THe fIRST TIME I MET LÄDY
PLEASE READ THE MAGAZINE HERE.
The first time I met Lädy, I was in a room full of people so cool I felt like I should have known who they were. I didn’t know any of them, personally or otherwise. I didn’t know her. I had been told she was a woman who fearlessly reinvented fashion, an industry that rejects most, if not all, things real or honest. It’s a boys club. It’s racist, CLASS-IST, siz-ist. Lädy faced all those things head on and didn’t let it faze her.
It’s easy to be enamored with high price tags, with acclaimed venues in exotic locales, but it’s hard to be enamored with the truth. People who sell art with high price tags at acclaimed galleries on an international scale are not people’s people. Lädy Millard understands people, it seems, all kinds of people, and I think it’s because she understands herself. She’s honest about herself. At least this was the impression I got from meeting her at a gallery show in a hidden space behind a laundromat somewhere in Brooklyn, perhaps, in Crown Heights?
It was a hell of a time, intimidating, but not scary. The bright room was filled with art, mostly done by Lädy. From the front to the back of the room the landscape changed completely.
The overwhelming amount of art dwindled revealing barren white walls, a vacuum with floors that curved into the ceilings, white on white, closing in on a black quilted sofa that sat behind a small pile of rubble. This was the art I was here to see, created by an inspiration of mine, Ed Garrido, who cited Lädy as an inspiration of his. This was more than an installation. It was a set of sorts, meant to couch a later discussion of race and class in the process of cultivating culture as part of an initiative called Undr1roof.
People went in pairs or one by one to the couch to talk about anything and everything: how they got the clothes on their backs, what is cool, t-shirts with square necklines. Lädy moderated casually, shouting out questions she wanted answered, questions that most of the audience wanted answered, but didn’t know how to ask. Eventually, the couch cleared and she took her seat there. My friend, I believe, volunteered me to go to the couch, to ask some questions, perhaps because of my naïve lust for existential discussions, my penchant for big thinking.
Honestly, I don’t recall much after that, except my lack of art, street, and New York credibility.
The discussion reached its conclusion and was met with a patter of applause. I stood up quickly, eager to get back to Edgar and our friends. Lädy touched my shoulder, what I assumed was the beginning of an open-ended thank you for my participation, but was something else entirely.
“Could you grab me a paper towel?”
I could, but had no idea where to find one. The people in the gallery, they were elite art people. They didn’t spill. The untarnished finery of their dress, their thoughts, their creations, their space didn’t require paper towels.
“The bathroom is in the back."
She held out her hand, a seemingly empty gesture, but also the exact one Morpheus made as he offered Neo the red pill. I walked to the bathroom and grabbed two paper towels, returning them to her empty Morpheus hands. She stood slowly,and then turned to pat the damp couch where she had been sitting. I could see the slightest blush of pink against the textured whiteness of the towels. Lädy leaned towards me.
She smiled sincerely. I’m not sure if I did. I have little control over my face, my composure. In my life I am fighting a constant battle to present myself as a person, a woman, who is self sufficient. I want to be a pillar of strength who supports others and does not ask for anything that is not imperative to her survival.
I am wary of divulging my truths to anyone, and give fragments of myself to all those I meet. The fragments are merely enticing glimpses of the best parts of my life. Nothing more. Nothing real. It is rare to find people who are not like this. Lädy is not like this. Lädy invited me into both the grandeur of her gallery event and a moment of austerity.
Lädy didn’t flinch. I was allowed, invited to know what was really happening, and not just because she needed something from me.
There is a vulnerability inherent in being alive that I had not yet discovered. This was perhaps the first time I started to understand that weakness can be strength, and not in the architected way of job interviews that ask about your flaws. The humanness of ‘accidents happen’, was one moment, one iota of who this incredibly multifaceted lady is.
“You can direct your own destiny.”
End of Section 1
No one knows how hard we work - and no one should ever know. Everything should look seam fucking less. Like candy. The arguing I do, the exchanges in time, being taken for granted, the happiness that I share… I challenge people to move forward. The words I choose -- the articulations -- it is all a part of the unseen struggling I’ve done since I was 7 years old. I went to my mother and said “I want to be an artist”.