“WE DON’T WAKE UP FOR LESS THAN $10,000 A DAY” BY PREET GREWAL
Never before had such a self-important and self-aware sound bite made its way to my lackluster sixth grade life. When Linda Evangelista unleashed her often-misquoted quip on senior Vogue writer, Jonathan Van Meter, she penetrated my self-imposed force field of preteen inertia.
I had never paid much attention to fashion up to that point. But that’s not to say I didn’t know what I liked. I liked colour, I liked pattern, I liked anything loud and obnoxious that my mother would let me near. I was a quiet child and wearing pajama pants with break-dancing penguins showed a side of me I was too shy to let out. I took my fashion inspiration from what was around me. Jem and the Holograms inspired me to wear neon nail polish and trade in my boring white shoelaces for bright orange and green ones. Fido Dido, the cartoon spokesperson for 7UP inspired me to wear baggy Boca sweatshirts and slouch socks.
The supermodel world of Naomi, Cindy, Claudia, Christy and Linda was alien to me. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t be more different from them. Their clothes were tight, mine were baggy. Their hair was shiny and smooth while mine was dull and unruly. Their faces were angular and flawless while mine was pug-ish and fraught with acne. Sometimes I would flip through my older sister’s Flare magazines and see the fashion spreads of powerful looking women in business suits, skyscraper stilettos and wonder in what world those types of people existed. It certainly wasn’t my world. The closest I had come to the glamorous world of modelling was when the tallest girl in class appeared in the local Fields catalogue and autographed copies of her advertisement at recess everyday for a week.
But Linda and her cool group of svelte, sexy sidekicks lived a life I hadn’t even dared to imagine. Travelling around the world; wearing clothes that seemed to belong more in a museum than a closet; going to fancy parties with actors and musicians and making more money for standing around and looking pretty than I ever knew was possible. The clothes they wore were valued like works of art and symbolized the ability to express yourself, to make a clear and definitive statement about how you felt and who you were without saying a word.
I became more and more obsessed with supermodels as they began to infiltrate every media. They were selling me Crystal Pepsi, L’Oréal hair colour, Revlon makeup, Yves Saint Laurent perfume, Versace jeans, Escada coats, Capezio bags. I couldn’t afford everything they were selling but I bought what I could and collected their ad campaigns like hockey cards keeping them filed away in a precious binder that housed all my glamorous fantasies.
While I was still unbearably shy when it came to speaking up or even just coming forward; I began to take liberties with my clothes that expressed how I was feeling without even having to mumble a Hello. I wore head to toe black when I had been listening to a bit too much Soundgarden. I wore yellow, red and green when I was feeling the African power from listening to KRS -1 and Public Enemy. I wore skirts when I was feeling pretty. I wore bodysuits when I was feeling sexy (and my Mother wasn’t paying attention). It’s not like I was anywhere near the same league as the catwalks queens, but I definitely felt we were all playing the same game. And that was enough for me.
Pick up the October issue of FLARE to read the essays of the winner and first runner up.