The craziest thing

The September issue of US Elle has a mini-interview with Anne Slowey and Joe Zee to introduce the Elle fash-mag reality show, Stylista to the world. One of the questions is ‘what’s the craziest thing you ever had to do as an assistant?’ Which got me thinking about my own experiences. In the early days of computers (the early ’90s to be precise), my fashion director was still welded to her typewriter, so would type out her copy then edit it by physically cutting, rearranging and Sellotaping the paragraphs – liberally peppered with crossings-out, Tipp-Ex splodges and corrections – before handing it to me to decipher and retype on the computer. I also had to answer readers’ queries like ‘where can I buy one-legged tights?’ and ‘I’m 5’0″ and size twenty, who makes fashionable clothes for my size at an affordable price?’ (Answer: no-one.) In those days, all readers’ letters were answered individually and I actually really enjoyed researching (this was pre-internet) and writing them. From doing that I learnt everything I know about dressing for non-standard bodyshapes, holiday packing to any destination and my specialities, Mother of The Bride Dressing and How Not To Look Like Mutton Dressed As Lamb.

The craziest thing I nearly had to do was dress up a ‘chicken crossing the road’ for a shoot snapped on location around London. My bonkers genius fashion director wanted it to be a quirky shoot all about one girl going about her business and the funny things happening to her during the course of her day. So a chicken costume was hired and I had a lucky escape as our wacky hairstylist volunteered at the eleventh hour to dress up as the comedy chicken. Oh the fun we had.

If I asked my old assistant what the craziest thing she had to do was while working for me, I can guess what she’d say: ‘everything, from remembering your hospital appointments to splitting up fights between you and our editor. Not to mention the time we shared a hotel room in Miami and I had to sleep on the fold-out camp bed in the living room, complete with peeping Tom at the window.’ Ah yes, well let’s not get into that, it’s all part of the learning experience isn’t it?

So…what’s the craziest thing you’ve had to do in your journey up the career ladder?