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Decorating the Feminine - Vali Myers inspires ManiaMania

'Passions' Vali Myers
Some people are starwalkers, they belong to no particular time or place, are hard to define and catagorise - and that's just the way they like it! Australian artist, Vali Myers was one of those very special people and I was lucky to have called her my friend, mentor, teacher and the best dance partner ever. When I was 23 I saw Ruth Cullen's film, Tightrope Dancer, showing Vali living her own life amongst animals and nature in a wild valley in Positano, Italy, selling her artwork personally to collectors from her room in the Chelsea Hotel, and dancing with gypsies in Naples. The strongest message that I received from this film was that you are free to be totally and completely yourself and I got this message loud and clear when I watched her with her many animals in her wild home made-up and decorated completely for her own self. I have always loved to makeup and adorn but was told that this was not 'natural'. I had grown up in places in the bush where this was looked at as showing off or being weird or just wanting to draw attention to yourself. So seeing Vali like this was literally like someone opening a doorway and saying you are fine just as you are. Watching this beautiful and wild creature-woman inspired me so much that within months of watching the documentary, I had packed my bags and left Australia to spread my wings and discover the world.
When I was 28 I finally returned to Australia and found out that Vali was having her first exhibition in Sydney after returning to Australia after almost 50 years away. I was nervous about meeting someone who to me was such an icon and almost a magical creature, but Vali was not unapproachable, she smiled at me like we were old friends. Within a month I had moved to Melbourne to run her studio for her while she travelled back to her animals in Italy and so began my apprenticeship with the Fox Queen. Vali passed from this world in 2003 but her spirit is very much alive.
To me, Vali is a Fire Queen much like the Queen of Wands in the Tarot - through her truth and her art, she kindles and inspires the fire in others to create, to be real, to be wild. In her lifetime Vali inspired Tennessee Williams, Marianne Faithful, Patti Smith, Donovan and many others. Recently I met with the lovely singer and artist, Devendra Banhart, who is a huge fan of Vali's art and life and has created artworks and writing as part of a book about Vali called Night Flower by Outre Gallery.
Vali and I in Naples 2000

Devendra Banhart in Italian Vogue with his most treasured possession - an earring that belonged to Vali Myers 
(Photo by Lauren Dukoff www.laurendukoff.com)
Devendra  told me that he just received a ring inspired by Vali created by ManiaMania in a new collection called 'Reve' (to dream). I was so happy to discover that ManiaMania is two Australian designers, Melanie Kamsler and Tamila Purvis, and that these Australian women are flying high in New York with this amazing collection and sharing their love of Vali - and so her spirit moves and spreads and lives on. Melanie sent me the lovely 'Foxey Ring' with the image of a fox and butterfly and the names of Vali's homes of 'Il Porto' and The Chelsea Hotel engraved around the edge of a beautiful circle (almost like a mirror). Thank you so much Melanie! I love the heavy weight of this ring and it really does remind me of Vali and is a wonderful physical talisman and the rest of the collection is absolutely drool-inducing - it looks ancient and modern, tribal and sacred and very personal and I know for certain that Vali would have loved wearing it - every single piece at once - adorned to the hilt!
24 Hour Moon Pendant, ManiaMania 
Foxey Ring, ManiaMania
Room 631 (Vali's room at the Chelsea Hotel) Necklace, ManiaMania
Vali in Paris 1950
Patti Smith with Lightning Bolt tattoo that Vali gave her in The Chelsea Hotel - 'dedicated to Crazy Horse' 
Patti Ring, ManiaMania
Here is what Melanie has to say about Vali's inspiration:
"There are some incredible souls that I have come across, that have affected me on a certain special level in my life, a deep unexplainable level - and Vali is one of them. Having barely known anything about her, I came across some photographs one day I felt so magnetically drawn to her energy - she appeared to me as a wild but gentle force of nature, a spirit from beyond this realm. Although she felt so familiar to me on some level, I was compelled to learn more about her, her life's philosophies and fascinating journeys - and even as I still do, I am more and more intrigued. I can see that she came from such a pure place of the heart. Her free and abandoned magical nature is so connected and truthful, and it is this unique realness, strength and honesty that is very inspiring to me. Fortunately I have had the opportunity to channel all this into a collection of jewelery, called 'Rêve' (to dream) in which all pieces we designed are inspired by the life, love and strength of Vali Myers."

Thank you so much Melanie, for your creations and your art and your gift and passing this bright flame on to inspire so many others. This is how the spirit never dies. I have felt Vali inspiring me still especially as I remember back to our talks and travels and as I get older I'm gaining a deeper understanding of what she was truly trying to pass to me. Vali taught me to never be tame and to be true - just like her totem the fox. In this new dawn of Neptune you may be feeling inspired to dress differently, with more freedom and self-expression and I say YES. We have always been and always were adorned. Sacred decoration is an expression of your Spirit.

Vali with tribesman in Africa

Vali's personally decorated Madonna from inside her fox 'cage' in Positano