Your Passport To The QUEEN, A Slow Luxury co*lab Project Begins Filming


TEASE: Your Passport To The QUEEN.

QUEEN, A Slow Luxury co*lab Project Begins Filming

A Queen ascends to her throne.
As my friends and clients luckily traveled all over the world this summer,

Yoga retreats in the Dolomites in Italy!
Film premieres in Greece by the sea!
Simple and fresh morning air bicycling in the Hamptons!

I staycationed in NYC, thrilled to their Instagrams and yet,
wishing I too could go traveling afar.

Sometimes though, you gotta stay the course and stay put.
Travel in other dimensions.

For me…

…this summer that meant anchoring down in the Big Apple and creating the stories for our latest Slow Luxury co*lab project, QUEEN.  QUEEN is a multi-touch platform where all kinds of Girls Explore Legends of Real Life Queens + 12 Mythical Goddesses around the globe. If you know my coloring book, Immortal Beloved: The World’s First Goddess Coloring Book … a trip around the world through the lens of global goddesses…this is the QUEEN guidebook we are making LIVE.

A Queen ascends to her throne.

Today, roots of the earth are torn. Weather, war and “wealth” means species are dying, becoming extinct at an unprecedented pace.  The respectful interconnected cyclical ways of life must be returned to. Goddesses and female energy are the emissaries between cultures, their attributes from compassionate healer to fierce warrior are shared, they build community and peace.

As I extensively researched world goddesses for my book, I found the most endearing queens in all 12 global hotspots. Way beyond the typical Greco-Roman archetypes! I realized more folks needed to meet and feel these gals and understand their shared qualities.

Oh God/Goddess I hear ya knockin’ up above!

Guess I need to get gussied up, share my dimension-shifting discoveries and hit the video circuit.

How do we Navigate Goddess QUEEN energy? A crystal template tickles:

The QUEEN show and platform is based on my energetic-navigation system called The 9 Star Passport. It is your ticket to the 9 dimensions of life, a crystal template for syncing the energies of body, space and planet. It feels so good! (Goddesses are all about the feel-good!)

Based upon an intriguing Feng Shui ritual called Tracing The Nine Stars, the ritual is a sequence to navigate, bless, and analyze the energy of any physical space. It’s origins are a mystery going back thousands of years.

The more I worked with the ritual, I saw how it traces a path like a star, it expands like a fractal, and acts as a flowery passport to creating and experiencing life in expanded dimensions. One day in meditation I suddenly saw how the sequence matched the energy chakras or gates of the body and the spaces we live and work in, but they also matched geographical regions of the earth.

For over 20 years I have been practicing this body, home, planet sync myself and with clients. This has brought healing to me and others. My greatest wish is that it brings awareness and healing to our planet and a peaceful, lucky sync with the exquisite, miraculous forces of nature for all.

So the QUEEN show will be like a ritual journey itself?

So What’s Next?
This summer we began filming and are in deep interiors producing our first juicy bits now. Following this fall will be interviews for the first videos in the series, and a crowdfunding campaign for related films, the shop expansion,
and art + performance experience installations on the earth.

Where does the journey start?

We begin at the beginning. The first, root chakra of the world is located in North, Central America and West Indian islands.
We visit QUEENS in NYC, Taos, New Orleans and Jamaica for starters.

Who is the Queen of these Lands?
Pocahontas of Native America. Don’t Groan! The legends, misunderstandings and controversies are many. (Hmm, just like your inner child’s past, right?)

Yes, this girl was a friendly, playful Daddy’s Girl. A strong female peacemaker between her people and the colonists.

However, get further into her story and discover the romantic patina and twist on a brutal past. Was the Disney film a whitewashed fairy tale or a forward-thinking and feminist-message to appeal to young girls?

The real facts are brutal: Pocahontas was Kidnapped.
Forced into Marriage with a colonist.
Paraded as a “noble savage.”
She died at 21.

First goddess?

We specifically chose Pocohontas as inspiration. As one of the original people of North Americas and the West Indies. Earth guardians with traditions at the root of peaceful, ethical interdependence of all beings. Many see these lands as the earth’s first, energetic center and while Pocahontas is controversial, as many goddesses are…perhaps we can add clarity and compassion to this story to heal this collective pain. Perhaps by learning how to honor her and her descendants, both native and immigrant, can bring us to together in dialogue and healing.

Her original name means “Flower between two streams” which is an intriguing invite to uncover how and why her story lives on, and how this story echoes and relates to the queens of this land. Queens from Queens, NY to Tribal Activist Queens who stood at Standing Rock out West.

Ancestor Stories. Now Stories. New Future Stories.
We will explore her legend as it contains all the elements of ROOTS:
Ancestors. Family. Pioneers. Survival.
The Green Earth. Foundation. Home. Safety. Community.
The energy rooting us all to this planet.

The family roots of many Americans are from “somewhere else” and the healing of America’s history requires a gathering, a re-look at how we all got here and how we might all see each other and get along better in the future! Although I may know in my bones that I was a queen in Egypt and helped Michelangelo paint the Sistine chapel, in this life, not so fancy. Some of my ancestors put the first running water in Brooklyn apartments. It’s part of what compelled me to live in NYC, where I can create and be between millions of streams of the world. With all my travels over the years, truthfully, the melting pot of miraculous NYC is where I really discovered joy.

JUST what is this intriguing link between the philosophy of the original inhabitants of this land to today’s QUEENS taking on compelling issues requiring
honoring, interdependence, justice, peace and soul-healing?

The ties that bind.

Who will be guests on the first episode of QUEEN?
Queens getting earthy with flowers, plants, scents, food, potions and tonics. Queens who drum, strut, mask, DJ and dance in the world of festivals to Carnevales everywhere. Queens who create award-winning documentaries to
queens standing up in the current political climate.
Plus, plus + plus.

Who are the first QUEEN collaborators?

MY BIG Thank you’s to all for our first shoot! Thank you to filmmaker Alexis Karl and her teams, @alexiskarlfilms; for co-producing Maria McElroy @aroma_m_perfume; sound by Josh Salant @joshsalant; makeup by Oscar Caballero @oscarmakeup1 …Thank you to special friends, Florist/Designer/Forager, Betty-Baines Saum @flwrprn and Jonathan Pillot @JonathanPillot  for the crown. Thank you for your brilliant advice, Dale Dobson @iconiclinx.

Thank you to the trees, birds and my one true love, #NYC.

Scroll below for the one true QUEEN.

PS, click here on Amazon to get your copy of the coloring book here:

Click here to read the whole chapter on Pocahontas from the book.

FEMME FUN FACT: Pocahontas’ real name, Matoaka or Flower Between Two Streams, reflects her “connecting” essence, seen in the illustration as a Mountain Camellia flower at her heart between two woodland streams.
A flower between two streams is also a metaphor for…

Perfume. Yes, Virginia, there is a Pocahontas perfume/body cocktail to place where you see fit. Click here for more.

And as a finale,

here she is, Miss America, a queen bee on a Camellia flower.

May that simple sweetness be a prayer that what has “stung” us in the past
may be a source of honey in our shared future.

A Scent Event: 9 Scentual + Slow Luxury Epiphanies



“…indie perfumers ride high…Artisan fragrances are thriving…

The Guardian, July 2015

We like to define Slow Luxury as a dedicated moment or a lifetime philosophy—–>meditation—–>experience.
The power of artisan scent is that it intriguingly combines both at once.

One autumn Thursday evening in New York City,  Slow Luxury and Cornelia Spa at The Surrey presented a special evening in The Epic Road Series with our Slow Luxury client, Master Perfumer, Maria McElroy.

Maria McElory and Cornelia spa guest

Maria’s bespoke perfumes and those in her AromaM collection are world-renowned for sensory transport.  To honor her newest scent, the Roma-inspired, Voluptuous Nostalgia, we created three sensual havens within the spa, transports to the magical cities of Kyoto, Marrakech, and Roma…and much more.  Above, Maria offers a whiff to Miranda Plunkett with Jessica from the blog, Now Smell This, in the background.


Maria’s scents of desire, Prosecco Superiore, and treats in one of New York City’s best spas attracted guests from the media, the hotel, the perfume world and even actress, Devika Bhise, above.

Here are 9 Scentual + Slow Luxury Epiphanies from the event…best of all, with scent, you can re-create these experiences anywhere you call home!


*1! Prima! Roma!

Setting the stage on a whole wall of an intimate spa room, a film of a butterfly exploring Roma of the 50’s and 60’s unfolded, the campaign designed by House of Cherry Bomb productions, Alexis Karl and Maria for the launch of Maria’s newest scent, Voluptuous Nostalgia. 

Roma! See the American girl with a full polka-dot skirt and oversize Pucci-print sunglasses rides on the back of a Vespa, swerving through the ancient, teaming streets of Rome with her Italian lover, flashing his brilliant smile around every curve.  Secret meetings at the Piazza Navona, gelato at the Trevi Fountain, draped in Fortuny velvet at the Teatro dell’ Opera.
A Roman holiday captured in a bottle.

Voluptuous Nostalgia gives a nod to vintage glamorous Rome, with heady notes of Muget and Gardenia. The ancient scent of Ambergris is evocative of Rome’s antiquity, and Tonka Bean sets the tone for a more modern twist. Amber and Violet combine to add just the right amount of romance. The sensual royal velvet wrap for the perfume says it all!

Try this slow luxury at home: 
You can watch the film here
and buy Voluptuous Nostalgia from Maria’s AromaM collection here.
Sweet Update!  The AromaM collection of perfumes will be offered at Cornelia Spa as of Dec. 1, 2015.

*2    Geisha- Central in Kyoto as Inspiration for a ‘lil well-deserved Slow Luxury

Maria McElroy lived in Japan for seven years and is married to a top sushi chef here in New York City ~ it is these authentic experiences and passion for scent that come alive when one inhales her Geisha fragrances.  Studies in Kodo, the ancient art of fragrance, Ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement Koto, Japanese harp, Shiatsu massage and Zen Buddhism solidified Maria’s appreciation for Japanese culture and aesthetics.  An MFA in painting and a Certification in Aromatherapy from Queensland Institute of Natural Science is the science beyond the beauty.

Maria’s company, AromaM is now based in Brooklyn, New York (of course!) and is known worldwide.

Maria and ....
Maria here with Yoshiko who greeted arriving guests geisha-style.
AromaM perfumes are wrapped in traditional Yuzen paper from Kyoto and each scent is named for a color, evoking ingredients and mood.
Geisha Blanc et Noir
Here are Geisha Noire, a spicy mix that transports to an exotic bazaar and Geisha Blanche, for coolness and evoking the symbolism and sensuality of a Geisha’s white collar.

 Style-snifferA guest gets transported!

Here, Jade Dressler, co-founder of Slow Luxury and event host, between Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin and Tracy Stern, co-chairs of the upcoming American Heart Association Heart Ball for which the evenings’ event supported.
A guest, Mark Merfeld, takes the epic road to slow luxury.
Daisy, Maria, Lucy, Carlos at AromaM event
Maria with guests, Daisy, Lucy Raubertas of the Indieperfumer blog, and Carlos J. Powell of the Brooklyn Fragrance Lover  blog, with Judith Wendell in the background.

*3   Slow Luxury is always non-digital experience!

Slow_luxury-food 2
The event offered a sparking spread of tiny sandwiches, treats and Prosecco Superioire to encourage heart to heart connections.
Ellen and AHA
Here Cornelia owner, Ellen Sackoff speaks with Barbara Poliwoda, Regional Director, Hamptons Heart Ball of the American Heart Association.
Ellen, Maria and ...TBD
Ellen, Maria, and  Mirria DiGiacomo share a laugh.
Sharing scent experiences of all kinds, here Carlos and Suzanne.
Jade Dressler, Barbara Poliwoda and Kelsey Bent of Epic Road.

*4  Travel the Epic Road with Slow Luxury

Kelsey-Epic Road
Kelsey Bent, above, has been instrumental in the recently created partnership between Slow Luxury and Epic Road, the transformative travel company offering exceptional, mind-expansive journeys that inspire, captivate, and thrill.  Awarded as a Travel & Leisure‘s A-List Travel Specialist for 2015, Epic Road creates tailor-made holidays, luxury safaris, and honeymoons in Africa, the Indian Ocean, Asia, the Arctic and Antarctica that combine the planet’s great adventures with thought-provoking experiences related to humanitarian and conservation initiatives.
Stay tuned as more details of our Epic Road and Slow Luxury trip to Marrakech to create bespoke perfume with Maria McElroy are coming soon!
In the meanwhile, Epic Road is offering travel discounts to anyone mentioning “Slow Luxury.”  If wanderlust has been calling, give Epic Road a call and mention the password!
Until then, you can experience on these shores…
Don a caftan, play Talitha Getty and imagine.  Both AromaM and Cornelia offer scentual and healing ways to get there…

*5   Cornelia’s Hematite Treatment for the eyes and transport to Marrakech.


At the event, guests were invited into one of the pristine and soothing treatment rooms of Cornelia to experience the earthy Hematite Healing Eye Massage.  Hematite stones and Cornelia Luminous Eye Complex combined to reduce puffiness and decrease dark circles tender tissue around the eyes, a treatment performed by spa technician, Pilar. 

Morocco actually produces some of the best hematite in the world!

cornelia spa at the surrey

In ancient times, hematite has been called blood stone, for when this stone is deliberately scratched, scraped or polished it bleeds and forms stains that appear like blood. Full of iron, the stone has strong positive charges. The cooling of the stone reduces eye puffiness while the positive charges of the iron (heme) promotes circulation to the eye area forcing out the coagulated blood of dark circles and replacing it with fresh blood flow, improving appearance.  It’s amazing how hematite in its natural state resembles an eye!


Iron, such as found in hematite, is the actual carrier of nourishing oxygen transport throughout the body.  Combined with the ingredients of Cornelia Luminous Eye Complex, including soy and rice bran peptides to dissolve mini-clots responsible for dark circles; and, Resveratrol from the skin, seeds and stems of grapes which brightens skin – this remarkable massage reawakens the eyes.

Guests of the evening could also sample another whiff of Morocco in AromaM’s Camellia Oil which contains Moroccan Rose Oil.



We love this dedication to earthy healing and sweetness reigning at Cornelia Spa, in fact, they start all spa treatments with a tablespoon offering of their signature Cornelia Black Sage Honey from Italy.

Ciao! Back on the Vespa bright-eyed lovers! The next stop on our epic road goes back to those rolling, misty hills of Italy…


*6   Taste Prosecco Superiore for some Slow Luxury.

Prosecco-Superiore-with Alan Tardi

Alan Tardi joined us to offer tastings of Prosecco Superiore DOGG from the hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, the birthplace of Prosecco.  He detailed its birthplace, a small area of just 15 villages in the Veneto region between the Dolomite mountains and the sea of Venezia, where vines have been handcrafted for centuries in harmony with the natural surroundings. As Alan explained “Nothing captures La Bella Vita Italiana better than Prosecco Superiore DOCG!”

*7   Book a treatment at Cornelia Spa at The Surrey.

In 2005, Cornelia redefined the day spa model as an urban retreat with the launch of the Cornelia Day Resort on prestigious 5th Avenue in New York City. Today, Cornelia Spa at The Surrey‘s aesthetic and philosophy live on and the brand has become the pillar of excellence in the spa industry.
The elegance and sophisticated edge of The Surrey Hotel (and lobby’s huge face of Kate Moss!) leads to Cornelia’s pristine, yet warm and comforting space.  A dedication to providing the highest level of service delivers the most nurturing and unforgettable spa experience. So urban smart!

Enter the haven!  With Ellen’s artisan background as a fabric designer and her husband, Rick Aidekman‘s savvy business knowledge, all treatments are based upon that kind of rare, individualized artisan approach to beauty and wellness that embodies tradition, attention to detail, and exquisite touch.  Cornelia has been featured in dozens of leading fashion, beauty, and lifestyle publications and on television.  Cornelia’s signature products and services are also offered at Eau Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach and in five-star hotels globally.

*8   Visit The Surrey for the most elegant, chic respite in NYC.


The Surrey
is New York City’s only Relais & Châteaux hotel, owned and operated by Denihan Hospitality Group.  An intimate address on the Upper East Side, just tucked behind Bar Pleiades, with it’s outdoor cafe filled with intriguing guests, it began as a townhouse to the stars of the 1920s and is now a hot 2014 pied-à-terre address.

The location just off Madison Avenue gives international celebrities, style-icons, and art aficionados guests direct access to top fashion houses, restaurants, world-class art institutions and iconic landmarks, while its discreet service allows for calm personal space—“Privately New York.”  The Surrey offers world-class dining by Café Boulud, and an expansive private roof garden. Its 189 exquisite salons and suites were created by Lauren Rottet.

Cornelia-spa-at-the Surrey-roses

*9  The Slow Luxury Mantra: More is Always Coming.

If you missed this scentual event with Maria McElroy, in 2016, Cornelia Spa at The Surrey and Slow Luxury will present the next “Transporting Evenings with Magical People” event as part of the Epic Road Series
Sign up to receive your invitation with a quick email to:
Here, more guests at the event:

Audrey, a scent lover.


Below, hotel guest whose name we didn’t catch, with her “Dog Mary,” whose name we did catch!

Slow Luxury event guests
The hotel guest and Alexis speak of their uncanny meeting in the elevator.
Slow Luxury event guests
These ladies floated through like geisha, quiet, thoughtful, and enjoying.
guest and Alexis
This is Jack Ventimiglia and Alexis.
This is Sonia Lopez transported!
Cornelia spa guests
This is Terry Yoffee and Cara Goldberg.
Here are Lindsay and Christopher Oscar. Yes, her hair matches his shirt.

Maria and Jeffrey Paul.

Larissa, photographer
Thank you to everyone experiencing this Moment of Slow Luxury!  We look forward to sharing more!
 Images: Larissa Nowak, above.
Text: Jade Dressler

The Big Interview: Fiona Fraser, Slow Luxury Co-Founder


FB main image small

Anthony Akilade of the Herald Scotland meets Slow Luxury Co-founder, Fiona Fraser, as part of the Scottish Enterprise ‘Knowledge for Growth’ series…

Bling. A flash in the eye. You wanted it. You bought it. It was fast, often noisy. There may have been quality but it wasn’t essential. What mattered was that it stood out, that it shouted.

“That was then,” says brand development specialist Fiona Fraser, the world of high-end luxury is turning and buyers are now looking for a bit more substance in their purchases.

The trend is showing up in many different sectors. We have slow food where consumers take a deeper interest in where food comes from, how it is cooked and indeed how it is eaten. We also have slow travel, where the journey is as much a focus as the destination. In architecture, we have slow health with places such as Maggie’s Centres. Now we have slow luxury.

“The slow aspect recognises that the face of luxury has changed. Luxury consumers are far more educated today. They are really looking for meaning, value and connection in what they purchase. Their interest is in sustainability, they are interested in quality, heritage and in provenance. They are looking for products with a soul,” says Fraser who, along with co-founder Jade Dressler, has now established Slow Luxury.

Fraser and her New York-based business partner have both individually designed and developed luxury brands of their own. These have sold internationally to the top luxury retailers and it is this experience that informs Slow Luxury’s brand development work.

Luxury leaders such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel and Joyce in Hong Kong sold accessories Jade Dressler designed and she developed runway and stage pieces for Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass and celebrities such as Cher.

“We’re not just saying let’s look at your marketing. We’re actually able to use our experience throughout the whole process to develop brands,” Fraser says.

“It all started when we worked with Scottish Enterprise’s textiles team to bring together a showcase roundtable conversation on the idea of slow luxury.

“We invited a number of non-competing Scottish brands, such Johnstons of Elgin and Hamilton & Inches, to come and take part so they had an opportunity to connect with American destination and events planners and tastemakers. These people included a planner who does the decorations for the White House in America, and writers for the New York Times, Forbes,, Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. These were people with a lot of influence in the market either directly with the consumer or with buyers for high-end retailers,” says Fraser.

Fiona Fraser’s previous business, Fraser Balgowan, designed and developed bags and accessories that were made with sustainably-sourced red deer hides and sporting tweeds for the top end of the market.

“Within the first year of business we were selling to Saks 5th Avenue in New York and we were in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine. It was the depth of storytelling that really connected with the people we were marketing to. Every bag had a story. That story connected people to those who worked on the land, worked on the estates, it related to shepherding, weaving, deerstalking and to the history of the communities in the Highlands.”

Fraser took this thirst for detail a step further and invited tastemakers from the US to Scotland. These high-end fashionistas were treated to a full tweed and heather deerstalking adventure so they could understand the way of life. So successful was this Slow Luxury immersive sourcing event that they are now offered by the company as a key brand development service.

“It’s about touching on something very personal, dipping into the richness of the craftspeople and the components of the products. In Scotland we are well positioned to highlight our history of manufacturing, our years of excellence and to tell a really great story,” she says.

But for Fraser too many of Scotland’s manufacturers are failing to truly connect with potential markets and customers.

“Technology obviously gives us much more of an even playing field than we had before. We don’t need to spend £10 million on a marketing campaign in the way we would have had to five or ten years ago,” Fraser says.

“If we are really going to work across the digital opportunities which provide us with other routes to market, we really have to improve on the way we tell our stories. It’s absolutely not good enough to say here’s our lovely scarf and it’s made with the best materials and it’s Made in Scotland. There needs to be more depth to the storytelling.”

Fraser does praise Scottish producers for being able to sell into the wholesale market however she sees a downside to this success.

“When all we do is sell to wholesalers we don’t have direct contact with the end customer so we don’t know what they are connecting with. We are not getting the intelligence back that helps us innovate and create new products,” Fraser says.

“The ‘cash rich and time poor’ luxury consumer is increasingly looking for curated product, it’s that idea of connection and personal engagement. That means the consumer is often interested in the lifestyle. They want to know what is the Scottish lifestyle.”

Learning these lessons from their own forays into high-end retailing has enabled Slow Luxury to reach out to other sectors of the luxury market and the company now is in discussions to consult and develop product with top-end Scottish retailers in apparel, interiors, accessories, food and drink, and experiential travel.

The company’s online brand development strategy focuses on using technology to strengthen social engagement by providing rich personalised content to create a virtual cycle.

“You build your audience and you build your conversation, that then drives traffic, which in turn drives sales and influences the media and buyers,” Fraser says.

In all this Fraser has high praise for the assistance she gained from Scottish Enterprise and the Global Scot Network.

“Stewart Roxburgh and the textiles team really connected with what we were doing. He’s been a fantastic mentor and helped with the initial introduction to Saks. The Global Scot Network too, both in the UK and the US, were a tremendous help. The advice I got from them was advice I couldn’t get from the agencies,” Fraser says.

“The irony of the Slow Luxury story is just how fast the journey has been,” Fraser adds.

Read the full interview in the Herald Scotland here

GREAT SCOTS: Scotland’s Slow Luxury Culture


A Story About Luxury by Fiona Fraser

We Scots we don’t tell stories or shout out about our excellence, our luxury. While our invention, creativity and influence is felt throughout the world, most are unaware that the story of the luxury products we associate with Paris, London or Milan, actually originate from this wild and poetic place I call home, Scotland.


Tilda Swinton for Chanel

From a Chanel dress to a rare whisky; from a cashmere blanket to a $5000 designer suit, more often than not, while a label bears a famous name, the material inspiration and invention originates in Scotland.  Besides luxury fabrics and materials, we’ve created other inventions that have influenced the world.  Many began as the luxuries of their time, now necessities of today, such as the refrigerator, tires, steam engine, penicillin, colour photography, Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, golf, the telephone and television.


The Balvenie

In Scotland, our ‘material culture’, the relationship between people, land and product inventions, is the story we have to tell. Aside from our great ‘social’ gifts to the world such as whisky, tartan and travel destinations, we have, however, failed to fully develop recognition for our other aspirational products, wholly owning our luxury brand identities that relate to Scotland’s materials, from pure sea salt to luxurious textiles.

Hebridean Sea Salt

Hebridean Sea Salt

Our heritage is based on hundreds of years of imaginative, ethical, sustainable production of material goods, (what we call Slow Luxury) and this is exactly what makes our products so desirable. Now is the time for these products, and their connection to people, land and time, to become the stories we tell globally. Now is the time for imaginative storytelling, for ‘imagination is the foundation of everything that is uniquely and distinctively human’ (The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything; Sir Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica) – and human interest, connection and relationships are what we know now drives the luxury desires of the contemporary consumer. The truth of the materials and production is the reward for the story.

Johnstons of Elgin2

Fabric from Johnstons of Elgin

Integral to this new idea of storytelling is Slow Luxury, not a fantasy nor a rigid and imposing ‘walk the talk,’ marketing “story”, rather an aspirational belief, an invitation for conversation, and an authentic way of blending lifestyle, community and commerce that has some greater depth of truth, transparency and meaning. 

For business, this framework must deliver returns but dare we anticipate that those returns might include benefits to the wider bottom line in addition to short term, hard cash?

For me, as the designer of a luxury collection, the benefits of this new adventure include becoming far more connected with my passions in life and questioning how I can contribute towards the sustainability of the economy, particularly in Scotland’s most fragile communities. I often ask this question of my clients and friends in luxury; ‘What might inviting dialogue and conversation focused on the stories around your brand actually realise for you personally and professionally; for your business, for your community, for your culture?’ ‘What is the market opportunity for us in using our vulnerability to ‘dare greatly’, to see the next adventure, given our knowledge of the thirst for connection with Scotland worldwide?’

We have lived through boom and bust times, particularly in terms of the manufacture of textiles.  We faced the near death of the industry and its negative impact on many communities, but we are re-inventing our offering as niche, as something of special, global value.  There is real vulnerability in this experience and we can use this to unlock our creativity.

Tweed Shop at Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

Tweed Shop at Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland

What makes for this poor visibility or recognition for true Scottish luxury brands in the marketplace? Many of the best known Scottish (luxury) companies produce private label garments for other global brands such as Louis Vuitton and Burberry, sell through third party wholesalers, or in cases such as Pringle, our companies have been bought by international concerns who have expertly traded on ‘Scottishness’ and heritage, while moving much of the management and production out of the country.

Looking to the high street, Brooks Brothers and Paul Stewart shop windows in New York this very week are all ‘Highland’, featuring Scottish fabrics made by Scottish manufacturers, with little trace of a Scottish brand name to be seen.  In fact, Brooks Brothers has ‘Highland Heritage’ as its lead fashion trend for this season online, and the first edition of the Brooks Brothers magazine, published this week, features an extended editorial piece about Scotland with rich Scottish imagery and style sensibility.

This position is underpinned by the current Financial Times ‘How to Spend It’ edition, which speaks to technical innovation and the unrivalled quality of Scottish textiles, citing a who’s who of designers and luxury brands sourcing from Scotland, but with only passing reference to Scottish labels such as Begg & Co, who have invested in brand development in order to create visibility as a stand-alone proposition.  However, expert in the business of knowing how to ‘hook’ the audience, the FT article begins with a story; a story of Johnstons of Elgin, its film set-like archive and a royal connection.  Imagine if we were the ones telling this story?  Why encourage others to take ownership of our heritage, style, craftsmanship and luxury?

This invisibility, lack of individual brand identity and an inability to compete with large, international marketing budgets, goes some way to explain why Scotland’s luxury brands in fashion and interiors aren’t among the world’s best known names in luxury.  All the pride of manufacture and provenance, combined with our culture, inexperience, and less than bolshy approach to marketing, somehow precludes us from telling the world about our innovation and creativity, about our stories.  We collectively fail to envisage how our voice might be heard.  However, with social media and a plethora of online channels at our disposal, we do now have the opportunity to compete in a very cost effective way.

Style, Travel and Luxury on the Royal Scotsman

Style, Travel and Luxury on the Royal Scotsman

Marketing luxury is a game of desire and aspiration told through inventive stories. How do we get our Scottish selves into that mind-set? Appeal to our sense of adventure, sensitivity and imagination. Desire, and what is aspirational today is changing, as our world and environment necessitates. The fast, exploitative, rare, and controlled is thankfully now seen as excessive, wasteful and singularly offensive.  Luckily for Scots, pure slow provenance, balance and connection are our basic luxuries and what the world desires.

 B+W Slow luxury

Enter Slow Luxury. 2014 is a BIG year for Scotland on the world stage.  We will host the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games, and the ‘Year of Homecoming’.  The world’s media will be trained on us, it has already started, and this is an unprecedented opportunity to share with the world our old/new essential paradigms…and in the process, raise our luxury profile.

There is much support for the development of Scottish luxury from within Government and industry bodies.  Only this week, James Sugden, Director at cashmere weaver Johnstons of Elgin, said the ‘tide has turned’ for the Scottish textiles industry and ‘the time is now’ for the Scottish Government to support investment in a textiles centre of excellence, as retailers are ‘re-shoring’ their orders from Far East suppliers to our own in Scotland. It is interesting however, that focus is predominantly aimed at innovation and production, with little evident discourse about connecting our brand identities and marketing development to that very innovation by developing new products with an ‘old soul’.   In any event, following closely behind must be development of capacity and capability within companies, to engage a workforce in cultural change and a refreshed common goal that is centred around developing identity, selling the story and delivering world-class service.

Ryder Cup 2014

Ryder Cup 2014

How does Scotland further develop its own brand of luxury culture?  This idea of Slow Luxury includes both accessing our vulnerability and ‘daring greatly’, a philosophy coined and described by US researcher and storyteller, Brene Brown that has achieved global recognition.  What is the vulnerable, the daring we all aspire to?  What are the strengths of our stories and connections with our past? The world today is loudly social, mobile and imminently promoting itself in a collaborative, connected way. Strength in messaging, in collaboration and its ultimate success will depend on the extent to which Scottish luxury companies can envisage their marketing activities solidly taking place in a new paradigm.  We can’t compete with the multi-million pound budgets of our global luxury brand cousins but there may be a better way to reflect our excellence.

How to create a compelling brand story today to expand profits tomorrow? Scotland is a perfect case study to illustrate how the concept of Slow Luxury can be a lens applied to brands and product offerings, to offer luxury consumers specific compelling reasons to purchase now.  In the presentation below, we  roadmap the steps smart brands can take to target more desire for their products and services through this proven new thought leadership, shaping the marketing of the best luxury brands today.

The New Black, not the same as the Old Black: Fashion Gathers at the Round Table, NY Fashion Week


Fashion Gathers at the Round Table, NY Fashion Week February 2013

by Jade Dressler


Black clad on Paris and Milan runways or on any street in the world situates one in a fashionable place, an approved global style uniform. At the same time it is the use of black dye, along with red, for clothing and textiles, that happens to be the most toxic to the Earth. Both colors are clearly contributing to life on Earth’s “in the red” status. What will it take for sustainable fashion to be seen as balanced and healthy—“in the black” on financial registers, on our bodies and the planet?

While many in the fashion industry regard themselves being “in the green” or “eco-friendly” by making a donation to charity, much more must be done. Perhaps like the growth of the organic food movement, our growing awareness will impact the values we place on what we choose to wear personally and its collective impact.

Like the issue of food, the production of textiles and clothing has so many aspects, from economic to aesthetics and social justice issues, to designers who fear limits to their creativity. While supply and demand has changed this landscape from when I designed with one of the first organic cotton clothing lines in the 1990’s, Blue Fish Clothing, we can still do more. During this February’s Fashion Week NY, Slow Luxury joined experts at a round table on the subject, sponsored by Fashion-4-Development and Sustainia. The intimate “think-tank” event was moderated by Evie Evangelou, founder of Fashion-4-Development and Laura Storm, Executive Director of Sustainia, “a global collaborative platform for communicating best practices for a sustainable future.”

We invited Nicole Giordano of Startup Fashion to join us along with Slow Luxury friend, John Favreau, of Little Lake Partners, LIM College Professor, Product Development, and a business consultant to top designers and brands.

It was a gathering of like-minded and inspiring to see many of our friends and associates in the room.


Notable attendees included Franca Sozzani, EIC of Vogue Italia, Goodwill Ambassador for Fashion-4-Development and Julie Gilhart, leader in sustainable garb, as buyer at Barneys, now with Amazon.

Julie Gilhart

Also attending were Carola Beeney, PR and Events at ABC Carpet and Home, reps from Vogue Vert, and The Council of Fashion Designers of America, CFDA. Reigning experts at the table included, Ruth DeGolia of Mercado Global, and Sass Brown, author of “Eco Fashion” and eco-expert at FIT, whose bright remarks match her eye for the most sophisticated eco-style.

Sass Brown

Another business focused on sustainable process, in the digital printing world for top fashion and advertising photography as well as eco-friendly building development, our friend, Baldev Duggal of Duggal also attended.

baldev duggal


Sustainia identified 5 reasons for the fashion industry to connect philosophy and practices to sustainable options: waste, pollution, water, transport and social and labor. Slow Luxury adds 5 Solutions we champion for making a difference and a “plus 1” category of importance wellness. Our clothing choices must assign value based on more than just “pretty.” The value of Slow Luxury, is to consider the positive impact of the entire life-process of manufacture and its holistic wellness impact, from the material resources to the contact with our bodies. See Slow Luxury’s Ten Commitments to connect with our own visionary ”round table” where manufacturers, the public and media can interchange for best sustainable practices.

Here are some of the identified Challenges/Opportunities and solutions, our choices for the best practices and companies we admire which address these issues. We’d love to hear your thoughts and champion your own eco-efforts as designers, manufacturers and consumers.

ONE     Waste Challenges/Opportunities

Over-Buying: Americans buy two million tons of clothes each year and discard two quadrillion pounds (that’s a two with fifteen zeroes) or 68 pounds per person of used clothing and textiles into landfills each year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Toxic Text-tiling: Synthetic textiles have become one of the fastest-growing waste products, rotting slowly (or not at all) in landfills. The production of viscose consumes more energy than the production of cotton and synthetic fabric, emits greenhouse gases, and spews wastewater bearing organic solvents, heavy metals, and poisonous dyes and fiber treatments.

Tiny Recycling. The Council for Textile Recycling says the industry prevents 2.5 billion pounds of post-consumer textile product waste from entering the solid waste stream. However, this is less than 25 percent of the total post-consumer textile waste that is generated each year.

Slow Luxury Waste Solutions

Creative couture thrift buying is the favorite secret of stylish people all over the world and it has the “green” side effects of “not buying” and “no new manufacturing.” Recycling clothes saves more C02, and, in fact, it takes ten times more energy to make a ton of textiles than it does to make a ton of glass. We all recycle bottles and paper, clothing belongs in that mind-set as well.

Livia Firth, whom we spoke with recently, leads with her Green Carpet Challengeand is our vote for most influential force in this arena, inspiring celebrities and A-listers to wear and champion vintage.

livia firth

Both Rent the Runway and top stylist’s secret source, Albright Fashion Library, founded by my friend Irene Albright, 

Irene Albright

along with friend Claudine DeSola, who is founder of Caravan Stylist Studio, are among innovators of this concept.

Claudine Desola

Shopping online is certainly an energy-saver and notably, long-time organic pioneer, Maria Rodale entered the organic product e-commerce world this year with Rodale’s. We’ve met several times with our friend, Michele Barbone, the buyer, whose perspective on the progress on criteria underscored our mission to support companies in whatever effort they make.

Maria Rodale

Several participants emphasized it was the designers themselves who bear the load of influencing the consumer desire for sustainable clothing, and this area is ripe with creative opportunity, for example up-cycling, or incorporating recycled goods into new designs. Schmidt Takahashi, from Germany, is one of our favorite up-cycling designers, the recycled connection with former wearers is an integral part of its unique branding.

TWO     Pollution Challenges/Opportunities

“Friendly + natural fabrics”? Actually, not so earth-friendly. Traditional cotton and wool for starters are not actually eco-friendly. Conventional cotton clothing comes at a great cost. Grown on less than 2 percent of U.S. farmland, cotton accounts for 1 of every 4 pounds of the total pesticides sprayed each year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Further, when we toss wool and cotton clothes into a landfill, they produce methane, a gas 23 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than CO2, according to the BBC.  

Slow Luxury Pollution Solutions

New crops are the old crops: Hemp. Nice to know that President Obama and I are fans of hemp fabrics sourced from the very inspiring and passionate Barbara Filippone and daughter Summer Star Haeske of EnviroTextiles.


Summer enthusiastically told me about her work with Obama’s campaign which specified hemp for fundraising scarves.  She said the movement is growing, with Kentucky just approving a bill to join 8 other states allowing cultivation of industrial hemp for fabric and other uses.

Requiring few pesticides, hemp (a cousin of cannabis) has been called a carbon negative raw material, and has been in cultivations all over the planet for over 12,000 years. EnviroTextiles serves designers such as Versace, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, and “is a pioneer in the development of hemp and hemp blend textiles as well as other natural fiber products, and is the industry leader in the efforts to improve corporate responsibility and transparency in manufacturing processes and labeling.”  Their hemp blends and knits, with organic cotton, silk and Lyocell, offer creative, eco-friendly textile inspiration.

THREE   Water Challenges/Opportunities

Water Everywhere? While Franca Sozzani and F4D are pioneering fashion initiatives in Africa, Franca emphasized that business in developing countries can hinge upon such a basic issue like the access to water. Consider, as well that it takes an estimated 1800 gallons of water required to make just one pair of jeans.

Slow Luxury Water Solutions

One company addressing the water issue is Eileen Fisher. We first met Eileen Fisher in the 1990’s, both leaders in spurring the fledgling organic cotton clothing movement and today, Eileen Fisher continues sustainability leadership.

Eileen Fisher

They produce their core China silks in certification with bluesign® which means that garments are dyed and finished using fewer chemicals, less water and less energy. The certification insures a lessening of the most serious water contamination problem resulting from the use of sulfur dyes in denim and other fabrics, as 50% or more of the sulfur dyes are washed off into the water stream.

“Dyeing is a hot-button topic,” says Shona Quinn, Eileen Fisher’s very eloquent sustainability leader, whom I had the pleasure to hear speak last year at FIT’s “Sustainable Fashion: From Fiber to Fabulous!”

Shona Quinn

The world’s most famous fabric dying expert, Charles Stewart of Tumbling Colors, also presented his eco-findings that day, and good to know he works for everyone from Marc Jacobs to Elie Tahari.


Transport, Social and Labor Challenges/Opportunities

What price is fairness? The economics of eco-fashion are still not feasible to mass manufacturers and industry, who make most decisions based upon their bottom-line, noted John Favreau. The cheapest labor from foreign shores has been seen as profitable, and the headlines are full of unfair labor practices. Even organic growing in Africa has come under scrutiny. What will it take for us to be proud of what is worn on our backs?

Slow Luxury Social Solutions

Labor issues and the cost and impact of transport has inspired grassroots and even government sponsored local production, particularly in New York…thankfully a growing movement everywhere. Both traditional and new models offer creative inspirations worth exploring. Our friend, Bob Bland leads the noteworthy, Manufacture New York, working to create a new garment district in Brooklyn.

bob bland

“Slow Luxury” Solutions: Homework! From the Highlands of Scotland, where Harris Tweed weavers do their thing in their homes to the pioneer in the couture movement stateside, Natalie Chanin and her Alabama Collection, creating community around design and fabrication of apparel can thankfully equal rewarding work and community and not sweatshops.

FIVE   Wellness Challenges/Opportunities

Slow Luxury champions sustainable heritage and emerging brands creating connection, community and beautiful clothing as standards of true luxury, and through this, we also see how clothing can contribute to the wellness of ourselves and the Earth.  

The organic food movement grew from people caring about the health of themselves, family and the planet. We can do the same from a personal commitment to wear wellness. In fact, it is caring mothers who are driving the business for organic baby clothes, which can be a force leading this movement.

Slow Luxury suggests that we work with designers as new eco-oriented lifestyle advocates. With social media and word-of-mouth, designers, manufacturers and individuals can best champion the virtues of eco-style by their personal style and contribute to creating new standards of beauty, craft and luxury, based on wellness as a total concept.

We think now is the perfect moment, a creative opportunity to design and contribute to the conversation about quality, investment pieces made with soulful, loving labor. After all, basic, classic pieces that are investments vs. fast, unsustainably produced clothing are a timeless secret of the most stylish people. Designing investment pieces with the provenance of a Harris tweed blazer, a sustainable cashmere sweater, or designing a classic, signature pair of organic cotton jeans or trousers could well be the mainstay of any collection.

Now that puts Earth “in the new black” from both a smart design and a financial perspective. As industry designers and consumers what are your insights, designs and pioneering initiatives? Introduce yourselves, let’s keep the conversation going.

 images from NY magazine, Vogue Italia, etc.

Slow Luxury in New York City


New York City, a world fashion industry capital, will be abuzz with Slow Luxury this week!

New York welcomes Slow Luxury co-founder, Fiona Fraser, with glowing media praise for her sustainable brand, Fraser Balgowan. Jade Dressler, Slow Luxury co-founder and fans of Slow Luxury will celebrate the recent Fraser Balgowan media coverage including the brand’s lead opening of the full page article on Scottish heritage in Wall Street Journal, coverage of The Fraser Balgowan Experience at the Michelin-starred Gleneagles Resort on and a stellar review of the collection in Forbes. 

Fashion tastemaker, NY Times and Huffington Post’s Stylist writer, Cator Sparks, recently returned from visiting the Frasers’ in the Scottish Highlands, addressed the issues of sustainability bluntly to the fashion industry via his article in Huffington Post’s Stylist… “I look forward to running around town and country this winter with my new deer hide bag knowing exactly where it came from, the process it took to get it to its present state and the fact that that beautiful stag lived a serene life way up in the foggy, chilly, windy and romantic Scottish Highlands. That’s certainly more than I can guarantee for my Hermès leather belt. The game changer has arrived.”

Here’s where Slow Luxury will be in New York, September 17-26, 2012.

Sept. 20-22        Saks Fifth Avenue Lux event, NYC, 6th floor

                            1 pm to 7 pm

Join us and meet Fiona Fraser, Visionary Slow Luxury Designer
Scotland’s Newest Bespoke Luxury Brand for Fall 2012
Join us for Scotch and Soda
Meet NY Times, writer, Tastemaker, Cator Sparks
recently returned from the Fraser Estates
September 21
5 pm to 7 pm

Fiona Fraser, designer and her husband, Ewan Fraser,
3rd-generation Highlands deerstalker present
Fraser Balgowan, new sustainable luxury.
Classic, useful pieces, sustainably-stewarded and sourced
from private estate lands, crafted from century-old techniques and time-tested by Highlanders direct from the wild, natural beauty of the
Scottish Highlands.
For characteristic individuals attuned to the land and tradition,
and the sustainability of our shared global future, Fraser Balgowan offers:
  • limited and bespoke editions
  • made-to-order
  • deer hides, sporting tweeds and bridle leathers
  • personal accessories to travel bags
Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, 611 Fifth Avenue, 6th floor
for more information
Jade Dressler

Sept. 19

Private cocktail party hosted by David Beahm, celebrity and destination wedding event planner, for the city’s top event planners.

Sept. 25

United Nation’s Fashion 4 Development luncheon at the Pierre, along with Saks Fifth Avenue’s head of Luxury, Justin MacInerney; Michele Barbone of Rodale E-commerce; John Favreau, luxury consultant; Edelman PR’s Katarina Wong, Director of Community & Curatorial Engagement and Huffington Post, Africa Style Daily, writer Zandile Blay at the invitation of Slow Luxury co-founder, Jade Dressler and Kristen Paladino of sponsor, LEGEND. Photographs, F4D chair Evie Evangelou and Shirley Madhere, of the UN’s Beauty 4 Empowerment.

F4D, Fashion 4 Development has been making its own contribution to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals through awareness-raising campaigns, partnerships, scholarships, fund-raising and the financing of initiatives to grow sustainable economies in developing countries. Additionally, F4D is committed to and supports the UN Secretary-General’s Campaign “Every Woman, Every Child” whose mission is to save the lives of 16 million women from preventable causes of death by 2015.

Evie Evangelou is the visionary who took supermodel Bibi Russell’s project with the United Nations, Fashion 4 Development, and ran with it. Slow Luxury is thrilled to be part of this vehicle for change. Evie is Global Chair along with Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, the group’s Goodwill Ambassador; Karen Giberson, President of The Accessories CouncilFern Mallis and many other fashion industry luminaries.