Hannah in Chinatown

Hannah Gessler in conversation with Kerrin Smith Photography: Kerrin Smith

The day before the first Cool And Thoughtful roundtable in 2013 (topic: accountability in fashion labor), I was at Milk Studios for the Madonna exhibit (coincidentally titled Cool Exhibition) and felt the slow panic of doubt starting to creep in: what if nobody comes? Somewhere between photos of young Madonna in the Villiage, I heard a voice behind me, “excuse me, but are you @catidkerrin?” This was the handle at the time, and Hannah and I have been friends ever since. Our favorite girl dates have always been in Chinatown, so it’s only fitting that we talked about style and learning there.

K: What do you burn for? What are your dreams?

A feeling of purpose, a contribution to the universe that is unique to me on a personal level. My dreams are never ending, but I think they are always achievable.

K: Who or what moves or inspires you?  

Nature, relationships, people that I care about. On my experiences, it’s the challenges I have to overcome or things that challenge me. It’s always that.

K: What does style mean to you?

It’s something that is unique to every individual and challenged through the ways we express ourselves and how we are perceived by others. Comfort is a big part of my style right now. I also like buying things that are functional, that serve a purpose.

K: Which piece in your closet has the best stories (or one story)?

Any piece of gold jewelry that I own is probably the most special just because most of the gold jewlery was given to me by the Italian side of my family. It’s very old school in style and gifted to me from people who are very special to me - that side of my family is very loving and selfless.

K: To dive into your own practices of mindfulness or development - what are your touchstones that help you stay grounded or present?

For me I think it’s listening to your body a lot of the time and what it needs. Doing what makes you happy is vital. I think that rewarding yourself in small forms is really the best medicine. Whether it’s going for a walk, my morning coffee, making art, writing, reading - those are things I think keep me grounded and I think sane.

K Is there a particular project you’re working on that’s most energizing to you?

A screen printing series combining words and textile. What’s energizing about this piece is working large scale and also sharing my thoughts in visual form.

K: In your work, you’ve talk a bit about overlaying words on your visual art, or making words into visual art themselves - could you share a bit more about what’s driving this for you?

Relationships, coming of age as an experience - words are the ways that I gather my thoughts, and creating something physically is the only way I know how to express and settle those thoughts.

K: A classic question: what do you think about the interplay, overlap, intersection of art and fashion?  

They interact but are also separate. You could go back and forth on this forever - is there really a need to go back and forth on whether they are different, separate or are they the same?

K: What’s a favorite learning you’ve had recently?

Trusting my intuition and practicing patience.

© Cool And Thoughtful™ 2020