From her rule-breaking shoe to the mag that launched her career, fashion campaigner and presenter Caryn Franklin on the little things that mean most to her.
At 14, I asked my female history teacher why we didn’t learn about women and she said, ‘Because women never did anything.’ I knew she was wrong. I bought Rosalind Miles’s The Women’s History of the World in the 1980s and I reread it often.
I wore this platform shoe – sadly the other one is now lost – on the three-mile bike ride to school. I was the eldest of five so fashion was my way of being different. Our school was quite rough; I learned early on that I could use clothes to say, ‘I’m a rule-breaker, don’t mess with me.’
My first job out of art school was at i-D magazine. This issue – number nine – was the first I worked on. I was there for six years. It was an extremely authentic, creative time. It’s where I learned that fashion isn’t just about hemlines but about the politics of identity.
This caricature is from when I started presenting The Clothes Show in 1986. It had
13 million viewers in the UK, so I quickly learned the responsibility of working in the fashion industry. Filming for the mainstream was a challenge, but I came to love it.
My clothes are like old friends. When I wear this jacket I love connecting with the energy of the ‘me’ who bought it 30 years ago – it was vintage even then. Now my daughters wear my clothes, too; they like the stories behind them.
This photograph of my daughters Roseby [left, now 18, with Caryn’s husband, film-maker Ian Denyer] and Mateda [25, with her ex, writer Mandu Saldaan] was taken 16 years ago. It shows how different they are, but they’re both independent and united by shared values.
Caryn is an ambassador for Graduate Fashion Week, to be held at Old Truman Brewery, London E1, from 3-6 June; graduatefashionweek.com.
Interview by Fiona McCarthy