Runway Runaway Fashion:
My Secret Dream designed to amuse you!
If you had a secret dream that you’d been working towards for years – that you didn’t even know you had – and your dream became a reality, would you shout it out loud from the top of the Eiffel tower – or whisper it quietly from your ashram?
As I breathe in courage and exhale enthusiasm it gives me pleasure to share some exciting dreams with you. You may already know that I have been involved in the fashion industry for most of my life. My self penned book Runway RunAway: A Backstage Pass to Fashion, Romance & Rock ‘n Roll illustrated the true story of neglected child turned teenage runaway who follows her dreams to become an international model, eventually finding herself in the process. I went from the streets of Los Angeles a teenage waitress, to the catwalks of Paris, Milan, Rome, Tokyo and New York, working as a model/muse to Lagerfeld at Chanel, YSL, Christian LaCroix, Geoffrey Beene, Bob Mackie and more…
My story goes on to share about the doomed love my life; my then fiancé Steve Clark, lead guitar player and masterful songwriter of the multi-platinum selling rock band, Def Leppard. Ultimately fleeing and finding the strength to save myself, I shared the candid and blatant truth of how I survived the greatest loss in my life, the aftermath and the determination to not only survive, but to heal my-self, and help others.
Runway RunAway Fashion. I don’t know how I became a “muse” to some of fashion designers of our time, or, how I managed to “amuse” my musical lovers in so much as to inspire the writings of a few classic rock ballads…some of which are chapter titles in my book. But I am beginning to understand why…
My style of dress growing up around Pacific Palisades and Topanga Beach and consisted mostly of bikini’s – halter tops- flip flops- and Hawaiian shirts tied up around my waist. What’s now called branded as “surf and skate culture fashion” we found in 2nd hand stores like the Aardvark’s Odd Ark in Venice, California. My friends and I followed the bands that played tribute to the Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin. I liked to dress like Robert Plant in bell bottom jeans and shirts tied up around my waist with a little Mick Jagger’s sparkle style scarves thrown in for pizzazz.
My high-school sweetheart was the fashionable Brian Ray. He played a gold Les Paul and wore snakeskin boots. Back then he was just a local guitar star…today he plays guitar and bass in Paul McCartney’s band. We broke up in his British MGBGT, but to this day I’ll never forget those snakeskin boots.
Fast forward. I’m living in Milan at age 19 running around on “go-sees” in in spike heels on cobblestone streets, meeting the designers for the runway shows taught me everything I needed to know about 1st impressions. A naïve girl standing in front of the gatekeepers to Valentino, Armani, or Moschino has an awful lot to learn. I tried my best to express my individual style while still looking graceful and cutting edge. Even if I didn’t know what cutting edge was- I picked up on all the clues that those designers would leave around like the crumbs thrown to pigeons’ in the Piazza San Marco.
In Paris at age 20 the competition was fierce. Getting into the doors of Yves Saint Laurent or Dior was next to impossible if you didn’t have someone behind you pushing you through them. I thought I knew how to dress until my German boyfriend told me I didn’t. He took me shopping in St. Germaine to a boutique of “a friend.” He styled me and dressed me and when they totaled the tab for clothes at the register – he left me with the bill of over 5000 francs- the equivalent of $1000. US at the time. I loved the clothes so I put them on hold and found a way to pay for them myself. I was secretly mad at him- but he must’ve known something. My style of dress just wasn’t up to par for Paris and it was his way of telling me. He hung out with Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren- and what an education in fashion I got from those two. The good news was that I did start getting past the doors of those infamous gatekeepers.
I soaked up everything I could about fashion and design while being nipped and tucked with needles, threads and straight pins by the geniuses themselves.
During my tenure at YSL I witnessed the brilliance of not only the designer Monsieur Saint Laurent himself, but his gifted assistants too. I gasped for air every time LouLou De La Falaise cinched a belt around my waist- and tiptoed out of the studio holding back a formal curtsy under the glaring eyes of Madame Munoz- Yves, right hand madwoman.
Paradoxically over at La Maison de Chanel I was delighted whenever Keiser Karl’s young jewelry designer Victoire de Castellane draped me in jewels, or when Lagerfeld’s chief design assistant Gilles Du Four wrapped a stole around my shoulder’s- cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. And at Ungaro- well, that was an education in itself- but more on how to “show” how to “stand” and how to “present” Emanuel’s priceless creations under the critical eye of the master himself. And critical he was.
Still, under the brilliant tutelage of team LouLou De La Falaise – Meister Lagerfeld – Vivienne Westwood – Georgio Armani – Valentino –Yves Saint Laurent – Lecoanet Hemant -Guy Laroche – …oh, there others – many others…I expanded in beauty and wisdom unknowingly, like a schoolgirl in the front row of the class – I noted them all.
The discipline and direction I received contracted as model for those iconic houses aligned me with opportunities all over the world. They softened my feathers and like an awkward gangly pelican I turned into a swan. My presence on the runway became more fluid and graceful and so I began to fly. I followed the collections from Milan to London to Paris- to New York – to Tokyo. When my contracts in the off-seasons completed I would fly to Dusseldorf- Spain- and Dublin to show for the designers there. And on one snowy December night in walked the love of my life, Steve Clark. A young, timid, unassuming rock star who’d also been living out of a suitcase. I’d met my match.
The travel in my life doubled as the two of us hopped planes – trains and – you know the drill, to be at each other’s side. When we came together on our days off often we would shop. Strolling into Cartier in Place du Vendome, two twenty-some-things, skinny as rails, Steve with his long blonde hair, me with my blood red lipstick, eyeballing the big glass cases filled with sparkling jewels. The hawk-eyed salesmen would usher us toward the exit until Steve would plop down his gold American express card and say, “I’ll ‘ave that,”- In one instance pointing to a Cartier panther ring from the Duchess of Windsor collection and placing it on my finger. Amazing how perceptions change when money exchanges hands. Then we would celebrate over vodka and caviar and talk about the stage clothes he was dreaming about wearing on the next tour.
Back then stylists were few- we didn’t know any so we styled ourselves.
Steve bought me a sewing machine and I collected accessories and trinkets like flags, polka dots and studs, while following the runway collections around the world. I put my foot on the pedal of my sewing machine like a blindfolded race car driver making jackets, belts, and patched up jeans for Steve to wear onstage during the Hysteria World Tour.
He loved my designs and my wardrobe. Often I would come across a newspaper photo of Steve taken while he was on tour wearing one of my blouses. In fact, Steve became the most photographed member of the band whose biggest radio hit back then was called “Photograph.” I became his personal designer, stylist, and spiritual confidant. Steve was curious about the occult and the deeper meanings of life. I had always been a soul searcher and inner explorer so our inner-worlds dovetailed when our outer-worlds failed to keep us grounded and the reality of living our dreams became more tense and real.
I have always felt my connection with the greater intelligence, or, as I like to call it, “the cosmic muse.” There behind the veil is the cast of characters – the collective unconscious – the “archetypical dream team” that is apart of who I am. It is that muse who inspires me to continue to follow my own heartfelt dreams and to inspire, uplift, and motivate others to do the same. The muse dresses me and it dresses you. My dream dressing muses take on lives of their own and often they propel at a rate I would never expect. That’s why my first dream has led to another, and another, and another…like a puff white snowball catching speed. The force of this muse is magical, mysterious and magnificent. Runway Runaway fashion… my secret dream is designed to amuse you!
What secret dreams amuse you?
Will you shout them out loud or keep them a secret too?
Follow your heart – Never give up and…
“Don’t let your dreams runaway from you!”