It’s been a very fashion-centric week. I haven’t heard a peep from the ex ex. I sent David a consignment of cat food from Waitrose, and got a formal, ‘The timing is fortuitous, thank you.’ That was it.
On Tuesday night, I met my friend Sue at the Bafta HQ in London to see the Alexander McQueen documentary on the big screen. I hadn’t expected to enjoy it, as I was never a big McQueen fan (my ex-PA emailed me: ‘Why were you the only writer in the world not to give him a rave obit?), but it became a trip down memory lane. I realised twice a year, for decades, my life was punctuated by his work. Not only the millions of words typed (model Shalom Harlow being spray painted by a robot and the morning after chased by me for an interview; or Aimee Mullins, on the catwalk on carved prosthetic legs, chased by me for the exclusive), but the angst. When the film reached footage from the Voss show for spring/summer 2001, with the audience arriving to find a Perspex box acting as a giant mirror, I could see for a second my pale face.
Bear in mind it was nearly 20 years ago. Bear in mind I owned a house in Central London. I had friends. A BMW. Cats. It was pre-facelift, pre-divorce, pre-bankruptcy, pre-double-sacking.
I should look radiant, but I look scared. Watching the film brought feelings flooding back. ‘Why in God’s name is there a giant mirror? I don’t want to look at myself!’
Then, on Wednesday, I went to the gala opening of Dior at the V&A. I walked round with Sue, pointing out who wore what, and what it was like attending the collections for the past quarter of a century. We stood before a spangled black skirt suit from the greatest hits show to celebrate the house’s 60th anniversary. I told Sue the show took place in Versailles, and I remember Gisele emerging first in that very suit, looking more beautiful than ever.
I was in Paris covering couture for the Daily Mail, staying at the Costes: it’s so trendy and dark, you need a torch to find the lobby. I was yet to leave London for good, still owned my lovely house in Gibson Square. And yet looking at this black Gisele suit again, the feelings it brought back were of fear.
Versailles is quite a long way from Paris. I had an invitation, but was worried about the logistics of getting there. So I had emailed a fellow fashion editor, a woman who used to work for me.
‘Hi, could I share your town car this evening, save on costs?’
I got this: ‘No, sorry. It’s full.’
Her email upset me. I had to get a taxi to drop me off (in the wrong place; remember we were always having to walk on cobbles in heels), and he refused to wait. So when I emerged into the gardens of Versailles after the show, sipping champagne to quell my nerves, with no one to talk to, instead of marvelling at the string quartet, and mwah,
mwahing John Galliano, I was worried about how I’d get back to the hotel.
In those days, there was no internet on your phone. Nor was it easy to call my hotel, as you had to manually switch to a foreign network and add area codes. Eventually, as the crowd of thin women was thinning, I made my way to the golden entrance gates and shivered at a bus stop. I remember thinking, ‘Why am I so hopeless? Why can I not enjoy the moment? Why am I alone?’
Of course, this wasn’t written on the museum notes by the suit. We finished walking round and left to hail a cab. Sue suggested we get a drink at Kettner’s in Soho. Nostalgia, again. This is where I would go after work with my girlfriends (OK, staff). But when we got there, it turned out it sells pizza no more, but is now part of the Soho House chain. The table where I had interviewed Christopher the male model, in 1984, is no longer there, replaced by a slab of marble bar. I had fancied him like crazy, had even gone round to his flat in Knightsbridge, rung on the bell (he’d invited me, I wasn’t that insane), and he had tipped his gorgeous head out of a fourth floor window, saw it was me. And then didn’t buzz me up.
So even when I had youth, friends, money, clothes, I wasn’t happy. I’m starting to wonder what the answer is.