On the ride up to the seventh floor of the Museum of Arts and Design today, Arianna Huffington and Maria Cornejo chatted on the need for coffee and other morning matters. It was half past 8 a.m. after all, and Huffington was a panel member for the CFDA Health Initiative’s “A Well-Balanced Life” discussion. (The news magnate was joined by other busy ladies: Elettra Wiedemann, Monique Péan, Karolina Kurkova, and moderator Alina Cho, who brightened the room in a sunny yellow print frock.) The conversation covered practical tips. Huffington, for one, sang the praises of getting a full night’s sleep. “For me, there is nothing more healing,” she told the audience that included Francisco Costa, Joseph Altuzarra, Prabal Gurung, and Olivier Theyskens. She also touched on something she nattily called “GPS for the soul,” which includes activities that keep people centered (read: weekend yoga). Wiedemann, meanwhile, recommended self-development, such as enrolling in graduate classes. And Péan, a former Wall Street banker turned jewelry designer, advised carrying on-the-go protein during fashion week.
With focus turning to the show season and tough casting decisions, the mood veered in a more serious direction. Kurkova related the pressures models face with body weight and image. In her successful career, she has dealt with health issues, she said, and teared up when mentioning her husband’s devout support throughout that rough patch. Huffington talked about her youngest daughter Isabella, who battled an eating disorder at age 12. But if there was one takeaway from the morning go-around, it was that mentors help light the way. Wiedemann said her father was her rock. For example, when she had to wear a back brace as a young teen (“it was real-life Romy and Michele,” she said), he steered her toward swimming. He was also a former model and he met her mother, Isabella Rossellini, on the set of a Calvin Klein shoot. To which Wiedemann cheered to Costa, “Thanks, Francisco!”