Each chapter of The Closet focuses on an item of clothing from the wardrobes of my past. From the blue princess dress I wanted to wear as a little boy, but felt too ashamed to do so, to the white Nike caps the first boys I fancied wore, to the pair of Gucci loafers I bought to impress the boy I loved at the time, clothes are the vehicle through which I tell my story. I believe clothing has the power to communicate meaning and memory, but the book is also about me coming to terms with my sexuality, and understanding who I am and where I fit in the world. I hope it’s a relatable story and a book for people who may be going through a similar thing or have kids who are.
I started writing the book in lockdown. During that time, I read The Velvet Rage by Alan Downs, which is about coming to terms with being a gay man in a straight man's world, and it made me think about my own relationship with my sexuality and who I am – and it made me realise I wasn't quite as okay as I thought I was. That was coupled with thoughts like, “God, I'm writing about trends and clothes, but no one can wear clothes right now and we're in the middle of an environmental crisis – is this the right time to be telling people to buy more?” But that didn't stop me loving clothes, so I thought, “Well, how can I write about them with meaning?” I'd reached a point in my journalistic career where I'd interviewed all these amazing designers and there wasn’t much I hadn’t done, so writing a book to answer that question felt like the natural next step.
I decided I wanted to get into fashion as a career when I was 14. That’s when I began hanging out with the first person I fell for. We spent a lot of our time either shopping or looking through the pages of magazines like Esquire and GQ, which he bought and I'd never really seen before. I’d dabbled in fashion before, when I used to go to the library with my mum in Roehampton. I remember picking up a Vivienne Westwood book. I read it and became obsessed with her and started drawing the women in the book who were dressed in her fantastical outfits, so I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. Looking at those magazines with my friend, I thought maybe this was my route into that world.
When I got into fashion, I fell in love with the drama of it and the crazy people who inhabit that world. I love the newness and the craft that goes into making these amazing garments – and the transformative power of walking into an event wearing something you wouldn’t usually wear and feeling completely different, like you can conquer a space.
I got the first interview with Virgil Abloh when he moved to Louis Vuitton in Paris before his first show. I also interviewed Donatella Versace and she was as fantastic as you’d imagine. I feel very privileged to have gone to shows in Paris, Milan and New York from 2012 to 2016, when they were such exciting places to be. We would be away for weeks at a time – it was an exhausting experience, and I would have to pack two suitcases, but to go and see all those amazing things and meet those people, and eat at incredible restaurants and stay in incredible hotels, was like a dream. I miss it... sometimes.