To know me is to know that I am 0% “edgy”. I’m a 34 year old lawyer, working in the financial markets, for crying out loud. Sometimes I push the boat out on a Friday and wear jeans with a raw hem (but only if they’re not too frayed). I think spaghetti straps are too sexy for the office. I feel woozy after two glasses of white wine and my concept of misbehaving is spending too much money from the frivolous things account in one go. I live my life by the GirlGuiding Promise – I promise, to do my best – and by the maxim that it’s our duty to give service to others, however that might be. I mean, I’m boring myself here. You can imagine, then, that I might not have been a natural customer for Caleb Barnett.
I saw Caleb’s work at Project Fashion Wellington back in July, in an installation, and it was my instant favourite of the night. That’s saying something, because there was some awesome work on the runway that evening, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the style of Caleb’s work. I am a big fan of local creatives, and of juxtaposing styles, so after a few weeks of pondering I thought – why not commission something? Plus, it feels so fancy to commission something, right?! It was one of those times where I knew that if I bought these, I’d never let them go. They’d always remind me of this time in my life, with the blog, and everything else, and they’d be precious to me even when they stopped being wearable.
I had this pair of Levis 501 CTs that I wore very rarely, which I knew would make a great canvas, so it was just a matter of handing them over to Caleb. I felt like if I was an artist I’d want carte blanche, so that was my brief – do whatever you want. I also strongly suspected that two minutes of talking to me was probably enough to clue Caleb up to the fact that I was firmly middle class. Still, I spent the next 10 days in a state of high anticipation.
For reasons I no longer recall, I was out of the office when these were delivered, and I came in on a Friday morning to the parcel on my desk. Because I have no chill, as the kids would say, I tore open the parcel immediately. I was in the bathroom trying these on inside 30 seconds. I wore them that day, with zero f*cks given about my CEO rule. Although they’re probably not something that a friend would pick out for me on a shopping outing, I felt so comfortable in them. I was worried that I might feel out of place in the final design, but these felt just right for me. Plus: flames.
The love I feel for them is very real (and you guys loved them on Instagram that day, too). Art is always open for interpretation, and I haven’t actually asked Caleb what his concept was when he designed these. I can, however, tell you what I think when I wear them.
This year has not been a great one. I’ve had more than my share of tears. It’s been immensely challenging, and I haven’t been well-equipped to deal with it. I’ve felt the weight of those challenges on me, for months. Although I appreciate the lessons I’ve learned and the good that’s come through, I’m really done with the bullshit that 2017 has presented, and I needed something to help me feel tough. I needed a physical reminder, a touchstone, that I’m ultimately the person who says – go fuck yourself – or, if you’re feeling polite – no, thanks. That is what this is for me: something that will express externally the toughness that’s built up inside me this year. It’s a costume that reminds me that this, this is the last time I’ll ever be taken advantage of. I’ll never make the same, good-hearted, trusting mistakes again. I’ll know when to say: no, thanks. No more tears for me.
Caleb’s Instagram is here. The camisole is a Glassons one (I can’t help it, they are so useful/comfy/easy) and the jacket is, as always, my beloved Evermore jacket from Blak Luxe. The bangles are a mix of vintage from my Nana’s journeys to Greece in the 50s, and some Tibetan silver my Dad brought me back from a trip once. The shoes are Costume National, incredibly kindly gifted to me by a wonderful friend long ago. There are lots of backless shoes around now, so perhaps check out these from Beau Coops, or these for a cheaper alternative.