At the moment, I’m staying at a beautiful ashram in India and the evening air smells like tuberose. It’s the perfect setting to reflect and tell you a little bit about my recent travels to LA and Dubai.
I had a whirlwind trip to LA for the Oscars. It was a welcomed change of pace after the frenzy of New York Fashion Week and I loved having the opportunity to not only dress Barbra for her stunning Oscar performance, but also to connect with friends like Hugh and Deb Jackman. After a few days in sunny California, I boarded my 17 hour flight to Dubai where I had a truly inspiring experience taking in culture and connecting with amazing women.
I decided to go to Dubai to join a group of inspiring women for a luncheon appropriately called “Empowering Women: Dynamic Forces of Change,” a paneled discussion moderated by Kathleen Matthews, Corporate Officer and EVP and Global Communications and Public Affairs, Marriott International, Inc. I joined Vital Voices President & CEO Alyse Nelson; Dubai Business Women Council President Raja Easa Al Gurg; Conde Nast Traveler Vice President & Publisher Carolyn Kremins; and JW Marriott Vice President & Global Brand Manager Mitzi Gaskins for this vibrant conversation.
We arrived a few days before the luncheon so we took some time to explore the new JW Marriott – I was immediately impressed with the calming energy. I found the hotel architecture to be absolutely breathtaking; it blew my mind! It’s the tallest building in the world and we had the great fortune to tour the hotel with Kathleen. I originally met Kathleen in Haiti through President Clinton and had an immediate connection with her; Kathleen and the Marriott share my view of how important it is to incorporate the local culture into business. Their philosophies are very much aligned with my mission at Urban Zen; I especially felt this when I stopped by their new spa Saray (where I had an authentic Haman experience with a Moroccan therapist - to die for!).
After the tour, I met with my dear friend Khalid who had produced a fashion show for me the last time I was in the country; Khalid connects the dots between fashion, education, culture and business, a true kindred spirit.
Later, we took a trip over to the Dubai Mall with my team from Donna Karan where I visited both my Donna Karan and DKNY stores… it’s always a little surreal to experience my stores in such diverse locations. Before attending an intimate dinner with a fabulous group of women for opening night of the new JW Marriott Dubai, I toured a brilliant new school called Repton. The British curriculum used at this amazing school placed such an emphasis on art - which covered every inch of the school; I wanted to be a student there!
The next day, it was time for the Empowering Women: Dynamic forces of Change panel. I have to say; I was really struck when I looked around the room at the beautiful faces of 200 women from around the world. Throughout the conversation, I realized how truly connected we all are – how our common experiences bond us across cultures and perceived differences. We all face the same challenges no matter where we live. It reaffirmed for me how important it is to ground your self and be in the now as we navigate through an ever-evolving world. I spoke about the importance of creating community, as it’s not about the” me” it’s about the “we”, the connection of the dots.
As the luncheon came to a close I had an opportunity to take the ladies through a guided meditation, connecting woman-to-woman while I shared my personal struggle to find the calm in the chaos and how my journey with Urban Zen has given me the missing link that connects us all.
You know, as I write this I am cognizant of the fact that it’s women’s history month and international women’s day is fast approaching. For me, that’s what these last few weeks have been about. My friendships with the women in my life are invaluable and I was reminded of this after spending time with Barbra in LA. Then, to connect with such amazing women in Dubai and to be a part of a necessary and timely conversation on women’s empowerment was truly extraordinary. Now, I’m in India working on my own self-care, another element of women’s empowerment that is so crucial (and often overlooked in many women’s lives). I’m taking some time to reconnect my mind, body and spirit. I hope you can take a moment and do the same.
Be in touch soon with more stories from India…
Barbra Streisand Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur