My TEDx stylist died. I hope she knew what she meant to me.
R.I.P. Karin van Paassen It's rare to find a person like you. A person who touches you so deeply in such short time. And now you're gone... You were a true professional, a natural giver. That was your gift. You cared for me and understood me. You helped me be myself in a place where I couldn't believe I'll ever be myself. I miss you now and will miss you for a long long time. You'll be with me every time I go clothes shopping every time I put a red top on every time I put my red lipstick on.
Here's the story: Karin was our stylist at the #TEDxDelft. A few weeks before the event we got an email from Manuela Damant: "Karin will be your stylist for the event. Send her a picture of you in the outfit and she'll comment". Well... let's say that I took my time. Procrastination is based on your deep fears - right? I was afraid of even thinking what to wear. Being #overweight, I never connected to buying clothes. It nearly always ends with tears. So I left it for the very last minute, and 8 days before the big event I finally managed to gain courage and email Karin. And this is what she wrote back: "Dear Noa, Thank you for sending me your pictures. It is not too late! I love your black and red outfit. But I am not to happy about the fit of the trousers. Is it possible to talk to you on the phone for 15/30 minutes? So we can talk about the possibilities." What a relief: **It's not too late!** We briefly spoke on the phone. I still have the notes from this conversation in my TEDx notebook. Karin suggested that I go to the shops and send her pictures from there. Wow, This reminded me of the times when my dearest friend Wendy James-Smith still lived here and was my personal stylist. That sounded like a great deal! Friday 22.05.15 A week before the event. I'm entering the 1st shop with Karin's instructions re black trousers: narrow at the bottom. The Dutch shop assistant tells me: "There's nothing as such in your size" #tears Next shop: "Sorry but we've closed the plus size section" More tears. A phone call in the middle of the mall to Karin. She listened, then said: " We're not going to let them ruin our shopping day. Big smile and call me from the next shop" WE She said WE! And she meant WE! From that moment on she didn't leave me. 2 hours later and I had trousers! The shop assistant still remembers me as she couldn't believe that a stylist on the other side of the #whatsappwas so patient. We sent her dozens of pictures, we really did. And Karin was there, with funny icons, ever so patient. I had an outfit!!! Thursday 28.05.15 Dress rehearsals. I finally meet Karin for real. OMG, that woman was gorgeous!!! Tall, dark hair, HUGE smile. Amazing blue suit. Style, style, style. We started talking and the first click we had on the phone just carried on. We had fun and we laughed. Karin gave the make-up artist Nicoleta Murarasu instructions of how to do my make up. Friday 29.05.15 The BIG DAY. Karin didn't leave the dressing room helping all speakers to get ready and... relax! Oh, we had fun in that dressing room behind the stage. Jet van Paassen (Karin's sister), Sarah Brown, my speakers coach Caryn, Jonathan Talbott, Molly Quell, and Manuela Damant of course, with a few other speakers. Time for me to get ready. Nicoleta is doing my make-up. Karin is taking this picture of the 3 of us. An iconic picture for me. My smile says: "I'm truly happy and confident" Her smile says: "I'm so proud of you. You're going to rock". And then she said to Nicoleta: "RED lipstick" What??? "Yes, on stage we need to see your mouth moving. But more than that- you were born to wear red!" That was my friends, the first time I EVER had red lipstick on. And... I LOVED myself in it. Karin was laughing from the way I looked at myself in the mirror pretending to talk without words. Yes, back stage you need to be completely silent. And then we danced. Yes, in the dressing room, without a sound (oh we had to be quiet!), we danced!!! Oh those moments! Those moment of joy, those moment of someone really thinks you're worth it, really believes in you and is so happy for you. Karin was so happy for me! ... The day was a great day. Late at night, in the after party, we chatted. About... Style! This was the moment when Karin just didn't spare and told me that I need to wear a lot of red, as red is my colour. And cushions in my shoulders like in the 80s. And red red lipstick. The next week, I was back to the lovely shop, and tried a red top. A picture to Karin. "Nice?" "Super nice" Bought it. I'm wearing it right now. Since then I bought 5 more red tops and a lovely red lipstick. Every time I wear them I think of Karin. Every time I put on my red red lipstick I think of her too and how proud she was of me when I sent her a picture with it on. And now she's gone... It breaks my heart. Karin, You entered my life exactly when I needed you. You gave me from your time and love for fashion and style. I'll never forget you. And tonight, at your wake in the church, the family asked to come with something stylish and black. But for you, and for my love to you, I'll come in red. As red is the new black. As red is my colour according to you. As red is my heart that's crying. As red is the gift you gave me, and I'll never be thankful enough for all how you supported me and embraced me and my fears with empathy. Noa ......... p.s. *Karin and I were supposed to film a few interview style videos about style and fear of it and how to overcome it. We postponed it from September to the new year. I think that back in September she knew that she might not make it frown emoticon ** Yesterday, a good friend, Lilach Vink-Levy, who's finishing her studying as a stylist, asked on FB if someone wants to be her project. I came too late and someone else got the pleasure but I said to myself that I'm so happy with Karin and don't really need it. A few hours later the horrible email from Caryn arrived. I choked. What a loss!