How to get ahead in Fashion, by Stephen Jones
Most self-help books are rather like naff cosmetic pages in dull women’s magazines; ‘Disguise your faults and highlight your good points, then you’ll get your man’. But what they get wrong is for the creative individual, the reverse is true. To be fucked up is essential. Of course Joan Crawford beat her children, on balance she was an amazing actress. Van Gogh cut his ear off but was a wonderful painter. We know about Kate’s chemical problems but that reality is what makes her such an icon. Was Chanel an egomaniac? Why is Karl Lagerfeld so skinny? What people never explain is that creativity is Abnormal expression; Normal expression is working at a bank and having 2.5 children. So there are certain points that it might be good to contemplate:
Do you really imagine that normal balanced people would come up with unusual ways of presenting themselves? What was the cocktail of dysfunction that spurred Vivienne Westwood to come up with punk? Was it dissatisfaction with the status quo or an egotistical boyfriend and no money?
Be a homosexual
Not completely essential but boy, it helps. Why not turn those parent problems and feelings of rejection into a ballgown? It will have attitude, a point of view and you might look great in it too. And remember having a fashion show is like giving birth – and your legacy.
Be an egomaniac
Do you have a firm idea of what’s right and wrong, what’s good and bad taste, what you like and what you hate, and find it strange that other people are just ‘wrong’? Why don’t they understand that it’s all about me me me and not about them them them? Self-belief tinged with an unhealthy amount of manic obsessiveness and a sense of melodrama is crucial to success in fashion. Shy violet? No, precious exotic orchid.
Those glamourous, urbane people in fashion magazines don’t have a clue what it’s like growing up in Taunton or Coventry. Or maybe that’s where they are from in the first place. If you are Goth (or similar), hanging out in a shopping centre on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, realise that your feeling of despondency mixed with anger, is in fact fabulous creative energy and use it to get the hell out of there. P.S. Remember the fashion business is completely about re-inventing yourself and in fact we all do it every six months, so you’ll fit in just fine.
Ok, you are no oil painting, but with the help of cosmetics and hair dye, you can paint on an interesting New You. (have you noticed that larger girls always have fabulous manicures, or that awkward, strange looking guys look rockstar gorgeous in black eye pencil?) Suppress those ideas of wanting to be pretty or classically handsome; either you are born with it or not.
As Edith Sitwell said, “If you are a greyhound, what is the point of trying to look like a Pekinese?”
Ok, it’s a sweeping statement, but we are talking about creative expression here, not academic prowess. Was Einstein a fashion God? No. Being clever can get in the way of your muse, you might analyse too much, think that fashion is narcissistic, ephemeral and ecologically unsound without realising that a bit of blind ego, verve and fabulousness can propel you on to the front page of i-D and Vogue. If you are a secret bookish Balenciaga, keep that all on tap for your memoirs and your retrospective at the V&A.
Au revoir, good luck and smile for the cameras!