Wednesday, 9 November 2011
A grey school skirt is mentioned in every obituary of the late style guru Loulou de la Falaise, companion to Yves St Laurent and (it now seems) responsible behind the scenes for quite a bit of what appeared later on the catwalk under his name. Loulou wore this grey school skirt for her first visit to the YSL atelier. Loulou attended Portsdown Lodge School, the same prep school in Sussex as I did. Being four years younger than me (she was born 1948), I cannot claim to have known her but the grey school skirt sounds familiar. Our school coats were beautiful but prickly grey Harris Tweed, complete with the orb logo sewn into the lining. I feel suddenly sick at the memory of that time when, aged 7, I found myself away from home - we were allowed visits called 'exeats' which we looked forward to but were in fact horrid reminders that childhood was over. Our parents would arrive, looking debonair and delicious, in their car (at one point a pale green Rolls) in which I would promptly be car sick as we bowled off to the Cooden Beach hotel for stilted conversation over lunch, tea and a walk on the cold pebble beach. Just before waking this morning, I had a curious dream of running for a train. I was following a young man dressed in overalls or similar work dress. I looked at my watch. The hands showed the half hour, the time when the train was due to leave. The young man paused and opened a concealed door in the wall of the passage we were both hurrying along. I followed him and found myself standing next to the cab of the 1950's steam train - the young man was clearly the driver. He beckoned, and I made to board the train, realising as I did so that I had given my handbag to whoever it was I was due to meet on the platform and travel with. Would I find them - would they board the train, unaware that I was on it? Then I woke up.