The term ‘Gypset’ is defined by Julia Chaplin in her recently published book ‘Gypset Style’ (Assouline, 2009) as “an approach to life that fuses the wild and unconventional ethos of a gypsy with the sophistication and speed of the jet set. It’s a lifestyle that crosses high and low – a surfer who is also a fashion designer, an artist who traded the go-go New York City art world for Bali’s low key tropical shores, a jewelry designer who would rather work out of a town in Mexico than in the uber-chic Saint-Germain-des-Pres.”
I never knew quite what to call myself: someone who is essentially a bohemian nomad, albeit one with luxurious taste. I’m a Gypsetter!
I’ve always loved to pick up and leave for exotic places, staying for months and sometimes years. When my son was 18 months old, we sold nearly everything we owned and headed for the tropical shores of Bali. As close to utopia as is available, the island is still one of my most favorite places on the planet. We were taken in by a 30-something family of Balinese who loved us like their own. My son was indeed raised by a village. I wrote, surfed and started a jewelry designing business. Our method of transportation was motorcycle: I’d wrap my son around me with a sarong and off we’d go to climb volcanoes and visit sacred temples. We dined on mangoes and papaya from our backyard and fresh fish.
– My son making friends in Bali.
I’ve been Gypsetting for over fifteen years, having lived in a thatched roof hut bungalow in Indonesia, a tent in Byron Bay, Australia, and a floathouse in Tofino, to highlight a few. These locales are other-worldly beautiful and offer a haven from modern, urban life. They feature a nomadic populace of other Gypsetters – intellectuals, eccentrics, and artists who are seeking an alternative lifestyle of their own making. I’ve met some of my best friends in these places.
Gypsetting is about thriving on the search for new living paradigms. In the book, Chaplin tells of the Mignot family and their trans-continental/trans-oceanic adventures:
“The whole family has serious Gypset credibility. They are nine brothers and sisters. Some were born in France and others in Africa. Their parents, Marie-Vonna and Gerard, raised the family in Europe, Canada and the Caribbean, eventually settling in Saint Barts before it became overrun with private jets and real estate tycoons.
At some point, the kids decided it would be a grand adventure to buy a seventy-five-foot wooden boat, paint it the Rasta colors of red, gold and green, and sail around the world. For the next decade they did just that, coming ashore for months at a time in little villages and remote patches of sand in Columbia, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Panama. Along the way, the Mignots accumulated girlfriends, boyfriends, and several kids, so they expanded their bohemian navy to three sailboats, becoming a sort of nautical Gypsy caravan cruising the oceans in search of good surf and secluded beaches.”
In all of these stories, it’s about creating your reality and populating it with scenery and characters who are glamorous by way of their boldness, individuality and artfulness.
To me, that’s the ultimate in freedom.