Designer Yoana Baraschi might be known for her ladylike frocks, but she’s not afraid to embrace a fiercer feel in her collections. “I think of my clothes as very feminine armor for women in the world,” she told us yesterday at The GEMS Empowerment Through Shared Experience symposium that she hosted at Space 530. She wasn’t the only powerful woman in the room: Baraschi invitedMelissa Finney of Flipboard who served as a moderator, and a panel of speakers including actress Ashley Greene, blogger Wendy Nguyen, entertainment lawyer Motisola Zulu, and Marie Claire senior editor Kayla Webley. The mission of GEMS is to empower the next generation of leaders, especially those who have been affected by commercial, sexual, and domestic trafficking. The event’s moderators and panel speakers discussed options for the future of the 20 GEMS girls in attendance and to offer up stories on their own adversity.
“I can only hope that even if just one person gets inspired, it’s enough that it could move their life and their destiny in a positive way,” Baraschi told us about the event’s possible impact. But why did Greene feel compelled to get involved in this chat? “I think everyone should have someone that’s rooting for them; telling them that they are worth it and they can reach for the stars. I was very lucky to have parents who taught me that I was worthy of whatever I wanted, but I want to share that feeling with people who have had less fortunate situations.” In terms of empowerment, we’re ready to adopt a bit of philanthropic advice from these women…in addition to some sartorial direction.