Fash-ageddon! The Semple Clothing Launch at DreamBagsJaguarShoes.
Two screaming fits, three stolen hoodies and twenty burst bags of flour later I was close to a full-blown mental and physical break down. I don’t think I was alone. Dave the set builder was wandering around the destroyed venue aimlessly, hand to crooked glasses, face frozen in an expression of dazed bemusement. Like me he had no comprehension of how to contain the explosion of unholy mess and writhing semi-naked girls that surrounded him. Stuart had already stealthily taken his leave, his instincts telling him that something completely undignified was about to happen; it was almost his bedtime anyway. The venue staff could see something that very very wild was happening and could only watch in horror as people were dragged unconscious from the building in states of vomit inducing intoxication and the very fixtures of the building itself were being wrenched free.
What the hell was happening here?
As my eyes meet that of an Aleister Crowley print decorating the wall I swear I saw him wink; I’m sure he would have enjoyed this. The Semple clothing launch was an incredible party…It was also an incident. Celebrity guests had gotten as far as the door and turned around, terrified by the spectacle of most unMayfair hospitality that was occurring inside; somehow the clash of Avant youth, fashion industry insiders, club kids, journalists, sensible PR types and genuine art lunatics had transformed from an intriguing culture clash to social semtex.
We hadn’t intended things to be quite like this. The girls in the window were supposed to be reclined in melancholic fabulousness as chilled champagne was daintily poured and passed to V.I.P guests, I was supposed to be breezing around keeping an eye on the entertainment and showing the garment to interested parties…I’d planned to not even sip a complimentary cocktail as I wanted to be totally at my sharp and witty best; this turned out to be a very good move. The first problem was that the elaborate window set wasn’t finished in time for opening. In a last minute fuck-up the venue had double booked our prep time with a Primal Scream photoshoot. A shoot that HAD to take place exactly in front of the window that required the most work to complete. In a moment of hair tearing frustration the window dressing team had to sit out two hours waiting for the band and crew to leave. I normally don’t mind Primal Scream, they have some good tunes, but at that moment I wanted to dance around their spike mounted dismembered heads and scream at the sky.
Predictably the shoot overran and we were left with very little time to actually complete the décor and it had to look good AND be safe before the girls could be allowed inside. As important people were waiting to get inside Dave and his assistants scrambled to finish up. A journalist who had come down especially to interview Stuart couldn’t get to him as the queue grew outside; he ended up having to chase her down the street to let her know he hadn’t actually blown her out in a moment of mercurial artistic self consciousness. Finally after a seeming age of stapling and spray-painting the girls were in position; the vast numbers of V.I.P guests invited to the early part of the event surged inside and the mood was exuberant. The initial part of the night went fairly smoothly after that; Nicky Biscuit played a few numbers to delighted applause, the drink flowed, Jim Warboy showed the bredth of his musical knowledge as he played some awesome psychedelic tunes. The hoodies were groped and admired by all the right people (and some of the wrong ones, it was around this time that clothes were stolen from the display rail).
So what went sent the party into meltdown…
On to problem two and three…2) The venue was getting very very full, people were finding it hard to move and the atmosphere began to get a touch frenetic as it was hard to not to be swept up by either a new wave of familiar faces or just the movement of the crowd. 3) The melancholy models were getting drunk. They had been nervous being situated in the large window with so little clothing, so we had sent them a few bottles of champagne to ease their embarrassment…It turned out that several kind souls had a similar idea and had been helping them to get beyond wasted. They went from reclined beauties to saucy demons of destruction in hotpants. To incite this transformation further a couple of the boys from it band Trash Fashion who were also enjoying the free booze climbed into the set with the girls and much to the amusement of the crowd of East London Line workmen outside began to get frisky with the ladies. In defence of their honour the girls dumped flour all over the boys; Make bread not love?
That was the beginning of the end and it was only 9:15pm.
The party was getting raw by this point; Slim from Teens of Thailand was playing some choice vinyl and downstairs was opened early by DJ Med Damon to contain the mass of revellers. As several of the girls stumbled to the bathroom to wash flour from their burning eyes Rum Shebeen wowed the crowd with their acoustic set; complete with biscuit tin drums and pumping double bass.
Downstairs as the more banging music hit the floor and it became clear that the virtually calm V.I.P reception was drawing to a close and the scenesters and art freaks were taking over. Soon I had an insistent tug at my sleeve, some of the soundsystem downstairs had been damaged by a flying drink and as a result the DJs could only play vinyl…. Doing the best I could I tried to assess the damage and take emergency action…Unfortunately most of the people who could offer assistance were blind drunk and totally useless by this point. As I burst through the door to the upstairs floor cradling a handful of cables and hoping to get some geek back-up a surreal sight greeted me. One whole side of Jaguar Shoes was totally white; on the sofa sat several of my friends and Semple associates who wore matching goofy smiles and an inch thick layer of plain flour. In retrospect this was kinda funny, but there in that moment my already strained good humour drained from my body like the free vodka from the bar. Like some twisted battle scene people stumbled in various states of dishevelment trying to sweep the dust from their clothes, the girls, who were barely able to stand wobbled from seat to seat occasionally falling onto some poor bystander who was pulling a fur jacket/blazer/expensive camera from the aftermath. Seeing the set vacant some crazed individuals who were eager to get in on the action overran the window display; in response to all this excitement and the crowd of people stood outside of the venue swelled to such an extent that a few of those stupefied gawpers in narrowly avoided being hit by passing traffic.
I tried feebly to find out who was responsible for the flour fight, but to be honest the time for constructive communication had passed, the best I could hope for was that nobody got killed. At least by something other than my hand, for I believed that homicide could be rationalised to most western courts of law on grounds of diminished responsibility by this point. Amusingly as the flour had doused the girls it had rubbed off the paint that had covered their nipples and left them two exposed tits too much for a venue without a nudity licence….!
On direction of the Jaguar Shoes team I had to run from model to model with a black lipstick in hand trying pathetically to stop them from being very nude up top by colouring in nipples. Despite the insanity there weren’t many people leaving, in fact probably because of the insanity the venue was still totally rammed and all the messy people, literally and figuratively, were still posing, collapsing (I had to clear the stairway personally for at least two casualties) and dancing. The party was eventually closed an hour early; the venue managers being genuinely petrified of the outcome should the lunacy continue for its allotted time. As the faithful were bundled into the winter evening, in turn stunned. enchanted or horrified by what they had just witnessed, myself, Dave, Jim Warboy and some other friends of the industry tidied up the best we could.
Semple Clothing has officially arrived and just like the Rebels and Devils that feature on the clothing it has made its mark on the world. For those of you who came and made it a once in a lifetime party, thank you dearly, it was good to see you. Maybe next time we can bring some eggs and make pancakes.
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