Have you ever wondered how it all began?
And the tale old as time, recalled at every intern interview, every persuasive plea between daughter and dad to not accept that 9-5 filing job ;
‘I have been dressing up in my Nan’s wardrobe for as long as I can remember. She is my fashion Icon, everything I know, I owe to her. It's the inevitable that I work in fashion'
Oh, how I’ve spent my adult years longing to be able to recall that story. How I’ve learnt to train my face to in-fact not be displeased in uncovering butter biscuits , right where they should be in the biscuit tin, all the time hoping I would find a sewing kit stashed away (I’ve seen the Meme’s and I’ll be honest I’m confused, although this may have something to do with my lack of self control around beige carbohydrates).
How I yearned to retell that story . But I couldn’t. Because it was never mine to tell.
Up until 16, I had lived a life blissfully unaware that there was such thing as deciding you was going to work in the fashion industry. I realise how ridiculous this may sound, but my understanding was that clothes were for a utility purpose, as a bed is made to sleep, clothing is made to be worn. Imagine filling your home with furniture only to serve a purpose. No Dulux colour charts, no artwork clinging to the walls, no FENG SHUI (the Chinese are shuddering as I write this, you can hear it if you quieten your own loud gulp!) Just plain old purposeful purchasing.
I profess, I had no emotional feeling towards clothing. I didn’t understand them. I liked non uniform day, but mainly because it allowed me to go a little heavier on the blue eyeshadow that was liberally applied only at weekends. I almost resented shopping with friends growing up, as the language of money is loud to hear, and I could tell that my mum didn’t need a child with a spending habit.
So I bought affordable and altered. Instead of buying a fancy dress costume I’d buy a dress and adapt it. I’d raise a hem on summer dress (albeit badly) to take an old fashioned cotton dress to something I’d be seen dead in. It was all practical , all necessary, or so I thought. I was just trying to make my clothes look like everyone else’s. When friends asked me ‘ I love that ,where did you get it’, I’d reply the same as every other time, ‘ just something I found at Primark, I don’t actually like it very much!’ For so long I was actually under the impression that friends would ask me in order to shame me in some way , as you could guarantee my reply would be far from how you’d imagine a compliment be greeted.
Fashion was something I was ashamed of, something I couldn’t achieve, something reserved for those with disposable incomes. But it couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was using fashion. I thought I was assembling the Tu-Tu because the ‘only neon tulle skirts allowed’ rule forced me to , but really I was doing it because I could. Rummaging the sale rails and finding treasures because I could, not because my change filled purse suggested I did. After all, who didn’t wear the same tracksuit every weekend whilst in their teenage years?
My only wish looking back is that I had learned this sooner.
Leaving school in ’09 I was desperate to get out of the restraints of the education system. Still bitter from not getting to do one food tech class in 5 years (who didn’t want to graze on tuple-wear filled with flapjacks in double science), I thought long and hard about what was next for me.
And then I discovered it.
I had placed it so high up on a pedal stool that the distance between us had done a solid job in convincing me that we couldn’t be as one. But, somethings are just engrained in you, whether you understand your reliance on them or not.
I still remember to this day in my interview for fashion design college, persuading the tutor to overlook my lack of credentials I.e. my inexistent GCSE in textiles or my inability to explain who Anna Wintour was because believe me, ‘I didn’t know it was possible to take a course in fashion design’. Luckily she believed me, although never forgave my right to express ‘is she the one who dresses in soft upholstery’ (hey I was ignorant alright!)
I suppose my story goes a little something like this.
When you have children whom you want to be able to swim like fish by teenagers, you ever so gradually introduce them to water. First comes in the form of bath time, followed by lots of calm splashing in the pool, followed by a little fin that straps to their back, to ensure they have fun, but not too much fun.
Fashion was not introduced to me. It came at an age where it didn’t enlighten you, It engulfed you.
My story didn’t start like others, so I can’t predict how it will end, but nonetheless I hope you’ll be around to watch it unfold. After all, everyone likes to see someone dive in at the deep end.