Iconic fashion designer Donna Karan has always had a deep and abiding interest in global betterment and exploring the connection between body, mind and spirit. Since she stepped away from producing her namesake line in 2015, she has concentrated on her Urban Zen collection, which features a wide array of clothing, jewelry, furniture and accessories made by artisans from around the world.
Now she and noted fashion photographer Russell James have teamed up to headline a Houston fundraiser that promotes and celebrates indigenous cultures through art. The inaugural Nomad Two Worlds Foundation reception on November 3 at LIFEhtx will feature a cocktail hour, silent auction, performances by Native American and Australian Aboriginal musicians, and remarks by Karan and James.
James, who grew up in northwest Australia in an area populated by indigenous people, became fast friends with Karan when he moved to New York and developed a stellar reputation in the fashion world. He has photographed just about every top model in the world over the last two decades, as seen in Angels, a breathtaking 300-page compilation of his work.
When their interests on the preservation and celebrations of cultures around the world converged, "we went back and forth to find a way to collaborate because we find we're more effective together," James tells CultureMap.
They hooked up with Houstonian Fadila Kibsgaard, an NTWF ambassador, to promote the foundation's work in Houston."The special fascination for me is Houston is a sister city to Perth, Australia, where I grew up. A lot of the same things that drive the Houston economy drive the Perth economy, so it seems very organic and natural to have our first fundraiser (in Houston)," James said. "Our main goal is create awareness of who we are and what we do. A foundation like ours does matter."
The Houston fundraiser will feature indigenous Australian musician Olive Knight, Australian didgeridoo master Paul Boon, indigenous Australian artist, actor, director, musician and activist Richard Walley OAM, Walter 'Graywolf' Ruiz, curator and assistant director of the Chumash Indian Museum, and Keito St James, Native-American performer and founder of the Academy for Ethno-Cultural Performing Arts.
Getting Karan and James in the same city at the same time took a lot of work and comparison of their busy schedules, he admitted. "It really is a matter of friendship and a belief in what we're doing. When I told her what we're doing, she threw in right away and said I've love to support your event," he said.
"She's passionate about creating a product that is socially conscious, working with artisans, making sure they are properly recognized, to create that meaningful experience. We consider ourselves partners in crime. We've really been around the world on this journey. "
Tickets to the inaugural Nomad Two Worlds Foundation cocktail reception and program on November 3 at 7 pm at LIFEhtx are $500 each and can be purchased at Eventbrite. The foundation is also sponsoring an Ajinda Sound Experience Meditation with Richard Walley OAM and Robyn Smith Walley on November 2 at 1:30 pm at The Houstonian. Entry is $100. Sign up at email@example.com.