Vogue recently ran its first ever cover featuring a plus size model – Ashley Graham, who also walked for Michael Kors’ runway. Prabal Gurung created a limited edition collection for Lane Bryant. Against the broader socio-cultural tempest, these incremental changes seem woefully inadequate. But fashion’s move toward diversity and inclusion is gaining traction. That struggle is precisely what mother and daughter Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum took on when they launched StyleLikeU “What’s Underneath”, a viral video series profiling individuals who proudly wear their singular styles as outer extensions of their inner selves.
The project was born out of Ms. Goodkind and Ms. Mandelbaum’s search for authenticity in style. After over twenty years of fashion styling Ms. Goodkind was disheartened by the rise of corporate led brands and prosaic trends in the market. On the other hand, Ms. Mandelbaum, a budding filmmaker who studied anthropology in school, determined that her body image issues developed out of having been saturated by the unrealistic ideals of a profit motivated establishment. Together, they looked to iconic personalities they admired for a kind of rapprochement. It was while rummaging through these people’s wardrobes for a series of video shorts they produced called “Closets” when they realized the need to delve even deeper.
For “What’s Underneath” they documented the musings and recollected experiences of artists, designers, performers, and an array of other creatively-driven people of all ages, body types, races, and genders. Those who agreed to participate in the series include unapologetic non conformists to high profile achievers: jeweler Sarah Jane Adams, actress and musician Tatiana Pajkovic; costume designer Aymeric Bergada du Cadet; dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade; influential blogger Cipriana Quann; designer Miguel Adrover; and model Erin O’Connor. Their starkly honest and intimate revelations on the StyleLikeU You Tube Channel continue to resonate and garner thousands of views. Though each personal journey deals with unique challenges of addictions, bullying, depression, eating disorders and others, they all ultimately serve to inspire self-worth to those who feel disenfranchised, isolated or simply different. Consequently, the mother and daughter team also realized these tales, collected in book form, could further elucidate their message in seven chapters outlining a thought-provoking path toward empowerment. Their book “True Style Is What’s Underneath: The Self-Acceptance Revolution: A StyleLikeU Manifesto” is being released via Universe Publishing, an imprint of Rizzoli New York.
Videos on StyleLikeU You Tube Channel