heidi lender

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about green dress

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Heidi Lender once reported on the fashion universe for national magazines, writing features and styling photo shoots. With a BA in apparel and textiles from Cornell University, she covered style, design, food and travel from New York to Paris. A soulful search led her to India, where she lived part-time studying yoga, and subsequently taught in San Francisco in her own studio. In 2009, she finally found herself – behind the lens of her first digital SLR, and retired her pen and yoga professorship in favor of making pictures. She splits her time between Amagansett, NY and Garzon, Uruguay.


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In 2010, during a remodel of our home in San Francisco, I reluctantly agreed to move to my boyfriend’s 400-acre ranch in Northern California. For most people, this would not sound like a hardship, and while I can appreciate how everyone finds the Redwoods beautiful, I am quintessentially built for the city. I braced myself to endure the closeness of the community, the suffocating remoteness of the area, and most of all, my husband’s “homestead.” After all, I am a Jewish girl from the fashion world, and I’ve never really been clear on what a homestead actually was, but I knew it wasn’t for me. So, it wasn’t a good fit, yet for practical reasons, I went anyway.

 

Nearly every morning I woke up with a sense of dread, in an unfamiliar house next to the man I love, wondering just what the hell I was doing here. I was settling and unsettled at the same time — trapped, confused and totally lost in this alien space.

The vintage green dress hung in the closet years before I arrived, rescued by my in-laws at a yard sale in Nebraska. It was tacky and garish and not my style at all, not unlike my surroundings. Month after month, my husband tried to coax me into it just for kicks, but I stubbornly said no, repelled by the idea of me in that dress.

 

As the days passed and my pace slowed, my hands busy with a garden instead of a computer, the resistance slowly began to melt, and what was his, gradually became ours. After months of resilience, I discovered I had made peace with this place, and, more importantly, found a peacefulness within myself, and the homestead became my home. And then one day, while I was alone, and for no particular reason I can remember, I reached deep into the closet and stepped into the green dress. It fit perfectly. And the Green Dress series was born.


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