Living with Intention: Seek Minimal

Joss Bacalla, founder of Seek Minimal | photo credit: Olivia Lopez

 
At the beginning of the year, in my letter from the editor, I was writing about some of the changes I have made in my lifestyle in recent years and it was incredible to receive your feedback and realise how many other people are doing the same thing. How many of you have set on the same path of living mindfully, of being authentic, of finding your voice in doing what you are passionate about, of defining success on your own terms, of embracing self expression and style with purpose over fast fashion and trends.

It’s been a long time since I last read a glossy magazine or the established fashion, beauty and lifestyle press. At the moment, I doubt I will ever do it again. Not when a serious alternative exists. An alternative that is breaking standards, that’s open-hearted, forward thinking and dedicated to give us a better choice. Seek Minimal gathers creatives, inspiring people, passionate entrepreneurs who tell their stories. It’s one of those galvanizing experiences that will motivate you to live well, to take better care of yourself and the others around you, to eat wiser and better, to choose quality over quantity, to appreciate craftsmanship and the hand-made, to prefer the confidence and clarity offered by timeless, classic styles, to be responsible for your actions. It’s a supportive community of people with the same vision who believe that sustainability and simplicity are the new luxury, who believe that we can do better for our own good and for the good of everyone around us and of this beautiful planet we live on.

I have recently talked to the founder of Seek Minimal, Joss Bacalla, about her brand and her style as a way of living. It’s the kind of style story that is inspiring and inspirational. Because it’s her personal style, she is not advocating it for anyone. It just is what it is. Authentic, purposeful, open-minded. But you know what is another wonderful thing about Joss? That she doesn’t disconsider anyone who is not (just yet) as thoughtful about sustainability as she is, that she encourages everyone who wants to make a difference to take it one step at the time. Through Seek Minimal however, she is consistent about asking of everyone to try harder. This is what we need to remind ourselves every day. To be the best version of ourselves, and that means living with intention, with style, with conviction, with enthusiasm. To be present.
 
 

”I try to honor the feeling of
feeling good about any choice I make.”

 
 
Seek Minimal is committed to people who want to make a difference. It inspires smarter choices. It gives an alternative and raises the question “Why not try harder?” I see Seek Minimal as a serious alternative to the established fashion, beauty and lifestyle press. What led you to creating Seek Minimal? What’s your biggest aspiration as a brand?
Knowing you see Seek Minimal as a serious alternative to the established fashion, beauty, and lifestyle press is one of my aspirations. I started this endeavour as a way to educate other people, and myself, about sustainable luxury. I would find myself jumping from Instagram account to Instagram account, and reading the ‘about’ section on these brands websites, and I thought “what if there was one place where you could learn about these ethical brands and the people behind them?”.

My biggest aspiration is for Seek Minimal to be a community for powerful men and women who want to change the world. We all want to make a difference and don’t know how; using our purchasing powers is always a way to start. I would love Seek Minimal to continue interviewing business owners and creators, hold conferences where people can ask these people advice and questions, and eventually be able to purchase ethical products online.

We live in a hectic world and more and more people are trying to go back to basics, to find a balance, to live mindfully. Seek Minimal seems to carry this message of living simply, of living life as a conscious choice. What does beautiful living mean to you personally?
I’ve only recently welcomed the mantra of ‘self-care’ into my life, but I find myself constantly going back to it. Self-care not only meaning eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep, but looking at the kind of person you are, and if you’re happy with it. It’s also about enjoying the world around you. Travel and explore the world, go outside and take a deep breath after it rains, give all your love to the people around you, find a hobby that is therapeutic, take the time to enjoy your hot cup of morning coffee, and make your dreams happen. Living mindfully with purpose is living beautifully.
 

Joss Bacalla photographed by Olivia Lopez

 
Someone once told me that you have to care enough about style to have any. I believe that, just as I believe that it’s important to put some thought into the way you dress each morning, but not in the sense that you have to put your high heels and your most polished look, but rather that you have to be true to yourself, which is something your clothes can reflect. What does style mean to you?
My style has always been an extension of myself. My mood, my feelings, and who I am speaks through my style. It’s an art of expression. Women who have style care about how people see them, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Describe your style in three words:
Minimal, Feminine, Comfortable.

You feel your best dressed in:
Anything that makes me feel comfortable in my own skin.

Do you apply a socially conscious philosophy to all aspects of your lifestyle (personal style, beauty regimen, homeware, food, etc.)? How do you live life as a conscious choice?
I try to honor the feeling of feeling good about any choice I make. I try my best to always make an ethical choice when purchasing clothes. I want to feel beautiful being as natural as possible, which means being conscious of what I’m putting into my body, and what I’m putting on my skin. My home reflects a very minimal lifestyle – it’s my happy place, so to feel peace and calm within my walls is something I’m always striving for.

Where do you shop mindfully?
So many incredible places. A few would be AWAVEAWAKE, Kara Thoms, Gracemade, Hey Moon Designs, Mohinders, Power of My People, and Ode to Odd.

How does your place of living influence your style, and how does it inspire you creatively?
Mentally, I’m always learning about new sustainable and minimalistic brands – so that alone influences my style. With starting Seek Minimal, I’ve become so exposed to incredible people who have started their own passion projects which always keeps me on my toes and thinking about what I can do next.

In a physical sense, I’m in Los Angeles, so I’m very fortunate to have a lot of sustainable brands around me and people who share the same ethos. Meeting with creative women and praising each other on our accomplishements has become the norm, which I’m incredibly grateful for. My style and creativity has continued to blossom and I am constantly learning.

Los Angeles is so alive with creativity, collaboration and support. So much seems to be happening in Los Angeles, and in California in general, at the moment in the artistic field (maybe more so than ever before), sustainable fashion included. Why do you think is that?
There are so many people who live in Los Angeles who aren’t actually from Los Angeles. It’s a lot of people moving to the city that want to make a change and make a name for themselves. It’s competitive, but also supportive because everyone knows what it’s like. Creative people from all over the world move to Los Angeles, so of course the creativity, collaboration and artistry is flourishing. It’s incredible.

What is the one thing you would miss the most if you lived anywhere else than Los Angeles?
The weather. Hands down.
 
 

”I wish people appreciated more: love, the earth, each other.”

 
 

Joss Bacalla photographed by Olivia Lopez

 
Who and what inspires you?
Everyone I meet inspires me! Truly. The process of meeting so many powerful and unique people for Seek Minimal has been transformational. Women specifically who empower other women and build something from nothing continue to infinitely inspire me.

The textile industry and its products have shaped the contemporary world more than anything else. The disposal of textile waste is one of the biggest preoccupations we have at the moment. How do you see the future of fashion? As the founder of a brand that seeks to bring a stylish and meaningful alternative to conventional fashion, do you think there is a significatly increased interest in the locally-made, in craftsmanship and sustainable shopping or do you think it will take mass action to curb our addiction to mass-produced, cheap products?
The fashion industry is a beautiful thing. The art of expression, the passion, and the creativity. However, the sad thing is unless you’re actually in it, you don’t realize that the environmental impact is massive. Textile waste is towering over us and it is still engrained in people’s minds’ that clothing is disposable.

Not going to name names, but huge brands that do come out with new styles weekly, who are responsible for a large percentage of textile waste, have the opportunity to educate their consumers. They’re the ones that the majority are listening to. They’re the ones that have created an idealogy that you’re not enough unless you have the newest item of the week. Some have stated to carry conscious lines which I think is a step in the right direction. If more brands did this and started exposing the idea of sustainable luxury it wouldn’t seem like such a daunting idea to a consumer.

The positive side is that there are more people using their voices and social media, like myself, fighting this cause. There are also a considerable amount of ethical companies flourishing which is heartening to see and consignment stores and thrifting are becoming more of a trend. With these combined efforts I believe there will be a shift.

Yes, these companies exist, they do their part, and we must do ours. What do you think is the first thing every individual should do in order to address this issue, any tip that may help someone else just starting out on their sustainable journey?
People are skeptical of spending $200 on a dress, when they can buy four for just as much. I get it. I was the same way. The idea of spending that much money on one item of cothing is definitley discouraging… Not going shopping as often is also a hard shift for people.
To make the change overnight is impossible, even I still succumb to fast fashion. My advice is to simply start thinking about the impact you’re making when you purchase a piece. Is this an impulse buy? How often will you actually wear it? Is the quality good? Being conscious of your purchase can really make a difference.

Another thing I want to stress is that as a society, we too easily give into trends. That’s exactly what you’re putting your money towards – a trend. You’ll notice that, with sustainable brands, almost all of their pieces are timeless. There’s longevity, the quality is better, and you’re supporting people who actually want to be making these pieces.

In this time and age, what do you wish people appreciated more?
Love, the earth, each other.

What makes you happy at the end of the day?
My relationships, my health, and doing what I love.
 
 

Website: seekminimal.com | Instagram: @seekminimal

 

Posted by classiq in Beauty & Beautiful Living, Interviews, Style | | Leave a comment

Editorial: Ice Blonde

Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Paul Belmondo in ”La sirène du Mississippi” (1969) | Les Films du Carrosse

 

The Editorial: thoughts, short stories
or essays about the world of cinema


 
François Truffaut’s La sirène du Mississippi was dedicated to his two greatest inspirations. The first one was Jean Renoir. The final scene, where Julie (Catherine Deneuve) and Louis (Jean-Paul Belmondo) walk off towards the border and an uncertain future, is just one of the several references to Jean Renoir’s films, and a clear allusion to La grande illusion (1937). “Louis and Marion, like Maréchal and Rosenthal before them, wander off into the snowbound, featureless landscape, their future and destination unknown”, writes Robert Ingram in the book François Truffaut: The Complete Films.

The other homage the French filmmaker paid with this movie was to Alfred Hitchcock. Indeed, Deneuve’s ice, cool blonde look would have been perfect for an Alfred Hitchcock noir or thriller. I like that Mississippi Mermaid is an unusual noir, capturing the dark spirit of classic noir and putting it into a setting that is rotting and tropical, the decaying colonial backdrop of Reunion Island. Although a fan and big proponent of the genre, Truffaut skillfully steered away from the cinematic trappings of the American noir, approaching a new direction. “Johnny Guitar (1954) is not really a true western in the same way that Mississippi Mermaid is not really an action film. My taste leads me to pretend to subscribe to the laws of Hollywood genre films (melodramas, thrillers, comedies, etc.).”

Beautiful and mysterious, hidden behind her opaqueness and inaccessibility, Deneuve’s femme fatale taps into that “paradox between the inner fire and the cool surface” (as Truffaut himself put it) categorization that defined Hitchcock’s blondes. In fact, throughout her entire career, Deneuve has not been afraid of taking complex roles that ruffled and darkened the surface of her beauty.

“Deneuve, with her icy yet mysterious perfection, is the French Grace Kelly,” is how Pauline Kael described her. But Marnie was the Hitchcock film that Catherine reportedly admitted she would have loved to make.
 
Further reading: Catherine Deneuve’s costumes in “Mississippi Mermaid” / Style in Film: Catherine Deneuve in “Belle de jour”

 

Posted by classiq in Editorial, Film | | Leave a comment

Bradley Cooper’s Rugged, Real Style in “A Star Is Born”

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born” (2018) | Warner Bros.

 
As he is spiraling down, she is blossoming. He is a seasoned, hard-drinking country-rock legend, she is a talented new comer who is just starting to find success. He is a tormented man clinging on regrets of the past, she is a rising star. But it is Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine, not Lady Gaga (Ally) who is the rough, scarred heart of A Star Is Born, and the one you root for. And his clothes are there to prove it.

Jackson Maine is weathered and behatted, with a sun-burnt authenticity, grave voice (Cooper worked with a vocal coach to approximate Sam Elliott’s gravelly delivery before even approaching Elliott about playing his character’s brother, Bobby), greying beard and long, swept-back hair, and a sexy weariness. His clothes look lived in. Not only in the sense of he’s had a few too many drinks, been up all night and out of it all day kind of lived-in (although he’s certainly done that on a regular basis). But in the staying true to his self kind of lived-in, too. Jackson Maine retains his core of integrity; that is something that has not been eroded by alcohol.
 

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born” (2018) | Warner Bros.

 
His sturdy black or faded blue jeans, denim jackets, plain shirts and t-shirts, leather jacket and western boots are his apparel of choice, his natural habitat, rooted deep in the American grain, just as his country music is, just as his outwardly rugged, inwardly ruptured American masculinity is. If he dressed otherwise, he would look misplaced. He lets his music guide the way he dresses. His songs come from life, he writes what he lives, just like his clothes are part of who he is. He is consistent with his dishevelled, effortless, functional, earnest clothing, just as he is with his music. He is “a man who wears his hat all the time except for when he’s singing — usually musicians wear their hats to sing but take them off afterward”, wrote Taffy Brodesser-Akner for The New York Times. “Not Jackson. He’s only vulnerable on a stage.”

His clothes (Erin Benach – The Place Beyond the Pines, Drive – was the costume designer) can even be interpreted as taking a countercultural stand. He stands by what he believes in, no matter what. And he expects the people in his life to abide the rigours of that same ethic. When it comes to his relationship with Ally and to her stardom, it’s not the fact that she finds success that bothers him, but the fact that she lets the industry strangle what she wants to say through her music in order to fit the mainstream. It is the rupture of values that disturbs him the most. At the beginning of the film, when Jackson and Ally are at a bar right after he heard her sing “La vie en rose”, he tells her: “Talent’s everywhere, you know, everybody’s talented at one thing or another, but having something to say and a way to say it, that’s a whole other bag.”

He doesn’t change his shirt, figuratively speaking.
 

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born” (2018) | Warner Bros.

 
Director/co-screenwriter/actor Bradley Cooper inhabits his role with an unerring accuracy and an unsentimental understanding. Lady Gaga is very good in her first major role (and she does get all the accolades for it this awards season), but it’s Bradley’s performance that is pretty damn spectacular. And it is what makes the film what it’s been always supposed to be, in all its four iterations (although it has not always succeeded): an artists’ duet. Jackson and Ally are in this together, they are both in love not only with each other (there is such chemistry between the two) but with each other’s talent and that’s the beautiful part, that’s why the film stands apart. It is openly and resolutely orchestrated to elicit an emotional response. But I don’t care, because it does it so well. It can’t tell you what to feel, but it makes you feel deeply… and sing “Shallow” again and again and again.
 

Bradley Cooper and Lukas Nelson on the set of “A Star Is Born” (2018) | Warner Bros. Entertainment

 
Note: Here are two great interviews about the film, with Sam Elliott and with Lukas Nelson, two of the inspirations behind the character of Jackson Maine.

Posted by classiq in Film, Style in film | | 2 Comments

My New Roots: Life Lessons from Sarah Britton


 
I have a passion for cook books. Not only because of the inspiration you can find in the sum of recipes thoughtfully gathered in one place, but because a good cook book means so much more than that. It involves the culture around the food, it tells a story, it offers practical advice and life lessons we can benefit from. And it can just as easily be found on my living-room coffee table or night stand as in my kitchen. Sarah Britton’s My New Roots is one of these books. I’ve been using her recipes from her blog by the same name for a long time, but a proper cook book always feels that bit more special. I bought it for myself for Christmas and everybody in my family gathered around it numerous times during the holidays cooking various dishes. It was fun, mindful and even life-changing (read on and you’ll see). And I think I might have just created a new Christmas tradition.

Toronto-born Sarah Britton confesses that until she was twenty-three, when she went to work on an organic farm in Arizona (a city girl freshly graduated from design school), she had eaten only processed foods, or fruits and vegetables that had been picked before their ripeness and traveled thousands of miles. She was a sugar addict, overfed and undernourished, never really considering what she ate. The taste of a yellow pear-shaped tomato she hand-picked at the farm changed everything for her. Not only did she want a life more in tune with the natural world, but she changed her approach to food dramatically. When she went back home she enrolled in the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and soon after, her blog was born, and with it, one of the most authentic, strong, enthusiastic, motivational voices in whole-food, plant-based cuisine and its wellness and healing power.

“Food matters, and we are connected to what we eat. The beauty of the world can be experienced through taste, smell, and texture of a single fruit.” In that vein, here are nine lifestyle (not just eating) lessons you can take away from Sarah’s book. But note that the greatest joy you will find in experiencing her recipes made by your own hands.
 

 

Let the seasons guide your senses. Buy local.

Discover and feel the benefit of eating with the seasons and enjoy their specific flavours. I’ve always said it: I don’t really believe in organic fruits and vegetables that travel thousands of km. Buy local, seasonal and organic (preferably grown in your own garden or from a reliable source) as much as possible. “This not only helps the body acclimatize to the external environment but also contributes to the health of the environment in choosing foods that travel shorter distances.”
 

Celebrate Summer

One of the first things I noticed in Sarah’s book is that she divided it not into chapters for each course, but into chapters that flow with the seasons, with a special emphasis on Summer. There are five seasons, not four, as Summer is divided into two parts, early summer and late summer. She was influenced by the Traditional Chinese Medicine in her approach, but, as Sarah says, if we pay more attention to the changes that take place during the warmer months in North America and Europe, it makes perfect sense. Being the summer girl that I am, I have always referred to my favourite season as early summer and late summer and have always indulged in the transition from the bright sun and long days of the beginning of summer to the golden light and shorter days in those weeks leading up to autumn. And the produce harvested is so distinctively different at the beginning and at the end of summer. The realisation Sarah makes is such a beautiful reminder that Summer is an invitation to mindful living, to take your time, be more present, enjoy every moment and flavour it offers. “Set aside extra time for the late summer celebration.”
 

 

Can the can!


The less ready-made and packaged foods, the better. It’s a common sense rule for healthy eating. But I particularly want to stress out the importance of cooking dried legumes and not using canned legumes. I have never bought one can of beans or lentils or chickpeas in my life, and, in time, I have been unpleasantly surprised to find them as ingredients in many “healthy” recipes. The first time she cooked dried beans, she “vowed right then and there never to open a can of beans again”, Sarah writes in her book. As I said, this is an old habit of mine, and I will keep it.
 

Cacao is one of the best things in your life.


Cacao (not to be confused with cocoa) is raw, meaning that it retains all of its original nutrition, powerful antioxidants and fragile enzymes. Cacao is not only the food containing the highest concentration of antioxidants and magnesium, but it’s one of the most protein-packed plant-foods, too. Isn’t this the best news or what? Even if it’s not news to you, it’s worth repeating (which is what I do every single time I read or hear about it from an expert). Be sure to buy only the best quality cacao though.
 

Eat your grains.


It is true that some people are intolerant to grains, especially gluten-containing ones such as wheat, “but that is no reason for everyone to give them up”, Sarah insists. I agree. Let’s not eat gluten-free just because it’s trendy. Whole grains are good for you.
 

 

Stop using extra-virgin olive oil for hig-heat cooking!


I have known this for a long time and have always found it puzzling why so many cookbooks misuse it, for stir-frying, sautéing and baking (which led to my starting to misuse it too sometimes). Sarah’s book is among the very few that advice against it. The extra-virgin olive oil’s low smoke point means that it is by no means suitable for any high-heat cooking. Use it only in salads, dips, sauces and add them to hot dishes as a garnish.
 

You can have the cake and eat it too!


Sarah not only created the life-changing loaf of bread (the famous recipe that launched her blog into stardom and which continues to convince skeptics everywhere around the glove that healthy food can also taste delicious), but the life-changing chocolate frosting, too. Of all the things I have found difficult to give up once I embraced a healthy eating philosophy, chocolate was the hardest. But once you make and taste Sarah’s raw vegan chocolate frosting (I recommend you to go all the way and make her decadent, towering blood orange chocolate cake!), you will never go back. Why would you? It is THE BEST I have ever tasted, healthy or non-healthy, vegan or non-vegan. It’s insane. It’s life-changing – and our faces at the Christmas table when we tasted the cake would certainly prove it.
 

Bees are your best friend.


Whenever I feel that my immune system is starting to fail me, my father always says: “Take your bee pollen.” Sarah names bee pollen as her favourite superfood. “It contains nearly every single nutrient the human body needs to survive.”
 

 

Don’t diet. Enjoy food!


It is all about eating habits. About healthy, whole-food ingredients, about finding satisfaction in the food that is good for you, about finding pleasure in home cooking. “It’s not about sacrifice, deprivation, or labels.” As someone who shares the same food philosophy, I am telling you, once this way of eating gets into your system, and mind, you will not look back. It will be part of who you are, as it should. When healthy food tastes this delicious, making it part of your lifestyle is only logical. I’ve been health conscious for a long time and my transition to whole-foods and plant-based eating has been very natural and going on for years, but if you are a new comer who wants to embark on this path, Sarah’s practical advice and essential techniques will be of great help. I also do the following: whenever there are moments when I’m craving something unhealthy (although these moments are fewer and fewer), like store-bought ice cream, I am asking myself: would I give this to my son to eat? If the answer is no, and it usually is, I give it up without a moment’s thought.
 

Posted by classiq in Beauty & Beautiful Living, Books | | Leave a comment

Sundance Film Festival Dress Code

Left: Michelle Monaghan (“Sidney Hall”) at the Sundance Film Festival, 2017
Right: Elizabeth Olsen (“Wind River”) at the Sundance Film Festival, 2017 | photo credit: IMDb

 
The first film festival of the year is also one of the most important independent ones. But besides its spirit of inquiry and free-thinking, do you know what else I love about Sundance? Its casual dress code. Actors and filmmakers don’t have to glam up for the winterscape of the Utah mountains. Now, for the movie lover that I am, and one who has come to appreciate the importance of good winter clothes from a lifetime in the European Northern hemisphere, no less, that is pretty inspiring. It’s real and authentic and the people attending seem to have one thing on their mind only: watching and rewarding good indie films.

But, of course, winter style has its highs and lows, and we only like the best. And that comes in the form of the most elegant casual uniform: black sweater/t-shirt, blue jeans and a pair of nice-looking proper winter boots. A complete look will undoubtedly involve good layering, topped off with a nice, warm coat. The result? The essential style moves not only for a winter in the mountains, but for anywhere else as well.
 

Naomi Watts at the Sundance Film Festival, 2018

Michelle Monaghan at the Sundance Film Festival, 2017

 
As long as we are on the Sundance subject and because here on Classiq I like to talk about a little more than style, a few words about the films that have premiered these last years at the festival are in order. One of the best films of 2018, Leave No Trace, premiered at Sundance last year. Debra Granik’s film is a subtle, moving wilderness story of a man (Ben Foster) who takes his 13-year-old daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), to live with him off the grid in a nature reserve near Portland, Oregon, rarely making contact with the world. And the previous year it was Wind River, starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, one of the most underrated films of the last years. With a neo-noir touch and superb cinematography (the film was shot on the backdrop of the hostile wintery beauty of Wyoming), Taylor Sheridan’s well-crafted crime drama tackles a story that many American films are afraid to: the fraying community of and the pain endured by the Native American people, so often ignored as an act of historical penance.

So which movies from this year’s line-up have gotten my attention? One of them would be Velvet Buzzsaw, directed by Dan Gilroy, and which reunites the director with Jake Gyllenhaal after their spectacular Nightcrawler (Rene Russo was again co-opted for this one, too). The Mustang, directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, starring Matthias Schoenaerts and executive produced by Robert Redford, is another one.

However, as 45 of the 112 features screening in Park City this year were made by worldwide first-time directors, this edition of the festival is announcing to be very diverse. This couldn’t please me more, as we need a much wider audience for different perspectives and voices in film, and I can not wait to hear more about them, and hopefully watch some of them, too.

Robert Redford​​, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said in an official statement: “Society relies on storytellers. The choices they make, and the risks they take, define our collective experience. This year’s Festival is full of storytellers who offer challenges, questions and entertainment. In telling their stories, they make difficult decisions in the pursuit of truth and art; culture reaps the reward.” The festival will take place between January 24th and February 3rd.

Posted by classiq in Film, Style | | Leave a comment