“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinions starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
Out of the closet. My dad told me he was gay when I was twelve years old. Actually, I remember it pretty well. My sisters and I sat around the dining table, the bright sun pouring into the kitchen, and he holds my hand.
“You know I still love you” he says, “unconditionally.” The room now filled with light, I catch his eye and smile at him. We have a moment.
Into the bright lights. I’ve just shown my very first collection of street wear clothing at the prestigious New York Fashion Week. And as I step off the stage my gay best friend Stephen shrieks as he jumps and throws his arms around me, almost taking me down in the dainty heels I’m wearing.
“You nailed it!!” he exclaims and he squeezes my hand, tight.
Coming across one of my art shows last year, he was instantly attracted to my work, and wanted to be apart of it, with the input of his graphic design talent. Closeness difficult to describe; we can be up until 4am working on a new print together, or laughing on the phone for 20 minutes not saying one single word. Together we are the brand “SoSophie.” It was the beginning of my ultimate dream of creating men’s street wear clothing. The lights go down and we leave the stage, together.
I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday.
“You need to go darling, what have you got to loose?” I’m sat with my dad’s partner, Maudy. We’re at a gorgeous outside cafe in Rome on vacation. He’s got a good point. I was 21 years old, with my entire future waiting for me. What was holding me back?
“Go to New York!” he says with his overly Italian hand gesture. “Live your dream in the Fashion capital!” Maudy had moved to London from Rome with a one-way ticket when he was just 18 years old, and he had never looked back. I think at that moment he saw a piece of himself in me. It was a pivotal moment, for both of us.
Coming to the high-end couture fashion world in New York, and I have found my mentor, my guardian. Taken under his wing, he has given me opportunities like no other. We’ve traveled around the world together for glamorous fashion shows, trunk shows, and not to mention marathon fabric exhibitions in Paris. Five years later, and he has made me the strong, determined sculpture of a woman that I am today. And yet there is still so much more to learn.
London calling, and as I throw on my red lace dress I try to hang up the phone to my dad before he makes me too late, I really have to run out the door. Meeting some friends at the new Greek place the other side of Astoria, and the reservation was booked for 10 minutes ago. But as I run down 21st Street and hail a cab that evening, I start to think. To think about how all the strong male figures in my life are gay men! Surrounded by them, my father, my best friends, my co-workers! Currently a single girl myself, with a bit of a challenge to find a lasting boyfriend for more than three weeks, and yet I meet these guys and they all have such a huge impact on my life. We just click.
Is this why I have such a fascination for menswear and the desire to create young men’s sportswear? Cool, modern street wear for the gay life style, whether he’s on the way to the gym in New York City, or heading out for the night in Soho, London, or in fact, anywhere in the world.
The cab comes to an unexpected stop. I’ve arrived. And yet as I climb out, the thought pops into my head again. Yes, I have all these strong male figures in my life, but there’s always that fear, that fear of being alone, forever.
“What if I’m single for the rest of my life?” I ask Stephen as I pour out of the cab, and he’s there in front of the restaurant, along with all of my friends, our friends.
“It’s okay,” Stephen says, and he squeezes my hand, tight. “We’ll still love you, unconditionally. And in the meantime, we’ll keep making fabulous clothes.”