Beginning as a two day trip, it quickly grew in added hours as they put home on pause for more days dancing in the dunes.
If you want
We could be runaways, running from
And it’s out of luck
Yeah, yeah, there ain’t nothing
There ain’t nothing here for me
There ain’t nothing here for me anymore
I don’t wanna be alone
The wardrobe consisted only of bare feet, billowing white fabrics, eclectic jewels, and micro bikinis — all you need in a locale where the temps hit high of 100 in early spring. Dashing from the park rangers to shed their clothes and run free, they bounded over the sand hills, and under the sun’s rays for what felt like endless moments until the desert turned pink, then black with night, and it was time to return to California.
When a friend insists you have coffee with and rack the brain of Spanish beauty, and designer of the Ready-To-Wear label Cortana you just say yes. We can’t even count the reasons why but here are a few: she creates insanely stunning and minimal pieces that embody true female beauty, she has that bold sexiness saved for Latin women — and we’re hoping some might rub off, and finally she’s got some serious pearls of wisdom to share. We spent hours with Rosa Esteva hashing out clothes, sex, taboos, and even mind-altering states — because how could we not? Meet Rosa.
Vérité: So let’s talk about your line Cortana. What was the inspiration for starting your company?
Rosa Esteva: I’m just so inspired by women, and I feel like Cortana is like I’m in service to women. I just want them to feel very comfortable. Cortana doesn’t pretend to eclipse a woman’s personality. We believe what’s important is the person inside the dress, and the woman has to be seen. Sometimes you see the clothes but you don’t see her, so it’s good to know what looks the best on you.
V: Yes, and as a woman you can be dynamic, it’s always changing.
RE: Yeah, because we are all many women. A color can give you a vibration, can make you feel happier, can me you feel sexy. Fashion is transformative. It’s so much fun to be a woman huh?
V: I agree — and more so to be a woman that’s tapped into that.
RE: Yes, to have the freedom! We believe a lot in fabrics and cuts because we like very much the way you’re going to feel because this is the way you’re going to show yourself to the world, the way you’re going to reflect. It’s not how you look in the mirror, it’s how your energy will change. It’s not about the dress without you in it, it’s about you in the dress.
RE: Yes, I started my own label when I was 25. I went to fashion school before I did art school.
V: What have been things that shape the way you design?
RE: For example, I knew that I had this talent all my life because I feel so comfortable making women dress. For me it’s like a game, it’s very natural, and I just want it have beauty around. It makes me so happy to create beauty, and to see how a woman blooms when they find the right thing. It happens and it’s magical. How I started, when I was about ten my mother came back from India with a saree — an eight meter piece of cloth, it’s nothing itself but for me it was so telling because I was in front of the mirror, and now that’s the way I design. I also draw so much but from a fabric I see a dress, and from a woman I see a dress. But this saree was very revealing because I could see the fabric itself, the fabric talks, it has it’s own personality. Whatever you think of at the end, it’s the fabric that takes you there. It’s going to tell you how to deal with it because it moves, it has a life of its own. No matter how you want to control it you have to let it go because it will find its way — you have to always be open to what’s coming.
V: I recently had the conversation with someone about how right now with everything going on in the world it can seem silly to create something that could be received as frivolous, but then I realized actually no, this is the time we need that kind of beauty in the world, we need that uplifting element. What do you think about this?
RE: We need beauty more than ever because beauty is love. It’s a way of loving. If you look beautiful and you love yourself you are better to people. We do it because of love.
V: So it’s more of a partnership between you and the fabric when you design?
RE: Me and many other things — for example the person who makes the patterns, the model who’s going to try it on, the way she moves. I always try the clothes on because I like to know how it feels. Even when I was pregnant I was trying them on. You have to feel it for yourself, see the color, see the cut. I think Cortana is to feel more than to see. We take lots of care of the interior almost more than the exterior because we believe the thing that is going to be in contact with your skin.
RE: It’s always like this, if you don’t love yourself you can’t love other people. I’m inspired by other women and myself, but I’m very very inspired also by dance. I love the way things move when you dance. And the bodies of dancers, I’m very much inspired.
V: I can see that in your designs in the way they flow. Do you think being a mother has taught you about being a woman?
RE: Being a woman definitely. I was a girl before, and I discovered I was a woman only after I had my daughter. What it changed for me was my way of working. I spend less time working and I’m more focused because I want to be with my daughter and do other things — but everything is part of the same process of being a designer. It’s like walking on the street or hiking — my life is my work.
V: When do you feel sexiest?
RE: Naked! Bikini is the best dress.
V: You think the way your clothing fits women also instills this? It breathes, it’s lightweight?
RE: Yes, yes, to be almost a second skin. Something that moves with the body in a natural way. It allows freedom, which for me is so important. When you’re naked you feel free and sometimes when you get dressed you don’t. With Cortana I would like people to experience that.
V: How did you get into bridal?
RE: I got into bridal because when I got married I made my own wedding dress. I thought it was a nice thing to share because at that moment I found I had my own vision of wedding dresses that are also making you feel very pretty because love is freedom also.
V: So, beauty is love and love is freedom?
RE: Yes, and it’s truth also — Vérité. Do you think that only the truth can be sexy?
V: I would have to think about that, what do you think?
RE: Sometimes no. Sometimes it’s better not to know the truth. Sometimes creativity can be very theatrical and be very fake. It’s stepping out of our reality, and can be very sexy. Sometimes fashion can be like this and it’s amazing also — it’s surprising and fresh. Fashion is supposed to surprise also.
*at this point in the interview we look over to see a girl across the coffee shop, arm erect in front of her shamelessly snapping selfies.*
RE: there’s no shame in America! But I love it. I love it because everyone can be themselves and no one is going to judge you.
V: Yes but to an extent, but then there’s still so many things that are taboo in America like nudity.
RE: Yes! I was in boarding school in Massachusetts when I was in high school and I remember wow they were so conservative about some things. I remember one day talking about masturbation and they were like no way. I was like what!?
V: Yes, and it’s still something that’s not talked about, it’s not a publicly discussed thing.
RE: That’s a pity no?
V: I think so, because then we’re not educating people as well.
RE: So you should be ashamed of menstruation but not…? (Rosa looks over at girl taking selfies and we have a good laugh).
V: This is a question we always ask, but is there a book that has changed your life?
RE: I think actually I change my life every second because no matter what input you receive things will change but you have to be open. Sometimes a book can be very revealing but sometimes a movie, sometimes a song, sometimes a conversation with a friend, mushrooms or iowaska. You just have to be open to the revelation. Even a sentence will stick with you. Every minute, it just depends on how open you are. Some people travel and travel and travel, and read, read, read and aren’t open.
V: Have you done iowaska?
RE: No, I’m not scared but now I feel like everyone is doing iowaska now.
V: Do you believe we make our own story or it’s fate?
RE: I think we make it.
V: Especially as women.
RE: Yes, as women we are creators. We don’t need to have children, we are naturally creators. We are in a very good moment as women. We can change many things because feminine energy is magical. It’s more subtle than masculine but more changing. But women right now we have aspects of masculinity that are helpful to really do things.
Photographer Ashley Batz catches once again the fluid movements of principal ballerina Dores Andre in our study of women as the subject of art. Dores herself is moving art in her everyday life, and is it possible that the female being has brought diverse depth to art?
Dores has long been a muse of ours, a Femme of Vérité from the beginning. She always feels like the subject of a Matisse portrait — her unfamiliar beauty surrounded by color and movement that lives bigger than the frame itself. Though she is small, admirable to look at, and effective in her subject, she is not an object of art but art itself. A living breathing canvas from her personal style, to her rhythm on stage — the type you can’t collect but observe from a distance.
As long as fine art has been around so has the labor of capturing all the dynamic elements of the female and all that she is — form, character, contradictions. Only in capturing woman as a deeply studied subject, and not object does the artist find success.