This photograph is from a book on St Laurent. The girls are sitting in white coats waiting for their outfits but with hair, make-up and accessories done and ready. I imagine it is prior to a final fitting or rehearsal. It bears witness to the perfection achieved by one man and his team; what TS Eliot, with regard to William Blake, called “an extraordinary labour of simplification.” Each woman is as beautiful as the next, none more beautiful.
This was told to me by Andreas. As a child, Andreas had a deep attraction to fashion and when as a teenager he discovered St Laurent, the attraction was transformed to a passion. I don’t believe anyone has ever appreciated St Laurent as much as Andreas. Andreas is an extremely visual person; he is a see-er – seeing, he understands. He is a perfectionist and by experience he knows in advance the effort each undertaking will cost. It looks easy but it is the most difficult thing in the world. (This professionalism, this knowing in advance, causes Andreas untold stress. That is why I feel like his assistant – I must be there to help him through all the hoops he’s prepared to put himself through. I just take one step at a time – I’m calm. But then, I wouldn’t tackle half the things Andreas is prepared to do.)
Tuesday, 1 January: Andreas and I went to work. If we are to get to our Gold Label show by the end of February, I will have to concentrate on fashion only. You remember that Andreas and I work separately at first when we start a new collection but then we must come together to start fixing things. I suggested that he look to St Laurent for inspiration and he is ever more astonished. We are both getting a feeling for the collection. We seem each to have grasped something of the elegance and adventure of the fashion of the Middle Ages from our book of reproductions of illuminated manuscripts – these illuminations were of course the most profuse artistic expression of the time.
We are excited but we have so far chosen only half the fabrics. Cynthia will have to deal with all the wonderful things that are coming to us and starting to happen around the Climate Revolution (note from Cynthia: We’ve already had the first meeting with the new Climate Revolution team; they’ve come from different backgrounds and disciplines, from NGOs, journalism, filmmaking, business – all volunteers full of enthusiasm and radical ideas. You’ll be hearing more from us soon.)
There are two important tasks I must put on hold until March, one concerns Julian Assange and the other is the super important letter, making clear the connection between climate change and the economy – and you can’t stop climate change unless you connect the economy to it. (note from Cynthia: Pamela just sent us news about a film being made by her friend, Avi Lewis and his partner, Naomi Klein – connecting environmental activism with social justice and economic activism. It sounds like just what’s needed; we’re thinking along the same lines.)
Tuesday, 8 January: Our yoga class has been on holiday and I was so glad to treat myself again.
At 4.00 pm we went to the English pre-collection presentation of our “Man” collection which will catwalk in Milan. It was sponsored by Harrods in their depot where their big green lorries were parked around an installation of Joe Rush’s Mutoid Waste Company stuff – my favourite, the horse, was there – and models posed. (We will continue working with Joe for Climate Revolution events). We were right next to the Ecuadorian embassy. You remember: Julian wakes up at 4.00 am when the Harrods depot grills roll up and the depot jumps into noisy life. So I was wearing my “I am Julian Assange t-shirt.
I interviewed about Climate Revolution and, of course, Julian. These young lad models did not know about Julian or Wikileaks. I told them, “Get a Life! Engage with the world.” And I gave them the two spare t-shirts I had with me; friends who wear them tell me they create a load of interest.
End January: Because my fashion work schedule which has taken up the whole month is still on-going, I am writing this last bit of the Diary at the end of the month and will limit it to the most important events.
On 13 January, we had our MAN fashion show in Milan. In the evening, my friend Gian Mauro again hosted a party in his penthouse. I talked to some of the boys who had modelled and came along – Jimmy, Lawson, Duncan and Miles. I was so impressed. They really did know what was going on in the world. (They were absolutely clear on the demolition of the Twin Towers. Here are 2 links about the demolition. Link1 Link2) They did not believe the propaganda of the status quo and trusted no government. (I know poor kids who’ve had a raw deal don’t trust governments, e.g. alienation produced by a rotten political-economic system http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6312383, but these young men aged 21-24 were well informed and not too poor; two of them were on the point of getting married.)
They made me think again about “Punk”. The Metropolitan Museum in New York will put on an exhibition about punk this year and people want my opinion.
Since punk collapsed for me with the death of Sid Vicious and the breakup of the Sex Pistols, I have been contemptuous of the movement in general and in particular of its token rebels and career gurus who claim social significance for it. I think they’re all posers.
I realized it wasn’t enough, jumping around wearing safety pins and a “Destroy” t-shirt. You need ideas to be subversive. That is why the movement folded: the punks didn’t have any because ideas don’t come on a plate – you have to get them yourself by becoming engaged with the world and its past.
After punk Malcolm and I then did our Pirate Collection. The idea was “get off the island” (insular mentality of England) and plunder the world and its past for ideas. I see how our clothes, our fashion, represented our aspirations. We changed the look of the urban guerrilla with its black bondage for the pirate with gold teeth and ringlets and historical dress.
Talking to my new friends in Milan – at the moment taking advantage of their good looks to model – through them I see now how effective the punk message had been. Punk planted an attitude: Don’t Trust Governments, Ever. The punk stance gave young people a political focus. It was a stand against the mismanagement of the world and the corruption of power and the destruction it causes. That’s what punk was for me. And that’s what anarchy meant to me – that people would have more control of their lives and more control of government. It is the same reason I write this Diary. By the way, my friends really care about what they wear in defiance of conformity.
On Wednesday, 16 January, Andreas and I went to the fifth birthday celebration and fundraising dinner for the Rose Theatre, held at the Hurlingham Club. Judi Dench’s costume from A Midsummer night’s Dream was auctioned and we contributed a prize of two fashion show tickets which raised a lot of money.
I was sitting with other theatre goers, talking to journalist and author Mihir Bose who made the following point which he put so well I asked him to email it to me:
“The major problem for the environment is that the world has just one economic model. A consequence of the Western reshaping of the world using this model is that every family now wants to have a lifestyle similar to America, with two cars and innumerable gadgets. The rising middle classes of China and India also aspire to this. The planet’s resources cannot sustain such growth, but there are no viable alternative models.”
Climate Revolution is working towards a new ethic, one which involves a hierarchy of cultural values. Particularly it challenges the idea that wealth = consumption and aquisition. We need quality and less quantity of crap manufacturers, we need more services e.g. teachers and thinkers, then money will circulate in benificial ways.
Two more points: I loved the snow. We had a short blackout and my phone was cut off the whole weekend. Andreas went to Paris to check venues for our coming fashion show and he couldn’t contact me because I don’t have a mobile. I took a real break and stayed in the whole weekend.
Last: You must go to the Manet exhibition at the Royal Academy (see details in “The Latest”). You have three equally great painters in the 19th century – Goya 1746-1828, Matisse 1869-1954 and Manet who is in the middle, 1832-83.
Manet came from a well-off family and that is how he continued to paint during his short life – he died at 51 from syphilis – he sold hardly any paintings. Instead he was notorious because his paintings caused outrage. Now he is a national treasure of France: Paris wouldn’t be Paris without Manet. This is his most famous painting, “Olympia”. It is not in the RA exhibition because Paris will not part with it.
Speaking of nudes, I went to my friend Juergen Teller’s photo exhibition which opened with three giant nudes of me! Juergen is a splendid photographer, it’s a big honour.