Meet Vera, a 2019 Dress designer
Vera Leung is passionate about creating social change through inspired people, powerful stories, and compelling design. She is the Creative Director at International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organization fighting to end slavery and violence in our lifetime. Vera is leading a bold team of storytellers to create ground-breaking, award-winning work. She has taken her passion and skills to countries all around the world to tell the stories of those enslaved in some of the darkest situations. Her work brings these issues to light in the most beautiful ways that initiate change and celebrate the hope that can be found in the darkness. Learn more about Vera and her design “The Vera” in our interview with her below.
Why did you design your dress the way you did?
Audrey Hepburn is one of my fashion icons. She is chic, confident and, also, sassy. I hope this dress makes you feel like all of those things. I look for dresses with silhouettes that are timeless and elegant - something you could wear to the office during the day and then to a cute bar with cocktails and friends. I like to think of that "Deep-V" back like a little eye-wink for when you're feeling a little extra sass. I hope you'll get to laugh a lot while wearing this dress.
I grew up in Boston and now live in DC, it gets chilly in December! The 3/4 sleeves are for the amazing gals doing Dressember in the colder temperatures. And finally: pockets! Who doesn't love a dress with pockets?!
Why does Dressember’s mission of a world without slavery resonate with you?
Now having been at IJM for 9 years, I'm fortunate to see what it takes to end slavery and the power of freedom. I work alongside abolitionists all around the world who are relentless in their commitment to rescuing and restoring those who are enslaved. Their bravery and brilliance inspire me. They are committed to repairing the broken systems in their countries that keep people enslaved.
I also think of survivors I've come to know, like Foli, Cassie, Maarko, Liana, who have given me the honor of hearing and sharing their story. I'm in this work because of what freedom means to them. These children, who were once enslaved, are all now chasing their dreams. They're in school. They're playing sports. They're laughing, singing and dancing. They are some of the most beautiful and hopeful sights I've seen—people who are free to live into who they were made to be and what they were made to do. It's worth fighting for.
What is something you’re proud of right now?
IJM has a podcast called The New Activist created and hosted by my friend Eddie Kaufholz. I'm really excited about the upcoming season this Fall. I don't want to give away too much, it's going to be so good! But, New Activist listeners will go on an immersive journey into the work of IJM. They will meet Esther, a young girl rescued from slavery on the shores of Ghana's Lake Volta. We'll visit with her, hear her voice, experience her suffering and rejoice in her freedom. And each episode will seek to answer some of the most often asked questions about how slavery still exists. It's going to be a powerful season and I can't wait for you to listen to it.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
This quote by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? … Your playing small does not serve the world…We are all meant to shine, as children do… as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
My hope for you is that you radiate light in this season as you draw people close to those who suffer and into the fight to end slavery in our lifetime. Play BIG dear friends, you are brilliant and gorgeous, and people will be FREE because of you. I'm rooting for you all!