Fashion also decided to enter the social justice scene. Good. But you don’t actually fight any -ism with words on a t-shirt. I felt all this was disingenuous: a lot of words and finger pointing, little true action. To my (maybe) cynical eye, it was turning fashion into a caricature of militantism, stifling creativity along the way.
Yes, I was turning into a goth version of Clint Eastwood, in his most infamous “Get off my lawn” mood. And I didn’t want to become that old bitter journalist. Let’s leave the space for people who could bring fresh things and find a better road to explore. I needed a change. I was craving excitement and creativity. I had started to draw again and it felt good, unsettlingly good. But at work I had to stay in my lane. The French don’t like multitasking anyway and big corporations need order to operate; nobody but me saw me transitioning from writing to anything else. At the end of 2019, I decided I was going to get out of my box.
I could have done that in Paris, except I couldn’t. I don’t fit in there: My tastes are not French or Parisian (which has become the same). I would rather push a knitting needle into my brain than watch a Nouvelle Vague movie. Paris is a village: the fashion scene there is dominated by bourgeois scions and privileged girls who promote and help each other. They share tastes and ideas and keep a certain status quo, where classicism and classism are tightly intertwined.
Three years earlier, I had met Emma on Instagram while looking for people and brands more in tune with my own taste and interests. She had already tried to lure me to her side once. I had said no because I was not ready. When she called me in December 2019, it took me less than two hours to decide. I believe in her and her project, so why not? My friends were supportive but dumbfounded.
The pandemic forced us to sit tight and wait, as we created a collection for the Australian rock legends AC/DC from our respective couches along the way. Finally, I landed in Melbourne on the 4th of August 2022. The time difference is brutal but the cultural shock is, for the time being, pretty mild. The town is very British in many ways. I live in East Melbourne, in a building that would make a good home for the iconic fictional detective Hercule Poirot. Christmas in the sun is not my thing, yet I walk to work everyday through a park. I met a lot of noisy birds and possums that like to lie flat down anywhere to chill.
At the office, I do 10 jobs at the same time. We are a team of four at the moment, so there is no lane. We work far away from fashion’s old world and its rules, there is no gatekeeping. It’s liberating and terrifying at the same time. I could write a feature in my sleep, yet I won’t try and polish a chain with closed eyes anytime soon. There is no comfort zone in my life right now, except, maybe, on my new powder blue velvet couch. Retrospectively, I think that it’s Karl Lagerfeld who sent me this way: “We must keep learning,” he once told me, “otherwise we wither and die.” I now live in a town full of camellias, thinking about Karl every day.