How To Be A Gypsy: Shabd Simon-Alexander Jill Donenfeld

Changing weather, changing rhythms…  and so starts a new groove on HelloGiggles… How To Be A Gypsy.

Being a Gypsy means going with the change… Transforming experience into insight… encountering uncertainty as aliveness. What’s it take to push a creative life? To take the road less traveled? The road never traveled?  Everyone who follows their bliss, their ideas, their passions has had to make some unconventional choices, has had to sacrifice something – a good night’s sleep, a normal routine, a relationship – and, ideally, has a good story or two to tell. Let’s talk about essentials and let’s talk about passions.

To kick things off, I interviewed Shabd Simon-Alexander, a New York-based artist who began her eponymous Shabd fashion label in 2009. All garments are made locally in New York’s garment district and hand-dyed by the designer herself. Using apparel as a medium, she utilizes her background in the visual arts and textile design to create beautiful and socially conscious clothing.

What’s in your bag? When you pack for a trip, in your handbag, in the pockets of your jeans…?

In my purse today: muji notebooks, a lipstick I’ve had since middle school and just started wearing again, a tape measure keychain, sudoku, hand cream, prescription sunglasses, bright blue embossed Mexican leather wallet, hand made mazunte lip balm, museum card, loose work papers, old school flip phone, my canon g12.

You have 5 minutes to pack up for a trip of which the duration you’re not sure. What do you take?

I always pack 5 minutes before I leave! Nice shoes and walking shoes, a bikini, sunblock, book, leggings and a tank, silk dress, a few clothing items I’ve made, a scarf, blank notebook and pen, computer, comfy sweater, sunglasses, passport.

What is your most essential article of clothing?

A nice silk tee/blouse.

What are the top 5 songs you need to have access to hearing at all times?

‘Gypsy Woman’ – CRYSTAL WATERS (no seriously, this has been on repeat in the studio all year)

‘I’ll Come Running’ – BRIAN ENO

‘Graceland’ – PAUL SIMON

‘Vegetables’ – THE BEACH BOYS

‘Making  Believe’ – DOLLY PARTON

What is your preferred gypsy beat/cities you like to frequent?

Mexico City, Chiapas, southern France, Greece, the beach.

What’s something crazy that you did to follow your passion? (Like, did you live out of your car for a month? Drive 10 hours to pick up a certain, weird material you needed?)

My whole life is tied to a dye timer, I have to come back to the studio while I’m out with my friends or wake up in the middle of the night to take fabric out of dye baths and put it in the wash.

What is one tip you have for traveling – a beauty tip, a survival tip, a culinary tip…?

Ask the locals – eat in their homes or at their favorite street food vendors, go shopping in the local markets, watch TV (the ads tell so much about a place), go to their favorite vacation spots.

What’s a recent or favorite meal you had while bouncing around the globe?

Tacos gus! Best tacos in the world. I literally moved to Mexico City for a summer just to eat them every day.

Where have you had your best night’s sleep?

I usually sleep for days straight when I go home to visit my parents.

Who would you like to travel with – three people (you guys can caravan together or on separate trips)?

A historian, an anthropologist, and an artist/artisan.

Where are your upcoming dream travels?

The Hay islands in Peru, the underground cave-cathedrals in Turkey, the golden temple in India, the matriarchal strong long hair village of south-western China.

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  1. seriously? how to be a gypsy? i can’t think of anything more offensively pretentious. or pretentiously offensive.

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