IGTV just launched, and I’m taking this opportunity to create a new project which is about the silent conversations that we have everyday with the mirror. This first chapter is an introduction on the relationship I have with my reflection.

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So first things first: this is where my day usually begins, having silent conversations with my mirror. I wasn’t planning on getting this personal just yet but I just finished this book that taught me that you always have to start where you are at your vulnerable, and for me that’s the mirror.

I hold a complicated relationship with the girl that lives there. I can’t hide anything from her staring eyes. She knows exactly who I am, and that’s quite intimidating sometimes a month from now I will turn 33…

Such a big number! I remember all those conversations I had with my sister at night, when we were supposed to be sleeping, and we talked about what we would be doing throughout the years. When you are six even 15 seems like such a big number. Yet all of a sudden, somewhere in time someone pushes the fast-forward button and you realize you will soon turn 33 and fora strange reason you feel it’s important to share your story with others, perhaps because you wish someone would have been there to show you their own story to guide your way.

Beauty is complicated for me. I was taught from a very young age, that being beautiful made to you shallow; it was the wrong adjective.

It has taken a lifetime to make peace with it, and realize it can also be something positive.

I contain many versions of myself. There is a very marked difference between the person I am when I’m braided, and the person I am when I’m not. I will get into the braided woman soon, but this is where the real journey begins.

I believe clothes carry memories embedded in the fabric, and photographs can carry premonitions.

Lately, when I do serious photo-shoots, they become more of a performance than just pictures, and what I mean by this, is that it feels as if there were messages hidden in between; we usually plan very little, things and brands just happen, but in time I understand the meaning of the images we create.

When a story needs to be told, it almost seems as if the universe conspires to comunicate it.

The first time I gave myself truly to the lense was with Celia, right after the hurricane… and the earthquake. I was wearing a paliacate dress made by Pompi Garcia. I received it one day before the earthquake and had no idea when I was going to wear it. Paliacate is a fabric that is often used by rescuers in Mexico; they wear it in their heads to keep the sweat away. Then the earthquake happened, the significance of this dress changed forever. After almost a year without wearing it, yesterday I wore it again for a project on Latin America, and then I heard about this massive tragedy happening in Guatemala after the volcano eruption. This is probably the biggest tragedy that has happened in Latin America, (nature driven), after the Earthquake in Mexico last year.

And the dress was there with me once more, almost as if it wanted to tell me something.

Clothes have memories.

some months ago, I was actually surprised and even scared, when a photoshoot I did with Celia, where I was lying under a bridge in a death-like pose, surrounded by flowers, was sent to me by her one hour before a bridge collapsed in Miami killing 6 people. I couldn’t believe it. I never take pictures under bridges, and I received them that specific day…

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‘Under the Bridge’ by Celia D Luna

I think that ideas and insights into the future are up in the air, sometimes you are able to grab them, and more often than not, the noise around you doesn’t allow you to listen.

There is this one picture that has never left my mind: I’m six years old, with my sister and my grandfather playing in a virgin beach in Mexico; a strange red light is coming from my grandfather’s belly and into the sky.

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My grandfather, me and my sister

One second after the picture was taken — in film, obviously, so we couldn’t see it until they were printed a couple of weeks after — my grandfather went for a swim. We never understood what caused the red light. Was it a sign of his fate?

It was the last time I ever touched his hand. He died of a heart attack a couple of minutes later. The image of his body floating in the ocean, and our incapacity to save him, still wakes me up at night.

So perhaps some pictures are premonitions. Perhaps it’s only a coincidence.

Whatever it is, I believe there is so much we don’t understand in relation to the dynamics of this life. For me, the silent dialogue I have with the lens has become a form of liberation.

I’m concerned for the months ahead. Knowing that hurricane season is here is terrifying. I’m concerned for the health of our planet.

May we all stand united against adversity, and realize we are one. May the paliacate dress, become just a dress, and not a request for help at the expense of human lives.

“Glamour is searching for a correspondent in Miami,” said Daniela Von Wobeser, Fashion Editor at the time for Glamour Mexico and Latin America, and one of my best friends.

-“I recommended you for the position. Are you interested?”

-“Sure,” I replied, not really thinking I would ever get it.

Worst case scenario, I’ll tell another friend of mine who is so much better fitted for the position to do interview,  I thought.

I had been admiring from afar Daniela’s progress in the fashion world. She, like me, came from a family of logical thinkers who didn’t fully understand the use of a creative mind, yet was succeeding at an incredible pace. I was at the beginning of my journey through motherhood, and never thought something like that could happen to me. Also, I wasn’t sure I could write. What would I say? I’m not a writer… am I?

Glamour held a special place in my heart. Through my teenage days, it was the magazine I turned to the most in an effort to understand what being a woman was about.  I didn’t have a mother to look up to, because I lived only with my father. Now I could give my grain of salt to all those other women, who like me, were turning to magazines as a source of information.

As time went by, I started understanding and loving the role, but I would always feel the impostor syndrome: I had never considered myself a fashionista, yet suddenly everyone made reference to me being so glamourous: “Well of course! She works for Glamour,” they would say. In reality I was just slowly figuring out and studying this world. My way of dressing hadn’t changed much through the process.

Eventually, I started believing it.

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It’s not that working at a magazine made me, all of a sudden, dress better; it’s just that Glamour was my excuse to let that side of me show. It’s almost as if it gave me permission to play with color and forms the way I had always wanted to, yet didn’t because I was a marketer and a mother, and marketers and mothers dress conventionally, right?

My point is, don’t wait to have permission from a title to allow yourself to be who you are, and most importantly, don’t be intimidated by fashion. It’s not rocket science only meant for a select group of people: it’s just letting yourself express who you are through clothes, accessing the visual vault in your brain, which is a mix of what you see in the content you consume everyday (via instagram, web, magazines, books and museums), and taking risks.

Trust me: for me, even coulottes were intimidating at the beginning; I always thought those were pieces reserved only for fashionistas. Turns out, they are not, and you don’t have to belong to a square little drawer that determines who you should look like. So go ahead, if you love fashion, just wear those trendy pieces that you would have never worn before. Take risks. Have fun, and enjoy the process. Never forget that you are the master of your own journey.

Pictures by: Celia D Luna

Make up by: Lucia Aubin

Luggage: Andiamo

Dress: Bo KhasaMarina

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Shadows; puzzles; reflections; oval frames; repurposing the old; repurposing the meaningful; catharsis; more catharsis; hope; despair; fear; anger; more fear; magic;

Death.

As I walked through the infinite halls of the different fairs during Miami Art Week, those were the recurrent themes and techniques. The most commonly overheard comments were, as it’s often the case:  ‘I could do this’, ‘ this is not art’, ‘it has been done before’.

Right.

Creativity takes courage; so much of it.

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Once you are out there, everything is open to interpretation. Artists bare their souls. Every one of those pieces hanging in some lonely hall is a confession.  Embedded in the spotlight is the persuasive message of failure, that is on its own their main force of creation. The ‘real’ artist is not necessarily the one that sells the most, yet the price that his/her art bares, recognizes his/her power and assertiveness in navigating the system.

The system…

It’s called a system, because the world is engineered…

…engineered by us.

We often forget…

And the current system is based on cannibalism. We idolize those who have devoured the most: the highest prices, the biggest companies, the most followers, the most tickets sold. Buying into cannibalism makes us believe, at least on the surface, that our choice is right, because so many people agree.

I don’t live art from a business perspective, even though I respect those who engage with it through that lens. For me art is about emotion and feelings.

This year my life has been focused on self-discovery through art. I fought that side of me all my life. Studied business and marketing, and was successful in keeping that yearning on a leash, because I though art lead to sadness. It did in my family.

But we are all artists to the core. We are fulfilled the most while engaged in the process of creation in whatever path we’ve chosen. It’s innate.

Earthquakes happen when weaknesses cannot be expressed. It’s a fine line that leads to freedom.

How we deal with reality, as a collective, is the greatest challenge facing us. It has a ripple effect. Let yourself be who you are. As flawed as you might perceive yourself to be, you have the power to heal the part of the world that you can see and touch.

Pictures: Celia D Luna// Skirt: No Pise la Grama

Posing.

It’s not a matter of vanity.

It’s not a matter of beauty.

It has nothing to do with being superficial.

It’s simply that photography has become our canvas. We discover ourselves through the pictures we post.

My canvas.

I portray the subject I know best –which is obviously myself — allowing the lense to grab what’s inside: the camera takes off my shield and I find myself ‘naked’, never allowing a socially sought after smile to dress me, and be protagonist over what’s really happening inside.

Smiles.

They make us all feel comfortable and welcome, yet real ‘happy’ has so many dimensions and tones that rarely fit into one smile. They rarely do for me.

The anatomy of a good pose is a mix between history, feelings,  and how much you want to reveal about yourself in that specific moment: smiles get in the way, unless they are a true revelation of where you stand.

Show where you are.

Pictures by: Celia D Luna

Thank you to the newly inaugurated Bass Museum in Miami, for allowing us to photograph the work of Ugo Rondinone, and to Style Rac and Mademoiselle Epaulette for the dress.

Being alive is a fatal condition. The moment we are born, we basically begin to die. I’ve always been intrigued by Death. Every year I honor her, and the effect she has in my experience of life by celebrating ‘Day of the Death’ with my family.

It’s kind of a trend right now: James Bond shed a light on the beauty of this tradition a couple of years ago, and ever since, Halloween has been plagued by different interpretations of ‘La Catrina’ (think of her as the Jedi of skulls), mixed with Frida’s hairdo, or flower hairpieces of every kind. Yet, most people don’t understand what this tradition is about. Below, a brief explanation:

Day of the Dead is celebrated mostly in Central and Southern Mexico on November 1 & 2. Even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day, the indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones.

The main belief is that the gates of heaven open at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.In most Indian villages, beautiful altars (ofrendas), are made in each home.

Day of the Dead is a very expensive holiday for rural based, indigenous families. Many spend over two month’s income to honor their dead relatives. They believe that happy spirits will provide protection, good luck and wisdom to their families. Ofrenda building keeps the family close.

On the afternoon of November 2nd, the festivities are taken to the cemetery. People clean tombs, play cards, listen to the village band and reminisce about their loved ones. Tradition keeps the village close. 

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The four key elements represented on the altar

Fire/

Lighting of candles.

Earth/

Fruits and Cempazuchitl flower. The petals of this flower are used to ‘lighten’ the way to the altar because this flower is said to save the light of the sun.

Water/

Glass of water also present to calm the thirst of the spirits

Wind/

China paper that moves with the wind when the departed arrive. The tecnique to do the designs is very special. 

Other basic elements

Copal/

Shows the way to soul of the departed and helps them remain in this world for a bit.

Sugar skulls/

They are a response to the mix between pre-hispanic cultures with the Spanish culture after The Conquest. The technique remind us that death is sweet and that nothing lasts. Each skull has the name of the spirit it represents.

Food and beverage/

Based on the likes of those who are being honored. Bread of the death is always present, and so is a plate with salt.

Xoloitzcuintle sculpture/

It represents Xotol. This hairless dog was considered a deity, and is supposed to help the souls in their journey back to the infra-world.

Pictures/

They serve as visual representations of those who died.

Levels

The number of levels in the altar represent different ancestral cosmovisions.

Two level altar/

It represents the division between earth and sky.

Three levels/

Heaven, earth and the infra-world. With the introduction of catholicism the symbolism is related to the Holy Trinity.

Seven levels/

It’s the most conventional. It represents the seven levels that the soul needs to go through to reach eternal rest. The Aztecs believed in seven kinds of death, and for the Otomi culture there were seven original sins.

After experiencing tragedy so closely this year, I feel an immense need to honor not only the life of those who perished, but also the internal deaths society is going through as part of the experience of these surrealistic events. Our view of life has changed. They removed an element of innocence on us as well.

Celebrate life through death as a community: without history and memory there is no learning, and no future.

Pictures created by Celia D Luna and sponsored by Visit St Petersburg and The Dali Museum in Florida.