The last proper time I tried to "fangirl" someone was at a loud Dazed & Confused anniversary party on the dancefloor where I saw Jessica Hynes n√©e Stevenson aka Daisy from Spaced aka the person who I'd like to believe would be my friend if we got to know each other in real life. Steve had the balls to ask for a photo and she naturally went for the wild-eyed party face pose, reminiscent of the "Epiphanies" episode of season 1 of Spaced where the whole gang go off clubbing. I then tried to work out a short and succinct, and totally not pathetic and uncool sentence to say to Hynes whilst she was still within close proximity. Alas, by the time I had worked it out in my head and semi-rehearsed it to the point where I felt I didn't sound like a complete twat, she had bopped off the dancefloor, out of sight. This is essentially the blueprint for all of my attempts at "fangirling". This also happened with Cathy Horyn when I accidentally sat next to her at Armani Prive this season, Caitlin Moran at Port Eliot festival two years ago, Michael Nyman at a young pianists' convention and also with Mr Blobby in year 5 at primary school. Well, we just trailed Mr Blobby for a few laps around the school playground to try and get his autograph but it turned out his hands were too squeegilicious to put pen to paper anyway.
Photograph by Sophie Mhabille
The point is, there are a) very few people who I'd really really like to truly fangirl and express my utter and deep respect for what they do and b) it's very unlikely that I'd work up the courage or the appropriate mode of expression to do so to my satisfaction. In turn I'm always shocked or surprised when someone bothers or deigns to make me a veritable subject of fangirling. That's not supposed to happen. I've spent the majority of my life basically staring down at my pigeon toed feet, wondering when my boobs were going to grow and when the kinks out of my hair would fall out. That does not a subject worthy of fangirling make.
Back in May when Steve and I went to Disneyland Paris for their 20th anniversary (please relive it here – it will do you the world of good), on the second day when we were deciding when to cross over from Disneyland to Studios, Steve noticed that a young Asian girl had followed us from Frontier Land to Fantasy Land and then right through to the entrance. She finally came up to us and explained that her name was Sul Gi Lee and she was in Disneyland sketching out research as she was studying fashion in Paris. Sul Gi got so excited to see me and so asked me to write a note in her sketchbook to her. FYI, I never know what to sign as an autograph for people who bother asking. Would they not be totally crushed if I just signed it with just my boring checkbook/contract standard signature? I wrote something mindlessly schmaltzy and wished her well and both parties went off on our merry way in the land of Disney.
Then at the Versace Atelier show last week in Paris, Sul Gi was there again waiting with a beautiful gift wrapped and covered in sequins spelling out my name. I was supremely surprised that the same girl had popped up in Disneyland as well as in Paris at the couture shows. Still, I figured she was a general fashion fan who liked to soak up the atmosphere outside shows. To trail the show venues in Paris to specifically see me would be…. ludicrous to say the least. Then I read the letter that accompanied the gift and it explained that Sul Gi had in fact gone to Disneyland that day specifically to see me because I had Tweeted the night before that I was there and that she really was a huge fan of the blog, and so I continued to see Sul Gi pop up at various instances during the couture shows.
Cynic friends raised their eyebrows and cried "Stalked alert!" but I instinctively felt that Sul Gi was genuinely expressing her admiration for what I did, doing so in the overt way that I could never pluck up the courage to do to someone I admired. Who knew I'd be the person to give someone "fresh stimulation" and that someone thinks I'm an "earnest seeker of fashion". Oh *sigh*.
After the Armani Prive show, there was Sul Gi again and this time, I asked if I could see her sketchbook, the one which I had signed back in May and then proceeded to have a on-the-spot portfolio appraisal there and then. I think I was freaking Sul Gi out with my random request. Sul Gi is 22 years old, originally from Korea and speaks more French than English (my broken French + her broken English = LOL), and is currently about to start a fashion design course at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture (she told a little white lie in Disneyland about studying – she's going to be starting her first year in September). This is her ninth sketchbook already as she methodically and prolifically fills them up with her own dream designs conjured up in her brain. They're the sort of sketches that have nothing to do with tutors setting a student up with a task. They're just pure unadulterated fantasy sketching – an outpouring of creativity that may or may not manifest themselves into something real but at least that output exists.
Suffice to say, it's all very much my speed. Humour, surreal Fantasia, adornment – every sketch is a sumptuous cake that won't stop getting decorated. There are definite ideas that could definitely make it from paper to dummy to garment but that's what school is for. She may not have started formal studies yet but her mission statement as written in neat handwriting in her sketchbook, is clear: "I think Paris needs more colors. I want to make people feel the joy of life, i want them happier. I will dye Paris with beautiful colors with my clothes." Right on. Our own respective matching pastel outfits were a little too much to swallow for the passers-by of the posh 16th arrondissement.
Above everything, I really respect Sul Gi for keeping the sort of sketchbook that is a far more enthusiastic and disciplined version of the writer's journals I used to keep, scribbled with crap short stories and lame poetry. I commend Sul Gi for wholeheartedly pursuing her dreams by practising her passion as well as making the effort to meet her heroes, however dillusioned her choice of heroine might be. I'll be keeping an eye on what Sul Gi is up to but for now, this encounter definitely ranks high up there in the land of the surreal. It might even inspire me to fangirl every once in a while.
Photographs by Melodie Jeng
After a few days, I could finally bear to unwrap the beautiful box Sul Gi presented me with. Ace! Score! A Jacques Demy/Catherine Deneuve DVD boxset featuring Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, Peau d'√Çne and Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, two of which I've not yet seen before. Thank you Sul Gi!