syn·apse (snps, s-nps)
The junction across which a nerve impulse passes from an axon terminal to a neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell.
intr.v. syn·apsed, syn·aps·ing, syn·aps·es
1. To form a synapse.
2. To undergo synapsis.
[Greek sunapsis, point of contact, from sunaptein, to join together : sun-, syn- + haptein, to fasten.]
I've been thinking all day about the images I gathered yesterday, and which I keep sending off to you, somewhere out there. Trying to choose one word for my title. Because everything feels connected these days. And synapse feels like the right word.
First, I'd woke from a strange and colourful and vivid dream today, Naomi Campbell was in it, and now I'm reading Hilary Alexander's excellent piece in the Telegraph on last night's Fashion for Relief/Haiti event in NY. Haiti, where there is so much loss, so much grief and pain. I've met Naomi a few times, and she's quite sweet, quite modest actually.
And then thinking about how Lee McQueen lost his dear friend and mentor, Isabella Blow, and how one day last winter I was having a coffee with my friend and we discovered that we'd each lost a very close friend to suicide in the same week. My friend was in NY, hers was Isabella. The more we talked, the more we realised how similar the two women were. All these these connections. A lovely woman named Laura, a journalist, wrote to me tonight that, by chance, I'd photographed a third person she knew: a colleague. A photographer. We're the eyes, the ears.. we listen, we watch, we make the connections, all around the world.
When I used to work in Soho (NY) for an animator, I'd go regularly to the post office down the block, on Prince Street. Written on the wall was graffiti in large letters: 'Everything is happening everywhere, all at once.' I liked to think it was written by God.
While I was shooting yesterday, other photographers came and went. Real papparazzi. One was so charming, Italian actually, with a wonderfully colourful knitted hat. I wanted to do a portrait of him (I had already got some great shots of him and his colleagues) but he said sadly, 'Oh, no. I can't be photographed, you see. They don't like us: papparazzi.' And I thought, what a strange irony: they supply us with the images we are so hungry for, yet they, themselves, can't be seen. This lovely, charming man, afraid for his image to be seen: afraid people hate him for his job, which he works so hard at, and does so well.
And he was so generous: he said that since 'nothing was happening' there, they were going to go to Mr. McQueen's home instead, and he told me where it was. It was very quiet, sombre: just one or two people arriving, paying homage, starting to lay more flowers in the space where they had been swept away.. at times, it was only papparazzi, photographing nothing: an empty stage. To me, that was what was so beautiful about it. 'For you, perhaps', he said in his wonderfully Italian accent 'But for me, I need the shots of the models weeping.'
Ah, yes: where were the weeping models? In NY, many of them. At Naomi's charity event.
It was starting to rain again, and they left. After a while, I did, too. I walked in the light rain (like models weeping) up Old and New Bond Streets, turning left on Brook, right on Park.. all these simple, country names in the heart of expensive Mayfair. All the time thinking, this would be the path that Lee Alexander McQueen, a boy who grew up in a council flat in Stratford, would have taken home from work. I'm walking in the same path that he could have taken two nights ago, when he turned left from Park onto Green Street.. and then I got there and there was no one there. In the cold rain, I saw a man in a doorway, talking on the phone. No buildings had any sign of life outside them, no flowers or tributes or models weeping. Nothing but beautiful, expensive homes. Bricks and mortar and glass.
We saw the most wonderful film today, A Single Man, Tom Ford's first film. It wasn't Mr. Dot's thing, but I loved it. And I couldn't get over the connections: Tom Ford, too, is a megastar fashion designer, a gay man, a visionary, a genius. This film is just so stylish, so beautiful: not just the fashion, of course, but the casting, make-up, the fabulous sixties modern home.. his colour sense.. and the film, too, is about grief, and love, and loss, and how one man coped with that grief and loss. The connections between these two events.. well you'll just have to see for yourself.
I read the most beautiful comment by my blog friend Amy, of Style Spy, in my previous post, and I keep thinking of Lee Alexander's family, and my heart breaks for his father. This is a private grief, a family matter, and we respect that. And yet, somehow, around the world, those of us who have found ourselves, in our own, personal ways, part of the 'fashion community'.. I keep seeing the same question, everywhere I go: 'Do I have a right to grieve a man I've never met?' It doesn't make sense, this grief. And yet, it feels real. And it connects us.
It feels ironic to me that a man who kept pushing the boundaries of technology and communication should be receiving tributes in the same mediums he explored in his life. He was one of the first (or perhaps, the first?) to do live streaming of his shows: so much so that what was tragically his last, with Lady Gaga, actually crashed because demand was so high.
In 2006, he surprised audiences with this image of Kate Moss in a bride's gown, as a hologram. I can't stop playing it. The music. I find it so hauntingly, achingly beautiful. So sad.
Synapse: point of contact. The space between our nerve cells that passes information, seemingly instantly, so a thought in our mind becomes a movement in the tip of our fingers that become words on a post that somehow, miraculously, reaches you - another soul - who are reading this now, somewhere in the world.
Synapse: To join together. That magical something that is the connection: the space between. Between you and me, between this world, and the next.
It's late. And I can't stop writing. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I'll go back to posting street style and fashion trends. And I won't write this much. My man, Mr. Dot, is asleep (we've got the first of our Valentine's Day planned: we're going swimming at the gym, early in the morning, while everyone else is sleeping). I keep wishing Lee Alexander McQueen had a cat, a dog, some being who needed him to be there for him the next morning. I'm sorry that his grief seems to have consumed him. We owe it to him, just as we owe it to all the people suffering in Haiti, and round the world, to LIVE: the richest, fullest, lives we possibly can.
Happy Valentine's Day. Hope your connections are strong, and beautiful, and bound by love.