The piece about clothes…

…I wrote for the Nike x MM newspaper is below. Try not to laugh.

COOL, Not Yummy

When I got pregnant, none of the people around me were doing the “family” thing: the only close mum-friend I had was thousands of miles away in Brazil, and although she was the coolest mum I knew with her arms covered in tattoos and a wardrobe filled with skinny jeans and Jordans, even she had left her baby phase behind years ago. In my world then, as it was since my teens, fashion was all about experimenting with crazy shoes and impractical fabrics, all about that thing that most mums loose as soon as babies come into the equation: having a choice.

So I started a frantic online hunt for a mum role model. The initial search was depressing: I was inundated with celeb pictures, all proudly wearing sky-high heels and lustrous hair while bouncing babies off their skinny hips. Their manicured universe was never an inspiration to me in the first place, so there wasn’t much point in looking any further. Then obviously there was the whole Yummy Mummy thing, with their skinny jeans and Alexander Wang jumpers, which only left me feeling like an inadequate, scruffy, lazy mess. Tales of school gate outfit competitions and cupcake & champagne parties sounded more alienating than inviting to me, and if I wasn’t finding the energy to get my hair done then, it would never happen after the baby. I looked at the busy mums pushing prams and toddlers up and down Kingsland Road, and as much as I admired their self-confidence and sense of purpose, they seemed to have forgotten their sense of fun – to me, part of having fun was through clothes, even if it was in a laid-back, messy, streetwise London way.

I decided then to tackle this mum-fashion challenge in my own rebellious (and a bit clumsy) way – starting with the bump. Instead of buying frumpy maternity clothes, I raided my fiancée’s wardrobe, wearing his old T-shirts and leather jackets that before were just the wrong side of oversized and now fitted perfectly. I gave up jeans and bought instead some very stretchy body-con skirts, as homage to Neneh Cherry in Top of The Pops. Heels slowly gave way to “flatforms”, which were kickly followed by sneakers.

I knew my life was going to change so much I wouldn’t have a spare second to care about clothes, but I was dead certain I wouldn’t change my slightly anarchic fashion essence. Obviously it did change, but surprisingly I am still the same – only now I have no time to waste worrying about what other people think. It seems that motherhood lent me a more authentic, but thoroughly pragmatic, edge. Once I passed the exhausting first months, during which I wore the same pair of (drainpipe rock’n’roll) jeans everyday, I soon discovered the joys of street-smart sportswear, loose, Japanese-designed trousers, and printed t-shirts (good to hide baby snot and sick). Not to mention a full-blown love affair with hi-top trainers rather than platforms – no matter how much I lack in the height department.

Although what I wear now is a more practical (and machine-washable) version of what I used to wear pre-motherhood (I like to describe it as GRUNGE), I still like my clothes to have some sort of understated loudness, if that sort of thing exists. In the end I realised that being myself, minus the late drinking and lie-ins, was already good enough for the mum role. I love being a scruffy tomboy with weird (that’s another word for “unwashed”) hair. Some people call me a hipster mum. I like to think of myself as a mum. A busy, proud, loving, caring, mum – only in cool threads.

 

“I do what I like and I like what I do”

I’m going through a bit of a back-to-square-one-moment. Slowing down, taking a step back, and looking at the big picture – a huge cliché, but you see, there are times in life that you simply can’t escape them.

So as well as getting my shit together around here, one of the things I’m doing is listing the people that inspire me, one way or another. At some point in my life I’ve wanted to be them or have what they have –  but now I’m a bit older and, uhm, a bit wiser, it’s not about doing what they do or go to where they are anymore: it’s just the plain admiration that’s important now.

One that I’ve just come across is the stylist, or she used to call herself, “sourceress” Zoe Bedeaux. She belongs to that group of 90s London stylists that used to create shoots for the Face and i-D on a shoe-string budget, without all the bollocks of having to please advertisers like today. It was all about discovering gems in flea-markets and creating one-of-a-kind pieces to get great images. I’ve just found an interview with her for Apartamento magazine (a mag I’m buying for the first time, in fact, and very inspiring: a sort of The Selby on paper), in which she shows her massive and enviable collection of treasures found all over the world. There were quite a few things she said that I think about myself as well quite a lot. One of them:

“When I create I do it for the sake of creating, not because it will lead to something. So often today this kind of attitude has been lost. People seem to create because it will lead to something or somewhere. The creation or work itself becomes almost a byproduct. When people ask me what I do I reply, “I do what I like, and I like what I do.” I refuse to be pigeon-holed  or reliant on the validation of others. In the creative realms I strongly feel that we have to be the arbiters of what we do otherwise true success will never be had.”

So, there. I’d like to say the same from now on.