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  • Writer's pictureChristina Chiu

Interview With Fashion Influencer Diana Gabriel

The Art of Fashion Influencing

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What does beauty mean to you?

Everyone has their own perception of what beauty is. In this country it’s largely controlled by the media. I’m in the advanced stye group which is a group of women who are somewhere between 60 or 100. The women are all so creative and fabulous. And we do things together. We go to shows, museums, and do all this fabulous stuff. The media largely does not recognize people in my age category, but now that is changing. There’s a movement and people are putting forward the idea that there are many concepts of beauty and that it includes different sizes, different ethnicities, different sexual orientation.

Where do you look to find beauty?

Creativity. I used to paint. I didn’t paint what I call “pretty pictures.” My guy was Rothko. But there was beauty in form. It was very profound. It made my heart beat faster. After painting for years, I started to sculpt. And then the sculpture became jewelry making. Unlike my paintings, my jewelry goes with me wherever I go. People on the subway, people in the store—they see it; they comment. I think of these rings I make as a form of sculpture.

Being and influencer, do you worry about your appearance a lot?

I don’t like vanity. When I was younger, a photographer once said to my mother: “You know your daughter looks beautiful like a model.” My mother turned half way around. She glanced at me over her shoulder, then turned back to him and said, “She always looks like that.” What I got out of that was she didn’t want him to make a fuss. She didn’t like vanity. I get it. There are women on Instagram who have more followers than me, but their vanity cancels out their beauty. Because nobody wants to talk to somebody who is so into themselves.

Is there a trick to taking photos or is beauty natural?

The key is lighting. At least in terms of portraiture. Photographers who understand lighting can make anyone as pretty as she can look. It’s that simple.

How did you get into fashion influencing?

First it started because of the jewelry I made. I took it to the store to sell and there. Every once in a while, the owner would have me try on something that was new in the store. One day she had two of the ladies who worked for her dress me up. Then she said to go outside. There was someone who was going to take pictures. I said okay.

So about six months later, someone told me, “You’re in a book.” It turned out to be Advanced Style by photographer Ari Seth Cohen. Everyone in the book is over 60. I started going to parties. Then, a woman approached me who lives in Singapore and she has a blog, which I think is for women 40 plus. She asked me if I would be in her blog. She came to my apartment with a photographer who said he would teach me instagram, and during that time, he continued to take photos of me.

What’s your philosophy in life?

Love life. My mother loved life. She loved beautiful things. Well made things. And my life now is like a continuation of this—my mother’s clothes thing and my creativeness story. I have a fun, fabulous life. I walk around and talk to people. Like I went to Nordstrom’s and there was a young man. I started chatting him up. It turns out he was one of the interior designers for Nordstroms. And then two weeks later, he invited me to a party. So that’s how my life is.

Any last bits of advice about Beauty?

Ignore the media’s perceptions of beauty. It’s all fake. And superficial. Media has to do with money. It has to do with someone selecting an image and they call it beauty. And it has nothing to do really with beauty—it has to do with money and selling things. It’s racist and it’s got all sorts of really negative things associated with it. It’s not anything a woman should ever allow into her consciousness because it’s all fake. To think there’s one kind of person that is anybody’s beauty? That’s crazy. For this reason, I don’t believe in fashion. However, I do believe in style. That takes years to develop, and it’s unique to the individual.

What would you say to focus on instead?

Your own development as a human being. I read a lot as a young person. I read literature, books written by women, women who were successful. I was interested in strong women, independent, creative women. That’s how I got to be who I am. When I was young, Anais Nin’s books meant the world to me. Her diaries. I loved them. I wanted to be like her. She was free. She didn’t accept any societal constraints.

And I loved that. I love it. Henry Miller was her lover and they had no money and they lived together in a crummy apartment. But she bought one rose and one little glass, and they sat there and made beauty where they were. I wrote her and she wrote me back, saying, “Your letter is especially beautiful and I am keeping it. Love and peace. Anais Nin.”

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