Sunday, 10 July 2011

A Little Grace, A Little Arizona, and A Lot of Vogue!

(The fur collars, cashmere coats and muted autumnal colours of the shoot were lifted from the Dior A/W '11 show, image from

In my 18 years of (limited) experience, I have come to realise that opportunities are similar to those forever- clichéd buses: you have to wait ages for one, but then they all come along at once. Despite the fact that I'm a 'get out and grab 'em' kind of girl when it comes to opportunities- I am a strong believer in Thomas Jefferson's observation that "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have"- this week's developments definitely show that, sometimes, all the opportunities have come at once. Maybe after a run of unfortunate developments, in this case terrible exams and unsuccessful job interviews, luck, kismet , karma- whatever you like to call it- is finally on my side.

Picture the scene: a bland Thursday night at home. I've spent the best part of the afternoon and evening in my best non- fashion clothes (I won't describe them; they're too awful) and have occupied myself with scrubbing my skirting boards and shifting furniture, in an attempt to style my room along the lines of, the blog that I'm currently obsessed with.

The phone rings. It's Johnny, the husband of the woman I do work experience with (more about that to come!), who works as a location manager. He's had a last minute request from American Vogue to do a 'Warhorse' inspired shoot on the moors, directed and styled by the one and only Grace Coddington. Good enough to remember that I'm an aspiring fashion journalist, he asks me if I'd like to go along. My reaction? It involved shortened breath, a choking action and barely suppressed screams of excitement. Okay, so my screams weren't suppressed for long; as soon as I had hung up I sprinted around the house, literally jumping up and down with excitement. I was going to a Vogue shoot. VOGUE. With Grace Coddington and her assistants and wardrobe and undoubtedly famous fashion photographer; all my luck had suddenly and unexpectedly come in one giant Vogue windfall, and I don't think I've ever been happier.

(The one and only Grace Coddington, image from

So the first question that immediately sprang to mind was, of course, what on earth do I wear to a Vogue shoot? With Grace Coddington, of all people! She's just one step down from the Empress of Fashion, Anna Wintour! I immediately discounted my entire wardrobe; none of it was good enough, none of it would do. Had I not thought and planned for this possibility my entire life? Why had I not planned, bought, washed and ironed my perfect outfit for my first Vogue shoot? With these questions racing around my head, I contemplated the obvious criteria that my outfit would have to cater for.

1) It was a stormy night, and looked to be just as wet the next day. The shoot was going to be somewhere on the moor, meaning that Wellies and something at least slightly waterproof would have to be brought into the equation.

2) On the other side of the coin, there was the possibility that the weather might become scorchingly hot later in the day, meaning that trousers and a waterproof would be exceptionally uncomfortable, as well as looking rather silly.

3) This was a Vogue shoot, for goodness sake. With Grace Coddington. I had to be dressed to impress, to stand out from the crowd. In my imagination (usually wild, it has to be said) I saw her see me and my wonderfully chic, stylish outfit (as yet not found) and say 'Who is that girl? She is so put- together, so sartorially correct for a day on the rainy/boiling moors, I must employ her immediately!'

In the end I rejected the maxi and midi skirts, the jeans (Voguettes surely don't wear jeans), the chinos and the colour- blocked dress, and settled on my new Topshop high- waisted shorts, paired neatly with a Breton top, under which the polka- dot collar and cuffs of a shirt peeked through. I accesorized with a simple brown leather belt, brogues and a pink silk headscarf, with my Wellies and trench coat to be kept in Johnny's car for rainy emergencies. In hindsight, maybe it wasn't the best outfit; when I got to the shoot everyone was indeed wearing jeans, cashmere knits, and giant, grungy parkas or leather jackets. Ah well, at least I didn't go for that dress.

The day of the shoot dawned with a weak sun trying to force his way through the clouds. I can't say I had the best night's sleep, as I was literally trembling with excitement and adrenaline for the coming day. Grace Coddington's fiery red hair lit up the tumble-down, definitely unglamorous, outbuildings of the old farmhouse, where the first location was, I had my first taste of life in a fashion magazine. They were shooting Arizona Muse (isn't that the most incredible name for a model?) in exquisitely cut and tailored Dior; in the wardrobe department there were also sublime McQueen dressses and fetish harnesses, a Dior cape in green wool, Louis Vuitton fetish heels, numerous Rick Owens leather jackets, divine Ann Demeulemeester deconstructed blazers, Marc Jacobs polka- dot pencil skirts.... I was in fashion nirvana, drooling over all of the clothes.

(The Dior cape)

(The McQueen fetish harness)

(The McQueen dress, from

(Mmm Rick Owens' leathers)

Sadly, I didn't get to see Grace Coddington scattering her fashion magic over the clothes, making them into heavenly outfits. The shoot was mostly a closed set, meaning that nosy, jobless bystanders- such as myself- were kept well out of the way. Instead, I spent most of my time helping out the location manager with such things as finding a leaf blower to beg, borrow or steal, as Grace requested a wind machine, pestering the stylist's assistant with numerous questions about how she got her job, and hanging out with a certain Jeremy Irvine. The star of Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's classic 'Warhorse' is resolutely normal, having just been plucked out of the stage school black hole to become The Next Big Thing, and is in fact simply lovely. He and I also proved extremely bad on a Scrabble team together- apparently he is dyslexic, but really, with this blog and an upcoming degree in English, I have no excuse! Also just lovely is Arizona Muse, who I was infinitely star struck by, having followed her career develop to new highs for many months now. She is gorgeous. The simple epitome of beautiful: razor sharp cheekbones, a high brow, bow shaped lips and the clearest of eyes. When she introduced herself to me I believe I forgot my own name for quite a minute. We discussed things such as her son, the benefits of country living vs. living in the city and the joys of Paris. Arizona, as well as the rest of the American Vogue team, had come directly from the last of the Paris Couture Shows; this knowledge, that they had been at the couture shows- or in Arizona's case, in them- that I had so greedily consumed on just a few days earlier, made me quite giddy with excitement.

So my day with Vogue continued, as I ran errands, chatted with Jeremy and asked absolutely everyone how they got their jobs. Unfortunately the introduction with Grace never emerged; she had her hands full with her day job styling one of the world's top models, and the handsome, up and coming young film star. But this despite this, the very fact that I was in the same room (marquee, courtyard, field, whatever) as Grace Coddington, watching her work, aged 18, has to be the greatest opportunity of my life. I was surrounded by the clothes, shoes and accessories that I drool over daily, had a chat with Arizona Muse, spent the afternoon with Jeremy Irvine and experienced the world that I love and dearly hope to be part of in a few years; all in all, the luckiest day of my life.

(The lovely Jeremy Irvine, image from

(The infeasibly gorgeous Arizona, image from

Actually, scrap that. I've just been to my first Vogue shoot. I am part of that world!

(Unless stated, all images are from

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