The Story Of A Retreat In Marrakech

I was into artful, editorial spreads in Vogue, W, and Harper’s Bazaar when blogging became fashionable. I started paying attention to blogs because they were about style shown on real women, leading real lives. There was immediacy of fashion–it wasn’t produced six months in advance. And this idea of freelance voguing, so to speak, brought dreams to life. Talent could speak louder than the system. I began to throw off the cloak of print illusion.

The world of blogging was in its infancy, in both stage and representation. It was filled with young, trendy women modeling clothes and not saying much (literally). Having just rounded the corner of 50, I wasn’t reflected in it. Still, I was mesmerized. I searched out blogs from contemporaries, with a voice and discourse. I would find an interesting blog here and there, but they were from women I could have birthed. It felt a bit lame, but no more so than admitting I watched Gossip Girl, or singing along to Flo Rida’s apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur. Just me trying to stay relevant, right?

Then one day I found Garance Doré. I must have read about her work first, then clicked over to her blog. She split the difference in age between me and the Blair Waldorfs of blogging. In her mid-thirties, I remember bracing myself for the inevitable flush of youth, or sexy poses, or acronym-laced writing—LOL! Instead, each pattern fell away. There were beautiful illustrations, smart style, and well-written words with awareness that were from the heart. On top of it all, this woman was French! Who among us doesn’t still hope to find the secret of “French girl chic” or “how French women stay thin.”

Garance Doré started her blog as a way to showcase her fashion illustrations. She became a trendsetter when she got into Street Style photography, chronicling the inside world of fashion week players and their outfits. In 2012 she, and her then-boyfriend Scott Schuman, won the CFDA Eugenia Sheppard Media Award. It was the first time it was ever awarded to bloggers. Since then she’s written a New York Times bestseller called, Love x Style x Life and seen success in all of these areas. I met her a couple years ago at her book signing, in New York. She was gracious and vibrant.

For me, finding Garance Doré was more than a new source for fashion entertainment. It was a roadmap for my unrealized ambitions. At that time I was a stay-at-home mom, and looking for a meaningful next act when my sons went to college. Divorced, with twins who would at once make me an empty-nester, I began to seriously strategize on what I would do when that time came. I knew that my dream was to do something in fashion, but I didn’t have a direction. I majored in English and Political Science in college, but wasn’t confident in my formal writing skills. What I recognized at Garance Doré was how meaningful the stories were because they were told with an intelligent, baring, conversational hand. Reading Garance Doré was like the best connection with a new friend, over a slow dinner.

I realized that this was how I wanted to try to express myself and my love of style. There was an empty space in fashion for plum-aged women. And the democratizing arena of blogging made it all possible. I’ve been writing Plumage 59 for a year now. I am crazy about what I’m doing, and feel like I’m getting braver about showing more of myself, taking on risk, and fighting the fear.

This summer, the renamed Atelier Doré announced that it was putting together a creative retreat to Marrakech. I didn’t think about the timing, the expense or the leap of faith in saying yes. I just did it. I leave on Friday for this wild, exotic and transformational adventure. Garance and her team will be teaching different aspects of, guess what, The Art of Storytelling. I’ll be blogging about all of it for the next couple of weeks.

So come along on the Marrakesh Express. All on board that train!


Photos:  Dawn Bell Solich   

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"Buoyed by a community of sensational women, Plumage 59 is the embodiment of that dream that fuses it all together."

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