Dressing the Goddess by Alexandra Mann


My dear fashion client, Alexandra Mann, wrote this and it still applies to the work that I do--whether it's fashion or interiors:

"Usually one thinks of anthropology in terms of someone going ‘into the field’ in a traditional sense," said Ms. Syed. "I tend to look at people’s identities as an insight into how they might want to present themselves to the outside world through what they wear." 

Ms. Syed’s unusual approach has yielded some unusual results. She is, in many ways, representative of a certain "downtown couture" style that many people find not only beautiful and unusual, but also accessible. "I have taken what is traditionally a luxury of haute couture and demystified it for women who have their own style," she said. 

Time-consuming, yes, but for Ms. Syed, absolutely essential. She believes that to truly do something well, she cannot just observe, take measurements and make something that will cover the outside of someone. She must also participate in understanding the person as a whole instead of only their physical manifestation. Clients say it is not just the end result that is beautiful; it is the process.

With her ability to see people from the inside out, Ms. Syed has gained a faithful following of diverse clients and is greeting new ones every day. From a woman celebrating her 30th birthday to a woman welcoming her 50th year, from brides who wore her dresses as far away as Tunisia and as nearby as the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, to women who simply cannot find clothing in the department stores that quite expresses who they are, Ms. Syed has created exquisite one-of-a-kind pieces that transform a woman from the person she sees in the mirror every day to someone she may never have seen before: the goddess living within."





I have often found myself having profound discussions with perfect strangers–on an airplane, on a ferry, at a bus stop in North Africa and New York.  Crossroads, the ancient Greeks believed, were a point where time and space collided, where the spirit world crossed into the corporeal one, and where the Goddess Hecate ruled.


I always feel that people are harbingers of messages for us from the Universe.  But we have to be receptive in order to truly listen to that message.  I suppose when we travel to an unfamiliar place, our senses are heightened as we take in different sights and sounds.  No longer are we on automatic pilot, walking through the same path we take every day, oblivious to the beauty right in front of us.


That is why a certain chance encounter with a person from another culture can be so meaningful.  But you don’t really have to go anywhere to achieve that sublime feeling.  It is always there to be had if you open up right in familiar surroundings. Ironically, it took a meeting with Frederik Molenschot with whom I was coordinating with on a chandelier to make me realize this.


Perhaps it was the jet lag (he had just flown in from Amsterdam) or perhaps as a artist, he recognized another creative mind in action.  But somehow, he confronted me with a question: What did I really want from life--from my life?  Could I fashion a life as rich and as creative as my soul craves?  I found myself at a crossroads, of feeling like anything I choose is possible.  And all that I have experienced so far– my failures and heartbreaks intertwined with my successes and joys--have led me to this point.


As we discussed the sinuous lines of his illuminated sculpture, how its reflectivity and sheer volume would be filling the lofty dining room of a tony townhouse, I couldn’t help but to feel like my path was intersecting this moment and spanning out to somewhere unknown.  My senses were heightened and I had that same feeling I do when I am somewhere unfamiliar and new.  As I cradled the bronze chalice (that was a part of the chandelier) in my hand, I gazed at the gilt inside reflecting back at me, and became electrified by my own possibility.