Fashion Forward: Cheers!
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 20:09
In England, the word “Cheers” is thrown around a lot more than just before a toast—the British usually use it in parting or at the end of a conversation, to express good wishes or thanks.
For instance, one day this summer, it was the fourth time in the last hour I had answered the door to a big burly courier, suited up in a heavy-duty jumpsuit. He was delivering some sort of dainty designer shopping bag tied in a pretty bow filled with tissue paper and he bellowed “Cheers!” from behind his helmet as he hopped onto a motorcycle and rode away in the rain.
I just began my summer internship as a styling assistant for London-based fashion stylist Aldene Johnson, and it baffled me how bike couriers traveled from the other side of London, just to deliver one thing (this one in particular being a pair of Christian Louboutin heels).
Johnson is a freelance fashion stylist and personal stylist to music artist Florence + the Machine. As a freelance stylist, you never know what jobs will come up in the spur of the moment. So I was there to assist her in researching, prepping and gathering the looks of the different styling jobs happening simultaneously.
Florence Welch had just arrived from her Australian tour and was home in London to do a few gigs—the first being “The Andrew Marr Show,” a Sunday morning talk show. I unpacked the Australian tour suitcases filled with designer pieces lent for performances and promotions that needed to be returned to PR offices. Around 90 percent of the pieces we handled were borrowed from designers, so trafficking the samples coming in and out of the studio was serious job.
Our options for “The Andrew Marr Show” were a bit limited since it was a last minute gig, so we contacted designers for any options they could send, hence, the numerous deliveries that day. Johnson leaned towards more low-key ensembles appropriate for daytime television opposed to Welch’s usual dramatic stage outfits. We packed a variety of options that reflected her eccentric style: dresses in a yellow galactic print, an orange chiffon gown and a turquoise botanical printed blouse paired with a contrasting burnt orange ankle-length skirt by Hermione de Paula (the outfit Johnson was banking on for the show).
A day later, I was on my way to BBC Headquarters with a bit of nerves. Luckily I was familiar with the protocol after having assisted Johnson in the United States for the morning talk show “The View.” It would be a straightforward acoustic performance, the perfect first gig for me to transition into my internship. I was the first to arrive at 7 a.m., when the petite production assistant dressed in a black pant suit escorted me to the dressing room soon followed by Johnson, the harpist and hair and makeup.
Johnson went over with the others to see the stage, mentally coordinating the hues of the wardrobe options against the backdrop and lighting. After I steamed the pieces, prepared the undergarments and lined up an assortment of Nicholas Kirkwood and Christian Louboutin heels, I found myself in an empty dressing room with nothing left to do but wait. I plopped myself onto the leather couch as I observed the sleek, contemporary interior; I was too intimidated to touch anything, except not enough to keep me from helping myself to the fruit tray.
There was a knock on the door and I casually got up to answer what I assumed to be the production assistant. I peered through the peephole to find a fisheye image of a statuesque figure patiently waiting with her hands folded. A fur-collared coat draped over her shoulders covering a chiffon ankle-length day dress, as she looked down at her tan brogues. Shades of red, brown, orange and yellow worked harmoniously throughout her outfit complementing that iconic, fiery red hair. Needless to say, it was not the production assistant at the other side of the door.
I opened the door and greeted her good morning. The songstress smiled and entered with “Cheers,” in a soft, angelic voice.