A Place In The Cosmos For Artist Vero Faye Kitsuné |

A Place In The Cosmos For Artist Vero Faye Kitsuné

Photo by Carlos Kitsuné

A former footwear designer finds her deep roots in magic, mystery, and music.

Transitions are NEVER easy. Imagine being a successful artist, finally making it, only to turn around and leave it all behind. That’s exactly what former shoe designer Vero Faye Kitsuné did. “My resume looked amazing on paper but then, that’s it. It didn’t make me happy,” she says.

A decade ago, Vero went by the name Ivy Kirzhner, designing her luxury footwear collection out of her New York studio. Vero had dedicated close to two decades climbing the fashion ladder, starting with an internship at Kenneth Cole, followed by stints working for brands including Steve Madden and Dolce Vita before launching Ivy Kirzhner. Her brand quickly caught the attention of buyers, editors, and stylists alike. “I was designing for that really confident woman and the rock star of my dreams,” she says of her aesthetic. Her namesake brand featured rock star-worthy designs being worn by the likes of Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez. 

It was every up-and-coming designer’s dream to be spotted on red carpets, featured in magazines, and to own a boutique in the West Village. However, the eventual burnout was real. “I felt like it took way too much human capital, too many resources for me to get up there,” she says. “The thing with success, you’re always at risk of losing your humanity when you’re in that grind or in that constant pursuit. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in my mentors and with other brands.” 

Vero was also going through shifts in her personal life, being in the middle of a divorce from her husband whom she had been with since she was 15 years old, and with whom she had built her brand with. “By the time we were in our thirties, we were already different people,” she says. “We came to terms with it. It was time to just move on and be two different people.” Since she and her former husband were going their separate ways, she realized that she no longer needed to continue down certain paths. Ultimately, Vero made the decision to sell Ivy Kirzhner, leaving her design studio, her store, and her name behind.

Closing that chapter of her life presented Vero with the opportunity to evaluate what she really wanted to do. In moments of reflection, she heard something within, urging her to return to music. “This voice just kept coming back to me, telling me, ‘music, music—piece your life together and pick up the things that you lost along the way’,” she says.

Vero summoned the courage to listen to that inner voice, re-fashioning her life as an artist and musician with a new name, Czarina. This led her to a recording studio and back on stage, to familiar territory yet one she had not been able to fully explore. “I gave up my music to design shoes,” she shares, “but as soon as I went back to music and started working on my first record, suddenly things started falling into place.” 

In 2018, she released her first album, Painted Holograms. Vero didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “The first record I created was about shattering and piecing your life back together because that’s like my own life story,” she says. This time, her life would imitate her art. Her album became the catalyst for meeting her now-husband and artistic collaborator, Carlos Kitsuné. “The next thing you know, the man of my dreams, my future husband, finds me,” she says. Together, they decided to uproot their lives and leave New York for Spain.

Now based in the Galician coastal town of Malpica de Bergantiños, Vero creates music that she describes as heavy hitting yet ethereal at the same time. This seems to echo the synthesis of her years amidst the metal skyscrapers of New York City and her new Spanish seaside life surrounded by lush nature.

 “I never thought places like this existed, ever,” she tells me, struck by the pure beauty of Galicia. Vero’s new home in Malpica is situated along the Costa de Morte or “coast of death” yet ironically, listening to her describe the raw beaches and rugged pathways, it seems she has never felt more alive. 

It turned out that she would soon go through another shift, this time a deep and spiritual one. Her move to Spain triggered a reconnection with her own Filipina identity, one that she had struggled with ever since her family moved from the Philippines to the US. “There’s just something about Galicia that is so magnetic, so powerful, and so magical. This shift that I felt was also strongly tied to our roots in the Philippines,” she says.

Vero soon learned that Galicia is historically regarded as a land of magic and fittingly called Terra Meiga or Witching Land. “As soon as I moved to Galicia, which carries the same liminal spaces as the Philippines—the environment, the beautiful openness—I figured out what it meant for me to be a Filipina and it took me back to pre-colonial Filipino society. That’s what really resonated so strongly with me.” 

She also discovered that her great-grandfather was an indigenous shaman from Nueva Ecija named Dakot. “Lolo Dakot was really tied with and practiced the polytheistic animism that originated from pre-colonial times, from our ancestors,” she says. “It opened a lot of things for me and answered so many questions and if anything, guided me.” 

This guidance is evident in her latest album which she released last year titled Arcana, Latin for “mysteries.” The premise of the album is about confronting the mysteries of life, connecting to the cosmos, going through all of life’s mazes, and eventually finding home. “The first track of the record is a song called ‘Celestial Satellites.’ It’s about acknowledging home, acknowledging that I finally understand my identity, and what I’m supposed to do.”

Whether as Czarina, Ivy Kirzhner or Vero Faye Kitsuné, she realizes that her life as an artist is about her gifts and her art, dedicated to everything that lives around her and to nature. “It’s about how I connect with humanity now, and how I also protect my own humanity.” Vero contemplates the reasons she had to give up her past life: “It was to make way for all of this,” she says, “to make way for my future.” 

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