I had never met her, had never even been aware of her existence. She works for a fashion business that presumably wants to be featured in the magazine. She no doubt got my email from some public-relations service. But the only important fact to hold in your mind is that we are strangers to each other. But this week she sent me an email – subject “Farewell” – that frankly told me more about her and the workings of her office than any fly-on-the-wall documentary could.
In a Paltrow-esque spewing of thanks I discovered who had taught her “what a budget is and how to stock to it!” and who had been willing to “answer her weird questions”. There were thank yous for cakes bought, for tricky models pacified, for getting clothes to magazines (I think that’s called calling a courier company). It sounded gruelling – and she had to admit, “It was not always easy but we made it happen.”
Perhaps the best part was that she revealed she was gushing about all of these divine people after working for the company for just one year. Unlike her, I will refrain from ending every sentence with an exclamation mark. Oh what the hell!!!!
That night I met a man who has been in the fashion trade for not far off 40 years. You’d know his name. He has a life story that’s complex and rich and surprising but I have only been told bits and pieces and that’s over a good 15 years of a dinners-and-drinks friendship.
We got talking about business cards of all things and he told me he’d been coveting some nice hand-printed ones but even he had paused when he realised he was being asked to pay £4 each for them. He showed me the current offering. One side was blank and on the other it just declared his name. Two words, in red, in a well-tailored sans serif. He was happy for you to know who you’d met but if he really wanted you to stay in touch he’d bring out a pen and give you his number. It was a business card that said nothing and everything.
Two people. Two people in fashion. But only one understood the things that tie you to a brand, an image, a person. Mystery, intrigue: those are the things that make fashion work, that keep you coming back for more. We don’t want to know what buns you scoff in your office on a Friday afternoon (and actually that goes for any company in any sector).
I replied to the message, asking the person who had taken over her job if, perhaps, the email had been sent by mistake. Was this by any chance just meant for her close team? He replied within minutes to let me know that, no, she’d meant to send it to every contact in her company’s contact list. I have a queasy feeling that I may be reading about who was gracious enough to buy him cupcakes each Friday in about 12 months from now.