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3 Models Share Their Secrets to Self-Empowerment

The Cut logo The Cut 11/20/2020

You know the clichéd saying: beauty is more than skin deep. True, well-rounded beauty goes hand in hand with activism, self-empowerment, confidence, and a desire to make the world a fair place — and nobody knows that more than the stars of Donna Karan Cashmere Mist’s newest campaign. The iconic fragrance is back for an empowering campaign starring a diverse, forward-thinking group of women: Lais Ribeiro, Khadijha Red Thunder, Lea T, Marihenny Pasible, and Lisa Washington.

The Donna Karan brand has long been a pioneer in the space of women’s empowerment, and with Moroccan jasmine, lily of the valley, and warm sandalwood, one spritz of the Cashmere Mist fragrance evokes confidence and the powerful feeling of being a modern, self-assured woman who wants to make a difference. We spoke with models Lea, Lais, and Khadijha about spraying on the luxurious, feminine scent and feeling ready to take on the world — and leave it a better place than they found it.

Lea T

What was it like to be a part of this diverse and empowering campaign?

For me, it’s beautiful. When they decided to do a group of five women like us, it was so special. This group came together, supported each other and it really shows in the campaign. Being a Latin woman, woman of color, and a transgender woman is hard. Being a woman is hard to begin with. So having all this representation in one campaign is pretty spectacular, and I hope [it] gives a lot of women who see this group confidence to take on any struggle they may be going through. We are all different, we are all diverse, this is what we have to remember.

I want to try to believe that our world is changing. And when you see this group of women, women trying to make a change, you have to remember that it wasn’t easy for any of us to get here today. It took a lot of work, a lot of hurdles and difficulties. To see a group like this arrive here to this place is so beautiful.

What do you admire about the Donna Karan brand?

I have the most gorgeous Donna Karan jacket that I love. I’ve had it for many years, I think I bought it in the early 2000s. It’s a velvet, blue men’s jacket and I love it. I also have this simple, classic under the knee black dress … I bought it when I was very young and it was one of the first expensive purchases I made on my own. For me to now be representing Donna Karan is so amazing for me — it’s come full circle. I remember dreaming of having a women’s dress and being able to wear a dress. I felt so comfortable in that dress and jacket during a time that was so important for me. It was always clear who Donna Karan was, and that’s what I admire the most.

Tell us more about your work as an activist. What message do you hope to send?

We have to realize that it’s not about just one of us, but everyone in our world. When we’re speaking to others, remember that your words can affect so much of that person’s life. We have to work every day, every minute, to make sure the words we use, the people we associate ourselves with and our point of view can change someone’s life. It’s my responsibility to take my privilege and help others change their point of view, especially in the transgender community. We have to be aggressive if we want to change the world today.

Lais Ribeiro

How did it feel to be a part of this campaign, and what do you admire about Donna Karan?

I love that Donna Karan is a brand by women for women. They have always represented women who are confident and love to indulge in their everyday lives. It was so refreshing to be a part of this campaign and be surrounded by a group of amazing, confident, and diverse women. Also, to be shot by [photographer] Charlotte Wales was an incredible and humbling experience.

What’s a power outfit that makes you feel unstoppable, and what helps you feel the most confident? 

I love a good pantsuit with a pair of stilettos. I feel the most confident when I’m taking care of my body and feel good from the inside out.

How does applying your daily spritz of fragrance help you feel confident and ready for the day?

Applying fragrance is my final touch that I can’t leave the house without. It’s almost like I don’t feel fully dressed without applying a fragrance.

Can you tell us about your advocacy work with autism? Why is it a cause that is important to you? 

When my son was about five years old, I learned that he is autistic. Since then, I’ve tried to gain as much knowledge as I can. [Because] the autism spectrum is so complex, my main goal is to shine a light and provide as much awareness and knowledge as I can.

Khadijha Red Thunder

Tell us about your experience with this diverse and empowering Donna Karan campaign. 

I admire how strong of a woman Donna Karan is. She is so supportive of women. Any business driven by such a dedicated, respected, and fearless woman is so admirable. [Being a part of the campaign] was euphoric. It felt inspirational to be part of this campaign with these four other women — I admire each and every single one of them.

What helps you feel the most confident?

I feel the most confident when I know what I’m doing — whatever it may be. Whenever I’m doing something backed by knowledge and understanding, it makes me feel that much more confident.

What are some qualities that you love about yourself?

I love my patience. I love that I don’t overthink things. I used to overthink what everyone else thought about me, their opinions of me. It took me a while to stop caring about it.

What does fragrance mean to you?

When I put on my fragrance and hug people, it can attach itself to someone. When I see someone who says “I love the way you smell, you always smell the same!” — I love that, the familiarity that comes with scent.

These three women embody beauty in all of its many forms — they radiate confidence, support the causes they care about, and empower others with their example. And their go-to sidekick is Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, the perfume of the modern woman. The fragrance is inspired by the luxurious feeling of cashmere against bare skin, and the iconic, soothing scent will leave you feeling empowered, self-assured, and ready for anything life throws at you. Let’s call it a little spritz of confidence.

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