Fashion Powering Women: The Skinless Project Expands Definition of Beauty

Me On the Red Carpet
Me On the Red Carpet

On October 28, 2016, I attended an event called, “Fashion Powering Women” as a member of the press.  The event was hosted by Neiman Marcus (Oak Brook, IL) and The Skinless Project.  The Skinless Project’s tagline is “Women Are More Than Skin Deep.”  You could feel the excitement in the air.  This is a picture I took before the show started:

Neiman Marcus Runway
Neiman Marcus Runway

Maaria Mozaffar, the Founder of Skinless Project, looked effortlessly chic in a flouncy red blouse and wide black trousers.  The other speakers included the Creative Director Haute Hippie Cady Vaccaro, Olympic Bronze Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, and the Founder of Pinkaliscious Basketball Chelsea Herron.  Frenchye M. Bush, the Public Relations Manager of Neiman Marcus Oakbrook, moderated the event.

(L to R): Ibtihaj Muhammed, Cady Vaccaro, Chelsea Herron
(L to R): Ibtihaj Muhammed, Cady Vaccaro, Chelsea Herron

Muhammed Talks about Being Fashionable Without Compromising Your Beliefs

Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first ever Muslim American wom athlete to wear a hijab while competing for the U.S. at the Olympics.  Muhammad is a sabre fencer.  Sometimes, being different can be uncomfortable.  Even though I’m not Muslim, I could relate to her message as a woman who has an autoimmune disease.  Usually, I don’t give wearing my medical gloves (lavender ones) a second thought.  As a person with an autoimmune disease, protecting myself from germs is important.  However, that night being at a fashion event, I did feel a little self-conscious about wearing them.  I think many people with compromised immune systems who have had to wear medical masks in public can relate.  It was refreshing to hear Muhammad talk about the struggle of being a Muslim woman who wants to be stylish and modest at the same time.  At the event, Muhammad paired her white shirt and mustard colored pants with a brown hijab.

Muhammad said, “Every Muslim girl knows what it’s like to look for that long-sleeve maxi dress…It’s okay to be different, to stand apart from the grain.”

I Write to Fill Another Void, Sick Women Who Want to Be Stylish

Muhammad spoke about the importance of filming that void for “the modest community” with affordable, fashionable clothes.  I write articles like, “How to Look Great While Wearing Masks” and “How To Keep Your Illness or Disability From Being Your Trademark” because I want to fill a void for women with illnesses and disabilities.  There are stylists for plus-size women, short women, women in their forties, and more but we are a community that gets less attention.

Maaria Mozaffar, Frenchye M. Bush

Mozaffar Talks About Fashion As Self-Expression

unspecified-1Maaaria Mozaffar also offered great style and life lessons.  Mozaffar said, “What you wear is an extension of your personality.  Your look is not what steps forward first; your personality does.”  Her fashion recommendations for the season: jumpsuits and wide leg pants because the latter “gives you a long, seamless look.”  Moving beyond fashion, Mozaffar said she chose the name Skinless Project because she wanted “to discuss what lies beneath” – issues such as race and inequality.

Mozaffar eloquently opined, “The only thing holding a person back from being extraordinary is that they don’t think they are.”

The audience applauded when Mozaffar said, “I want to inspire individuals because movements are made of individuals.”

Herron: Girls Can Play Ball Too

Chelsea Herron, whose had a life-long love affair with basketball, won the 1996 Washington State High Basketball Championship.  She also earned a full-ride Division 1 basketball scholarship to Gonzaga University (’01).  Herron was inspired to start her a camp for girls when her daughter (then three-years old) came back from a co-ed basketball camp saying, “basketball is only for boys.” Herron founded Pinkaliscious in 2005.  The camp has grown from fifteen kids to over 250 kids today!  Pinkaliscious has programs for girls ranging from the first grade through the eighth grade.  Herron’s favorite style this season is skinny jeans with a cuff.

Vaccaro Shares Her Style Tips

Cady Vaccaro is the Creative Director of Haute Hippie, a Manhattan-based brand.  Vaccaro said Haute Hippie was “all about layering and wearing clothes in a way that is most comfortable.”  She described her passion for fashion by saying, “making something that makes someone else feel good is the best thing in the world.”  A statuesque woman, Vaccaro wore black trousers with a v-neck black blazer that had a floral print. Vacarro said one of her favorite trends of the season is velvet because it’s “luxurious and comfortable.”

Notable Looks From Haute Hippie

This pleated silk maxi skirt with an off the shoulder feather fringe sweater elicited “oohs” and “aahs from the crowd.  Black Feather, Fringe Sweater, 61040006KN here.  Black Diamond Maxi Skirt, 61022027MP, here.

Haute Hippie
Haute Hippie

One of my favorite looks was python leather skinny pants, white semi-sheer blouse, with a multi-colored hijab.  Python Leather Pant, 60920048LT, here.


Cold-shoulder (exposed shoulder) top with keyhole neckline and a black leather fringed skirt.  Fiona Cold Shoulder Blouse with keyhole front (delicate lace combined with silk), 60901117GG, here.  Leather And Step Hem Skirt, 60822006LT, here.


Neiman Marcus Holiday Looks

After showing Haute Hippie styles, Neiman Marcus previewed upcoming styles in their store, which included a variety of brands in addition to Haute Hippie such as Ralph Lauren, St. John, Valentino, and Etro, among others.  This stunning blue cape was my favorite one.  You can find a similar look at Neiman Marcus’ website from Bergdofrm Goodman Cashmere Fox Fur-Trim Cape (Cobalt), here.







–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno


Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), endometriosis, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

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