Kate Moss has a great sense of humor. Here’s how I know: When she saw me at Monday night’s Met Costume Institute Benefit, she did not pour a drink on my head.
Hold onto your piercings, dentures and toupees! Let’s do the wobbly-screen bit and go back in time.
The last three months of my life have been consumed with preparations for the arrival of La Moss and her Topshop clothing collection at Barneys, my place of employ. Yes, I said Topshop! As you may have heard, the gorgeously hip and affordable U.K. High Street retail phenomenon—the only real reason to continue visiting my homeland—is set to conquer Manhattan this week.
Things got off to a bad start when, in a bungling attempt to put the sheer majesty of Topshop into some kind of broader sociological context, I told one U.S. reporter that Kate was “a working-class slag from a crap town, just like me.” Taken out of context, as it subsequently was by a billion U.K. tabloids and Web sites, this quote made it seem as if I had turned into Linda Blair.
The point I was trying to make was as follows: All the energy and creativity in U.K. fashion comes from the crap towns—mine being Reading, hers Croydon. The Sebastians and Arabellas—the toffs from Knightsbridge and Mayfair—make zero cultural contribution. It’s the lads and lasses who have fought their way out of the rough end of town who provide the creative foundations for La Mode. I cited John Galliano (a plumber’s son) and Alexander McQueen (a taxi driver’s son) as good examples. My comment was intended, not to insult the working-class slags of the world, but rather to generate a bit of crap-town solidarity. Oy vey!
When my remark hit the papers, the repercussions were swift and bowel-curdling: U.K. pals e-mailed me suggesting that I get my bile ducts removed. Next came a lightly admonishing call from Topshop owner Sir Philip Green, followed by a similar one from Kate’s agent. Worse was yet to come: My 16-year-old niece Tanya, a scrappy South Londoner, sent me a note declaring her love for Kate and calling me not just “a working-class slag” but “an idiot.” Croydon officials publicly denounced my comments as “inappropriate on many levels” and reassured the world that Croydon was “a vibrant place to live, with great shopping.”
Some enterprising Brits—un-P.C. types with a great sense of humor—have seen fit to commemorate the Slag-gate brouhaha with a line of “Working-Class Slag” T-shirts and are flogging them for 14 quid each. Log onto duplikate.net, read their spirited defense of yours truly, then choose from a bewildering variety of colors (or “colorways,” as we prefer to call them in the schmatte business).
In my defense I would like to bring the attention of all concerned to the fact that there exists a book called The Idler Book of Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK (Boxtree, 2003), which extensively highlights both Reading and Croydon. Bonjour!
Which is crappier? Both towns have so much in common that it’s really hard to pick a winner. Staring at people is considered a big faux pas in both Croydon and Reading. According to Crap Towns, making eye contact is always a bad idea: If you attempt it, “‘Whatchoo lookin’ at, you fuckin’ cunt?’ will be the last thing you hear before you’re poked in the eye with a half-snouted cigarette.”
On a positive note: Reading now boasts a Premiership soccer team, and Croydon has, according to Crap Towns, provided the Brits with two magnificent additions to the U.K. vernacular:
1) The Croydon Face-Lift (noun): “Hair that is scraped back so tight into a ponytail that it pulls the wearer’s cheekbones.”
2) Pram Face (noun): “Young celebrity who looks like she should be pushing a pram (baby carriage) around Croydon, e.g. Baby Spice.”
On Monday night, the affable and mesmerizingly beautiful Kate was looking particularly un-Croydon. I’m not just saying this because she didn’t pour a drink on my head, but also because, having accessorized one of her own Topshop frocks with a bazillion dollars’ worth of borrowed Graff diamonds, she was easily the coolest chick in the room.
“A hundred and fifty quid,” said Kate in her best South London drawl when I asked her the price, adding: “It’s part of me collection.”
Go crap towns, go crap towns, go!