For Work and for Love

When I arrive at the house, Valentine is standing on her front door step in the drizzling rain, smoking a cigarette. “It’s the last one,” she mutters with visible regret. “I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts.” Not that she’s quitting or anything – she’s French after all. The pack’s empty and the baby sitter she sent on a mission isn’t coming back for a while. “Too bad, you just missed Gigi!” she exhales. “Can you believe she’s already one?” Last time I was in London, Valentine was still pregnant, so yeah, there’s that agonizing notion of age nagging its way up to my one-year-older forehead. But I actually haven’t seen Valentine since her modeling days in New York (if you don’t count our run-in at Le Baron in Paris a week earlier). Has it really been ten years? She was always one of the happy, je-m’en-fous, sociable girls, who could hold a conversation without checking herself in the mirror every five seconds. There was never a trace of any make-up, or conceivable indication of grooming; she was natural, free-spirited, and a little bit loopy, kind of like Camille Bidault-Waddington, whom she in fact refers to as her style icon “4 ever”. And when I look at her today, as a 28-year old mom, in beat-up crocodile moccasins, and questionable posture, I realize she hasn’t changed a hair. My poor old forehead concurs.

“Please don’t mind the mess,” she cringes as she guides me to the living room of her basement apartment. “My boyfriend and I just had a flight about it this morning. I have too much stuff! But it’s work, so what can I do?” I’m not fazed by the shopping bags in the corner, or the heaps of toys in the crib, or the stacks of magazines on the table. (Lord knows I’ve seen worse…) This feels like home and there’s plenty of character. Valentine Fillol-Cordier started modeling when she was fourteen and quit school at sixteen to become full-time. She moved to London a year later and has lived there ever since. “I was a big fan of the British fashion magazines,” she recalls. “I wanted to be in those magazines, and mainly work with the people who did them. I always styled bits and bobs on the side but it became more clear that it’s what I wanted to do when I styled my first show for Charles Anastase.” And that’s when the clutter started streaming in. She shops and collects for a living – she’s a Fashion Editor at Lula and L’Officiel Hommes, works with Charlotte Olympia, Matthew Williamson and Isa Arfen, and contributes to Purple Diary – and a lot of it is vintage, which she stores in labeled boxes, stacked on top of each other in an alcove of the bedroom, under the bed, in a wall-to-wall wardrobe and sure, behind the sofa…

It’s fun hanging out with Valentine though. My anxious efforts to produce a photographically adequate shoot are annihilated as soon as she flings herself on the couch in the first outfit. I don’t have to do a damn thing to make this girl look good. She goes from the 20s to the 60s via feminism and Japan and back to menswear in the span of two hours. I don’t even have to ask any questions. She’s sharp as a whistle and blurts out things like: “I really don’t understand those people who embroider their initials on everything! Why?! Do you really need to be reminded of your name all the time?” I guess she’s right? What is the purpose? “And what’s up with sneakers? I always thought they were such a no-no. Now people wear them to shows? What’s that all about?” I shamefully look down at my Nike Liberty Air Maxes and regret my of choice of footwear this morning. “And can you believe my neighbors? They leave the chairs out there all winter, strewn across the lawn, and do you think they would pick them up?” Just dreadful. I commend her for the way she organized her shoes and the impressive spice rack in the kitchen. “Oh yes, I’m quite proud of that but there’s lots of things I want to do to this little flat,” she says sternly. “The corridor and kitchen need massive TLC! And there’s also lots of pictures to be hung. It is sooooo far from perfect…” I have high hopes for this young family and their sunlit apartment. There’s a lot one needs to sacrifice, for work… and for love…

March 28, 2013

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One Response to “For Work and for Love”

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    very nice, feminine website. i always enjoy good reading. love the photographs too,


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