I am sitting here facing the great black gaping hole that is my suitcase and wondering what on earth I am going to put in it. I am about to leave for Paris, the fourth and final leg of the seasonal tour of fashion capitals. And I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!!
Now I know that is a ridiculous thing for someone in my position to say. I have a wardrobe stuffed with clothes. However, I’d also just like to point out that compared to most fashion editors, my wardrobe is quite modest. I still manage with a cupboard when many of my colleagues have a whole room.
I don’t really want more stuff. I’ve never found it solves anything. In fact I usually find the more I own the less I have to wear. Of course I shop and I update but before new stuff comes in I do a ruthless seasonal cull. (There’s a bag full of frilly Zara shirts and jackets with ludicrous shoulder pads in a bag at my feet and Oxfam-bound, as I write).
In years of applying the out/in rule I have made one big mistake: the floor-length, bottle green, satin back crepe, bias cut gown, unearthed at a John Galliano sample sale for £100, sold by me at Portobello market for £50, still gives me a painful pang 15 years on. I must have been momentarily insane. But I learned a valuable lesson. Eveningwear gets to stay (along with accessories and shoes). Apart from that, I have no regrets.
So back to packing for Paris. My system is failing me. The problem is that the sun is out but it’s blistering cold so I can’t get any of my new summer stuff out. Meanwhile the winter stuff I have is looking a little jaded because I have spent three weeks looking at next winter’s stuff. My favourite grey flannel peg trousers are no longer perfect: flared high-waisted ones are more now. My crisp white shirt is not crisp any more and anyway the masculine cotton no longer looks as good as a sexy charmeuse. My soft leather jacket should be more structured. And a fluffy Mongolian lamb gilet or a sheepskin aviator jacket would turn my jeans into ‘a look’ and be just the armour I need to face the fearsome French. I am having a massive trans-seasonal crisis.
By pure coincidence I have also received a draft copy of my will. I bought my house last year and have three kids so my financial advisor wants me to write one. And, wading through the gobbledegook about ‘chattels’ and ‘executors’, I started to wonder about my wardrobe and what, in all the years of buying and purging, would really last.
Top of the list is my Hermes Kelly bag, then there’s my dove grey, double-faced cashmere Prada coat, my YSL (original) black jersey cocktail dress, my Marni coat, my cream Chanel four-pocket jacket, my Manolo Blahnik evening shoes, my Alaia skirt with the kick pleats (twenty years old and still going strong), my Ralph Lauren chesterfield, my Jil Sander camel wrap coat and my Burberry trench.
Of all these things the Chanel jacket is the most recent purchase and that was another sample triumph two years ago. And it has occurred to me as I struggle to pack for the fourth fashion city, unsettled by a notebook full of undigested trends, flat broke and feeling the wrong side of forty, I am just going to take these old friends.
In any case, the catwalk has fallen in love with the classics again, and if I style it out the 20-year-old Prada coat could well be a so-hot-it’s-not-even-in-the-shops-yet Marc Jacobs. Anyway, I have no real yearning for a coat that makes me look like a robot or a dress that makes me look like a drum majorette. I’m feeling better already. So, to my trusted fashion friends I’ll add my J Brand Love Story jeans because I love the way they sit high on the waist with a long flared leg: the silhouette Phoebe Philo is pushing at Celine right now. I’ll take my Karen Millen over-the-knee suede boots (that everyone thinks are Prada). And as a nod to the new season, I’ll paint my nails Particuliere, Chanel’s fabulously beige new nail colour, that goes with absolutely everything.
In fact, I think I have just worked out the perfect packing list. Only thing is, if anything happens to my suitcase on the way you’ll hear me howling from Hounslow.