There are so many reasons I love running SHOWstudio but one of the main ones is being surrounded every day by intelligent, enthusiastic and forward thinking people. To be honest, there is nothing in this world I find as exciting as the sheer brilliance of the human mind and I have had the joy and the privilege to have created a platform for some of the most brilliant minds in fashion to express themselves.
Lou arrived at SHOWstudio six years ago and like all our interns do, had a mind bubbling over with opinions and ideas.
She had a sparkle in her eye and a quickness to offer a solution to any problem, which is testament to the amazing speed at which this young woman thinks. A trait I would constantly marvel at and which would become so invaluable to me over the coming years as she rose to become SHOWstudio’s editor, following on from great minds such Alice Rawsthorne, Penny Martin and Alex Fury.
It is true to say I have only met a few people in my life who are capable of such instant problem solving and seem to have an ability to process information and arrive at the solution a long time before the rest of us can even start to catch up.
Alexander McQueen and Kanye West shared this particularly impressive trait and it is of no surprise to me that one of Lou’s greatest interviews on SHOWstudio is the InCamera interview with Kanye. Broadcast live, unscripted and two hours long it is in my opinion, one of the finest pieces of conversation you can find anywhere on the internet.
Having Lou at the helm of SHOWstudio felt at times as if I had tethered an Apollo rocket to the mast of our sail powered galleon. Her energy would propel SHOWstudio at huge speed across oceans of problems and nearly always safely to the new and unexplored continents.
We achieved more in a shorter space of time than I ever dared to think we could.Of course it wasn’t always plain sailing, there were times when travelling at such speed can be dangerous for all on board.
It was also six years ago when I decided to introduce a way of covering the fashion collections that had never been done before. This is to have a panel discussion made up of fashion experts (journalists, art directors, buyers, photographers, lecturers and so on ) all talking, totally uncensored, about the fashion shows. These panels of six or so guests are broadcast live much in the same way we are used to seeing TV coverage of a sports event such as football, rugby, the Olympics and so on.
I set SHOWstudio up to provide a platform for free speech in an industry that far too often seems scared to offer any real criticism of the collections and doesn't dare to go against the PRs and press of the big fashion brands, no doubt in the fear that the publications they work for would lose their advertising revenue. All too often, people were very reluctant to openly speak their minds publicly, but privately would be very vocal about the merits, or lack thereof, in a particular designer's collection.
I therefore needed someone who could make invited panelists feel relaxed and excited and want to be part of an intelligent, informed and passionate discussion about fashion.I didn’t want someone who was just going to be mean or negative for the sake of it, but someone who would instead offer a critical forum, much like all the other arts have, and which benefits the artists as much as the audience and the art form itself. I needed my first real fashion broadcasting star. I also wanted a firebrand, who would grasp this opportunity to speak their mind on the issues we both felt passionately about. In Lou I found someone who indeed echoed my burning sense of the many injustices within the fashion industry, such as the shocking lack of racial diversity or the proposed image of women that all to often conforms to male stereotypes.It was a risk to put such responsibility on the shoulders of someone so new and unproven, but I am a great believer in offering people a place to shine and Lou did exactly that!
It is worth going back and looking at her first panel broadcast just to see what a natural she is. It was one of the best decisions I have made and hundreds (literally) of panels later she is still a joy to watch.
It didn’t take much of a leap of imagination for me to realise that this natural born broadcaster would also be perfect for SHOWstudio’s vast agenda of interviews.Over the years I have probably been interviewed by Lou more than any other person, so I can tell you it is a rare and special pleasure.
Her questions are witty and incisive but also honest - they come from a real desire to understand and feed her insatiable hunger for knowledge. People shine under her eager, inquisitive and probing mind as she makes you feel intelligent and interesting and that itself makes for great interviews.
It is also this hunger for knowledge that would create some very memorable series on SHOWstudio, such as Girly, or Unseen McQueen. Lou would clearly relish her part in bringing together these huge multi faceted series that are as brimming with fantastic factual research as they are full of jewels of perceptive insight and unique first hand accounts into otherwise closed worlds. I could set Lou a task, such as making a clear timeline of Punk (probably one of the most disputed and argued about cultural movements!) and she would take my breath away each time with her ability to untie complex knots of meaning and give a solution that is exceptionally rational as well as exciting.
With any long relationship there are of course funny, unplanned and private moments which I will always remember and cherish enormously.Wether it was her absolute joy and amusement at my social faux pas, such as the unintentional shorthand of sending an email to the head of Chanel press, inadvertently sent leaving the subject as 'email Chanel woman', or indeed the time she poured me a full glass of vodka believing it to be water which I downed in one gulp before I had to walk on stage at the British Fashion awards to accept my Lifetime achievement award - this sudden influx of alcohol being all the more potent as I do not drink!
So after six years at SHOWstudio and 4 of those as our editor, Lou is moving on to new challenges in her life. However after knowing her all these years, what drives Lou is still unclear to me, but she is still so young in her journey that it would be foolish to try and even guess the final destination. What I do know is that in getting there she will display a brilliance that is seldom seen in the often too dull skies of the new media world we are creating.
Lou, you are in my opinion the best example I know of a shooting star.
Thank you for lighting up SHOWstudio with your passion.