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"Fashion fades, style is eternal"
This morning, I went for a run with an old school friend, Clare. We don’t meet up that often, but this doesn’t seem to matter. We compare notes on our lives, then carry on where we left off.
This afternoon, I was thinking about how much I admire her. We often had to write about ‘Someone I admire’, or ‘My hero’ as writing exercises at school. Most people would write about their mum or dad, a celebrity (or if the really wanted to win some favour) a teacher. I suppose by picking a friend I’m not that original, but hear me out.
Clare has always been clever, gorgeous, funny and creative, and in the past sometimes this and the attention it would get her would make me jealous. But this afternoon I have nothing but admiration and respect for her.
Last year she started a Fashion Journalism course at the London College of Fashion, (which sounds very prestigious if you are into fashion and a huge waste of time if you’re not). Some of our more “academic” friends ridicule Clare, but from what she’s told me her course sounds like harder work than my languages degree. This seems to be due to the competitive nature of the business, the few satisfying jobs being snatched up by only the very best of the best (or the most well-connected). On top of this, every weekend she walks the floors of Selfridges wearing (if her boss has his way) high heels and a revealing dress for eight-hour shifts of what she calls ‘a dating agency with some sales thrown in’. On the plus side, she gets lots of dates. On the downside, she also gets creepy old men asking her to come to Paris with them.
But what’s so admirable about that? Surely, anyone could it. For many girls and gay men, it’s their dream lifestyle.
No, what I admire about Clare is her individuality, and how a year at fashion school hasn’t changed her a bit. For starters, she got into LCF on pure merit. She isn’t related to the Queen, she’s never been an obscure Eurovision entry and she’s never owned a designer handbag.
A year on, and she’s still my personal style advisor but she’s also still my down-to-earth friend Clare, who can offer wise advice, humorous anecdotes and practical solutions. She doesn’t snort cocaine, sleep with famous people or invent identity issues to network, get the best jobs or make herself ‘interesting’ (unlike many of her new friends). I cannot honestly say that in the same position I would have stuck to my morals. Although she tells me she is getting bored of retail work, and thinks it unfair that these people get all the good opportunities in life, she doesn’t appear bitter or fail to acknowledge her own shortcomings.
Together, we discuss ugly tattoos. I work with a guy with tasteless skulls all down one arm, she studies with a girl with a huge Chanel logo down the other (because she’s thought about what’s important to her in life – fashion – and “the Chanel logo is the ultimate symbol in fashion, right?”).
When we were at school, Clare and some of my other friends were on local television because they almost won a young business competition with their customised accessories business, ‘Bits & Bows’. The first prize was a trip to New York, and they were pretty disappointed not to win. When I was clearing out my room the other week I found an old business card of theirs, with a Yves Saint Laurent quote written on it:
‘Fashion fades, style is eternal’.
Without knowing it, Clare encompasses this quote. While others sleep with footballers one minute and get garish tattoos the next in order to “be someone”, she glides stylishly through life sticking to her beliefs and dreams unfazed. And still finding the time to go for a run with me along Snaresbrook pond every now and again.