BY Lisa Lindblad
December 7, 2018
Since 2007, when fashion designer and philanthropist Donna Karan founded the Urban Zen Foundation, an inspiringly beautiful holiday market appears at 705 Greenwich Street in lower Manhattan. Each year, Karan creates a marketplace that combines humanitarianism with consumerism, promoting shopping with a purpose. The Foundation is dedicated to three initiatives: preservation of culture (past); bringing mind, body and spirit to healthcare (present); education (future.) The opening last night featured more than 40 artisans from countries as diverse as Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, India, South Africa and Mexico, artisans that exhibit at the International Folk Art Market in the Southwest each summer. The space is the perfect venue in which to display fabrics and objects, photographs and fashion in such a way that they – and you – feel instantly at home.
Of particular beauty were the feather light shrugs, coats and jackets of Farzana Sharshenbieva from Kyrgyzstan; the magnificently, finely tie dyed bandhani silk scarves of Gujarati Abduljabbar Khatri; the sensuous Zulu pots of Jabulile Nala whose mother is considered a national treasure. I adored the heavy, indigo dyed raw cotton jackets of Laotian Boukhong Signavong that greet you as you enter this magical space.
There is nothing more healing, nothing more inspiring, nothing more warming than to be in the presence of passionate artisans who draw beauty from their souls to share it with others. It was hard to leave Urban Zen last night, so hard, in fact, that I shall return tomorrow.