Once, not twice
I fell in love
And everything was perfect
You and me like
Adam & Eve.
At one point, not two
Our picture fell apart,
All that was left
Was a grain of sand
Which I kept locked
In my heart.
And time passed—
From one place to another
And just like the clouds
I bled tears.
Not one but many,
I rained until
I was left with nothing
Nothing but one memory
Which I no longer
These tears have landed
Here on Earth
This wonderful place
You cannot imagine,
Is pure sand.
And where I unlocked
My heart so that
I could collect
That one grain of sand
And give it back to you,
The most important day of my life! Well, that really depends on how the rest of my life goes. If this day does turn out to be the most important day of my life, I might as well give up now! But needless to say, it is a day that a girl remembers. It will be a day that my father will take numerous embarrassing photographs that I will desperately try to hide from any potential Mr. Rights in the future. So with the certainty that this day will be documented and will forever live in photographic history, it all comes down to the question ‘what the HELL am I going to wear?’
Of course I wanted to wear something classy, sophisticated and that screamed ‘watch out world here I come’. I wanted to feel confident and fabulous. There was only one answer. Leopard Print.
So it’s not exactly Jackie’O or Michelle Obama and perhaps a graduation from University calls for something a little more conservative, but I just couldn’t see myself in an all black, knee length dress just blending into the crowd. Oh God, I just shudder at the thought of BLENDING!
You see, me and leopard print have a history, a long and complicated past. Call it a love affair if you will, but love is what it is. It was in fact love at first sight.
I first got my little paws on a faux fur, leopard print coat at the tender age of four. It was a gift from my mother’s eccentric best friend, ‘aunty’ Mary we called her. We saw her once a year and she always came baring gifts from a magical land called America, which seemed to be filled with ridiculous clothes for four year olds. Such was this deliciously soft leopard coat with a silky red lining. But in her words, ‘I think every four year old should have a little bit of glamour in their lives.’ I have never heard a truer statement uttered since.
At preschool, the other girls ooh and ahhed over my luxurious new coat while we sipped on orange juice and nibbled on homemade sandwiches. I was a social and fashion success. From then on I was known as the fashionable one. It was a title I wore with honour and pride.
As I progressed from preschool to primary school my leopard fetish continued to grow thanks to the 1990s pop explosion of five girls from England. ‘I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.’ That’s right; the Spice girls.
I had leopard print trimmed jackets, skirts, shoes, underwear and even a leopard print bathing suit. Although I had more of a thing for Posh Spice I will admit that my obsession for leopard print lead me to looking a little more of the Scary persuasion.
Fast-forward to the present day and a recent encounter with an old college classmate further cemented leopard print as part of my fashion identity. ‘My God I’ll never forget that leopard print dress!’ Ok, so these may have been the words of a leering and very drunk man but it confirms the power of leopard print and is perhaps the reason why I love it so much. After three years together, everyday in a classroom, the only thing he remembered was me in a slightly (only slightly mind) provocative Dolce & Gabbana number. In retrospect a straight jacket would have probably been more comfortable, but then again who needs to be able to eat, sit down or even breathe when one can look ‘sexy’. Not to mention the fact that, at least in Ireland, to be ‘sexy’ is a sin (along with missing Mass on a Sunday, burning the potatoes and being sober).
It’s not rocket science and I never was very good at maths but man plus woman in tight fitting animal print dress equals… well lets say… a very strong reaction. I guess this where it all gets a little bit National Geographic. I am talking about the whole Caveman Cavewoman theory. The running around in animal skins not unlike the animals they hunted and killed. It’s all very Tarzan and Jane. It seems it only takes a flash of leopard print to ignite some kind of primitive instinct and to reduce our modern day, moisturized man to his primitive hunter-gatherer beginnings.
And so it seemed like the appropriate choice for my graduation from University. Of course I did intend to classy it up a bit. The dress fell to just above my knee, had long sleeves and a high neckline. The leopard did all the work. Even being completely covered up I felt conservative but not boring, exactly what I wanted. At least when I look back at the photos thirty years from now I won’t be completely mortified because somehow I have the feeling I will still be strutting around in some piece of leopard. Not that I plan on being that mutton dressed as lamb older lady squeezed into a leopard number, but hey then again it could be fun!
However there are those certain important days when I must control this fetish and force myself to abstain, because the thought of a leopard print wedding dress does not bode well. Though I am sure our dear friend Roberto Cavalli could whip up something fabulous!
Perhaps on a more morbid note I would like to be buried in something leopard. For me it expresses my person style, classy yet with an edge. Something that cries screw you world I am going to have fun no matter how serious life gets. For me everyone should have that one piece of clothing that makes them feel a little more wild, a little more free, a little more MEOOOWWWWWW……
I remember the day I went to your office and you offered me an unpaid internship in your department, which I politely refused. You were the sales manager of a French fashion brand whose profile had risen immensely in about two years and you were probably wondering how you could use me. I started working in the showroom a few weeks later.
You only wore black, sometimes white. You body was boyish and because you hated your legs you hid your hips under masculine trousers. You had no breasts, but then again, fashion witches don’t have any. These creatures are sad remnants from the greed decade and still think that being like a man always guarantees success.
You walked around the showroom in Manolo Blahnik sandals and said they fit like slippers. The only smell you could tolerate was one Diptyque candle at a time and you flashed your Hermès watch for your fortieth birthday. Nothing truly original there, but you certainly thought you were the pinnacle of taste.
Fear reigned in your office. People were wondering what mood you’d be in every time you walked past them. I was young and naive then. I talked to you and looked after you, making sure everything was the way you wanted. I even gave you neck massage. It was nice at first, but then you demanded it every morning and it became a bore.
You were like a walking billboard for cynicism. You made fun of the clients who ordered the collection and laughed at the journalists who came in. Sometimes you made me laugh so hard I had to run down to the basement and hide. You had no respect for anyone, including yourself.
You were like the naughty girl who never did her homework. Part of your talent was to surround yourself with people who worked their asses off—for your approval. You really relied on them but you were also a control freak.
We had our honeymoon, and it didn’t last. One thing about cynical people is that they are often smart and witty, but their sinister face eventually creeps up. I remember how you shouted at me one season, because the security guards blocked entry to the show venue and you couldn’t get in. I was just talking about how good a sequined jacket looked on the runway and you completely lost it, insulting me for about ten minutes. I had no idea what was going on, but soon understood you were just a sad bitch.
Power was the only thing that kept you going. It fed you like blood feeds vampires. You smoked like a chimney and I would probably have had cancer if I had worked for you another year. The smell after one day of work was suffocating. You also hardly ate anything, probably because you were so focused on your thighs. I was famous for being the first employee to approach the delicious buffet, which was laid out every morning. People probably made fun of me because I loved the food, and I didn’t give a shit. At least I looked healthy. You put your face on every morning before your first appointment and looked like a monster after three days.
You were terribly insecure. I used to get on very well with an American buyer and when you noticed that we worked hard while having fun, you made sure I never had an appointment with her again. Maybe it was my kindness that beat you. Whatever it was, you were on a mission to frustrate others, since you didn’t think much of yourself. And everyone knew it.
I remember the day you passed out before an important client came in. I had to take over while you looked like death and I honestly thought you were going to have a stroke. I think you were slowly beginning to lose your power. After that appointment the fashion director asked me to come to his office and the conversation started to feel like a job interview. What was going on? Were you completely out of it? And what made this guy think I wanted your job? I guess no one had a clue about what to do precisely, as is often the case in this maddening business.
The glory days didn’t last long. Despite all your lies, persistent scheming and bad faith, the new owners of the brand decided to close the fashion house down. I was no longer working with you when it happened, but I heard that you were calling buyers and crying over the phone, which was quite pathetic. Dignity was never your forte.
That’s the thing about witches. They fool everyone for a while, but one day it’s over. I knew you’d never have a job like that again, and you never did. It was time for me to move on and learn about other things in life.
I’m glad we met.
WHERE MY CHILDHOOD DREAMS COME TRUE: NOW I GOT SO HOT I GET PAID TO ROLL IN DIRT
Today I modeled for Baptiste Viry's SS 2010 lookbook. Baptiste is talented, French, dark and tall. And no, he's not even gay.
I've only realized this by the fifth meeting, making a huge ass of myself in front of the client (him).
He designs mens accessories for women, so he picked a boyish looking model to pose for him. He eventually realized my biceps looked trannylicious on film, so he's asked the photographer to airbrush the shit outta me.
I totally dig the result.
Baptiste's work has been featured on ELLE and other magazines, and I was lucky enough to get paid to wear his stuff while tossing half naked on the floor, as the photographer gently rubbed dust on my face.
- PART 2/
WHERE MY PRE-TEEN MEMORIES COME BACK TO HAUNT ME: I USED TO LOOK SO BAD THE TEACHER GAVE ME A COMB
The Top Models from the Nineties are back. Claudia is back; Eva is back; Helena is back; Naomi, like herpes, just won't go away.
Back in the Nineties, I was no top model, but you know what?
I remember my tragic first steps in the modeling industry, and I might as well share these with you, if you don't mind.
I was 16 in 1996 (I'll spare you the maths: I'm 30 now), and my mother invited a friend over for dinner. A fashion photographer, Giorgio. He was dark, tall, and not even gay. And he was the first man besides my father to tell me that I looked hot.
How could I forget?
I reached my final height at age 12 (5' 8,5" /1,75 mt.), but my feet decided to grow faster; at the time when usually girls borrow their mother's pumps and look all cute because they cannot walk in them, I could actually borrow my uncle's shoes, and go hiking.
My mother didn't wear heels anyway, but she looked amazing.
I remember the look on the face of men when she'd enter a room. An all-Italian beauty with long, black, curly hair and hazelnut eyes, whose delicate features were covered in freckles, and whose voluptuous body gave the shape of an hourglass to any potato sack she'd wear.
As for me, I'd give the shape of a potato sack to anything she'd buy me.
The worst part is, she'd purchase mini-me versions of her own wardrobe, so I got to see exactly how much worse I made anything she owned look.
I asked her one day: "Mom? Why does this skirt look all droopy on me?" She looked past her book and she just whispered softly "'Because you have no hips, sweet pie."
I tried to make my hips fuller by pulling them apart with my bare hands.
Despite doing so, the largest part of my body were still my knees.
Back then, I looked like a homeless person for as long as I can remember.
My mother would buy me clothes that were too big for me "So you get to wear them longer," and I'd wear the same pair of pants until it got so short I looked like Pinocchio.
She used to braid my hair, and it actually looked cute for an hour or so. Then my thin hair would turn into a gipsy-esque do, which would have been the perfect look for asking random people for their spare change.
If I got to sleep at my fathers', he wouldn't undo my braids, so the following day I'd just go back to school with the same hairdo. My teacher gave me a comb one day.
She probably thought my parents couldn't afford one.
Then, one day in the summer of 1996, Giorgio said that I should start modeling.
Everyone laughed their heads off.
The following day, mother took me to an agency in Milan.
At Riccardo Gay, they got me waiting amongst heavenly creatures that were talking on their cell phone—which weighted more than themselves by then—looking glamorously bored.
I tried to emulate them.
I knew for sure how to look bored—hours of Latin verbs conjugation became suddenly of some use—but I couldn't grasp the fashion in it.
Pouting while applying lipstick, while crossing and un-crossing long legs, while whining on the phone, whilewhile pointing at a picture... I've never been that multitasking, so I just sank in the sofa and tried my best to look glamorously bored until a gay, tanorexic guy came to pick me up and bring me into a dark room.
Next thing I knew, he was measuring my ass with a tailor's tape. He told my mom that I had to lose weight on my hips and buttock, if I ever wanted to start modeling.
flipping through a gossip magazine, So it turns out my hips did grow somewhere between age 12 and 16, and I wish I knew the darn day they hit the right size, 'cuz there must have been one, right?!
- PART 3/
WHERE I FINALLY GET AN AGENT, AND LEARN IMPORTANT STUFF ABOUT MODELING
To make a long story short, I lost some weight and got myself an agency in Milan. My main booker was Ricciarda, an old, skinny lady whose only gods were Skinny, Skinnier and She Should Start Smoking, She'd Lose Some Weight.
She'd only eat bread-crumbs at lunch, so the girls nick named her Roach-arda.
The other booker was Gandhi, a gay guy who'd show us videos of top models to teach us the catwalk. He'd always fast-forward on Claudia Schiffers' part, because she walked like....
- "... a drunken milkmaid at the Oktoberfest."
- "... The Mafia's given her some concrete shoes."
- "... the runway is covered in ants, and she bet with Naomi she can crush'em all."
- "... Catwalk is actually intended for cats."
My modeling career never took off for a few different reasons, and by a few different reasons I mean I invested on a degree instead of a nosejob.
Thirteen years later I am indeed a PhD, my nose grew bigger (but that doesn't cost a penny) and I keep getting modeling jobs out of nowhere!
Back in 1998 nobody saw avant-garde when looking at me, but a chick with deep inset eyes, broad shoulders and an Italian nose.
In 2010 I still have the same face, and on top of this I am kinda old BUT NOW with a half shaved skull and a pair of studded Docs I have unique features, my body is androgynous and f**ck it, let's just face it: my nose will keep growing until I pass.
Nevertheless, I am now getting paid to wear Margiela's!
I'm currently wearing their latest runway collection, which includes 100% latex blouses, floating waistline pants, wolf fur coats and other amenities, and I intend to write a post on the life of us girls at the showroom.
They have a tradition of wild casting, and by wild casting I mean picking up from the street trannies, rockstars, punks and half-eaten bags of Cheesy Poofs.
But most of us are just punks.
It’s February 1989 and my grandmother is sitting in one of the red velvet chairs in the Jean-Paul Gaultier shop on rue Vivienne. Today is my thirteenth birthday and it looks like she’s in the mood for spoiling me. We have just walked past the till downstairs and headed to the first floor where the menswear department is located. I can’t take my eyes off this huge digital clock on the wall. I love the glass cabinets, the quiet atmosphere and the velvet hangers. Everything seems so perfect.
The whole experience is quite intimidating and I’m panicking a little bit, but my grandmother seems unfazed. She’s chatting to the sales assistant who looks like one of the catwalk models. He’s tall, with longish dark hair, bushy eyebrows and a Southern accent, Spanish perhaps. The Spring Summer show is projected on a huge video screen and some of the men’s clothes are incredible. I’ve never seen anything like this before — peach chiffon shirts with lace edging, double-breasted pinstripe jackets with matching trousers and lightweight viscose knits that are almost see-through. This is so much better than the Junior Gaultier shop. My hands caress each piece carefully, trying not to attract the sales assistant’s attention.
“Do you want to try this one on?” he says, with a deep, masculine voice.
I’m looking at my grandmother, expecting a sign of approval. She nods accordingly.
“Okay, I’ll try it on.”
The sales assistant rushes to the changing room where he hangs the t-shirt I have picked. I can barely hide my joy and blush a little bit as I watch him close the heavy, metallic door.
It’s a dark red cotton t-shirt with someone’s face printed on it. Initially, I can’t really tell whether it’s a man or a woman, but I think it’s a man with long hair. There is a sentence printed on it that reads “I am a poor and lonesome designer”. I’m looking at the price tag and it’s not that expensive. Actually, it looks great on and the colour suits me, I think. I slowly open the changing room door.
“Oh oui, Philippe, j’adore!” says my grandmother excitedly. “Ce sera mon cadeau pour ton anniversaire.”
I can’t even remember what happens next. I’m probably hyperventilating or in a state of complete bliss. Does life get any better than this? My first Gaultier t-shirt! And what an amazing collection! It is so incredible and I think he’s such a great designer. I want to be thirteen forever!
Last year, I visited my grandmother at her nursing home. She had developed Alzheimer’s disease and lost a lot of weight. She didn’t remember who I was, but mentioned my name a few times in her erratic speech. There were still moments where the excited little girl was back and her joy and enthusiasm were as winning as ever. She passed away last November.
I don’t think I’ve got the t-shirt anymore. I must have worn it to death and still had it in my twenties. It probably disappeared somewhere or got lost while moving out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my grandmother’s smile that day and the afternoon we spent together. It is a memory that I’ll cherish for a very, very long time.