From haute couture to spiritual art, Deep Kaur Kailey takes care of beauty

Reinventions profiles people who have made big pivots. Deep Kaur Kailey has been a longtime fashion editor for brands like Tatler and Vogue. She is now the creative director of Without Shape Without Form, the UK’s only permanent Sikh art gallery.

What were you before?

Until 2017 I was fashion director of Tatler magazine in the UK. Before that, I was fashion editor of Vogue India (although I also lived in London). I also worked for Dazed magazine and was stylist Kim Jones’ right hand man for a while.

All of my jobs were great in their own way and I knew I was hitting all of the company’s external indicators of success. But internally I was lost, stuck and just doing the movements. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work within an industry as creative as fashion, but the work I am doing now is incredibly different: although it is still creative, its social impact often leaves me speechless.

What triggered your reinvention?

I was traveling around the world for fashion shoots in countries like Japan and Mexico, drawing stunning actresses like Anya Taylor-Joy, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and prominent models like Hailey Bieber and Kim Kardashian. When I was not on duty, I attended fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris. To some extent, it was very charming, but I felt that something was missing.

From an early age I had always asked big questions, such as: why are we here? Is that all there is in life? My search for answers led me to Simran, the Sikh practice of focusing the mind, and the answers came fairly quickly thereafter. I didn’t know my life was about to be transformed!

How were the first steps?

I tried to take things calmly and firmly, but I had some big decisions to make. I knew that I no longer wanted to work for anyone else, because I wanted to devote a third of my time to “seva”, which means selfless service. It’s very different from volunteering, but I’m not going to deal with that now! I knew this would also lead to a huge pay cut, but my time would be mine.

What was a difficult obstacle to overcome?

I knew what I was doing was the right thing for me, but it was still hard to hear people telling me I was making a mistake. I had to do a lot of internal work to stop guessing myself.

Other than that, the hardest obstacle was (and still is) having the mind under control. In theory, it’s easy – the technique itself is simple and consists only of repeating the mantra and listening to yourself as you say it. But the practice itself requires dedication, focus and commitment. It’s worth it – as soon as the mind begins to calm down, clarity kicks in and decision making and ideas come easily. Suddenly, difficult situations no longer present themselves as challenges because you have built so much inner resilience. It’s hard to believe, but it’s really true.

What was easier than I thought?

Be my own boss. Not knowing where the next contract or client would come from was initially unnerving, but it turned out that once I was able to make decisions based on my own values ​​(rather than those of others), everything fell into place. I no longer had to succumb to social pressures, or say yes to projects because “I should”. Eventually, I was in control of my time and energy.

What is something you have learned along the way that other people, hoping to do something similar, should know?

There is a common misconception that the best ideas will come to you when you are on the go or when you daydream, and that if you eliminate your thoughts, you may somehow eliminate your creativity. For a long time I thought so too.

But in recent years I have learned that the most creative, innovative and exciting ideas actually come to you when your mind is at its quietest, when you have almost no thought at all. The ideas that come from that place of higher consciousness are incredibly profound and can positively benefit the people who experience them.

Has someone or something inspired you along the way?

Absolutely. My spiritual teacher is the definition of love. They taught me everything: from how to practice Simran, to what the journey of the mind is about, to the game that is this life. All these teachings come from the Sikh scriptures, called Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and I am so grateful to be a lifelong student!

What has changed radically for you?

In recent years, my perspective on everything I have learned has changed. I have done a lot of inner work to strengthen my resilience which means that my spiritual and creative practices have led me to a privileged position where I can create work and prioritize encounters that really impact me, those I work with. , and those for whom the work was created.

Do you think you can go back / do you want it?

I don’t want to, because I believe that life is about the present, but also about moving forward. I am truly grateful for my past, because it has brought me to where I am now. Fashion, style and the use of clothes to explore your identity will always be part of my work and my life, because I really like it, but in the future it will be on my terms and I will be able to define how it will serve my purpose .

Tell us your reinvention song.

Not a song as such, but practicing Simran itself! This is where reinvention and transformation begin.

How would you define yourself now?

Joyful! I lead a purposeful life as the art director of a fantastic art organization I helped create called Without Shape Without Form, which bridges the gap between art, spirituality, culture and mental health. Today I am working to evoke a sense of curiosity about the inner journey of the mind, positively influencing people’s lives through the arts. It is powerful and exciting in equal measure.

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