Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fashion: Don't try this at home....

I've been thinking a lot about this business and how it affects people. Especially, how a life in fashion is not for the faint of heart. It starts in a magazine or on a wretched reality show; The Face, Project No-way, All on the Line, and ad nauseum... The creative aspect is the most exciting part though many will argue it is the financial rewards are what its all about. Still others will rarely admit that it's the notoriety, attention, fawning press and glamor that is the biggest draw of all. The last is probably what draws the most moths to the blow torch. So what happens when you identify yourself with something that is fickle and fleeting? What happens if the warm glow of the spotlight shifts its focus to someone standing to your left, right or right smack in front of you? What happens if you just don't have the money to continue in a meaningful way? If you're somewhat secure and able to realize that a career can continue to grow and satisfaction can be found through the act of faith and sheer nerve, well, then you keep on doing the work. Or you choose to do something else.

I am uniquely qualified to weigh in on this topic. I had it all, defined myself and my self worth by the business I owned and never thought my life would be any different. Just up, up and up. I loved the press, the pictures of gowns from the red carpet, the profiles in newspapers and magazines, the stores and clients who celebrated my work (that meant me, right?) and that feeling that I was a player, even if a minor one compared to the whales. A Guppy with chops.
The smart showroom/workrooms, the beautiful horse, time divided between NYC, E Hampton and West Palm Beach (Wellington), a wonderful mate who loves me and helped me make it, respect from my peers and a feeling that I belonged to this very rare and exclusive club...It was exclusive then. And then the boom was lowered.

I had to make the toughest decision of all: Let It Go, or lose everything: sanity, security, and most of all my perspective. Depression and anxiety were just the ice cubes floating in the sea next to the iceberg of total defeat, shame and despair bobbing just beneath the surface.

Once the decision was made, it took about 2 years to make it, I was like an empty shell. It felt as though I no longer had any identity other than has-been, peon, loser. I had dark thoughts I admit, but they were thankfully shapeless and nameless. Running away and holding up in E Hampton was my solution. Though the New York Times sent me on my way with something much greater than a gold watch giving me the chance for a future, it still felt like death, my own.

Looking at the things written about L'Wren Scott brought it all back to me. That feeling of the walls closing in, the humiliation and shame I couldn't rationalize away and just feeling adrift and insignificant. I would never pretend to know what was in her heart or head. I do know that when one feels that all is lost it matters little what you "have", who you're with or what friends and loved ones think. But if in some way what I was plagued by when I stared at the precipice was even more acute for her, it's a very tragic loss... for her and for the others.

We often live and die by our own invention. If anything can be learned from this it's that one needs to use ones imagination to design a new possibility for ones self, the same as we start from scratch to create a new collection. Fashion is not for the faint of heart.


Bodo said...

Fluff. You are my hero. I deeply admire your worthily shared experience so elegantly cristallized into humble words. I pay you my deepest respect for this painfully gained wisdom. Thank you. Bodo

annagamm said...

Thank You Endlessly,

I was one of your collegues in design in the late 80's, early 90's...
We each had our studios in the same building, for a time.
Thank You for this blog missive on loss of life work, almost to a loss of identity. Some how I never felt I needed a personal relationship until later. Now it feels too late at this point. Of Course not!

I'm so glad you are posting your thoughts. We are not alone. That's Theraputic.

Best AMG