Rebecca Moses. A Life to Note.
A romantic artist with a passion for life, willing to love with abandon. Rebecca Moses’ life is the fantasy written in the notes of fashion and beauty. Her memories merge in fantasy to illustrate notes as mythological creatures for The Fragrance Foundation.
“I don’t know if it was courage or a little bit of madness.” Rebecca Moses describes the moment she decided to leave a fashion design career beloved by the press in the 90’s to follow her heart from New York, finding its way to Italy. It’s humbling to know very little of a language to get by and fully absorb a culture. It’s an act of passion for life that allows one to fully let go. It’s that appetite that fills one’s soul that eventually feeds into an artist’s work. Rebecca’s story is what fantasies are made of.
Her journey to be with her love in Italy found its way to an opportunity where she took over the helm at Genny, where Gianni Versace was the head designer for eighteen years from the 80’s. In need of a brand transformation, Moses pared down the age of opulence to a minimal mystique of function from her New York DNA. “I think what I brought from New York was a sense of storytelling. A little bit of… “what’s the purpose?” I always looked at design as, “what are we doing? It’s not enough to make something beautiful. It has to be something that also tells a story about where we are today.”
It’s the cross cultural pollination between New York and Europe where storytelling and craftsmanship merge that led to building her own brand and then creating a lifestyle with Pineider – a heritage paper company founded in the 18th century. The consistent thread that wove her creative life was the gesture of a sketch. “The mark was a big part of my expression. I always illustrated my designs first. I would put together my concept and then I would illustrate what I was trying to create. Sketching was always a part of my voice.”
Rebecca Moses’ fluid sensibility to take her ideas from fashion to lifestyle led to her book, A Life of Style, where she wrote and illustrated her own pages. “People want to pickle you and package you. I just don’t think we can be like that anymore. We have to be open to evolving and growing into things we never thought we could do. And challenge ourselves to do those things.” Unfortunately, as Moses’ was working on her book, the love she uprooted her life for was met with cancer and passed away. As she mourned the love of her life, she immersed herself into drawing for hours on end that gave birth to an illustrated series – The Capri Girls. “I basically sketched all the memories of the things I loved about what we experienced there. And it’s very organic. The food. The lemons, the mozzarella, the tomatoes. And all the things we would always talk about. I would love to have a real caprese. Not some plastic cheese. I remember how they would make spaghetti with zucchini and egg in a broken down pot. So, I started creating these mythological creatures and they all had elements of capri.”
Through the support of her Franca Sozzani, the late editor in chief of Vogue Italia, friends and family, she rolled up her sleeves and played “The Three Musketeers” with her two sons, onto the next adventure. New York. One of her illustrations, Madame Basil, caught the attention of Linda G. Levy, President of the Fragrance Foundation. Levy proposed, “We want to create a celebration of notes. Notes that make fragrance.”
Moses loved the idea and drew a fantasy of creatures, each celebrating a different category of notes. “We have citrus, we have fresh notes… green notes, then we had a category called woody… floral, Sweet notes, which were cotton candy, molasses, caramel and chocolate and coffee. And the… fruit notes. Did I forget something? Spice!…cardamom and ginger, and peppers. The idea was to create seven paintings and create a person out of the notes. So that every element of her would be an element of the note.”
A self-proclaimed fragrance junkie, “Creating the art for fragrance was an honor. It’s such a fascinating art form. Taking something based on the nose and bringing it to the eyes… It’s very interesting when you play with your senses and transport one sense to another… What do you think of a person when you smell sweet? How do you see sweet? Where’s the charm and humor and seduction? What elements do you want to bring to that emotionally and visually?”
As much as her heart and her spirit are free as wind and water, her preferred notes are grounded on earth. “I’m definitely a more woody girl. Amber and patchouli are one of my two favorites. But then, sometimes, I like to have a touch of basil. A touch of lavender. I do play around with things, but the patchouli, amber, vanillas. Musk. Those are always the notes that pop over in my life.”
Rebecca Moses’ fascinating story of life and love is worth taking note when we have a moment to choose to dare with our own.
Rebecca Moses’ artwork will appear in The Fragrance Day Pop-Up Store located at 824 Madison Avenue (on the South West corner of 69th street) – open from March 19 to March 22. (Thursday 3/19 12pm-8pm, Friday 3/20 10am-6pm, Saturday 3/21 10am-6pm, Sunday, 3/22 11am-6pm)