A few months ago, my friends Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones asked me to be a part of their Global Womanhood Study, a short film of several interviews of a diverse group which would be shown at their AW18 show at London Fashion Week. I was delighted to be a part of the project as not only are Rob and Catherine good friends, but also I’ve watched as their label has soared from season to season. It’s very gratifying when talented, lovely people achieve the success they deserve.
They invited me to a studio in central London to film the interview, where they asked three questions:
What has been the most intensely joyous moment of your life so far?
What has been the most intensely sad moment of your life so far?
What gives you hope for the future?
I gave these questions some thought, and although there have been many joyful moments in my life, my wedding day, the day my first book was published, the moment I found out I was pregnant, I realised that the most intense experiences of joy and sadness were actually occurred at the same time. I spoke about the last conversation I had with my dad, when he told me how much he loved me, how he thought I was ‘the most beautiful girl in the world’, surrounded by the beeping machinery of the intensive care unit. When my son was born, he spent the first few days of his life in the neonatal ICU and I realised that history was repeating itself. Both times I was overwhelmed with joy and pain at the exact same moment.
Fast forward a month or so, and I found myself sitting in the front row at the Teatum Jones AW18 show, next to the other women who were featured in the film. The lights went down and our faces were projected onto a stark white wall. There we all were, 25 of us, talking about the diverse but binding experiences of our lives. It was strangely moving, to be united with a group of strangers at a fashion show. I believe that the unavoidable cost of love is loss, in fact the more you love the more vulnerable you are to grief. However, it is better to pay the toll than not to love at all. If you can be at peace with this life, is considerably easier. A recording of my voice echoed around the room, talking about the inevitability of grief, as the models glided by. This was the point when I really lost it. I’m not used to crying at fashion week and I’ve never been so glad to have my camera to hide behind.
But what of the clothes? This season Catherine and Rob consolidated their signature looks; exaggerated sleeves, sweeping silk dresses and pleated skirts, masculine tailoring and vivid prints and textiles. The collection was a celebration of life, in all it’s complexity. The vibrant pinks and reds the delicate shades of cornflower blue were emblematic of those joyous times spoken about in the film. There were inky shades of navy in acknowledgement of the struggles universal to all of us. The show ended with angelic whites, delicate yet bold, representing eternal hope and optimism.
There aren’t many designers who can merge commercial imperative with genuine emotion. They are inspired by the best of humanity, while never ignoring the darkness that sits in constant juxtaposition. Every Teatum Jones collection has authenticity woven into the fabric.