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New York-based mother-daughter duo Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum.
New York-based mother-daughter duo Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum.

How Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum undressed fashion’s true identities Add to ...

A new book from the mother-daughter founders of StyleLikeU, finds Caitlin Agnew, explores the relationship between clothing and self acceptance

It’s often said that money can’t buy style, and a new book released April 11 examines that sentiment as it relates to identity and insecurity. With True Style is What’s Underneath: The self-acceptance revolution, New York-based mother-daughter duo Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum created an inspirational guide to dressing to express one’s inner spirit and turn struggles into strengths. The 140-page hardcover volume features more than 250 portraits and interviews with, among others, designer Betsy Johnson and Hollywood scion Tallulah Willis, each reflecting the subject’s unique views on their relationship to style.

In 2009, Goodkind and Mandelbaum founded The What’s Underneath Project, an online video series that features interviews with stylish people from a variety of backgrounds sharing their thoughts on fashion and creative expression as they remove their clothes. The channel, which features the likes of Girls star Jemima Kirke and model Melanie Gaydos, has garnered more than 35 million views to date.

Goodkind’s and Mandelbaum’s work together is the outcome of a mutual frustration with the fashion industry. As a stylist in the 1980s, Goodkind was attracted to the creativity of the editorial world, something she says faded over the years. “I felt overall there was slowly less and less new, young, wild, crazy designers and a lot of more corporate clothing and, in general, an overall formulaic atmosphere,” says Goodkind. “I really found myself not fitting in at all and feeling frustrated because I’m very artistic and I see clothing as something that’s very soulful.”

At the same time, her daughter was struggling with her body image, making comparisons to often unrealistic physical ideals depicted in the media. “I’ve always been a bigger, tall girl,” says Mandelbaum. “I grew up reading magazines and really feeling like something was wrong with me that I wasn’t this stick figure girl. I spent a lot of my childhood in a cycle of dieting to change myself. I thought that I had to do that in order to have style.”

Their collaboration has since grown to become a revolution of sorts, harnessing the power of storytelling to change perceptions of beauty, and their book is a celebration of what Goodkind and Mandelbaum have learned over eight years of interviews. “One of the reasons why we’re so passionate about continuing to do videos that are super raw and real and vulnerable is so that you can really get beyond that image of someone and realize that we’re all people and we all have struggles,” says Mandelbaum. “It’s really beautiful when we can connect on that level.”

THIS WEEK’S STYLE HAPPENINGS

  • Three years after shutting the doors of its massive five-storey Eaton Centre flagship, Sears Canada is thinking small. The retailer recently unveiled the #weveCHANGED Pop-Up, a concept space in downtown Toronto that showcases the Sears private label, off-price offerings from The Cut @ Sears and a fast-fashion line for shoppers in their 20s. The pop-up stocks men’s wear, women’s wear and children’s wear along with home decor items. For more information, visit www.sears.ca.
  • For a heritage-inspired take on classic footwear, Hudson’s Bay has given Teva sandals the stripe treatment. The two brands partnered on a limited-edition collection of sandals for men and women, available in two styles for each, with the Hudson’s Bay’s signature blanket stripes gracing the shoes’ straps. For more information, visit www.thebay.com or www.teva.com.
  • Launching exclusively at Holt Renfrew this week is Superstitious, a new fragrance partnership between fashion designer Alber Elbaz and perfumer Frederic Malle. The eau de parfum is made with Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmine, peach, apricot and sandalwood, Haitian vetiver, patchouli and musk. For more information, visit www.holtrenfrew.com.
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