Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Friday, 16 May 2008

R. A case study in thoughtful dressing

Regular readers will be familiar with Top Baby Lia, she of the Agnes b cherry dress. The day before yesterday, Lia's mother, R. rang me to tell me of the Rick Owens dress she has just bought and to point it out on the Net a Porter website.

R. has for some time been a source of great interest to me. She is in her early thirties and describes herself, with a degree of irony, as a 'grey bureaucrat.' She works in the public sector arts field and does not have a large income. Yet R. only ever buys designer clothes. She was shopping at Emporio Armani when she was a teenager. Her parents are not rich. How does she do it? She buys, she says, very few clothes. But only the best clothes.

R. studied fine art at Cambridge. She has a strong and extremely definitive visual sense, as does her partner, an architect. She claims that she has a few things from H&M, but I have never seen any evidence of this. What she does have is a wardrobe full of stunning enduring clothes that can be worn season after season. Once, I took her with me to Anya Hindmarch so she could use my press discount. It took her an hour to choose a bag, an hour in which she looked at it from every single angle, discussed it, thought it through. No, I like it, I'll take it. This was shopping as hard work.

I asked her once if she could settle for more but cheaper clothes. She sounded puzzled, as if I were asking her if she might consider leaving her two-year-old daughter unattended in the middle of Oxford Street for a couple of hours while she went off to do something. The suggestion was insane.

Some people have nothing but lovely clothes and some of us have a wardrobe full of mistakes. And it seems you don't even have to be rich to be in the former category.

R. rang me last night to deny ever having stated that she owned anything from H&M. After some twenty minutes she conceded that it was true she had some Rakph Lauren for H&M trousers.

R. was also given a present by the Queen the day before yesterday. Yes, you read that right. HM Queen Elizabeth II gave her a gift with her own hands. It is a signed photo of herself and her husband in a Smythson frame. I think it's going to look lovely in the flat and look forward to seeing it next time I'm there. I suggested she could put it in Lia's bedroom and tell her the old couple are friends of her grandparents.