... when you're constantly on the move, few things remain unchanged.

good enough for the very best

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Randomly enough, after weeks and weeks of stifling, unbearable heat here in Austin; a thunderstorm moved in last night and has turned the weather cold and grey.  With one more week left of summer, I didn't expect to be spending this weekend snug in bed under a blanket, but what could be better on a day like today?

Grey weather always makes me pensive and I've been thinking a lot about my week, this year, my life.  On Tuesday something happened that made me cry the kind of deep, heaving sobs that come from far, far within: when the one person in my life I could ever call 'idol' paid me the highest compliment and gave me a shout out for yet another of her successes at New York City's Couture Fashion Week.  I felt beyond humbled - maybe what I felt was closer to shock - that someone who's world renown as a leading couturier, someone I revere and feel honoured to just know, would remember one of the little people, like me.  Since then, I've been reliving our entire relationship and reconsidering what she means in my life...

Her name is Nina Gleyzer and I met her for the first time in February 2011 as a fresh-faced, wide-eyed new-comer to New York City, the Waldorf Astoria, Couture Fashion Week and the fashion industry.  I was asked to fill in for the editor of an Atlanta based fashion magazine, who was unable to attend the event due to a prior work commitment, and to say I was overjoyed is a serious understatement!  I was flying higher than ever before in my life, seeing The City and the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry for the first time.  There's nothing, ever, like the first time.

I remember everything: the freezing chill that winded me as I stepped out of LaGuardia airport; the sleet on the ground; the excited butterflies that swarmed the pit of my stomach as I was ushered to the cab line and finally witnessed with my own two eyes, the arrival of iconic yellow cabs of Manhattan, followed by the surreal ride over the bridge and the vision of that most worshiped skyline unfolding before me...


Of course, that was nothing at all compared to the fruit bats that promptly ate and replaced my stomach-butterflies when we actually entered New York City: where my expectations and everything I thought I knew of the buildings, landmarks and streets, dissipated.  I realized in that moment that no matter how much you obsess over movies, books, webpages or magazine articles about New York - you'll never truly know the city until you visit.  It's overwhelming.  It's incredible.  Indescribable. One of the best places on Earth.    

I couldn't believe my luck when we pulled up in front of the Hilton on the Avenue of America's!  I was staying here?! Never before had I seen such a grand hotel, such luxury, nor so much high fashion and evident wealth in one place at the one time!  Louis Vuitton boots, Prada handbags, mink fur coats, tiny dogs wearing diamond encrusted collars... this really was like every movie I'd ever seen // and that was  just the hotel lobby!  I tried my best to act like I belonged, despite the neon THIS IS MY FIRST TIME HERE AND I'M UTTERLY OVERWHELMED billboard hovering above my head!  But, it was New York after all, no one noticed or cared.  Bliss!

After getting my key, I practically ran to my (beautiful) room, where I immediately flung open the curtains and just stood starring at the view before me with tears of joy in my eyes for several minutes. I took a much needed soak in the garden tub, had a meal and tried to compose myself, before I getting ready and leisurely wandering over to the Waldorf where I suppressed many excited squeals as I checked in as press for (you guessed it) the first time in my life!  It was in this state of elated gratitude that I took my place in the second row, notebook on lap, and took in the show.  Impeccable dress after impeccable dress flowed down the runway and the evening consisted of six designers total, two cocktail breaks and three hours.  But two designers stood out to everyone: Suzie Turner with her feathered ballgown masterpieces; and Nina Gleyzer with her timeless, Chanel-chic.

While I had interviewed designers before, none had been of this caliber and I was nervous.  Many prey upon that and act snooty.  Not Nina.  I can't really describe what it felt like to meet her, but I have always imagined it would feel like meeting Mademoiselle Chanel.  She was so confidant, so poised yet so passionate, that I was overcome with emotion and immediately had to find a corner to draft up my article in a trance of admiration.  That has never happened with anyone else.

After that, came the larger-than-life after party and two more magical, whirlwind days in Manhattan.  Those were two days of snow, blistering cold and exploring the city.  Two evenings of runways, interviews, canape's and cocktails.  When I returned to Atlanta, I submitted my articles and, feeling somewhat deflated, carried on freelancing - business as usual and nothing as glamorous as high fashion or New York City.

Two weeks later, the Editor in Chief of the fashion magazine called me with the highest praise: Nina Gleyzer herself had read my article and wanted to thank me personally!  I was floored!  Anyone who actually reads what I wrote about her will see why!  Of course, I instantly re-read said article and all of those feelings of awe I experienced upon meeting Nina, came rushing back.  She is a force.  And yet, she noticed me.  Little old me: interviewing internationally renown designers for the very first time and stumbling horribly along the way.  She wanted to thank ME for my praise - which was essentially putting down on paper how her composure made me feel self-conscious, unrefined and somewhat intimidated! Thank ME for esteeming her and her collection.  That what my first glimpse at Nina Gleyzer: an untarnished soul that's remained humble and grateful despite decades in the corrupting high fashion industry which takes only months to destroy lesser beings.

Another few weeks went by when suddenly we were being re-introduced at a charity event in Atlanta.  'So you're the talented girl who wrote such a beautiful article about me,' she casually said, loud enough for our circle and bystanders to hear, while I turned a vivid shade of red!  'Come see me at my atelier some time, I would love to chat with you.'  And just like that, began a life-changing, heart wrenching relationship between little ol' me and a woman of the highest strength and caliber I've ever encountered.  We spent the next few months rewriting her website, because she liked the way I described her clothes artwork; smoking, snacking and drinking lots of coffee along the way.  It was for these measly wesbite write ups that she remembered me, and thanked me, when her turn in the spotlight came once more and she received special accolades during last week's S/S 2015 Couture Fashion Week in NYC.

It blows my mind because while I gave her a few written descriptions for her website, she had given me something I can never quantify or fully express.  It was always simply an honour being in her presence: she is a big deal and she knows it!  But amazingly, she encouraged me.  Inspired me. Believed in me.  Loved and cared for me.  Most importantly, she was always brutally honest with me. Her holler in my direction made me weep with humility and just awe of the woman I worship, but now that I think about it, I wonder why it came as such a surprise at all.   I quickly saw, while working with her, that Nina has a tight-knit team of photographers, models, publications, buyers, students and so forth: all loyal to her and every one of whom she was loyal to in return. She treated them all just like she treated me: with genuine warmth, acceptance and beaming pride.

Before I met Nina Gleyzer, my impression of the big-shots in the fashion industry was that they were all exceedingly arrogant.  That they dispensed of people easily and claimed the achievements of those around them as their own. Nina removed my prejudice, but still remains a diamond in the rough, who values relationships and quickly moves from being an inspiration, an extraordinary visionary and master couturier into the hearts and circle of family, to anyone fortunate enough to work with her.  To me, Nina is like New York City: elegant, timeless, abundant, resilient and the height of style.  Urging all those around to be strong, believe in themselves and become the best they can be, while utterly accepting them the way they are.  Indeed I can't think of one without the other, both having made such dramatic impacts on my life: my first impressions of the Big City in which I was overcome when I met the only woman in the world I want to resemble.... and how they both forever changed my perception of freedom and blew my mind.

I remember reading somewhere once, that while people may forget your words or actions, they will never forget how you made them feel.  Nina made me feel talented.  Capable of anything. She used to tell me to follow my dreams and damn the consequences - to grasp what I wanted with all my might and never, never let go or give up.  On gloomy days like today when I am full of reflection: I wonder at myself and my self doubt, for if I am good enough for Nina Gleyzer - then I know I am good enough for the very best!

one of my all-time favourite Nina Gleyzer creations
all audience eyes upon her masterpiece creations <3
I've always felt extremely honoured to be considered part of the team 
NB// The link above to the aforementioned Nina article was indeed written by me and has been published completely unedited: but due to contractual loop holes, the Editor in Chief of the e-gazine has since claimed it as her own.


  1. Hi Lena - how fabulous that Nina was so thoughtful and aware of humility in life, despite her success ... while your note at the end of the post - shows the opposite.

    Congratulations on using your skills in writing so evocatively about Nina and her work .. and then just brilliant as to where it leads .. so pleased for you ... Hilary

    1. Thank you Hilary, I really appreciate it :)




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Sharing my stories of migrating from Australia to the US | travel adventures | married life | furry kids | new experiences | lessons | and loving life despite always missing home. xo.


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