Many years ago I started a clothes scrapbook. I filled this with magazine, newspaper and flyer cuttings with images of how I wanted to look. I was 19 and still trying to figure out how to define my way of dressing. I wanted a definite purpose when I entered a charity shop, instead of endless ‘hmmmmmm, that could work…’s, and then walking out with a myriad of Cindy Lauper bin bag fulls. Cindy Lauper was eclectic; I wanted to be streamlined. Days, weeks, years had been spent either trying to be ‘only a hippy’, ‘only a goth’ or ‘only a 1950’s housewife’. It never worked. I couldn’t help blurring my edges with bits of different styles and decades. I wanted to be part of a gang that would define me, so that I could be pinpointed and understood. I wanted to be the ‘alternative’ girl that people would identify because they had seen it in a film. Like in ‘The Faculty’ when Clea DuVall plays the goth girl with a grumpiness to rival James Gandolfini. But she is visible, she is understandable; she wears the black garments, scowls loads and is drowning in black eyeliner. All of this is clear and pigeonhole-able. I was sick of being a naturally complex human being who could not understand the expression ‘be yourself’. Where on earth did I stand if one week I decided to be Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice, the next, Ricki Lake in John Waters‘ Hairspray and the next week the character of Angela from My So Called Life? No-one would ever fancy me; I had the dress sense of a schizophrenic. At 15 I just wanted to be a normal, identifiable character in an American TV show.
And here is where my scrapbook came into it’s glorious power. Without the idea of a certain style or fashion, or what I thought would make me more attractive, I compiled an archive of things I liked. There were no parameters of gender or decade or type of man I wanted to target (I dressed like The Strokes for one year when I was 17 and not one of them ever asked me out, all though Nick Valensi DID wink at me. At a gig. From afar. And he might have had sweat in his eye.). This scrapbook was a tool for figuring out how on earth I wanted to dress myself. After much analysis and pritt-stick I found my result: A cross between Brigitte Bardot and a female golfer.