Scorchio today in Britain today, no? It was still over thirty degrees at 6.30pm so I nipped round to the camp Greco-Roman pool next door and cooled-off like a hippo in the Chobe river. Yet another reason to say my favourite refrain of late: ‘and that’s the reason I live in Central London’. It is far too hot for a night of passion or a night on the tiles, so I vote for a bucket of Angostura & Lemonade and Hetty Winthrop Investigates. Lovely!
I happened to belatedly see that marvellous film Dior & I on Netflix about Raf Simons’s debut couture season at the eponymous fashion house opened in 1947. Many moons ago when I was writing a column for the Independent on Sunday called Style Police, I got the first UK interview with Raf Simons about his schoolboy collection and he asked me to model for him. It was a telephone interview. Not a lot of people know that.
Anyway, I was pondering Simons’ heart-melting Dior couture collection and wondering ‘Whither fashion?’ For me, the Paris couture is all that is left of fashion as I loved it. For more than a decade now, international designers have reminded me of nothing more than dodgy mechanics doing a cut-and-shut job with fashion history. The Frankenstein’s Monsters being shown on a constant loop these days - salve Alessandro Michele at Gucci – make me weep for the lost elegance of Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel, Balmain and Charlie James.
I wonder if the fashion houses and style magazines have realised yet that they are marching in a parade that fewer and fewer people are bothering to watch? Runway fashion is increasingly irrelevant to all but the poor celebrities who have to pitch-up to US Vogue’s Met Gala wearing garments the rest of the world wouldn’t go trick or treating in. We’ve always known that the runway is smoke and mirrors – the Child Catcher dressing-up his cage as a circus – in order to entrap the masses into buying perfume that costs 0.1% of the price tag to manufacture and all those ‘must have’ accessories.
But Houston has a problem. Neither taste makers nor the young want to wear designer labels. This leaves brands to rely on ‘emerging markets’ such as China and Russia to walk-out smothered in logos and become laughing stocks for being such suckers. Consumers in the Western World celebrate individualism not sheep mentality. We will pay for authenticity, longevity and purity of design – stand-up Sunspel and Margaret Howell – or busk it with tailored vintage. We will save for bespoke but would consider chasing new-season Dolce & Gabbana or Tom Ford desperately naff.
None of my friends, young or old, crave the approval of designer labels. We don’t buy it in all senses of the phrase. Designer labels have proved to be false gods: pretending to be exclusive but ubiquitous in flagship boutiques worldwide, aspiring to quality but in reality factory made and celebrating history while shamelessly raping fashion’s past in the absence of new ideas.
Looking into my crystal ball, I anticipate the return of the local dressmaker. If the couture is all that’s left of aspirational fashion, then we will simply have to do what cash-strapped but stylish creatures in the 50s and 60s did: buy the best you can afford or have a copy of a copy of a copy of Dior made by a talented seamstress. The same is already happening in men’s tailoring I am happy to report.
I got out of fashion catwalk reporting aeons ago because it ceased to have relevance to my life and repeatedly would not give me what I wanted. In my extensive research, I find we all spend a lot of time crying with frustration when person or persons are incapable of giving us what we want be that love, respect, friendship or moral support. Many of us continue to rail and scream time and time again without learning a fundamental lesson. If somebody is not giving you what you need, you should be having a conversation with yourself not the argument with them.
In the weeks since I’ve been having a few more Diet Cokes, I have been learning the lesson to let those who are incapable of giving you what you need go to lead a happier, more serene life. It is important to remember that it isn’t their fault. Often they are doing the best that they can. If that isn’t enough for you, you’ve got to move on and find what you are looking for elsewhere. Not understanding that fundamental truth had a lot to do with me being a drunken slut with anger management issues for many a year. Now I’ve lost the drink and the anger, life is a lot of fun again and I never thought I’d be writing that a month ago.
As for the big one – a relationship – I think I’ve earned time off for good behaviour. I spent seventeen years with my ex-husband on and off. That’s more than you get for first degree murder and I’m sure he was tempted on more than one occasion. Suffice to say, thinking a little clearer than I have in the past decade I wonder if Bette ‘the Girl Who Walked Home Alone’ Davis wasn’t right all along. If you can’t close your front door behind you and be perfectly contented with your own company, then you haven’t got a popsicle’s chance in Hades of making someone else happy.
So how am I feeling this hot summer’s evening in London? Quietly thrilled. Goodnight.