There are times as a freelancer when you need a day job. In between acting and writing gigs I spent time working as a dresser in the West End. For anyone who isn’t familiar with a dresser’s duties, it is to ensure that all the relevant costumes are set out at the appropriate times before and during the show and assisting the actors with their changes throughout the performance. Of all the many day jobs I’ve had over the years, dressing was the most fun, yet it was the one at which I was least competent. The reasons for this are many and varied but can be distilled into one primary factor; I was more interested in causing mischief and mayhem than I was in doing my work. I must point out that in all other areas of my career I’m a consummate professional, however being a dresser was not my forte.
Dressing can be an intimate affair; fastening bra straps, buckling shoes and tightening corset laces puts the dresser in close proximity to the actor. One of the dancers who had the misfortune to call me his dresser coined a phrase to characterise my spindly fingers that had an unfortunate and (mostly) accidental habit of jabbing the vulnerable soft area between the ribs – he christened them ‘The Witch-ity Fingers’. Even though my colleague was playing fast and loose with the English language, this is a razor sharp description that depicts the invasive nature of my bony digits beautifully.
I’ve always been aware of my similarity to Morticia Addams; I’m tall with long dark hair and have the complexion of a vampire. Added to this my laugh is a raucous cackle, the gnarly fingers are really just the icing on the ginger bread house. I came to peace with my similarity to the witch archetype long ago; I believe self-acceptance is not only the key to dressing well but also the path of least resistance in life. If the pointy hat fits then wear it I say.
The recent Topshop/Meadham Kirchhoff collaboration had some wonderfully witchy pieces that are right up my alley. This dress has a folksy Gunne Sax vibe combined with a cartoon evil eye motif, which appeals to my gothic tendencies. Meadham Kirchhoff are some of London’s most peculiar yet highly acclaimed designers, their clothes are akin to fashion Marmite. The duo’s work is brazenly odd combining Little Lord Fauntleroy frills, industrial amounts of glitter and hard-core punk sensibilities; their recent show at the V+A was a dreamy vision of their bonkers aesthetic. I love Meadham Kirchhoff because they resolutely do their own thing regardless of what anyone thinks, an attitude that gets a bony thumbs up from me.