I met Florence-based fashion consultant Farah Liz Pallaro at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit earlier this year, and when she told me she was writing a book on fashion and spirituality, I knew she was a girl after my own heart. While psychologists typically won’t say it out loud for fear of affecting their science credentials, there is a lot of overlap between spirituality and psychology. Both focus on the self, development, consciousness, creativity and emotional maturity. And indeed, Farah and I enjoyed assessing the human dynamics of both the Summit, and the industry.
Her book Fashion. Business. Spirituality. takes us through Farah’s experiences studying fashion in Madrid and London before commencing as a fashion design department assistant for brands that include Dolce & Gabbana. She also worked as a trend researcher at WGSN before moving into consulting, and she has helmed her own consultancy business for nearly a decade. She regularly speaks at international fashion schools, and her client list includes Yoox, Polimoda, Bottega Veneta and Luisa Via Roma.
After the book’s publication, we caught up in London to discuss her motivations and thoughts in more detail.
Tell us about one specific 'aha' moment that led you to write this book?
In late December 2015 I received a random email from the auto-publishing branch of the well-known Hay House. I still today do not know how they got my contact details. I didn’t pay any attention back then, but in early 2016 I receive a phone call from them. Again, I do not know how they got my number. It was then when I felt inside that I had a story to tell to the fashion community and felt the urge to be in service and help and contribute to create healthier environments in the fashion industry. I focused on spirituality as throughout the years, as I am a spiritual person, it has always helped me to be balanced and overcome fashion and business struggles, so everything came out in a natural and intuitive way.
What is your favorite quote in the book?
It’s hard to pick just one, but a mantra that touches my especially touches my heart is the one I wrote to my inner child at the end of the book: “I love you and I value you and I will never ever abandon you.” This book has been also a healing process for me, as like many, for a number of years I treated my self badly, leaving my needs behind others and not valuing myself enough.
Do you think the fashion industry attracts a certain type of individual, either psychologically or spiritually speaking?
There are many types of people, but the fashion industry is definitely full of sensitive, introverted people and shy types, and for this sort of person, it’s so hard to ask for help, to reach out, and they alienate themselves from life creating an illusion that fashion is the only thing they have that matters. They live only for fashion and work and they exclude themselves from their family, friends and romantic relationships - all those important parts that create a complete and balanced life. At one point they may feel very lonely and not see a way out, and I believe that this is why we see so many cases of suicide and mental health issues in the industry. On a more spiritual level, the ego starts playing the lead role in your life and you constantly make decisions based on fear and anger. All this create a disconnection with your inner self and you feel more and more miserable, no matter how much money or stuff you have, there is a growing void you can not fill. All this often ends in a pattern of self-destruction.
"The ego starts playing the lead role in your life and you constantly make decisions based on fear and anger."
In many ways, the industry prays on our fears and insecurities. Do you think we can change this and will this affect the 'aspirational' element of fashion?
As a matter of fact, I think it is already changing. There are many brands that are working hard to include their values as part of their product proposition, and to make sure this is clear to the consumer. I am not talking only about the ethical or sustainable brands, but all those that focus on the client and the persona rather than their wallets. In the book I talk about the “heart-driver companies” vs the “fear-driver companies” and the characteristics they both have.
Tell us about your spiritual habits.
If time is fairly limited, 10 minutes of meditation and breathing exercises, Meridian tapping, my daily morning prayer and getting the body moving, either through walking or 10-15 minutes yoga. When I do have more time, I do one hour of yoga, and 20 minutes of meditation, and I make sure I give myself a couple of hours for to either read, journal or visualize my intentions and goals. I try to talk with myself as much as possible. Many people are afraid of doing this, but the answers are always in you, we just need to quiet all the noise around us.
For those who haven't dabbled in spirituality, but are curious, what's a good place to start?Spirituality comes to you when you are ready to embrace it, so if you are curious, you are ready. And believe me, the book or spiritual guide that is right for you will appear! I hope that my book will help all the curious people in the fashion industry, and for this reason I tried to write it in a simple way and feature all the amazing masters that have help me to start on my own spiritual path.
How do you know if you're pursuing a career in fashion for the right reasons? Many of us enter it for glamour through association. Is it possible to get back on course?
Of course, if you are still in the industry after years of struggle and haven’t yet left it all behind to open a bed and breakfast in some remote corner of the world, you have a permanent fashion bug! You chose this profession based on passion and not just ego and appearing at the right parties. We all lose our way though, so to put yourself back on track, you need to always remember why you started and the big unique underlying contribution you are giving to the industry with your products or your services.
Favorite collection of all time?
All the amazing collections of Cristobal Balenciaga from the 50s! There is literally nothing I do not like from him. What was amazing about Cristobal is that he always focused on making women feel beautiful not just look beautiful. I think that is a great difference that many designers do not consider today.
What do you find most interesting about the field of fashion psychology?
The fact that it focuses on the people, on the human aspect of the industry, and I think this is what the psychology and spirituality lens have in common, as we focus on the self as well. There is already a lot of work being done regarding the product and the ethical or environmental aspects of fashion, but so little about the human aspect, and it’s about time that we focus on this.
"Wearing black all the time affects how we feel. From the ego perspective we feel cool, but from an energy point of view, it literally draws our energy levels away."
What do you notice to be the biggest patterns in the relationship between what you wear and how you feel?
The biggest pattern I have noticed are around the colors and materials we choose to wear. These elements affect our external energetic system, the aura and chakras. In the book, I write about how wearing black all the time affects how we feel. From the ego perspective we feel cool, but from an energy point of view, it literally draws our energy levels away.
What would you most like to see change in the fashion industry?
I would love see more people focusing on their emotional health, and less abuse in working environments. It all comes from a cyclical system we have created of first being abused and then we abuse as a relief of our past and present pain. And this is wrong, so wrong. There are many ways we can break this cycle, and talking openly about the problem we have created is the first step.
See all stockists for Fashion. Business. Spirituality. Farah's site here.