Our 98 year old Ibu Ambassador, Iris Apfel, sits next to me at our trunk show in Palm Beach and admires my clutch. An Ibu clutch, of course, embellished with a face. We ought to do a clutch with your face on it, I say casually. I think that's a great idea, she agrees, and calls me a few months later wondering what has happened with the clutch idea?
What has happened is that I've been invited to a luncheon by a woman I do not know, (because, why not?) and seated next to another woman I do not know, (it was all arranged, I learn later) and quickly dive deep into conversation. Dayanne Danier has flown from New York to Charleston for this occasion, and is seated next to me because she is a fashion designer working in Haiti and who would like to meet her more than me?
She reaches for her beaded bag and I am caught staring. Now I am the one admiring her clutch glowing in a lovely chartreuse design. The women I work with in Haiti bead this, she tells me. All of this. By hand.
In Port-au-Prince, political unrest goes from bad to worse. High inflation, no jobs. Abysmal conditions. But fifteen women are coming to Dayanne's workshop each day they safely can, desperately eager to work and create; to join a project they love: Iris and her iconic face.
When women sit down together, I want to say, other women rise up into stronger lives. It always happens. It is one orbiting conversation from Palm Beach to Brooklyn to Haiti and back to Charleston - this is how women work. We annex one another in a common hope.
Iris Apfel is an icon, giving over her iconic face not only for you to love but for the women in Haiti to live. That is a gift worthy of the season. That is a story worthy of women. Sitting down together, so that all may finally rise up.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker