Memories That Shaped Me

An interesting introspective done by Forbes Life Romania

What are the memories that shaped you the most?

My Answer:

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English translation:

“The hardest thing to do would be to choose a particular moment of my life that shaped me.. I believe I’m a sum of all things I’ve done, lived, encounter throughout my life and more or less every memory I’m left with at the end of each day brings something new to who I am and changes me. As Umberto Eco said it’s an “Opera aperta “.
However there are some memories that are more important than others and for sure they shaped me in a away I couldn’t imagine . After all, Life itself is the greatest writer.
One of the most important memories of my life would be my first trip to Asia, I was a 20 years old student when I visited Japan for the first time, during my winter vacation . I can never forget the first day when I arrived in Tokyo and I was so shocked by the size and beauty of the country and disappointed at the same time that Japan was nothing like the books I’ve read : I was still expecting to see samurai and women wearing kimono’s and instead I see women wearing Chanel and I’m being driven in a limousine. However it took me only a couple of days to realize that despite the westernization that meets the eye, Japan is every single bit the same old civilization that I imagined but only the trained eye can see it and only by speaking their language one would be able to really understand their culture . Needless to say that after 2 weeks I came back to Europe a different person.

My entire perspective over life, my values, the things I would stand for and who I wanted to be, everything has changed at that time . Interesting to mention that I went to Japan straight from Paris and Iike any 20 years old girl who obviously read “Madame Bovary “ I was dreaming of the flamboyant French culture, I’ve seen lots of museums and lots of oversized, over embellished buildings , lots of baroque so I was coming with big European expectations. My first encounter with the Japanese culture was a quiet visit to Nezu museum during which I saw for the first time the tea ceremony in the garden . It’s been probably the strongest memory I have about Japan till now. The minimalism of the décor, the simple movements but extremely precise, everything around me in the garden that looked very natural or even wild but at the same time well calculated and planned in advance.. It was so much more than what meets the eye, like an open book where every time you read it you discover something new you just didn’t notice before. I came back to that place very often after moving to Tokyo, in fact my office was a few minutes away so during my lunch breaks I would go there and sit quietly in the garden and dream about how Japan was hundreds of years ago. I was lucky enough to have my japanese grandmother taking me sometimes for tea ceremony and discussions about Japanese poetry in the exact same garden . She was a very famous haiku writer and for me she was the symbol of Japanese culture. I have printed in my memory moments that I’ve spent talking with her, going on trips together to spiritual places around the country, having tea in a Japanese garden while she was teaching me Japanese art and poetry . I will never forget the elegance in her movements , the beauty and class of her attitude towards everything and everyone . Its almost like Proust’s madeleine. I remember her perfume and her clothes ( always Chanel in Tokyo and gorgeous kimonos at ceremonies ( secretly I was wishing she would only wear kimono and I could have spent hours and hours watching the entire ceremony of putting on the kimono and doing that perfect make-up). I was absolutely mesmerized by the design of each kimono and obi she had. They were always matching her little handmade silk clutch bag. That’s where I got inspiration for many of my designs later on( interior design using Japanese obi as decoration, neckties with Japanese kimono prints , clutches made of the same silk and even satin shoes in those prints ). My entire Japanese experience of over 13 years in Tokyo shaped my sense of esthetics , concentration on the essence not on the embellishment, attention to details ( after all , beauty is in the details, the big pictures had always been the same through centuries ..) and I learned very well to apply all this to my own life, to my career, to my designs, my values and my core belief.

My life is for sure a sum of all the memories and experiences I had, of all the people I met and influenced me, of all the places I’ve been to and all the things I’ve seen but , for sure, Japan had the strongest influence on me .”

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