It’s London Fashion Week. It’s London Fashion Week and it’s 29 degrees meaning the tube is like hell on earth and rocking up to casting looking calm, collected and fit for the runway is like Mission Impossible.
The tube is a warren of tourists and stale humid air clings to every pore and makes everyone feel miserable and worthless and that they need to jump onto the tracks in order to relieve their suffering. I still haven’t invested in a summer wardrobe and my super skin tight black jeans are becoming quite bothersome, I do have a short sleeved shirt, horrifically thick though, and that’s the closest I’ve achieved for ‘summer wear’ this year. What can I say I’m British and summer wear is only bought for holidays, which have eluded me this year.
Anyway I’m darting about the place like a gazelle on the savanna, running up escalators, running down escalators (on a related note out of the 2,708 escalator accidents last year I’m almost certain that 2,703 were in fact models), swotting tourists with my lookbook and using my Oyster card so often I might as well carry it with my teeth. Despite all this I’m grinning like a goon. So far I’ve booked 3 shows for London Fashion Week and having only seen 6 designers that’s a ratio I’ll happily take.
Then there’s the castings themselves. Everyone is trying to concentrate on sucking in adequate amounts of oxygen into their lungs in what seems to apparently be the world’s very first ‘airless room,’ whilst peeling off their clothes and sucking in their waistlines to fit into the sample clothes. It’s like a scene from Dante’s Inferno meets Sex in the City.
At another one everyone has gathered in large room where designers have set up stalls and each model goes to each stall. It’s like a cattle market and to cut the queue is to risk death by stiletto from a model who has waited hours. Navigation of this room is difficult as not all the designers want to see men and each stall has its own queue. When you do find that oasis of a designer who does menswear, the really difficult part comes – trying to walk in a straight line with queue that intersect your path. Difficult for the most skilled models I’d say. Alas not one to be defeated I begin my journey only to have, halfway through, someone traipse across my route and nearly knock me off my feet. My recovery was strong, I carried on and managed to shoot a filthy look at them – job well done. Having seen all the menswear designers I left and slinked back to the fetid tube and the buzz of tourists – where are they going?!
It’s taken me a year to get here (not the tube, my position in modelling) and I’m just getting started. It’s been an incredibly long journey and I often think about where I have come from. I remember where I used to live, back on the Isle of Man, there was a window in the kitchen that enabled you to look out onto the sea due to a gap between two buildings. I remember standing at that window and feeling hopelessly lost and thinking ‘there is a life out there beyond that sea and you’re missing out on it, you’re losing your grasp on it each day and soon it will be gone forever and you’ll only have yourself to blame.’ It was my window out onto the world and from where I was standing it was a bleak one.
Whenever things get tough I imagine myself back at that window, back in that life – because it does feel like another life, another person – and I think ‘this is tough, but it’s what you’ve chosen.’ There is no going back for me, because I had no future in my past life. I have just got to put one foot in front of the other and have faith in myself and that I’ll be okay no matter what. My friends think I’m amazing and that I am strong for chasing my dreams but I’ll be honest with you, it’s terrifying.
There is no backup plan and there is no room for mistakes or failure, it’s a dream that is an obsession and one that consumes me, trying to build a stable life against this backdrop has had its challenges at times, shall we say. There is no going back for me because I can’t do a normal life – I’ve always got to be different and difficult. I remember growing up my family would tease me – ‘why can’t you be like the other kids’ – it just wasn’t in my blood.
I walked in a few graduate fashion shows and the feeling I got from doing it was like no other. Walking to loud music, wearing crazy clothes and all eyes on me. I thought I would hate it – I can be so shy and reserved sometimes – the truth is I have never felt so alive. For one of them I had my face completely covered by a gas mask – standard – and the music was amazing. I thought to hell with it, no one can see my face and I grinned like the Cheshire cat from start to finish and no one was the wiser. Being on that runway I am invincible, time slows down and you and your walk is all that you have got.
Your walk that you have been honing and practising down the aisles of the local Tesco’s for the past few months. Your walk that fellow Tesco shoppers stop and stare at because it isn’t just the ‘damn I’ve forgotten the potatoes on aisle three’ shuffle. It’s a walk that screams ‘step aside because this aisle has morphed into a runway and you’re blocking it.’ It’s a ‘hide yo kids, hide yo wife’ saunter. And it’s the saunter that now has got me into London Fashion Week and it’s the saunter that’s going to take me gods know where.